Democrats Demonstrate Historical Amnesia

October 14, 2015

by Avi Davis

One of the most remarkable things about Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas was not the way the candidates sought to differentiate themselves from one another, but rather how much they struggled to make themselves look the same.

Part of this was due to the presence of a 72 -year-old firebrand, whose ideological weight made the stage sag way down to the far left and had all the candidates tumbling in that direction.  Bernie Sanders, with his calls for a political revolution, a crusade against Wall Street, free college tuition for all Americans and the break up of national banks sounded more like Fidel Castro in 1959, than a modern day American presidential contender.  And yet, he received by far the greatest applause of the evening, so long lasting  that at one point  the debate began to resemble a rally rather than a genuine exchange of ideas between thoughtful progressive candidates.

 

 

What is truly remarkable is how little resistance these entirely bankrupt and out- of-date ideas received from the other candidates.  When Jim Webb meekly attempted to challenge Sanders’ wild rhetoric  – pointing out that a political revolution is not exactly on the horizon and that Congress was unlikely to pay for the exorbitant programs Sanders was proposing, his criticisms were met with deafening silence.  Hillary Clinton, the long favored front runner, seemed too busy touting her experience and the fact that she is a female to be much engaged in confronting both Sanders’ and the audience’s silliness.

But letting this stuff go bears consequences.  That is because Sanders now has a national voice – which he may not have had before – and his brand of  socialist propaganda, which would never have passed muster 22 years ago when Bill Clinton faced off against his Democratic challengers, is going to be taken seriously in the upcoming presidential race.

The extraordinary thing is that here we are in 2015, twenty five years after the collapse of the world’s greatest failed experiment in socialism, in a country, by dint of its free enterprise system, which has ensured a greater level of prosperity for a greater proportion of its population, than any other nation in history.  Each one of the candidates harped on the great income disparity between rich and poor ( “the greatest gap since  the 1920s!,” at least three of them howled)  – but its all quite relative.  Even those in the lowest income brackets in our society today live lives of comfort and ease when compared to the existences of those same poor in the 1920s. Cell phones, 50″ television screens, owner-owned cars and a variety of other electronic  possessions can be seen in the homes of the most dirt poor areas of Detroit, New Orleans and East Los Angeles.  While these are not true determinants of income, they are symbols of an affluence that the poor in the rest of the world deeply envy and  why so many are risking their lives as illegal immigrants to cross our borders.

No one on that stage last night should have needed a history lesson in how socialism actually operates in the real world and how it significantly failed millions and upon millions of its adherents in the 20th Century.

 

 

But apparently no one was bold enough to stand up to Sanders and call him out for the ridiculous figure he casts in 21st Century American politics. They were all too busy retreading tired liberal tropes about brutal police tactics, institutional racism, billionaire avarice, climate change exigencies, Republican obstructionism, Wall Street chicanery and pharmaceutical industry malfeasance – all of which form part of Bernie Sanders’ bucket list of complaints against America.

And while Sanders was barking his socialist wares, Hillary Clinton was left free to address the country’s significant problems with broad platitudes. Although CNN host Anderson Cooper admirably continued to grill her about the consuming email scandal and her failures regarding Benghazi, none of her competitors seemed to consider these considerable vulnerabilities to be fair game. Sanders actually offered her a hand out of the furnace, seeming to agree with her that the concern of the country over her honesty and good faith, are not matters worthy of general discussion in Democratic circles but should be remaindered as Republican scare tactics.

The other big winner of the night was Barack Obama.  None of the candidates sought to distance themselves from Obama’s abysmal foreign policy record, the sluggish U.S. economy, his failures to assist his much venerated middle class, nor the Obamacare fiasco that any of them would need to fix immediately should they become President.  Clinton, whom the White House appears not too eager to see as as a presidential successor, went out of her way to avoid attacking Obama’s record and legacy, carefully sidestepping his most egregious failures.

This was the weak and uncourageous field which stood before the American public on the stage in Las Vegas last night.  We deserved and deserve much better.

 

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone

 


Barack vs Bibi: And the Winner is……..?

February 4, 2015

by Avi Davis

One could ask many questions about Barack Obama’s outrage regarding John Boehner’s invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress before first having consulted the White House.

They include:

Why has the U.S. administration allowed the President’s contempt for the Israeli Prime Minister to seep into public view?

