Friday, February 7, 2014

Current Events - February 7, 2014

1 in 6 Men in Prime Working Age Unable to Find Jobs

By Courtney Coren
One in six men in their prime working years are unemployed, partially due to technology and globalization and partially due to an economy that is slow to recover after going through the worst recession in 75 years.
That makes for a total of 10.4 million men between the ages of 25 to 54 who are out of work, at the time of life in which workers should be building a solid career and typically have their greatest earning power, The Wall Street Journal reported.
While the jobless numbers fell to 6.7 percent in December, more than two-thirds of men in this age group say they are no longer looking for work, which means they aren't counted among the unemployed by the government.

Only 113K Jobs--How Decadence Breeds Decay

 By Peter Morici
...In all times, the quality of government policy, business culture, and individual initiative decide which societies most effectively exploit new technologies and broader commercial opportunities, and accomplish prosperity and productive employment for the wider citizenry.
The defining difference between the recent two disappointing economic recoveries and the strong record of the 1980s has been the predisposition of presidents from both parties to champion politically-expedient remedies--bailouts and entitlements that steal money from promising R&D, public infrastructure, and private investment to bolster inefficient hospitals, abusive financial houses, and decadent universities.
When the best incomes are to be earned gaming regulators, dodging prosecutors, and fielding gladiators for Saturday spectacles, no wonder the economy doesn’t grow, and one out of every six adult men is jobless and likely to stay that way.
Decadence begets decay.

Democrat's Bold Defense of ObamaCare Job-Killer: Nobody Really Wants a Job Promotion, Anyway...

 By Caroline Schaffer
...Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin gives a baffling explanation of how the CBO Report translates to good news.
Well, perhaps not so baffling given the country’s dire economic situation. MSNBC reporter Craign Melvin asks Moore about how lawmakers have said that Obamacare will be a disincentive to work hard. She gives a facepalm-worthy answer:

I mean, come on. Knock it off. I mean, you can say that people don’t want a promotion because if they make more money, they’ll have to pay more taxes.
Actually, no, Congresswoman, you can’t say that. Being placed into a higher tax bracket because you earn more money will not actually cause you to lose money. You’ll still have more money than you did before – well, unless you have to pay more for ObamaCare.
Overlooking that Moore’s number of 10 million covered by ObamaCare was scratched out on a cocktail napkin before the show (no, Medicaid doesn’t count), the Democrats have ceased fighting the reality that ObamaCare will kill jobs. They are actually touting the law as another massive welfare program, which offers Americans the chance to get ahead – at others’ expense.
Forget job promotions, forget hard work. With Democrats, it’s no longer unemployment, it’s funemployment. The party is confirming every accusation made against it for years: that the Democrats are buying votes with the hard-earned money of taxpayers. It is subsidizing idleness, and lowering productivity – which hurts the economy, and in the long-run, poor people.

The Disturbing Essence of What Is Really Wrong with the White House Spin of CBO Report

By Steven Kruiser
Philip Klein expresses it perfectly over at the Washington Examiner:

In short, the CBO is portraying a future in which a smaller proportion of workers in a relatively weaker economy will be expected to subsidize an increasing number of government beneficiaries. And Obamacare is making matters even worse.
With one hand, according to the CBO, Obamacare will spend $2 trillion over the next decade on expanding Medicaid and subsidizing individuals to purchase health insurance. With the other hand, its subsidies will discourage the economic equivalent of 2.5 million individuals from working.
The rational response to the CBO report would be to look for policies that encourage workforce participation and decrease government obligations. Instead, Obamacare does the exact opposite.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when it could reasonably be expected that the emotional spin the Democrats in charge peddled to their constituents was understood to be just that. In other words, they had to give the masses something to soothe and/or deflect to make them feel better, especially if there were things like scary math and economics to deal with. But the elites knew better.
The problem with Team Lightbringer is that they have spent so much time bathing in the warm waters of the sycophant pool that they have begun to believe their own spin. This is a highly functional political machine that is fueled by nothing but emotion. This is scary enough when it’s a ploy;when it becomes the sole basis for policy, it will inevitably be catastrophic.
Because math isn’t swayed by emotion.

