Archive for March, 2011

As Barack Obama looks forward to January 2013

March 31, 2011

1. The Primaries

In 2008, Barack Obama dispensed with Hillary Clinton as his principal opponent and donned the mantle as Democratic Party presidential candidate.  In 2012, Hillary Clinton may rise again to challenge him for that mantle:

Barack Obama:

“Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,

Ere human statute purged the gentle weal;

Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d

Too terrible for the ear; the time has been,

That, when the brains were out, the man would die,

And there an end; but now they rise again,

With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,

And push us from our stools: this is more strange

Than such a murder is.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act III, Scene iv.

2. The General Election

In January 2013,  if America wakes up, Barack Obama will be removed from the presidency.  Still  relatively young, he will have many years to contemplate the futility of his political career:

Barack Obama:

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more:  it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene vi.

Does President Obama support al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists?

March 30, 2011

President Obama may be deliberately providing military aid to al Qaeda and Hezbollah jihadist forces in Libya. Warnings of the likelihood of such behavior emanated yesterday from several sources:

“A former leader of Libya’s al Qaeda affiliate says he thinks ‘freelance jihadists’ have joined the rebel forces, as NATO’s commander told Congress on Tuesday that intelligence indicates some al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists are fighting Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.  Former jihadist Noman Benotman who renounced his al Qaeda affiliation in 2000, said in an interview that he estimates 1,000 jihadists are in Libya.  On Capitol Hill, Adm. James Stavridis, the NATO commander, when asked about the presence of al Qaeda terrorists among the rebels, said the leadership of the opposition is made up of ‘responsible men and women.’  ‘We have seen flickers in the intelligence of  potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah,’ the four-star admiral said.  ‘We’ve seen different things.  But at this point, I don’t have detail sufficient to say that there’s a significant al Qaeda presence, or any other terrorist presence, in and among these folks.’  Outside observers generally estimate the number of trained Libyan fighters to be about 1,000.” Eli Lake, ’1,000 ‘freelance jihadists join Libyan rebels’, The Washington Times, March 30, 2011 

This information does not come unexpectedly out of the blue.  For several years, experts have pointed to long-standing ties between terrorist networks and Libyan opposition groups:

“It’s almost a certitude that at least part of the Libyan opposition includes members of al Qaeda,” said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst and adviser to President Obama.  “I would hope that we now have a good sense of the opposition in Libya and can say that this is 2 percent, not 20 percent,”  he said.  “If we don’t then we are running the risk of helping to bring to power a regime that could be very dangerous” The Washington Post, March 30, 2011

Libya, for years, has been a fertile recruiting ground for al Qaeda.  Libyans have served in senior ranks of the terrorist network and poured into Iraq in disproportionately large numbers to carry out attacks on U.S. forces.  The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a sworn enemy of Colonel Gaddafi, formally joined al-Qaeda in 2007.

In full knowledge of this dangerous involvement of terrorist groups with the Libyan opposition to Colonel Gaddafi, President Obama yesterday indicated that he will not rule out arming the Libyan rebels should Colonel Gaddafi hold out against them.

In my book, if President Obama arranges for arms to be shipped to Libyan rebels,or allows U.S. military aircraft to strafe Colonel Gaddafi’s army and military supplies, in full knowledge that the rebellion is directed or propped up by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, he should be ‘removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason’. Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 4.

The three witches of war

March 29, 2011

The three witches who led their own Macbeth, the ‘Thane of Fife’,  Barack Obama, to war in North Africa are Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Hillary Clinton.  With acknowledgment to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, this is how they prepared the way:

Samantha Power (First Witch):

“Round about the cauldron go: In the poisoned entrails throw.  Toad, that under cold stone days and nights has thirty one swelter’d venom sleeping got, boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.”

All. 

 “Double , double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Susan Rice (Second Witch):

“Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake; eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble”

All.

“Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

Hillary Clinton (Third Witch):

“Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, witches’ mummy, maw and gulf of the ravin’d salt-sea shark, root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark, liver of blaspheming Jew, gall of goat and slips of yew silver’d in the moon’s eclipse, nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, finger of birth-strangled babe ditch-deliver’d by a drab, make the gruel thick and slab: add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, for the ingredients of our cauldron.”