What does the Administration hope to gain by so publicly insulting Netanyahu (as well, it might be added, Congress) by characterizing the supposed breach of protocol as such a heinous act of betrayal?

When, exactly, was the White House actually informed about the invitation since Boehner’s office has now revealed that it notified the White House of its intentions many weeks ago?

How, in creating a storm of controversy around this issue, particularly when exactly the same set of circumstances occurred in 2011 without a peep of protest from the President, are the United States’ national interests truly served?

The open contempt Barack Obama so regularly displays for the Israeli Prime Minister often skirts the boundaries of credulity.  After all, Israel is the one stable democracy in the Middle East; its situation, given the rise of ISIS and a revitalized al Qaeda has given the United  States an unquestioned advantage in addressing the threats to both America and to the West from those insurgencies; and its sophisticated intelligence network is an invaluable ear to the ground in a war torn, violent area of the world, necessary for protecting not just Israelis but other Westerners and Americans too.

Should the U.S President, no matter what his personal rancor or feelings towards another head of state, really allow them to color and subsume his statecraft?

Since both men entered their respective offices in 2009, they have famously failed to see eye to eye.  Obama and his Administration seems fixated on finding petty and trivial matters with which to flay the Israeli leader while at the same remaining equally committed to loading him with full responsibility for the failures of any potential peace deal with the Palestinians.

Yet the Administration’s veiled threat to the Israeli prime minister –  that there are ‘consequences’ for abrogating protocol, coupled with the reminder that the President still has 24 months to serve in office – is a signal of the fear that the Administration possesses of being upstaged by the charismatic and silver tongued Israeli leader.

Perhaps it has good reason to fear.  Netanyahu seems to have taken the measure of  Barack Obama, knows that the President’s term is steaming towards a conclusion and realizes that the next president of the United  States may well be sitting among the gathered senators and representatives on Capitol Hill on March 3rd. Why waste time appeasing the wishes of a churlish, unreliable American leader, who has demonstrated a disturbing nonchalance towards Israeli security issues and has even suggested solutions which would leave the Israelis nakedly exposed?  The pressing existential demands of Israeli’s national security with the rise of a nuclear Iran, does not give this Israeli leader the luxury of attempting to mollify an American leader with juvenile antipathies.

Better, it would seem, to deal with an American representative body that has historically been extraordinarily supportive of the Jewish state, has looked skeptically at Arab promises of peace and has vowed to support its democratic ally in almost every crisis it has encountered over the past 40 years.

Is Obama’s petulance and open disdain for the Israeli prime minister then just the manifestation of a fear of irrelevance?

Not entirely. For there is another issue at play here, one that has much less to to do with the personal relations between the two men and much more to do with ideological differences.

And that is Obama’s visceral, deep seated uncertainty about Israel’s moral legitimacy.

Schooled in the politics of the far left, which since at least the Six Day War has traditionally seen the State of Israel as an imperialist force which draws its historical momentum from colonial power, he became emotionally invested in the Palestinian narrative at a relatively young age.   He now sees the Middle East, much as his bedfellows on the far left still see it, as a fine Arab tapestry whose interwoven threads were twisted into ugly knots by the intrusion of Zionism.  The dispossession of the Palestinians, a people who of course did not exist before 1965, is an international crime which weeps in his mind for justice  – and he won’t be deterred nor beguiled by eloquent Jewish statesmen who wish to read to him from another another chronicle altogether which contradicts the one with which he is already so familiar.

This really gets to the root of the Obama Administration stance towards Israel – and no change of Israeli leadership is likely to alter it.   It would be the same attitude he would instinctively demonstrate towards any Israeli prime minister who makes clear that his first duty is the protection and security of Israeli citizens and insists on raising the roof about Iranian intentions.  In his weak policy towards the Iranian Mullahs and his concomitant lack of will in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda, Obama has exposed his thinking that the Israelis need to pay for the grave misdeed of their country’s founding  which occasioned another peoples’ displacement and that their security concerns must take a back seat to his realist vision of a necessary accommodation of Iranian power.  If then their exposure is what is necessary to lead to a greater sense of regional security, it will be the price the Israelis will have to pay.

There is almost no doubt that Netanyahu understands this thinking and has ascertained that this most ideological of presidents cannot be moved.  He cannot afford to waste valuable diplomatic capital reeducating him on the realities of the Middle East and though he must know it will bring him into direct conflict with Obama’s own policies, he also knows he has no choice.

