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OBAMA’S FANTASY-BASED FOREIGN POLICY

(47H)
On 2/23 National Security advisor Susan Rice on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention; “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century”. Even if Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the USA interests” to do so.
2/28 Russian troops poured into Ukraine, minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart to Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at the point’. The obama adm officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the incursion was not “ an invasion” but an “uncontested arrival” and that this distinction was “key” to understanding the new developments.
But euphemism can’t alter reality. “The USA will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention Ukraine”. The president announced we would “stand with” others if the uncontested arrival somehow turned into real military intervention (thirty minutes after his warning, obama appeared at a Demo National committee pep rally and declared the opening of “happy hour”.
Four days later, Putin held a press conference—a rambling series of claims and statements that sometimes contradicted each other (sound familiar) Putin maintained, for instance that there were no Russian troops on the ground in Ukraine and that the Russian-speaking soldiers who often identified themselves as Russian soldiers were probably local defense groups who may well have bought their uniforms form military surplus stores. (Drum roll please).
The white house seized on one sentence of his blather and expressed optimism. “Regarding the deployment of troops the use of armed forces so far, there is no need for it… such a measure would certainly be the very last resort”, Putin said.
This claim as evidence that Putin was looking for an “off ramp”. And soon we had a name for this new obama approach to the crisis: “de-escalation”. On 3/6 obama’s foreign policy approval rating fell to a new low at 56% disapproval re Fox. The adm has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is.
Like Fort Hood—(Awalaki) “workplace violence”, Christmas Day bomber, (yemen) “isolated extremist”, the Times Square bomber is (Taliban) “one-off”, Benghazi are “spontaneous” (al Qaeda) reactions and Assad is a (brutal reformer) “reformer”.
The Iranian regime can be sweet talked out of its nuclear weapons program and Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.
Iran is firmly entrenched as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror and remains determined to lead a nuclear state. And in Russian we face a Cold War throwback willing to use force to expand Russian influence. Putin it turns out is who we thought he was. Unfortunately, so is Obama.
Sources—weekly standard, stepehen hayes, cnn, meet the press

PELSOI AND REID A MATCH MADE IN D.C.

(56GH)

From her own lips comes this brilliant statement on what the Founding Father wanted for us.
“The founding fathers, our founders wanted for us a healthy life, liberty, freedom to pursue their happiness, not job-locked, but having benefits that health care policy that are portable”. YES OUR FOUNDING FATHER WANTED OBC

REID:
Probe Uncovers More Reid ‘Slush Fund’ Payments to Granddaughter.
Reid is at the center of a growing political controversy after it was revealed Thursday that more payments from his campaign funds had been made to his granddaughter than previously reported. The Nevada Democrat promised earlier this week to reimburse $16,787 his campaign gave to Ryan Elisabeth Reid in 2013 for what was described as payments for “holiday gifts.” Those payments were reportedly made to purchase items from Ryan Elisabeth Reid, who has her own line of jewelry.
Federal Election Commission standards that allow the purchase of goods from relatives if those goods are sold at fair market value.
Jahan Wilcox, a Republican National Committee spokesman, decried Harry Reid’s use of campaign monies as a “personal slush fund.” Things got worse for Reid when the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday that federal disclosures show the campaign paid another $14,481 to Reid’s granddaughter in 2012, bringing to $31,268 the total paid to Ryan Elisabeth in 2012 and 2013 to purchase gifts for Reid’s support staff.
Las Vegas journalist Jon Ralston investigated campaign payments made to a “Ryan Elisabeth.”
Ryan, the daughter of former Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid, designs jewelry and a gift line and is also the creative director of a New York theater company. Ryan Elisabeth is the name of her jewelry company, and the “holiday gifts” were trinkets — coasters, picture frames, jewelry — for Reid’s staff. Reid said, “I thought it would be nice to give supporters and staff thank-you gifts that had a personal connection.”
But the Review-Journal said that “the potential appearance” Reid was using funds from political donors to enrich a family member prompted his decision to reimburse the campaign.

