29 January 2012

The Finger of Truth

President Obama recently had an intense encounter with Gov. Jan Brewer over characterizations of their prior meetings in her new book Scorpions for Breakfast.  During their exchange, Governor Brewer was seen gesturing with her index finger while responding to the Chief Executive’s harangue.

Most editorial cartoons reflected their liberal lamestream media roots and depicted the Arizona Governor either as a crazed crone or a witch with “agua” on the ready for her meltdown.  Of course this is a double standard as campaign ads in the 2010 cycle that depicted then Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th) as the Wicked Witch of the West by Republican opponent John Dennis was universally decried as being the pale. But politics is not beanbag and events can be interpreted through rose colored partisan glasses.

But some old school progressive agiprop artists want to push those liberal boundries of politicking. Jessie Jackson offered a desultory diatribe during a PUSH forum broadcast on the Word Network.  The Reverend Jackson ejaculated:

Also, while it’s on my mind, Gov. Janice K. Brewer, the finger person.  Gov. Janice K. Brewer, who gave President Obama the finger, governor of Arizona, call 1 800 253 0883.  Keep that line real busy.  1 800 253 0883.  We’ll give you the number later a little later today and this week on the email number of her press secretary.  We want to keep Arizona. . . until she can put her hands in her pocket and have some good. . . do you know how insulting it is to put your finger in somebody’s face?  Try it with the cameras rolling, she knew the cameras.
She knew what she was doing.  She was telling him off.  She was cutting him down to his size.  She must never get away with that.  Even George Wallace did not put his finger in Dr. King’s face.  Say, enough is enough.

Obviously, Jesse Jackson wishes to ingratiate with his Chicago comrade in the Oval Office, especially after the Reverend’s cutting off mike comment in 2008.  It is loathsome that Jackson is hustling a racial angle with his framing of the Brewer v. Obama match-up.  But it is just plain dishonest for Jackson to insinuate that Brewer gave the President the “Lone Eagle Salute”.  Watch the dust up in the desert video, as it is an impassioned index finger which may have crowded Obama’s space but was no disrespect to the office of the Presidency.

It is worth noting that Barack Obama has a habit of coyly slipping his opponent “the Finger” while out on the campaign hustings.   Recall how he treated his then 2008 Democrat opponent (and now Secretary of State) Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

Later during the general election campaign, candidate Obama seemed to return to the gesture when “honoring” his opponent Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

Giving the finger is not simply a crude sexual insinuation.  The long finger salute is also an aggressive battlefield gesture.  Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French threatened to cut off the middle finger of any Englishmen captured.  This was meant to thwart the English advantage, as without a middle finger plucking the yew their skilled longbow archers would be rendered moot.  Well, the English won an upset victory over the continentals.  So as a taunt to the French forces, English soldiers held up their middle finger so as to say "See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!".  In time, the difficult consonant cluster devolved to what a cunning linguist would call a labiodental fricture which makes modern interlocutors think of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

What is actually the finger of truth for Obama-ites? Is Mr. Obama just is an itchy individual from his thin skin? Or maybe his middle school civic education missed lessons on civility?  What is more likely is that rules for mere mortals do not apply for chosen ones and Obama 2012 surrogates mirror their own crude political instincts. 

27 January 2012

Who Doesn't Like Scorpions for Breakfast?

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and President Barack Obama January 25, 2012
On the heels of his 2012 State of the Union show, President Barack Obama flew to the battleground state of Arizona to further promote his agenda.  Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) led the official state delegation tat the tarmac in Phoenix to greet America’s Chief Executive. After exchanging perfunctory greetings, Gov. Brewer handed President  Obama a handwritten invitation for the Chief Executive to join her in a tour the border with Mexico to get a first hand view.  President Obama tossed the letter aside to consider later so that he could get to the real issue--his ire over characterizations about him in Gov. Brewer's new book Breakfast with Scorpions.  It seems that Obama  objected to the meetings with Brewer being framed as confrontational.

During the intense airport exchange, the two leaders talked over each other several times.  Brewer asked if Obama had read her book but he had only read excerpts. The hand inscribed copy of the book was tossed into the car.  Gov. Brewer indicated that she was in mid-sentence when the President turned and walked away. Brewer said that she was so stunned by apparent peevishness of President Obama and his thin skin.

It was a different story from the Summit of the Americas in 2009, when Venezuelan Caudillo Hugo Chavez presented President Obama with a book.  Obama accepted the gifted tome from the Venezuelan dictator. Obama claimed that he accepted the tome as he thought that it was actually authored by Chavez but Obama exclaimed “I like to read.”  Oh, well maybe Obama only  likes to read authors with whom he's inclined to agree.

President Obama’s staff has tried to tamp down the turmoil from this contentious exchange with Gov. Brewer claiming that the incident was overblown. Actually, the hot and bothered reception in Phoenix might work well for both participants.  President Obama can be seen dressing down a nemesis who has dissed him.  Moreover, Obama’s  public sizing down of the Arizona Governor gives a strong signal to Obama’s allies that he is up for a fight and will not take any  guff from his opponents.  As for Governor Brewer, she does not cower from a petulant power.  In a more practical metric, Brewer’s book instantly climbed the charts after the close encounter of the perturbed kind.  Scorpions for Breakfast leaped from number 285,568 to number nine on Amazon book sales charts overnight.

The only things that would have made the contentious encounter more satisfying are if Air Force One had landed at Barry Goldwater Airport in Phoenix and certain knowledge if scorpions are thin skinned.

25 January 2012

Gestating a Respect for Personhood

January 22nd is the 39th Anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade which open the floodgates across America for abortion on demand. Associate Justice  Harry Blackman mooted some state anti-abortion laws in his 1973 majority opinion under the guise of an unwritten “right to privacy” that was contained in penumbras and emanations of the bill of rights as applied to states via the Fourteenth Amendment.  This vague and confusing “logic” was the legal modus operandi for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench by imposing progressive moral sensibilities as "choices".

