Monday, January 16, 2017

Good Riddance, Barack Obama (Reply to The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times thinks Barack Obama made America better, was a complete, scandal-free class act, and is terribly sorry to see him go:


Image result for don't let door hit you
"Thought we wouldn't recognize you in a beard, huh?"
"President Obama leaves office this week with a remarkable legacy already intact.  He exits with grace, eloquence and optimism, his administration unblemished by scandal.  The economy is humming for much of America.  The US standing in the world is vastly improved.  He bent the arc of history toward justice. . . . Obama had an unsurpassed capacity to encourage the better angels of our nature.  The contrast this week between his farewell and his successor's first news conference was bitter and stark. 

"The Seattle Times editorial board in 2008 was the first major newspaper to endorse Obama for the general election.   Despite being young, he had the intelligence, steady temperament and thoughtful policy ideas to lead.  He proved that, and more.  

"He will be sorely missed."

Not by me, he won't.  Nor by much of the rest of the world -- aside from the more astute of our enemies.

While I don't know how the new president will fare, I will be delighted to see Barrack Obama walk out of the White House, hopefully never to set foot in it again.  (Though may he live long and come to repent of the evil he has done his homeland, and the haughty arrogance and self-righteous preening with which he has done it, and which the gullible mistake for "grace.")

Good riddance to a president who has "accomplished" all of the following, without the editorial staff of The Seattle Times deigning to notice any of it (do their jobs, in other words) for the past eight years:

(1)   Barack Obama has added nine TRILLION dollars to our national debt.  This is what Obama said when George Bush was responsible for increasing the debt by less than half that amount:

“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents -- number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child . . . ”

The eloquent, optimistic Barack Obama, after appealing to the "better angels of our nature" by savaging the previous president for adding four trillion to what we and our children are going to have to pay, turned around and added nine trillion more.  (Which the ever-classy Nancy Pelosi also blames Bush for, of course.)

That's another $30,000 per man, woman and child in addition to what the first 44 presidents added.  Barack Obama has thus saddled my family alone with an extra $120,000 of debt to the Bank of China and other entities.  He never even tried do a deal with the Republicans to bring the deficit down or pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, of course.  He scoffed at the Republicans, telling them "Elections have consequences!"

Boy, did that one.

Thanks for putting my family much further in debt to the Bank of China.  Don't let the door hit your hypocritical backside on the way out.

(2)  Shouldn't nine trillion dollars in excess spending buy more "economic humming" than we have actually seen in the past eight years?  Bush's prompt policies ended the "Great Recession" before Obama's policies had a chance to take effect.  We then endured a "recovery" such that, four years later, most Americans thought we were still in a recession.  Growth failed to hit 3% per year over the full course of Obama's presidency, even once.  Why does the Seattle Times suppose the stock market went "rockets red glare" mode after Donald Trump won the election?

(3) And can we credit Barack Obama even for the economic good that happened these past eight years?  The hottest segments of the economy were oil and tech.  Obama promised to lessen our dependence on oil, and his people even promised that gasoline prices would go up.  He failed to keep that promise, despite keeping a tight rein on public oil leases (which declined), because the private sector kept on inventing new technologies like fracking that caused US oil and gas output to soar.   During the last election cycle, Obama said scornfully:

"You can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill and step three is keep drilling . . . Anyone who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about – or isn’t telling you the truth.”

Guess what?  While public lands yielded less oil, the American petroleum industry did drill, drill, and drill (and frack), no thanks to a president who scoffed at that plan.  (So much for "grace" and "optimism.")  And what resulted?  Great affluence in Texas, North Dakota, and other drilling states.  (Which of course spilled out to other states.)  And (with help from the Saudis, who wanted to drive American producers out of business, among other goals), the very two dollar gas in the rest of the country that Barack Obama scoffed at.  (As low as 1.85 in New Jersey, until new taxes hit, and in southern Republican states.)  

So who knew what they were talking about?  Who was telling us the truth?  Not Barack Obama.  

