(Denver Post, Oct. 28) Have you voted yet? Our state’s nine electoral votes could hand the presidency to Romney or Obama -- and the Colorado outcome in 2012 could turn on a few hundred ballots, much like the Florida outcome in 2000.
Within months of achieving statehood in 1876, Colorado tipped the presidential election for Rutherford B. Hayes, as historian Tom Noel noted recently in these pages. Yet the dominant issue of that era, equal rights for former black slaves, wasn’t settled by the election. It troubled the American conscience for almost another century.
So in battling over the high stakes to be decided between the candidates next week, we need to recognize how much this election will NOT settle. It’s folly to assume that the Nov. 6 verdict ties a ribbon around everything. “Keeping the republic,” our task as free citizens in Benjamin Franklin’s words, is a marathon not a sprint.
Whether your ticket wins or loses, we’ll all wake up in the same America as before. It’s an America where neither Republicans nor Democrats have yet shown the backbone to keep our deficits and debt from worsening to the level of Greece -- with broke California, no longer the Golden State, leading the way. Think that will suddenly change in 2013?
An AP profile on Xi Jingping, soon to be president of China, says he will assume power confident in “Beijing’s belief that its chief rival Washington is in decline.” Osama bin Laden’s taunt that America is a “weak horse” echoes from beyond the grave, emboldening al Qaeda in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the mullahs in Tehran.
Much as I favor the GOP, one party’s victory won’t instantly dispel those doubts. For they arise from what a smart investor or a winning coach calls the fundamentals. Those who are short-selling the USA take note of the actuarial tables for the rise and fall of great nations – which predict a lifespan of about 250 years – and the indicators of slackness in our national character.
They look at what has been called the Tytler cycle, whereby a people climbs up from bondage through faith and courage to liberty and abundance, but then slides down through complacency and apathy into dependency and finally into bondage again. Detractors see America in the late afternoon of our greatness, with darkness coming on. Can we prove them wrong? Absolutely, but it will take more than campaign slogans.
The worst deficit our country faces, looking beyond election 2012, isn’t in jobs, budgets, pensions, or infrastructure. It’s not in energy, health, education, or national security. It is the deficit of personal responsibility. In our enjoyment of liberty and abundance, we’re in danger of forgetting that the price of both is responsibility and self-discipline. Our experiment in freedom on the cheap is running out of time.
A president who constantly ducks responsibility and blames others is but a symptom of this. We elected him with our eyes wide open. Voters took a chance – in hindsight, an irresponsible gamble – on the hip young community organizer over the crusty old war hero. The Obama phenomenon merely shows how far the celebrity culture has gone in swamping principled self-government.
Media elites didn’t care when Obama flew to Vegas for a fundraiser the day Ambassador Stevens was assassinated in an act of war. They shrugged when the former drug dealer Jay-Z threw a party for him. But few noticed either when Kid Rock, whose songs were too dirty for radio, opened for Romney in Denver the other day. Chill out, man.
I hope Mitt wins. He’ll do our country proud. But the rebirth of responsibility America needs, if we’re to survive, isn’t up to him or any politician. It’s up to the person in the mirror: you and me.
John Andrews is director of the Centennial Institute, former president of the Colorado Senate, and the author of Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen’s Guide to the Next American Century (Denali Press, 2011).
(Centennial Fellow) Good grief, says an Obama campaign struggling to regain its footing after a bad debate stumble, Mitt Romney said he wants to strip Big Bird of federal funding, and that would be awful. What could really be awful -- a tipping-point calamity for this country of ours -- would be a second Obama term in which the White House continues its politically convenient fiscal negligence.
It's that prospect that was most dramatically exposed in Romney's remarks and then underlined again in the trivializing response that a chubbily successful "Sesame Street" operation needed welfare.
The subject came up after Romney was asked what he would do about deficits. He said first off that the extent of our spending had been immoral. The government was adding $1 trillion a year to a debt that would be "passed on to the next generation," he said, explaining that those victims would "be paying the interest and principal all their lives."
The Republican presidential candidate said one way to address that issue was to get sufficiently serious about spending, to ask of any program whether it was "critical" enough to justify "borrowing money from China to pay for it." As an example, he mentioned stopping subsidies to the Public Broadcasting Service, home of Big Bird, but first mentioned repealing something else, something much bigger, something that sums up Obama's first term: "Obamacare," introduced on formal occasions as the Affordable Care Act.
