Works and Days

Works and Days

Obama: Nihilist or Just Incompetent?

October 4th, 2015 - 5:55 pm


Three things so far have saved Obama’s otherwise unfortunate tenure; all came over his own objections.

One, after the 2010 midterm tsunami, the newly elected House Republicans put a lid on spending — ratified by the wins of 2014. Sequestration is a crude blunderbuss and slashed defense, but it at least slowed down Obama’s disastrous serial $1 trillion-plus budget deficits. In spending terms, it certainly has vastly reduced the government’s share of GDP. We know that because Obama occasionally brags of falling deficits, as if to say, “Thank you for not letting me be entirely myself.” When he leaves office, we will have $20 trillion in debt and nearly 100 million permanently out of the work force, as well as uncontrolled and unaddressed entitlement spending on life support through zero-interest rates. But we will still be alive for now, thanks to sequestration. Shutting down the government may have been politically unwise (or not — given the 2014 midterm elections), but it kept the debt financeable.

Then there is energy. Obama once bragged of sky-high electricity costs to come — echoed by Steven Chu’s dream of European-level gas prices. Obama mocked “drill, baby, drill” and claimed it was no solution to the energy crisis, as he tabled Keystone and put millions of acres of federal lands de facto off the market for energy exploration. He tried to “bankrupt” the coal industry. The EPA became a rogue agency. Almost all his crony-capitalist Solyndra-like projects failed.

And? Gasoline and natural gas prices have plunged, thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling.

Private-sector entrepreneurs were apparently energized by new technologies and the specter of profits in an uncertain oil market — and a combative new sense of self-reliance that they were on their own without much government approval. Grimy, forgotten men on rigs have saved Americans trillions in lower energy prices and import costs — and all despite, not because of, Obama.

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Ahmed and the Art of the Psychodrama

September 27th, 2015 - 5:45 pm

During Pope Francis’s parade in Washington, 5-year-old Sophie Cruz suddenly dashed up to the popemobile and handed His Holiness a note about the wretched plight of her illegal-alien parents from Los Angeles, who are apparently terrified of all the recent talk about deportations. The media loved the spontaneity and courage of 5-year-old Sophie.

But that was not quite the whole story. The entire event reportedly had been scripted for about a year by a group called “Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition,” which, in actuality, is not about immigration per se, but rather full rights for illegal immigrants. According to spokesman Juan Jose Gutierrez, the group had carefully planned Sophie’s dash: “We planned to do this from the moment we learned he was coming to the States….We have been working for a while now trying to sensitize the American public that dealing with immigration is not just dealing with the people who came in without proper documents but that we also have … countless children whose parents are undocumented.”

Using a 5-year-old girl under the false pretenses of a spontaneous outburst of emotion seems about as authentic as deliberately conflating legal immigration — the United States accepts more immigrants than does any other nation — with illegal immigrants who deliberately and knowingly break federal law to enter the U.S.

Recently, social media created a victim-hero out of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, whose plight with local school authorities earned him global commiseration — and invitations to visit almost everyone from Barack Obama in the White House and Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook to the United Nations.  How did teenager Ahmed become an international celebrity?

He supposedly spontaneously brought a “clock” to school that he had built from scratch. Soon after, Ahmed was alleged by his supposedly dim-witted school to have instead brought in something that appeared to look like, or perhaps even sound like, a bomb. After questioning, the young Edison was expelled — purportedly because he was presumed guilty as a son of Sudanese immigrants and a Muslim. Was Ahmed another innocent child victimized by the oppressive forces of traditional racist America?

Again, hardly. Almost everything that Ahmed and his family have alleged is being proved first fantasy, and, second, a likely set-up. One, his “clock” was no brilliant invention. Ahmed just took the plastic case cover off an old 1986 digital alarm clock and reinserted the insides into a pencil box — something any teenager could do, but probably would see no need to.

