Flat Learning Curve Update: Yet Another Jaw-Dropping Leadership Fail From President Obama

curve-flat

In the midst of yet another flashing neon display proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Barack Obama has the worst grasp of the Presidential leadership of any POTUS in over a century, a cheerful CNN/ORC poll found that 50% of those polled assert that Obama tenure has been a success, and 53% believe that things are peachy in the United States. It is beyond comprehension.

WARNING!

IMPULSIVE RANT FOLLOWS! SKIP TO MAIN BODY OF POST FOR RETURN TO RESTRAINED ETHICAL ANALYSIS!

Sure, what is there to criticize? The Congressional Budget office says that that the debt, which the President once said was a top existential priority, is edging toward a disastrous level. Health care costs, which were already untenable, have continued to rise (though the rate of increase has dropped don’t you know, so that’s some thing. This is like getting the good news that Mom’s cancer is spreading, but not as fast as it was, but the media has managed to hypnotize the public into cheering. The evidence that the government is being managed like a lemonade stand is everywhere (actually a majority of Americans—not the number that would speak well for the nation’s consciousness, like, say, 100%, but a majority—believe that Obama can’t effectively manage the government. Ya think? Let’s see: the IRS is apparently a rogue organization and incompetent, having just rehired the clown act that rolled out the healthcare.gov website. The State Department doesn’t hold its employees—like, say, the head of it—to its own policies; the EPA is, according to the most prominent liberal Constitutional scholar in the country, trampling on that document; the VA is still a mess and killing veterans; the Secret Service is having DUI episodes at the White House; nobody has assigned accountability for the Justice Department allowing illegal guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug lords; the Supreme Court has the heart of the Affordable care Act beating in its hands as it faced with dealing with a law that contradicts itself because those who passed it and signed it skimmed it like it was a Reader’s Digest article if they read it at all; HHS proved itself completely inept in rolling out the law; the CIA’s ex-chief just barely escaped jail, where he belongs, after giving classified information to his mistress; the NSA has a contractor whose access to secrets was vast and inexplicable residing in Russia, with those secrets, and its management has lied to Congress while spying on our allies, listening in on conversations between lawyers and the their clients while generally running amuck, and badly at that. There’s more, but it’s early and I’m queasy. Usually when the President is informed of one of these never-ending fiascoes his response is that he learned of it from watching the news.

Meanwhile, hordes of illegal immigrants are to be treated as legal by unconstitutional Presidential fiat, paving the way for future Presidents to act like dictators too. This was necessary, Obama informed us, because Congress didn’t do as he demanded; of course, other Presidents have been willing and able to court, nudge, persuade, negotiate, horse trade and <gasp!> compromise with the supposedly co-equal legislative branch, but Obama can’t and won’t, so he found another way, known as “ignoring precedent, best practices and the Constitution.” Civil libertarians protest that the administration has chilled freedom of the press by harassing the few journalists with the integrity to criticize it; the White House, which was supposed to be, according to the Ghost of Obama Past, the most transparent yet, just declared that it would no longer honor FOIA requests, not that they have anything to hide, of course. Guantanamo is still holding prisoners in limbo, but, hey the President says he should have done something about it six years ago, and that’s almost as good, apparently, as doing it. The unemployment figure are looking up after the slowest recovery from a recession in U.S. history, not that the administration in charge during that crawl can be criticized for it, just praised because the slump didn’t go on forever, are hiding the biggest exodus from the work force on record. Colleges are graduating ignorant and illiterate students at obscene prices; student loan obligations risk another economic meltdown. On one end, public education continues to decline, on the other, med schools aren’t graduating enough doctors to fill projected public needs, and the law schools are seeing the number of law students decrease even as the need for lawyer increases.

Race relations in the U.S., meanwhile, have worsened spectacularly during the Obama administration, with racial trust at a 50 year low. Now, every time an unarmed  back citizen is shot by a police officer, there’s an automatic protest on the presumption of racism, regardless of the facts of the incident. Hey, this guy is great!

In compensation, to be fair, Libya, where the U.S. intervened and kept bombing past the law-imposed limit because Obama said dropping exploding things on a foreign country didn’t qualify as hostilities, is falling apart. Carnage reigns in Syria, where rebels assumed that Obama would support their uprising against a brutal tyrant because he had done so in Libya—tardily and fecklessly, but that’s the genius of “leading from behind”—and proved fatally mistaken. The Ukraine is being invaded by Russia in increments; North Korea intimidated a U.S. corporation for its choice of entertainment vehicles without suffering for it.  Obama pulled out of Iraq as stability was within reach, allowing it to become a breeding ground for ISIS. U.S. reticence to oppose terrorism saw the White House snub a rare kumbaya moment in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack, and a response to Boko Haram in Nigeria that consisted of the First Lady making a frowny face on Twitter. Iran will soon agree not to pursue nuclear weapons and will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, moving the world closer to Armageddon.

The United States is poorer, more dysfunctional, more divided, more in debt, less employed, weaker, less respected, less democratic, less free, less trusted, less safe, and more cynical. Who are these 50%? Last night I was talking about the Hillary e-mail scandal, and an intelligent woman that I have known for decades said, “You’re just saying that because you’re a Republican,” and I lost it.