How about the tech sector?  The Seattle Times offices lie within walking distance for reporters of the growing Amazon campus in a one-hour lunch period, though the new Expedia campus is a bit further.  Jump in a car, and in a few minutes they can reach Google and Microsoft.  Can the Times pretend that Seattle's own tech boom owes anything to Barack Obama's policies?  Would Amazon be less inventive under a Republican president?  Amazon promises to add another 100, 000 jobs in the US in the next few years -- never mind Obama's exit.  Meanwhile, unions with which the Democrats are affiliated, drove thousands of excellent Boeing jobs out of town, and probably the company headquarters, too.  They moved to -- though this is rather shortsighted (see 5 below) -- Chicago.

(4)  Did President Obama "bend the arc of history towards justice?"  Or did he rip the blindfold off of Lady Justice and  made her work the streets?  Did he turn the "Department of Justice" into a Banana Republic office from which to shield his supporters?  Did his minions abuse the IRS to attack conservative organizations?

(5) Barack Obama helped poison race relations and harmed American cities, beginning with Chicago.  Surveys show that eight years ago most Americans thought relations between the races (meaning especially black and white) were pretty good.  According to Gallup, race relations these past two years are seen by both blacks and whites as being worse than they have been, at least since 2001.

How did Barack Obama help accomplish that turn-around?  By lending support to the racist cop-hating organization, Black Lives Matter.  Violent attacks on police, even stalkings and ambushes, have surged in America, with 76 killed by deliberate gunfire, a knife attack, or vehicular assault. (As opposed to 47 in the previous year in the same categories.)  Meanwhile, officers have been pressured to back off on aggressive policing, which has led directly to the deaths of hundreds of blacks, especially young black men, in inner cities.

270 more murders were committed in Chicago alone in 2016, than in 2015.   This has been while Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, served as mayor of the city.  Liberal policies have been fingered as the causative agent:

"2016's surge in murders and shootings, coupled with a decline in gun seizures, led former Police Superintendent John Escalante to express concerns in March 2016 that officers might be hesitant to engage in proactive policing due to fear of retribution. Officers anonymously reported to the Chicago Sun-Times that they have been afraid to make investigatory stops because the Justice Department and American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois have been scrutinizing police practices. Data of the supposed pullback was reflected with an 80 percent decrease in the number of street stops that officers made since the beginning of 2016. Dean Angelo has claimed that part of the problem is politicians and groups like the ACLU who don't know much about policing, and yet are "dictating what police officers do."

The Department of Justice, of course, has been run by Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.

What Barack Obama and his allies seem to be doing, through such policies, is turning America's third-largest city into another Detroit.  (Which under Democratic leadership, plunged in population from 2 million to some 600,000.)  As crime increases in cities like Chicago, the middle class will flee the city.  Already early last year, among American cities, Chicago saw the most rich people leaving the city, many citing high crime rates.  As the full import of 2016's disastrous return of violent crime kicks in, one can expect the flight to increase and move down the earnings ladder.  From 2010 to 2015, Chicago grew by less than 1% (while the nation as a whole grew by 3%.)  Another year or two of Obama - Emanuel "blame the cops" approach to policing, and the city may fall into a vicious cycle of Detroit-like decline.  The more successful people leave, the more vulnerable those remaining will feel, and the more desperate the city, losing revenue and political support for sane policies, becomes.

Nor it is just Chicago.  Thanks in large part to Barack Obama's diffident, passive-aggressive "support" for the police, Baltimore has also experienced a surge in murders, Wikipedia notes:

"The city recorded a total of 344 homicides in 2015, a number second only to the number recorded in 1993 when the population was 100,000 higher. This was the highest murder rate on a per capita basis ever recorded."

But with Barack Obama heading out the door, Chicago and other American cities may finally stand a chance.

So much for Obama making America better.  So much for the arc of history bending towards justice.  In fact, the arc of bullet fire is bending towards young black men in Chicago and other inner cities, and the arc of prosperity is heading towards the tank.

(6) The Obama Administration has been "unblemished by scandal?"  What the Times means is that they and their kiss-up comrades in the public media have refused to pay attention the series of acute, perhaps unprecedented, scandals that have occurred under Barack Obama's watch (which is a first-order scandal in itself):

(a) Here's a great idea!  Let's give Mexican drug lords more guns, then see who they kill!  No doubt the number will include Mexicans and American enforcement agents, but no pain, no gain. Eric Holder was held in Contempt of Congress for trying to cover up this epic botch-up.  No scandal to see here!