All.

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

William Shakespeare,  The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1.

We know well how the Tragedy ended for the Thane of Fife. His attempt to seize the throne ended in his untimely death and in the restoration of the crown to King Duncan’s son, Malcolm.  If the tragedy should replicate itself in the case of America’s Messiah, the ending will differ.  This time, the Third Witch  may well seize the  political baton from the deposed would-be King,  and maneuver for the  highest office herself, supported by the potent spells of  her fellow witches.

Obama Doctrine: take down allies and prop up enemies

March 28, 2011

Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya and Hosni Mubarek’s Egypt in January 2011, were key allies of the United States in its War on Terror targeted on al quaeda and in containing Iran’s Shi’ite covert war against Israel, the Lebanon, the Sunni Arabs and the United States. In stark contrast, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s President Ahmadinejad constituted a clear and present danger to the United States as did, in a lesser way,  President Assad’s Syria.

So where does the White House now stand two months on from January 2011?  President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly support the enemies and undermine the allies of the United States. 

Both Obama and Clinton conspired with the Egyptian military leaders to remove Mubarek from office.  Seemingly these same military leaders are now writing a constitution designed to enshrine the Muslim Brotherhood into office. Presumably this is in full accordance with White House preferences.

Both Obama and Clinton conspired to lead the United States into war against Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya. If this initiative succeeds, as it surely must given the disparity in the forces involved, there can be no certainty that a Shi’ite, al qaeda coalition will not gain control over Libyan oil wealth. The probability that a functioning democracy will arise fully-grown from the desert sand approaches zero. Presumably, this is Obama/Clinton doctrine, not only for these countries, but for Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Better get started quickly on building all those new nuclear plants close to U.S. earthquake zones!

Now. as unrest permeates  Iran and Syria, the White House comes clean regarding the Obama Doctrine. The White House has long made it clear that it has no stomach to attempt to bring down the Iranian theocracy.  Let us wait just  a few weeks to view a photo-op in which Obama bows deeply in respect to President Ahmadinejad as he thanks him for his part in advancing the Obama Doctrine for the Middle East.  Certainly, any policy to destabilize Iran has been taken off  the Pentagon’s table since the departure of President George W. Bush.

On March 28, 2011, Obama administration officials made it crystal clear that they will not seek to mobilize the international community to act against Syria. Secretary of  State, Hillary Clinton mouthed off the lunacy of  the Obama Doctrine in this regard, typically passing off the responsibility from the White House to a Congress that has not been formally consulted on this or any other matter concerning war and peace in the Middle East:

“Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer,” Secretary of State Clinton said in an interview with CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’.

The only such voice that Obama and Clinton listen to from the U.S. Congress is Senator John Kerry, who has become little more than a sycophantic mouthpiece for Obama since January 2009, and who has been jetting in and out of Damascus on fully-funded junkets with President  Assad over the past several months: 

President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” Mr. Kerry said during a recent speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  “I think it’s incumbent on us to try to move that relationship forward in the same way.”

In the meantime, Obama has returned a U.S. Ambassador to Damascus and eased U.S. sanctions on Syria. If President Obama truly believes that the United States can sign an effective peace treaty with Syria while Israel remains on the map of the Middle East, then his name is Neville Chamberlain. And John Kerry is the White House Fool. There is some evidence that parts of the Obama administration now recognize the latter reality. Last month, someone in the State Department (and Sarkozy’s French Government)  intervened to block a meeting between Kerry and Assad in Damascus, fearing that the trip would signal Western weakness just weeks after the collapse of Lebanon’s government.

Is there a budding Winston Churchill hiding out in the Pentagon?  One must surely hope so as the Obama Doctrine morphs into the Munich Agreement and as  Shi’ite Islamic Fundamentalists extend the Sign of the Swastika across Arabia and North Africa.

Hat Tip: Jay Solomon, ‘U.S. Won’t Back New Intervention’, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2011

The Manchurian Candidate

March 27, 2011

As readers will be aware, I have become increasingly concerned in recent weeks about the erratic and damaging foreign policy behavior of President Barack Obama.  I have wondered whether such behavior is the product of intellectual incapacity or even of outright insanity. Following up on a comment from one of my readers, I have decided to explore an alternative, and ultimately even more dangerous possibility:  that Barack Obama is sane and competent, but is guided by an obsessional hatred of all that the country he represents is known to stand for.  I introduce this line of thinking in today’s column through a brief outline of Richard Condon’s 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate.