“Really? Really?” I said. “Is that the way the world is supposed to work in your view? Democrats just automatically rubber stamp as great whatever a Democrat does, no matter how objectively wrong it is, and dismiss all legitimate criticism as illegitimate partisanship? What the hell is the matter with you? You used to have a brain!”

If this is how the Democrats in the country now reason, then that accounts for the 50%. So does the 50% of the public that is below average intelligence, or alternatively, the 47% that Mitt Romney correctly identified as those Americans whose definition of “It’s dandy in America!” is “My check from the government came!”

END OF RANT

(I feel better now.)

Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the U.S.’s most critical and closest Middle East ally, won a close election to stay in power but President Obama is refusing to congratulate him as tradition, protocol and basic manners dictate because he is really, really ticked off, and so there.

Good. Lord.

This goes beyond poor  leadership to infantile,  unprofessional, and pathetic leadership malpractice. To professionals–competent, rational ones—it’s never personal. Even when it’s personal, it’s not personal. Your job is to work with the people you have to work with. Snits, tantrums, snubs and holding your breath until you turn blue just impede  getting the job done, and make a leader look weak and irrational. The other world leaders, even those who preside over anti-Semitic populations, followed protocol and sent personal congratulations to Bibi, because they have at least a rudimentary comprehension of diplomacy and leadership, and also have an emotional maturity above the age of seven. Even officials in his own party are gently trying to nudge the President toward adulthood. From The Hill:

Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “My observation is that their disagreements are on policy as well as perhaps personality, and I would hope that both men would reach out to each other and work through it. … The U.S.-Israel relationship is more important than the relationship between any two individuals.”

“Now that the election is over, continuing to mend tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship needs to be a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

Good luck with that, Democrats. Why should Obama listen to you? The country thinks he’s doing a great job!

93 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

93 responses to “Flat Learning Curve Update: Yet Another Jaw-Dropping Leadership Fail From President Obama

  1. Michael Ejercito

    Wait for the Obama defenders to argue that he is just fixing the mess caused by George W. Bush.

  2. A.M. Golden

    Does it seem like the President appears to be operating from a victim mentality? Someone does something he doesn’t like and he lashes out like an injured or frightened animal backed into a corner or like a petulant child accusing his parents of hating him for putting him in a time-out?

    In other words, you hurt me so I’m going to hurt you back.

    What a horrible example to set for the millions of black Americans who revere him and hang on his every word: You can get as high as President of the United States and the White Man will always keep you down.

  3. Phlinn

    The link labelled “Is refusing to congratulate him” is instead going to the poll.

    I liked the rant.

    I’m willing to bet you’ll see at least one person claim he tried to negotiate with republicans, since that’s the main talking point about it. As near as I can tell, at most he negotiated with conservative democrats and the straw republican in his head. Actual republicans were hit with “I won”

  4. J. Houghton

    Polling is all about sample design and how the questions are worded. We know that a certain percentage of citizens will have an unfavorable opinion of the President no matter what he does. Likewise, there will be a similar faction of citizens who will support the President no matter what. There is, however, a third category of independent and objective minded citizens who are actually influenced by reality based evidence. Some polls make a sincere effort to have a balanced sample and questions that are non-leading but revealing of useful information. Some polls are poorly structured either by sample design or question wording and lead to inaccurate or misleading conclusions. Unfortunately, some polls are intentionally skewed to advance a desired narrative which may not be consistent with reality. It is always important to look at the methodology of the polling in question.

    • “Polling is about sample design and how the questions are worded.”

      Polling Procedure

      Question 1-
      Did you watch the HBO true crime documentary “The Jinx”?

      Answer: No…End questioning
      Answer: Yes…Proceed to Question 2

      Question 2-
      Who would you rather have as President? Robert Durst or President Obama.

      • dragin_dragon

        This is reasonably close to Pontius Pilate’s “Who would you rather have, Jesus or Barabbas?” And, no, I am not comparing either Durst or Obama to Jesus…Barabbas, on the other hand… That said, Durst gives every indication of being a cold-blooded killer, Obama seems to be an incompetent, ideologically-driven politician. Comparing apples and oranges, here. However, as Mr. Houghton has said, polls sometimes do just that. With a little time and effort, I could devise a poll question and select a sample who would cheerfully choose Durst. We already have that result for Obama.

  5. Why would we expect anything less from someone with Obama’s upbringing?

    He’s a product of his generation and rearing. Spoiled, hyper-narcissist, probably never had to learn conflict resolution or negotiation skills.

    • Most people raised like that are broken of it growing up, but apparently ole Barry merely inserted himself into exclusive circles of fellow radicals who, isolated from reality, believe their world view to be reality and throw hissy fits when their worldview consistently is shredded by reality.

    • Which generation of narcissists? The millennials or the boomers? I think in an effort to be cool or with-it he’s taken an extra portion of millenials and disinterest in manners and hard work. Skipping congratulations of even a mild ally is petty.

      • It isn’t disinterest….

        He has sent congratulations before, notably to antagonist nations, enemy nations, and less than cooperative nations.

        This was a direct snub because he doesn’t like Netanyahu or the worldview Netanyahu possesses.

        To call it disinterest is actually a couple steps above what Obama did.

      • joed68

        I think you’re confusing narcissism as a personality trait, the sort that often accompanies and aids very driven and successful people, with pathological narcissism, which Obama likely has. He exhibits all the traits, and this casts this latest episode in a different light. This is hardly an isolated incident.