IRS Scandal In a Nutshell

By Carol Platt Liebau
Today, on Capital Hill, Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell, who is representing some of the groups targeted and harassed for their views by the IRS, told it like it is:
First, the IRS scandal is real, it’s not pretend, it’s real.
Number two, the IRS scandal is not just a bone headed bunch of bureaucrats in some remote office, contrary to what the president of the United Sates told the American people on Sunday.
And number three, the IRS scandal is not over. It is continuing to this day, and the Department of Justice investigation is a sham. It is a nonexistent investigation.
. . .
The IRS, at the direction of some political elites in Washington, not in Cincinnati, but Washington, took what had been for decades a process of reviewing applications for exempt status, that for a 501(c)(4) organization could be expected to take three or four weeks. And they converted that process into one that could take three or four years, and in some cases, is still not over.
She is right. Every newspaper and reputable journalistic outfit in this country should be all over this story. That they aren't is a scandal in itself.

PK'S NOTE: What happened to this woman must come to light and it should make every American afraid and angry that this is what our government has become. We.must.stop.this.

Congressman Tried to Shut Down a Tea Party Leader at Thursday’s Hearing — That’s When a GOP Rep. Showed He Wasn’t Having Any of It

By Becket Adams
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) dismissed a Tea Party leader’s concerns over supposedly being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, prompting Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to swoop in with a revealing set of questions.
The incident occurred Thursday during a hearing of the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee on the IRS’ alleged targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Testifying before the committee was Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the King Street Patriots.
During her opening testimony, Engelbrecht recounted the close scrutiny her family and her small business underwent from multiple federal agencies soon after she applied for her group’s tax-exempt status, suggesting that the reviews may have been politically motivated.
“After nearly 20 years of being in business,” Engelbrecht, said during the hearing, “and no agency coming to visit with us, the succession of agencies that have now come to us — for all manner of things — begs the question.”
“The statistical probabilities of what happened to me happening, without political motivation is staggering,” she added.
...“And I absolutely take that at face value,” [Connolly] continued, “but it’s a huge leap then, given that, to conclude that someone’s out to get you, Ms. Engelbrecht, that there’s any political motivation whatsoever with OSHA following its standard operating procedure.”
Fellow witness Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law, tried to jump in to lend Engelbrecht a hand, but was promptly shut out because he was not being questioned at that time in the hearing.
That’s when Jordan stepped in to make a simple but effective point.
“Ms. Engelbrecht,” Jordan said, “in the first 20 years of business, did OSHA ever visit your place of business?”
“No sir,” she responded.
“Never once?”
“No sir.”
“After you filed the [tax-exempt application for King Street Patriots], OSHA visited then, right?”
“Yes sir.”
“In the first 20 years of business did the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ever come to your business?” Jordan continued.
“No sir.”
“And they came a couple times once you filed your application?”
“Yes sir.”
“And in your first 20 years of business, did the IRS ever audit you?”
“No sir.”
“But once you filed your application, they audited you?”
“Many times.”
“And in your first 20 years of business, did the FBI ever visit you?”
“No sir.”
“But once you filed your application, did they visit you?”
“Six times.”
Jordan made his final point: “Mr. Connolly wants us to believes that’s all a coincidence.”
Unamused with Jordan’s line of questioning, an agitated Connolly shot back, insisting that he’s merely looking for evidence of the scrutiny being politically motivated.
“You can believe it’s all a coincidence,” Jordan said. “I refuse to do so.”
“I believe in fact-based, empirical oversight,” Connolly responded. “And innuendo and drawing conclusions and paranoia do not substitute for fact-based, empirical oversight.”
Connolly concluded by muttering the word “McCarthyism”:

PK'S NOTE: More of why I love Trey Gowdy

If You Were Taken Aback by Obama’s ‘Smidgen of Corruption’ Claim, Wait Until You Hear Trey Gowdy

Gowdy notes that to date, not a single person from any of the targeted groups have been interviewed by the FBI. Not one. Three have been asked, but none have been interviewed yet.
Gowdy also notes something that we and others noted right after the interview: If there was no corruption, why did IRS official Lois Lerner take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify?

