Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

President Obama in turbulent waters steers a boat without a compass

June 30, 2013

When a president is elected into office on the basis of affirmative action criteria, the nation would be fortunate indeed if the elected official were to be truly competent. The United States has enjoyed no such good fortune. President Obama’s first term clearly demonstrated an exceptional level of incompetence in matters economic and international, the two key functions of any modern presidency.

To achieve re-election, Barack Obama had to run an entirely negative campaign that vilified his Republican opponent, a man of evident success in economic affairs, though inexperienced in matters international. Because he could not run on his record, and would not run on a coherent future policy platform, President Obama returned to the White House bereft of almost any policy program capable of attaining majority support in both houses of Congress.

Six months into his second term, President Obama appears to be completely lost, aimlessly steering the vessel of state in increasingly turbulent waters, without any compass to define his direction. Domestically, his only viable policy is immigration reform and he has abandoned details of any such action to the Congress. His economic policy is in a shambles, unacceptable either to Democrats or Republicans, or any combination of both. His international policies are in ruins, as powers, both great and small, respond to his overtures with varying degrees of open contempt.

If the situation does not change – and effective change appears to be beyond the reach of this diminished administration – President Obama will be remembered only for Obamacare. And Obamacare promises to be the most disastrous program ever unfolded on the United States.

This is what predictably happens when criteria other than past performance and future potential are applied by a majority of an electorate in two successive presidential elections. Eight years of uninterrupted incompetence gives rise to a great deal of ruin in a nation.

A new dawn of American impotence

June 25, 2013

Since January 2009, President Obama has pursued a foreign policy designed to remove the United States from nettlesome foreign entanglements. The world has watched and understood. President Obama now discovers that the United States is running out of foreign influence. Any realpolitik analyst would anticipate such an outcome. For Obama, the unfocused dreamer, reality has come as a complete shock.

Reality has finally dawned because of Obama’s inability to bring back Edward Snowden to so-called American ‘justice’. Foreign powers, great and small, evidence schadenfreude, as they watch the United States president slowly twisting in a biting wind of his own creation.

But much more is awash for Obama’s America than Edward Snowden. Afghanistan’s understated debacle is a spectacular example. Last week, the Taliban opened an office in Doha for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - the name that Mullah Omar gave to his regime before its 2001 downfall at the hands of President George W Bush. In response to this office opening, President Hamid Kharzai shut down negotiations with the United States over post-2014 security cooperation.

So what has really happened? Merely to get the Taliban to the table for a bogus peace process, Obama and Kerry agreed, at the urging of Pakistan, to allow Mullah Omar to access the negotiations on his own terms: no acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, no ceasefire with international forces, not even a pledge never again to allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorism. Worse still, Obama and Kerry are to allow the terrorist Haqqani network – whose exploits include the 2011 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul – a seat at the table.

So, having legitimized Haqqani and given the Taliban everything it wanted, in exchange for nothing, the U.S. now finds itself dumped by its own client government in Kabul. That government can always turn to Iran as a substitute patron. No peace, no peace process, no ally, no leverage and no moral standing, all in a single stroke.

Well done, Barack Obama and John Kerry! You truly have shown British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, how far appeasement can really go when genuine pacifists come to power.

As for the American electorate, well this is what happens when you twice elect a president into office on the principle of affirmative action.

Hat Tip: Bret Stephens, ‘The Age of American Impotence’, The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2013

Obama makes a complete fool of himself at G8 summit

June 20, 2013

Perhaps President Obama suffered from serious jet-lag at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. Perhaps he overindulged in nicotine inhalation, or something a little less legal. In any event, he made a fool of himself at the summit and insulted two senior members of the British cabinet.

First he referred to George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, three times as Jeffrey Osborne. This surely was not an easy mistake to make. After all George Osborne is white, with a full head of hair and the son of Sir Peter Osborne, the 17th Baronet of Ballintaylor and Ballyman. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he is manifestly a product of the British aristocracy.

In contrast, Jeffrey Osborne is black and bald as a coot. He is the son of a trumpeter and a popular soul singer. He is clearly not a product of any social upper class. Upon being advised of his egregious error, the President lamely explained: ‘I’m sorry man. I must have confused you with my favorite R & B singer’.There will be some ribald jokes about that episode between Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street!

Second, President Obama publicly stated that Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is better looking than David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. Perhaps he was trying to stir up trouble between the leaders of the Coalition government. More likely he envies David Cameron because he feels slightly vertically challenged in the presence of the tall British P.M. Perhaps he envies David Cameron because earlier at the summit Cameron had upstaged President Vladimir Putin by plunging into an ice-cold Irish loch for an early morning swim. Putin acknowledged that he could not face the cold temperature. For sure Obama was not going to display his rail-thin body to the cold temperature and the closely watching media cameras.