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The 2016 Pack

September 20th, 2015 - 12:57 pm

GOP candidates onstage at CNN debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum this past Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

We don’t know yet what issue will end up driving the autumn phase of the 2016 election. In 2008 a hectoring Obama thought it would always be Iraq — an issue that he had scrubbed from his website by mid-2008 when the surge had rendered his anti-war traction irrelevant.

Instead, the key moment was not the war, but the sudden Lehman Brothers meltdown — and the herky-jerky McCain reaction to it, coupled with Obama’s monotonous “Bush did it” blame-gaming of the crashing stock market. Before September 14, 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin were consistently up over the supposedly transformational first African-American president by anywhere from 2 to 4 points; afterwards it was steadily downhill.

No one knows what will happen to the economy in the fall of 2016, much less what North Korea, Iran, Putin or ISIS will be doing. If nothing, Democrats benefit; if something, not so much. Obama last week reminded us of the rules of media and progressive politics for 2016: he announced that critics of his presidency were de facto unpatriotic — apparently in the same manner that as a presidential candidate in 2008 he slurred a sitting president as unpatriotic. No one even noticed.

2008 was the first orphaned election since 1952. When an incumbent president or vice president does not run, things are wide open, and often favor the out-party. Unless Joe Biden jumps in, 2016 could be another.

We have not elected a non-politician since 1952; sixty-four years is a long time and suggests why it is a wise tradition. So far even on their best days, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump are no Gen. Eisenhowers. Maybe we aren’t overdue for someone new.

Unspoken are the majority/minority dynamics. Barack Obama’s community organizing has bequeathed a new election calculus. It goes like this: how much Democratic racial mongering and divisive identity politics is necessary to persuade minorities to (1) continue to turn out in record numbers, (2) vote in bloc fashion (e.g., 70% for Latinos and Asians, 95% for blacks), and (3) keep voting for a liberal old white guy or woman without Obama on the ticket, (4) without turning off the so-called Democratic share of the white vote down to levels around 35%.

Whites only make up about 72% of the voting electorate; it is also equally valid that, thanks to Obama, the shrinking Democratic share of that vote is reaching 1980s Reagan-era levels. So there are two Obama legacies, not one, in the 2016 race. Democrats must pick up a few percentage points of white voters lost to their pandering in order to make up for a few minority percentage points lost without Obama on ticket. Second, Obama’s legions of loyal minority voters must register, turn out, and vote in mass for Hillary or Joe Biden in the fashion that they did for Obama.

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The Weariness of the Whiners

September 13th, 2015 - 4:42 pm


Brandon Marshall, the New York Jets wide receiver and occasional sports commentator, charges that the National Football League is racist. He alleges that the league favors white players over black athletes like him, especially white marquee quarterbacks.

Aside from the fact that Marshall recently signed a three-year contract for $27 million — and, for example, African-American lineman Marcell Dareus just concluded a contract extension with the Buffalo Bills for six years at $100 million — examine Marshall’s whimper in light of the demography of the National Football League.

Currently, African-Americans comprise about 12% of the population. Yet they make up about 67% of the current meritocratic, but allegedly racist NFL roster. In the quota parlance of affirmative action engineering, they are “overrepresented” in one of America’s most prestigious and compensated industries at over five times their percentages in the general population. Nor are blacks just the purported grunts on the battlefield of the league; they make up 16% of the head coaches and 24% of the league’s general managers.

The NFL may be exempt from the long arm of the Obama administration’s tenets of proportional representation or disparate impact. Or it could be insensitive to the participation rates of Asians and Latinos. Or it may not be using outreach to recruit whites in commensurate numbers to those of the general population. Whatever — but it is hard to figure out how an African-American multimillionaire (e.g., $9 million per annum in compensation) could complain that being black proves a burden in the present-day NFL. Perhaps Marshall might have been paid $10 million per year?

His writ is about as absurd as empathizing with Oprah because she once alleged that a white clerk at the zillionaire Swiss Trois Pommes boutique neither immediately acknowledged her celebrity status nor showed her quickly enough a $38,000 Tom Ford crocodile-skin purse on the shelf. Hence was born “handbag racism.”

