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DIVORCE, BELTWAY STYLE: The Democratic breakup that exposes Washington’s rotten core.

The documents, which you can read below, did not become available to the rest of us until yesterday. They tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth. They tell stories not only of an ugly divorce, but of the power of lobbying, of how one family maneuvered to the center of the nation’s dominant political party, of the transactional relationships, gargantuan self-regard, and empty posturing that insulates, asbestos-like, the D.C. bubble.

That the broken couple now uses the tools of their trade—the phone-call to a friend, the selective leaking of documents, the hiring of attorneys, the launch of a public-relations campaign—against one another is more than ironic. It is fitting. Tony and Heather Podesta reached the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Barack Obama’s Washington. Now they, like he, are in eclipse. . . .

Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law. John’s innovation was to establish a corporate-funded think tank where the burdensome policies would be concocted, and whose staff would go on to man the regulatory agencies that put their wool-headed ideas into practice. And to whom do the corporations turn when they find themselves on the receiving end of all this uplift, all this do-goodery, all this progress, hope, and change? Why, to the man in the red Prada loafers, and to his flamboyantly patterned wife.

Read the whole thing.

RUBE-IN-CHIEF SELF-IDENTIFIES: Full Circle: Obama Defends Iraq War.

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Unions Suffer For ObamaCare:

The first problem is that Obamacare regulations are already pushing up the cost of multiemployer insurance plans. Moreover, many of the regulations don’t really fit the plans — for example, many multiemployer plans do not distinguish between single and family policies, offering everyone the same insurance at the same cost.

The second problem is that the 40 percent excise tax on especially expensive plans — the so-called Cadillac tax — is going to hit union plans especially hard. Unlike most people negotiating compensation, union negotiators make an explicit trade-off between wages and other benefits, and the benefit that they seem most attached to is generous health plans. Union plans are made more expensive still because union membership is heavily skewed toward older workers. They are thus very likely to get hit by the Cadillac tax, which takes effect in 2018.

And the third problem is that Obamacare undercuts one of the key benefits of being in a union. Take a low-wage service worker who is currently insured through her union’s multiemployer plan. If she went to work for a nonunion shop, she could get a substantial wage hike, use part of it to buy a heavily subsidized exchange policy, and still be better off. As I heard one expert say, Obamacare turns health insurance from an organizing tool to a disorganizing tool.

Oft evil will shall evil mar.

JAMES TARANTO: 1930-Something: Old-school leftists are unhappy with Obama’s America.

Reed disdains what he calls “the cult of the most oppressed,” the idea “that there’s something about the purity of these oppressed people that has the power to condense the mass uprising. I’ve often compared it to the cargo cults. . . . As my dad used to say, ‘If oppression conferred heightened political consciousness there would be a People’s Republic of Mississippi.’ ” (This all seems a bit out of place in Salon, whose usual stock in trade is exotic identity-based grievances. Last week the site ran an article by Randa Jarrar, an Arab-American novelist, titled “Why I Can’t Stand White Belly Dancers.”)

Conservatives share Reed’s and Frank’s aversion to identity politics, though of course for different reasons. They (we) see it as anathema to the classical liberal ideas of individual freedom and equality of opportunity. Reed pointedly rejects what he calls “a neoliberal understanding of an equality of opportunity.”

What Reed wishes for instead, in his Harper’s article, is a radical “redistributive vision,” which “requires grounding in a vibrant labor movement.” There’s more than a bit of nostalgia here: He opens by observing that the left “crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement,” and that “at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called ‘a second Bill of Rights,’ ” including “the right to a ‘useful and remunerative job,’ ‘adequate medical care,’ and ‘adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.’ “

What we actually have is a coalition of Wall Street — they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing — and gentry liberals, with enough minorities included as electoral fodder to provide key votes. But look who’s getting richer these days. It’s the .1 percent. A few rubes are just starting to catch on.

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Liberal labor union makes Republican arguments against Obamacare. “A new labor union research report offers a scathing indictment of how Obamacare affects middle-class workers. The report features a series of arguments that conservatives have long made about the law, right down to mentioning the language of ‘unintended consequences.’”

THE RUBES ARE CATCHING ON: The Uninsured Are Turning Against Obamacare. That’s A Problem. “Fifty-six percent of those who identified as uninsured in a new poll conducted in February by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a research institution, had an unfavorable view of the health care reform law, compared to just 22 percent who said they view it favorably. The uninsured now see Obamacare less favorably than they did when the enrollment period began in October. As recently as September, more uninsured approved of the law than disapproved.” Well, that was before people knew it was a train wreck.

PEGGY NOONAN: OUR DECADENT ELITES:

Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines? Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?

“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.

Or maybe they’re just stupid.

But it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?

I don’t understand why members of Congress, the White House and the media become cooperators in videos that sort of show that deep down they all see themselves as . . . actors. And good ones! In a phony drama. Meant I suppose to fool the rubes.

Or something.

THEY NEED IT EVEN WORSE THAN WE DO: European Tea Party Movements On The March.

According to The Economist, this “insurgency is doing well partly because the mainstream has done so badly. Governments encouraged consumers to borrow, let the banks run wild and designed the euro as the pinnacle of the European project.” And “in the past five years ordinary people have paid a price for these follies, in higher taxes, unemployment, benefit cuts and pay freezes.” As a result, more Europeans are viewing the modern state as being “designed to look after itself, rather than the citizens it is supposed to serve.”

Uh oh. The rubes are catching on. And the term “global superclass” aptly summarizes the ambitions of transnational progressivism.

BETTER KNOW A PLAGUE: Measles, Mumps & Rubella.

WHY THE SOUTH FELL APART IN THE SNOW.

There’s a simple explanation for that one, too. Birmingham is one of those cities that shuts down at the faintest hint of snow. Again, this isn’t because we are rubes who wonder why God’s tears have turned white and fall slower. It’s because the city does not have the infrastructure in place to handle snow, and is self-aware enough to realize it. If you don’t know how to swim, just stay out of the pool. Easy.

This time, though, the city did not shut down. Schools were open. Places of business kept businessing. That’s because as of Tuesday morning, we were being told that all that was coming was a light dusting.

That’s no disrespect to James Spann, who is a wonderful weatherperson and a bit of a local legend. But reports like that meant that when the snow actually started in earnest—and it became clear that it was going to stick—people were in offices and kids were at school, instead of being at home like they normally would.

That, in turn, meant that everyone was trying to get home at the same time, on snowy, icy roads that had not been treated, in cars that do not have four-wheel-drive (why would they?). These are, for the most part, people who do not drive in snow very often, which means that accidents like this one were common.

We got off much lighter here in Knoxville, but it was the same thing, basically: When I went into work, my weather app showed a 30% chance of light snow. By late morning it was already getting icy. I canceled my class and wound up being glad I did. Personally, I have four-wheel drive and snow-rated tires (they’re only all-seasons, but they’re good ones) and I know how to drive in the snow. I got home okay, but a lot of people had problems — and, of course, it doesn’t matter how good your car is, or your driving skills are, if you’re stuck behind jackknifed semi.

RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Byron York: Among ‘Obama Coalition,’ Obama approval plunges.

President Obama won re-election with the rock-solid support of what has become known as the “Obama Coalition” — young people, minorities, women, and low-income voters. Without a firm foundation — and high turnout — among those groups, Obama would not be in the White House today.

Now, little more than a year after the president’s re-election, his job approval rating has fallen among all segments of the American electorate. But it has fallen the most among those who did the most to elect him.

For example, according to a new Gallup compilation, Obama’s job approval rating among Hispanic Americans has plunged from 75 percent in December 2012 to 52 percent today — a drop of 23 percentage points, the sharpest decline among any voter group. Among Americans who make less than $24,000 a year, the president’s approval rating has fallen from 64 percent last December to 46 percent today. Among Americans 18 to 29 years of age, it has fallen from 61 percent to 46 percent. Among women, it has fallen from 57 percent to 43 percent.

The only key part of the Obama Coalition that did not experience a double-digit drop in support for the president is black Americans, although his support is down there, too — from 92 percent last December to 83 percent today.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya, Obama voters?

REBOUND EFFECT: Rube Goldberg Legal System Derails CA Bullet Train.

California’s bullet train boondoggle was sucker punched yesterday, as a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked $68 billion in bond funding. The same case saw a separate ruling allowing the state to spend $3.4 billion in federal cash for the project, while a second case (same judge) rejected the rail authority’s request to issue $8 billion in bonds that voters approved in 2008. The judge ruled the project would need to meet various mandates, compliances and environmental clearances before the funding stream can be allowed to flow.

The convoluted rulings are yet another sign that California’s toxic regulatory and legal environment makes any public works project slow, expensive and Pyrrhic. . . .

We’ve long argued that the train is an awful idea, but it looks like it’s starting to fail for all the wrong reasons. It would be good to see some common sense shape a consensus that the project’s exorbitant costs and marginal utility make it not worth the while. But no, the train is being derailed by red tape.

Big government self-derails. Opponents of big government should take a cue from environmentalists, and seize every available opportunity — and there will be many — for legal monkey-wrenching.

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: My ObamaCare Cancellation: Seething At The President I Helped Elect.

We received the letter in the mail a couple months ago. The good people at Regence Bluecross Blueshield were pleased to inform us that due to Obamacare our current low-monthly premium, comically-high deductible medical policy would no longer exist come January 1, 2014. Pleased, because a new and better plan would be offered in its place. Old monthly premium: $578 for a family of four (non-smoking, helmet-wearing, and paternally snipped). New premium: $1,123. A 94% increase.

Once the sound of boiling blood dissipated, in my head I heard my Republican friends chuckling at the sight of a liberal Democrat hoisted ten stories high on his own petard. How’s the view up there, Obamacare Ollie?

Plus this:

At a certain point in the conversation, the accountant/lawyer had to get off the phone. “I have to stop answering your questions,” he told Peter. “I can’t ethically advise you, because honestly I don’t know the right thing to do. Nobody does. There are no answers. Right now it’s a complete clusterfuck.”

Yeah, pretty much.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ can’t pronounce “misled.”

Two thoughts: (1) If it were Sarah Palin who’d done this, it would be all over the MSNBC/Daily Show/Colbert/Maher circuit as proof that she’s an uneducated rube; and (2) honestly, I’ve always thought “myzled” was a more evocative pronunciation, ever since, at age 8 or so, I found out that wasn’t actually how it was pronounced.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “I Quit Academia,” an Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays. “In its insularity and single-mindedness, academe is also very similar to a fundamentalist religion (or, dare I say, cult), and thus those who abdicate often feel compelled to confess. But there’s an important way that Ernst’s essay distinguishes itself: Most I Quitters are like me, which is to say failed academics, or like Lord, whose disillusion hit her midway down the tenure track. Ernst is part of the sub-subgenre of quitters who did the unthinkable, giving up tenure. He joins, for example, scientist Terran Lane, who left the University of New Mexico for Google, and writer Anne Trubek, who ditched idyllic Oberlin when freelance writing was able to pay her bills.”

Original essay here. “I’ve had one foot in the academic world and the other in the business world for a few years. It’s been fascinating to observe the differences between the values of a small start-up and a large university. . . . What makes me pessimistic about my own university and public universities in the United States in general is that their inability to adapt isn’t due simply to bad leadership or an unfavorable economy. It’s based on structural features that are self-reinforcing.”

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

SO NOW IT’S THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Twelve years ago, InstaPundit was new. Now it’s not, and some people are even warning of “blogger burnout.” But I’m still here. On prior 9/11 anniversaries, I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party with Andrew Breitbart.

This year, as in most past years, it’ll be blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well. Which is too bad.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

Now, of course, with the Syria debacle, it seems like we’ve gone from tragedy to farce. Obama tried to channel W. last night, but he didn’t have it in him, and Syrian gas attacks on Syrians aren’t the same as Al Qaeda attacks on Americans. But a farce, however farcical, at least isn’t a tragedy. Yet, anyway.

OUR HOPEY-CHANGEY ECONOMY: “Our drop from 8.1% unemployment to 7.3% is analogous to losing 20 pounds by cutting off a body part.”

HEY, RUBE! “As a Democrat, I am disgusted with President Obama” – Leading New Media Guru Jeff Jarvis. “Did I mention that Jarvis voted for Obama?”

ACLU TO OBAMA: “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear.”

Under President Obama, the United States is “a nation governed by fear,” the American Civil Liberties Union says in an open letter that echoes the criticisms Obama has made of George W. Bush’s national security policies.

“[W]e say as Americans that we are tired of seeing liberty sacrificed on the altar of security and having a handful of lawmakers decide what we should and should not know,” the ACLU writes in a statement circulated to grassroots supporters and addressed to Obama. “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear instead of the principles of freedom and liberty that made this nation great.”

It’s strange to read in light of Obama’s disavowal of Bush. “[T]oo often — our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions,” Obama said in 2009. “Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens — fell silent.”

The ACLU is circulating that statement in response to the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute Edward Snowden.

Hey, Rube!

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY:

Pew survey, June 13, 2012: 89% of Germans would like to see Obama re-elected.

Spiegel, June 17, 2013: “If Barack Obama is our friend, then we really don’t need to be terribly worried about our enemies.”

Thanks to reader Roger Heinig for the links.

THE ONE CONSTANT IS THEIR HAND IN YOUR POCKET: Classic: States debate taxing green cars to recover lost gas tax revenue.

I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion that, because gas taxes pay for roads, it’s unfair for those who aren’t buying gas to get what critics call a literal free ride. This problem is more pronounced with bike riders who argue for reconfiguration of entire cities’ roads without throwing a whole bunch in the pot. But the larger point is how elaborately stupid, counterproductive, and at odds with themselves idiotic governments become in using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money. Um, yes, that’s what we were saying years ago when you started subsidizing these cars with thousands of our dollars and lecturing us about how awesome it was going to be. STEP AWAY FROM THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES IN YOUR MINDS. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Indeed.

