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Works and Days

Crashing and Burning in 2013

December 29th, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Recording artist Miley Cyrus performs “Wrecking Ball” on NBC’s Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza on October 7, 2013 in New York City. Photo by Debby Wong,

Recent polls suggest Barack Obama has become a turn-off. Why?

In part, all presidents wear on Americans. Their presence has become as ubiquitous in our lives as the busts of the emperor Augustus dotting the Mediterranean world. So who wouldn’t annoy after speaking and appearing on our screens 24/7 for five years?

But in Obama’s case, two character traits made him especially aggravating this year. Both explain why vero possumus and hope and change have descended to “you can keep your plan, period.”

One, Obama blames everything bad on everyone else, and takes credit for a few good things that he had nothing to do with. He reminds me of a losing Little League coach who blamed the lights, fans, and umpire for his last-place standing, only to brag about his own genius after inserting a 12 year old who hit a freak homer to win his only game.

Why so? Few care to speculate anymore other than the obvious that his cursus honorum was always characterized by rhetoric in lieu of achievement. By that I mean I don’t know how his transcript merited admittance to Harvard Law School; what publications he authored as editor of Harvard Law Review; on what basis he was offered tenure at Chicago; how his record in the Illinois legislature prepped a U.S. Senate career; or why his brief sojourn as a U.S. senator qualified him as president. But I do concede through it all he sounded pretty confident and mellifluous.

George Bush, ATM machines, the Tea Party, the post-2010 Congress, the earthquake in Washington, D.C., the Japanese Tsunami — all this and more have caused Obama’s otherwise brilliant policies to fail. You would have thought that he entered office with a Republican supermajority in the Senate and a raging Tea Party majority in the House, all conspiring to thwart his every godhead from January 21, 2009.

Putting higher taxes on the productive classes, discouraging energy exploration of federal lands, adding more regulations, chronically bad-mouthing the successful, borrowing $6 trillion  to waste on stimulus and handouts, and socializing a sixth of the American economy with an unworkable Obamacare plan apparently had nothing to do with our non-recovery.

The flip side is that public efforts to subsidize failures like Solyndra or shut down federal leasing of new gas and oil drilling have mysteriously led to record energy production — thanks to Obama! The more you try to shut down Keystone or block drilling in Colorado, the more you become the gas and oil president.

Obama may have tired of watching the hunt for bin Laden, and instead in mediis rebus preferred to play cards with sidekick Reggie Love, but he alone also got bin Laden — not really at all the men who broke into the Pakistani compound, or the prior policies that facilitated their operations.

Force a sequester upon Obama, and suddenly his fiscal sobriety has reduced the deficit.

The second aggravating habit of the president is to calmly talk nonsense, from the trivial to the profound. In the hip cool world of the ex-Harvard Law Review editor, it is legal not to enforce the laws. Plead to your frustrated constituencies who want more stuff right now that you are not quite a dictator, king, or autocrat — and then you can do your best to act like one.

In such a fantasy world, corpsemen are soldiers instead of zombies. An uncle he stayed with he never met. Austrians speak Austrian. Syrians dare not cross red lines to use chemical weapons. Putin is a valued partner in the Middle East. Iran is now backing down and acting adult-like, not racing to acquire a bomb. The IRS scandal is both “outrageous,” but also now some cooked-up and over-hyped media melodrama. We are still hunting the perpetrators of Benghazi — once we figure out who exactly was set off by that hateful video that day.

You can keep your existing health plan, your current doctor — and save $2,500 a year without new taxes — and with your preexisting condition and the 25 year old on your plan thrown in as a freebie.

On any given day, Obama says things that are not just untrue but also cannot be by any stretch possible. In other words, when he is not intentionally deceiving, he is simply clueless. If he tomorrow were to assert that Iran dare not use chemical weapons, that it is time for Assad to go, that Putin better start treating gays with respect, that in 2014 you really can keep you own doctor and health plan, that Guantanamo is to be closed, that Obamacare is going to save you money and provide better care, that there will be no lobbyists or revolving doors in his administration, would we laugh or cry?