Pro-Life protestors have demonstrated in our Nation’s Capitol every year around that January 22nd anniversary to protest this perceived injustice to the unborn. Tens of thousands (organizers estimated up to 400,000) to take a stand for  anti-abortion policies.  But you would never know it if you relied upon the elite Lamestream Media.  For the fifth year a row, the print edition of the New York Times ignored this story, yet they were happy to highlight the motley meager mob of Occupy Wall Street protestors for months on end. Perhaps because the 99% redistributionists are the cat’s paw of Obama Presidential re-election campaign.

From my vantage point at a staging area and comfort station on Capitol Hill, it is impossible to give precise numbers. But I can note that 200 dozen donuts were ordered and by 5 p.m. that 95% percent were consumed just at one small church basement. The  Immaculate Conception National Shrine is the second largest Christian church in America, behind Washington’s National Cathedral, so it can comfortably seat 4,000 worshipers. But the Vigil for Life prior to the March typically draws a crowd of 8,000 strong in the Upper Church.  That does not account for the Mass for Young People at Verizon Center that hold 19,000 faithful nor the Mass at the DC Armory.  And that’s just part of the Catholic contingent.  But when the Washington Post runs a story about the event, the picture is cropped to hide the crowds size. Even better is CBS Washington newsite  which “covered” the March for Life but all five of their photos were Pro Abortion supporters.  Could the media be biased or shaping the news? Maybe such dissenters to the secular humanist norm are not really persons. Heavens (sic).

Although the large numbers of pro-life  participants are impressive, they are not as important as speaking truth to power.  As Soviet dissident author  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn affirmed in his 1970 Nobel Lecture-- “One word of truth outweighs the world”.

The commitment that March for Life participants made to represent their beliefs were impressive. A group of 180 students traveled 24 hours on a bus from outside Naples, Florida to live their faith for the sanctity of human life.

What was truly touching for me was the  earnestness of an adult leader from Springfield, Illinois. Our conversation was prompted by the distinct graphic on the group’s tee-shirts.  The gentleman proudly showed me a picture on his cell phone of his grandson who only lived for fifteen minutes before dying.  Presumably,  it was a difficult pregnancy, yet the mother insisted on taking it to term as every human life is precious. The youth group surprised the leader by adopting his deceased son as their “mascot” by dedicating their march to him and using footprints as their symbol. To reinforce that they did not just care abstractly about life in the womb, their banner was emblazoned with footprints of children from an early day care center.

 A placard from another group echoed preciousness of all human life by using Dr. Seuss’ Horton as a symbol with the message: “A person’s a person no matter how small”.  For those who may have trouble stomaching the gruesome realities of ripping a fetus from a womb, this childrens’ literary conceit ought to make the same point.

The 2012  March for Life was even more poignant, especially after the Obama Administration utterly abrogated religious liberty by bureaucratically dictating that all American health plans must include no-cost contraception, despite earlier assurances that there would be a conscience clause.  During his homily at the National Shrine, New York Cardinal designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan was a happy warrior yet he pulled no punches in speaking his peace.  Dolan acknowledged that most of the worshipers had been there all night in a vigil for life so they might not be aware of two items in the news.  Dolan ad-libbed from his prepared text that the first piece of “good news” is that the NEW YORK Giants were going to the Superbowl [ed.-  apologies to Vice President Biden and the San Francisco Giants (sic)]. The other news is that due to icy roads, the Federal Government will be opening three hours later.  Dolan joked that was three hours fewer that the government could take away more American religious liberties. That was both amusing yet too true.

Social media was another forum for considering the merits of personhood.  An evocative picture revealing the reality hidden in the womb was accompanied by a “Modest Proposal” styled story about a beleaguered mother who was pregnant again but instead of a being offered an abortion, the gynocologist  was willing to kill her firstborn instead.  A dissenter from this pro-life parable was an earnest student  who “crossed the pond” to pursue course-work on evolutionary biology.  The abortion friendly interlocutor objected to equating a child who can dream and experience with a cluster of “biochemically-active tissue”.  Hoping to bolster a spirited yet thoughtful colloquy, I pressed the budding scientist pro argumento for a probative test for WORTHY human life and how such a standard could be applied today.

 As the exchange evolved, the B.S. candidate admitted that he was also in favor of eugenics for defects like Downs Syndrome.  His definition on “real” human life (my words) centered on development of the embryo’s  nervous system, for which he admitted that a simple probative test could not be cited.   I noted that his supposed baseline on worthy human beings as having dreams and experiences was mooted by the application of eugenics.  If the community decides whether a person is worthy, it is not likely to be delimited to genetic defects.  What if the proto-person is the wrong sex or race–after all, it’s a woman’s body (sic)?  What if that being is deemed handicapped? Moreover, why why should community standards on worthy human life stop at the womb?

Absent moral or ethical standards, anything goes.  Progressives are convinced that they are so much smarter than “flawed” traditional thinking.  But not everything is easily measurable.  Einstein postulated “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.  When I noted that the science was unconvincing and in that case we ought to err on the side of caution.  That sentiment prompted the well worn bromides over a woman’s right to her body and being free to choose etc...

What the cyber chautauqua showed me is that abortion advocates can not bear to consider to discern personhood.  Although aborted fetuses are the most dramatic victims of the callousness of character to deny personhood, it seems that liberals deem conscientious objectors of their progressive sensitivities as also not being worthy of attention or protection.

24 January 2012

Talk Amongst Yourselves for Presidential Debates?

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA 6th) now seems to have a schizophrenic attitude towards debates in his run for the Presidency.

Gingrich made a virtue out of necessity after his Newt 1.0  Presidential campaign nearly imploded in June by going deeply into debt with advisors, private planes  and his ill-timed Greek vacation as the campaign ramped up.  Newt decided to make his mark by impressing voters with his virtuoso performances during debates.  Gingrich’s two Moments in the Sun during this Presidential run have been premised on strong debate performances.

Gingrich is so enamored with his intellect that he challenges his opponents, both for the nomination and in the abstract for the White House, to Lincoln Douglas styled debates.

Both Herman Cain and former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) to one-on-one debates that were supposedly in the fashion of the Lincoln-Douglas paradigm.  Both of these lesser opponents to Gingrich agreed to the event  as it raised their own profiles as it gave the aura of gravitas.   As for the Gingrich-Huntsman “debate” it was actly a wonkish ninety minute love-in on foreign policy which barely needed a moderator.  The non-adversarial chautauqua was interesting for the range of nuanced answers about public policy minutia but it would be unlikely to hold the attention or influence the average voter.  Besides it is dubious that President Obama will agree to the challenge of seven three hour match ups in the fall, with or without telepromter.