YA THINK? Obama’s Scandals Help the Tea Party, Hurt His Friends.

President Obama had big plans for this second term, but they’ve been pulverized by a slew of controversies that have erupted all at once.

The White House’s defensive crouch only tightened after revelations last week about Top Secret government programs to track Americans’ phone and Internet activities.

In addition to justifying those programs, it must also resolve the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, satisfy inquiries into the death last year of four U.S. officials in the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack, and balance its claims of transparency with the Justice Department seizing the records of reporters at the Associated Press and Fox News who cover classified security issues. The president tried instead on Friday to sell Obamacare’s rollout as a success, yet he had to devote a fair share of his appearance in San Jose, CA to a reporter’s question about the government accessing phone and Internet records. . . .

Taken as a whole, these controversies have re-ignited the Tea Party movement, while also offending liberal supporters who believed that Obama would dismantle the national security state he inherited from George W. Bush.

Hey, rube!

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: I mistakenly believed in Obama’s promises.

HEY, RUBE! Americans Are Outraged Because in Voting for Obama, They Thought They Were Rejecting Bush. Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: Heh. Obama’s Apology Letter To George W. Bush. “I am sorry that, as a United States senator and presidential candidate, I was critical of you about so many things I now, myself, am doing. . . . You can take heart that, even though I am a Democrat, I decided to keep going nearly all your vision and plans on national security and even take it to all-new levels.”

THE TELEGRAPH: Not superhuman Barack Obama, just a very naughty boy.

This, so Barack Obama used to say in his stump speech of 2008, “is not who we are”, and the thousands who ecstatically cheered that slightly glib line instinctively knew what he meant. “This” was shorthand for George W Bush, and for those oppressively dark and fetid corners of government activity with which his name was synonymous: Guantanamo Bay, drones, the surveillance powers granted to the state by the Patriot Act, and the other measures taken in response to the atrocities of 9/11.

As for the “we”, in its royal or imperial usage that of course meant “I, Obama”, but it also referred to the wide-eyed disciples who worshipped him as a deus ex machina, floating down from his Illinois Olympus to cast healing sunlight on all those dirty little nooks and crevices, and allow America to call herself the land of the free without inviting sardonic smirks.

Five years on, Guantanamo Bay survives, the teenage computer gamers of the US military guide ever more drones to deliver remote control destruction, and we now learn that the government’s use of electronic surveillance is so wide-ranging that the default adjective of Orwellian barely seems adequate.

There is no form of communication or online activity – phone calls, emails, web page visits, Skype, social networks, and so on – that the National Security Agency, under its Prism programme, may not follow as and when the fancy takes. It can track users’ activities in real time. Assuming it has the technical capability remotely to activate lap top cameras, the age of the telescreen has arrived.

Hey, rube!

AUSTIN BAY: Benghazi Revisited: The Dead Get Pinocchios.

In a column published on Sept. 18, 2012, I argued that verified tactical military details of the engagement, the iconic date itself, and subsequent, very explicit statements by Libyan government authorities, left no doubt that on 9-11-2012 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi suffered a planned attack by an organized anti-American militant Islamist militia. A terrorist force had hit us with another 9-11 terror attack, and Americans had died, among them our ambassador to Libya.

Given the facts, the Obama administration’s bizarre claim that a sacrilegious Internet video had inflamed peaceful Libyan demonstrators — and in an outburst spurred by overwhelming theological pain, this moody crowd murdered our unfortunate ambassador — just didn’t wash. . . . As for passing major media smell tests before the 2012 presidential election? Of course the blarney passed ‘em! But eight months after the attack and six months after the election, even President Barack Obama’s chief media enablers have begun to acknowledge the video-did-it propaganda tizzy the administration orchestrated was stench itself.

And orchestrated propaganda it was, with the video-did-it narrative hedged by presidential statements calculated to slyly finesse terrorist complicity in the attack.

Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post’s fact-checker column, now informs his readers that the president’s claim he called the Benghazi attack an “attack of terrorism” rates four Pinocchios. That’s Kessler’s cute way of calling our president a complete and thorough liar. . . .

The video whopper and the slippery presidential phraseology were coordinated spin — the video to fool the rubes pre-election, the slick rhetoric to fool them now.

Read the whole thing. And note: “On Sept. 16, Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megari, announced that he had no doubts the militia’s leaders had predetermined the date of the attack. That same day U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five television shows and repeatedly blamed the video.” Scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.

MATT YGLESIAS SAYS 401KS SUCK. Instead he calls for “a much more forceful, much more statist approach to forced savings, whether that’s quasi-savings in the form of higher taxes and more Social Security benefits or something like a Singapore-style system where ‘private’ savings are pooled into a state-run investment fund.”

The problem is, those approaches suck, too. Social Security is going broke. If you want to see a pooled state-run investment fund, look at CalPers. It’s going broke amid horribly politicized mismanagement. And state-run pension funds are subject to all sorts of politicized investment decisions that have nothing to do with the interests of the pensioners. At least with 401k plans, the politicians aren’t involved — though I sense a political move to change that, too . . . .

Ultimately, there’s no magic solution to retirement savings, though a higher economic growth rate would help a lot. But the solutions being peddled all seem to involve putting more power into the hands of the people who have created the problems we face now.

UPDATE: A cynical take from reader John Koisch:

Do you get the feeling this is all battlefield preparation for Obama to start implementing his limitations on retirement savings? We never heard of this as a problem until Obama took office.

The real problem here is that, just as in Healthcare, my sense is that Bambi is going to turn to his friends, the “experts” to manage these funds on behalf of the state. And we will inevitably come across the 401K version of the IPAB … the group who removes funds from your account because of your 18% return and gives them to the other guy’s account who only got 5%.

The common theme in all of these is the co-opting of the corporate world. What government can’t do well, it borgs from the free-market. And when captains of industry face declining rates of return, they turn to the government to protect their fiefdoms and provide “guaranteed” rates of return. And the little guy and small business is left out of all of this … rubes.

Yes, if you’re not connected you get the shaft.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails this link: “It takes two words to show Yglesias’ statist approach is massively unwise: Chrysler bondholders.”

HEH: “So that’s what austerity looks like.”

Related: “Doing without is for the rubes.”

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The Scary Thing Is That This Bad Jobs Report Wasn’t Even About The Sequester. It’s caused by the end of the payroll tax cut. Wait, does this mean tax cuts help employment, and tax increases hurt it?

UPDATE: Jobs Report? What Jobs Report? Hey Look, Gay Marriage!

We are, however, thrilled that we don’t have a Republican in the White House, because if we did, the press would be incessantly yammering about this bad news until we were all sick of it. As it is, they are likely to say as little as possible about what appears to be a massive failure of economic policy and go back to covering the really important issues, like gay marriage.

