Friday, December 04, 2009

Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic

Comment from Germany

President Barack Obama's Tuesday speech left a bad taste in many mouths. Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric -- and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.

One can hardly blame the West Point leadership. The academy commanders did their best to ensure that Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama's speech would be well-received. Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond "enthusiastically" to the speech. But it didn't help: The soldiers' reception was cool.

One didn't have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama's speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly.

An additional 30,000 US soldiers are to march into Afghanistan -- and then they will march right back out again. America is going to war -- and from there it will continue ahead to peace. It was the speech of a Nobel War Prize laureate.

For each troop movement, Obama had a number to match. US strength in Afghanistan will be tripled relative to the Bush years, a fact that is sure to impress hawks in America. But just 18 months later, just in time for Obama's re-election campaign, the horror of war is to end and the draw down will begin. The doves of peace will be let free.

The speech continued in that vein. It was as though Obama had taken one of his old campaign speeches and merged it with a text from the library of ex-President George W. Bush. Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the "world's great religions." He promised that responsibility for the country's security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai -- a government which he said was "corrupt." The Taliban is dangerous and growing stronger. But "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars," he added.

It was a dizzying combination of surge and withdrawal, of marching to and fro. The fast pace was reminiscent of plays about the French revolution: Troops enter from the right to loud cannon fire and then they exit to the left. And at the end, the dead are left on stage.

But in this case, the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama's magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker. It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives -- their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.

Political dreams and yearnings for the future belong elsewhere. That was where the political charmer Obama was able to successfully capture the imaginations of millions of voters. It is a place where campaigners -- particularly those with a talent for oration -- are fond of taking refuge. It is also where Obama set up his campaign headquarters, in an enormous tent called "Hope."

In his speech on America's new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught. The American president doesn't need any opponents at the moment. He's already got himself.



Republicans Accuse Obama of ACORN Cover-up

House Republicans accused the Obama administration Tuesday of covering up criminal activities committed by the embattled community activist group ACORN, saying that the president has used the group as an illegal political tool to help himself and other Democrats get elected. "The current administration is fast becoming, in reality, the war room of ACORN's political machine," said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican. "I am concerned that the era of corruption promulgated by ACORN and protected by the White House is just the beginning."

The top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said ACORN has engaged in "illegal, partisan activities designed to help individual Democratic members." "This (action) goes from city councilmen to state assemblymen all the way to President Barack Obama," he said.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Obama's past ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) will "taint any conclusions" by any Justice Department probe into the group.

Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith made their remarks at a Capitol Hill forum on ACORN that they sponsored. The event was attended by a handful of House Republicans but no Democrats. Congressional Democrats, while condemning many of ACORN's practices, see no illegal ties between the group and the White House. Many of the Republican lawmakers used the event to try to link the White House to ACORN - a group under intense scrutiny after hidden-camera videos showed its workers advising a woman posing as a prostitute how to cheat on taxes and loan applications. The liberal organization also has been accused of voter registration fraud that benefited Democratic candidates in several states.

Mr. Obama served as an ACORN lawyer during his years as a community organizer in Chicago but has cut ties with the group since elected as president. "When this investigation is finally finished ... these roads following ACORN will lead to the White House," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

Republicans have pressed the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a comprehensive investigation of ACORN. They are upset that the Democrat-controlled Congress hasn't launched its own probe. Congress recently canceled federal funding to ACORN and its affiliated organizations. But the Justice Department released a memo last week concluding that the government should pay ACORN for contracts that were in place before Congress passed the law.



Government Motors

Amid creepy assurances that the firing of GM's CEO Fritz Henderson was just business, evidence is piling high it wasn't. It was politics, and another reason why government must get out of the private sector. The surprise "resignation" of General Motors Chief Executive Henderson Tuesday, coming on the back of silky assurances three weeks ago that he had the support of the board, and just hours before he was to keynote a trade show in Los Angeles, had all the earmarks of one of those government operations World War II GI's used to joke about for incompetence and absurdity: Close enough for government work. Catch-22. Snafu.

It points to an overbearing government presence in a distressed industry that's only making matters worse. Government can be arbitrary, driven by politics and addicted to power. This move against Henderson is like one Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez would make -- and will have similar results.

Henderson was a GM lifer who "didn't fit in" with the GM board's political appointees. Unlike them, he knew the car business. He pared the product line, stabilized GM's market share at 20% and turned a profit on some units. But he couldn't transform the company with a political board looking over his shoulder, cutting his salary to $950,000 and second-guessing his every move. Surprise.

