The Obama Watch

Sliding Into the Abyss

A disastrous week for the president.

By 6.16.14

UPI (President Obama honoring WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx, East Room, June 12, 2014)
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It was an amazing week for Barack Obama — perhaps the most remarkable in his disastrous presidency. We watched history unfold as it did in Greek mythology — with all of the ills that would confront mankind escaping from Pandora’s box.

Sunday, June 8: The week began with a “prayer summit” and tree-planting at the Vatican Gardens in Rome — hosted by Pope Francis and attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. There were hugs all around, with prayers in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Italian. It was a love-in as well as a pray-in — marked by the planting of an olive tree as evening fell.

Then all hell broke loose — not at the Vatican, but 3,300 miles to the east at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. At about the same time that the ceremony in the Vatican Garden was breaking up, the Pakistani version of the Taliban — Tehreek-e-Taliban — attacked the country’s busiest airport — killing 18 airport security and administrative officers and setting off a raging fire. Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, the ten assailants (all killed in the battle) were stopped just 25 yards short of three planes filled with passengers. The Taliban poses a real threat to Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. If terrorist groups were to succeed in toppling the government of Pakistan, they could beat the Mullahs in Iran to the punch in becoming the first radicalIslamist state to gain a nuclear arsenal. How do you deter an enemy state with nuclear weapons that celebrates death and the thought of self-immolation? Pakistan is equipped with dozens of ready-to-fire nuclear weapons.

Monday, June 9: Obama came out snarling in signing another executive order — this one designed to make it easier for college students to renege on their debts… and easier for Obama and the Democrats to wage phony class warfare with the blatant falsehood that the program could be easily financed by closing “tax loopholes” on “millionaires.” “This should be a no-brainer,” the president declared. “It would be scandalous if we allowed those kinds of tax loopholes for the very, very fortunate to survive while students are having trouble just getting started in their lives.”

Sure, it’s a “no brainer” to tell students that they can borrow any amount of money to go to the college or graduate school of their choice and know a) that they will never have to spend more than 10 percent of their discretionary income in monthly loan payments, and b) that they can walk away from the unpaid balance after a 10- or 20- year period — with maximum loan forgiveness for those who go to work for the government or philanthropic organizations.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters at the White House that the administration could not say how much it would cost taxpayers to extend the cap on the monthly payments to an additional 5 million students — which includes many who have already graduated and are still struggling to find good jobs. “We’ll figure that out on the back end,” Duncan said.

Meanwhile, back at the front end, student debt in the U.S. now totals more than $1.2 trillion. Out of 37 million borrowers, 5.4 million, or 15 percent, have already defaulted. A total of 600,000 borrowers who graduated in 2010 had defaulted by 2012, according to the Education Department data cited in the Wall Street Journal.

Why not extend the same pay-if-you-can, early-forgiveness program to every other type of debt, including car loans, credit card debt, and — just to give taxpayers one break — easy repayment of mounting pension obligations to public sector employees?

In other domestic news, Obama today declared a “humanitarian crisis” as hundreds of illegal immigrants from Central America continued to stream into south Texas on a daily basis — wading across the Rio Grande in full view of helicopters and speedboats with mounted machine guns under the control of people supposedly charged with border security. Over the past eight months, Customs and Border Security has accepted and at least temporarily detained almost 50,000 unaccompanied minors, most of them in the Rio Grande Valley. That is almost double the number of unaccompanied minors from the same period a year earlier. Obama has pledged $2 billion to build temporary housing to accommodate illegal immigrants, including many unescorted children with backpacks, cellphones, and notecards with telephone numbers of U.S. relatives. “I guess when you advertise $2 billion of assistance for the cause, it’s an open invitation for anybody to come across,” Lazaro “Larry” Gallardo Jr., a constable in Hidalgo County on the banks of the Rio Grande, told the Washington Post.

Tuesday, June 10: Encountering little or no resistance, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS — an al Qaeda off-offshoot — seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city with almost two million inhabitants. Military, police, and city officials fled the northern Iraqi city without putting up a fight — leaving streets strewn with army trucks, weapons, and uniforms. Talk about low-hanging fruit! It seems that ISIS needed no more than several hundred fighters to take full control of Mosul airport, the provincial government headquarters, nearby oil installations, police stations, and jails, where they “liberated” some 1,000 prisoners. ISIS did not come out of nowhere. Since January, ISIS has controlled Fallujah, to the east of Baghdad. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and now the world’s most feared terrorist, has threatened to carry out major attacks against targets in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 11: Appearing on NBC, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton weighed into the growing debate over the recent swap of five senior Taliban commanders from Guantanamo for one captured American soldier (and possible deserter). She said:

These five guys are not a threat to the United States. They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them.

Despite everything that has happened in the Middle East over the past two years, she clings to the belief that the leaders of the Taliban and al Qaeda are not sincere in their often stated objective of wreaking havoc against the United States. Of course, the #1 denier of the threat to the U.S. is the president himself, who speaks of “violent extremism” but who has never uttered the words radical Islam. And so the attempted appeasement of radical Islam through soft words and deeds continues.

When Obama defended the swap, he said: “This is the way wars end in the 21st century.” But the real war — the war of Islamofascism (or whatever you want to call it) against all forms of peaceful government — goes on, whether the 44th president is willing to acknowledge it or not.

Thursday, June 12: Daniel Henninger sums up nicely in his column in today’s Wall Street Journal:

The fall of Mosul, Iraq, to al Qaeda terrorists this week is as big in its implications as Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But from the Obama presidency, barely a peep.

Barack Obama is fiddling while the world burns. Iraq, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, Syria. These foreign wildfires, with more surely to come, will burn unabated for two years until the United States has a new president. The one we’ve got can barely notice or doesn’t care. 

Ah, yes —Ukraine and Russia, almost forgotten in the midst of all the other troubles. Ukrainian officials today accuse Russia of moving tanks, heavy artillery, and multiple rocket launchers across the border into southeastern Ukraine.

Friday, June 13: Obama and wife left in the afternoon for a trip to Palm Springs. But it is another busy news day. ISIS is continuing to advance southward along the Tigris River toward Baghdad. No real surprise, there. The big bombshell comes from the IRS, which announced that it has lost two years of emails between Lois Lerner and the Justice and Treasury departments. The IRS blames a computer crash. Is this a willful destruction of criminal evidence against Lerner and others in the administration in their quest to neutralize or discredit conservative organizations in the run-up to the 2012 election?

Saturday, June 14: Obama started the day at a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Laguna Niguel at the home of Anne Earhart, the granddaughter of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty and now — though the old man may be turning in his grave — a big environmental activist. Twenty-five donors paid $32,400 apiece for the honor of rubbing elbows with the president on a beautiful hillside overlooking the Pacific. Obama went on from there to give the commencement address at the University of California, Irvine.

It’s not worth repeating what he said except to note that there were a couple of lame attempts at humor. He called any doubters of the most apocalyptic version of the global warming creed people who think the moon is “made of cheese.”

Did the president know or care that pro-Russian rebels (or agents) used antiaircraft guns and heavy machine gun fire to shoot down a Ukrainian military transport plane this morning — killing 49 people?

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About the Author
Andrew B. Wilson, a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and a former foreign correspondent, is a resident fellow and senior writer at the Show-Me Institute in St. Louis.