Barack Obama has created quite an art out of identifying the wrong enemies of the United States. Contrary to what you might read, our real foes are not oil barons, fracking exponents, Tea Party activists, the Koch Brothers nor Republican congressmen.  Our real enemies are the 7th Century barbarians wreaking havoc in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and the beturbaned Mullahs in Tehran baying for the blood of Jews and Americans.

The struggle between Obama and Netanyahu ultimately represents the contest between those who see the world as it is and those who see it as they want it to be.  Yet in the coming race to reach the moral high ground on this issue you will see that it is Benjamin Netanyahu who will ultimately triumph – supported by Congress and the majority of Americans.  It is this constituency which will come to view the animus of Obama towards Israel as strangely perverse when seen in the context of the decapitated heads and burning corpses left from ISIS’ rampages or in the roaring eliminationist rhetoric of an emboldened Iran.

They will recognize that the President of the United  States has allowed his personal animus and skewed biases to color his view of countries and their leaders whom the United States needs most to cultivate.  And history will not be kind to that legacy.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of The Intermediate Zone


Obama and the GOP Should Learn the Lessons of the 1860s

November 23, 2014

On Thursday evening, President Barack Obama delivered a speech that has been widely characterized  as presenting a red cape to a charging bull.  His decision to extend executive action to offer a solution, although perhaps partial or temporary, to America’s complex illegal alien problem has been variously portrayed, as an attempt to subvert Congress; to over ride the Constitution; to restore the imperial presidency and/or to cynically grant amnesty to a new potential base of Democratic voters.

It may be all of those things.  But both the President and  the GOP would be well advised to carefully navigate the rapids of this fast moving river of American political rancor  – now approaching full flood  – and remember  the lessons learned by their forbears in the  mid-1860s.

In 1865, President Andrew Johnson,  Lincoln’s successor, was faced with the vexing problem of how to deal with the reconstruction of the South and the rebuilding of the Union.  A Southerner himself  (in fact the only southern senator to remain in Washington D.C. when the South seceded), he was intent on resisting pressure to punish the Southern governments following what he knew would have been Lincoln’s policy of clemency.  But the majority Republican party contained many voices calling for a vendetta against the Southern traitors.  Leading Congressional figures such as Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens claimed that the southern states, by their acts of secession, no longer had any independent Constitutional legality and that Congress could determine how and if they should be reconstituted.  Johnson found himself in the position of either  having to execute a policy which he felt certain was a continuation of the dead President’s legacy and in the best interests of the country  – or of earning the unending wrath of Congress which might lead to a Constitutional crisis.

The 1864 national election had resulted in a sweeping Republican victory  but at the time, the American political system did not allow Congressmen elected in a national election to take up office until a full 13 months later unless summoned by the President to do so.  In very much the same position Barack Obama finds himself today, Andrew Johnson stood in between Congresses with the somewhat questionable authority to act on his own through executive order. And on May 29, 1865, he extended clemency to the Southern states, allowing them to reconstitute, ratify the 13th Amendment and repudiate the Confederate debts.  The new states, including eventually Mississippi and Texas, fell in line with the Union and by April of 1866, Johnson could officially declare the southern rebellion over.

Except in one very important regard.   The newly reconstructed  states would not allow its black population to be accepted as full citizens.  In most states blacks were to be prevented by law from intermarriage with whites; anti vagrancy laws were designed to force blacks into work as servants and a new set of Black Codes came in effect, preventing  full suffrage.

Abolitionists in Congress were enraged and vowed to bring a new level of punishment to the South.  Led by Sumner and Stevens, these Radical Republicans, forced through a  Civil Rights Bill – the nation’s first – which sought to outlaw the Black Codes. Johnson vetoed it but Congress over rode his veto (also for the first time on a matter of true substance), in effect elevating  Congress above the presidency as the true ruler of the land.   After the mid-term elections in November 1866, and the strengthening of the hand of the Republican Radicals who now controlled two thirds majorities in both houses, the executive and legislative arms of government were at war, resulting  in intense political back biting , manipulation and a deep cynicism  –  all  too common features of the political system in our own time.  The impeachment of the President, the first time it had occurred in American history, eventually took place, not as a matter of punishing a sitting executive for ” High Crimes and Misdemeanours” but for purely  personal and partisan political issues which had much more to do with revenge  than saving the country from an incipient tyranny.