The White House knows this and tried to conceal its hand. "This decision was made by the board of directors alone. The administration was not involved in the decision," a Treasury Department spokesman said. That's rich, given that the government owns 60% of GM after sinking $52 billion in bailout cash into the company. You can bet it owns the board.



BrookesNews Update

Blame Keynes, not China, for America's economic mess :Money is not merely a veil that hides the reality that ultimately goods exchange against other goods but that money itself is an extremely potent force that influences real factors. Failure to understand this fact is creating financial chaos and giving rise to dangerous fallacies
Why the ETS report and Rudd's carbon tax are dangerous to the economy : No matter how it is dressed up any emissions trading scheme (ETS) is in fact a carbon tax which in turn translates into a tax on economic growth and hence living standards. And Rudd's insane ETS is no exception. Moreover, Frontier Economics report on the ETS should be rejected
The global warming hoax: The media's silent scandal : The biggest scientific hoax in history was exposed when emails revealed that evidence supporting global warming had been falsified, counter evidence suppressed, data doctored and critics blacklisted. Yet the mainstream has done everythin in its power to spike this story, proving once and for all that the so-called media is thoroughly corrupt and filled with lying leftists
Leftwing history v. economic theory : An example of how leftist thinking distorts students' views about capitalism and the industrial revolution
When they killed Che Guevara : Che Guevara was a coward and a sadistic killer. He murdered for the fun of it. Young boys, retarded kids, pregnant women: It was all the same to this vicious leftwing excuse for a human being. And yet Hollywood celebrities, leftwing journalists and US-hating intellectuals praise this thug as someone to be admired. So what does this tell us about them?
Emails of climate researchers buttress case of warming fraud : Global warming fanatics are on the ropes. Emails reveal collusion and fraud among top global warming scientists. Now we know: Britain's Climate Research Unit has been lying about data and suppressing evidence to the contrary. Every scientist involved in this fraud should be fired. Moreover, those who have suffered a financial loss because of their shenanigans should be allowed to sue for damages
Obama's NYC Show: Starring Khalid Mohammed : Obama and Holder are using 911 to put President Bush on trial. The result of their leftist hatred could be a legal fiasco and a victory for terrorism. By politicizing the Justice Department Obama set another disastrous precedent in U.S. terrorism policy



Former NASA climate scientist pleads guilty to contract fraud: "A former top climate scientist who had become of one the scientific world's most cited authorities on the human effect on Earth's atmosphere was sentenced to probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to steering lucrative no-bid contracts to his wife's company. In addition to a year's probation, former NASA manager Mark Schoeberl, 60, of Silver Spring, was also fined $10,000 and ordered to put in 50 hours of community service. He admitted in the late summer that he had hid some $50,000 in NASA contracts for a company called Animated Earth, which was run by Schoeberl's wife, Barbara. Prosecutors alleged that Schoeberl tried to help his wife's firm for years. When his colleagues balked at giving no-bid contracts to his wife's firm, Schoeberl pressured them to steer money to his wife through indirect means. Schoeberl was the chief scientist of the Goddard Space Flight Center's Earth Sciences Division and the head of the Aura Project, a NASA mission to study the Earth's ozone layer, air quality and climate. He has written extensively about the depletion of the ozone level, and the influence of humans on global climate change".

NY: Lawmakers reject homosexual "marriage": "New York lawmakers rejected a bill Wednesday that would have made their state the sixth to allow gay marriage, disheartening advocates already stung by a similar decision by Maine voters just last month. The New York measure failed by a wider margin than expected, falling 12 votes short in a 24-38 decision by the state Senate. The Assembly had earlier approved the bill, and Gov. David Paterson, perhaps the bill’s strongest advocate, had pledged to sign it.”

Positive externalities of riches: "[C]learly there are many who are far more prosperous than I, even if I doubt that too many have enjoyed the degree of happiness I have been fortunate to experience thus far. Still, I could easily benefit from having a good deal more money, pretty much like everyone else. Yet, I have never felt envy in my life. Somehow the sight of greater wealth on the part of others has never lead me to desire to exchange their lives for mine. Nor, especially, have I ever felt ill will toward those who are rich. On the contrary, I have been thoroughly pleased that the very rich are with us. And there are some good reasons for my pleasure with them, even if I can barely think of myself in their shoes.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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