(b) Allowing the American consulate in Benghazi get attacked and destroyed, with the consul killed in the attack, while American forces refused to budge even to try to protect them, was not a scandal?  Nor that the administration repeatedly tried to blame the attack on an obscure video, even though they themselves knew that it was not the cause?

(c) Nor was it a scandal that Barack Obama claimed "you can keep your policies" and doctors to get his health care program passed, even though he knew those were lies?

(d) It was also no scandal, how the Obama Administration rewrote the health care act, without getting approval from Congress to authorize changes?

(e) Using the IRS to attack conservative groups was not a scandal?  Seems to me that sort of thing was considered rather disreputable under Richard Nixon.

(e) Hilary Clinton's numerous lies about her secret server, which allowed foreign spy agencies access to top-secret material, and Barack Obama's own lies claiming that he hadn't known about her secrets, are not a scandal?  Maybe not to the Seattle Times.

But listing them all would be tedious.  Here is a list of eighteen serious scandals during the Obama Administration.  To The Seattle Times, even when people are killed and the nation's safety is palpably compromised, all of these are apparently tempests in teapots or mere Republican (or in this case, Breitbart) disinformation campaigns.  But if you don't care for Breitbart (and I don't, much), here's another telling list of Obama scandals.  Kevin Williamson correctly writes:

"Not only was the Obama administration marked by scandal of the most serious sort — perverting the machinery of the state for political ends — it was on that front, which is the most important one, the most scandal-scarred administration in modern presidential history."

What these scandals demonstrate, is that Hillary Clinton was not the only or highest-ranked person in this administration to frequently tell gross falsehoods in pursuit of dubious political ends.  Barack Obama may be "graceful" on the basketball court, and even as a public speaker, but he is also a practiced twister of truth.  Yet it may be that the "see no evil" attitude of the supposed journalists at institutions like The Seattle Times is the greatest scandal of all, these eight years.  They got Obama elected and re-elected by their unwillingness to tell plain if inconvenient truths.  We need honesty from our journalists, but instead all we got was "no scandal to see here!"

(7)  What about Obama's "signature achievement," The (heh) Affordable Health Care Act?   True, it turns out that if you fine everyone who doesn't buy health care insurance (not health care itself), more people will buy the stuff.  Why not just shoot those of us who still refuse to purchase policies?  I bet that would spread coverage (along with hemoglobin) even more broadly.  After all, if moderate force (and immoderate lies) are good in this worthy cause, why not immoderate force, and then perhaps we can moderate the lies?

Image result for strawberryStrawberries are good for you!  Why don't we tar and feather everyone who refuses to buy strawberries!  I bet that would increase strawberry sales!  "President Obama increased strawberry sales by 1000%!"  Think what a headline that would make!

Meanwhile, speaking of headlines, has the fiscal and physical health of the nation improved under Barack Obama?  How's this for a cheerful headline from yesterday?

US life expectancy falls, as many kinds of death increase

Sounds a little grim, doesn't it?  As in Grim Reaper?  "Many kinds of death" increase.  One would think that successful health policies would lead to less death, not more, right?  

We've paid a lot of money, or our children will, after we borrowed it from the Bank of China, for a system that does not seem to be working.  We've arguably violated the Constitution, certainly any serious notion of freedom, by forcing individuals to buy something that many don't want.  And this is our return on all this investment: "many kinds of death increase."  (Not just murders in Chicago and other "New Detroits.")  In addition, premiums and deductables have also gone up for many Americans, doubling and tripling in many cases.  

So when forced to buy coverage, more people are "covered."  But more people are also dying . 

And The Seattle Times responds in a lusty chorus, "Always look on the bright side of life."  (At least, until a Republican is sworn into office.  That's what they teach in Journalism School, these days.)  

(8) But at least the US standing in the world is "greatly improved," the Times tells us.  

We pause to note one genuine accomplishment for the State of Washington during the Obama Administration: it is now legal to smoke recreational pot in our fine state.  And apparently journalists at The Seattle Times have been availing themselves of this new freedom.  