In the end neither the President nor Congress came out well from this conflict.  Johnson, stubborn and unwilling to compromise, emerged with his political career in ruins and was not  nominated by his party to run for President in 1868.  His historical reputation  has never truly recovered.  Congress, however, soon earned a reputation as a den of hatred where vicious political vendettas were carried out on those who did not toe the Radical Republican line.  The Radicals were viewed, quite justifiably, not only as having used their mandate to enfranchise southern blacks but to ensure a one party stranglehold on both the north and the south.

But the real victims of the struggle between Congress and the Presidency were the blacks themselves.  When Congress imposed a series of laws which practically  disenfranchised many whites and elevated blacks to high positions of office, in preference to whites, rampant corruption spread and the traditional white Southern fear of blacks transformed into a vehement hatred. It  resulted in the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan and an intensely racist  culture which prevailed in the southern states for another 100 years.

Barack Obama and his would-be adversaries – John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – should think deeply about the lessons this political deadlock has to teach us.  The President, leading what is essentially a minority government, has much to gain by compromise and finding common ground with his adversaries. He may win this battle but go down to crushing defeat later as the Republicans muster the full power of their indignation and block him at every turn.    But the Republicans, flush with power after their electoral mid-term successes and now setting their sites on installing one of their own in the White House in 2016, cannot gain by becoming the ‘Party of Retribution.’  They need to present their own ideas – and legislation – for immigration reform, offering an alternative that speaks to the wishes of the American majority.  To deepen the divide will not serve either them or us well.  For as the British historian Paul Johnston has commented ruefully on this earlier era in American politics: ” The Republican extremists followed in exactly the same footsteps of the secessionists themselves, making a harmonious and balanced government impossible.”

Ultimately, in this struggle for ascendancy between the Presidency and Congress, it should be remembered that the government serves at the behest of the citizens and while immigration reform is a hot button issue which can roil sensibilities on both sides of the divide, the U.S. government can no longer afford to be viewed as a laughing stock, devoid of common sense and integrity.  Harmony, civility and a balanced government, to the greatest extent possible, should be the objective of every American president and every Congress. It is the mark of true leadership and a sign of maturity in a system that is becoming increasingly petty and spiteful.

 

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and blogs at The Intermediate Zone

 

 

 


The Out of Touch President Down Under

November 18, 2014

In Australia this week, Barack Obama, attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane, made plain that he is an out of touch leader who not only fails to appreciate the importance of maintaining strategic alliances, but ignores fundamental realities about our world.

Speaking to a mostly student audience at the University of  Queensland, the President urged the younger members there to hold firm to the commitment to press the Australian government about climate change.

“Combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone,” he said. “Citizens, especially the next generation, you have to keep raising your voices, because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner and that is healthier and that is sustainable.“But that is not going to happen unless you are heard.”

The remarks could not be disguised as anything but a venomous swipe at his host, set in the context of the Abbot government’s repeal of the Australian Carbon Tax in 2013.  

Why, exactly, the President of the United States would seek to humiliate an ally who has loyally stood by the U.S.’ efforts in its attacks on ISIS, worked closely with the Administration on Asia policy (particularly with regard to the disputed Senkaku/ Diaoyou Islands in the East China Sea) and on a multitude of trade issues is a quandry that many Australian politicians and commentators are now starting to question.  

Notwithstanding this, although Abbot engineered – as one of his first acts of office- the repeal of the ludicrous carbon tax (the first such legislation in the world and the first such repealed), his government has nevertheless maintained the Labor government’s goal of cutting carbon emissions by 5% over the next 15 years. Australia is highly placed among the developed nations who have worked methodically to cut emissions and compares favorably with anything achieved in this regard by the United States. 

The Australian people demonstrated in a loud voice last September that climate change is not one of their greatest priorities by dumping the  Rudd-Gillard Government .  It was an election where the survival of the hated carbon tax was a key issue.  The rejection of climate change as a fixation is evident throughout the West.  In the United States, a recent Gallup Poll  found that 66% of American citizens list climate change legislation and global warming as number 15 or lower on their list of priorities. 

But there is a real Australian issue that intersects directly with U.S.national security interests that the President might have mentioned.  