More than a smidgen: IRS whistleblower's terrifying charges

By Thomas Lifson
A brave IRS lawyer named William Henck, a veteran of 26 years in the general counsel's office, has gone on the record with stunning charges of corruption. In a letter to Powerline, he details several instances of corruption that he has observed. These charges deserve official investigation, and because the Eric Holder Department of Justice cannot be trusted to appoint someone with an interest in getting at the truth, the charges ought to be part of a special prosecutor's mandate. Of all government agencies, the IRS has the most arbitrary and easily-abused power. Corruption within its ranks cannot be tolerated, for it has the potential to metastasize rapidly into banana republic tyranny
An excerpt detailing internal self-serving corruption follows, the type of thing that creates an atmosphere of invulnerability, virtually a license to fleece the taxpayers. There are other instances of favoring certain types of taxpayers, as well. The letter deserves to be read in its entirety:

I do not personally know whether the IRS has targeted conservative groups or individuals, but I do know that the environment within the agency is ripe for such activity and there is nothing to prevent it from occurring. As stated in more detail below, I have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit. I have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.
A number of years ago, a manager in my office was embezzling thousands of dollars in travel funds. His actions were common knowledge, but other managers, including a currently high ranking executive in the office of chief counsel, did not report him. I did report his conduct to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), but they did not investigate the matter for a considerable length of time. After I complained to my local congressman's office, TIGTA finally forwarded the matter to the office of chief counsel to be handled internally. Eventually, the office of chief counsel made the manager pay the money back, but took no other disciplinary action, even though others who committed the same type of scheme were punished severely.
The manager in question has led a charmed life. Several years after this episode, he decided to retire, but was starting a new job in a different city two months before he was eligible to retire. He could have retired early or taken annual leave for two months before retiring. However, he did not want to take annual leave because federal employees can cash out annual leave when they retire. Rather than have him burn at least $20,000 in annual leave, the IRS transferred him to the new city, but did not give him any work, allowing him to work his new job while still receiving a government paycheck. I obtained an e-mail from this manager, in which he admitted that he had no work, that the IRS was not planning to give him any work in the new city, and that he was working on matters related to his new job while at the IRS. I forwarded this e-mail to TIGTA, but of course it was ignored by both TIGTA and the office of chief counsel. TIGTA has a well deserved reputation for protecting IRS managers. In fact, a TIGTA agent once stated that "we don't investigate [IRS] managers."

Hats off to Mr. Henck. The mess att he IRS must be taken very, very seriously, or else we shall lose our republic. It is now time for the House to investigate and loudly call for a special prosecutor. 

