The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch

Obama’s Strange Iran Negotiations

By 1.20.15

Two senators, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Bob Menendez, have authored a bill to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran if it ultimately refuses to honor the demands of the international community as regards its nuclear weapons program. President Barack Obama has now pledged to veto that bill. A few points to consider before trying to make sense of this news:

1. Obama himself has said inducing Iran to surrender its capability to produce nuclear weapons will be a difficult task; an understatement if ever there was one.

2. We are to believe that sanctions can work as a means of harnessing the behavior of an irrational actor like Iran, and we’re told specifically that sanctions helped bring the Iranians to the negotiating table.

3. States like Iran — ones that are unburdened by the niceties of Western diplomacy — negotiate on the basis of ruthless pressure. We saw an example of this when the Cubans used an imprisoned American aid worker as a hostage to secure favorable negotiating terms. To sit down across the negotiating table from such people requires the willingness to apply hard pressure in kind.

The Obama Watch

What Was the President Thinking?

By 1.14.15

If there were one word to describe President Obama’s behavior in office, particularly in foreign affairs, it might be “detached.” It is hard to know his thought process in not attending the massive rally against Islamist jihad and anti-Semitism in Paris earlier this week — when 40 world leaders including President Francois Hollande of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas took to the streets of Paris to protest the barbarism of those forces. They joined up to three million people according to a French media estimate. One can only speculate as to President Obama’s reasoning, but some logic might go like this:

Those world leaders are not my peers. I have no peers. I am the president of the United States. I do not walk arm in arm with anyone. I do not like those optics. I will not compete on the world stage with other heads of state. I am not Charlie either. I am Barack Obama. Je suis Barack Obama.

The Obama Watch

New Year’s Irresolution

By 1.13.15

President Barack Obama’s absence from the great gathering in Paris of national leaders from other countries, to show their solidarity with France in its opposition to Islamic terrorists, was another sign of the Obama administration’s continuing irresolution in the face of terror.

Even the recent courageous message of Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, calling on his fellow Muslims around the world to “revolutionize” the interpretation of Islam, to make it more compatible with peaceful relations with other peoples, put no steel in the spine of Barack Obama.

From his earliest days in the White House, our president has downplayed the terrorist threat from Islamic extremists. He declared victory as he pulled American troops out of Iraq, setting the stage for a huge defeat when ISIS moved in to create their own new government, on both Iraqi and Syrian soil — while committing atrocities against men, women, and children not seen since the days of the Nazis.

The Obama Watch

Mr. Obama, Meet General de Gaulle

By 1.12.15

“I am France.”

So spoke General Charles de Gaulle to British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax in1941. At the time France was under the control of the treacherous Vichy French, the puppets of the Nazis, the latter having invaded France in May of 1940. With Adolf Hitler himself personally appearing in Paris to inspect his new conquest. de Gaulle had refused to bow to Hitler, instead going across the Channel to Britain and presenting himself to the British government and anybody else who cared to listen (there weren’t many) not just as the legitimate head of what was quickly known as “Free France.” For de Gaulle that was not even close to the reality of what he represented. As he made plain to Halifax, de Gaulle saw himself — then and always — as France.

The Obama Watch

Was Glenn Beck Right About Obama?

By 12.30.14

Was Glenn Beck right?

Back there in the mists of 2009, then-Fox TV host Glenn Beck caught heat for saying: “This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,” adding “I don’t know what it is.” 

Later, Politico reported it this way:

Following up on Beck’s ridiculous claim, Fox’s Brian Kilmeade pointed out that Obama is surrounded by white advisers like David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and Rahm Emanuel. 

“I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people,” Beck said. “I’m saying he has a problem. He has a — this guy is, I believe, a racist.”

Down the road a year later Beck recanted, as noted here in the New York Daily News

The Obama Watch

I’m Not Proud That We Elected Obama

By 12.22.14

In an interview that was broadcast last night on 60 Minutes, retiring Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn proclaimed, “I’m proud of our country for electing Barack Obama.”

Senator Coburn is to be admired for his years as a watchdog on the spending habits of Congress and bureaucrats in the federal government. While I was certainly well aware of Coburn’s friendship with Obama, which developed when they were in the Senate, I am nevertheless disappointed to hear that he is proud this country elected Barack Obama to the White House.

Senator Coburn might very well love Barack Obama as a man and with it the content of his character. Alas, I do not love Barack Obama much less admire his character. I’m not proud that we elected Barack Obama to be President of the United States.

The Obama Watch

Cuba Quizás, Yankee Quizás

By 12.19.14

The world has come a long way since the chant during the Cold War, “Cuba Sí, Yankee No.” Now it could be better written and translated into English as “Cuba Maybe, Yankee Maybe.” But President Obama has picked yet another fight.

Sidestepping Congress as with immigration policy and modifications to Obamacare, the president has used the element of surprise to begin restoration of relations with Cuba, a nation treated as a pariah for over fifty years. As that country has been designated as a supporter of terrorism by the Department of State, it would have been wiser to allow Congress to vet the wisdom of restoring relations with Cuba — an ally of Russia and previously the Soviet Union for decades.

Still reeling from a humiliating defeat of his party in the polls and the capture of the Senate by Republicans, the president is trying to reassert himself and construct an agenda that he thinks he can control. He has certainly caught the opposition off balance.  Like immigration, the White House may try to position this as an effort to economically benefit the Latino population, although Cuban-Americans are comparatively affluent with an emphasis on the professions.

The Obama Watch

Is He Out of His Narcissistic Mind?

By 12.1.14

There is nothing like watching politicians utter the naked truth. So rare it defies belief. Like Cidinha Campos, the blunt Brazilian Congresswoman from Rio de Janeiro, who points the finger at the bad political apples with justified and refreshing outrage. The late Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant had nothing on her.

It is worth watching Brazil’s Campos for a few minutes on the floor of the Brazilian Chamber before reading the brief translations (here). Referring to a corrupt congressman who did himself in, while citing specific violations of legal codes, she said:

I want to discuss those who shamelessly take from the public purse.

He is more corrupt than his politician father. Corruption is in the DNA of our politicians instead of being addressed by the legal system.

This corrupt thief appointed himself to the Treasury. I see their cynicism. The more corrupt they are, the more simpatico they come across to people.

The Obama Watch

The New Con: Law Professors for Executive Amnesty

By 11.25.14

Call it a White House con game. The Obama administration is rolling out a list of law professors in support of the president’s executive order giving amnesty to five million illegal immigrants. The Hill reports:

The White House worked to bolster the legal case for President Obama’s immigration action Thursday night, releasing a letter from a group of prominent legal scholars arguing that the president’s moves were within his legal authorities.

The group included three law professors from the University of Chicago — where the president taught constitutional law before his election — as well as Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and renowned Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe.

The Obama Watch

Found: 30,000 Emails That the IRS Overlooked

By 11.25.14

Never take a liar at his (or her) word. It’s been five months since the IRS said they couldn’t recover Lois Lerner’s emails from her hard drive, and that other backup systems probably wouldn’t turn up anything either. Just weeks ago, Judicial Watch discovered that the IRS hadn’t actually tried to recover those backups.

Now, the Treasury Department’s inspector general of tax administration has finally done what the IRS refused to—actually look at the disaster recovery backup tapes. And surprise, surprise! They recovered data that could include thirty thousand emails to and from Lois Lerner between 2009 and 2011.

We knew they weren’t gone forever.