Univision newsman Jorge Ramos recently disrupted a Donald Trump news conference to recite yet another litany of supposedly ethnically insensitive attitudes shown toward Latinos who enter the U.S. illegally. Ramos has crafted a lucrative career by blurring the line between journalist and pundit activist, and by damning U.S. immigration law and the unfairness and inhospitality of the United States toward illegal immigrants. Note that naturalized citizen Ramos left Mexico to immigrate to America, ostensibly because what he routinely can now say in the United States would have landed him in jail in Mexico — in the manner that should Americans enter Mexico illegally in the way Mexicans cross the border into the U.S., they would be jailed, then summarily deported at best and at worst serve prison time for a variety of crimes, among which spelled out in the Mexican Constitution would be altering the racial essence of Mexican demography.

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‘Black Lives Matter’—a Year From Now

September 6th, 2015 - 6:58 pm

This is CNN.

In the post-civil rights era of the last half-century, a number of black triumphalist slogans and movements have come and gone.

“Black is beautiful” was an informal self-help attitude that sought to encourage blacks not to emulate so-called arbitrary constructs of white majority aesthetics, but instead to rediscover a natural black essence — from Afros to Ebonics and Kwanzaa — that need not be discouraged.

“Black power!” was a more assertive, political, and collective strain of “black pride.” It  unfortunately descended from legitimate efforts to organize blacks collectively into an effective political force (e.g., the resulting “black caucus” in Congress) and finally into the violence and incoherence of the Black Panthers and other nihilistic violent groups, whose chauvinism was fueled by their own versions of abject racism. It too is now forgotten.

In the 1990s came a more informal angst characterized by the slogan “It’s a black thing. You wouldn’t understand.” This fad sought, in in-your-face style, to remind non-black America, but especially its white majority, that there was an exceptionalism in African-American popular culture that could never really be emulated or adopted in any genuine manner by non-African American wannabes — much less co-opted by naïve do-gooders or conniving profiteers.  It was a separatist idea that assumed society’s reciprocal standard did not apply to itself.

Now there comes “Black Lives Matter,” a movement that argues that reckless law enforcement habitually shoots and kills black suspects in disproportionate fashion and due to racist motives — a crime spree that is supposedly empowered by the general neglect of the white population.

But like all the other past racially chauvinistic movements, “Black Lives Matter” will fail to convince anyone outside a small subset of African-American urban youth to embrace its ideology and advocacy. A year from now it will become another artifact like “It’s a black thing.” It was, after all, the logical denouement to Rev. Wright and the Obamas’ “get in their face,” “punish our enemies,” “typical white person,” “clingers,” “downright mean country,” “never been proud before,” “stereotyping police,” Travyon as the son Obama never had, and the assorted “you didn’t build that,” “not the time to profit,” and lectures about knowing when to quit making money. At some point whining causes weariness.

There are many reasons why Black Lives Matter will be gone within a year.

1)      Racial chauvinism

Of course, given the history of slavery and Jim Crow, many in the black community are naturally suspicious of the white majority, in a way that even other often exploited and discriminated-against groups — Native Americans, the Irish, Jews, Mexican-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Chinese, Italians — are not. The subtext, then, of all of these slogans and groups was that the tragic history of blacks in America still exempts them from the normal parlance and protocols of both other minority groups and the white majority: we rarely hear “Jews are beautiful,” “Brown Lives Matter,” “It’s a white thing. You just don’t understand.”

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Shot and chaser: Democrat activist Jorge Ramos of Univison badgers Donald Trump; is (temporarily) deported from presser by Trump’s security. (AP Photos/Charlie Neibergall)

Why did the illegal-immigration issue launch Donald Trump’s campaign? Why did his recent tense press conference exchange with Univision’s Jorge Ramos please even some of Trump’s liberal critics? What is it about illegal immigration that has finally turned off so many Americans?