Targeting the IRS

By Jonathan Mosely
What should conservatives do next about the Orwellian intimidation of political opponents using the IRS? Here is a partial action plan.
Lawyers for targeted tea party groups are hurling marshmallows at one of the most shocking abuses of power in our nation's entire history. Conservative groups and their lawyers are only stating the obvious in bland, vanilla talking points.
...The rampant corruption of the Obama Administration over the IRS scandal for targeting conservatives for their political beliefs is there to be exploited. Richard Nixon's use of the IRS to target political enemies was one of the Articles of Impeachment drawn up to prosecute Nixon before the U.S. Congress. Faced with those and other charges, Nixon resigned instead of trying to defend his actions. How could we possibly fail today?
Yet begging the IRS to investigate itself and groveling to get the IRS to reveal information is what we are currently reduced to. Begging is not the solution for getting serious action.
For the good of the entire country, Catherine Englebrecht, the National Organization for Marriage, or Christine O'Donnell need to file a "RICO" lawsuit (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law). This would allow depositions, document requests, and subpoenas to get at the truth. RICO is very versatile and powerful. But only someone directly harmed would be eligible to bring such a lawsuit.
Catherine Englebrecht was suddenly targeted by multiple agencies after she filed an application for a tax exempt organization "True The Vote." Multiple agencies could only get involved if there were communications between the agencies. Therefore, there must be emails or correspondence back and forth among different agencies proving a conspiracy. There has to be a smoking gun or a bloody knife. A lawsuit is needed to pry it out.
Those three directly harmed also must file another Federal lawsuit. It could be 3 to 4 pages long. A lawyer who knows what the inside of a courtroom looks like could file it electronically by midnight tonight with an ECF password to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia website. Since it would be a pure interpretation of a law, there would be no trial needed, just a summary judgment motion.
The IRS is hiding behind a bizarre, twisted misinterpretation of privacy law. The law, 26 U.S.C. § 6103 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, states that "no officer or employee of the United States shall disclose any return or return information obtained by him in any manner." Section 6103 is designed to protect taxpayers with the privacy of their personal, financial, and tax information.
But the IRS says that the taxpayer cannot be told about abuses of the taxpayer's own tax information. The agency claims that the privacy law protects the IRS officials who broke the law against the taxpayer finding out what they did.
Someone with "standing" could file a 3-4 page Federal lawsuit to ask a Federal Court to interpret the law. The IRS interpretation is absurd. So a Federal court could easily render a binding, legal interpretation of Section 6103. But we have two Congressional committees begging the IRS to change its mind. Stop begging. If a Federal Court rejected the IRS interpretation, all of us could find out a lot more about what was done to all conservatives.
But "standing" would have to be carefully presented. No private citizen has standing to demand managerial supervision of IRS personnel. The only way we can force that door open is with someone who has been directly, personally harmed. The rest of us can only stand by helplessly watching and waiting.
...What would Judicial Watch have done about this? Larry Klayman's standard formula was to (1) file a FOIA request (here similar, better options would be available), (2) when the agency doesn't comply fully, file a lawsuit demanding full compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, (3) aggressively, skillfully, and doggedly pry the truth out of the administration brick by brick, in depositions, document requests, and interrogatories in discovery. One of my favorite tactics (I think it is okay to reveal it) was to take the deposition of the lowest significant person in the office, not the highest. An official's assistant is usually unwilling to lie under oath and risk perjury for his or her political boss. Top officials are often skilled liars. Their assistants will usually sing like canaries.
Conservatives need to stop begging and start suing. 

Obama Administration: Asleep at the "Switch"?

 By Carol Platt Liebau
Peggy Noonan discusses a serious, underreported incident last April 16:
The heretofore unknown story happened last April 16. There was an armed assault on a power station in California. Just after midnight some person or persons slipped into an underground vault near Highway 101 just outside San Jose. He or they cut telephone cables—apparently professionally, in a way that would be hard to repair. About a half hour later, surveillance cameras at Pacific Gas & Electric Co. 's nearby Metcalf substation picked up a streak of light, apparently a signal from a flashlight. Snipers then opened fire. The shooters appear to have been aiming at the transformer's cooling systems, which were filled with oil. If that was their target, they hit it. The system leaked 52,000 gallons; the transformer overheated and began to crash. Then there was another flash of light, and the shooting, which had gone on almost 20 minutes, stopped.
Obviously, this is serious stuff. A bomb devastates its immediate locale, but a coordinated attack on the power grid threatens many people very profoundly. And as I read the column, I thought I remembered hearing of the accident and commenting on it here.
Turns out, my post was about an eerily similar incident less than a week later at another power plant. Shots were fired at a suspect prowling around a nuclear power plant, not in California, but in Tennessee. And like the suspect(s) in California, the one in Tennessee got away as well.
Perhaps these incidents at power plants are routine. Perhaps not. But can anyone say with confidence that the Obama administration is aware of these threats -- and connecting the dots?

Obama may illegally further delay Obamacare provision

By Thomas Lifson
Desperate over the impact of Obamacare on voters, the Obama administration is leaking a plan to extend suspension of the requirement for insurance companies to drop "substandard" individual plans until safely after the 2016 elections. The president already unilaterally imposed a one year delay, but now is apparently considering a further delay to postpone the political consequences -- Americans losing the plans he promised they could keep -- until after he is out of office. 
...The Constitution does not give a president the right to suspend provisions of duly passed and signed laws for his own political convenience. The fact that this move is being floated means that there is time to react and point out that the only way to alter the law is through congressional action.