If a Republican president got very busy on social issues at a time of economic stagnation and disappointment, there would be earnest hand-wringing of the “What’s Wrong with Kansas” variety about how American rubes were being diverted from their true economic interests by the skillful manipulation of emotionally charged social issues and identity politics. This would be taken as a sign of the cynicism of the ruling party and the clueless credulity of the hypnotized voters.

Fortunately, we aren’t going to have to listen to any of that depressing rhetoric now. Social issues are good and important; economic questions like jobs and incomes and growth are a distraction from the real business of the people.

Indeed. Plus, from the comments: “Most important number: 63.3% labor force participation rate – lowest since 1979.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Administration’s Jobs Debacle.

MORE: Austan Goolsbee: Jobs Report A “Punch To The Gut.” But gay marriage!!!!

STILL MORE: March jobs number are ‘a punch to the gut’ as Americans flee workforce and young people lose optimism.

When Dow Jones asked a group of economists to predict the number of new jobs the US economy added in March, the average answer was about 200,000. Friday’s numbers, released by the US Department of Labor, were just 44 percent of that figure, an 88,000-job showing that paled in comparison to February’s 268,000 and represented the lower number since June of last year.

And although the official unemployment percentage figure decreased slightly from 7.7 per cent to 7.6 per cent, analysts say that only happened because, as in past months, so many Americans dropped out of the workplace entirely.

Young workers in particular are feeling the pinch of disappearing opportunities.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

DEMOCRATS’ “CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS” ON RAPE cause anti-gun bill to be defeated.

Plus, dumb comments not about rape: Selling a gun-control bill with excessive honesty: “I make no assertion that this bill will either increase or reduce violent crime. That is not the premise of this bill.” In all honesty, it’s not the premise of gun control in general. The crime stuff is just to fool the rubes, who seem to be harder to fool, on this subject at least, lately.

THE RUBES ARE CATCHING ON? Youth abandoning Obama; just 43% approve. “The just-released Economist/YouGov poll reports that only older Americans age 65 and above have a worse view of the president, with 53 percent disapproving of his performance and 47 approving.”

NICK GILLESPIE: State of the Union: Will Obama Tell Young People He’s Screwing Them Big Time?

Listen up, kids! Your parents are robbing your futures blind and you’re chumps enough not only to go along but to say – like the adorable title orphan in the classic baby boomer musical Oliver! – please, sir, I want some more.

From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation. First and foremost, his response to the Great Recession – stimulus and the massive piling up of debt – is slowing the recovery. Ginormous regulatory schemes such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of huge new soul-and-bucks-sucking programs such as Obamacare weigh heavily on the economy now and in the future too. His refusal to discuss seriously old-age entitlement reform – Medicare and Social Security and the 40 percent of Medicaid that goes to old folks – is a massive storm front on the economic horizon. His preference for secrecy and overreach when it comes to executive power won’t screw young people as obviously as his economic policies, but when he leaves office in 2017, he will have created far more terrorists than he needed to.

Yet The New York Times reports that not only did 18-to-29-year-olds vote for Obama by far-higher-than-average percentages than folks over 30 years old, they believe that by far-higher-than-average percentages that the government needs to be doing more, not less. This, despite record levels of government spending and debt – and awful results – for the whole of the 21st century.

Hey, rubes! Related thoughts here.

BEN SMITH: Obama Prepares To Screw His Base: Young people re-elected the president. Now they get to pay disproportionately for ObamaCare. “The near-total silence on this issue is a mark of a class that is either utterly selfless (hard to believe, honestly) or, as usual, singularly bad at seeing and defending its interests.” Hey, rubes!

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCING BLOWBACK ON ITS CAYMAN CAMPAIGN ISSUE: Cayman Islands investment snags Jack Lew nomination. “An investment Jack Lew made in the Cayman Islands has been flagged as an issue in the Treasury secretary nominee’s vetting by the Senate Finance Committee, according to multiple sources close to the confirmation process.”

Hey, the campaign’s over. You’re not supposed to take that stuff seriously. It’s just for the rubes!

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: An automated Rube Goldberg-style pancake-making robot.

HEY, RUBE! Obama Has Three Big Priorities This Term, and Ending the Drug War Isn’t One of Them.

VIK RUBENFELD: Maybe It Is All About Race. “One more possible element to Obama’s reelection deserves sufficient consideration: it appears likely that a substantial percentage of Americans may have voted for Obama in order to demonstrate that Americans have put racism behind us. . . . For decades, adults have been told, and more importantly our children are now taught, that America owes penance due to a past history of racism. It is inevitable that this would play a key part in the reelection of the nation’s first black president. This was a massive error on the part of pro-Obama voters.”

STRATEGYPAGE: Austin Bay: More Benghazi Questions.

The Benghazi attack, if it proved to be a planned attack rather than a spontaneous response to a video created without Obama’s approval, would call into question at a politically inconvenient moment the fundamental assumptions that guide his administration’s Middle Eastern diplomacy — in particular, the history-changing impact of his own personality and his insistence that his diplomacy is smart. A planned attack would also demonstrate that the Terrorists War on America continues, no matter what George W. Bush and Barack Obama call the conflict, and that al-Qaida remains capable of orchestrating terror attacks that have strategically deleterious effects on U.S. policy.

The video-did-it narrative gave Obama a political shield to deflect criticism of personally dear policies and achievements. It also gave the old community organizer a rhetorical cudgel to wield against intolerant, Muslim-despising bigots in America. Partisan Democrats connect those code words to bitter clingers — Republican rubes who cling to their guns and religion while waging war on women. Obama went with, then stayed with, the video narrative because he and his campaign advisers believed it was a foreign policy shield and domestic political sword.

Read the whole thing.

OUR PRO-TORTURE PRESIDENT: Barack Obama’s Department of Justice Railroads CIA Torture Whistleblower Into Reduced Guilty Plea.

President Obama has said that waterboarding is torture, as has Attorney General Eric Holder, who runs the DOJ. Given that, combined with Obama’s repeated insistence that his administration must encourage whistleblowing, you would think that the administration, led by the DOJ, would celebrate a CIA agent who exposes such practices, and seek to punish those who carried them out.

Instead, we have the reverse.

Yeah, it’s like all that stuff was just a bunch of malarkey to fool the rubes or something. All the Democratic apologists who are still riding Obama’s bus might want to rethink. Oh, who am I kidding — they’ll want to avoid thinking about this at all. And, I predict, they’ll succeed entirely. Probably while saying something bigoted about Mormons.

ANOTHER STATE DEPARTMENT SCANDAL: An American lawyer named Warren Rothman was tortured and nearly killed in China. State Department officials inadvertently collaborated with Rothman’s would-be killers and didn’t exactly handle that mistake in a confidence-inspiring manner. Joel Brinkley has the story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

[Rothman] contacted officials at the State Department Office of the Inspector General and told them of the distressing role the acting consul and other consulate officers had played in his own drama.

