“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obama being Obama

Barack Obama flops in Knox: the president’s speech was a train-wreck

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: July 24th, 2013

It’s been a rough few weeks for Barack Obama. A wave of scandals has undermined trust in the White House, and a series of major polls has hammered the president in the first year of his second term. Support for Obama has dropped to its lowest level in two years, with widespread public dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this morning showed the president’s approval level at just 45 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. 56 percent of Americans are “pessimistic” or “uncertain” in “their feelings about how the president will do during the rest of his term,” and only 17 percent of Americans surveyed are “optimistic.”

Today’s speech at Knox College, Illinois, was supposed to be the president’s come-back moment, the first of a series of addresses aimed at retaking the initiative by the White House. Instead it was a train-wreck. In an hour-long address, which seemed to last forever (and par for course started 15 minutes late), the president spoke in deeply partisan terms, often with bitterness and anger, lambasting his political opponents, dismissing criticism of his policies, and launching into his favourite theme of class warfare, attacking the wealthy and what he calls the “winner takes all economy.” In a display of extraordinary arrogance (even by his standards), he condemned what he called “an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals,” a direct reference to the Congressional investigations into the IRS and Benghazi scandals, which most Americans don’t see as phony. He also defended his increasingly unpopular Obamacare proposals, attacking what he calls “a politically-motivated misinformation campaign,” while failing to acknowledge that moderate Democrats are “steadily turning against Obamacare” as The Washington Post reported today.

This was a highly defensive speech, with President Obama in full campaign mode. There were no fresh ideas, just a tired rehash of earlier campaign rhetoric. It was also another love letter to big government, with a clarion call for yet more federal spending on environmental measures, infrastructure, manufacturing, and a laundry list of liberal pet causes. There was not a word about reducing the burden of government regulation, and getting bureaucracy off the backs of entrepreneurs. His speech promised more government spending at a time when America’s national debt is approaching a staggering $17 trillion. He rejected tax cuts, and bashed the rich, at times sounding more like Francois Hollande than the leader of the free world. 

Once again, Barack Obama demonstrated why he has built an unenviable reputation as a perpetual campaigner in chief, with an overwhelmingly partisan agenda. Obama is no Ronald Reagan, who always sought to bring the country together based on the common ideals of the Founding Fathers. President Obama’s message will do nothing to reassure a sceptical American public. With unemployment still above 10 percent in 27 major US metropolitan areas, and nearly one in six Americans living on food stamps, the economic record of this administration leaves much to be desired. Today in Illinois, President Obama spoke the language of decline, promising more of the same left-wing policies that have weakened US competitiveness, eroded economic freedom, and have saddled the world’s superpower with historic levels of debt. Americans deserve better than the failed statism that has bankrupted cities like Detroit, and threatens to do the same to the rest of the country.


  1. The Conga Line stands for ignoring the 4th Amendment

    After a fiery debate this week over the balance between liberty and security -- a debate that created some unusual alliances in Washington -- the House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a bill that would’ve put an end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of U.S. phone records.

    The House voted 217 to 205 to reject a measure that would've stripped the NSA of its assumed authority under the Patriot Act to collect records in bulk -- the security agency would have to show that a specific individual is under investigation before collecting such information. The measure was voted on as an amendment to a Defense spending bill -- even if the amendment had passed, it’s unlikely it would have survived in the Democratic-led Senate or against the opposition of the White House.

    The proposal this week garnered passionate support from civil liberties advocates but also saw fierce opposition from those concerned with hamstringing the nation's intelligence gathering.
    "We are here today for a very simple reason, to defend the Fourth Amendment, to defend the privacy of each and every American," Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., the amendment's sponsor, said on the House floor. Opponents of the measure, he said, “will use the same tactics that every government throughout history has used to justify its violation of rights."

    Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on the floor that “passing this amendment takes us back to September 10th... a terrorist overseas called one in the United States and we missed it."

    Coming more than a month after a former government contractor blew the lid open on sweeping government surveillance programs, the House floor debate was one of the most robust debates over surveillance Congress has had in years.

    1. .

      Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on the floor that “passing this amendment takes us back to September 10th... a terrorist overseas called one in the United States and we missed it."

      And they have missed everyone since, the Boston bombers, the Times Square bomber, the underwear bomber. They take our liberties and offer us nothing in return.