(9) Compared to eight years ago, China is far stronger, and America weaker, relatively speaking.   Officially, China has now reached about 60% of America's GDP, and continues to grow rapidly. Unofficially, I suspect they have already surpassed us economically.  Perhaps Seattle Times editorial writers should be given offices facing west.  Few people in East Asia doubt that American stature has shrunk dramatically over the past eight years, while that of China has risen.  

(10) Which is why the Philippines did an about-face, and has begun to flirt at an alliance with China, while downgrading its prior friendship with the US. 

(11) China has developed new bases in the South China Sea, winning over one of our erstwhile allies, and threatening those that remain in the region.  China's military continues to strengthen, including by stealing American secrets.  Has the rise of China improved America's standing in the world?  Or the fact that, as Obama recognized before he became president, national debt means, in some part, debt to China and other business partners with whom we enjoy an ambivalent relationship?  

(12) North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons and rockets to place them on, on Obama's watch.  How is America's standing "greatly improved" when a mad tyrant will soon be able to vaporize major American cities -- with The Seattle Times as potential ground zero?  And what did Barack Obama do to solve that problem?  (Nagging people does not count.)  

(13) Vladimir Putin has frequently expressed his contempt for Barack Obama.  And why shouldn't he?  Despite much hand-wringing on Obama's part, Putin got away with swiping a good chunk of the Ukraine.  Perhaps no president could have prevented that.  But given Obama's many overtures to Russia when he came to office, neither can Russia's literal geographic expansion be counted as evidence of America's supposed "increased stature" under Obama.  

(14) Obama's policies in the prolonged "hot war" of his presidency, the uncivil war in Syria, have proven an utter debacle.  While demanding that Assad be removed, and promising that bombs would fall from heaven if Assad used chemical weapons, Obama has proven indecisive and impotent to prevent massive civilian casualties, overthrow Assad, support any "good guys" at least of Man of No Name decency or above, stop the war, keep a far more decisive Russia from entering the Middle East and actually accomplishing its goals, or keep ISIS from ruling a good chunk of the country. 

Obama has been an utter failure in Syria, and that failure is clear to almost everyone in the world who doesn't work in a liberal newsroom.  Our friends have been disconcerted and our enemies heartened by Obama's impotence as the president has been completely schooled, again and again, by America's enemies.   

(15)  Among those enemies, of course the steady rise of Iran, which has killed hundreds or thousands of Americans by various means, is among the most troubling.  Even when Iran captured American sailors and forced them to kneel, even when Iran promises to destroy Israel, Obama has not ceased to suck up to our many-times proven enemies.  The result?  A deal which gave Iran tens of billions of dollars (much of it in cash!), freedom to continue financing terrorists, and the long-term goal of developing nukes, even if on paper at least, they are supposed to go easy on spinning centrifuges for a few years.  

If Iran's status in the Middle East has grown, and it has along with Russia's, how can America's status not have diminished?  

(16) Barack Obama brags about his diplomacy, yet even after America's tremendous expenditure in blood and treasure in Iraq, Obama failed to work a deal with Iraq whereby America could keep troops in-country.  Instead of, say, 20,000 troops, Obama suggested we station three thousand American troops in Iraq.  The Iraqis recognized Obama's weakness, and America got nothing for all its pains and expenses.  

Thus ISIS was the puppy dog that followed Obama home.  "Can we keep it?"  America in effect kept ISIS by backing out of Iraq ignobly, even after Bush and Petreus, and tens of thousands of valiant American soldiers and allies, had finally defeated our enemies in Iraq.  

ISIS decimated the peoples and cultures of the region, enslaving thousands, murdering tens of thousands, killed Christians and other religious minorities, and destroying some of humanity's cultural heritage.  This weed ought never to have been allowed to flourish.  It was the weak standing of an America led by the self-confident but incompetent Barack Obama, which allowed ISIS to succeed in its campaign of desolation for so long.  