Well, late last month, the inspector general’s office wrote back and told Rothman, “We have determined that the appropriate office to address your concerns is the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs” – the very State Department office where the diplomats in question worked.

There’s an ineffectual response, if ever I have heard one.

I wrote to the agency and asked why on earth it had referred Rothman back to the office where the accused bad actors worked. Brian D. Rubendall, special agent in charge of the office, told me simply: “Our office made the decision that” the State Department bureau was “best suited to handle the complaint.”

I hope I never have to count on these people.

SO HOW TO NOTE THE ELEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11? In the past I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party.

This year, as in most past years, I’ll just keep on blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

You should also watch this memorial, made shortly after the attacks. It’s still quite powerful.

UPDATE: Sarah Hoyt: “Has it really been eleven years?” A must-read post that’s more about the present than the past.

VIK RUBENFELD: How the Left Captured Academia, the Media, and Other Organizations. “Alinsky-style behavior in the workplace itself may have been the key.” This ties in with all the emailers who are afraid to have their names publicized.

CARDINAL TO RAHM EMANUEL: So what exactly are “Chicago Values.” I think it’s all about the Benjamins, with a veneer of moralizing to fool the rubes.

GOTCHER “HOPE AND CHANGE” RIGHT HERE: Obama “Will Pivot to the Drug War” in Second Term, Claim Anonymous White House Sources.

Hey, rube!

UPDATE: Reader Alan LeWinter snarks: “How many terms needed before Obama pivots to the economy?” Heh.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: “Could somebody please get Barack Obama to shut up about ‘outsourcing’ until some undergraduate aide has explained to him what the word means? As it stands, the president is showing himself an ignorant rube on the subject, and that is to nobody’s advantage.”

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: Frank Bruni: I’m beginning to think this Obama fellow isn’t all he was cracked up to be.

MY COUSIN-IN-LAW BRAD RUBENSTEIN HAS A NEW APP OUT CALLED GO GUIDE. It’s a customizable app for conferences, trade shows, and events.

HOW’S THAT ARAB SPRING WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Egypt’s Liberals: We Were Duped. “We met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Feb. 14, and they were very cute. They smiled and promised us many things and said, ‘You are our children; you did what we wanted to do for many years!’ Then they offered the same smiles and vague promises the next week, he said, and the next month after that.”

Over here, we use the term “rubes,” but “dupes” works just as well. . . .

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN WE’D SEE THINGS LIKE THIS IN THE NATION. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Assassin-in-Chief in the Oval Office. “Assassination as a way of life has been institutionalized in the Oval Office, thoroughly normalized, and is now being offered to the rest of us as a reasonable solution to American global problems and an issue on which to run a presidential campaign.”

Hey, rube! Feel the change!

HEY, RUBE!

The left was mostly raptured into political heaven four years ago when they elected Obama on bended knee. He spoke about things dear to their hearts: closing Guantanamo Bay. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting tough on bankers.

Guantanamo is still open. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, but the military presence remains. (Smacks of imperialism. That’s something the left hates as much as libertarians do.) Then there’s the president’s bit about getting tough on bankers. Where has the White House come down hard on Wall Street? Fuhgeddaboudit. This is New York!

More at the link.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, Glenn Greenwald would be mocking the White House for prosecuting leakers while engaging in self-serving, politically-motivated leaks itself. And they were right! Hey, rube!

CHANGE: Center Of Gravity In Oil World Shifts to Americas.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

Good.

Related: New And Frozen Frontier Awaits Offshore Drilling. “Barring a successful last-minute legal challenge by environmental groups, Shell will begin drilling test wells off the coast of northern Alaska in July, opening a new frontier in domestic oil exploration and accelerating a global rush to tap the untold resources beneath the frozen ocean.”

RUBES AROUND THE WORLD.

CAN THE “SMART DIPLOMACY” WORK ONCE THE RUBES HAVE CAUGHT ON? Ah, hell, it’s not like it was working before. . . .

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: Jeffrey Immelt Sours on Obamanomics. So is this a tipping point?

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: “Bruce Springsteen threw his support behind Barack Obama in the 2008 election, but when it comes to 2012, ‘The Boss’ won’t be hitting the campaign trail for the Boss of the United States. . . . Springsteen said he still supports Obama but expressed disappointment in his handling of the job market and home foreclosures and disapproved of the attention Obama paid to corporations rather than the middle class.” So he won’t come out against Obama, but he won’t risk damaging his brand by campaigning for him this time around.

HEY, RUBE! Rolling Stone: Obama’s War on Pot: In a shocking about-face, the administration has launched a government-wide crackdown on medical marijuana.

Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.

You f*cked up — you trusted him.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I Won’t Vote For Obama If Associated With ‘Stalinist Bigots’ Media Matters.

UPDATE: Reader Douglas Bass emails: Impatiently waiting for you to use the phrase “Another rube self-identifies” re Dershowitz. Heh. I don’t even have to say it nowadays.

DANIEL HENNINGER: A LESSON FOR THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS:

The American Catholic Church, from left to right, is now being handed a lesson in the hierarchy of raw political authority. One hopes they and their supporters will recognize that they have not been singled out. The federal government’s forcings routinely touch other groups in this country—schools, doctors, farmers, businesses. The church’s fight is not the whole or the end of it.

Since he appeared, no other word has been invoked more often to describe Barack Obama’s purposes than “transformative.” Last year, Mr. Obama began to be criticized by some of his supporters for being insufficiently transformative while holding the powers of the presidency—this despite passing the biggest social entitlement since 1965, an $800 billion stimulus bill, raising federal spending to 24% of GDP and passing the Dodd-Frank restructuring of the U.S. financial industry. Naturally an interviewer this week asked Mr. Obama why he hadn’t been more “transformative.” The president replied that he deserved a second term, because “we’re not done.” In term two, it will be Uncle Sam, Transformer.

Transformed into a place where what Washington wants matters more than what you believe.

Related: Eleanor Clift: Did Obama Pick The Contraception Fight To Fire Up His Base?

UPDATE: The Anchoress: You Bet It’s War.

Next: A requirement that mosques sell bacon.

MORE: Hispanics jumping Obama ship over contraception flap.

MORE STILL: A steaming pile of sexism from Hillary Rosen: “This public debate on whether or not the Obama administration’s sensible policy on covering birth control has turned into a boys against the girls fight. And the boys are out of touch and out of line.”

Shut up, boys. This issue is owned by women.

Related: Senate Democratic Women Are Boycotting Morning Joe. Join the club, ladies. Although for most of us, it’s not so much boycotting as forgetting it exists.

FINALLY: Another Rube Self-Identifies:

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan says President Barack Obama hasn’t kept his promise, when it comes to the new White House policy on contraception.

Sources told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer that Archbishop Dolan feels betrayed after his meeting with the president on the issue late last year.

“All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.”

HEY, RUBE! Obama Is on the Brink of a Settlement With the Big Banks—and Progressives Are Furious.

SO MUCH FOR THAT E-TEXTBOOK DEAL: Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement.