        • dragin_dragon

          Just FYI, I AM a baby-boomer, being born some two months before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (which may explain a lot) and I resent the implication that baby boomers are narcissistic. The person you are replying to, in the arrogance of youth, fails to remember that, without us, he/she would not have the advantages they have now. Nor the freedom to insult us without constraint.

          • joed68

            A tour of Arlington National Cemetery would cure that.

            • dragin_dragon

              Not necessarily. The facts are out there, but are ignored by many, just as history is. A tour of Arlington (or Vicksburg, or Normandy, or Guadalcanal) would do little to shake the faith of those.

              • joed68

                I don’t know how anyone could not be moved in that place. Just thinking that someone who doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices your generation made might benefit, but maybe not.

                • dragin_dragon

                  Got an e-mail from the HHIC (Head Honcho In Charge) of the American Legion this morning (not a personal one, just a spam to members) welcoming us home from Viet Nam and apologizing because we were NOT welcomed by the ding-bats who spit on, threw shit at and verbally abused us. Those same ding-bats are now in charge of the government and I would guarantee you that they will remain unmoved by Arlington, or they will think, “Good. They’re dead”.

              • I consider a visit to the Omaha Beach Cemetery to be a watershed. It is a razor I consider great as a first test for someone’s state of mind or soul…

                If you walk among the crosses and are not viscerally moved, I submit there is something severely wrong with you.

                While studying Architecture in Italy, we took part of our fall break and went through Normandy. It’s odd to say, but part of me does not want to visit the cemetery again: I have rarely ever been moved that profoundly in my gut. That’s the effect of knowing of 1000s of crosses, the average age of man buried in that place is something like 19 or 20…there because someone had to be and none of them shirked it.

                • dragin_dragon

                  “If you walk among the crosses and are not viscerally moved, I submit there is something severely wrong with you.”

                  That was sort of my point.

                • dragin_dragon

                  Incidentally, I know what you mean about that feeling in my gut. I’ve never been to Europe, but I’d love to go…once. Don’t know if I could stand Normandy.

    • dragin_dragon

      Sure, he learned conflict resolution. From Robert Ayers (sp?)…bombs in the bathroom sort of conflict resolution.

  6. Neil A. Dorr

    The whole article was a political rant, not an ethical one. Each of the issues you mentioned has a tie-in with ethics, yet not once in the article did you make mention of any. Perhaps you consider this a summary of previous posts on said matters, except that would require someone to go digging through the archives.

    The site is “Ethics Alarms,” not “Political Op-eds.”

    • This should be interesting… Usually rebuttals are point by point and substantive.

    • Of course it is obviously unethical on its face, it doesn’t require much exposition.

    • Huh? I separated out the “rant,” which is a matter of style, not substance. Every point in the post has been explicated as unethical in multiple posts. The rant illustrates that I am sick of a leader who not only shows no understanding of leadership, but who also has created tangible, distrous effects as a result. Nothing I noted isn’t objectively true. Obama enablers simply keep saying that black is white and up is down, using the Big Lie tactic over and over. I’ve written about this too.

      One reason I went into this field is that ethicist render themselves worthless by always being wishy-washy. There is no argument about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, for example. I was just at a high level management conference. EVERYONE, Republican Democrat, Independent, laughed at the suggestion that there was any excuse for her conduct or that it was not 1) outrageous 2) irresponsible and 3) proof that she was untrustworthy. I don’t think it is ethical to respond to someone stating otherwise by saying, “Well, you make an interesting point, but allow me to respond.” It is unethical and USELESS< because it treats an incompetent or ignorant or dishonest statement as worthy of respect.

      Is someone want to argue that Obama isn't quite the disaster I an very certain he is, I'll debate that. I acknowledge that I might be over-stating some points. If they want to argue he's been an effective and competent President, I'm sorry, but that's a position that can't be supported. If someone says Ken Law was a good CEO, I'm going to say, "If you really think that, you are deluded or an idiot."

      The post was about the indefensible snub of a world leader out of spite. I wrote,

      This goes beyond poor leadership to infantile, unprofessional, and pathetic leadership malpractice. To professionals–competent, rational ones—it’s never personal. Even when it’s personal, it’s not personal. Your job is to work with the people you have to work with. Snits, tantrums, snubs and holding your breath until you turn blue just impede getting the job done, and make a leader look weak and irrational. The other world leaders, even those who preside over anti-Semitic populations, followed protocol and sent personal congratulations to Bibi, because they have at least a rudimentary comprehension of diplomacy and leadership, and also have an emotional maturity above the age of seven. Even officials in his own party are gently trying to nudge the President toward adulthood. From The Hill:

      Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “My observation is that their disagreements are on policy as well as perhaps personality, and I would hope that both men would reach out to each other and work through it. … The U.S.-Israel relationship is more important than the relationship between any two individuals.”

      “Now that the election is over, continuing to mend tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship needs to be a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

      Good luck with that, Democrats. Why should Obama listen to you? The country thinks he’s doing a great job!

      You disagree? You think “Neener neener I hate you I hate you !” is smart diplomacy? Make the case.

      (There is none.)

    • joed68

      I think that might be why he clearly labeled it as a rant. Does this rare deviation from his normal format offend the purist in you, or did he hit the Obama defense button? If so, why haven’t you attacked his grammatical errors?