What is curious is Gingrich’s petulance after the NBC’s “Rock Center” debate in Tampa  in which  moderator Brian Williams instructed the audience of 500 not to make nary a noise during the debate.  Now Gingrich is threatening not to participate in future debates if the audience was silenced. This seems hypocritical both due to his Huntsman “debate” and presuming that Newt’s policy prowess is so supreme.

Since I have a life, I failed to watch the 18th GOP Presidential debate.  But if Newt is threatening not to play in future debate scrums, it makes me think that the self-styled philosopher king was unhappy at the fact that he could score easy points by playing populist politics with his audience.  Gingrich often makes his mark in debates by railing against the Media Machine or snidely focusing his fire on the eventual opponent--President Obama.  Newt earned two standing ovations in a week by chafing against Juan Williams facile insinuation of racism  and later with John King echoing spousal slurs as the leading question at a debate.  Previously, Gingrich got plaudits from the audience by not taking the bait for GOP but rather chafing for a fight with President Obama.

Rather than rebuffing a lack of audience interaction in any debates, Republicans ought to choose their sponsors more wisely.  The nearly score of debates have been hosted by liberally inclined news organizations which want to embarrass Republicans or engage in trivialities.  Consider: the networks of NBC (MessDNC, CNBC or the liberally aligned NBC); CBS–the Cubic Zirconium network, ABC’s George Stephanopolis (who served as President Clinton’s first Communications Manager); and CNN’s grunting John King.  Given the importance of debates for Republicans during this Presidential cycle, why should the Lamestream Media effectively skew Republican’s choice to be the Presidential nomination standard bearer?

If an event is well moderated and is not playing a hostile game of Trivial Pursuit, audience interaction may not be necessary.  In fact, a vocal audience in Orlando where two audience members booed at question by a homosexual soldier was spun by the Lamestream Media that Republicans hate gays instead of recognizing that it was objections to a set-up question.  Paulistinians show up en-masse into debate audiences and give their beloved Rep. Dr. Ron Paul (R-TX 24th) the allusion of disproportionate support.

On the other hand, the electricity of an engaged audience can give an immediate gauge to how well a Presidential candidate is selling his message during a debate.  People seem to remember Newt’s masterful reproach of John King’s salacious messy marriage question due to the strong audience support.  But later in the same debate, Gingrich went to his Bain-ful (sic) attacks on Mitt Romney’s success in capitalism.  Those watching the debates could see how this line of attack fell flat with the in studio audience, but not surprisingly that did not make the highlight reel.

Considering both scenarios, there should be room for events between candidates that allow for audience engagement as well as muted debates.  If there is quality material, a laugh track is not necessary for a comedy which gives the viewer unstated “permission” to feel something.  In a similar vein, elevated and engaged debates need not necessarily have a vocal audience, but that that there is anything wrong with that.

As Gingrich has meteorically risen in the polls, he has gotten somewhat persnickety in campaigning. Gingrich campaigned on being Mr. Nice Guy when he had no money for attack ads.  Now that Newt's Super-PAC is being largely underwritten by casino magnets Sheldon and Marion Adelson, let the negative ads roll.  Newt has done well at rallying the troops during debates, but now is threatening not to participate unless he has his way.  Gingrich loved hammering Gov. Mitt Romney about financial disclosures but when Gingrich's “consulting” with Freddie Mac was questioned as being more than a $25,000 a month historian on retainer, Newt got petulant and somewhat flustered.  It feeds into a longstanding meme that Gingrich is a better underdog than the leader of the pack and recalls the “Cry Baby” moment with President Clinton on Air Force One when the Speaker was flying high on the power circuit  in 1995.

As Linda Richmond would say in Coffee Talk “I’m feeling verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ve already given you a topic”.

22 January 2012

After Newt's Sweet Caroline Victory

Newt Gingrich with wife Callista Gingrich after winning the 2012 South Carolina Primary 

After placing fourth in both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA 6th) came roaring back with a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary.  Gingrich’s thirteen point victory over the presumed front-runner former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) came in spite of a last minute hatchet job interview with Newt’s second wife on the eve of Palmetto State primary.

The South Carolina primary prides itself  as being the first in the South primary. But for Republicans, South Carolina also has picked the winner of the Republican nomination since 1980.  Typically, the Iowa Caucuses have a dark horse candidate prevailing but that contrarian New Hampshire voters reject.  As the next contest for the nomination, South Carolina tends to pick the front-runner, which bolsters the momentum (and money) for later contests.

At the start of the week, Romney was polling around ten points higher than Gingrich.  But there were two debates in South Carolina where other candidates directly took it to Mitt and Romney could not coast above the fray.  While Romney did not have major oops moments (sic), his performance was not stellar and Mitt’s clumsy responses to calls to release his personal tax forms seem to have stuck in the craw of voters.  So the swing of over twenty points from Romney to Gingrich was dramatic.

The ABC ambush interview with Marianna Gingrich was intended to tarnish Newt’s conservative credentials, especially with evangelicals, at the “revelation” that he wanted an open marriage with his second wife.  Gingrich had previously admitted that he had a messy personal life but that he had repented.  But when John King lead off CNN’s Thursday debate with a tawdry question, Gingrich was prepared to play hardball and knocked it out of the park.

The first five minutes of the Battle for the South debate vaulted Gingrich’s standing. Newt expressed outrage at the media for the triviality of the question, evoked sympathy for character assassination on the eve of a primary and invasive probing his personal life.  As far or the rest of the debate, Gingrich’s perry’s against Bain Capital did not sell and his reiterated idea of long term immigration status being decided by WWII styled draft boards was not particularly convincing.  But viewers appreciated Newt’s fighting spirit and slams against the elite media.