UPDATE: Reader David Rubenstein disagrees:

I have to disagree with your implication that Apple’s E-textbook deal is a bad deal for authors – and with the sentiment of the article you linked. That was my initial reaction when I originally learned the terms. But last night I watched the keynote product launch and changed my mind.

First, Apple is giving away the tool to create the e-textbooks. So they need to make money somewhere.

Second, watching how you can use the tool to create the textbook, it is clear that it is a tool for formatting rather than creation. (Though it can be used for both.) The text and images can (and should?) be created in other applications (such as Word, Pages, Keynote, etc.), then dragged and dropped into the new text book creating application for final formatting. Done this way, authors will not be precluded form selling the materials as dead tree text books, epub books, etc.

Based on this, why should Apple give the application away and then let you sell the final product elsewhere? Let others figure out ways to create quality e-textbooks on their own dime. But publishers should be smart enough to create their content in a way as to not tie it up with Apple – just the format. Now let Amazon and B&N create similar tools and launch an e-textbook arms race.

Just my two cents. And I reserve all rights to question the effectiveness of e-textbooks over the dead tree variety. Though I certainly would not have minded lugging fewer texts around with me back in the day.

Hmm.

FROM STEPHEN GREEN’S DEBATE DRUNKBLOGGING:

6:11PM A SOPA question!

6:12PM Newt: “You’re asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood.”

I think Newt has been reading Instapundit.

6:12PM The GOP, by and large, is so RIGHT about SOPA — and techies will still give and vote overwhelmingly to Democrats who love SOPA.

Why?

6:14PM Every single candidate on this stage hates SOPA. Damnit, techies, what’s wrong with you?

6:14PM Excuse me. Rick Santorum only mostly hates SOPA.

And the techies will latch on to that as they write their checks to Obama 2012.

Rubes. But there’ll be fewer than in 2008.

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-HOLLYWOOD): Unbowed by protests, Lamar Smith to move ahead on piracy bill. He’s an honest politician: He stays bought.

UPDATE: Speaking of SOPA Phonies: Chris Dodd’s paid SOPA crusading. “It’s behavior like Chris Dodd’s that makes it rational not only to be cynical about our political culture, but outright jaded. What makes Dodd’s shilling for this censorship law so galling is that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, he postured as the candidate who would devote himself first and foremost to defending core Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties. When Dodd led the 2007 fight against warrantless surveillance and amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms as part of the FISA debate, I, along with several other blogs, helped raise close to $250,000 in a few days from small donors for his flagging presidential campaign. . . . Apparently, the person Chris Dodd scorned back then as someone ‘wanting to be president of a trade association’ was . . . Chris Dodd, who is now President of Hollywood’s trade association.” Hey, Rube!

A more serious point: You can scorn bought-and-paid-for shills for Big Media like Lamar Smith and Chris Dodd. But the real problem isn’t their lack of morals, but an oversized government that inevitably lures people with loose morals. When government has the opportunity to make or break industries, industries will find people to lobby it to make their industry, and break their competitors’. The solution is to return the government to its — much, much smaller — intended constitutional scope.

WIRED: Four Contradictions In Obama’s Defense Plan. “Sometimes the analysis in the strategy suggests a policy choice that the strategy actually disavows. Sometimes it walks back controversial points. Sometimes it makes pledges that sound sensible at first blush — but don’t actually make sense the more you think about them.”

UPDATE: Herschel Smith writes: “The ironic thing about your link of Spencer’s post on Obama’s new defense policy is that it could have been titled ‘another rube self-identifies.’ Ackerman was a big Obama supporter.”

I STILL don’t get many modeling jobs. Go figure. Plus, identifying a rube.

TIM CAVANAUGH ON ERIC HOLDER’S TESTIMONY TODAY:

To recap: An American cop is dead because Holder’s BATFE sold weapons to known drug lords.

This dereliction of the most basic law enforcement responsibility – to promote the safety and property rights of Americans – would have led to Holder’s resignation already if he were any kind of man.

Here are two comments to the committee from the most prominent accessory to Brian Terry’s murder:

“Some people have not let facts get in the way.”

“I’m a big guy. I’ve been in Washington a long time.”

Holder is also using his testimony to make the case that you should not be able to have a gun yourself.

He makes a better case that we shouldn’t have an Attorney General.

UPDATE: Moe Lane says hey, rube! “Being a functional adult, I didn’t care for Tim Cavanaugh’s reasons for voting for Obama in 2008: so I don’t particularly care for Cavanaugh’s laughter at a situation in 2011 that he himself helped to create.”

Well, let’s hope a lot of other people who voted for Obama in 2008 are experiencing a similar epiphany about now. That’s me — glass-half-full!

Plus, give Cavanaugh credit, as he did admit that his reason for supporting Obama was “indefensible.” More than you knew, Tim. More than you knew. . . .

#OCCUPYFAIL: Chris Christie heckles ‘Occupy’ protesters in Iowa.

“Here’s the way I feel about it: They represent an anger in our country that Barack Obama has caused,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “He’s a typical cynical Chicago… politician who runs for office and promises everything and then comes to office and disappoints, and so their anger is rooted not in me or Mitt Romney, their anger is rooted in the fact that they believed in this hope and change garbage.”

Christie called them disillusioned and said he “feels bad” for them.

“Now they are angry but they’re not mature enough to know they should be angry with themselves,” he said.

In other words: Hey, rubes!

SIGH: Unvaccinated Behind Largest U.S. Measles Outbreak In Years. “The largest U.S. outbreak of measles to occur in 15 years — affecting 214 children so far — is likely driven by travelers returning from abroad and by too many unvaccinated U.S. children, according to new research. The finding could highlight the dangers of a trend among some U.S. parents to skip the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children, out of what many experts call misguided fears over its safety.” I blame Jenny McCarthy.

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: So much for Obama’s ‘new era of open government.’

Justice Department documents made public Tuesday by Judicial Watch exposed an “accomplishment” of President Obama that his many admirers and enablers in the liberal mainstream media likely don’t want to talk about: a secret meeting on transparency in government. It happened on Dec. 7, 2009, and was convened by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder. The meeting’s purpose was to train Freedom of Information Act officers from federal agencies how to respond to FOIA requests, including tips on resolving disputes over what government documents can be made public.

Judicial Watch obtained a series of pre-conference emails in which Justice Department officials sought approval from White House media officials for closing the meeting to reporters. That the December meeting was closed was no isolated incident. In one of the emails, Melanie Pustay, OIP’s director, said she has “always held parallel meetings, one for agency ‘ees [i.e. government employees] and then one that is open.” We can only wonder what Pustay tells government FOIA officers that she doesn’t want journalists to hear. . . .

Unfortunately, keeping the meeting secret isn’t the only area in which the Obama administration’s record on this issue has proven to be woefully short of what the president promised. In both the Fast and Furious and Solyndra scandals, for example, Obama appointees have held back thousands of documents legitimately sought by congressional investigators while defending their refusal with arguments coined by President Nixon.