Condon’s novel focuses attention on the son of a prominent United States political family who has been brainwashed into becoming an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party.  Sergeant Raymond Shaw, together with the rest of his infantry platoon are kidnapped in 1952 during the Korean War.  They are taken to Manchuria to be brainwashed into believing that Shaw saved their lives in combat, and are then released back to the United States. For his alleged heroism under fire, Congress subsequently awards Shaw the Medal of Honor.

In reality, the brainwashed Shaw is now a sleeper agent operating under a KGB handler, his domineering mother, a ruthless power broker working with Communists to overthrow the United States’ government. Shaw is subconsciously activated to follow orders whenever he views the Queen of Diamonds playing card while playing solitaire. Attention in the novel centers on whether Shaw will be effectively manipulated by his mother to impose her husband, a United States Senator, as a puppet dictator, directly under her control.

Of course, the novel’s concept of the Manchurian Candidate takes a very particular form.  Nevertheless, the notion that a President of the United States may be driven by a deeply-rooted, perhaps hidden, obsessional hatred of his country’s history, institutions and expressed ideals is truly worthy of a thoughtful analysis and discussion.

So that is what I intend to do.

Hat Tip: Tim

President Obama: incompetent or insane?

March 26, 2011

“It all seems rather mad doesn’t it?  The decision to become involved militarily in the Libyan civil war couldn’t take place within a less hospitable context.  The U.S. is reeling from spending and deficits, we’re already in two wars, our military has been stretched to the limit, we’re restive at home, and no one, really, sees President Obama as the kind of leader you’d follow over the top. ‘This way, men!’ ‘No, I think I’ll stay in the trench.’ …America has been through a difficult 10 years, and the burden of proof on the need for U.S. action would be with those who supported intervention (in Libya).  Chief among them, of course, is the president, who made the decision as commander in chief.  He needs to sit down and tell the American people how this thing can possibly turn out well.  He needs to tell them why it isn’t mad.” Peggy Noonan, ‘The Speech Obama Hasn’t Given’, The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2011

In my column yesterday, I outlined the lack of internal consistency in Barack Obama’s expressed objectives regarding Colonel Gaddafi and U.S. military intervention in Libya.  I further outlined the apparent intransitivity of  the President’s revealed  preferences with respect to the appropriate nature of  U.S. actions in pursuit of such internally inconsistent goals. I noted that such behavior may be indicative of insanity as medically defined.

I am not alone in registering such concern. Peggy Noonan (former speech-writer for President Ronald Reagan) raises similar concerns in the above-cited column.  She notes that the President has not spoken to the nation from the Oval Office to explain just what his objectives are and to justify what the United States is doing in furtherance of these objectives:

“Without a formal and extended statement, the air of weirdness, uncertainty and confusion that surrounds this endeavor will only deepen.” Peggy Noonan, ibid.

I am torn between judging the President to be utterly out of his depth intellectually in dealing with complex choices and judging him to be insane. I incline to the former judgment because, so far, his observable personal behavior has not demonstrated notable instability. In either case, the President’s advisors are wise to distance him from the television cameras and from the world’s press. It is not in the interest of the United States to advertise that a sitting -president  is either intellectually-challenged or technically insane.

Who is the mad dog?

March 25, 2011

Insanity is a term usually applied to an individual who is incapable of making rational choices. Evidence of such insanity takes various forms and by no means is definitive. However, one criterion surely is whether an individual is capable of pursuing  clearly defined and internally-consistent objectives efficiently, given the resources available to him.

By reference to this criterion, Colonel Gaddafi appears to be the most rational of men. His stated objective is to rule Libya by some mixture of loyalty and repression. For 41 years, he has done so successfully. Rationally, as loyalty to his regime subsides, he steps up on repression; and vice versa. Such is the prescribed behavior for a rational autocrat.

