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Belmont Club

Gone With the Whine

February 15th, 2014 - 4:47 am

A regime in the process of collapse makes a fascinating study. Venezuela, besides running out of nearly everything else, is now running out of newsprint. Without paper the authorities can’t even disseminate the results of the “Maximum Socialist Efficiency” seminar it held for 120 state-owned enterprises recently, to teach them how to produce the collective way.

The final stage of socialism isn’t Communism. It’s an empty shelf.  The end comes when even Maximum Socialist Efficiency can’t pay the salaries of the secret police or find enough newsprint on which to disseminate the latest edicts. Socialism ends when the janitor turns out the lights, even though the lights haven’t worked in years.

Although not nearly as bad as Venezuela, its interesting to note that the most telling blows against the Obama administration have been dealt by its own incompetence rather than the formal political opposition. Itself — not John Boehner — is  its own worst enemy. When faced with widespread snowstorms across the country and drought in California the president announced a new $1 billion climate change resilience fund to fight global warming.

The fund, which would need to be approved by Congress, is intended to help communities dealing with negative weather that’s the result of climate change.

Obama is touting the fund during a trip to California, which has been devastated by a drought that is threatening the Central Valley’s agriculture production and has led Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to call on Californians to conserve water.

During a call with reporters on Thursday evening, the assistant to the president on science and technology, John Holdren, said, without any doubt, the severe drought plaguing California and a number of other states across the country is tied to climate change.

“Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change,” Holdren said.

In the words of CBS News, “excess heat generated by all this warm water is destabilizing this gigantic bucket of cold air… So that’s the irony, that heating could cause gigantic storms of historic proportions”.  They’re just tossing the ball up now, hoping that Jornolist can tip it in the hoop.  Public statements have taken on the form of a word salad. For example, John Kerry, doing a good imitation of Yogi Berra, recently told the press he’s going to try and fix Syria again even though he doesn’t quite know what he’ll do.

BEIJING: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that President Barack Obama had again asked for policy options on Syria but that none have yet been presented to him.

Kerry told reporters Obama was concerned about the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Syria and also by the fact that peace talks between the opposition and government had not produced a discussion of a transitional government as had been planned.

As a result, Kerry said, “he has asked all of us to think about various options that may or may not exist.”

The Washington Post, in an article titled “Obama ambassador nominees prompt an uproar with bungled answers, lack of ties” surveys the modest qualifications of recently appointed US ambassadors and concludes rather cynically that not even the appearance knowledge is now necessary for anything important.  Juliet Eilperin writes:

A century-old debate over whether presidents should reward political donors and allies by making them ambassadors has flared again after a string of embarrassing gaffes by President Obama’s picks. …

Even former senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the new U.S. ambassador in Beijing, managed to raise eyebrows during his confirmation hearing by acknowledging, “I’m no real expert on China”…

The troubles began last month, when million-dollar bundler and Chartwell Hotels chief executive George Tsunis testified at his confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Norway. Tsunis admitted he had never been to the Scandinavian country and suggested, among other things, that the nation’s Progress Party was part of a discounted “fringe.” It is actually part of Norway’s center-right ruling coalition.

Noah Bryson Mamet was asked during his confirmation hearing this month if he had ever been to Argentina, where he would be ambassador. “I haven’t had the opportunity yet to be there,” said Mamet, who raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s reelection.

During the same hearing, Robert C. Barber, who raised more than $1.6 million for Obama in 2012 and has been nominated to serve as ambassador to Iceland, said he had never visited the Nordic nation.

Then there is Colleen Bell, the nominee for ambassador to Hungary and a producer of “The Bold and the Beautiful” soap opera, who raised or contributed about $800,000 to Obama in the last election. She stammered her way through testimony about U.S. strategic interests in the country, which is the focus of growing international alarm over far-right lawmakers’ attitude toward Jews and other minorities.

“I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees,” McCain said sarcastically during the hearing for several of the nominees.

The proper answer to any such questions, as Hillary Clinton demonstrated when asked whether it was true that the US consulate in Benghazi was burned over a YouTube video is to fatalistically point out “what difference at this point does it make?” Somewhere along the line — perhaps in late 2013 — the administration gave up trying to even pretend mastery of the situation. It’s all “who cares?”

For all the billions of pixels expended on analyzing the Obama administration very few articles have seriously focused on the root causes its management dysfunction.  One exception is the Atlantic’s David Graham who zeroes in on what are really two aspects of a single defect. Quoting Glenn Thrush’s article he notes that a) Obama doesn’t delegate anything of importance to the cabinet; and b) that he micromanages everything.

The Cabinet, Glenn Thrush writes, have been reduced to a bunch of tailor’s dummies:

never has the job of Cabinet secretary seemed smaller. The staffers who rule Obama’s West Wing often treat his Cabinet as a nuisance: At the top of the pecking order are the celebrity power players, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…

“We are completely marginalized … until the shit hits the fan,” says one former Cabinet deputy secretary, summing up the view of many officials I interviewed. “If your question is: Did the president rely a lot on his Cabinet as a group of advisers? No, he didn’t,” says former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Little wonder, then, that Obama has called the group together only rarely, for what by most accounts are not much more than ritualistic team-building exercises: According to CBS News White House reporter Mark Knoller, the Cabinet met 19 times in Obama’s first term and four times in the first 10 months of his second term. That’s once every three months or so—about as long as you can drive around before you’re supposed to change your oil.