  2. Interesting poll from the National Journal a couple of days ago; it seems that only 36% of people want Obamacare repealed (vs 59% that don't.)

    1. The takeaway is that a fair amount of the "disapproval" in the standard approve/disapprove polls is from Liberals that wanted something even more, such as "single-payer."

  3. Not as bad as five hours of Fidel Castro in the hot Havana sun, but close.

    1. Even Rufus, who seems to hang on to Obama's every word, would have fallen asleep during it.


    2. As the guy at the far left in the photo seems to have done.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. >>>>After a fiery debate this week over the balance between liberty and security -- a debate that created some unusual alliances in Washington -- the House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a bill that would’ve put an end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of U.S. phone records.

    The House voted 217 to 205 to reject a measure that would've stripped the NSA of its assumed authority under the Patriot Act to collect records in bulk -- the security agency would have to show that a specific individual is under investigation before collecting such information. <<<<

    I was truly surprised by that vote. In shock. My guy, Labrador, voted for the amendment, as I expected, but the other Idaho representative, Simpson, voted against it. I can't imagine it.

    I had thought something like this amendment would be universally popular. How could anyone vote against it? Showing, against all past experience, that even I can be wrong once in a while.

  6. As for Obama's speech: As Deuce has, often, asked, "just where is he wrong?"

    1. I do not recall Deuce ever saying any such thing.

      I do recall Deuce saying he agreed with me that Obama is the worst President in all of USA history, even worse than Lincoln.

      I simply do not believe your statement there, Rufus. I'd have to read the words in print with my very own eyes, with Deuce's signature at the bottom, before I would believe.

    2. Maybe he said 'just where is he right' instead?

  7. July 25, 2013
    Obama speaks on the economy and no one cares
    Rick Moran

    Even liberals are tuning the president out when he talks about his grand ideas for stimulating the economy.

    Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: "GOP is right about Obama's Econoimic speech." WaPo's Dana Milbank: "A warmed over jobs message." Chris Cillizza: "Meet President Obama's new economic message. Same as his old economic message."
    The fact is, there was nothing new in this, the 19th "pivot" Obama has made to the economy. Everybody knows it, and that's why nobody paid much attention to it.

    Dana Milbank:
    "I don't normally do this," President Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote in the subject line of an e-mail blast to reporters Sunday night.

    This was tantalizing. What would this top White House official be doing? Singing karaoke on the North Lawn? Getting a "POTUS" tattoo on his arm?
    Reality was rather more prosaic. Pfeiffer was announcing the rollout of a series of economic speeches Obama would begin on Wednesday -- roughly the 10th time the White House has made such a pivot to refocus on jobs and growth. What would set this one apart is that Obama would be reprising a speech he made eight years ago, when he first became a senator; Pfeiffer included a link to clips from that speech, set in part to mood music from the Canadian electronica group Kidstreet, the same music used in an Apple ad last year.

    But even a reincarnated Steve Jobs would have trouble marketing this turkey: How can the president make news, and remake the agenda, by delivering the same message he gave in 2005? He's even giving the speech from the same place, Galesburg, Ill.

    White House officials say this will show Obama's consistency. "We plead guilty to the charge that there is a thematic continuity that exists between the speech the president will give in Galesburg, at Knox College on Wednesday, and his speech in Osawatomie [Kansas, in 2011] and his speech back at Knox College in 2005," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

    Yes, but this also risks sending the signal that, just six months into his second term, Obama is fresh out of ideas. There's little hope of getting Congress to act on major initiatives and little appetite in the White House to fight for bold new legislation that is likely to fail. And so the president, it seems, is going into reruns.

    Failed policies has been the hallmark of President Obama's efforts at getting the economy started again. In some ways, things are a little better - housing is coming back (and taking its own sweet time doing it), construction is up, and growth is slow but steady.

    But all the president can do is offer warmed over ideas that haven't worked the first time he tried them. He is at a loss about what to do.

    1. You're a moron; please leave my name out of your comments.

    2. >>>>July 25, 2013
      Obama's Misery Index Approaches Carter Years
      Bob Campbell

      In the past 30 years if you were in the top 1% economic class your inflation-adjusted incomes grew by 224%. The top 0.1% grew by 390%. In contrast, the bottom 90% struggled with only a 5% growth in incomes.[ref] Whoop-tee-do! A 5% increase over 30 years is pathetic!
      According to the Credit Suisse's annual Global Wealth Data Book, America's middle class ranks 27th in the world. Are they serious? I thought the United States was the wealthiest country in the world.