  7. charlesgreen

    That seems like an awfully long rant to say you disagree with the results of a poll of American citizens.

    Unless CNN doesn’t know how to poll, about half the country agrees with you, and half disagrees:

    You say: “proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Barack Obama has the worst grasp of the Presidential leadership of any POTUS in over a century.”

    The poll of citizenry seems to perceive considerable “reasonable doubt,” saying:

    “Perceptions of the success of Obama’s presidency after six years in office falls in between ratings of his two immediate predecessors. Just 39% said they considered George W. Bush’s presidency a success in January 2007, 55% considered it a failure. Bill Clinton, by contrast, was broadly deemed successful, with 77% calling his time in office a success as of January 1999 and 20% calling it a failure.”

    So, I have to ask: Who you callin’ stupid?

  8. charlesgreen

    When I Google “CBO” “Debt” “edging toward a disastrous level,” the only hit I get is this column. Where’s the citation from the CBO?

    And – when you look at what’s happened to the US deficit, it’s been cut in half since 2009: here’s the citation, form the St. Louis Fed
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M318501A027NBEA

    While those are not directly contradictory, they sure aren’t mutually supportive either.

    • Come ON, Charles, I expect intelligent people to reject spin.

      Using 2009, the largest deficit by miles in the nation’s history, as the bench mark is EXACTLY the same dishonest trick that THE SAME PEOPLE USING IT NOW HAVE MOCKED ON THE PART OF “CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS.” The fact is that cutting that deficit rate in half still means that the DEBT is being allowed to increase at a dangerous and unacceptable level, and the fact that Obama-enablers—which is a fair and accurate statement—continue to cite such deceitful stats shows that either they are being deceived by someone they trust and shouldn’t, or that they are deceitful themselves.

      Obama, once long ago before he revealed himself as an untrustwothy, incompetent narcissist, once gave lip-service to the idea that reducing the DEBT was vitally important. He has allowed it to balloon at an unsustainable rate, and encouraged his lackeys and mouthpieces--Et tu Really?—to make arguments like this. FACT: when you gain weight at a lower rate, you are not on a diet. You are not becoming more healthy. You are going IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. How many times do I have to day it? How many times will Obama’s paid and unpaid liars pretend its not true?

      You really need to spruce up your Google skills, my friend. The same week that Obama gave the State of the Union speech without mentioning the debt, the CBO put out its annual report on our progress to catastrophe.

      The report tells us that at the end of this fiscal year, debt held by the public (the most relevant measure of federal debt) will be 74 percent of gross domestic product . That is “more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950.” And the debt increase RATE, thanks to that marvelous deficit you seem to admire,is going to rise again:beginning in 2018, deficits start to grow: “By 2025, in CBO’s baseline projections, federal debt rises to nearly 79 percent of GDP, ”from $12 trillion in 2013 to nearly $21 trillion in 2024.

      Here’s Obama in 2011 explaining why it is CRUCIAL to deal with this problem NOW: “We have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt. Even after our economy recovers, our government will still be on track to spend more money than it takes in throughout this decade and beyond. That means we’ll have to keep borrowing more from countries like China. That means more of your tax dollars each year will go toward paying off the interest on all the loans that we keep talking out.” Will you believe OBAMA about why OBAMA is a flop in this crucial area? There are tragic lost opportunity costs of devoting so much of the budget to interest payments, of course (I know: “Meh.” Right? Not right?), but the CBO also notes that other “serious negative consequences for both the economy and the federal budget” now and down the road. The government’s unrestrained appetite for debt raises the cost of private-sector borrowing, inevitably lowering economic growth. Getting fatter, not losing weight. Arteries becoming more clogged, mot less. Harder to pump blood. The analogy is a good one.

      At the start of the financial crisis, debt amounted to just 43 percent of GDP, and even DEMOCRATS WERE CRITICIZING BUSH FOR DEFICITS, and rightly so! The CBO warns that the debt threatens to “restrict policymakers’ ability to use tax and spending policies to respond” to vital national needs. Hell, it already has. To get those reduced deficits, Obama’s not able to responsibly address crucial program areas to avoid cutting entitlements, which are driving the dept AND strangling the ability to do what government is supposed to do, like the infrastructure. And his latest (dishonest, absurd) budget would worsen the problem. Unable to pay for existing programs, he wanted to add “free” community college and more preschool programs, among other things.

      The nation is edging to a fiscal cliff. The CBO keeps saying “STIOP” The argument is now that Obama has done a good job because after racing to that cliff at record speed, he’s going slower. Again, Come ON, Charles. I’m really really really sorry that the guy is hopeless. I want competent Presidents as much as you do, but to get them, we have to stop pretending lousy is acceptable.

      Let me add to my rant that Obama has managed, to obscure his own fecklessness and ineptitude, to make intelligent people adopt misleading arguments designed to make the public ignore a national crisis.

      • charlesgreen

        First of all, I don’t accept Obama as an economist; you’re quite right to catch him contradicting himself, but don’t cite him as an economic pillar of wisdom.

        You and most other omigod-the-debt fearmongers tend to work from a flawed analogy – thinking that economies equal households. From that perspective, the only good debt is no debt at all. Let’s talk about that first:
        our debt-to-GDP ratio is far from the highest in the world. In 2011 (all I’ve got at hand), the US stood at 69%, France (86%), Canada (84%), Germany (82%), The United Kingdom (80%), Israel (74%), and Austria (72%). We were about 30th in the world in that ratio.