Just two months ago over 800 police officers in Australia arrested 15 people, allegedly connected to the terror group ISIS, who are believed to have planned to kidnap and behead people on camera. The counter-terrorism raids on houses and vehicles in both Sydney and Brisbane were the largest ever in the country’s history. At the time Commonwealth prosecutor, Michael Allnutt, told Sydney’s Central Local Court that the foiled plans were “clearly designed to shock, horrify and terrify the community.” Allnutt added there was “a plan to commit extremely serious offenses” that involved an “unusual level of fanaticism.”

Read that as ‘beheadings’ and ‘mutilations’ of Australian citizens.

And just today the Wall Street Journal reports how those Muslims in Sydney who support the crack down on their fanatical co-religionists, are suffering extensive condemnation and harassment from their own leaders. 

It must be remembered that Australia has a population approximately 1/8th the size of the United States. Proportionally, if such events had occurred in the U.S., it would have been as if a large scale pogrom had swept the country. 

Who can deny that if ISIS is alive and well in far distant Australia, it is not also flourishing and scheming its next atrocity right here in America?

And so we must ask:  A leader who seems so deeply concerned about the future and the  “next generation” (and indeed, almost everywhere he travels, he insists on speaking to students over the heads of government leaders), has nothing to say to that generation about the gravest physical threat faced by the West today in our own cities?

Barack Obama has always styled himself as something of visionary, capable of seeing and understanding the future as others can’t.  But the failure to grasp realities and grapple with them, will, with hindsight, render his visions of the future no more than fading props used to give a hackneyed background to a failed Presidency.


Keystone Stonewalling Reveals the Truth of Presidential Inaction

November 16, 2014

Much has been said in the ten days following the mid-term elections in the United States about the coming confrontation between the President and Congress.  The President has publicly warned the soon-to-be Republican controlled Senate that failure to present him with an immigration bill that he can sign will encourage him to go over their heads and order a sweeping reform of immigration policy by executive fiat.  For the past four years his Administration has consistently claimed that it is Congressional inaction, and his not his own unwillingness to act, which  is the true cause of legislative gridlock.

But there is a glaring incidence of presidential inaction upon which Congress has every right to confront this Administration.

For six years the authorization to complete the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Steele, Nebraska and then onward to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export, has languished in bureaucratic purgatory.  The application for the pipeline (which is actually the third stage in a four part system of conduits which would bring nearly 850,000 gallons of crude a day, traveling 3,251 miles) was first presented in September, 2008, two months before Obama’s first term election.  Since then it has met a series of obstacles, first from the State Department and then the EPA and  then from a whole range of environmental organizations dogmatically opposed to its construction.  Little known by the public is that three other stages of the project have already been completed and are functioning.  Only the third stage, which links Canada to Nebraska remains to be built.

It is interesting to note that Keystone and its chief developer,TransCanada,  has vaulted almost every hurdle and objection thrown in its path – particularly from environmentalists.  An environmental study issued  by the State Department on August 26, 2011 claimed that there would be no significant environmental impact of the pipeline along its U.S. traverse.  A persistent environmentalist claim that an oil spill from the pipeline would significantly affect drinking water drawn from Ogallala Aquifer – which underlies Nebraska and eight other states – was quickly dispatched.  In April , 2013, James Goeke, a professor emeritus from the University of Nebraska who has spent 40 years studying  the Aquifer concluded a report in which he stated:   “A lot of people in the debate about the pipeline talk about how leakage would foul the water and ruin the entire water supply in the state of Nebraska and that’s just false. A leak from the XL pipeline would pose a minimal risk to the aquifer as a whole.”

The pipeline is supported by every State or Provincial  government through which it passes from Alberta to Texas.  A recent Pew Research Poll  found that  61% of American citizens support its construction.  Estimates conclude that it would create 42,000 temporary jobs during construction and up to 2,000 after completion.  It could contribute to bringing  down the cost of domestic fuel  since the Gulf refineries import a great deal of their oil from Venezuela and Nigeria, two countries with whom the United States maintains strained relations.  Moreover, the abundant Canadian oil is destined to be sold anyway and will be transported, if not by pipe, then by train or lorry across our continent, two modes of transport far more susceptible to oil spills and devastating environmental damage –  as the tragic  Lac-Mégantic derailmuent in Quebec on July 6, 2013, demonstrated.   It is instructive to note that  the oil in the Lac-Mégantic rail cars came from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, an area that would be served by the Keystone expansion.

