A Picture Is Worth $455 Billion: A Score Sheet For The State Of Barack Obama’s Union

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday lasted 65 minutes. The faucet was running the entire time. Here, courtesy of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is a visual representation of how much money poured out while Obama spoke.

by-the-numbers1

It’s stunning to realize that the Federal debt itself is growing nearly one-third as quickly as actual spending. What’s not stunning is the scant attention Obama paid to government spending — except when he was proposing more of it.

Also, is anyone surprised that that the majority of both parties in Congress continues to be complicit in this farce? The very next day after Obama’s address, the House approved a so-called “compromise” Farm Bill Wednesday on a 251-166 vote with the full support of the GOP Establishment. The much-argued “cut” to the historically gigantic food stamp program was virtually eliminated from the final bill, and there’s virtually no chance the Senate will prevent this monster from making its way to the President’s desk.

Joe Biden’s Heart Tells Him He’d ‘Make A Good President’

Vice President Joe Biden may or may not decide to run for President in 2016, but at least he thinks he’d make a good one. At least, that’s what his heart tells him.

Biden told NBC News today it’s simply a question of him making up his own mind about getting in the race. “In my heart, I’m confident that I could make a good president,” he said. “It’s a very different decision to decide whether or not to run for president.”

To which we can only say – listen to your heart and run, Joe, run.

BOOM

Constitution Absent From Barack Obama’s State Of The Union

President Barack Obama delivered a State of the Union address last night that reflected a parallel-universe vision of America very different from the one most of us inhabit in the present day. It’s almost as though he had this speech written five years ago, on the cusp of taking his first Oath of Office, and had to redact and revise swaths of visionary optimism to save face after the embattled 5th year he just completed. It was a vainglorious, self-indulgent victory lap in an empty, echoing stadium.

Some of his promises sounded very Republican, borrowed from conservative critics. At other times, he took credit for things that are either demonstrably unsuccessful or, where successful, can’t be attributed to a hand up from the government – and certainly not from his. The days to come will yield a wealth of commentary and criticism, but let’s knee-jerk over a few highlights from the President’s speech.

 

Yes, He’s Taking Action

But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do. … I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. … My administration will keep working with the [natural gas] industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities [No mention of the Keystone pipeline]. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. … I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.

Obama must have seen the storm coming over his widely-anticipated promise to convert the Presidency to a monarchy. But it didn’t mute that promise; it only forced him to add a spoonful of sugar to the rhetoric. The President pledged to take executive action on domestic economic policy, environmental protection and – even in the wake of last year’s resounding Congressional defeat – gun control. Because, evidently, moral and cultural bankruptcy have nothing to do with mass murders – more unConstitutional laws do.

 

We Can Spend More Money To Save More Money

Of all the things Obama said Tuesday, his dogged negligence in reconciling a cavalcade of government-expanding ideas with returning our Nation to financial solvency on the global stage stands as the most perplexing – even if, by now, it ought to be a familiar Obama-Administration refrain. Here are some examples:

Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.  But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

Translation: The sequester’s over, the tap is turned on, and the Republicans didn’t get what they wanted. Someone in the future can worry about balancing out my Adminstration’s escalation of the Federal debt.

It’s not just oil [again, no mention of Keystone] and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

Translation: Let’s kill coal, which we have in abundance and which supports an established domestic economy with a well-developed infrastructure, and throw more Federal money at disastrous, discredited pipe dreams like Solyndra. Petroleum is for fat cats, and it’s time they helped pay their fair share to put themselves out of business.

When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

Translation: Small businesses, farmers and domestic industries need to bear the cost of a senseless tax on the very vehicles they rely on to produce a product. It’s the government’s job to vilify automakers by passing that financial burden on to the consumer. I am clueless that Ford – the only automaker the government didn’t bail out – didn’t need a government mandate to develop a new series of lightweight, fuel-efficient aluminum trucks in response to a need it saw in the marketplace.

I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy.  But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.

Translation: Just what we need – another Obama-inspired insurance initiative to stand alongside the efficient, well received, seamless and cost-effective monument to nanny-state salvation that is Obamacare.

 

I Can Call Women Fools, And No One Will Notice Because Democrats Stand For Equality

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.

Translation: No one in this room reads conservative news sources, so I can get away with patronizing women without fear that someone may call out my own White House for paying female staffers $9,000 a year less than the males. And all this rhetoric is really in the service of a larger goal: European-style socialism that converts the private sector into a clearinghouse for government-mandated, privately-funded corporate welfare.

