Friday Digest

Oct. 4, 2013

THE FOUNDATION

“Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be.” –John Adams

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Phony Shutdown Pain

Once the government shut down Monday at midnight, the Obama administration went into overdrive to make the “Republican shutdown1” as noticeable and inconvenient as possible. National Parks were one of the more visible targets, though many of these remained open during the shutdowns in the 1990s.

Obama had Park Service personnel place Barackades2 at the World War II Memorial in Washington, though that didn’t stop hundreds of veterans fromvisiting anyway3. Just for good measure, Obama also closed the cemetery at Normandy4 in France. And he tried to blockade Mount Vernon, which is privately owned. That didn’t work out so well.

Even the football game between the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy was in jeopardy of being canceled5. Fortunately, however, sanity prevailed late Wednesday night given that the athletics programs of both schools are privately funded and don’t rely on government money. “We could run our entire athletics program and conduct events as we always do without any government funds,” said Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk.

Clearly, the White House thought the public would blame the GOP for these ridiculous closings. In order for Obama to beat his Republican enemies – the ones his aide called terrorists “with a bomb strapped to their chest6” – his administration is authorizing high profile cuts to create as much public pain as possible. But it’s the Democrats who look bad here.

Meanwhile, Obama doesn’t share the pain. Even as the grocery stores on U.S. Army bases are closed, imposing a significant inconvenience on active duty military personnel and their families, the president’s beloved golf course at nearby Andrews Air Force base remains open. And though Obama has issued a moratorium on National Cemetery flyovers to honor fallen warriors, he continues to use Air Force One and its entire contingent of additional Air Force aircraft and support crews to commute to political fundraisers, stump speeches and vacations7, at enormous expense. It’s not that we think Obama should book his flights on Expedia, but the fact that the commander in chief continues to use this most costly Air Force asset for purely political or pleasure trips while closing down memorials, cemeteries and grocery stores is disgraceful.

ObamaCare Rollout Hits Snags

The federal and state ObamaCare insurance exchanges opened for business8Tuesday and so far it has overwhelmed government websites and agencies and frustrated millions of consumers nationwide who couldn’t even complete the login process. The federal government and 14 individual states had three years to design, implement and test their insurance exchanges (36 states opted out of setting up state exchanges, leaving the job to Washington.) Yet, ObamaCare’s first week was plagued by a multitude of reports from all over the country about glitches in the system.

California, home to 15% of the nation’s uninsured, had to pull its $313 million enrollment site the first day. The agency in charge of the exchange claimed that the site received five million hits, supposedly crashing the system. But two days later, the state admitted its overstatement9 and said the real number was 645,000. Oops. Meanwhile, Oregon has a faulty calculator that won’t be fixed till later in the month. Louisiana wasn’t even able to determine if a single person has obtained insurance. Federal hotlines were swarmed with calls.

The White House laughably spun these and many other problems as a sign that ObamaCare is even more popular than they anticipated. Even if these problems were caused by pure volume and not just bureaucratic incompetence, early trends don’t bode well for success. ObamaCare needs to draw a larger number of voluntary uninsureds, so-called young invincibles, into the system early to make it viable. They are in a position to balance the cost of fines against the cost of insurance, and right now, fines are winning. Lower than anticipated enrollment will upset the cost balance of the program, raising premiums and leading to more taxes to cover the overage. It will also mean that the eight million working poor and impoverished won’t get subsidies. One more promise to be broken.

DoJ Attacks North Carolina Voter ID Law

The Obama Justice Department has filed suit against the state of North Carolina over its new voting rules in the latest move in Attorney General Eric Holder’s crusade.

Read more and comment here10.

ECONOMY

Unofficial Jobs Report: 166,000 Private-Sector Jobs Gained

One casualty of the government slowdown this month will be an “official” unemployment figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because it’s a non-essential agency, the BLS halted its operations before the scheduled Friday release. Instead, economists and others who read the tea leaves will have to make do with a similar report. One from the private payroll firm ADP, which calculates its own employment figures based on their surveying and comes with a caution that they only assess private-sector jobs and not government work, came up with a figure of 166,000 jobs created. The BLS numbers will likely vary.

But comparing the September ADP numbers with those of July and August, it’s still apparent the economy is in a narrow trough of job creation. Their figures for those two months show 161,000 jobs added in July and 159,000 in August. That’s just treading water.

On the other hand, the Labor Department is still in operation and their weekly jobless claim report showed 308,000 new claims last week. That number, when added to the less volatile four-week rolling average economists prefer to use, shows the average is down to 305,000 – the lowest since May 2007. Yet workforce participation remains near all-time lows, so fewer new jobless claims is not as encouraging as it might be.

Meanwhile, the Gallup organization, which also tracks employment through amore unique ratio11 called P2P, or payroll to population, came out with a P2P number of 43.5 percent, down from 45.1 percent a year ago. Gallup’s version of the unemployment rate declined for the month, though, from a surprising 8.7% in August to 7.7% in September – more in line with the figure economists would anticipate had the BLS report been released.

There are a lot of numbers out there, but they point to an economy still struggling and not providing a lot of hope to those whose personal unemployment rate is 100%.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Iran Again Enters the Stage

Barack Obama may refuse to negotiate “with people with a bomb strapped to their chest6” – referring, of course, to his Republican political opponents – but he doesn’t seem to have any qualms about dealing with Iran. New Iranian president Hassan Rouhani snubbed Obama at the UN last week, but the two soon talked on the phone to smooth things over. Rouhani – who isn’t Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but is still under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei – needed to string Obama along a bit more. The topics of conversation were not only Iran’s nuclear program but also its client state of Syria. Such talks mean that U.S. military action in Syria is less likely now than it ever was.