      The U.S. misery index has reached its highest level since May, 1983. I remember the Carter years. The only thing missing today is the 18% interest rates. So how can the index be so high in the Obama years without double-digit interest rates? For starters, I remember having a job back then. Today, a lot of us don't have jobs, 50% of the population receives government checks, the population is aging, and the dollar has plummeted in value.

      What burns my behind is the fact that our Government continues to spend money in spite of the American taxpayer screaming to "please stop!" President Obama just spent a cool $60 million (Newsmax says a $100M) traveling to Africa where he had the gall to tell the folks that "the planet will boil over" if people in Africa are allowed to attain air conditioning, automobiles and big houses. On Wednesday Obama spoke 1 hour and 6 minutes about jobs and the economy. Fred Barnes called it a "predictable bust" with "tired ideas." Currently in Congress we have elected Elites who wine and dine themselves at taxpayers' expense that think Amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens is just sharing the American Dream. What American Dream? Do these politicians realize that providing jobs for these illegals, funding their welfare, health care and education are not possible unless the working middle class are able (or willing) to pay for it?

      The decline of the American middle class is a national tragedy. The United States professes to the world that our form of Democracy is the greatest thing next to Mom's apple pie; who are we kidding? There can be only one reason for the decline of the middle class in America; that decline is by "political design." The ruling political class in the United States believes that social welfare, big government, progressive taxes and crony capitalism should take precedent over middle class businesses and its working men and women. Many of us have seen a real decline in our savings accounts, home values, work hours and wages. Couple this decline with increasing taxes, gas prices, food costs and insurance premiums and you can understand why middle class incomes often feel like just survival.<<<<

      The very cheapest can of tuna fish that I could find in the very cheapest grocery around these woods was $1.00/can yesterday. Middle of the line tuna fish was around $2.00/can.

      Just a few months ago I bought a case for 49 cents a can.

    3. OK, Rufus, I'll leave your name out of my comments. Will think of some more meaningful way to reference your noble self.

      I will continue to use the terms 'Rufian' or 'Rufoid' to designate your view of the world, however, as Doug often does.

  8. Continue comments on this thread, but above I just posted the video above of the moments the Spanish train crashes. Conductor doing twice the legal speed limit.

    1. Really puzzling, doing twice the speed limit. There must be some co-conductors in the train's cockpit or whatever it would be called. What were they doing? Maybe they were all really soused. A speed restricting throttle of some kind device might be a good idea.

  9. Egyptian Military's Crackdown Strains Gaza's Economy - Fares Akram

    For Hamas, the Egyptian military's stepped up campaign against Islamic militants in Sinai means a looming economic crisis if restrictions continue on the tunnels that run beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. New restrictions at the Rafah border crossing mean that Hamas officials are unable to leave Gaza, and aid missions are not coming in due to the security situation in Sinai.

    Egyptian military officials have told state news media that scores of Hamas fighters and snipers have been making their way into Egypt to battle the anti-Morsi demonstrators, and newspaper columnists have accused Hamas of interfering in Egypt's affairs. (New York Times)

    See also Anti-Morsi Egyptians Blame Palestinians - Debasish Mitra
    The Egyptian media has joined the army and the administration in inciting national hatred against Palestinians, especially those who live in Gaza where Hamas rules. During chat shows on Egyptian television, guests are heard saying, "Deposed President Mohamed Morsi is originally Palestinian." Speaker after speaker calls for executing Palestinians living in Egypt, as some Egyptians hold Palestinians responsible for the "misrule" of the Muslim Brotherhood. The new masters in Egypt now say that Palestinians intervened too deeply in Egypt's domestic politics during Morsi's rule and should be taught a lesson. (Times of Oman)


    It would seem that the Israelis are Pure Angels in their treatment of 'Palestinians' compared to the Egyptians.

    None of the Arab countries want the Palestinians, nor care to help them. Their entire interest is using the Palestinians as a thorn in Israel's side.

  10. The German police have recovered and returned to my niece her Passport, which was in her purse when it was stolen on a commuter train. Is she relieved!


  11. .

    For future reference,

    Roll Call Vote on the Amash Amendment