We'll get back to Obamacare in a moment, but first let's talk about the core issue here, a national debt of $16 trillion that may not even wait until the next generation to visit ruin upon us. Short of serious remedies, the debt will keep the economy in a slow-motion, scarce-jobs mode with the possibility of crises that would make our current struggles seem a mere "ouch" moment in comparison.
The driving force of ever-increasing debt is entitlements, mainly Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which of and by themselves eat up better than half of all federal outlays. As economics columnist Robert F. Samuelson points out, they will do far more chomping than that as the elderly population gets twice as large over roughly the next two decades. There is no tax solution that would be less than devastating for younger workers paying the bill.
This hazard did not appear yesterday. We've known about it for years, but almost every time some bold statesman has suggested a solution, an opportunistic demagogue has risen up to charge that the plan would condemn the elderly to misery. One such statesman was Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), now candidate for vice president, who came up with a plan to save both Medicare and the nation and was then put down by one such demagogue, none other than President Barack Obama, who treated his substantive proposals as mean-spirited imperilment.
It's true the president made his own Medicare cuts -- lower fees to hospitals and doctors that will result in reduced treatment options for patients -- but did not thereby help solve the debt problem. He made the cuts to help finance Obamacare. Even though he himself concedes something must be done about entitlements, his only concrete answer to date is to give us another entitlement.
And this particular entitlement happens to be a doozy -- a massively interventionist, bureaucratically cumbersome, still-developing surprise a day that does nothing good that could not have been achieved more cheaply and simply. It meanwhile does a lot that's bad. Just one example lately in the news concerned the Darden restaurant chain experimenting with making full-time employees part time to escape Obamacare costs under coming rules that could endanger its future.
Back to Big Bird and PBS. They won't go away if subsidies go away. They do very well, thank you, and can almost surely pull in more money if that becomes necessary. This country, however, will cease to do well if the desperate need to shrink government continues to be met with a compulsion to expand.
Friday, 28 September 2012 12:29 by Admin
Forty days from the presidential election, conservative Republican John Andrews and liberal Democrat Susan Barnes-Gelt went up on Colorado Public Television with another round of Head On mini-debates over the politics of 2012, especially the race for the White House. Starting off with foreign policy, newly prominent in the campaign, Susan lauds Obama for having "kept our country safe for four years," while John says his failed policies are "killing us... this appeaser has to go." Their disagreement on the merits of Romney vs. Obama on domestic policy is equally sharp. Here's the script:
1. PRESIDENTIAL RACE / FOREIGN POLICY
Susan: Voters must think about whom they want answering the phone at 3 AM, in the White House Residence? Mitt “Russia’s-our-greatest-threat” Romney? Or President Obama, who killed Bin Laden and his key operatives, ended the war in Iraq and has kept our country safe for four years?
John: It was Hillary Clinton who warned of Barack Obama’s unfitness to deal with that 3am foreign policy crisis, back in 2008. We now know from the recent 9/11 debacle in Egypt and Libya that both are unfit. Obama’s Muslim appeasement policy has collapsed. Voters should dial a call to Mitt Romney.
Susan: Romney has NO foreign policy experience – to wit: his diplomatic gaffs at the London Olympics; his uninformed reaction to the attack on the Libyan consulate and murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens; including injured veterans in the 47% of victims who refuse to accept responsibility? PULEEZE!
John: Reagan had no foreign policy experience either. All he did was win the Cold War without firing a shot. Because he had what Gov. Romney also has – proven ability as an executive and a leader. Obama has neither, and it’s killing us around the world. This apologizer, this appeaser, has to go.
2. PRESIDENTIAL RACE / DOMESTIC POLICY
John: Here's all you need to know about the presidential race. Any incumbent with a failing economy and a foreign policy meltdown is an underdog. Obama's only hope against Romney is to lie, distract, and change the subject. He’s doing that, and the media are helping. I think it won’t work.
Susan: What’s not working is Romney’s duck and dodge on every issue: domestic policy, foreign policy, Medicare reform, tax reform, education reform, balanced budget, student loans, the deficit, healthcare, climate change, fiscal policy, immigration, the dream act, women’s health, energy dependence, human rights – You name it. He dodges.