1. Race

Over the years immigration activists successfully deconstructed the complex issue of illegal immigration into a race and class morality tale of privileged whites picking on poor brown people. The operative buzzwords were “racism,” “nativism,” and “xenophobia.” That theme is now mostly bankrupt given that every great lie eventually falls from its own weight.

It was rarely the host, but more often the activists on behalf of the guests, who framed illegal immigration in racial terms. Activists foolishly fabricated the controversy as “we noble Latinos” against “you prejudiced non-Latinos.” They forgot apparently two obvious truths: one, thirty percent of Americans are not so-called white; and, two, most people resent ethnic chauvinism. Is an unemployed African-American sympathetic to the argument that someone has a birthright to illegally cross into the United States and find instant employment? Is a Punjabi-American, waiting patiently for his engineer cousin to get a green card, eager to be told the United States must make special concessions to the Latino lobby? Does a third-generation Mexican-American prefer that his neighborhood school and emergency room be flooded with indigent illegal Mexican nationals?

Sometime in the last five years, the public woke up and grasped that Latino elite activists were not so much interested in illegal immigration per se, but only to the degree that the issue affected other Latinos. Were 3,000 Chinese illegally entering California per day by ship on the Northern California coast, Latino activists and politicians would probably be the first to call for enforcement of federal immigration law.

It is difficult for the National Council of La Raza to attempt to airbrush away vocabulary like “anchor baby” and “illegal immigration,” while insisting that its own nomenclature “La Raza” has nothing to do with race. The public knows that La Raza means “The Race,” and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza, a mostly taboo term in Mediterranean Europe today. In an age when the Washington Redskins earn a presidential rebuke, it is inconceivable that the chief illegal-immigration advocate is a federally subsidized group known as the National Council of La Raza. No other organization would dare use such a term. In the public mind illegal immigration has gone from the old narrative that racists were enforcing the law to keep out mostly brown people to a new generation of racists who are trying to subvert the law to bring in mostly brown people.

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Absurd—and Not-so-Absurd—Immigration

August 23rd, 2015 - 7:50 pm

In the discussion of Donald Trump’s agenda for dealing with illegal immigration, lots of his proposals are said to be absurd. But are they all?

Mass Deportations?

Targeted deportations are not the same as mass deportations. Trump may want all of the latter, but just as absurdly the Democratic Party seems not to want any of the former.

We don’t know how many illegal immigrants are in the United States, only that the proverbial figure of “11 million” exists in amber since the last century, and despite massive influxes each year. So there is no way to ascertain either the size of the pool of illegal immigrants or how many have committed crimes. Rounding up every illegal alien and immediately deporting them is not feasible, but that does not mean that over one million with criminal records could not be returned to their home countries as undesirables.

Even liberal sources suggest that somewhere between 12% to 15% of that figure are likely criminals or have arrest records. Some states report a fourth to a third of their murders are likely committed by illegal aliens. That cohort makes up over 25% of federal prisoners.

In other words, the number of what Trump in politically incorrect fashion called “good people” (e.g., does he mean those without a criminal record other than entering the U.S. illegally?) is likely quite large, in both absolute numbers, and percentage wise.

The number of Trump’s supposedly “bad people” (convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor?), who as guests abused the hospitality of their host, could be small percentage-wise. Yet the number might still be well over one million in need of immediate and lasting deportation.

Would deportations of the more than one million (if one deported only criminals, and not as well those without work records and chronically on public assistance), as alleged, begin with a storm of jack-booted cops breaking down the doors of innocent barrio residences?


Every day, thousands of illegal aliens file false federal affidavits, use phony Social Security numbers, employ fake IDs, are pulled over for DUIs, and shoot and steal — the very violations of the laws that sanctuary cities sought to nullify.  The crimes are apparently numerous enough occurrences to win the attention of sanctuary cities, which would not exist if illegal aliens were all, as implied, “dreamers.”