Democrats are loath to follow the Constitutional requirements because submitting any contemplated changes to Obamacare to Congressional action would open the door for repeal or further changes that would gut the law. The prospect of forcing Democrat Senators to vote on such changes and face voters if they take a position in favor of retaining Obamacare's noxious provisions is terrifying.

So the Constitution matters less than the ability to bypass voters' will.

Health Insurers Banking on Government Funding

By Megan McArdle
...Bruce Japsen’s report that Humana Inc.’s chief executive officer was bullish on its health-care exchange policies:
"With a little less than two months left in the open enrollment period, Humana executives said they expect even more younger people to sign up, which 'mitigates adverse' risk. The demographic makeup of those who have signed up so far has made Humana executives confident their exchange plans have been priced appropriately."
But Scott Gottlieb points out that this is not what Bruce Broussard is telling the government:
Now we have some hard numbers. Humana announced that it expects to tap the three risk adjustment mechanisms in ObamaCare for between $250 and $450 million in 2014. This amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer’s expected exchange revenue. This money is needed to offset losses that the insurer will take as a result of slower enrollment in its ObamaCare plans, and a skewed risk pool that weighs more heavily toward older and less healthy members than it originally budgeted.

More than half of the money will come from the $25 billion reinsurance pool that ObamaCare provides (collected through a tax on employer-sponsored health plans). The other half will come mostly from the risk corridors. Humana is expected to book the money as revenue to offset shortfalls between what it collects in exchange premiums and pays out in medical claims.

The company blamed the Obama Administration’s decision late last year to extend grandfathering of individual market plans for the overall deterioration in the risk pool. That means that Humana (like other insurers) was counting on people from the individual market being forced to transition into ObamaCare plans. It’s widely perceived that the Obama Administration counted on that migration as well. But Humana’s statement was a very clear expression of this expectation.
This doesn’t sound like a company that is confident it has priced its exchange policies correctly; it sounds like a company that is confident it has priced its exchange policies incorrectly but is going to have most of its losses made up by the U.S. government. And if Humana -- one of the country’s largest and most experienced health insurers -- has priced its policies incorrectly, what are the odds that most of the other insurers have done better?

Berkeley prof forces students to tweet pro-Islam views

By Robby Soave
Students in Professor Hatem Bazian’s class at the University of California at Berkeley are required to publicly denounce Islamophobia on Twitter while designing strategies to help Islamic groups improve their outreach efforts.
Bazian is a founder of “Students for Justice in Palestine” at Berkeley, where he teaches in the Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies departments. One of his classes, “Asian American Studies 132AC: Islamophobia,” requires students to tweet about Islamophobia, according to Tarek Fatah, a columnist for the Toronto Sun.
Fatah wrote that he received an email from a student in Bazian’s class who claimed: “I’ve been told by one of my professors I will be required, as part of my grade, to start a Twitter account and tweet weekly on Islamophobia. I can’t help but feel this is unethical. This is his agenda not mine.”
By Matthew Vadum
...For a start, if you self-identify as a Republican and you are serious about restoring the Constitution, shrinking the government, and reducing government spending, it is wrong to think of other Republican Party members as necessarily being your friends.

A political party isn't a club or a sacred religious order.  It isn't a brotherhood or fraternity.  The other people in the party aren't necessarily your friends, or even people you'd feel comfortable lending your lawnmower.

Here is wisdom: if you, as a Republican, remain true to small-government principles, many of your worst enemies will be found in your own party, and they are likely to be much more vicious, petty, vindictive, and malicious than most of your adversaries on the left.  Intra-party squabbles and in-fighting are among the most brutal of all political conflicts in America.

It is important to remember that a political party like the GOP is not a cause in and of itself.  It is merely a means to an end.  Although the Republican Party has a glorious history that should be celebrated, the modern party infrastructure and establishment are not something to get sentimental about.