To try and understand Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina, it is worth considering data from exit polling.   The polling showed that 64% of those surveyed indicated that the debates mattered in their support, so Newt’s two standing ovations last week in debates translated into votes.  The data also showed that 53% of participants made up their minds in the last few days, which indicates the fluidity of support.  South Carolinian voters echoed the importance of electability with 45% indicating this is the most important factor in pulling the lever.  Only 17% of voters thought that character was a crucial quality.  A surprising data point was that 36% of women supported Gingrich, despite the damning ABC interview.   Moreover, Gingrich may have been aided by the evangelical vote, despite the last minute hit job, as evangelicals are disposed to not support Mormon candidates during the primaries.

This unclear campaign situation is terra nova for the GOP, as there have been three different winners of nomination contests.  Iowa was an extremely close race, but as the Hawkeye Cauci results were announced this week, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) beat Gov. Romney by 34 votes.  As expected, Romney handily won in New Hampshire.  And Gingrich wooed a decisive double digit win in South Carolina.

If momentum were the only factor, an observer would be led to the prima facie conclusion that Gingrich was going all the way.  However,  there are several factors which are cause to pause in leaping to that conclusion.

Firstly, it is crucial to consider the nature of the forthcoming races.  In smaller states like New Hampshire, Iowa and to a large extent South Carolina, political advertising is either inexpensive or ineffective so retail politics is key.  Not  so for the Sunshine State. Florida accelerated its primary schedule to  capitalize on the aura of early contests.  But it is a state with ten media markets, three of which are in the top twenty.  That means that it will be expensive to get the message out.  So even if Newt can capitalize on being front runner quickly, he will either have to go into debt or not have the resources to effectively advertise in Florida.  But to be fair, Gov. Romney outspent John McCain in 2008 but still lost Florida.

A second calendar consideration that might moot Newt’s momentum is the number of caucuses after Florida.  After the Florida primary on January 31st, Maine and Nevada will hold caucuses on February 4th and Colorado and Minnesota will hold caucuses on February 7th.  The key to success in caucuses is organization and resources. Romney excelled at early fund-raising and anticipated a long march towards the nomination.  Perhaps Mitt learned from then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in the 2008 Democrat Presidential nomination, which was a close race for delegates.  Obama kept racking up convincing victories in caucuses like Idaho, where the Democrats had no chance of winning in the general, but proportional delegate rules still gave him 75% of the delegates.

Considering the next set of races, Romney is poised to do well, as Maine is likely to support a centrist oriented Republican from a neighboring state.  Moreover, residual good will from Romney’s work in saving the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics and Mormon identity politics should bode well for Mitt.  Although Missouri holds a primary on February 7th, it is a beauty contest and delegates will be chosen in a caucus on March 17th.

Newt prides himself on being an unconventional candidate, making a virtue out of running his campaign on a shoestring budget.  That traditionally does not bode well for caucuses, as a candidate must motivate participants spending several hours arguing with their neighbors at ad hoc venues, rather than quickly casting a vote at a familiar polling place.

Although libertarian oriented Rep. Dr. Ron Paul (R-TX 14th ) is not likely to do well in Florida, as it is a closed primary with expensive media markets, expect Paulistinians to be in full force at various caucuses, where true believers can boost Dr. Paul’s delegate count.

Another variable which could diminish Gingrich as a shooting star is Newt’s tendency to implode when he is riding high.  Critics charge that when Gingrich stops being a successful insurgent and sows his oats being on top that is undisciplined style and his penchant towards grandiosity diminish his effectiveness and alienates allies.  For example, when Gingrich was top of the polls in early December, a self styled philosopher king suggested that former UN Ambassador John Bolton would be someone Gingrich would like as a prospective Secretary of State.  This Newtonian pronouncement was perilous as he seemed to be naming Cabinet positions before the first ballot was cast in the primaries. Moreover, Bolton then came out in support of his rival Mitt Romney.

In the buzz leading up to the South Carolina primary, Gingrich reiterated his call for other non-Romney conservative candidates to drop out. While Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) acceded due to his anemic standings, Santorum questioned the hubris of Gingrich willingly winnowing the conservative field as he had not won anything yet.

Gingrich’s victory speech in South Carolina renewed the quixotic call for seven three hour Lincoln-Douglas styled debates.  This challenge plays to Newt’s strength as a debater as well as allowing for President Obama’s need to use teleprompters.  But Gingrich is deluded if he thinks that an incumbent President will grant more than one debate.  And Newt’s taunt to follow the President around to embarrass the incumbent into debates is flawed strategy.

It seems that Newt  can not help saying something “special” every few days which mars an overall message.  Newt’s ways may get him into hot soup as the limelights return to the perceived front-runner.

One of Neil Diamond’s most popular songs is Sweet Caroline.  It is an emotive tune that is often used at to entertain fans at  sporting events.  Yet  when one considers the words to Sweet Caroline, there is not much there lyrically.  The Gingrich campaign is right to celebrate along with the lyrics like  “Sweet Caroline--Good times never felt so good. I’m inclined to think that they never would.”  But as the public  focus returns to Gingrich, empty amped up anthems amongst true believers is not going to win support from independents and battleground state voters.

An intriguing theory for understanding the results from South Carolina is that voters were neither  supporting Gingrich as a candidate per se nor his policy positions but what he represents.  The base is not enamored to Romney’s candidacy in the primaries, so this decision could be seen as a temporary galvanization of “Not Romney” voters.  Gingrich likes to claim the support of former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) but if you listen closely, she said that if she were a South Carolina voter she would support Newt to keep the process going.  That is hardly a diehard endorsement.  Exit polling shows that debates heavily influenced voters.  It is reasonable to surmise that voters liked the fight that Gingrich offered, particularly against the media and President Obama.

It is possible that Floridians once  again could decide the Presidency, or perhaps just the Republican nominee.  But do not be surprised if this is a prolonged fight for the nomination, as it was during the 1976 cycle with incumbent  President Gerald Ford and then former Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA).  In such an instance, delegates totals  will become  instrumental to clinch it before the convention.

By moving its primary up to January , Florida and South Carolina supposedly will only receive half their number of delegates.  With the GOP convention in Tampa, it is hard to believe that such a penalty will stick.  But as of March, delegate allotment will universally switch to winner take all results.  If the two leading candidates split on state victories after Florida, it is conceivable that Ron Paul will hold out for a steep price for his garnered  delegates.  And it is possible that Republicans could go into their convention without a clear winner.  After the first vote at the convention, anything goes and dark horses may emerge.