John: Romney will get government out of the way so free enterprise can put Americans back to work. Romney will respect the constitution and religious freedom and stop the war on churches, war on unborn babies, war between income groups. Romney will stand up for Israel and stand against Iran. America needs Mitt.
Susan: Which Mitt? The moderate, pro-choice, pro-affordable healthcare, pro-gay marriage former governor of Massachusetts? Or the elitist rich guy whose written off seniors, single moms, working people and minorities – nearly half the voters. If he governs with the same clumsy incompetence that he’s running his campaign – BIG TROUBLE!
Thursday, 27 September 2012 03:18 by Admin
It's something new and notable in Colorado politics: An unapologetic liberal and an unwavering conservative agreeing in spite of themselves that tax increases for metro-Denver municipalities and school districts on the November ballot are an overreach.
In the September round of Head On mini-debates for Colorado Public Television, sponsored by Centennial Institute, Susan Barnes-Gelt, a Democrat and former Denver city councilwoman, takes the lead in calling for a "no" vote on these measures and John Andrews, a Republican and former Senate President, seconds her motion. Here is the script:
DENVER and CENTENNIAL SEEK TO DE-BRUCE
Susan: Denverites should vote NO on 2A. The measure promises to repave streets, add police training classes, expand library and recreation center hours and eliminate furlough days for city employees. Truth is, it’s a substantial tax hike with no guarantees – just unenforceable promises.
John: Government always wants more. It never has enough. Politicians always believe they can spend our money better than we can. I too would oppose Denver’s tax hike, if I were an urban guy. I am opposing Centennial’s tax hike as a suburban guy. Our little city wasn’t created to be a revenue hog.
Susan: Denver voters have a choice. Approve a blank check that never expires for higher taxes, or send Mayor Hancock back to the drawing board to craft a balanced initiative with a mix of reduced expenses and tax increases. 2A is bad for jobs, small business and homeowners. Vote NO.
John: The first word in Tea Party stands for “taxed enough already,” and I’m delighted to hear you of all people urging Denverites to vote that way on school construction and the Hancock proposal. If Coloradans look at the huge tax increase Obama plans for Jan. 1, they will vote him out too.
PUBLIC SCHOOL TAX INCREASES
Susan: Several school districts are on November’s ballot with tax increases for K-12 education, including Denver. DPS wants more than a half a billion for new schools, renovation and updating of existing schools and increased operating funds. It’s a tough time to ask for the biggest tax increase in history.
John: I’m voting no on Cherry Creek school taxes. And I agree with your no vote in Denver. Taxpayers in Jeffco, Aurora, and all 29 Colorado districts where a total of $1 billion is being requested should join us. The answer for better education is more choice, not more money.
Susan: Regarding DPS, I’m undecided. Should Denver build new schools when existing ones are way under capacity. Should the District go to a 12-month school year to support student achievement? Yes – I support 3B – increased operating funds. I’d like to see more reform before we build more schools.
John: A lot more reform. Something is happening when I as a conservative Republican and you as a liberal Democrat begin agreeing that taxpayers forever digging deeper while teacher unions keep making excuses is no longer a viable strategy for helping kids learn. For devastating proof, see the new movie “Won’t Back Down.”