Similarly, Obama’s secretary of labor, Hilda Solis, has gutted transparency regulations that required labor unions to disclose information about the organizations’ financial health, including union officers’ total compensation packages. Also killed was a requirement to report on union trusts, which often function like offshore accounts for corporations in providing a means of hiding assets. And gone is a requirement that would have made unions report on “no-show” jobs — positions for which the union is paid but nobody actually does the work. The biggest losers when unions are able to conceal such information are union members.

It’s as if all that good-government talk was just B.S. to fool the rubes.

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: David Brooks: “I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap.” “The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful! I was hoping the president would give a cynical nation something unconventional, but, as you know, I’m a sap.”

We’ve known it for a while, David. My question: Is this a real breakthrough, or will he lapse back into rubeitude at the sight of sharply-creased pants?

SO HOW TO NOTE THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11? In the past I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party.

This year, as in most past years, I’ll just keep on blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up.

Here’s a picture by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

You should also watch this memorial, made shortly after the attacks. It’s still quite powerful.

UPDATE: Reader Jim Vinoski recommends this 9/11 column from John Derbyshire. “This is civilization versus barbarism.”

STEVE WYNN not so happy with Obama these days. “I’m afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States. You watch television and see what’s going on on this debt ceiling issue. And what I consider to be a total lack of leadership from the President . . . I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime.”

Related: Another rube self-identifies.

SNICKERING AT THE RUBES, I THINK: Where Is Barack Obama Now That We Need Him? “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.” Ha, ha. That one still gets me.

HOPE AND CHANGE: Obama Wins Nobel War Prize. “Among Obama’s list of war accomplishments, the committee highlighted Obama’s decision to double the number of troops and expand the number of private contractors in Afghanistan, as well as his dramatic escalation of drone strikes and targeted assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan. . . . Obama’s speechwriters are hard at work preparing the his acceptance remarks, and PolicyMic managed to obtain a preview of the speech from a source inside the White House. The president will begin by thanking congressional Democrats ‘for campaigning in 2006 on the antiwar agenda, and then turning around once in office and funding the war they claimed to oppose.’ He will also thank Congress for ‘stepping aside and allowing me to go to war in Libya without Congressional approval and once again approving the Patriot Act despite years of supposed opposition.’”

Hey, Rube!

ALL THAT FINDING-INNER-PEACE STUFF WAS JUST FOR THE RUBES ANYWAY: Deepak Chopra Mocks Sarah Palin In Angry Rant. Alternative argument: The two-minute hate is actually cleansing.

JACK BALKIN: Hey, the Obama Administration is looking a lot like the Bush Administration on this whole War Powers Act thing. “Obama’s strategy, like Bush’s, also short circuits the normal process of seeking opinions from the OLC; it simply does so in a different way. . . . Obama came into office promising to reform the abuses of the Bush Administration and its manipulation of the OLC. The best way to do that is not to create entirely new abuses of one’s own.” They told me if I voted — oh, hell, that’s too easy.

Obama is, of course, not bound by the opinions of any lawyers in the executive branch other than himself. However, when he does this sort of thing he’s not able to hide behind such opinions, either. Which is why this sort of behavior by presidents is “extraordinarily rare.”

Meanwhile, Greenwald says the Obama lawyers are worse than the Bush lawyers:

That George Bush would knowingly order an eavesdropping program to continue which his own top lawyers were telling him was illegal was, of course, a major controversy, at least in many progressive circles. Now we have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping in a way that his own top lawyers are telling him is illegal, but waging war in that manner (though, notably, there is no indication that these Obama lawyers have the situational integrity those Bush lawyers had [and which Archibald Cox, Eliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus had before them] by threatening to resign if the lawlessness continues).

All I can say is, you expected respect for legal niceties from a Chicago machine politician? Hey, Rube!

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN WE’D SEE THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY EXPAND: And they were right! “Civil libertarians once looked to this president to right the constitutional balance. But what Obama has wrought is the same old ‘Terror Presidency’ with new rhetoric.” You were expecting a Chicago machine politician to support civil liberties? Rubes!

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED REPUBLICAN, THE FEDS WOULD BE USING SECRET LAWS TO SPY ON AMERICANS. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says. “Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself — entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a ‘dragnet’ for massive amounts of information on private citizens.”

Related: Patriot Act renewal too important to debate. Hey, Rube! Feel the change!

MICKEY KAUS: “The idea that President Obama is playing Latinos on the immigration amnesty issue has now become near CW. . . . It’s a good thing if Latino commentators and voters now feel Obama played them, because it’s true. . . . But the ‘we were played’ meme has also become an excuse that absolves Latino immigration activists of any culpability, avoiding the annoying need for introspection or self-criticism. To read Navarrette’s piece you’d think Latino pols and lobbyists were at worst innocent rubes (at best noble civil rights leaders) waiting for Obama to deliver long-sought justice–when they were cruelly and cynically betrayed.”

JED RUBENFELD: Yes, the Bin Laden Killing Was Legal. “Under any sane construction of the laws of war, his killing was lawful regardless of whether he ‘raised his hands in surrender’ or whether U.S. troops weren’t to give him the chance. . . . Most of the laws of war depend on a modicum of reciprocity: We give our enemy’s soldiers certain rights in the hope that they will do the same for ours. Men who make war on innocent civilians and behead their prisoners live by a different law. They should expect to die by it as well.”

RUBEN NAVARETTE: Six Reasons Why Latinos May Stay Home On Election Day.

Related: Mickey Kaus: Let’s Play Pretend:

Rosario Dawson, Eva Longoria and other “stakeholders“ “influential Hispanics” were at the White House yesterday ”in another behind-the-scenes effort to enlist support and build momentum” for President Obama’s “vision of immigration reform,” according to Jake Tapper. Unless Obama knows something I don’t know about Republicans in Congress, these meetings have a near-pathological air of unreality about them, as if they were taking place in an alternative universe in which the 2010 election didn’t happen.

That seems to be the case on a lot of fronts.

THE ECONOMIST: China’s new rulers: Princelings and the goon state. “Since the late 1970s, when China began to turn its back on Maoist totalitarianism, the country has gone through several cycles of relative tolerance of dissent, followed by periods of repression. But the latest backlash, which was first felt late last year and intensified in late February, has raised eyebrows. It has involved more systematic police harassment of foreign journalists than at any time since the early 1990s. More ominously, activists such as Mr Ai have often simply disappeared rather than being formally arrested.” The nomenklatura take their privileged position in the Workers’ Paradise seriously. God help anyone who actually wants equality or freedom. All the talk about that stuff is just for the rubes.

ADAM SERWER AND ELI LAKE ON BLOGGINGHEADS TV: Was The “Progressive Movement” A Mirage? Pretty much, judging from Obama’s actions since he got elected. Or, for that matter, from what’s happening to the Huffington Post. . . . Hey, rube! Can you say “bait and switch?”