Sources—weekly standard, las vegas review-journal, jon Ralston, drew Mackenzie, Pelosi in her own words from TV.

MAN AT WAR—A DEFENSE CHIEF STRADDLES TOW WORLDS

(51H)
Even buried in the reminiscences about interagency processes that yield obscure policy outcomes is a self-portrait of a deeply emotional and often very angry man. He hates his job. He despises most member of congress., he is at war with his own bureaucracy. He is furious at close allies. He despises micromanaging white house staffers and loathes the arrogant political advisers and sycophantic neophytes who surround the second president he served.
The wartime leader on the edge of a nervous breakdown who wailed in anguish, “God help me to do my duty”. One might sense these a desirable set of attitudes in a SOD: compassion for the troops, hostility to those whose own efforts and character do no measure up to the sacrifices of those troops, humility about his own abilities to discharge overwhelming responsibilities.
Gates himself acknowledges in his memoirs “Duty” reflects his insistence that he accepted a position he found distasteful to the extreme. And that he remained in it only out of a sense of obligation to the country. Why then did he leave it? Because “I could afford the luxury of sentiment, and at times, it overwhelmed me.” It is not that such an acute, personal awareness of loss makes leaders timid and reluctant to use force: as Gates points out, he was the guy signing the orders that sent solders into harm’s way. The general like the secretary set up an impossible psychological conflict.
Robert E. Lee make this point: “to be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. This is a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are son very few good officers. Although there are many good men.”
His account of the later years of the Bush adm, is unremarkable and uncontroversial. He disagreed with the president on some things, but admired his determination and grit, recognized his intelligence and broadly speaking accepted the tenets of his policy.
Gates relationship with obama and his adm was fare more fraught. He agreed to stay on and he did so less reluctantly than he made out at the time, or even that he remembers. Bush he seemed to be enjoying a job at which he was very good. But despite some compliments to obama for having care in making decisions, intelligences, a cool head and some level of personal concern for the troops
Gates is scathing about the presidents lack of interest in the wars in which he was engaged. Obama cared passionately about the suppression of military leaks and repealing “the don’t ask don’t tell” policy and that was it. For the rest, obama was “deeply suspicious of senior officers actions and recommendations and considered time spent with them merely a necessary chore.
Bush was determines to win. When the commander in chief by Gates reckoning, really did not care about winning: “when soldiers put their lives on the line, they need to know that the commander in chief who sent them in harm’s way believes in their mission”. Obama, Gates makes quite clear, did not, and he was not about to pretend that he did.
The ambivalent, the portrayal of the denizens of the white house who surrounded the president is almost unremittingly negative. Biden is in so many words an amiable fool who belligerently tells the generals that they “should consider the presidents decision as an order”. The white house staff are in Gates view, a bunch of hacks and amateurs whose only concern is domestic policy, even Sect of State Clinton and Obama admitted to each other that their despised predecessors Iraq surge really worked and that their refusal to acknowledge as much and their own opposition to it, reflected mere political calculations.
The new team came to power as they were ignorant of the realities of war. Though profound believers in “the power of obama rehetoric”. The National Security Council staff felt free to run around their boss retired Marine general James Jones.
He would join his team in their situation Room bull sessions devoted to heaping scorn on the Bush adm, ill-informed and unprofessional behavior that caused Gates to wonder whether it had occurred to any of them that they were being offensive to him and to Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of JCS who had played a large role in conceiving and implementing those policies. It was also directed at one professional who stayed on, retired lieutenant general Douglas Lute. Gates said. “I can add that few public servants gave more of themselves, more honestly and faithfully than Lute”.
Gates, who clearly wishes not to lash obama too severely, is thus reverting to the classic trope of blaming the king’s evil counselors, when it is much more likely that he National Security Council staff behaved as it did because that was the way Obama wanted it.
Gates often slips, such as when he admits that Obama came into office mistrusting the military, making no efforts to get to know them and always suspecting them of boxing him in. Gates talks of white house double-crosses, breached of faith and a president “who doesn’t trust his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his”.
White House is merely a building: the people in it are either doing what the president wants or what they think the president wants. And responsibility rests squarely with the commander in chief. If Gates damns anyone here, it is Obama, whether he wishes to or not. The publication of his memoir now is a breach of faith and a violation of propriety that is hard to understand. If Gates believes that Obama is a disastrous president, surely he should have published this book in 2012, when it might have influenced the election.
If he thinks he can change the president’s modus operandi and world-view by publishing it now, he is deluding himself.
Iranian crowds took to the streets to oppose the regime in 2009, Gates sided with the ever-cautious CIA analysts and State Dept officials who said that speaking out would only make the regime worse. He admits in retrospect that his view was wrong. He advocated a strategy in AFG that formally renounced nation building while building up a powerful AFG army to defeat the Taliban. He was a superb administrator who took charge of a dysfunctional Pentagon and Defense and found that the Joint Chiefs of Staff was in thrall to a “damnable peacetime mindset” through a Herculean effort, Gates forced the system to build and ship tens of thousands of purpose-built armored cares (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles or MRAP’S) to Iraq and AFG.
Shame on the bureaucrats for failing to get the MRAP or something like it to the field in 2004 rather than in 2007—and everlasting credit to Gates for ramming it through
Nothing became him so much as his willingness to hold senior officers and officials accountable by dismissing them form office.
His job was not to build a military for the next tow decades but to keep the war effort together..