('76 Contributor) American revolutionary Patrick Henry famously declared, “Give me liberty or give me death!” This month, furious mobs throughout the Islamic world decree death, a sentence they imposed on four Americans in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens — the first U.S. ambassador murdered in the line of duty since 1979. Before buying the spin that the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam video, Think Again. According to Libyan President Mohamed Magarief, the video had “nothing to do with” the premeditated terrorist attack. Conducted on the anniversary of 9/11 in order to “carry a certain message,” the Benghazi attack and violent anti-American rioting elsewhere reflect the ascendency of radical Islam in the wake of the Arab Spring. By attributing unrest to false pretexts — not violent jihadists seeking to impose their totalitarian ideology — we incentivize further cycles of violence and legitimize the Islamists' tactics.As former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani explains, “Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades.” Rather than condemn real victimization and powerlessness — like the Assad regime's slaughter of 20,000 Syrians; Saudi persecution of women, homosexuals and religious minorities; or the Taliban who spray schoolgoing Afghan girls with acid — Islamists stoke anti-Americanism and spread anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hate speech to consolidate power and distract “from societal, political and economic failures.” But if these failures are the root cause of Islamic rage, shouldn't we encourage the Islamic world to adopt the civil and economic liberties that are prerequisites for a humane society? If mutual respect is the goal, shouldn't American leaders denounce Islamic intolerance and stop bragging about Osama bin Laden's assassination? Despite recent foreign policies designed to promote American popularity and mutual respect — engagement, “resets” and “leading from behind” — America is still the “Great Satan” to Israel's “Little Satan,” and contradictions and questions abound. Yes, bin Laden is dead, but so is Stevens, whose diary reveals worries about diplomatic security and assassination. As the 9/11 anniversary approached, why weren't extraordinary precautions taken? Throughout the Arab Spring, America supported rebels in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen — sites of the worst anti-American rioting this month — but didn't secure power-sharing commitments to prevent Islamist domination. Having supported regime change in these countries, why didn't America support revolutionaries in Iran or its client Syria, both of which pose graver security threats to U.S. and global interests, never mind Middle East stability?As Iran's nuclear-weapons program nears completion, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised on Monday that Israel would be “eliminated.” Rather than characterize these existential threats to Israel as mere “noise,” shouldn't we “affirm America's dedication to blocking Iran's nuclear ambitions through military force if necessary,” as Alan Dershowitz encourages?Though opposed by our commanders in Afghanistan, America's military surge was precipitously undermined by a fixed timetable for withdrawal, giving the Taliban and terrorist organizations a date certain by which they could resume operations. But why commit U.S. forces to a conflict using tactics our military believes will undermine our mission? Compounding the uncertainty and heightening suspicions were assurances (caught on an open mic last spring) given to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by President Obama that he'd have “more flexibility” after the election. Being no longer subject to electoral accountability grants flexibility to do what beyond the already canceled missile-defense system our Polish and Czech allies had agreed to host? Rarely has America exhibited such uncertainty and equivocation nor diverged so dramatically from the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus forged over the past century. President Reagan called it “peace through strength,” and President Kennedy encapsulated it eloquently in his inaugural address: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” America's capacity to project this authority and secure our interests around the world is predicated on strength at home. Yet unable to live within our means and more indebted than any other nation in the history of the world, we've mortgaged our children's futures and jeopardized control over our destiny. At this critical moment, we must reclaim the America that inspires others to follow our lead.As a refugee from Nazi Germany, Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live in not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” Americans have always been a people willing to do “something about” evil. If we're to continue, we must stand our ground in defense of our values. Think Again — without America as a bulwark of liberty, how will the Islamic world ever come to embrace freedom and modernity?Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. Thie is from her Aspen Times column, which runs every other Thursday. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. You can reach Melanie at email@example.com.
('76 Contributor) How fragile, very fragile, is our democracy, our free market economic system, and our country. For the first time ever, I am concerned that America's best days are behind it.
The Supreme Court decision on Obamacare upheld the most far-reaching, burdensome, and intrusive legislation in the history of our country. It will destroy the genius of our founders who had a clear understanding of how to best utilize the natural human condition, our incentive-based behaviors, desire for freedom, and limited government with specific enumerated powers to achieve a better overall collective society.
There should be virtually no dispute that this genius created the most prosperous, generous, non-imperial world-protector, and overall successful society in the history of the world.
No one in Congress read the health care bill's 2,700 pages, with 1,700 references to new rules, and 21 tax increases drafted by 20-30-something year-old staffers with virtually no experience in the business world. The Supreme Court decision strikes down the mandate and the heavy coercion of states to expand Medicaid with our hard-earned tax dollars, which has now created an untenable and ugly piece of patchwork legislation.
.To get a sense of the destructive magnitude and controlling nature of this legislation, I suggest that you link to the Crawford Radio website and read the articles entitled PPACA Obamacare (3/28, 4/11, 5/17, 5/23, 6/6, 7/17, 7/18, and 8/8).
I would guess that, if you read one article, you will want to read more. It provides an insight into the liberal thinking about how to control the most important aspect of our lives, our personal health and well-being. It is a clear manifestation of the insidious accumulation of rules and regulations over the past 30-40 years, which have stolen our personal liberties and freedoms that our founders knew to be so important to each individual.