In sum, government agencies would need only to follow passive enforcement of the law, and allow illegal aliens to come into contact with legal authorities of various sorts rather that conduct deportation raids. ICE, then, would need only to deport those who had criminal holds on them — as they insidiously came into contact with the criminal justice system. The number and frequency of those encounters could be quite substantial each day and cumulatively so by year’s end.

Make Mexico Pay?

Sending Mexico a bill, or charging tariffs on trade, to finish the wall as penance for its cynical manipulation of American magnanimity is childish and unnecessary. Instead, we should look at some  $40-50 billion that are sent as remittances home to Central America and Mexico each year, largely by illegal aliens themselves. Such a staggering sum might represent on average a $200-500 a month expense per illegal alien, a disposable sum that at best suggests existential poverty may not necessarily haunt every illegal alien resident, and at worse might remind us that government subsidies are sometimes used to free up income to send out of the country. Imagine if $40-50 billion were instead infused into the U.S. health care and legal systems for the indigent.

All the government would have to do, in the manner that most nations abroad already do, would be to impose a federal surcharge on all remittances by any sender who could not provide a U.S. passport to substantiate the transaction. At a 10% rate, billions could be raised ($4-5 billion a year?), and applied to the completion of the border fence. Within  four or five years, the cost ($20 billion?) could be easily met by those whose illegality prompted the wall to be built.

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NBC’s Al Sharpton shakes hands with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as she prepares to speak at a summit to address issues surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and its aftermath at New Shiloh Baptist Church, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Baltimore. Note the “No Justice, No Peace” slogan behind them. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Why do polls show that racial relations have gotten much worse under Barack Obama, who won the White House with over 95% of the black — and 45% of the white — vote?

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll just revealed that about 60% of Americans feel race relations are not good. Some 40% think that they will become even worse. Yet when Obama was elected, 66% of those polled felt race relations were generally OK. All racial groups, according to recent polling, believe that Obama’s handling of racial relations has made things worse since 2009. Another recent Pew poll confirms these tensions, and suggests whites are now about as pessimistic as blacks.

What has happened to racial relations?

Crime. A small cohort of urban African-American males under fifty — no more than 3-4% of the general population — is responsible for about 50% of many of the violent crimes committed. Blacks are 5-8 times more likely to commit rather suffer an interracial crime, which makes up less than 10% of most violent crime. Both the analysis and solution have become taboo subjects. Writing the above is a near thought crime.

The non-African-American community of all races largely feels that if blacks were committing crimes commensurate to their percentages in the general population, the police would come into contact with young black males with much less frequency, diminishing the opportunities for jaded police-community flare-ups. In turn, would crime decline in the inner city if there was more emphasis on curbing illegitimacy, drug use, and single-mother families, while privileging study and academic excellence over sports and the cult of machismo?

Black leaders counter that racism is still the engine that drives a sense of despair, which insidiously is at the root of all pathology. Equality-of-result federal programs are ultimately seen as the answer that will catapult the disadvantaged into the middle class. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is said to trump the horrors that other immigrant and minority groups experienced — the Irish who were declared to be inhuman by mid-nineteenth-century essayists, the Asian exclusionary laws and the Japanese internment, the Holocaust and the deliberate polices of the State Department and War Department to refuse entry of Jews fleeing the gas chambers, the Native Americans who lost their tribal landscapes, and on and on.

One can see why this back-and-forth argument about cause and effect has no solution by reading a typical story about black crime in any online mainstream newspaper or wire-service report. The journalistic narrative is embedded within politically correct tip-toeing around the race of the perpetrator, with interviews of family members attesting to complete astonishment that a son, brother, or friend, with a previous arrest or criminal record, would ever do such a heinous thing. Police overreaction is thematic. Crimes such as assault are downplayed. Little concern is accorded to a victim who was robbed, murdered, or raped. The news accounts of black crime are the written versions of the edited George Zimmerman 911 tape, his photoshopped picture, and his new identity as a “white Hispanic.”

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Hillary Clinton, Reactionary

August 9th, 2015 - 12:57 pm

(AP Photo.)