One open mic, two bows, three apologies, four red lines, five deadlines, six “period!”s, and he might have gotten by. But seven, eight…?

Enough already.


I don’t recall that Greece worked. Detroit is bankrupt. California managed to have the highest income, sales, and gas taxes in the U.S., along with the highest poverty levels, near-worst roads, and at-the-bottom schools.

The administration’s cure for nationalizing a sixth of the U.S. economy is to call in private-sector techies to fix the website and a CEO or two to iron out the organization.

Borrowing $6 trillion did not lead to any “summer of recovery.”

In other words, what model — Illinois, Maryland, Italy, Spain — is the administration using to chart our course to ever more statism? Is Apple run by G-10s? Is fracking a discovery of the Energy Department? Is the IRS a model of fairness and probity?

The Detritus of a Culture

I don’t want to hear any more from Anderson Cooper that his 85-year-old mom bragged of great cunnilingus — nor to read that Cosmopolitan magazine sent one of its bloggers to masturbate publicly on the New York subway. Life is sick enough without all that. I’d rather read about the heroism of Depression-era farmers, or the ordeal of those who fought on Okinawa to ensure that Mr. Anderson can editorialize about octogenarian oral sex.

Miley Cyrus is neither attractive nor talented. But to paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, she has one thing you don’t have: a mini-celebrity name and a prior image as a pure Disney screen teen. Add that mix with this year’s raunchy sex on stage and you have a grating sort of disconnect that bewilders an audience — for about six weeks. Now she has poked about with one outsized foam finger too many.

Kanye West somehow keeps in the spotlight. It is hard not to run across his name, quotes, or rhymes in the news. Yet a visitor from an alien solar system who examined his corpus of work and collated his public commentary would quickly conclude that he is talentless. A potty-mouth 5th grader could make up his ditties. He does not seem to distinguish music from banging or shouting. Were he not protected by his own victimhood, his cheap slurs of racism and anti-Semitic rants would have doomed his public persona long ago, despite Rev. Farrakhan coming to his rescue. He is more or less famous for being a famous version of the Kardashians. Wait, isn’t he hooked up with one?

Ditto Oprah. Unlike Cyrus or West, she is talented on TV and can act. She is also a billionaire who now stages racial dramatics to save a fading career. Did she not know that her suburban mom morning audience was non-partisan and liked her therapeutics because she transcended politics and race, and seemed to focus on people as people?

That was her currency and she threw it away, hyping Obama when he was 65% up in the polls and then whining about racism when he was not. It is hard to feel any empathy for Oprah when she claims that a racist Swiss clerk at Trois Pommes denied her the opportunity to examine first-hand a $38,000 crocodile purse (where is PETA when you need them?), or to listen to yet another half-educated sermon on racial relations, in which she hypes her fading movie by warning us that lots of bad Americans will have to die off before racial relations meet her criteria.

Die now, you Trois Pommes bigots!

The Middle East

The Middle East remains a critical region. It borders Europe’s southern flank that is now in financial chaos. It still produces 30-40% of the world’s petroleum. The Suez Canal is vital to world commerce. Who knows what our new ally Recep Erdogan is up to. A nuclear Middle East would not let others alone. Asian industry depends on access to the Persian Gulf. Trillions of petrodollars allow terrorist global reach that they would not otherwise have. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism were born there. Israel is a successful democracy surrounded by lunatics. Hot spots — Cyprus, the West Bank, Gaza — could spark a wider war anytime.

But all that said, the American public grew tired of the Middle East. Maybe it was the aftermath of the war in Iraq. Maybe our new energy production gives us that leeway. Maybe Benghazi. Or was it the psychodrama of threatening and not threatening Assad? Or maybe Iran’s bomb? Or maybe the nutty periphery like our other two allies Afghanistan and Pakistan?