By reference to the same criterion, President Obama hovers much closer to insanity. With respect to Libya and Gaddafi, his preferences appear to be riddled with inconsistencies and his pursuit of confused objectives appears to be exceptionally inefficient.

First Obama suggests that the United States should not meddle. Then he suggests that it should meddle, but only to limit Gaddafi’s use of air-space.  Then he urges that Gaddafi should be removed, but not by external force.  Then he commits US resources to an air-invasion that targets Gaddafi’s ground-forces. Then he allows President Sarkozy to take overall responsibility for the air attacks, knowing that these will target Gaddafi and his forces. Then he begs NATO  to assume responsibility for whatever it chooses to do. All the while, he roams around Latin America, on a goodwill tour, shaking some very dubious leaders by the hand, and toasting their successes.  Is this pattern of behavior truly more rational than that of Colonel Gaddafi?

The third green bottle is just about to fall

March 24, 2011

Two euro-green bottles – Greece and Ireland –  are already on the floor, smashed into fragments by economic forces unleashed in September 2008. Now a third green bottle – Portugal – is wobbling dangerously under a mixture of economic and political troubles. Angela Merkel surely must be wondering about her own political future as hard-working Germans labor increasingly to bail-out their fickless neighbors.

Portugal wobbles because its electorate does not relish swallowing the harsh medicine necessitated by past indulgence. The electors look for spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down. Unfortunately, they swallowed all that sugar during the years of high-rolling. And now the cupboard is bare. Only salt remains to be rubbed into smarting sores.

Parliament’s rejection of a new government austerity plan on March 23, 2011 spurred the resignation of socialist Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, and launched a new uncertain phase in Euroland’s sovereign-debt crisis.  As merciless bond markets respond to Portuguese political paralysis, so Portuguese government borrowing costs will escalate, driving Portugal ever closer to bail-out territory. When that occurs, 14 members will be carrying three on their own sagging backs. And contagion suggests that a fourth green bottle, Spain, will  seriously start to wobble.  And that is a much bigger burden for the remaining 13 members to carry.

How wise Britain was to stay outside this fundamentally non-optimal monetary union!  How long will it be before the German electorate rebels and the lynch-pin of Euroland pulls out. Just as in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, in any welfare transfer system, the productive carry the unproductive. Worse still, the system erodes from within as even the moderately productive seize the opportunity to relax their efforts in order to live off their betters.  Until, that is, their betters slough off their feckless burdens, and disappear into the Colorado Mountains.

Hey man! Wasting time on the budget might lower my golf handicap

March 23, 2011

“The White House has roused itself to military action in Libya, but cannot summon equal resolve on another matter of vital national interest: fiscal policy.  Halfway through the current fiscal year, the US still has no budget and shows little sign of getting one. …Every day of this ridiculous drift increases the risk of a market backlash and another economic setback.  It won’t require troops on the grounds, but Barack Obama needs to intervene….Mr. Obama should be embarrassed that the Senate finds it necessary to ask him to do his job….Public opinion must be brought round, otherwise the stasis on Capitol Hill will drag on.. The President, if he chooses to engage, might sway the country and break the impasse. Failing to try is inexcusable.”  ‘Editorial: End ridiculous fiscal drift’ The Financial Times, March 23, 2011

The Financial Times is far too kind to President Obama. It assumes that his fiscal inaction is a non-response to complex political pressures. Instead, the Editorial should focus on the state of the President’s little grey cells.

In the early 1960s, Britain’s Conservative Party replaced Harold Macmillan with Sir Alec Douglas Home as Prime Minister. Sir Alec was a ‘jolly nice fellow, what!’  However, he admitted to being a bit of a dunce intellectually, graduating from Oxford University with a Third (a  gentleman’s F grade at Oxford at that time), and having to rely extensively on matchsticks to count beyond his own ten finger digits. Sir Alec did not last very long. In the heat of Britain’s so-called new industrial revolution, Labour’s  Harold Wilson replaced him as  Prime Minister within a matter of weeks.