The legislation is job-destroying, innovation-stifling, and grants the government unlimited power to tax you for not buying something you don't want, creating a slippery-slope for future legislation that is beyond comprehension. The legislation was all about insurance and control of our lives, not about access to quality healthcare at the lowest cost. Virtually no effort was made to find ways to reduce costs through free market solutions, tort reform, mitigation of fraud and waste, or elimination of bureaucratic and reporting red-tape that are so burdensome to every doctor and hospital and ultimately the greatest healthcare system and medical innovator in the world.
The bottom-line is that, not only is the doctor/patient relationship destroyed, but the best and brightest will simply not suffer the control and negative income consequences of joining a profession that used to be the most highly-regarded in our society. However, we will likely get 16,000 new IRS agents, while documentation already exists about a pending doctor shortage.
I believe the most destructive force burdening our society is seldom talked about, and that is the endangerment of the spirit of American individualism. Unlike any other country, our system provided each individual the opportunity and the necessary human condition to work hard and to be productive. The result is that an individual then leads a purposeful life, with a sense of accomplishment and human dignity, and hope for the future, regardless of compensation. Those elements strengthen the human condition and then nurture the individual spirit, thereby improving our local communities, and ultimately the spirit and soul of our entire country.
I believe that this spirit and soul, as well as its very heart, are in peril. This, combined with our enormous deficit-spending and incomprehensibly large accumulating debt, provides a immoral assault and theft on future generations, who currently can't even vote. I am personally heart-sick to think that America, as we knew it, our parents knew it, and our grandparents knew it in such a positive way, will not be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren with the same blessings.
Elections matter. This upcoming election will unequivocally be the most important one in the history of our country. Never again should one individual, in this instance Barack Obama or Chief Justice Roberts, have ultimate power over our country's future. Additionally, having this great country's President publicly excoriate and diminish earned success and achievement, the rugged individualism and entrepreneurial spirit, which is the very essence of what has made this the most prosperous society in the history of the world, should be of grave concern to everyone.
Unfortunately, it illustrates that people either simply do not understand achievement, success, and creation of jobs and wealth, or it is just a threat to their vision, thereby justifying their continued attacks and tax increases on this group that is essential to the future of our country. This critically-important job creation, with the attendant reduction of government dependency, has multiple layers of benefits beyond government revenues.
Alexis DeTocqueville's extensive tour of America yielded great insight, including the memorable words often attributed to him: "America is great because America is good." With the diminishing individual spirit and soul of our country and continued secularization, America is ceasing to be as good and may cease to be great!
In contrast, consider this newly coined word whose definition would be amusing if weren't so painfully and frighteningly true: "Ineptocracy, (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy): A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers and job-creators."
I ask you to think about the above and recognize that participation and vigilance in the upcoming election are critical, not just the presidential election, but at all levels. I offer these thoughts to everyone, regardless of party-affiliation or ideology. This is simply about whether we are concerned about America, as we know it, and its existence in the future.
If you are compelled by what you have read, I suggest you forward the link to a handful of additional friends and acquaintances, children, grandchildren, etc. prior to the election. On the other hand, as in our great society, if you disagree or find fault with what I'm doing, I would appreciate hearing about it.
Want to read more? Here are some additional links you may want to view:
Buz Koelbel is a leading Denver businessman in the field of land development and commercial real estate, one of the founders of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, and a member of the Centennial Institute Business Council.
(Boston) If a traveler would discern in a single place in a single day the origin and meaning of these United States of America, no better setting could be found than this city’s justly famed Freedom Trail. Along the winding cobblestone streets and adjacent harbor that George III decried as a ”hotbed of sedition and treason” one can trace the footsteps of Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams, and many others who prepared the way for Revolution and Independence.
A harsh climate, and the isolation imposed by a broad ocean made self-rule a necessity and eventually these early Americans came to greatly prefer this freedom to the decrees and exactions of a distant and arbitrary central government.
Thus was born the concept of “We the People” and the radical proposition that ordinary men were actually fit to govern themselves.
To paraphrase Lincoln we are now engaged in a historic Presidential election to test whether that proposition- government for the people, by the people, and of the people- and the nation to which it gave birth can long endure.
Pitted against the vision of the Founding Fathers- reinforced by the words and deeds of Lincoln- is a radically different conception of man’s capacity for self-governance. This Doctrine- called Progressivism- rejects the Natural Law- Rights derived from the Creator- enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s belief in the capacity of ordinary men to rise through their own efforts.