Sources—weekly standard, eliot cohen

EXCLUDING BY RACE

(41H)

In his SOTU address in January, obama said he was planning a new initiative to help “more young men of color facing tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential” “MY Brothers Keeper” (BUT NOT KENYA) will use the power of his office to nudge foundations, corporations and state and local government to find ways to help “young men of color stay in school and out of the criminal justice system”
By “color”, the president means “black and brown” as his former faith based adviser Joshua DuBois wrote in the Daily Beast but why is the imitative limited to African American and Hispanic young men? Why is it not open to young men regardless of color—what about young women???
By shutting a door of opportunity against some, the president is inviting a lawsuit. He is damaging his reputation as a politician who sees “not a black American and white America and Latino American or Asian America” but “the USA” as he put it at his breakthrough speech at the 2004 demo convention.
The new imitative classifies and encourages its business and nonprofit partners to classify on the basis of sex and, within the male sex, on the basis of color. But sex-based classifications made by government are unconstitutional unless they have what Justice Ginsburg, writing for the court majority that in 1996 ended the male-only admissions of the Virginia military institute. Color-based classifications confront an even higher hurdle. Obama has said that the “disparities that persist in the African American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on form and earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacies of slavery and Jim Crow”. But a 1989 6-3 court decision by O’Connor agreed that societal discrimination is not a compelling interest. Racial classifications, she wrote are “strictly reserved for remedial settings”.
But on the assumption that the initiative offers benefits only to young men of certain colors, then some young man not to those colors denied on that account participation in a given program could well have standing to bring a case. The same is true of any young women denied participation even a your woman who is African American of Hispanic.
Obama’s initiative goes further by excluding entirely form its programs all young men who are neither black nor brown. Liberals within his party for having done little sepecifically to help minoriiteis, blacks in particular have criticized Obama. The new initiative is his response. Obama ought to open the initiative to all and use socioeconomic criteria that are color and sex-neutral to determine which young people need help in staying on track and reaching their full potential.
Someone in the white house should advise the president, who once aspired to transcend race, who once spoke movingly of how we are “one people”, that his initiative needs fundamental correction.