The GOP is akin to an army, or more precisely an alliance of armies, large and small, and an ocean of independent actors who come together to fight a common enemy.  It consists of people who presumably have roughly the same view of society, how the world works, and how to make things better.  They don't agree on everything and can be bitter foes on specific issues.  Alliances are by their nature fractious.

And people shouldn't feel obligated to do what party leaders want them to do.  GOP leaders are not infallible.  They're no smarter or more honest than grassroots GOP activists -- and in many cases, they are less intelligent and less honest than rank-and-file party supporters.

You owe party leaders your loyalty no more than a rabbit owes its loyalty to a hungry snake.
...Somehow, over time, this tactic of benevolent forbearance that was no doubt devised in the heat of battle has been elevated to something akin to a moral principle -- which is, of course, ridiculous.  It has morphed into a quasi-religious directive that amounts to  "always be nice" or that makes it taboo to dare question those who hold public office so long as they belong to the right political party.

The time has come for conservatives in the Republican Party to stop being nice.  RINOs Karl Rove (who nearly lost George W. Bush the presidency twice), Boehner, McConnell, and the rest of the GOP congressional leadership have declared war on the Tea Party, the same movement to which the Republican Party owes its continuing existence.  Boehner would not be speaker of the House if the Tea Party hadn't boosted the GOP in 2010 and 2012.  And the Tea Party-dominated election of 2010, by the way, was arguably "the best Republican showing ever," according to psephologist Michael Barone.

As MoveOn essentially took over the Democratic Party in 2004 following presidential candidate John Kerry's unexpected defeat, MoveOn executive director Eli Pariser declared that the Democratic Party was "our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."

Today the Tea Party ought to own the Republican Party.  The movement is going to have to learn to play rougher.

What Is InBloom and Why Is It Collecting Data on School Children?

By Merrill Hope
In Common Core and other federal education matters, no name stirs up more controversy than inBloom, the 2013 nonprofit rebranded from predecessor Smart Learning Collaboration (SLC). 
Originally launched with nine states on board, inBloom has been accused of everything from collecting to tracking to selling data on the nation's K-12 kids, resulting in a handful of those states dropping out. However, inBloom wants to engage its critics and make an effort to challenge the assertions made about their role in the student data controversy.
What is inBloom? Pumped up by $100 million in start-up money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, it states the following concerning its purpose: 

[The] mission is to provide a valuable resource to teachers, students and families, to improve education. We solve a common technology issue facing school districts today: the inability of electronic instructional tools used in classrooms to work in coordination with (or “talk to”) one another.
The inBloom official website also claims that through technology, they are here to help tailor learning, inform parents, save time and money, and enhance data privacy and security; because "to succeed in today’s global economy, students need learning experiences that meet their individual needs, engage them deeply, and let them learn at their own pace." It goes on to say:

This requires teachers to have an up-to-date picture of a student’s progress; an understanding of where he or she needs extra attention; and access to materials that will help progress their students’ learning. inBloom is a nonprofit organization helping to make this possible by providing efficient and cost-effective means for school districts to give teachers the information and tools necessary to strengthen their connection with each student.