The roots of Progressivism can be traced to the doctrines of 19th century European Socialism which saw History as a long leftward march characterized by unending class struggle leading toward “Social Justice” defined as the equal distribution of wealth.
From the beginning Progressivism had a deep distrust of democracy and individual freedom. Writing in 1914 the Progressive philosopher Herbert Croly (The Promise of American Life) rejected “the traditional American confidence in individual freedom” because it “resulted in a morally and socially undesirable distribution of wealth”.
Because the modern world had become too complex to allow self-rule by ordinary men, Progressives believed- though hesitated to preach openly- that power must be entrusted to elites- experts, technocrats- who would rule on behalf of their fellow citizens (e.g. Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board).
If one would see the full flowering of this approach to governance, one need look no further than today’s European Union where democratic usages are being steadily drained from member states and replaced by faceless, unelected, and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels. There elections are lamented as “political interference”, annoying distractions that impede the spinning of ever expanding webs of regulation to shape and control the daily lives of citizens too unenlightened to know what is good for them. This ultimately becomes the world that Orwell foresaw in his allegory Animal Farm.
In his inaugural address of 1801 Thomas Jefferson posed this question :
“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? …. Let history answer this question.”
Nearly two centuries later Ronald Reagan who had seen history’s answer in the horrors of Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s Union of Soviet Socialist Republics renewed Jefferson’s timeless question:
“From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”
Today there is an immediacy to this question, and the existential threat posed by Progressivism has been best articulated by Paul Ryan who said the following in a recent interview: “What I’ve been trying to do is indict the entire vision of Progressivism… the intellectual source of the big government problems that are plaguing us today ….a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says …No, they come from government… It’s a complete affront to the whole idea of this country”
Not since Pearl Harbor has our country faced such peril. The growing culture of Dependence fostered by Progressivism that continually erodes the foundation of our Democracy was well described by Hayek in his 1944 classic The Road to Serfdom.
The pundits describing this fateful election speak often of an impending “fiscal cliff”, but Americans should be in no doubt that there is much, much more at stake than mere money.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow and former Colorado Commissioner of Education. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, U.S.A. Today., Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun. Denver Post, and Human Events.
Bob Woodward has been telling on presidents since he and Carl Bernstein teamed up to reveal the Watergate misdeeds of President Richard Nixon in the mid-1970s, and he's at it again. This time, it's President Barack Obama who is feeling the sting, not because of criminal acts, but because of ineptness, arrogance and other attributes that in combination spell peril for America.
The Washington Post associate editor may not put it quite that way in his new book, "The Price of Politics." But when you've finished reading a published excerpt and summaries, you can either indulge in liberal sympathy, saying the poor president has had the misfortune of having to deal with human beings more ordinary than he is, or you can face the truth: He's in over his head.
Woodward, while hardly purring about Republicans, has talked in an interview about Obama's "gaps" and writes that he did not take charge in tough times the way presidents usually do. Mostly, however, in the material I read, Woodward leaves such judgments to the people he interviews and to readers who can come to their own conclusions by following the story line.
It's discouraging stuff. Obama miscalculated, and badly, in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner on getting Republicans to allow more borrowing and avert default by convincing them something significant would be done about a wildly growing, ruinous debt. Despite Republican travails about stiff tax hikes to help fix the mess, Boehner was willing to go along with an $800 billion revenue increase achieved through reform. The grand compromise was about done when Obama asked for another $400 billion. That was it. Finis. End of the game.
How bad a negotiator do you have to be to not get it that when you have a bird in hand you forget the two in the bush? After the fact, Obama said the $400 billion was just a suggestion and fumed that Boehner stayed away from the phone for a day before he unleashed his fury on the speaker. Angrily blaming others for your own mistakes strikes me as the kind of pomposity that makes things worse.
The president was outraged again when Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, seeing the White House as a roadblock, swerved around it to negotiate their own deal. Dismissing the effort and later threatening a veto, Obama earned himself a rebuke from an aide to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This man, David Krone, found it a major lapse that the White House had no fallback plan when its initial bartering went astray.
Among others casting doubt on Obama as negotiator were Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard president and presidential financial adviser who said Obama just did not like the game, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, who accused the White House of having no strategy or "core principles." There's hearsay in the book that Vice President Joseph Biden, who himself seemed pretty able at reaching understandings with recalcitrant Republicans, said he would approach the negotiating "totally different" if it were up to him.