Source—weekly standard, terry eastland

DEEPLY UNSETTLING—WHAT THEY’RE DOING TO THE MILITARY

(14H)

SO TELL ME HOW WILL WE GET PEOPLE TO ENLIST AND HOW WILL WE BE ABLE TO FIGHT ANY TYPE OF WAR WITH THE BELOW GOING ON???

Finally Americans chattering classes seem to have awoken to the fact that the US military ain’t what it used to be. The NYT “the Pentagons proposals to reduce the Army to pre-WW2 levels” could “seem unsettling to a nation that prides itself on having the world’s most capable military”.
This is the first time Obama has cut military spending. Obama, with Gates at the helm, proceeded to cut some $400 billion more form the military planned spending—this entire coming before the BCA and its nearly trillion dollars in mandated cuts. (Budget control act). Now living under the BCA and despite some small relief from sequestration caps, this years defense budget and the just-announced budget for next year will be nearly $200 billion less than what even the Obama team had planned to spend when it put forward its budget plans just three years ago. Thus the number of soldiers in the active-duty Army is projected to fall from the pre-Obama strength of almost 570,000 to about 400,000. The adm., is assuming that after this year the BCA spending caps will disappear. On the current budget trajectory, the Army will slip below 400,000 by the end of the decades.
The Navy will be able to buy just 32 littoral combat ships—the smallest and cheapest surface combatant—instead of 52. Navy’s hopes of having a 300 ship fleet, the minimum it has long said it required to meeting its global responsibilities. The A-10 “Warthog” close-air support aircraft, the U2 spy plane, 11 Navy cruisers—are being retired before the end of their service life, even though they are in high demand by US theater commanders. Irony of ironies the adm while subsidizing a monumental expansion in civilian health care entitlements and reneging on a proposals to constrain the outlandish cost of living adjustments for social security, wants to hike co-pays for military retirees and reduce other benefits. So while the country’s defense burden slips below 3% of GDP, while entitlements spending is well over 4 times that of defense and continues to grow and grow.
Hagel rationale is that he’s “not budgeting and prioritizing for wars.” The adm ignominiously “ended” the US efforts in Iraq, and is setting the stage for a similar bug-out in AFG later this year. Obama “led form behind” in Libya and made the military ea the billions his feckless strategy cost out of its baseline budget. He’s sidestepped any action in Syria BUT has drawn a red line to Assad. Just last week a Chinese general demanded an “air defense identification zone” for the S. China Sea, having gotten the US to acquiesce in one over the Sea of Japan.
The notable thing about returning to “prewar” force levels is that they set the stage for the wars to come. Obama finds it “unsettling”—to reverse the Times formulation –to reside over an America that still “prides itself on having the world’s most capable military”. The US military has become a one-war-at-a-time force and has cast aside the traditional tow-war standard that guided American strategists in the past and which kept the great power peace for the past 60 years plus.
Alas, congressional republicans have been the enablers of this disarmament. The party’s accountant wing cooked up the BCA and accepted its sequestration provision that allowed Obama to do what no previous demo president would dare. So the weapons used to assault our military preparedness and national strength has republican fingerprints on it as well.
In the meantime the world, from East Asia to the Middle East, is “unsettled” and becoming ever more so. Does anyone doubt that the decision in DC to slash its defenses has been fully noted in Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, Teheran and North Waziristan? Unless the present course is reversed the wages of weakness will be paid in increased instability, crises and ultimately conflicts that might well have been avoided.

Sources—weekly standard, times, NYT, Thomas Donnelly, gary schmitt

AN OBAMACARE REPORT CARD

23LH
THIS IS A SUMMARIZED REPORT CARD WRITTEN BY CHRISTOPHER CONOVER A PROFESSOR AT THE CENTER FOR HEALTH POLICY AND INEQUALITIES RESEARCH AT DUKE UNIV.
IT IS LONG BUT AN INTERESTING READ ON HOW HE SEES THE BILL:

Like it or not the public and historians are likely to base their assessment of his performance on how well his “signature piece of domestic legislation” is implemented.