So it is quite stunning to hear the President once again talking about the valueless encumbrance that the pipeline will place upon the United States.   Speaking in off the cuff remarks in Burma this week he said:

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

But, Mr. President, aren’t oil markets global, so that adding the Canadian resource to world supply might also have some kind of impact on the prices U.S. citizens pay at the pump? And won’t Keystone also carry U.S. light oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale?

Someone else must have asked the President this question because his press secretary, Josh Earnest, was later compelled to clarify:

 “The President, as you’ll recall in a speech that he delivered last summer, indicated that one of the factors in that review should be the degree to which a project like this would substantially   contribute to the causes of climate change,” Earnest said.  “So this is a project that is still under review by the State Department to determine whether or not it’s in the national interest.”

Climate change is not in the national interest – so we have been regaled endlessly by this President and his acolytes over the past six years.  Putting aside for a moment the highly contentious issue of whether the Canadian oil will actually contribute to climate change (an issue dealt with far better by the Heartland Institute than me)  and whether there is any climate change at all ( another fractious subject), why is it then in the national interest to prevent the construction of the pipe itself  – a project  that is three quarters completed anyway?

As I have stated here earlier, this oil is going to be delivered one way or another – there is no getting around it.   So how is the construction of this pipeline – a great economic boon to our most important trading partner and ally in Canada – as well as a boon to the United States in creating jobs and quite possibly decreasing oil prices – likely to affect climate change?

The answer is, of course, that it won’t.  The pipeline is just a pipe, nothing more – a modern , effective conduit for oil that is likely to reach its intended destination anyway.   The furious objections  to the pipeline are therefore not economic nor environmental –  they are ideological, political and even religious.  The viscous substance traveling in that pipe has become a symbol to Obama and many fellow liberals (who view the world through apocalyptic visions of melting glaciers and massive tidal waves) of doom and human sin. The subscription to this religious narrative produces all kinds of twisted logic and political contortions. It is a deep shame that it has now found its way into the mouth of a man who is so vaunted for his supposed intellect – our President.

The House of Representatives on November 14th, passed a bill approving Keystone 252 to 161.  It looks likely to pass the Senate on Friday with a number of Democrats in oil producing states siding with the Republicans to create a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority.

If the Bill is then presented  to the President for signature and he proceeds  to veto it, the American people will finally know that while a  stone wall may have been erected in front of the Capitol Building, a much higher one exists on Pennsylvania Avenue – right in front of the White House itself.

 


Paul Krugman’s Indefensible Defense of Barack Obama

October 24, 2014
Readers of Rolling Stone Magazine have long known what to expect from the bi-weekly’s acidulous commentaries:  anarchist screeds from the rather unbalanced Matt Taibbi; thinly researched and often specious investigative pieces from Tim Dickinson;  alarmist jeremiads from environmentalist hound dog Jeff Goodell and apoplectic harangues against Republicans, Tea Party groups and anyone else who espouses a right wing cause.  
 
The question, for those who regularly read genuinely powerful and well balanced commentary from other sources (from either the left OR right)  is: why bother with this stuff?  The unrepentant hippie-chic publication bathed in its love and peace- at-any-cost ethos, is in truth a hate mongering platform of the first order and in its advertising and feature articles on modern music and musicians often betrays a penchant for what used to be known as soft porn.  Can anyone really believe that this chronicle of modern nihilism has anything of importance to say about our national priorities?
 
You better believe it.   Rolling Stone’s influence today is far greater than any conservative gives it credit for and rather than being the standard bearer for long dormant 1960’s agitprop is in fact a mainstream publication, representing the views of a sizeable community within our intellectual classes. 
 
The magazine’s clout was ratcheted up several notches in 2010 when an article spotlighting Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal unveiled his antagonism to the Vice-President and several other senior members of the Obama Administration which in turn resulted in the General’s summary firing.  Since then the words of  such luminaries as Al Gore ( yes, but the man WAS Vice- President of the United States) and best selling authors such as Sebastian Junger and Stephen King have graced the magazine’s pages.  
 