Given that Obama’s attempt at a JFK or a Reagan speech at the Berlin Wall fell utterly flat, his offer of a nuclear warhead reduction program laughed out of sight by Putin, he may be well-advised in the future to spend his time on the golf courts with Tiger Wood. At least he can be sure that there will be plenty of fun and games in store when living the high life with an unleashed Tiger!

Ben Bernanke finds difficulty in dismounting the bull

June 19, 2013

Ben Bernanke eagerly mounted the market bull in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Using monetary expansion as a device for refueling the market economy, Bernanke and his colleagues at the Federal Reserve have massively increased the magnitude of base money. By purchasing long-term Treasuries and mortgage securities, the Fed has driven long-term interest rates well below their underlying market equilibrium, imposing significant costs on seniors relying on fixed interest receipts to fund their golden years.

Mounting that bull was easy, cheered on as Bernanke was by almost everyone who had suffered capital losses during the financial meltdown. There is, however, no such thing as a free lunch. Sooner or later, those who mount and ride the bull must figure a way how to dismount without imposing a significant setback to a sluggish economy.Bernanke now confronts exactly that quandary in determining when and how to taper the current QE4 monetary expansion.

The eternal problems confronting the bull dismount are timing and political will. The timing to some extent is under his control. The political will lies elsewhere at higher levels in the political system. Bernanke is already learning the import of the second factor. Earlier this week, President Obama strongly hinted that 2014 is the end of the line for this would-be rodeo star. Wall Street has it that Janet Yellen will be Obama’s chosen successor. And she will ride the bull into hyper-inflation if that is what it takes to keep all the bubbles from bursting.

If Bernanke wishes to dismount the bull before he is ejected by the Big Man, he has little wiggle-room available. After all, he has all but promised near-zero rates into mid-2015 and he oversees a Fed balance sheet that has all but quadrupled in five and a half years to some $3.4 trillion.

Interest groups in Washington and on Wall Street are already urging him that it is too soon to dismount, and dangerous to signal any reduction in Fed bond buying in the near to less-near term. The housing recovery may be on its way, they say, but it is fragile indeed. The jobless rate may be falling, but at the pace of a snail. Deflation, they say hovers on the immediate horizon, and would make its dangerous presence felt should QE4 taper out.

My advice to Ben Bernanke is simple. Dismount now, while you still have some control over the bull. Recovery has been fragile over four years of monetary expansion. Much harm has been done to the economy by the manipulation of interest rates and the socialization of risk. Move monetary policy back to neutral and allow the real economy to breathe and adjust to market forces. I know that this asks a lot for a hard-bitten Keynesian such as you. But surely, by now, you understand that we do not live in a Keynesian world.

Hat Tip: ‘Bernanke Rides the Bull’, The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2013

Put your trust in Barack Obama and Erich Schmidt?

June 11, 2013

President Obama and Google CEO, Erich Schmidt, potentially can access almost every email message transmitted across the United States and well beyond. Barack Obama is a left-leaning Democrat. Erich Schmidt, in 2012, maxed out his political contributions in support of Barack Obama. So he also must be presumed to be a left-leaning Democrat (or a wealth-seeking hypocrite, take your pick).

So do you trust Obama/Schmidt to refrain from utilizing this available information for left-wing political purposes? Do you think that they might do so, if such data were likely to swing votes in favor of the Democratic Party? Do bears defecate in the woods?

We know for sure that President Obama did not come clean with respect to the data mining that his administration has established, under the guise of monitoring terrorism. In itself, this demonstrates utter contempt for the people, who have hired him as their lackey to represent their interests. We know that Erich Schmidt did not voluntarily disclose the extent of Google’s monitoring of internet activity, even though Google supposedly is in a contractual relationship with its clients.So basically, they already have reputations somewhat inferior to second-hand car salesmen.

How comfortable are you when dealing with a second-hand salesman at some backstreet big city garage? Would you leave your wallet or your handbag on the table when visiting the washroom in such an establishment?

Bravo, Edward Snowden for whistle-blowing on Obama! Bravo, Putin’s Russia, for offering Edward Snowden political asylum as he runs for his life, hotly pursued by vengeance-seeking U.S. snoops.

Remember Jason Bourne, anyone?

Xi Jinping confronts Barack Obama in a high noon showdown

June 9, 2013

On June 7 and June 8, 2013 Xi Jinping met with Barack Obama at Sunnylands for a high noon confrontation. The outcome of this face-off is of crucial importance for war and peace in Asia and the South Pacific and for the future economic performance of the world economy. The stakes could scarcely be higher.