Could it be that Sir Alec has crossed the Atlantic and morphed into Barack Obama?  Millions, billions, trillions, what the Hell?  They are only wretched numbers, and I cannot even read all those zeros on the teleprompter! Now when it comes to calculating my golf handicap,  I  always rely on  a good caddy to help me out.  There is a smart idea!  Danny Noonan, how about taking over at the Office of Management and Budget, while you also make sure that my golf handicap remains impressive! And we can quaff down a flagon or two of good claret together while U.S. fighter-jets go down in the Libyan desert!

The high price of a limited-I.Q. president

March 22, 2011

President Barack Obama has been completely out of his policy depth from the first day that he set foot in the White House in January 2009. The evidence increasingly indicates that his problem is not simply one of inexperience, or of a poor choice of advisors and cabinet colleagues, or of an impossible range of problems unexpectedly unloaded upon his office.  The fundamental problem, I suspect, is one of intellect. As a long-time academic, assessing intellectual capacity is one area in which I have substantial experience. I also believe that I have good skills in that area of responsibility.

And the evidence that I have seen signals that President Obama suffers from an I.Q. level uncomfortably close to the very minimum necessary to fulfill the responsibilites of any complex office. Note that I am not suggesting that the I.Q. of the President is below the average for the population as a whole. Surely Obama can function on the basketball field, or on the golf course, as a community organizer, even as a state senator, as well as or slightly better than any average citizen.

But average is just not good enough for the highest position of authority in the federal government of the United States. The I.Q. required for such a complex position must rest within the top 10 percent of the population – the level that comprises the nation’s best scholars, its top businessmen, lawyers and highly trained professionals. So, you may well ask,  does not Obama satisfy that criterion by reason of his education at Columbia and Harvard and his decade long membership of the Law School faculty at the University of Chicago?

Sadly, my answer has to be equivocal. For the curse of affirmative action policies hangs over the intellectual credentials of the President. Would Obama have gained entry to Columbia and then to Harvard in the absence of such policies?  We just do not know.  Would he have obtained the qualifications that he secured without such policies?  Again we just do not know. For affirmative action reaches well beyond the tweaking of entry standards. It extends even to grading policies in institutions where faculty destroy academic standards as they reach out to ‘make up’ for past injustices. Unlike his predecessors, President Obama refuses to make his academic records available for public inspection. That surely may be relevant to this discussion.

What we do know is the relative failure of Obama to take advantage of opportunities that subsequently arose. For example, as a Student Editor of the Harvard Law Review, he failed to secure publication even for one short comment under his own name.  As a decade-long faculty member at the University of Chicago, he failed to secure even a single publication, whether in the Chicago Law Review, or elsewhere. As the recipient of a significant royalty advance for a much-vaunted biographical book, Obama failed to deliver, year after year, until allegedly handing over the project to be ghost-written by an accomplished author.

Lost opportunities followed Obama into his political career. In particular, his short tenure in the United States Senate is remarkable both for its lack of any creative contributions to policy and for his low attendance rating.  In essence, Obama was a phantom non-performer in that arena.

Lost opportunities surely followed Obama into the White House. Inheriting a rising budget deficit and a National Debt crisis, Obama pursued long-rejected hydraulic Keynesian policies of deficit-financing and asset nationalization. Confronted with a health care crisis caused by a weak market linkage between customers and suppliers, Obama intervened  further to sever such linkages, promising a  post-2014 health-market break-down that now strikes fear into the hearts even of the far-left of his party. 

Lost opportunities now scar the foreign policy area of his responsibilities. The President has allowed himself to be out-smarted by President Sarkozy over foreign policy with respect to Libya, as he flounders with inconsistencies in dealing with similar situations in Egypt,  Bahrain, the Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. A President who roundly condemned foreign policy adventurism on the part of his immediate predecessor, now shows himself to be equally adventurous but far less able in his meddlesome interventions into the affairs of sovereign nations. A President who condemned holding prisoners of war without trial now extends those policies. A President who condemned U.S. military involvements in Iraq and in Afghanistan, now continues those same involvements into the second half of his term in office.

The Founding Fathers wisely provided for the ballot box removal of failing presidents, albeit only  at four-year intervals.  The 2012 elections will soon be on the horizon. Wake up America! Your post-1989 era of costless complacency is well and truly over. Henceforth, you should carefully weed out all  IQ-challenged would-be contestants  from presidential consideration. Only individuals with  IQs of 140+  need apply!


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