PROMISES VS PERFORMANCE # 1 UNIVERSAL COVERAGE.
Obama has made at least 80 promises related to health care and this report is based on 8 of the most consequential. 6/23/07 “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first tem as president that will cover every American.” CBO projections as of the end of 2013 OBC will have reduced the number of nonelderly uninsured by less that 4%. This figure excludes 1 million unauthorized immigrants (51% of whom are uninsured). Fully implemented in 2017 it will cover on 92% of the nonelderly population. (Nearly everyone age 65 and above is already covered by Medicare) and 84.7% of that group already had coverage in March 209. Other countries relying on individual mandate have failed to drive their uninsured rate below 1% or 1.5%. OBC will close only 53% of the gap that existed when Obama was sworn into office-
GRADE “F”

PROMISE #2—NO NEW TAXES ON THE MIDDLE CLASS:
9/12/08—“I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase-not you income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” Using official estimates form the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation and the House Ways and Means committee, projects that OBC will increase federal revenues by $1.058 trillion between 2013 and 2022. Only 30% of this total will be raised form taxes that exclusively target taxpayers earning over $200,000. The remaining 70% will be borne by households at all other income levels. Tax Policy Center figures show that such households do not account for more than half of all federal taxes. That still leaves at 35% to be borne by families at or below middle-class incomes. These figures do no include the hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue that will have to be collected by states to pay for their share of OBC induced growth in Medicaid. Nor do they include the impact of “taxation by regulation”, the tens of billions in higher premiums that your Americans are being forced to p[ay under OBC. In order to subsidize predominantly higher-income people who happen to be older. His promise at best was 65% true and more likely 50% or less true—GRADE-“F”

PROMISE #3—ANNULA PRMIUM SAVINGS OF $2500.00 PER FAMILY:
6/5/08 “we’ll lower premiums by up to $2500.00 for a typical family per year—we’ll do it by the end of my first tem”. This promise was reiterated at least 14 times, most recently 7/16/2012. His claim was a “misstatement”, what was originally intended was that total health spending would decline by this amount. Giving the benefit of the doubt—reframing his promise as a prediction about HC spending rather than Premiums and allowing OBC a full 12 years to achieve the promise instead of taking candidate obama rash claim ”by the end of my first term.” The latest report form the Medicare actuaries shows that in its first dozen years, OBC will boost health spending by “roughly $621 billion”—or an average of $7,579.00 for a family of four. GRADE—“F”

PROMISE #4—BEND THE COST CURVE:
12/15/09 the bill “will finally reduce the costs of health care”. While conceding that health spending would go up in the first 10 years as a result of the expansion of coverage, PolitiFact scored this statement, as Half True on it will “bend the cost curve”. That is, in the final year of the 10-year projection used by the Medicare would be slightly lower (6.9%) than under the status quo (7.2%). Medicare actuaries, CBO and GAO are either wise of politically sustainable in light of their potentially devastating effects on access to care. Medicare spending by 2085 will absorb 9.8% of GDP rather than only 6.5% of GDP under the less realistic current laws projection that was used by the CBO.
GRADE—INCOMPLETE

PROMISE #5 NO INCREASE IN THE DEFICIT:
9/9/09 obama promised, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits.” The CBO scored the plan as reducing the deficit in its first 10 years, Paul Ryan eloquently and decisively revealed the “gimmicks and smoke-and- mirrors” underlying that assessment (which counted 10 years of revenue but only 6 years of spending). Charles Blahous documenting that some of the conventional assumptions used in CBO’s analysis contravene actual laws. CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Michael Ramlet who concluded that “the new reform law will raise the deficit by more than $500 billion during the first 10 years and by nearly $1.5 trillion in the following decade.” ACA has put us on a path to add $6.2 trillion (2011 dollars) to the deficit over the next 75 years.
GRADE—“F”