20 January 2012

Obama Administration Aborts Religious Liberty

As part of the gradual implementation of Obamacare, President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a standard for health plans that will require most employers to cover contraception in their health plans.  Progressive policy pundits at America Progress proudly proclaim that the decision to mandate full coverage of contraception without cost sharing effectively achieves near universal coverage of contraception.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)  & Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) 2008
The Obama Administration ignored entreaties for a broad exemption that would have allowed for religiously-affiliated employer to opt out of contraception coverage. These petitions were made following Mr. Obama’s 2009 Notre Dame Commencement speech, where he suggested drafting a “sensible conscience clauses”.   Well, as it turned out, this clause only applied to those having religious objections to insurance–which covered the Amish, Christian Scientists, Native Americans and (of course) Muslims.

In the end, the Obama Administration is imposing their original narrow exemption to the qualifying health plans, which only applies to houses of worship or religious organizations that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith. As for religiously affiliation organizations that do not qualify for the exemption, they can apply by August 1st, 2012 for a one year transitional waiver to give them time to determine how they can comply with the bureaucratic ukase. Ironically, it will cause many organizations that truly believe otherwise to drop coverage or even to go out of business.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution reads in part that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”.  Perhaps Sebelius and President Obama believe that these mere words do not apply since it stems from Executive Branch action. Perhaps they do not care as to the Constitutionality since it will win plaudits from Obama’s liberal political base.

No wonder Pope Benedict XVI recently used his periodic meeting at the Vatican with Bishops from Maryland, DC and Virginia to warn:
[I]t is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

It is shocking to think that Americans had to be warned about preserving and protecting their religious liberty.  We are a nation that was established on the example Pilgrims who traveled to the wilderness to freely exercise worshiping in the way that they choose. Moreover,  James Madison worked tirelessly to perfect our union by enshrining the Bill of Rights into our Constitution, which featured the preservation of  religious liberty and the exercise of the freedom of conscience.

It is worth remembering George Washington’s observation about religion:

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

But the Father of our country did not count on proselytization of radical secularism by progressive politicians in power.

19 January 2012

Obama Briefly Visits a Real Magic Kingdom

                                                                                                              (Reuters Photo)
The latest stop on President Obama’s re-election campaign on the pubic dime was to the Sunshine State of Florida.  Officially, the President announced an expansion of the State Department’s Global Entry Program for trusted international visitors.   An astute observer would not that the Global Entry Program was touted to help Brazilians, Indians and the Chinese.  So much for “trusted” international visitors.  These moves are meant to ensure that foreign visitors continue to spend an average of $5,000 each per visit.

The line that “America is open for business” seems particularly precious considering the White House announcement yesterday that the Canadian Keystone XL Oil Pipeline permits were rejected at this time, killing 20,000 construction jobs.  In addition, the Obama Administration’s questionable unilateral moratorium on offshore drilling by Americans in Gulf of Mexico drove drilling derricks to Brazil while Cuban interests (on behalf of the Chinese) continue to drill in international waters in the Gulf.

The real but unstated reason why Obama staged this photo op in Central Florida is because it is a battleground in the Presidential election.  Mr. Obama had not visited this key state since two fund-raisers in October.  Currently, Obama is only polling in the mid 40s.  That is dangerous when plotting re-election strategies in the Electoral College.
It is a pity that President Obama only spent 13 minutes in the Magic Kingdom since that means that he is quickly returning to what he may consider Fantasyland on the Potomac. But the President can watch the Mouse House channel do his campaign’s bidding on late night television. It beats hearing Jay Leno wise-crack "Obama's approval ratings are so low now, Kenyans are accusing him of being born in the United States” as he has done in the past.

ABC Divorces Ethics from Journalism with Eye of Newt Interview

Speaker Newt Gingrich with his then 2nd wife Marianne Gingrich
During his run for the Republican Presidential nomination, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA 6th) has tried to make  a virtue of his messy personal life by noting that he has done things which he is now proud of but that he is a repentant sinner.  That being said, the GOP establishment has worried that at some point the Gingrich campaign would implode (again) due to Newt’s undisciplined nature.

During much of 2011, Gingrich ran a shoe-string campaign which pinned most of its fate shining during the baker’s dozen of debates and being perceived by primary voters as a  charismatic alternative to former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA).  After surviving the snows of the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary, Gingrich was poised to do well on home ground in the South Carolina Primary.

Gingrich had a stand out performance during the Fox News/WSJ debate, where his rebuttal to a racially centered question from Juan Williams earned a standing ovation from the debate audience. Recent polls show Gingrich surging into second place, threatening Romney’s large lead.

On the cusp of the Saturday South Carolina primary, just after the final candidate debate, ABC News is poised to air a two hour interview with Gingrich’s second wife Marianne Gingrich.  This story raises some interesting journalistic questions.  The most poignant question is timing.

Is a news organization manipulating the election by strategically leaking damaging “news” (albeit decades old) on the eve on an election?   It would not be the first time in recent history that such a dirty trick has been employed in Presidential politics.   On the eve of the 2000 Presidential Election, when then Gov. George W. Bush (R-TX) had a five percent lead over Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat operative leaked a story about a Bush DWI charge from 1976 that caused the closest election in American history.

Where ABC News’ Gingrich hit piece differs is Newt’s messy life is well known.  As early as 1995, Marianne Gingrich threatened that she could end then husband Newt’s career with one interview.  If nothing new is revealed in Brian Ross’ sit down interview, then why air it now?

A second notorious example of newsies becoming part of the story in Presidential politics is Rather-Gate. In September 2004, CBS News Anchor (and Managing Editor) Dan Rather pushed an investigative story which he thought impeached  President George W. Bush claims about National Guard Service during the latter days of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.   Rather’s supposed coup was an October Surprise  would make Bush look like a liar, a chicken hawk, a hypocrite and stood in stark contrast to the thrice Purple Hearted Veteran Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who incidentially served in Vietnam (sic).   Of course the pajamajadeen proved that Killian documents that were leaked by a Democrat political hack were forgeries yet Rather ran with them anyhow.