By Michael Ledeen
Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.
Heywood Campbell Broun.
I don’t think it’s hard to understand Obama’s foreign policy.  Although there’s a lot we don’t know about him, his basic impulses are clear enough.  He’s told us what they are (although, to be sure, he often misleads and obfuscates), and his actions are in keeping with his announced impulses.  Furthermore, there’s nothing unique or surprising about them — you can hear them in our classrooms and our college dorms, and read them in the establishment press every day.  He’s an establishment member in high standing.
He believes that most of the serious problems in the world are the result of past American actions.  Call it imperialism.  Call it meddling.  Call it arrogance (as the Iranians do).  Whatever you call it, it means that pre-Obama policies were bad.  Ergo, it’s mostly Bush’s fault. (Shorthand for “before me, they didn’t understand.  Anything.”)
It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States.  Get it out of the messes it has created.  Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere.  Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ergo the often spectacular dissing of past allies and the embarrassing embrace of previous and actual enemies.  Diss Mubarak, embrace the Muslim Brotherhood.  Ergo the incredible shrinking military budget, ergo the back-of-the-hand slap to many of our greatest warriors.
It also follows that our foreign policy requires a new language, beginning with making amends for the bad policies of the past, and continuing with a dramatic realignment, aiming at creating a new alliance structure with countries we maltreated in the past.  Ergo the global apology tour.  Ergo the refusal to respond to insults from the likes of Hugo Chavez.  Ergo the Russian “reset” stratagem.  And ergo the Iran deal, pursued eagerly and relentlessly even before the 2008 election results were in, wrapped in terms of respect (the careful pronunciation of “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” for example).  And ergo the rejection of “American exceptionalism,” putting the United States on the same moral and political platform as contemporary Greece.
Those are his core principles.  It’s a highly ideological policy matrix, beginning with his conviction that WE are the root cause of most bad things.  It’s not subtle, doesn’t require mastery of nuance or even history, as his error-ridden Cairo speech demonstrated to anyone who cared to actually read it (my favorite is the claim that Muslims invented printing, when the Chinese did that, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East).  Indeed, he and his minions are so uninterested in the facts of the world that they regularly invent the world, as Secretary of State Kerry did when he falsely announced that “last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank.”  Actually there were several.
That’s what happens when an ideological vision blinds us to reality.  Obama’s ideology is a “pidgin” version of the standard  leftist view, according to which class conflict is the engine of history, with the oppressors (call them the 1%) ruling it over the impoverished and alienated poor (the 99%).  The pre-Obama United States is the incarnation of the 1%, and most of the rest of the world, especially the poor, or underdeveloped world, make up the 99%. Obama and his followers have a romantic attachment to the 99%, and his many calls for “fairness” apply to his international impulses as well as to his domestic passions.
This notion of class conflict may have explained European history for a period right after the industrial revolution, but it has little to do with the globalized world we live in.  Since it does not explain the world, people who believe it are very poorly placed to make sensible policy, either domestic or international.  Yet those who believe it continue to embrace the happy thought that they are morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, as Fred Siegel elaborates in his wonderful new book The Revolt Against the Masses.
We have been told that Obama considers himself so smart that he is bored with the problems that afflict the real world.  He evidently thinks he’s got the answers.  If you suggest that he’s failing, he lifts his chin and mentally tosses you into the “they don’t get it” pot.
Obama is actually easy to understand, although plenty of smart people keep trying to find other explanations.  Of late, Peter Foster, Lee Smith and Mike Doran have been hard at it, looking for new ways to explain Obama’s Iran policy.  Lee Smith argues that Obama’s a “realist,” and that his guru is Harvard’s Professor Walt.  He suggests that Obama views the Middle East in old-fashioned balance-of-power terms, and accepts Iran as a major player with whom we must come to terms. Mr. Doran doesn’t think Obama really cares if Iran gets the bomb, and has been bluffing all along, and Mr. Foster thinks Obama doesn’t really care if the sanctions break down, since if Iran makes lots of money via deals with the P5+1 countries, they will be very reluctant to go back into the misery of the sanctions regime, thus making a final deal more likely.  He quotes Wendy Sherman to that effect.
I agree with Doran and Foster, but I think their focus is too narrow.  Iran policy isn’t a singular effort, it’s part of a pattern.  Obama sympathizes with the regime’s ideology, he agrees that our past actions justify branding us the “Great Satan,” and he wants to make everything right with the mullahs.  He doesn’t see the regime’s enmity toward America as a fixed principle, as their raison d’etre, and he has undertaken to change it.  He has been secretly negotiating with them all along, convinced by his ideology that it will all work out.  So he doesn’t fear a nuclear Iran any more than I fear a nuclear Britain, France or Israel.
Lee Smith’s surprising suggestion that Obama’s a “realist” strikes me as too far out.  Yes, Walt and the president agree that Israel is a terrible nuisance, but Obama’s foreign policy–of which Iran is just one component–is hardly realistic.  It’s driven by passion and a false vision of the world, not by tough-minded geopolitical analysis.
If you want a good two-word description of Obama’s approach to the world, call it passionate appeasement.  And go back and read the quotation at the top.

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