No matter — I detect that most Americans’ attitudes toward the Arab Spring, or talk of reform, or the Shiite-Sunni ongoing rivalry is summed up as something like “please turn the channel.” Three things seem to characterize those of the Middle East: almost everyone professes to hate Europe and the United States; yet half the region schemes to immigrate to either place; and once immigrating, Middle Easterners dream of turning the West into the Middle East that they under no circumstances wished to live in.

Take out a dictator, foster democracy and you get blame-America Maliki. Bomb Gadhafi out of power, and you win murders in Benghazi. Karzai hates America so much that he forbids us to leave as he orders us out. Stay out of Syria and you are damned as being heartless. Support Mubarak and you are cynical; support the crazy Muslim Brotherhood and you are naïve; support the junta and you betray your principles — ad nauseam.

Who is worse — Hezbollah or Hamas?  Assad or Nasrallah? The Iranians or the Pakistanis? Who cares?

For most of us, a bearded youth strutting around with an RPG on his shoulder is not our problem, twelve years after 9/11.  Nor is the contorted face burning an American flag on CNN, shouting the boilerplate “Death to America!” — as he brags off-camera that he has an uncle in Lansing.

The next time around — and I think there will be a next time around — the American reaction, foolishly or not, will probably be purely punitive rather than engagement and nation-building.

Somehow the idea that the existence of Israel means that Egyptians were deprived of democracy, or Iraqis were made corrupt, or Syrians are gassing each other has become sort of like Miley Cyrus’s foam finger, Kanye West’s latest limerick, or masturbating on the subway — boring.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified image.)

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Top Rated Comments   
"The next time around — and I think there will be a next time around — the American reaction, foolishly or not, will probably be purely punitive rather than engagement and nation-building."

The first time around that should have been our reaction. We should have exited from Afghanistan after Al Qaeda was chased out. Our war should have been fought by the forward air observers and B-52's at 30,000 ft. After a few months we should have sent an ultimatum to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. that if any of their terrorists attacked us, our allies, or our interests we would obliterate their military capabilities and leave them defenseless.

Talking softly and carrying a big stick would have saved thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. From the looks of things, it wouldn't have hurt our worldwide reputation either--we're vilified no matter what we do so we might as well do what is in OUR best interests. And just think of all the well-paying jobs replenishing our munitions stockpiles would have generated.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Radical Islamists wander around the world picking on people who can't fight back and when those who whine like little schoolgirls that the response is "not in proportion".

Western radical leftists infest free market constitutional democracies and insert themselves into Academia in order to create a false and revisionist history so that the host country is guilty of all manner of "sins' and failed, miserable, murderous countries are misunderstood and no threat at all.

They invade the information stream like a plague of truth devouring locusts, so that all facts are scrubbed, filtered and propagandized.

They incite through entertainment...that pushes the envelope and an ethical cleansing that crushes resistance through pop peer pressure...the mind candy for useful idiots.

The war on free market constitutional self-governing democracies is intended to make them not free, not market based, not constitutional, not self-governing and not democracies.

This worked in Europe. The fools trying to be cool...gave away the farm, the cows, the corn and the tractor...for the right to receive the blessing of the media, tenure in the college of class warfare and to polish the trinket trophies they hand out at one of the fifty narcissist balls they hold to exclaim their "virtue" to the echo chamber.

Western leftists find new ways to amuse themselves in slandering easy targets, especially Israel and America....two countries founded on the Bible they despise so vehemently.

They talk tough...resort to the warfare handbook....accusations of racism, sexism, etc., but it's a lie, it's always been a lie...a pack of lies. And...Obama is a lifetime student of the handbook.

America (and Israel) didn't come to anti-leftism by tiring of the handbook. They are now coming slowly to the part where the easily misled get gored by it...and face the business end of the bull, instead of the product of the back end.

Western radicals never screw up enough courage to showcase their principles against real brutal regimes, real racists and homophobes, real dictators. In those iron-fisted regimes...everyone knows what that would get them.