The Marianne Gingrich interview differs from Rather-Gate because there is no dispute that Newt Gingrich has been thrice married and has a messy prior personal life.  But championing the narrative from an estranged divorcee who never wanted her former husband to run for President, seems suspect for blockbuster news on the eve of an election.  Instead of vetting on his SuperPACs “Bigfoot” Bain Capital smear ads, or questioning how a conservative could demonize capitalism, tongues inside and outside of the Lamestream Media will be waging about salacious details from an embittered ex-wife. Quo vadis ABC?

On the one hand, there has been an occasion when the media sank a Presidential candidate on his peccadillos.  However  former Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) begged the media to follow him around during his 1988 Presidential run and they did report on his Monkey Business.

On the other hand, the Lamestream Media’s sins of omission on former Senator John Edwards (R-NC) must not be forgotten.  During the 2007, Edwards sought the Democrat nomination at the behest of his wife, who was dying of breast cancer.  During Edwards campaign, he had an affair with his videographer (who traveled with him on the campaign plane) but nary a word was spoken by the press corps.  The story of Rielle Hunter had to be broken by the National Enquirer and was poo-pooed as not being legitimate journalism.  This was not only a salacious story, showing Edwards as a sleezebag who cheated on his dying wife and then cowardly arranging for a staffer to pose for his bastard responsibilities.  Edwards may have also violated Campaign Finance laws by funneling over $100,000 to his mistress not only for her campaign work but to bankroll her pregnancy expenses.  But this was not a story in the Lamestream Media until Edwards was out of politics and putting off federal prosecutions with his heart condition.

Running for President as an incumbent offers tremendous advantages.  Such a candidate has the trappings of office to bolster his image.  A President running for re-election can stage photo ops allegedly about economic issues but really are a thin veneer for a taxpayer funded campaign appearance.  As President, it is easy to fund-raise as donors want to curry favor with a chosen one.  In addition, the Lamestream Media wants to retain access and curry favor with an incumbent President by doing his dirty work in the press, by accepting leaks from anonymous sources or running stories at strategic times.

Even though some late deciding Palmetto State voters might be influenced by stories of Newt’s cheating heart from long ago, Gingrich may have inoculated himself by posing as an open book about prior foibles.  What is more concerning is how the Lamestream Media is blatantly manipulating the news by strategically releasing salacious stories which may have been held until the right time, as voters are trying to decide about candidates and the issues.  In the future, may ABC not divorce its ethical duties of fair and unbiased reporting.  Otherwise just go on the public payroll as White House stenographers.

18 January 2012

Getting Schooled on Municipal Cost Cutting

The Garfield Heights, Ohio schools made news by making austere reductions in educational programs as well as shortening the academic day due to another failed levy in November.  School Superintendent Linda Reid noted that Garfield Heights schools had not received any additional property tax money since 1992 and five school levies have failed. But in actuality, voters have been more parsimonious than recalcitrant, as voters renewed a school tax to support the six schools and 3,700 students in May 2011 but handily defeated a new tax by 300 votes. So its liberal logic that maintaining a budget is treated as a draconian cut.

In response to the budgetary shortfalls, all special subjects have been cut, such as art, music, physical education, and the library.  Moreover the school day has been shortened by 30 minutes.  Furthermore, hot lunches have been cancelled. In fact, students who qualify for school lunches were given brown bag meals of baloney sandwiches, an apple and a pickle.  Levy supporters speculated  that up to 40 staff members may be laid off.

Whenever big government bureaucrats are stymied at growing their budgets through the ballot box, the vulnerable are used as public pawns to rally the public to get their way. Administrators will tug at citizens heart strings, threatening women and children and push the most dramatic cuts instead of administrative or procedural reforms. The only thing that Garfield Heights School Administrators missed from the liberal kabuki show playbook is hurting police and firemen.  Wait--Garfield Heights Police will have to bring in extra traffic patrols and crossing guards might have their schedules changed. One of the reasons that Governor Kasich (R-OH) failed in his attempt to pass reforms in Collective Bargaining by governmental workers was unions successfully swaying voters that Policemen and Firemen would be hurt.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that  the Garfield Heights Schools kicked off a Levy meeting on January 12th in preparation for a March election.   The “brown bag” reforms are the hardball to obtain earned media and sway an apathetic public. The last levy vote only involved 5,700 voters out of a total population of 27,000 residents.

Garfield Heights is a working class inner ring suburb on Cleveland’s East side with an aging demographic. While they historically vote Democrat, this is a demographic which unconsciously embodies the Tea Party’s manta of being Taxed Enough Already.  As voters assess an additional assessment to bankroll Garfield Heights City Schools, it would be prudent to discern if school administration is top heavy or overcompensated.  Those who are skeptical about the meat clever cuts should challenge School Administrators if their reforms were the only way or just the most dramatic.  Supposedly, the schools have cut $4 million in costs prior to their education  coup de coup de grâce, but those savings may have been ethereal.

As Americans take an agonizing reappraisal of governmental functions when it can effectively grow no more, difficult decisions will have to be made.  Schools should be all about educating not about protecting union member benefits at the cost of fleecing taxpayers or shortchanging students.

10 January 2012

DC Metro: More Fare Thee Well?

P.J. O’Rourke once observed “Giving money and power to the government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen-aged boys”.  This demonstrated with the  latest proposal of fare increases for the Washington Area Transportation Authority.  The DC Metro Board has proposed another 5% fare increase to help alleviate budget shortfalls for the system.  This comes on top of the $109 million fare increases from July 2010 that included the dreaded 20 cent surcharge for peak-of-the-peak.

The Metro overloads believe that they will curry favor by lifting the peak of the peak fares, which they deemed a failure.  Instead, the gimmick would be to charge flat rates for Farecards--$6 for rush hour and $4 for other usage.  Alas, the changes would only bring in $66 million in new revenue so local governments would also need to increase their contributions by $53 million.  Hence the taxpayers get stuck once.

But the dirty secret which the Metro Board does not highlight in their proposal is Farecards tend to be a perk of working for the Federal government. So jacking up the rush hour Farecard toll to $6 throws the excess costs on Federal Agencies, which will inevitably be passed along to the nation's taxpayers.  Thanks Uncle Sugar, that means that taxpayers get stung a second time.