 

Let Government Manage Your Money

Obama took pride in his forthcoming policy tweak, which will reset the Federal minimum wage for contracted workers at $10.10 per hour.

“And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example: Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” he said.

Never mind that Costco is a successful company that pays its employees well because of across-the-board sound business practices.

The Federal government is in no financial position to hike wages. Unlike the government, Costco didn’t shut down three months ago, restart itself through borrowed money and make company-wide pay raises its first priority.

Then there was this:

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans.

Well, that’s interesting. As long as we’re living in a land of fiat currency, this will either work great until, one day, it doesn’t – or it’s just ambitious pomp that isn’t intended to get off the ground. After all, George W. Bush had us going to Mars by 2030, if anyone remembers.

There’s also a possibility that this MyRA plan is the first baby step toward the government requiring people to buy into a mandatory, wealth-redistributing pension program with penalties for opt-outs. That sounds like another of Obama’s signature legacies.

It also sounds a lot like a long-range Social Security replacement program that solves nothing. And anyway, wouldn’t it be grandiose enough an ambition either to reform Social Security in the first place, or abolish it outright? Obama said little else, so it seems like early days for this one – let’s hope.

 

Enjoy The Silence

And, louder than any of his spoken words was the President’s roaring silence on what he’s done wrong – Obamacare’s fundamental unsustainability; a head-in-the-sand foreign policy; spending too much printed money while claiming a trimmed deficit; forcing the free market to behave like an overwrought government; using phony numbers to prop up economic optimism; and, above all, wilfully neglecting to countenance and rectify the many recent shameful scandals that lie squarely at his feet: IRS discrimination. The Department of Justice’s adversarial relationship with the American people and press.  His Administration’s simpering, self-serving ignorance of the terror attack on our consulate in Benghazi.

The list goes on – but what difference does it make?

*Sam Rolley contributed to this analysis.

Democratic Senators Side With Obama Administration In Hobby Lobby Birth Control Fight

Nineteen Democratic Senators filed an amicus brief siding with the Obama Administration Tuesday in a long-running court case which could determine whether the government has the power to enforce a controversial Obamacare provision over the religious objections of Christian business owners.

The family of David Green, who owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain, filed the lawsuit to block the Obama Administration from forcing the company to pay for its employees’ birth control under Obamacare. The family, citing religious convictions, maintains that the government cannot require companies to fund mandatory programs that company owners deem immoral according to their interpretation of Biblical moral precepts.

The Greens’ case had already won a victory in U.S. District Court last summer, when an Oklahoma City Judge issued a preliminary injunction exempting the company from having to follow the contraception mandate until after the lawsuit had run its course. The case has since moved to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Democratic Senators filed their Tuesday brief.

The Senators argue that Hobby Lobby as a company cannot avail itself of the same protections afforded to individuals by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The Act was passed to protect individuals and nonprofit organizations against government policies that infringe on their religious beliefs, but the Obama Administration argues the law does not apply to companies.

Late Tuesday, A group of 18 Republican Senators countered by filing an amicus brief of their own in support of Hobby Lobby. They argued that the Obamacare contraception mandate violates the 1st Amednment’s Free Exercise Clause, in addition to portions of the RFRA.

“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers attached to the brief. “Yet, the Obama administration has chosen repeatedly to break the law by giving breaks to big business and Congress, while refusing to grant those same waivers to people with sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people.

Dinesh D’Souza Gets Arrested In Obama Witch Hunt; Ted Cruz Defends Him On TV; CBS Edits It Out

Although it wasn’t widely reported in the mainstream press, you may have heard about about Dinesh D’souza’s recent troubles with the U.S. Department of Justice.

D’souza, the conservative commentator, writer and filmmaker responsible for the damning 2013 documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” was indicted last Thursday on Federal charges that he funneled money illegally to a Senate candidate — widely rumored to be 2012 Republican candidate Wendy Long of New York, although the court didn’t name her — in violation of campaign finance laws.

The U.S Attorney’s office accuses D’souza of circumventing election funding laws that capped individual contributions at $2,500 by reimbursing straw donors to the candidate’s unsuccessful Senate campaign. D’souza is accused of repaying donors a total of $20,000 in donations that were redistributed into the campaign at $2,500 a pop.

D’Souza pleaded “not guilty” on Friday and was released after meeting a $500,000 bail. Here’s a list of nine people accused of violent crimes who didn’t have to come up with that kind of bail money.