Remember last month, when the president addressed the nation to talk about “the children lying in rows, killed by poison gas” and the need to respond militarily? It’s remarkable how quickly that righteous firestorm died out.

And about that nuclear program: The Moscow Times reports12, “Russia and Iran signed a protocol Monday transferring control of the Bushehr nuclear power plant to Iranian specialists.” Meanwhile, Yukia Amano, general director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Iran “is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” and his organization “cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” In other words, Nobel Peace Prize laureate13 Vladimir Putin is one step ahead of Obama once again.

Finally, three related tidbits: First, Iran hacked the U.S. Navy computer network in September. Second, the State Department wants Congress to hold off on any more sanctions for a while. And third, the United Nations chose Iran to serve on its Committee on Disarmament and International Security. That committee is chaired by Libya, where arms flow freely to al-Qaida after Obama helped oust Moammar Gadhafi. So all in all another fine week in foreign policy for our feckless president.

BRIEF OPINION

Essential Liberty

Columnist John Stossel: “We don’t do poor kids any favors by keeping them trapped in the poorly run government system. If you really care about ‘the public,’ you should let people go where they get the best service. When government gets bad results – high dropout rates, poor test scores – its defenders say schools need more money. But spending per student has tripled. There are more computers, teachers, social workers, reading specialists, principals, assistant principals, etc. But test scores haven’t improved. Unpredictable things happen when you leave people free to experiment, and competition produces better results than one tired monopoly. … This is how leftists think. Everyone must jump into the government pot. Even if it is mediocre (or worse), we’re all in this together. Otherwise, the rich will get all the goods, and the poor will suffer. Don’t they notice that cellphones, cars and air conditioning keep improving yet poor people are able to buy them? No. They don’t understand that market competition helps everyone, especially the poor.”

For the Record

Economist Walter E. Williams: “For most of our history, a person could simply walk into a hardware store, virtually anywhere in our country, and buy a gun. Few states bothered to have even age restrictions on buying guns. Those and other historical facts should force us to ask ourselves: Why … was there not the frequency and kind of gun violence that we sometimes see today, when access to guns is more restricted? … Moral standards of conduct, as well as strict and swift punishment for criminal behaviors, have been under siege in our country for more than a half-century. Moral absolutes have been abandoned as a guiding principle. … [P]rogressives want to replace what worked with what sounds good or what seems plausible, such as more gun locks, longer waiting periods and stricter gun possession laws. Then there’s progressive mindlessness ‘cures,’ such as ‘zero tolerance’ for schoolyard recess games such as cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians, shouting ‘bang bang,’ drawing a picture of a pistol, making a gun out of Lego pieces, and biting the shape of a gun out of a Pop-Tart. This kind of unadulterated lunacy … will continue to produce disappointing results.”

Political Futures

Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto: “We hope [ObamaCare] fails spectacularly because that would provide an emotionally satisfying dramatic conclusion. If Barack Obama is forced to spend, say, the last two years of his presidency contending with the undeniable failure of his signature initiative, that would be a fitting punishment for the hubris of his first two years, especially since the imposition of ObamaCare on an unwilling country was the main consequence of his hubris. We hope it fails quickly for an additional reason: to minimize the damage. … The communist revolution would not have succeeded absent a critical mass of people hopeful communism would work. Nor would it have endured as long as it did if no one had an emotional interest in its perpetuation. Hope, in other words, poses a moral hazard: It can be a species of pathological altruism.”

For more, visit The Right Opinion14.

CHRONICLE QUOTES

Insight

Theologian and writer C. S. Lewis (1898-1963): “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Demo-gogues

Barack Obama: “During the course of my presidency, I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican party. I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy. Sometimes people think I’m too calm. And am I exasperated? Absolutely, I’m exasperated. Because this [government shutdown] is entirely unnecessary. I am exasperated with the idea that, unless I say that, ‘Twenty million people, you can’t have health insurance,’ these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible.”

Village Idiots

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “What we see happening with this Republican strategy is a willingness to threaten the very foundation of the world’s greatest economic power, the economy that basically stabilizes the entire world economic system, and that is a very risky proposition.”

On top of that, Carney warned that “the president is drawing a line here” on negotiating the debt ceiling. Another red line – you know what that means15.

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

Harry Reid: “We support the federal government. That’s our job, that’s what we do.”

The BIG Lie

Barack Obama: “[The debt ceiling] does not cost taxpayers a single dime. It does not grow our deficits by a single dime. It does not authorize anybody to spend any new money whatsoever. All it does is authorize the Treasury to pay the bills on what Congress has already spent. Think about that. If you buy a car and you’ve got a car note, you do not save money by not paying your car note. You’re just a deadbeat.”

Braying Jackass

Barack Obama: “If you’re workin’ here [in a factory] and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, ‘You know what? I wanna get somethin’, but I don’t know – I don’t know exactly what I’m gonna get, but I’m just gonna stop workin’ till I get somethin’ and I’m gonna shut down the whole plant until I get somethin’.‘ You’d get fired!”

Dezinformatsia

CBS’ Ben Tracy: “Carbon emissions also trap heat. [The IPCC’s] report shows oceans have absorbed 90% of that heat, raising ocean temperatures by half a degree. Had all that heat gone into the atmosphere, air temperatures could have risen by more than 200 degrees.”

Short Cuts

Comedian Jay Leno: “Well in a letter to John Boehner, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government will run out of money in just three weeks. You know, I’m no financial whiz, but we’re $16 trillion in debt. Doesn’t that mean we already ran out of money – like 16 trillion dollars ago?”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.

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