The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch

No Recovering From This Recovery

By 2.27.14

Across the board, public opinion in all three major political groups — Democrats, Republicans and independents — identified unemployment as the nation’s top problem in a recent Gallup poll, released on Feb. 17.

The next day, ironically, an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — hardly an assemblage of libertarian-leaning economists —projected that the Democrats’ proposed minimum-wage hike from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 “would reduce total employment by approximately 500,000 workers” by 2016, and that job losses could reach 1 million.

The CBO, additionally, estimated that 81 percent of the proposed increased wages would go to workers who are not living below the poverty line. Roughly half the workers currently earning the minimum wage are between ages 16 and 24, many living in middle- and upper-income households.

In contrast, the segment of minimum-wage workers most likely to lose their jobs because of the proposed federally mandated wage hike will disproportionately be those who are the least skilled and least educated — the portion of bottom-rung workers who can least afford to be knocked off the occupational ladder.

The Obama Watch

Eric Holder’s Arizona

By 2.27.14

Eric Holder’s liberal chickens are coming home to roost in Arizona. And in a West Hollywood gay bar. The Los Angeles Times is helping. While a Harvard student demands an end to academic freedom. All of this in the name of the religion of liberalism.

Let’s start with the attorney general of the United States, who has made it abundantly clear that a state attorney general who doesn’t like his or her state’s gay marriage law doesn’t have to enforce it.

Fox News reported Holder’s decision this way:

Attorney General Eric Holder has given the nod to his state counterparts that they do not have to defend laws against constitutional court challenges if they consider them discriminatory — effectively giving the green light for states to stop defending bans on gay marriage.

The Obama Watch

Obama’s Trifecta

By 2.26.14

The First Amendment has three parts to it: the protection of religious freedom, the protection of speech and press, and the protection of the people’s right to assembly and petition. In all three categories, the Obama administration’s record is outrageous: it has forced the religious to finance free contraceptives, treated some journalists as potential criminals, and sought to undermine political speech and action through “campaign finance reform” and IRS harassment.

Conforming to the Obama administration’s pattern of disregarding the First Amendment in total is this month’s news: a Federal Communications Commission plan, now thwarted, to gather information on newsroom practices.

The Obama Watch

Defining Challenges Down

By 2.19.14

It’s the “defining challenge of our time,” declared President Obama, referring to income inequality in the American economy.

A good start for Mr. Obama in reducing the hardships that exist in the poorer segments of this economy — an economy with 13 million more people receiving food stamps than when he took office in 2009, the slowest recovery since World War II, and the lowest percentage of the population in 36 years participating in the labor force — would be to make it his “defining challenge” to discover and publicize how his administration’s policies have weakened economic growth, slowed job creation and lowered income increases, especially in the bottom income quintiles.

Starting off his first term, what didn’t work was Obama’s recovery strategy of bashing “the rich” and selling political boondoggles as “shovel ready” stimulants to employment.

What also didn’t improve job growth, raise incomes or reduce inequality were the incentives in the Affordable Care Act for companies to switch full-time employees to part-time workers and not expand workforces beyond 49 employees.

The Obama Watch

Of Course He Should Be Impeached

By 2.17.14

Last week, Jeffrey Lord asked the following question in this space: “Should Obama be impeached?” I have enormous respect for Lord, and agree with virtually everything he writes, but his column reflects an unsettling trend in the way many view this issue. Most pundits and politicians discuss Obama’s serial violations of the Constitution as if mulling an interesting academic subject. They ponder such arcana as the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the number of Senate votes required to convict an impeached President, the effect of the process on the GOP’s electoral prospects in 2016, ad infinitum. Few, however, discuss impeachment as a serious possibility or even a rational course of action.

The Obama Watch

Mr. President, Suspend Davis-Bacon

By 2.7.14

The president once again is calling for a massive investment in infrastructure projects. In his State of the Union address, he argued that money saved by simplifying the tax code could then be invested in repairing and building bridges, roads, ports, and other key infrastructure.

Regrettably, all these proposed public works projects would be covered by the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 (D-B), an outdated, anachronistic federal statute that mandates the payment of “prevailing wages” (read "union scale") for all workers on federally funded construction projects.

D-B unnecessarily inflates construction costs, imposes wasteful bureaucratic paperwork requirements on contractors, and allocates employment opportunities unfairly. It would seriously undermine this latest phase of the president's proposed infrastructure program. But, of course, the statute is the sacred cow of labor unions.

The Obama Watch

The Fox and the Attention Hog

By 2.5.14

Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Barack Obama before the Super Bowl proved as unstimulating as the game. O’Reilly had hyped the interview as the equivalent of a momentous boxing match. With characteristic humility, he said it would be like when “two boxers go into the center of the ring, that is exactly the way it is when an alpha interviews an alpha.”

The most interesting question came not from O’Reilly but from a viewer, who wanted to know: “Mr. President, why do you feel it’s necessary to fundamentally transform the nation that has afforded you so much opportunity and success?” Obama rejected the premise of the question, saying, “I don't think we have to fundamentally transform the nation.” That glib denial of the record — he promised fundamental transformation in 2008 — characterized most of the interview. Then again, perhaps he meant that now that he has fundamentally transformed the country with Obamacare and his other measures he is content with America.

The Obama Watch

Misstate of the Union

By 2.1.14

Here in Florida every popular joke seems to involve a doctor. The latest one is about Sam, the freshly insured Obamacare patient who goes to see the new doctor assigned by his plan. The medic checks him top to bottom and then steps out for a moment. He comes back in with the blood-pressure cuff, saying: “The only thing I need to recheck is your pressure which read dangerously low the first time.”

While fastening the cuff, the doctor tells Sam that because of his new policy there would be a higher co-payment, 200 dollars. The mechanism now adjusted, the doctor takes Sam’s blood pressure. Good news! It is no longer low… if anything, a little on the high side…

The Obama Watch

The Muzak State of the Union

By 1.31.14

The meaning of words still matter beyond how they sound.

It’s easy to forget that listening to President Barack Obama sometimes, like during the State of the Union Tuesday.

While watching it I kept thinking of friends’ language poetry class in college, where the point was to string words together in a pleasing manner purposely disconnected from meaning -- in order to create a new meaning.

Those poems baffled me then just as President Obama’s speech did the other night because reality is so different from the one he talked about and the self-contradictions overflowed. For example:

He wants a country that continues to put its “collective shoulder to the wheel of progress.” And he told Congress, “I’m eager to work with all of you.” But if that doesn’t work out, he said, “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” Apparently too impatient to even try the togetherness strategy he revered as America’s historic model, he vowed in coming weeks to sign an executive order raising the federal minimum wage on new federal contracts.

The Obama Watch

Aided and Abetted by Extraterrestrials

By 1.30.14

American astronomer J. Allen Hynek shuffled off this mortal coil in 1986, but I wonder what he would have made of this week’s State of the Union address, which as far as I can tell vindicated a good bit of his research. Hynek tried to codify relative strangeness by outlining differences between “close encounters” of the first, second, and third kinds. His 1972 book explaining that classification impressed filmmaker Steven Spielberg back in the day, and could be understood as an ascending scale of oddity, depending on whether you saw an unidentified flying object, noticed that the UFO had an effect on your environment, or swore on top of the two previous impressions that an inexplicably animated creature of some sort was also present.