These paper tigers go limp when it comes to confronting real evil, instead of invented enemies. Liars and cowards to the end.

Obama is the paper tiger who cannot allow either rain or sunshine to fall upon him. He is the false promise personified. The Big Lie.

Radical Islam adopts the verbal tactics of radical leftism...and all the totalitarianism that each must possess to delude otherwise free people.

Europe has never awakened to the fraud, they embraced it so tighrly, invited it to destroy them and work defiantly to get everyone to whistle past the graveyard of the same tune.

America is still slumbering itself. It can save itself...and possibly the world.

By regaining the courage to be free, Constitutional, and devoted to liberty. Right stands on the precipice of losing them all.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" half the region schemes to immigrate to either place; and once immigrating, Middle Easterners dream of turning the West into the Middle East that they under no circumstances wished to live in."

Similar to Californians who move to Colorado or Texas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (125)
All Comments   (125)
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I like VHD and his essays quite a bit, but he always hints at a tipping point or a day of reckoning, and that people are sick of this and that. No. I don't see that at all. Things don't grow worse and then get better. They just grow worse and worse, and those who remember the way it used to be die off and the next generation has different expectations. Things grow worse and then morph into something else. We are morphing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's a suggestion for a PJM New Year's resolution: This site SHOULD never write another story featuring, or mentioning Miley Cyrus ever, ever again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The war on free market constitutional self-governing democracies is intended to make them not free, not market based, not constitutional, not self-governing and not democracies." (cfbleachers)

Write that on the board 1000 times.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Who is worse — Hezbollah or Hamas? Assad or Nasrallah? The Iranians or the Pakistanis? Who cares?"

We've been watching this stuff long enough to have learned that it is insoluble, at least from the outside.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I had to look up "Vero Possumus." I read it in your opener and said, "What does that mean? 'Truly playing dead'?"

Apparently it's just latin for Yes We Can.

Shut up, it's early morning here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AND remember: next to Jesus & St. Paul, this was a dictum of the third most influential font and purveyor of the Judaeo/Christian LOGOS & Tradition.
"You have made us for THYSELF, LORD...and our hearts are forever restless until they rest in THEE...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OBAMA is the POOR MAN'S (f)ART...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How is it that Mr. Hanson can blast the Tea Party and PJ Media defend it with equal ferocity?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Didn't see where Prof Hanson did blast the Tea Party. His only mention of it was being an excuse Obama would use for his mal-performance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Different perspectives.

Multiple traits; some positive, some negative.

Really, one shouldn't need this explained to them after reaching puberty.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Miley Cyrus is good looking. It is a mathematically provable fact based on symmetry and all that stuff.

Whether she is a 6, a 7 or whatever is debatable.

Given the 1/2 life of fame based on looks and the you culture, I get why (I don't approve) she acts they way she does. If she could do more than stick her tongue and show as deep as possible every orifice she would it seems.

Her familial name recognition and past work at Disney has boosted her career but it might all go away without her puerile antics.

Britney Spears antics I think were cause by her constant worrying of loss of fame and thus money lifestyle and livelihood as she grew older and no longer was a teen starlet. She acted out (maybe planned and broke down (not all planned IMHO). When she found that fans did not leave her she snapped out of it.

Miley had a plan unlike Britney. She was not going to worry. Her plan was to get slutty.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Britney didn't snap out of anything. Her father, acting as manager, committed her to a mental health facility and requisite pharmaceutical/counseling therapy. It was this intervention by a loving parent, and the recognition she would never regain custody of her two children that brought Britney back to her saner side. Thankfully, the intervention worked. Ms. Spears now avoids the excesses of a decade ago, "seems" to be a responsible parent these days, and is making arguably the best music of her career.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm tired of the middle east - except for Israel. Notice they just keep helping the world, with more patents per year than any Arab nation has - period. Save Israel, the rest of them can just go contemplate their camels - and God/Allah bless.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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