Lyndon Johnson used to brag that not a single outhouse in Vietnam could be bombed without his personal OK. But Obama has gone him one better: when faced with the meltdown of the Obamacare website Obama told a crowd that he wanted to fix it himself but didn’t know how.

“I wanted to go in and fix it myself, but I don’t write code.” He played the line for laughs, but perhaps it was more serious than he let on. This is the man who once boasted he could do every job on his campaign better than his hired hands: “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters …. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

That didn’t mean he gave the job to anyone who did. The collateral confirmation for this personalistic management style is what Professor Jonathan Turley called the growing “cult of personality”.

I’m afraid this is beginning to border on a cult of personality for people on the left. I happen to agree with many of President Obama’s policies, but in our system it is often as important how you do something as what you do.

And I think that many people will look back at this period in history and see nothing but confusion as to why people remained so silent when the president asserted these types of unilateral actions. You have a president who is claiming the right to basically rewrite or ignore or negate federal laws. That is a dangerous thing. It has nothing to do with the policies; it has to do with politics.

Or as the Atlantic put it, ‘everything of importance is decided at the national palace’. This is natural. If everything flows from Lenin then only Lenin counts. Obama’s style is not that of the chief executive of a constitutional republic but that of an absolute monarch. The result is a cult of personality; not only autocratic, but also highly inefficient. He’s like a king who can neither ride nor couch a lance and won’t let any one else try. When combined with his tendency to take frequent and lengthy vacations it’s easy to understand why nothing gets done.

Thus the word salad, confusion, long stretches of inactivity followed by desperate shortcuts, poor staffwork, lousy execution are all the straightforward hallmarks of an executive who never ran anything other than a political campaign in his adult life. A recent Quinnpiac poll shows that 53% of respondents now believe Obama is incompetent. Perhaps more importantly even key administration officials apparently agree. They’re no longer even phoning it in. They’re demoralized, beaten in by themselves. All they’ve got left is a pen and phone with nothing worthwhile to write or say.

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Top Rated Comments   
Once again, the founding fathers anticipated such a crisis of incompetence and lawlessness that the the Obama Administration has perpetrated. The solution was for the loyal opposition, i.e. LOYAL to the U.S. Constitution and American people, to impeach the President.

Now, the establishment Republicans will argue with reference to former President Clinton that an Impeachment that fails Senate conviction due to either insufficient cause OR partisanship of the President's own party, is worse than no impeachment at all. However, what Republican lawmakers are missing is that by failing to do THEIR duty by generating articles of Impeachment in the House, they are denying the American people any due process, and Constitutional law the necessary protection from tyrants.

By refusing to impeach the President for exceeding his Constitutional authority and a myriad of other just causes noted elsewhere, the House GOP are failing their oaths and duty to office, and forfeiting any legitimacy. They may wear the royal robes and receive the sycophantic honors of their office, but they are as relevant as well, a warm bucket of spit.

The GOP House is establishing a new precedence for a never ending imperial Presidency. The Republic will never be the same, and may not survive.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
W: "... the most telling blows against the Obama administration have been dealt by its own incompetence rather than the formal political opposition."

And isn't that the true measure of the depth of this crisis in governance? It is not just Soetero who is totally incompetent; Boner & Stevens & State Governors are all equally incompetent, or frightened into submission.

The Constitutional checks and balances are gone -- replaced by the need to keep receiving checks written by FedGov on an account that was long ago drained of cash.

In the next Constitution, after the Collapse, we need to make sure that money flows from the individual to the city/county to the State to the Federal level. The current model where FedGov subsidises States, cities, counties, individuals is a recipe for failure, since the one who pays the piper calls the tune.

9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is very bad news as one suspects that newsprint was the go-to fix for the toilet paper crisis.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (95)
All Comments   (95)
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In regard to Rex Reeders Ghost:

Imagine the book; "Editors of the book "Imagine," along with some of the contributors to the book, talk about the problems with capitalism and discuss what a socialist America would be like. Joining the discussion are contributors Mumia Abu-Jamal, Frances Fox Piven, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Kazembe Balagun, and Ronald Reosti. This event was hosted by Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City."
With a authors like that what could go wrong? Such stalwart citizens who've contributed so much to the growth of this country.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
When they begin the Big Whine
It brings back the thought of utter truth benders
It brings back the sound of total game enders
When they begin the Big Whine.

Oh yes let them begin the Big Whine, let them gripe
Till the stars that were therre before fall down around us
And they say to each other in shock, "Reality's found us"
And they suddenly know
What morons they've been
When they begin the Big Whine.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama being the arrogant narcissist that he is, he's probably right that he is better than any of his advisors at their functions. Of course, he is himself grossly incompetent, which simply means that those he has chosen as his loyal sycophants had to work hard to earn their grade-inflated "c" and "d" grades in their Ivy League "Studies of Stuff" courses. No wonder Hillary was on the road so much: she couldn't stand to be around such brilliance. Did you ever believe that we would be able to think positive thoughts about the Clinton White House?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
And then there's this-

Further proof of the alternative universes we seem to live in. If anyone can watch the presentation in it's entirety, you're a better man than I.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Prezz visited my home.
My and my neighbor's wells keep collapsing or burning up when the water table drops. Never happened in 50 years.