(17) At the end of his presidency, our only true friend in the Middle East, Israel, is glad to see Barack Obama go.  This includes not just Netanyahu, whom Obama seems to hate with a passion, but ordinary Israelis as well.  In a recent poll, Israelis were asked which president has been WORST for Israel.  The "winner" of that poll was Barack Obama, who by himself "won" 63% of the votes.  (Jimmy Carter came in second, with 16%.  And that's even though 12% said they didn't know.  No Republican exceeded 4%. )  
Clearly, America's stature in Israel, which now has an empowered Iran and chaotic Syria and Iraq to worry about, has not "improved," but gotten far worse.  

(18) Turkey has also left our de facto alliance, to some extent, and begun to befriend a resurgent Russia.  More evidence of America's "vastly improved" status?  

(19)  Libya having been cowed into behaving itself by fear of George Bush, Barack Obama betrayed the country, and it descended into a chaotic state of uncivil war, punctuated by periods of reloading called "ceasefires."  Obama modestly describes his Libyan cluster-screw up as the "greatest mistake" of his presidency.  It was certainly one of them, but only number 19 on this list.  

(20) So where is America's status vastly heightened, if not in East Asia, Eastern Europe or the Middle East?  In South Asia, Africa or Latin America, I don't think America's status has changed much.  Except that now China is building ports and trains around Africa and developing its minerals.  Perhaps America is now more popular with the communist thugs who still run tiny Cuba, now that Obama has normalized relations with the country, little good that has done its people.  Perhaps the crooks who have run Venezuala into the ground on Obama's watch, so that toilet paper and food alike have become scarce items, and women sell their hair at border markets, think fondly on Obama's legacy of neglect and toadying to tyrants.  Though I doubt it: as Putin demonstrates, Obama's signature recipe of sucking up, scolding, followed by vain threats and petulant insults, does not seem to endure him even to those who benefit from it.  

So has America gained a far higher status in Western Europe?

It is true that European elites fell for Barack Obama when he was first elected.  He was young, cool, and black, and also a Democrat who clearly recognized the many sins of America.  

The idea of Obama did indeed make the hearts of European social democrats flutter.  The Norwegians gave him a Nobel Peace Prize.  They were even selling Obama calendars in the Borders bookstore on Cornmarket in Oxford!  That was just before the Middle East descended, again, into a charnel house of ashen hopes.  Obama also empowered many of the world's tyrants (Putin, Xi Jinping, the Kim family, Castro, Iran, Venezuala).  Borders went broke, too.    

Now Western Europe has bigger things to worry about.  

There is the prowling bear to the east, which Obama has empowered by his incompetence and weakness.  The Polish president noted in 2012: 

“Our mistake was that by accepting the American offer of a shield we failed to take into account the political risk associated with a change in president. We paid a high political price. We do not want to make the same mistake again.”

There is the invasion of western Europe by millions of young Muslim men, who may mostly want to gain better lives, but seemingly on their own terms.  (Including by abusing and even gang-raping thousands of European women.  Obama, of course, is gung-ho for importing more Muslim "refugees" to the United States.)  

There is Britain's fitful exit from the European Union.  

And of course, Western Europe is also aware of China's dramatic rise, and the fact that America has declined dramatically, relative speaking, during the presidency of Barack Obama.  

So no, America's standing in the world is not "vastly improved," unless the penguins in Antarctica are impressed.  America's status has tanked, aside from tech and energy advances that owe nothing to the Obama Administration.  Oil development has, indeed, liberated America from the fear of Saudi blackmail, and weakened some of our enemies for a while.  But Barack Obama simply scoffed at that notion.    

President Obama, then, has done little good and much harm to America, even to black Americans, and has profoundly crippled America's status in the world over the past eight years.  He has shown himself self-righteous, petulant, and contemptuous of patriot Americans who disagree with him, even while naively welcoming and affirming of our enemies, treacherous towards our allies, and ineffectual and incompetent at projecting American power.  (Or even making good use of past American sacrifices in the pursuit of worthy goals.)  

So don't let the door hit you on the way out, Mr. Ex-President. 

Maybe you can get a job writing editorials for  the post-journalistic era Seattle Times.   

Now we turn to the no-less self-satisfied, but somewhat more accomplished Donald Trump, and hope he is as wholehearted in pursuing America's interests and values as he claims, and not quite as nutty and self-absorbed as he often sounds.  

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