        If you think lower ratios of debt to GDP are desirable, then here are your economies most to-be admired: Oman (4%), Azerbaijan (5%), Libya (5%), Equatorial Guinea (6%), Wallis and Futana (6%), Estonia (6%), Algeria (7%), Kuwait (7%), Gibraltar (8%), Uzbekistan (8%), and Russia (9%).

        Clearly we don’t want to shoot for that. And if you agree that 0% debt-to-GDP is not the most desirable goal, then it’s incumbent on you to suggest WHAT would be the most desirable level? It’s simply not clear that the right number is apocalyptically less than it is now.

        In fact, if the US were a company (which it’s not, but for the sake of this point it’ll do), and it were facing low capacity utilization, coupled with stable costs of production, and the lowest interest rates in recent history, any CEO worth his sale would borrow more to invest in high-return projects. In the nation’s case, we have crumbling infrastructure, lingering low rates of employment-to-population – why in the world wouldn’t we, for the sake of today and future generations, put people to work on productive investments?

        If you STILL want to lower the debt to GDP ratio to some non-zero number, it’s really not all that hard: it’s in the range of 1.2% – 1.5% of GDP that needs adjusting. The CBO says we’re flatlning for another 10 years, so it’s not terribly urgent to do anything now, though we could. But if you do it now, either by raising taxes or cutting spending, you’re choking of a just-starting-to-recover economy. Why?

        And don’t warn me about “debasing the dollar” or causing inflation. Neither is an issue at a time of low capacity utilization, and the proof of that is that debt-shriekers have been shouting inflation and currency devaluation for the last five years, and look where we are: super-low inflation, and a dangerously strong dollar.

        • charlesgreen

          I forgot to add. Our lowest levels of debt-to-GDP in the last century were in the 1930s, the Depression. And the response to our difficulties from most supposedly wise people was to pay down the debt, which of course only made things worse.

          Our highest levels of debt-to-GDP in the last century, as you point out, were during WWII and the early 1950s. How did we lower the ratio since then? By increasing the denominator, not by lowering the numerator: our fastest economic growth in the last century came about during and after WWII, because of the large levels of investment we undertook – largely debt-financed.

        • I’m less of an economist that Obama, and certainly less than you. But surely you know you are spinning, Charles. Obama said the debt was dangerous, and had to be addressed. Obama criticized Bush for letting the debt get out of hand. Obama then doubled the debt. By his own standards, that’s failure. The CBO is conservative: surely you don’t believe a huge debt is a good thing, right? The “everybody does it”/ “it’s not the worst thing”/ Reverse role model rationalizations seem like awfully threadbare defenses to me. Obviously I’m not comparing the nation to a home: I’d be bankrupt and homeless on that basis. But again, that’s really no refutation. Debt is crippling many of those nations. Those with no debt problems aren’t in dire straits because they have no debt.

          • joed68

            I should have hit “refresh” first, rather than end up sloppily parroting your comment. Sorry about that.

          • charlesgreen

            This is not about an “everybody does it” ethics defense, which I agree would be lame. This is more about urging a bigger perspective when describing economic conditions in extreme, almost apocalyptic terms.
            JoeD perhaps said it better in stating that the comparative data suggests that a single-factor analysis obscures some other dynamics; I would buy that.
            Recall a few years ago there was a bug flap about a Romer economic analysis “proving” that an 80% debt-to-GDP ratio was a trigger point above which nations tipped into Greece-like status. Turned out there was a spreadsheet error in the analysis, and a few other concerns.
            I would simply say it’s far from clear just what the right level of debt should be, and it’s not clear to me, and a few others, that our present situation warrants the degree of extreme concern stated by you and others.
            That said, I don’t like being in the other side of the CBO, though I’m comforted by the company of economist John Harvey ( not to mention your favorite economist Paul Krugman). 🙂

          • charlesgreen

            Jack, I’m sure you’re at least as good an economist as me; I’m an admitted amateur.

            • No, Charles, I promise. I know your credentials. Economics completely defeated me in college and graduate school. I can only depend on the analysis of others I trust past a rudimentary point.

        • joed68

          Okay, I know next to nothing about economics, but aren’t you both utilizing comparative virtue, and maybe going too far in suggesting that a lower debt to GDP ratio is undesirable? I think that at best this illustrates that there are other factors. Also, do you think that the EU may not be the best example of a stellar economy?

  9. Steve-O-in-NJ

    I read that it isn’t unheard of to hold off on congratulating winners in these types of elections because sometimes you don’t know who will be prime minister due to the coalition building that always goes on. That said, it’s pretty obvious now that Bibi is in for a fourth term and to continue to withhold looks very unprofessional and clearly like a snub of our only strong ally in the region.

    I am surprised no one has dredged up the frosty relations between former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero and GWB to justify Obama’s behavior here. Without rehashing the whole record, Zapatero did a policy 180 from his predecessor wrt the US. He also openly stated he hoped John Kerry would win in 2004 (and supported Gerhard Schroeder against Angela Merkel). When GWB was reelected, Zapatero did call to congratulate him. GWB declined to take the call, and only accepted congratulations from King Juan Carlos later. At the time I was frankly OK with it, I considered Zapatero a backstabbing sonofabitch, and his record of driving the Spanish economy into the ground and allying with the far left (too bad they lost their most charismatic spokesman when Hugo Chavez took the dirt nap) speaks for itself, but maybe GWB should have taken the high road…

  10. jan chapman

    Funny no one has noticed that Obama called Netanyahu to congratulate him on Thursday.