Now I know why the enviros poisoned dozens of lakes, blew the dams, and won't let us dig holes for holding ponds to refill the aquifer.
They steal our farm water for their santuary cities or run it off into the ocean.

Now they can put the Squeeze to producers in CA.

The genius engineer who designed our dam and aqueduct system gave us free water from snowmelt for centuries.

Can't have that!
You're gonna pay thru the nose for your own water-
and you're gonna pay the Right People, too.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
OldSaltUSN's comment on the Loyal Opposition and impeachment was spot on! Absolutely dynamite comment.

So my question is why does the GOP mainstream in Congress not stand up to O's unconstitutional actions? Are they all a bunch of wusses? Have they grown too comfortable in their surroundings and trappings of power? Or have they each been compromised by some scintilla or two of data mined about them? Where did the loyal opposition go?

The body politic is like an organism. There are always many diseases of opportunity existing everywhere, but with a healthy immune system, the organism keeps them at bay. When this internal immune system is compromised, the body is attacked and brought down.

Something of this kind is happening right now in this country. We better understand it and deal with it before our country is lost.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Easy. It's a mafia structure of patron insiders rewarding loyalists.
You think affirmative action is about race, or drug profits are about clean living?

It's an industry of Squeeze and Skim- it is formally institutionalized and beyond borders, or the laws within those borders.

It is a Stratosphere or Spy economy far up above the economy of the local cattlepen.

Global supply chains in WWI and WWII- when the soldiers went home, the biznis didn't stop.

Players just diddle the cowpen so they can keep a hand in the higher game. That's why what they say and what they really do seem disconnected.

Think of the CIA or 'defense' contractors- or their corollaries in other countries- as the modern Dutch East India crown corporations.

Now do you see why politicals- the guys with the guns- capture corporations and sectors?
So they can keep buying bigger guns.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hell, just think Jesse Jackson.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thought mine had vanished. Well, hell, it wasn't that offensive. LOL

"He couldn't get a website working withing 5 years so now he's taking on the earth's climate. When does the 25th Amendment kick in so this buffoon can be removed for mental disability?"
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yesterday I did a quick reply to the "Leadership Principle" mention, noting the similarity to the Marxist-Leninist "Democratic Centralism" and the Democratic Party. It vanished too.

You know you are landing rounds in the right place when the enemy reacts.

Subotai Bahadur
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Marginally on topic: the London Telegraph reports that one in four Americans thinks that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Kind of similar to the percentage of Low Information Voters? The survey does not report the percentage of senior Soetero Administration figures who share that belief -- but I have my suspicions!

Some might see this as another tribute to the limited efficacy of government schools. Others might say that this demonstrates the large number of educated people who have internalized Einstein's Relativity Theory -- everything depends on the observer's frame of reference.

Of course, it has to be noted that those enquiring minds who have questions about the Big Bang theory, or about the relevance of punctuated equilibria to the adequacy of the theory of Evolution, would not have done well on this poll. No mention of whether an unquestioning commitment to the flawed hypothesis of Anthropogenic Global Warming would have been necessary to get full marks.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
One highly credentialed politician residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. believes that the universe revolves around him.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
While interesting, not unexpected.

Firstly, why does it matter? How does that data point affect their (our) daily lives? Not.

Further, how does this compare to other countries? If asking a similar group of people wouldn't the answer be the same? Probably. A statistic out of context.

My experience is leading me to believe that the 'unknowledgeable' group is about the same as always...probably being well versed in some other sort of information that DOES affect their lives.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I once knew a young lady, just starting her junior college career, who wandered into the office one day and asked quizically, "Have you heard of this theory of evolution thing?" The point being she had managed to graduate high school in good standing and had NEVER HEARD OF IT, not pro and not con. I don't recall if I ever learned what her previous beliefs had been, biblical or - she'd simply never wondered about it. The implication was certainly the later, any biblical belief would have been of the nature, "Well, that's what I heard!" not "But it says so right here!"

I tried as usual to watch the ABC This Week show this morning, but they had some climate hysteric on who just kept repeating, "Well when you burn fossil fuels of course you get extreme weather!" and I gave up and turned it off. I wonder if she ever heard of this theory of evolution thing.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment

Attn all science- and astro-geeks: get the book The Martian by Weir. It's not really science-fiction, more like science-based adventure. If I'm not the last one on this blog to learn about it, be sure and don't miss it.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment

No executive experience was praised, excuses being made (running a successful campaign equals executive experience). All this before 2008. And so far in Obama’s presidency, he has not had to shoulder any responsibility yet. The media running interference for him 24/7. SHTF hasn't happened YET.

Why would HE need to change his style? His messages haven't been massaged enough, that would be his solution to everything. "Quadruple up the Newspeak."
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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