These fare increases frankly seem pretty steep, but they might not stink as much if the service was not so sketchy.  In June 2009, there was a fatal Fort Totten rear end train crash which killed eight passengers and one transit worker which was due to 'anemic safety culture'.   The blog "UnsuckDCMetro" chronicles the safety deficiencies in hardware as well as manpower.  Elevators are prone to be out of service.  Trains can be stuck for prolonged periods, occasionally requiring evacuations.

Despite the service shortcomings, the DC Metro has embarked on an $11 billion 23 mile expansion to Dulles International Airport.  Costs to local taxpayers were slated to escalating because the Washington Metro Airport Authority unilaterally decided that the metro station at Dulles should be buried so as not to interfere with the aesthetic of the Eero-Saarinen, which only adds another $330 million and an extra year to the expansion project. Fortunately, the WMAA flip flopped eschewing the burden on local taxpayers.  But this shows the dangers of bureaucrats behaving badly and  unaccountable public entities making uneconomic decisions with the burdens falling on taxpayers.

Raising fares without offering perceived benefits is financially dangerous.  The new Fyra High Speed Rail Service in the Netherlands between Amsterdam-Rotterdam and Breta cost Dutch taxpayers nearly $11 billion.  The Fyra does not offer marketedly better service and costs 20% more so consequentially those trains run 85% empty and run at about a half million dollar a day loss.

Urban planners and green enthusiasts have long touted the virtues of having railroads and subways to ease congestion and lessen the "environmental footprint".  Few of these modes of transport are profitable.  The reality is that most rail systems will be publically operated boondoggles which enrich municipal union workers at the expense and convenience of the public.

H/T Nate Beeler, Washington Examiner

04 January 2012

The Aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses

Despite my prescience for an effective three way Tie-owa (sic) in the Hawkeye Caucuses, it was amazing what a close margin separated the top two candidates.  Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) squeaked out a victory against dark horse conservative candidate former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) by a margin of eight votes out of 122,225 participants.

The story was not Romney’s first place finish but the remarkable transformation of the Santorum candidacy from near worst to first in a little less than a fortnight. Santorum went from polling around 5% in Iowa in early December to garnering 24.5% of support among GOP caucus goers.

 But overnight sensations usually require lots of preparation out of the spotlight.  Santorum basically camped out in Iowa for the last several months and put all of his efforts into Iowa.  Making a virtue of a scant campaign warchest, Santorum did virtually no wholesale politics as he only aired one 30 second television ad. Instead, Santorum relied on retail campaigning on a shoe string budget. Santorum relied upon the “Chuck Truck” to escort him to the 381 town-hall meetings and 36 Pizza Ranches in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.  That up close and personal politicking along with a platform appealing to values voters seemed to sway the 41% of persuadable caucus  participants.

Senator Santorum delayed making his post-Caucus speech until after midnight, perhaps hoping that the final results would be in, but to no avail.  Even though Santorum was a few votes short, his speech sounded like a victory speech.  The mostly ad libbed remarks were unusual in contemporary American politics.   Santorum jocularly began his remarks by proclaiming “Game on!” to rally his ebullient supporters. But then  Santorum emotionally read a quotation which he attributed to by Catholic theologian C.S. Lewis: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” that  Santorum intended for his beloved wife Karen. 

Afterward the emotional pre-amble Santorum hit upon his campaign themes that most voters out of Iowa had yet to hear. This value oriented, blue collar friendly campaign could have resonance amongst Tea Party types, Reagan Democrats or “independents” , evangelicals (if they can get over his on his sleeve Catholic faith) and what former Governor Tim Pawlenty (an early drop out from the 2012 Presidential race) would term Wal-Mart Conservatives.   Santorum also revealed some punch, as Santorum thanked God for voters that President Obama dismissed as bitter clingers as “They share our values about faith and family. They understand that when the family breaks down, the economy struggles”.

Even though Romney scored a “W” in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, his extremely narrow victory prompted politicos tongues to wag.  Some scorn Romney’s inability to build upon his margins from the 2008 Caucuses.  That is a facile comparison as Romney invested considerable time and treasure in the Hawkeye State in 2008 and had not committed to vigorously participating until mid-December.  However, the Romney campaign indicated its confidence in winning in Iowa, which skewed the expectation game.  This narrow victory just gives anti-Romney forces fuel to talk down the front-runner.  Since New Hampshire primary voters seem to revel in being contrarians and rejecting the perceived victor in the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum’s 2nd place “victory” may somewhat help Romney in the first in the nation primary. That being said, it is curious that Romney coordinated an endorsement today by Granite State sweetheart Senator John Mc Cain (R-AZ). It makes one wonder if Romney’s standing in New Hampshire is as solid as it has been portrayed. 

Congressman Ron Paul’s (R-TX 14th) third place finish of  21% ensures that his campaign will get the ticket punch out of Iowa, but it is questionable if it will be a first class ticket.  Rep. Paul had invested everything in Iowa and his prowess was dependent on near fanatical organization by Paulistian true believers.   Despite organizing in Iowa for the last six years, Paul underperformed.  Iowa Caucus Entrance Polls indicate that 43% of Paul’s support came from “Independents”.  This would be an attractive statistic for the general elections, but such crossover voting in the primaries seems reminiscent of “Operation Chaos” where the other party makes mischief and has a hand in choosing their opponent’s nominee. Although Paul will probably remain in the race until the bitter end, as the 76 year old Congressman is not running for re-election and may want to play kingmaker, the aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses does not make him the likely stalking horse of disaffected GOP primary voters.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA 6th) was not a happy camper with his fourth place finish at 13%.  Gingrich gave a pugnacious concession speech which offered veiled venom towards Governor Romney because Newt feels that Romney Super-PAC negative ads killed his front-runner status. In fact, the day after the Iowa Caucuses, the Gingrich campaign bought a full page ad in the New Hampshire “Union Leader” which frames the race as a choice between a timid Massachusetts moderate and a self proclaimed Reagan Conservative like Gingrich.  Yet in Gingrich’s concession speech, he   extended laurels to Senator  Santorum. One is left with the impression that his continued candidacy is a Gingrich grudge match against Romney.  Expect Gingrich to continue flip flopping on his positive campaign promise and extend sharp elbows through the January 7th debate in South Carolina.