Now comes an article by Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, which is proudly announced as a defense of Barack Obama. Not content with actually defending Obama’s record, Krugman in the body of his article goes a step further announcing: “Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.”
Hmm. Pretty bold stuff.  After all, this would have Barack Obama one day sipping martinis and chomping cigars with some of the greatest in American history. 
But can Barack Obama truly be spoken of in the same breath  as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln?
Perhaps so, but you would not actually know it from the arguments presented by Paul Krugman.  What you would learn instead  is that Barack Obama is a middling president who did the best he could with the cards he was played; that he was buffeted by an uncooperative Congress but  that he passed revolutionary health care reform legislation anyway- a remarkable success which will leave a lasting imprint on the nation. Then, after a cursory examination of  the President’s record on financial reform, the economy, the environment, national security and social change he concludes, almost with a sigh,  that” the extent of his partial success ranges from the pretty good to the not-so-bad to the ugly.”  In other words, although he might have received an overall “C” on his report card,  it was really not as bad a presidency as it could have been and it really could have been a lot worse.  Not exactly the exalted encomium we had been expecting but, hey, this is Paul Krugman – and when this modern day Oracle declares you mediocre  perhaps it actually means you are destined for greatness.  Mount Rushmore sculptors take heed:  Krugman has spoken; Prepare the mountain for its next great historical retrofit.
No one should mistake Krugman for an objective observer   – although he  has indeed been highly critical of the President in the past, mostly for not being radical enough!   But that doesn’t excuse or explain the crassness of this particular contribution or give anyone confidence that the President is destined to be remembered as the savior of his people.
For now lets bare the truth on this truly execrable piece of writing:  that it is so amatuerly written that it could have been cobbled together by a high school student with only a rudimentary understanding of economics, environmental policy and the social dynamics of a highly complex nation;  that its very self impressed author fails entirely to address foreign relations where Obama’s meandering policies have resulted in disaster upon diplomatic disaster;  that he significantly sidesteps the incessant rise of Islamic terrorism in places where the President only a year before had  declared them snuffed out;  that he refuses to engage in any discussion of  the mounting scandals – the Benghazi sacrifice of an ambassador; the IRS debacle, wherein one of the most important public institutions in the country was revealed to have been thoroughly corrupted by politics; or the Fast and Furious campaign which placed American firearms in the hands of terrorists and gangsters. Also absent from the pen of our Nobel laureate is any commentary on the enormous expansion of executive power which has torn a  deep unconstitutional gash in the fabric of the Presidency;  Nothing on the Administration’s failure  to address our collapsed border and the threat this poses to the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens in our southern states;  Or on our ballooning national debt – four times the size it stood under George W. Bush; or on immigration, race relations and out-of -control  tortious litigation  – all of which have taken a turn for the worse during the past six years.   And finally no word on Obama’s grandest promise of them all – that he was going to become a consensus president, bridging differences between left and right, black and white, rich and poor  and that he  would exercise his well honed skills in the arts of persuasion. 
These are all missing from the piece because Krugman reveals himself to be quite uninterested in any of them.  For him,  “high office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. “
Ah, there it is:   The raw, thumping heart of liberal orthodoxy.   The idea of changing the country, of converting it into something different, something purer and something approximating that great utopian vision of armchair socialists over the centuries, drips through Krugman’s analysis, making it abundantly clear why he avoids uncomfortable topics.  For Krugman  – an economically equitable society, drained of all prejudice and bigotry, where man pays obeisance to Nature and where its abundant resources are distributed equally amongst the world’s citizens – should apparently be the goal of our presidents.  Open borders, multilateralism, military retrenchment, the punishment of successful entrepreneurs, pan-sexuality,  the cosseting of tyrants and campaigns to end the expansion of land use or the excavation of fossil fuels – are all elements that might fit snugly into such a vision. 
One wonders how the three presidents with whom our current  chief executive will one day (in Krugman’s estimation) share the same pantheon might have reacted to the mandate to “change the country.”  Washington, after all, fought to establish it;  Jefferson worked to consolidate it and Lincoln struggled to save it – all worthy enough endeavors for any modern day president.  Changing the country, one would think, requires a level of consensus building coupled with a consistent articulation of a shared vision – skills that even our finest Presidents have experienced some difficulty in mastering.  Abraham Lincoln, after all, did not begin his presidency with the idea of outlawing slavery;  he deflected the issue, fearful of its incendiary potential – and was only led to it by the realization that his nation could not survive without that institution’s eradication.  His genius as a leader was to tap into the vein of righteousness within the citizenry  and to pump that rich resource for all its corpuscular abundance into the heated campaign which produced the Emancipation Proclamation.
Barak Obama, in contrast, has never cast himself as a president who cares all that much about what the citizenry, at its very bedrock, either thinks or feels. He is actually one of the most insular presidents in living memory, whose policies and decisions have been largely driven by superficial poll numbers and a creaking, weathered leftist ideology, rather than an instinctive  grip on the nation’s pulse.  Images of the President’s aloofness are so plentiful as to be embarrassing:  the Presidential motorcade, speeding through the arterial roads of our major cities, delivering the Commander-in-Chief to yet another fundraising event; the photographed fist bump with golfing buddies  just moments after delivering a particularly somber response to the beheading of an American journalist; the constant hobnobbing with the glitterati who gush over his every pronouncement;  and of course the maintenance of a very deliberate distance from  the members of Congress, whom he seems to regard with a singular contempt.  The best that might be said of his feel for the American people is his familiarity with national sports as well as an impressive knowledge of the plot lines of such cable TV series as Homeland and Breaking Bad . The demonstration of that kind of indifference  puts him in league with such 1850s presidents  as Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, both of whom would undoubtedly welcome him to their lonely outposts as the Presidents, who like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes, both knew nothing and saw nothing.
At his two inaugurations, Barak Obama took an oath of office  specified in Article TwoSection OneClause Eight of the United States Constitution:

 “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

How different would  Krugman’s assessment  have been had he used  that oath to measure Barak Obama’s presidential performance?  Maybe the author will soon recognize the empty spaces he left so glaringly open on the pages of his article and submit a more nuanced view of this presidency. Unlikely, perhaps. But if and when this revised version ever sees the light of day, the last place you can ever expect to find it is in the glossy, celebrity filled pages of Rolling Stone Magazine.   

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles and blogs at The Intermediate Zone

This article first appeared, in an edited version, in the American Thinker

This article  first appeared, in an edited version in the American Thinker http://americanthinker.com/2014/10/paul_krugmans_indefensible_defense_of_barack_obama_.html


Guantanomo Has the Last Laugh

March 9, 2011

So there was the new president, two days following  his historic  inauguration, signing into law the order to close the Guantanomo Bay prison, ensuring that his administration, in contrast to his predecessor’s, would “ restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism.”

A certain euphoria accompanied the signing of  the three executive orders that day – given that they fulfilled a heavily peddled campaign promise. Obama was giving notice that the new administration would no longer sanction indefinite detention of foreign nationals without trial and that the torture sanctioned by the Bush Administration, which had left an indelible stain on the nation, would be expunged.

It was of course a great deal easier to sign that executive order than it was to actually close down the prison.  For two years the administration has embarrassingly attempted to find a solution to the most obvious and glaring question posed by the potential closure:  where to put the prisoners.  According to every report and inquiry received by the new administration these guys were dangerous – lethally so – and no state in the Union seemed overly eager to receive them.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement on November 13, 2009 that five of the Guantanomo inmates, including 9/11 mastermind Khald Sheikh Mohammed, would be remanded to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for trial raised an outcry from that city and across the nation. Exactly one year later when Ahmed Ghailani, tried on 280 counts of murder and conspiracy to murder in the Kobar Towers attack in 1998 was acquitted of all but one of the charges leveled against him, the Administration began to see how bad things could go.   “Imagine,” they must have said to themselves, “if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was able to walk free because of a technicality – what would it do to us and our reputation?”

In December 2010,  Congress answered that question for them. On December 22nd  it passed legislation effectively barring transfer of detainees to the U.S.  for trial.

And so now, after twenty-two months of twiddling thumbs and attempting to find an answer to the increasingly intractable problem, the Obama Administration has not only decided to keep Guantanomo open, but is now resorting to the Bush inspired decision of trying them there in military tribunals.

So the Gulag remains and the Bush era policies for detaining terrorists and trying them as prisoners of war are essentially retained.

Such sloppy, unsophisticated policy making deserves the ridicule with which the Administration is now being lacerated.  Obama is learning the hard way that it is far easier to make election promises that obtain great political mileage than it is to fulfill them – particularly when absolutely no thought has been given to how to do so.

He might be finally appreciating that the man and administration he has spent four years vilifying might actually have got it right – a lesson history could soon also be teaching many Americans – grown nostalgic for the good old days of decisive leadership.

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