  11. There is another explanation for the poll results, one that I subscribe to. Americans like strong Presidents, regardless how the appearance of strength is manifested. Obama, by reacting to his lame duck status with a “Can’t touch me, so I’m doing and saying whatever I want!” defiant stance, is appearing “stronger” than he has before. Of course, being strong by violating the Constitution, saying irresponsible things and refusing to govern responsibly isn’t really a good thing, but enough Americans can’t tell the difference to account for a 10% swing or more.

    “You know…morons.”

  12. joed68

    How many times have you found yourselves in hour-long traffic quagmires, only to find out the cause is all the sub-moronic bipedal cattle dazzled by the apparently rare spectacle of a state trooper issuing a ticket at the side of the highway? This is as good an explanation of the Obama phenomenon as any. Maybe we do need a good nuking.

  13. joed68

    Speaking of polls and economics, here’s one at the bottom of a Daily Kos article about St. Krugman that I just read :
    Poll
    Dr. Krugman’s column today:

    “Meh.

    He’ll be further marginalized for speaking the truth too many don’t want heard.

    Will subject him to vicious attacks by the GOP and their surrogates.

    If you’re not outraged by what he warns the GOP is doing, there’s something wrong with you.

    Should be on the front page of every paper and the lead story on every news broadcast. ”

    The latter one got the most votes. Now, check out the zero-substance propaganda piece that this sagely font of economic wisdom wrote that “Should be on the front page of every paper and the lead story on every news broadcast.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/opinion/paul-krugman-trillion-dollar-fraudsters.html

    • What is fascinating is that anyone still listens to Krugman. The man actually believes in Keynesian economics. That’s pretty much saying “if I print more money we can all be wealthier.”

  14. Dear Martin Rosenthal: Sorry: I am not posting most of your comment, which is a political and partisan rant. Check the Comment policies: Such are not welcome, and are irrelevant to the blog. If you can submit arguments that conform to the topic here, they will be posted.

    I will briefly try to explain the distinction between my “rant,” which I set off from the main body of the post not only because it was a rant, but because it was tangential to the issue, which was the snub tactic— from yours. Here is a representative sample from your comment:

    And, maybe worse, Netanyahu is in bed in w/ & empowering “our” “ethically” disgraceful GOP “leaders” who are pretend Obamacare is bad/horrible, oppose (fair, or any — “starve the beast”) taxes, women’s choice, poor people voting, and are political/ethical hostages/enablers to the Koch bros., IA-NH primary extremists, etc. He deserved a very serious “snub” — and 2 days might have been 1-2 days too fast — & then a lecture.

    Sure, Obama — handcuffed by DDC & extremist/unethical GOP — had done some bad stuff, but on the whole has been as good — & as ethical — as is now possible. His S.Ct. appointments have reversed a repugnant reactionary trend, and Obamacare — ever since unethically attacked by GOP’rs — is the best thing out of DC since LBJ (also deeply flawed & a foreign “policy” [sic] even more harmful than Shrub’s) w/ the Great Society & huge civ-rts gains.

    This is just partisan “liberal policies are wonderful and Republicans are mean to poor Obama while being evil” talking points. You even stoop to Koch-bashing, a tell. To partisans, Obamacare is good or bad on principle: I don’t discuss the wisdom of the bill here. What is ethically concerning is 1) the way it was passed (See Gruber at al.)and the fact that those who passed it never read it. It is before SCOTUS right now, only because nobody read the damn thing. That’s called “incompetence.” 2) It was passed by using fraud, the “You can keep it ” lie. Again, pure dishonesty, and an “ends justifies the means” ethics foul. It would be such if this were as good a bill as you think it is. (It is only a good bill, even arguably, if it WORKS, and by that I don’t mean decreases the number of uninsured. It works by its own terms if it does that without costing much more than projected, meets its own benchmarks, and doesn’t lose jobs when the employer mandate kicks in, AND doesn’t require the President to violate the Constitution in the process, which he has already done, by the way.) Anyone who can sing the praises of Obamacare at this point just isn’t bothering to be objective or analytical. Frankly, written from such a standpoint, your opinion is worthless.

    Approving a snub, which is just bad diplomacy and juvenile, petty leadership technique, simply shows a manifest misunderstanding of executive leadership. Calling abortion, a complex issue and a classic ethical conflict, a one-sided matter of “Choice” shows dishonesty and again, pure partisan rather than objective analysis, disqualifying your rant. The issue isn’t “choice,” it’s whether one individual with more power should have an unlimited right to kill another individual—if it is an individual, and either is or isn’t, not “it’s a life if the mother wants it to be”— as a matter of convenience. If you can’t argue on the basis of the issues but have to define the problem away to debate it, again, that’s ethically impermissible here.

    The same goes from your frankly dishonest “poor people voting” crap, and shame on you. Requiring that voters identify themselves is by definition responsible: making it easier for the poor to do so is a separate problem.