Former Obama Administration Ambassador Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) was miffed because Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was said to be in last place even though he scored the lowest vote count among active candidates.  But Bachmann re-evaluated her core beliefs after placing sixth in her birthplace and neighboring state’s caucuses and dropped out.  That frees up a little more Tea Party support for more “Not Romney” candidates.  Governor Rick Perry’s (R-TX) fifth place concession speech alluded to returning to Texas to pray and discern if there was a route to eventual victory.  Usually that is code for quitting. But Perry send out a Twitter message showing him jogging saying: “And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State...Here we come South Carolina!!!” I guess Perry’s prayers were answered by campaign contributors who blessed continuing his crusade.

Perry’s continued presence in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination makes things interesting.  If it were essentially a two person race, it is likely that not Romney forces would quickly coalesce in one candidate and strike in South Carolina and Florida, which is not natural Romney territory.  If Newt continues in his vengeful vein against Romney, support would likely rally around Santorum.  While Perry under-performed with rural evangelical voters in Iowa, South Carolina primary voters could provide a fertile ground for a Not Romney stalking horse.

Santorum make a stunning second place “victory”  in Iowa and make an impressive victory speech.   But it remains to be seen if Santorum can quickly put together an organization to capitalize on this meteoric rise in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.  Big Momentum from Iowa can catapult a candidate, but he has to sell his message and be able to stand and deliver as well as organize outside of Iowa.

This year’s Republican Primary rules is supposed to make the early contests proportional voting. Counting Florida’s delegates may be as perilous as determining hanging chads in 2000. To grab headlines as an early primary, Florida moved up its primary to January 31st. The Republican National Committee responded by promising to only count 50% of the delegates to punish the Sunshine State for jumping its turn. However enforcement of this penalty is questionable considering that the convention will be held in Tampa, Florida.  To further complicate the matter, Florida recently insisted that its primary will be winner-take-all. After the Florida primary, there are a few smaller state caucuses (Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada) and then there is a three week pause before Michigan and Arizona primaries and then leading into Super Tuesday on March 6th.

This is why the aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses is important.  A prolonged primary fight favors candidates that can cobble together strong fund-raising and organization.  Clearly, Romney is adept at both qualities but the three way tie in Iowa indicates that he has not closed the deal.  Santorum’s momentum may be short lived as his record is scrutinized and if he is unable to quickly establish a national campaign.  Perry only got a second class ticket out of Iowa and basically is skipping the Granite State. But his campaign’s large war chest and demographics in key early battles could be a route to victory. But Perry must avoid “Oops” moments, not give half hearted or over-caffeinated debate performances and be able to connect with both Tea Party types and the rural and evangelical voters upon which he hitched his campaign wagon. 

Some Political Animals Are More Equal Than Others

President Barack Obama is poised to make a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray as the director of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the Constitution, Executive Branch appointments must receive the advice and consent of the Senate, unless it in recess so the President can make a temporary recess appointment.

In this case, the problem is that the Senate is technically still in session, albeit in a pro forma manner. To avoid going into recess, the Democrat controlled Senate has several members briefly meeting every few days. But Obama considers these legislative sessions as a gimmick thus he claims the power to make a short term appointment for two years.

This Obama ukase is problematic for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the President’s assessment that pro forma legislative sessions are a gimmick ignores the constitutional tenant of “Separate But Equal” branches of government.  If the Obama Administration truly believes that the senate is not in session than adjudicate it in the courts, which are supposed to decide constitutional matters.

Secondly, President Obama is insisting upon making a two year temporary appointment as a recess appointment. But Cordray would not be serving at the pleasure of the Obama Administration as a political appointment but as part of an independent government agency so would serve on even if Obama loses the upcoming election in November.

Moreover, Obama’s questionable appointment circumvents the will of the Senate.  Republicans have made their objections to the CFPB appointment plain.  While Democrat caucus can count on 53 votes, this appointment would be unlikely to pass a cloture motion which requires 60 votes, if we followed the customary rules and procedures.

When President Obama approved the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act while on his extended Christmas vacation in Hawaii, he also included a signing statement which suggests that his Administration will ignore sections of the law that Obama had just signed.  Other Presidents have used signing statements to note their objections to provisions of laws that they are enacting. In 2006, an  American Bar Association Blue Ribbon Task Force considered Presidential Signing Statements as being something that undermines the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers.  Such thinking must have influenced the former lecturer at the University of Chicago Law who became Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) when he objected to President George W. Bush’s signing statement in December 2007.  But where you stand is where you sit.

However, Obama’s NDAA signing statement differs from his predecessor.  Rather than just objecting to the provision, President Obama declared:

Sections 1023-1025 needlessly interfere with the executive branch's processes for reviewing the status of detainees. Going forward, consistent with congressional intent as detailed in the Conference Report, my Administration will interpret section 1024 as granting the Secretary of Defense broad discretion to determine what detainee status determinations in Afghanistan are subject to the requirements of this section.

Effectively, this allows Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to provide whatever procedure he wants to invoke, because the President said so. Who needs Congress?   This is not an isolated iconoclastic act by the Obama Administration, as President Obama instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  as he believes that the law is unconstitutional.

Why is the  Cordray appointment being made today?  Well, Mr. Obama has arranged a trip to Shaker Heights, Ohio.  Surely, this visit to a battleground state and circumventing the “Do Nothing” Congress was customary operating procedure and not a veiled re-election campaign event paid for with tax dollars.

There are some serious political and policy objections to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which were being waged in Congress.  But this Obama appointment threatens our constitutional order. Granted, there were some stumbles administering the Presidential Oath of Office to Barack Hussein Obama so the oath was administered again later, he did vow to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of the United States.  Systematically circumventing the laws and established governing procedure does not seem consistent with that oath.

 In 1945, George Orwell (né  Eric Blair) wrote Animal Farm, an allegory about totalitarianism which famously posits “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal to others.”   But the way the Obama Administration is governing, political animals between the beltways should  brush up on progressive President Woodrow Wilson’s favorite novel  Philip Dru Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow which makes dictator into a good word.