All of this matters, and it matters powerfully. We are facing a major fiscal crisis at the turn of the year if Congress does not act to keep Bush-era tax cuts in place while stopping immediate and drastic budget cuts. The latest unemployment figures show that even more frustrated people are dropping out of the job market. Middle-class incomes have fallen by thousands of dollars. And, among a host of other scary issues, we face a debt sure to deliver calamity in the absence of significant long-term cuts.
None of what is needed is likely to be achieved without a national leader who actually leads, which entails effective negotiating. We need to look elsewhere than Obama, and no, I do not mean we therefore hope he puts Biden in charge.
We need to spread the word about getting Obama out of office. People are not terribly happy with Romney, neither am I. But I think the best advice we can start to push now is control of the Supreme Court.
Antonin Scalia is 76, Anthony Kennedy is 76, Clarence Thomas is 64, Ruth Ginsburg is 79, Stephen Breyer is 74, and Samuel Alito is 62. The rest are younger than we are. The current makeup of the court is approximately five conservative, four liberal. If Obama wins and Ginsburg retires we will get a liberal candidate, possibly far left, depending on what the makeup of the new Senate is. This small shift will change the balance of the Court for the next four years.
Kennedy will be 80 toward the end of Obama's last (hypothetically) year of rule. The three young ones, Sotomayor, Kagan and Obama's final appointee will be around for another generation. They will all be, not just liberal but left to far left. It is reasonable to assume that adding another leftist to the Court will necessarily change the nature of decisions into the lives of our grandchildren.
The only way to preserve the America we know is to have Republican presidents appointing moderate Supreme Court justices. Therefore, no matter how much you dislike Romney, in the final analysis the vote this year is easy. In this case all the palaver about the economy and Islam and all the other secondary issues must take a back seat to our real future – the nature of the Supreme Court.
('76 Contributor) Well, well. Steve Rattner is now a spokesperson for the Obama re-election campaign and has specifically been speaking about financial matters. Rattner has appeared on both CNN and Fox. In a July 22 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Rattner questioned Mitt Romney’s tax returns.
But as Rattner proclaims his expertise as “an equity guy” to Zakaria and condemns Romney for allegedly sleazy financial dealings, it’s an awkward fact that he is fresh off a pair of ugly settlements with the SEC and the New York AG’s office.
Here’s the background: In 2009, President Obama created his own Auto Task Force complete with a Car Czar to head up the auto bailout. The auto task force was full of Wall Street firepower and was led by Steve Rattner and Ron Bloom. Bloom was the head of collective bargaining for the United Steelworkers Union, and Rattner, former equity firm founder, had deep political ties. His wife, Maureen White, was the finance chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, then went to work for Hillary at the US State Department. (See documentation in Tamara Darvish and Lillie Guyer’s book Outraged: How Detroit And The Wall Street Car Czars Killed The American Dream. )
Nobody on this task force had any automobile industry experience. Rattner in particular is person anyone could have expected to be in charge of a managed bankruptcy when his own personal financial situation has come under such intense adverse scrutiny.
As the New York Times reported in a story by Ruth Fremson on 8/23/10, “The Quadrangle Group, the investment firm founded by Rattner, agreed in April of 2010 to pay $12 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to win lucrative business from the New York State pension fund. The firm then issued an unusual public rebuke to its founder saying, ‘We wholly disavow the conduct engaged in by Steve Rattner.’” The story went on to state that Rattner struck a deal with New York’s then-Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, to pay $10 million to settle civil charges that he engaged in a kickback scheme involving the New York State pension fund.
Meanwhile as to Steve Rattner’s troubles with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Times reported in story by Peter Lattman on 12/20/10: “Quadrangle has acknowledged paying more than $1 million in fees to a political consultant, Henry Morris, in exchange for his help in landing a state investment contract.” Rattner and the S.E.C. reached a separate settlement in October of 2010 where Rattner agreed to pay $6.2million and accept a two-year ban from work in certain Wall Street businesses.
Although Rattner’s political ties run deep, I think we could all agree that he has no qualifications to pass judgment on anyone else’s financial ethics.
Yale King is a former GM Jeep Dealer in northern Colorado.