    The SCOTUS members on the right aren’t “reactionary” as many opinions in this term illustrate. If you only think one type of justice is desirable on the Court, you’re a partisan hack. One of Obama’s appointments was excellent—Kagan. Sotomayor is and was a mediocre judge whose appointment was pure affirmative action and liberal litmus-test filling, as bad in that way as the Thomas appointment was from the right: “We need a black conservative. OK, that means we have three judges to choose from.” UNETHICAL. Read “female” and “Hispanic” for black and liberal for conservative, and Hello Sonya! SCOTUS should have the best legal minds: nobody thought Sotomayor was among the top 100. She was a woman and Hispanic. Irrelevant to deciding the law.

    And so on.

    Similarly, you label my points as exaggerations, which is partisan talk for “I can’t rebut them, and they are inconvenient.”

    What I wrote has nothing to do with my policy preferences, but rather ethical leadership, my field, including honesty and competence, as well as integrity. Therefore it was simply not political in substance. Opposing a President who is lousy at his job shouldn’t be political or partisan. Every American should insist on a President who tells the truth, is responsible and knows how to be a responsible leader. Because their current President is none of these things, Democrats are disgracing themselves by insisting that such qualities are acceptable, again, if such qualities are in service of policies they like. This is why, as I have explained, Obama is an Ethics Corrupter. He has apparently corrupted you, unless you have always thought liars and incompetents were a good thing. Maybe you have. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    1. The Congressional Budget office says that that the debt, which the President once said was a top existential priority, is edging toward a disastrous level.

    2. Health care costs, which were already untenable, have continued to rise..

    3. The evidence that the government is being managed like a lemonade stand is everywhere..

    4. the IRS is apparently a rogue organization and incompetent, having just rehired the clown act that rolled out the healthcare.gov website.

    5. The State Department doesn’t hold its employees—like, say, the head of it—to its own policies;

    6. The EPA is, according to the most prominent liberal Constitutional scholar in the country, trampling on that document.

    7. the VA is still a mess and killing veterans

    8. the Secret Service is having DUI episodes at the White House;

    9. Nobody has assigned accountability for the Justice Department allowing illegal guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug lords;

    10. The Supreme Court has the heart of the Affordable care Act beating in its hands as it faced with dealing with a law that contradicts itself because those who passed it and signed it skimmed it like it was a Reader’s Digest article if they read it at all.

    11. HHS proved itself completely inept in rolling out the law;

    12. The CIA’s ex-chief just barely escaped jail, where he belongs, after giving classified information to his mistress;

    13. The NSA has a contractor whose access to secrets was vast and inexplicable residing in Russia, with those secrets,

    14. Its management has lied to Congress while spying on our allies, listening in on conversations between lawyers and the their clients while generally running amuck.

    15. There’s more.

    16. Hordes of illegal immigrants are to be treated as legal by unconstitutional Presidential fiat, paving the way for future Presidents to act like dictators too.

    17. Other Presidents have been willing and able to court, nudge, persuade, negotiate, horse trade and compromise with the supposedly co-equal legislative branch, but Obama can’t and won’t, so he found another way, known as “ignoring precedent, best practices and the Constitution.”

    18. Civil libertarians protest that the administration has chilled freedom of the press by harassing the few journalists with the integrity to criticize it.

    19.The White House just declared that it would no longer honor FOIA requests

    20. Guantanamo is still holding prisoners in limbo.

    21. The unemployment figures are looking up after the slowest recovery from a recession in U.S. history and… are hiding the biggest exodus from the work force on record.

    22. Colleges are graduating ignorant and illiterate students at obscene prices;

    23. Student loan obligations risk another economic meltdown.

    24.Public education continues to decline, on the other.

    25. Med schools aren’t graduating enough doctors to fill projected public needs, and the law schools are seeing the number of law students decrease even as the need for lawyers increase.

    26. Race relations in the U.S., meanwhile, have worsened spectacularly during the Obama administration, with racial trust at a 50 year low.

    27. Now, every time an unarmed black citizen is shot by a police officer, there’s an automatic protest on the presumption of racism, regardless of the facts of the incident.

    28. Libya, where the U.S. intervened and kept bombing past the law-imposed limit because Obama said dropping exploding things on a foreign country didn’t qualify as hostilities, is falling apart.

    29. Carnage reigns in Syria

    30. The Ukraine is being invaded by Russia in increments; North Korea intimidated a U.S. corporation for its choice of entertainment vehicles without suffering for it.

    31. Obama pulled out of Iraq as stability was within reach, allowing it to become a breeding ground for ISIS.

    32. U.S. reticence to oppose terrorism saw the White House snub a rare kumbaya moment in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack

    33. A response to Bokam Haram in Nigeria that consisted of the First Lady making a frowny face on Twitter.

    34. Iran will soon agree not to pursue nuclear weapons and will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, moving the world closer to Armageddon.

    The United States is poorer, more dysfunctional, more divided, more in debt, less employed, weaker, less respected, less democratic, less free, less trusted, less safe, and more cynical.

    I believe this conclusion follows from the foregoing. Not a single statement above isn’t true: you cannot oppose them on the facts, you can only say they don’t matter because Obama is wonderful. There was an error in #26, which I fixed here and in the post: “unarmed” belonged there, and I agree, without it the statement is an exaggeration. Otherwise, every single statement is true, and every one of those situations is objectively undesirable, meaning that criticizing them is non partisan except to people like you, who believe that it is partisan to criticize a bad President if he’s a Democrat.