Amid the Trump psychodramas, the public has forgotten not just Hillary Clinton’s latest contortions over her emails, but Mrs. Clinton herself. Hillary has assumed the position of a tired vice president in waiting, without any of the perks that might accrue from a lame-duck president to his dutiful VP.

Ostensibly Clinton’s candidacy is to be a continuation of her boss’s eight years. The problem, however, is that for all Obama’s iconic status, the president polls well below 50% in approval ratings. He lost both the House and Senate, and the majority of state governorships and legislatures are now Republican, if not solidly conservative.

His signature legacies — Obamacare, the Iran nuke deal, open borders, and massive deficits — poll poorly. Is borrowing another $8 trillion Clinton’s agenda? Cutting another 25% from defense? No one believes that Obama’s liberal boilerplate — more government regulation, zero interest rates, higher taxes, bigger deficits, smaller defense, more illegal aliens, greater racial hyphenation — is working.

The logical liberal trajectory of abortion on demand is the Planned Parenthood fetus emporium, of race-based grievance politics is the “hands up, don’t shoot” (and Trayvon as the son Obama never had) fantasy, of open borders is the murder of Kate Steinle, and of therapeutic foreign policy is the Iran deal, reset with Putin, Benghazi, red lines with Assad, the collapse of Iraq, and the birth of ISIS.

The result is Hillary is sort of stuck. She can mouth Obamisms that remain unpopular, with the realization that the polarizing rhetoric needed to energize an Obama black or Latino bloc voter in the past had often ensured turning off a working-class Reagan Democrat. Hillary needs to win both groups, but so far there is no indication that her “first woman president” theme will energize minorities in the fashion they had flocked to “hope and change.”

Or Clinton can go full-populist, damning Wall Street, the elite, and the one-percent, while again changing accents to reflect regional audiences. Here the challenge is twofold: all three Clintons swim most comfortably in plutocratic waters. Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea are all multimillionaires, precisely because they leveraged their political connections and the Clinton name, in quid-pro-quo fashion, to extract millions from cash-flush Wall Street and banking concerns. The world of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s jet-setting, the Clinton son-in-law, and the speaking fees of all three Clintons are elitist to the core and simply unfathomable to 99% of the population.

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The Iranian deal has called to mind the Munich Agreement of 1938. Then Britain and France signed away the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, in hopes that Adolf Hitler would be content with absorbing the German-speaking Sudetenland borderlands and cease further territorial acquisitions. But that appeasement only accelerated Nazi atrocities, from Kristallnacht at home to the dismemberment of all Czechoslovakia and, the next year, the invasion of Poland.

Is the Munich disaster a sound analogy for the current proposed agreement with Iran?

The Obama administration and its supporters say no. And they have offered a variety of odd arguments. How can anyone compare the once most powerful state in industrial Europe with the current, relatively isolated, and backward Iran, whose theocracy supposedly poses a far smaller threat than did Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht?

But is that assumption really true?

For all the later talk of Blitzkrieg in 1939-40, Hitler in 1938 was fairly weak. He had no model of tank that matched French heavy armor. Combined British and French aircraft production exceeded Germany’s, and in most cases allied planes were as good as German fighters and bombers. By 1940 Britain alone would be producing more fighter aircraft than Germany. In 1938-9, the combined infantry forces of the Western democracies — Britain, France, Denmark, Belgium the Netherlands and Norway — exceeded those of the Wehrmacht.

In the east, the Soviet Union alone fielded far more tanks, planes, guns and men than did Germany in 1938. Czechoslovakia, in the Skoda Works, had one of the most dynamic arms industries in Europe as well as extensive fortifications on the German border. Had the Polish, Czechs, and Russians united and stood firm, Hitler would have either backed down or would have been defeated — at a time when he was vastly outnumbered on his vulnerable Western borders.

The combined British and French fleets alone deployed about ten times more capital ships than did Germany, which never built a single aircraft carrier or deployed a single successful four-engine bomber.

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