ONE TIME HE DIDN’T VOTE PRESENT, AND GUESS WHAT: WH: Obama regrets vote against raising debt limit. “The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama regrets his vote as a senator in 2006 against raising the debt limit — the same kind of increase he’s now pressuring Congress to approve.”

UPDATE: Reader Gary Petersen writes:

Wouldn’t That Be More Like “Another Rube Self-Identifies”?

I’m just sayin’.

Heh.

HEY, RUBE! Paul Krugman Wonders Where The President He Thought He Was Voting For Went To. “Krugman seems to think that he voted for Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman in November 2008 rather than Barack Obama. This, I suppose, is the problem with hooking your trailer onto a guy who was only in the United States Senate for a year and a half before he started running for President.”

BARACK OBAMA, THEN AND NOW: Remembering the wild praise of 2008. Rubes.

CONN CARROLL LOOKS AT JOHN YOO’S THE OBAMA DOJ’S MEMO ON THE WAR IN LIBYA. “The Justice memo fully embraces the Bush administration view of Executive Power and directly contradicts then-Senator Obama’s 2007 statement.” Feel the change, baby!

UPDATE: Obama Administration still running secret detention/interrogation centers in Afghanistan. Hey, rube!

YOU DON’T SAY: Obama Embraces Policies He Opposed As A Candidate.

Ah, remember when Obama supporters called McCain McSame, because a vote for him was a vote to continue Bush’s policies of bombing Muslim countries and keeping people locked up in Guantanamo? Rubes.

UPDATE: Well, here’s some change: Ex-Congressman in Libya to ‘Help’ Once Proposed Arming Gadhafi.

During the last decade, former Congressman Curt Weldon traveled repeatedly to Libya, becoming so close with the Gadhafi regime that the firm Weldon worked for even floated the idea of selling arms to Tripoli.

So now that Gadhafi is under assault from NATO airstrikes and rebel ground troops, it should come as no surprise that Weldon is back in Libya, “to try to help negotiate a political settlement with Gadhafi and family,” according to CNN.

And while Weldon’s there, the controversial former vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee is looking to do a little image re-polishing for himself. It wasn’t long ago — April, 2008, to be exact — that Weldon was boasting in a report that he had become the “1st non-Libyan Board Member of the Ghadaffi Foundation [sic].” During a trip to Tripoli the month before, the self-proclaimed “friend of Libya” carried “a personal letter from Libyan Chamber [of Commerce] President to US Chamber President.” Weldon also visited with with the country’s “Nuclear Ministry Leadership and agreed to reinforce US nuclear cooperation/collaboration.”

Finally, Weldon agreed “to quickly return to Libya for meetings with [Moammar Gadhafi's] son Morti regarding defense and security cooperation.”

Just another dictator-suck-up. There are a lot of them. Funny that the New York Times is giving him a pass. Well, not that funny.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “Since John McCain was referred to as John McSame should we now refer to President Obama as Barack HuSame Obama? Just askin’.” I’m sure that would be racist.

HELL, GREENWALD, I was just angling for a Nobel Peace Prize. But it turns out you have to actually bomb people for one of those, not just post blog entries.

Who knew? I guess I didn’t put in enough hope and change! But by all means, bash me if it makes you feel better about how things have gone under Obama. My skin’s thick enough, and there are a lot of rubes out there suffering cognitive dissonance as they self-identify. If I can ease the pain that comes from realization of how you were played, I’m glad to endure a few blog attacks. Unlike Tomahawk Missiles, those don’t actually draw any blood. But if all this bombing stuff is so bad, well, I just blogged about it. You voted for the guy who’s doing it, and — despite the occasional criticism now — you know you’ll vote for him, and blog for him, again in 2012. So sorry if I’m unimpressed with your moral posturing. . . .

UPDATE: Again? Why not?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Nathan Wood writes: “Mission accomplished for Greenwald. I just clicked on Salon for the first time in maybe three years. You were too kind to link it, Professor!” Yeah, I knew I was being trolled — but on the other hand, I couldn’t resist rubbing it in again on the whole hope-and-change thing. So, win-win! Yay, blogosphere!

MORE: Obama and Executive Power: How’s that Hope and Change Working Out? Meh. A few pundits are squawking, but they’ll still support him in the election. Call me back when Maddow endorses Nader or Kucinich in the primary. Or Paul (either one) in the general. Most of the Obama supporters are saying, “Those are our jets now!”

NEW PARASITE COALITION FORMS: Momentum building for online piracy legislation.

A recent list of legislative recommendations from White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel included controversial measures such as expanding federal wiretapping statutes to include copyright offenses and mandating longer prison sentences for offenders.

With leaders in both parties and the White House all marching in lock step toward the need for increasing enforcement efforts, the small but vocal opposition appears unlikely to gain enough traction with its warnings of potential censorship to derail the legislative momentum.

Hey, rubes: Is this what you voted for when you voted for change? Because it’s what you got.

HEY, RUBE! SO MUCH FOR THE FIERCE MORAL URGENCY OF CHANGE: “As a candidate, Obama defined his approach as the opposite of everything Bush. Whatever the issue, Obama would be the photographic negative. But as president, Obama’s foreign policy has been slowly evolving toward the views of his predecessor. Obama’s pride will not allow him to admit it. His rhetorical imprecision obscures it. But behind the fog is the Bush Doctrine.”

Suckers.

HEY, RUBE! Andrew Sullivan: “King Barack I.”

Little Miss Attila is gloating.

And Stacy McCain is . . . well, see for yourself.

UPDATE: Brian Dunn enjoys the lamentations.

And, well, meep-meep.

HEY, RUBE! Useful Idiot Shocked Over Obama’s Covert Actions in Libya.

VIK RUBENFELD: How To Manage Our Politicians.

JENNIFER RUBIN INTERVIEWS RomneyCare author Jonathan Gruber.

HEY, RUBE! Also, here.

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, WE’D SEE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS ELIMINATED IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL SECURITY. And they were right! “New rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades. The move is one of the Obama administration’s most significant revisions to rules governing the investigation of terror suspects in the U.S. And it potentially opens a new political tussle over national security policy, as the administration marks another step back from pre-election criticism of unorthodox counterterror methods.”

That criticism was just for the benefit of the rubes, apparently. Hey, rube!

UPDATE: A reader emails:

And regarding rubes: yes, those on the right who supported Obama, and those on the far-left who believed in Obama’s campaign promises, were clearly rubes. But the rank and file Democrats who are now silent on Libya? I think it’s important we call them what they are: liars.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that many times over the last eight years, I would see the intensity of the moral outrage on the left over Iraq and say to myself, “Gee, these people sure do feel strongly about this. What if they’re right about it?” This caused me many times to reexamine my reasons for supporting the war, and my conscience. We now know, however, that it was all quite simply bullshit. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. I must admit, I’m feeling a bit like a rube myself.

Yes, taking them seriously was a mistake.

WHO? Oh, right — that Obama chap — can’t imagine why anyone voted for him, actually.

Sorry, you’re still a rube.