If the talks fail, it is likely that Sparta (the United States) will end up in a state of war with Athens (The People’s Republic of China), not because either party desires war, but because, as the Greek historian, Thucydides noted, the Spartans feared the growing influence of Athens.

President Xi Jinping brought some heavy artillery to the showdown, while Barack Obama nervously fingered the six-shooter at his hip. Xi arrived in California via Mexico, Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago. If Barack Obama claims now that the United States is an Asian regional power, Xi demonstrates that he is setting up outposts in America’s traditional backyard. As America’s banker, China is now in a powerful position to squeeze the U.S. economy by offloading U.S. Treasuries on a significant scale, if the U.S. does not conform to his China dream. Creditors typically hold the better cards when dealing with their profligate debtors on the international stage. That holstered pistol at Obama’s hip looks increasingly futile at this crossroads meeting. Even if Obama proves to be the faster on the draw, Xi has a million men under arms, whereas the United States sadly has only a few increasingly ragged, under-provisioned divisions.

So negotiations will have been somewhat one-sided at the crossroads. Obama will have requested an end to China’s hacking of intellectual propertry. Fat chance of that when such hacking is a major source of China’s growing economic presence on the world stage. Obama will have pled for China to prevent North Korea from placing nuclear tips on its inter-continental ballistic missiles. Fat chance of that given that China still views North Korea as an important piece on its weiqi-board. Obama will have asked China to retreat from its territorial threat to Japan’s island specks. Such a retreat would not go down well with the People’s Liberation Army, a special interest that Xi Jinping would ignore at his peril.

In retreat, Obama will have offered to facilitate China’s economic incursion into North America, allowing such successful Chinese companies as Huawei and CNOOC further to penetrate the American market-place. He will have offered to scale back American use of the World Trade Organization to curb China’s market dominance in key markets. He will have been wise to retreat in this way. For such retreats enabled China’s ancient dynasties to survive repeated incursions from the West at a time when the West had the guns and the divisions and the Middle Kingdom did not.

“the lesson of history is that everybody loses if the world allows legitimate worries to get out of hand. More than 2,000 years ago Greece was torn apart by Sparta’s failure to manage the rise of Athens. A hundred years ago Europe was torn apart bu its failure to manage the rise of Germany. If the 21st century is to be more peaceful than the 20th, America and China must learn to co-operate better.” ‘The summit’, The Economist, June 8, 2013

IRS targets Obama’s enemies in extraordinary scandal

May 18, 2013

“We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they’re seeing. The Justice Department’s assault on the associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration’s credibility deeply, possibly irretrievably damaged….Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed. As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president’s answers when he’s pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.” Peggy Noonan, ‘This Is No Ordinary Scandal’, The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2013

President Obama, albeit sheepishly, acts as though these scandals are unconnected to the White House.Like the chief of police in Casablanca he is shocked, shocked, to discover in the newspapers what has happened! President Obama, however, is deeply connected to these scandals. He is not a bystander, like you and I. This happens to be his administration. The Justice Department and the IRS are his executive agencies. He runs and oversees them.

In this column, I focus on the IRS scandal, once again. For it is much the more serious of the two. There are two parts to the IRS scandal. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of taxes of conservative political activists.

In order to suppress conservative groups the IRS demanded donor rolls, membership lists, data on all contributions, names of volunteers, the contents of all speeches made by members, Facebook posts, minutes of all meetings, and copies of all materials handed out at gatherings. When asked what its members were reading, one group responded: The U.S. Constitution! Now I can assure you from first hand experience that these questions are not routinely requested by the IRS. When The Locke Institute applied for 501 (c) 3 status in 1994, it took about a year to secure that status. But the questions were always fair and politically unbiased. And that was during the administration of President Bill Clinton, who was not above a dirty trick or two to harass his supposed enemies.

The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have publicly opposed the administration. Such politically-oriented audits constitute the use of government power to intrude on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens. The purpose is to overwhelm and intimidate – to kill the opposition, audit by audit by audit. Such behavior is to be expected of such low-lives as Vladimir Putin, Tsar of All the Russias. Perhaps now it must be expected by such low-lives as President Obama, Tsar of the United States of America.

Shame on you Barack Obama! You disgrace the high office that you are privileged to hold.