PROMISE #6—YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN IF YOU LIKE IT:
6/15/09 obama promised, “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, PEROID. No one will take it away not matter what”. This promise was made 3 dozen times as of 12/11/13, some 6 million American had lost their coverage as a result of the cancellation of nongroup policies that id not meet OBC coverage standards. RAND corporation projects that 17.7 million who would have had nongroup coverage in 2016, only 0.2 million will retain that coverage. But for the one-year delay of the employer mandate, many would have seen their employer based plans canceled. Estimates lose their employer based coverage because their employer drops it are all over the map, ranging from 11 million (CBO) to 14 million Medicare actually to 17.2 million (Lewin Group) to as high as 35 million (American Action Forum). OBC will slash payments to Medicare Advantage plans, the Medicare actuary has calculated cutbacks are fully phased in by 2017, about half of Medicare Advantage plan members (7.4 million) will lose their Part C coverage and be forced back into the wasteful and inefficient Medicare. Advantage plans are low-income seniors who had discovered it was much less expensive to join a Part C plan that pay premiums for regular Medicare. In short leaving aside the tens of millions who will pay higher premiums for “enhanced” coverage they may not want or need. PolitiFact declared this promise the lie of the Year for 2013.
GRADE—“F”

PROMISE #7—IF YOU LIKE YOUR DOCTOR, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR DOCTOR:
6/15/09 obama “if you like your doctor, your will be able to keep your doctor, PERIOD.
New plans have more restrictions on access to specific doctors, hospitals and RX drugs”. The law requires those in the individual and small group markets to purchase coverage that is more comprehensive than some buy today. It is difficult to say how many of the nearly 6 million who have lost their nongroup coverage have been unable to find a plan that lets them keep their doctor. Tens of millions who may eventually lose their employer-based coverage and the 7.4 million affected by the Medicare Part C cutbacks. Mid January, 4.5 million have signed up for Medicaid (and CBO projects that when fully implemented in 2015, Medicaid will cover a total of 12 million newly eligible). RAND simulations indicate that 27% of newly Medicaid eligible people will be individuals losing employer based coverage. Since one third of doctors are currently unwilling to see new Medicaid patients, at lease some unknown fraction on newly Medicaid eligible people will lose their doctors. GRADE “F”

PROMISE #8—I’M NOT GOING TO TOUCH MEDICARE:
7/29/09 In a town hall meeting: Medicare is a government program. But don’t worry’ I’m not going to touch it.” The chief actuary for Medicare scored the law less than a month after its passage- he found that it would cut Medicare by $575 billion in its firs 10 years. In four consecutive annual reports actuary reported that if these steep cuts in provider payment rates were actually implemented, 15% of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies would be operation in the red by 2019. OBC would drive Medicare payment rates to physicians to less than half the levels [paid by Medicaid, which most experts agree would push providers to abandon Medicare in droves. Medicare Advantage plans are 9% less expensive. OBC will also slash payments to such plans by $145 billion in its first 10 years. In a 50% reduction in Medicare Advantage plan memberships by 2017. GRADE-“F”

MIDTERM GRADE, PROMISES VS PERFORMANCE—“F”
OBAMA HAS A PERSISTENT TENDENCY TO MAKE OUTLANDISH PROMISES THAT TOO OFTEN HAVE TURNED OU TO BE THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT THE SUTUDENT PREDICTED. NOT ONE OF THE PROMISES WAS INHERENTLY IMPLAUSIBE WHEN UTTERED, BUT THE PROSPEST OF ACHIEVING EVEN ON OF THEM BY THE FINAL GRADING PERIOD SEEMS VANISHINGLY REMOTE. THIS STUEDENT WOULD DO WELL TO CONSIDER ABANDONING THIS PROJECT IN FAVOR OF STARTING OVER WITH A NEW APPROACH..

Sources—weekly standard, Washington post, politifact, rand, AAF, lewin group, cbo,