    If you can’t argue that those 34 situations and results are good, then you should be criticizing too. You can’t argue that they don’t exist, and the argument that I am partisan for pointing them out is idiotic. Moreover, and frankly I was surprised at this, because I didn’t check before since as revenge should be served cold, rants should be written fast, there isn’t a single partisan or ideological statement among the 34.

    Yet you responded to a rant based on pure fact with one based on spin and biased talking points.

    That’s why I didn’t post your political rant. If you really can’t see the difference, I’m sorry for you. Get help.

  15. I’ll have to grant Obama a little leeway in not calling Netanyahu to congratulate him on his electoral victory. After all, how can anyone- no matter how cynical and untruthful by nature- have enough gall to call up someone that he tried to illicitly undermine with taxpayer funded operatives… and rather blatantly, at that? There’s really nothing Obama COULD say that would not be overtly meritless, even to his most fawning supporters. He tried to take down the leader of an allied nation and suffered a humiliating defeat. As in the 2014 elections, he simply refuses any relevant comment and waits for the heat to die down. In the meantime, though, patriots in the Western World are now looking to Netanyahu for determined leadership, as there is little to none to be found elsewhere.

  16. Well, as I suspected, I had to ban Mr. Rosenthal. In his return comment, he 1) complained of being “censored” (when my comment guidelines say that purely political rants are not welcome and one sends one anyway, this is called “enforcement of the conditions of participation.” It has nothing to do with censorship) 2) attacks the basis for the website itself, 3) continues to roll out every arch-partisan Angry Liberal trope in existance, from the Florida vote count to Nixon’s race policies (he likes Rationalization #22) and then proves himself a dishonest, Alinsky troll by daring to post this moronic comment, among others:

    “How about Fox News ignoring the overall & shocking DoJ report aboutt shocking systemic & cultural racism in Ferguson, but obsessing instead on 1 factoid issue, “hands up”?”

    And how about them Mets? 1. I don’t watch Fox any more, thanks to the network proving that it cared less about integrity than NBC, 2. I can hardly trust Martin and his jaundiced eye to correctly report what Fox did or said, since I highly doubt that he watches Fox either 3. Hand Up! is a FACTOID!!!!!!! The whole premise of the protests, the attention on Ferguson, the protests, that caterwauling about the grand jury being led to do the right thing, the fact that it was all a lie —it’s trivial!!!!

    This guy is the biggest ideologically-disabled jerk to wander into these parts in months, and maybe ever. Thank heaven I never approved one of his posts

    • Michael Ejercito

      I wonder why choice only refers to the choice of whether or not to have an abortion. what if a woman wants to carry a concealed weapon, light her bedroom with an incandescent light bulb, or have a seven-gallon flush toilet in her bathroom? do not those choices count?

  17. joed68

    I think that one reason obamites continue to worship him, and refuse to acknowledge anything directed his way as legitimate criticism, is that they feel they have, at long last, established a permanent stranglehold on our system. They’ve already got more than enough dupes, and they’re this close to opening the floodgates to people who will procreate democrats at an exponential rate. They can get behind someone who dismantles the checks and balances rubbish, because they don’t have to worry about a repube-lican taking the helm and, say, privatizing Social Security or reversing Roe V Wade with the stroke of a pen.

    • charlesgreen

      Who are these people who “worship” Obama? I voted for him and generally support him, and know many who do the same, but all of us recognize some flaws in him and differ with him on some policies. Nobody I know thinks the way you describe. Either there is a secret cabal of Obama-worshipers who are known to you but not to those of us who generally support him, or you are creating a Strawman.

      • joed68

        You must have missed the diatribes of Mr. Rosenthal, whom Jack just referenced. He is not an extreme example of Obama-worship, in my experience. In fact, that is one of the most troubling things to me about the left: the way that they close ranks and utilize any and all tactics to deflect blame and criticism. It’s disturbing. That’s not to say that there aren’t ideologues on the right, but it seems to me that, taken as a whole, they seem much less emotionally vested. In fact, I see a great deal of disgust in the GOP being voiced, now and in the past, by members of that party. Granted, I’m subject to looking at my own group in a more favorable light to some extent, as are we all, but it can’t account for what’s occurring today. Maybe in your private dealings you’re encountering more people who happen to also be less vocal, but can you honestly say that the public face of the left isn’t just what I described?

  18. joed68

    Oh my God. I’m at a total loss. I feel like a flash-bang just went off in my lap. That actually looked like the word equivalent of one of those disco-ball thingies. I almost feel like replying to this would be like getting into bed with a syphilitic prostitute.

  19. dragin_dragon

    Uh, I realize I have just recently mentioned “making a long-distance” diagnosis, but did any of this comment make ANY sense to ANYBODY? Possibly schizophrenic, possibly posted after drinking just a bit too much. Probably not a bad idea to ban him, not sure he would contribute much…other than incoherence.

  20. Off topic, but since he’s been Obama’s primary senatorial lap dog- great news:

    One of Obama’s key obstructionist front-men, Harry Reid, has announced he won’t seek reelection.

    Now without Obama in 2016, maybe we’ll have some cooperation and compromise in DC.

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