President Obama vanishes into the ether of ego

May 2, 2013

“At the president’s news conference Tuesday, when a reporter wondered whether setbacks on gun control and the sequester suggested Mr. Obama was having problems pushing his second-term agenda, the president replied, ‘Well if you put it that way, Jonathan, maybe I should pack up and go home.’ Whoa, big fella. The presidency is a big game. We want you suited up and on the floor.'” Daniel Henninger, ‘Presidential Followership’, The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2013

That the presidency attracts individuals focused on Number One is no revelation. That the focus sometimes reaches the psychological condition of narcissism, when a president actually lacks self-love, because of a disrupted childhood, and seeks compensatory adoration from campaign followers, is also not unknown. President Obama suffers from an excessive focus on Number One and a chronic form of narcissism. With 40 months in office remaining, this is a dangerous situation for the United States.

It is dangerous because such a leader essentially becomes a follower of any group of adoring citizens, concerned never to breach their love by an act of statesmanship. Standing essentially aloof from the major branch of government – the Congress – unable to lower his self-esteem by negotiating deals that are helpful to the public at large, Obama is trapped by his followers into a followership mode of governance. That is why he is essentially impotent on gun control laws, on fiscal policy, on Syria, and on Middle East policy.

“Whether Roosevelt, Nixon, Bill Clinton or George W Bush, every second-term president must in time come to grips with the reality that it can’t be about just him. It, the presidency, is unavoidably about offering clear leadership for all the American people and a watching, always unsettled world. If Barack Obama insists it’s about something else, everyone, including him, will have their bags packed for a long 40 months.” ibid.

When a president forfeits the trust of his party

April 18, 2013

In 2009, President Obama begged and pressured a number of reluctant Democrats in the Senate and in the House to vote in favor of Obamacare – a policy that was unraveling in the opinion polls as the debate progressed. A sufficient number voted reluctantly in favor to carry the bill into law, albeit with reliance on a procedural dodge.

In 2010 and 2012, President Obama stood idly by as several of those reluctant political allies walked the electoral plank into the wilderness that awaits lifetime politicians who finally confront the realities of the regular work place.

In 2013, President Obama has begged and pressured a number of reluctant Democrats in the Senate to vote in favor of gun control legislation that is anathema to the voter majorities in their respective constituencies. Electoral memories may be short, but politicians memories are forever. So predictably, this time, those marginal Senators refused to walk the plank for Obama. And Obama’s bill has failed to progress.

The lesson for Barack Obama is serious indeed. For the remainder of his second term, he cannot expect to move his political agenda into law unless he tailors policies to secure political majorities.Any leader who forfeits trust places himself in such a quandary.

Predictably, Obama will now have to tack back to the political center if he desires to earn any presidential legacy for his name other than Obamacare, which is a pending disaster.

Jon S. Corzine blasted for MF Global collapse

April 5, 2013

Because Jon S. Corzine is a Mister Big in the Democratic Party, he has been treated with kid gloves by the left-leaning Obama administration, by the Democratic Party-controlled financial oversight commissions, and by the mainstream media since the collapse of MF Global in 2011. Any Republican in his situation would have been languishing in jail some 18 months ago.

Fortunately, the person leading the investigation into the failure of MF Global is Louis J. Freeh, former Director of the FBI, and a judge, and surely no sychophant to the Obama administration.

According to the bankruptcy trustee’s report, released on April 4, 2013, Jon S. Corzine, former Governor of New Jersey and U.S. senator, deserves much of the blame for the firm’s demise. Indeed, the report mentions Corzine by name a total of 284 times, more than once per page. and concludes that he and his management team engaged in ‘negligent conduct’

Mr. Corzine, ran MF Global from March 2010 until its failure in October 2011 – ran it into the ground one might say. He embarked on a ‘risky business strategy’ of betting the wrong way on European government debt and ignored ‘glaring deficiencies’ in controls. Unusually for a chief executive, Corzine executed some of the trades personally ‘even placing trades in the middle of meetings’. As a consequence of such negligence – and who knows maybe malfeasance – about $1 billion of customers’ money went missing. Mr Corzine has made no attempt to replenish those monies from his personal assets, though we may expect private negligence suits to place him into bankruptcy unless he makes a run for it to a non-extraditable safe haven.

As the European debt crisis systematically worsened, MF Global started to receive margin calls that threatened its liquidity. At one point, Corzine even debated how aggressively the broker-dealer, on an intraday basis, could borrow customer funds from its futures brokerage arm, totally ignoring the requirement that the two accounts must be kept segregated and secured.

A more disgusting specimen of the human race than Jon Corzine would be difficult to find. He is right down there with the sewer rats. Yet, he is unlikely to serve any time in jail. His Democratic Party friends at the SEC and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and his good friend, Barack Obama, will make sure that good ole’ Jon Corzine avoids any criminal charges.

Such is the nature of crony-capitalism in the United States.
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