D’souza is a prolific critic of President Barack Obama. At the time of his indictment, he was in the midst of filming a follow-up documentary to “2016: Obama’s America” simply titled “America.” Now he’s been charged with a Federal crime: one he may or may not be guilty of. Even if he is guilty, the charade seems selective, contrived and politically motivated.

As with so many scandals close to the Obama Administration, the gun used to assassinate D’souza is warm but it isn’t smoking. The State Trooper may be letting speeders whiz by his parked cruiser all day long; but when the call comes in to follow the beige sedan, it’s not difficult to catch the driver speeding. And as long as you catch your mark breaking the law, who cares if other people are doing it?

D’souza likely won’t get the treatment Pierce O’Donnell received. In 2012, O’Donnell struck a plea deal for committing the exact same crime in 2004, on behalf of then-Presidential candidate John Edwards. O’Donnell ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.

The Department of Justice claims it “caught” D’souza by sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun. D’souza, they allege, was the lone speeder:

The Indictment is the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York.

Rick Moran of the PJ Tatler finds that problematic:

How is it possible that a measly $20,000 in donations could leap out at investigators during a “routine review”? Most people charged with this crime front hundreds of thousands of dollars — and end up with far lesser charges. And are we to believe this “routine review” only snared Mr. D’Souza? If $20,000 in contributions leapt out at the FBI, are we to believe that D’Souza is the only contributor guilty of setting up straw donations? Where are the other lawbreakers?

On Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and tried to connect D’souza’s indictment with the Obama Administration’s larger pattern of political persecution. Here’s how part of his exchange with host Bob Schieffer went:

Cruz: …Just this week it was broken that Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the President, is now being prosecuted by this Administration.”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “Can you image the reaction if the Bush Administration had went; gone — and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “It should trouble everyone the government uses government power and the IRS in particular to target their enemies and you are talking in a few minutes to Chuck Schumer–“

Schieffer: “We are going to leave this for another day, Senator. Thank you for joining us and we’ll talk to you again.”

Every word of that exchange was edited out of the broadcast. Cruz revealed the contents of the entire exchange on his YouTube channel.

McCain Adds Another Dubious Honor To His RINO Trophy Case

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked up the most illustrious of the many trophies he’s been collecting for his RINO mantle over the weekend, receiving a formal censure by the Arizona Republican Party for a voting record that betrays conservative values.

The official condemnation represents the latest in a series of scoldings the Senator has received from Republicans in Arizona. Republicans in his home county of Maricopa formally censured McCain on for similar reasons earlier this month on an overwhelmingly lopsided vote. But Saturdays’ censure vote, coming via the State Republican Party, marks the broadest reprimand McCain has yet received.

The resolution describes McCain’s voting record as “disastrous and harmful” and castigates the Senator for his recent positions on immigration reform, the funding of Obamacare and 2nd Amendment issues, among other offenses. The resolution concludes that McCain’s brand of “conservatism” has forced the Arizona Republican Party to “no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.”

The censure, which passed on a voice vote, carries no repercussions other than to draw a public line between party conservatives and McCain. But that sort of bad publicity can become its own quite tangible form of punishment.

Establishment GOP lawmakers quickly closed ranks to protect McCain following the vote. Former Arizona Republican Senator John Kyl evoked McCain’s own Tea Party-bashing language by telling The Arizona Republic the censure was “wacky.”

“To say that John McCain doesn’t work with Republicans, doesn’t have a conservative voting record — that’s just baloney,” said Kyl. “I served with him in the Senate for 18 years, 26 years all together, and we didn’t always vote alike, but his record is very conservative. It’s just wacky to say otherwise.”

Retiring House Democrat Jim Moran Wakes Up; Admits Obamacare Is Underwater

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), who’s not seeking a 13th term in office after his current term ends, told American University’s radio station Friday he doesn’t see a way for Obamacare to succeed if it continues to rely on human nature and market forces to meet its enrollment goals.

Moran candidly expressed concern that young people in the so-called “millennial generation” demographic will never voluntarily enroll for overpriced health care coverage as long as there remains no financial incentive to do so. Without an abundant enrollment of healthy, self-paying customers, there’s no way for insurers to benefit financially under Obamacare unless the government simply devises a way to bail them out.

“I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will, are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent, I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations,” said Moran. “But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to financially.

“And, frankly, there’s some legitimacy to their concern because the government spends about $7 for the elderly for every $1 it spends on the young…I just don’t know how we’re going to do it frankly. If we had a solution I’d be telling the president right now.”

NSA Exploits Mobile Apps To Find Out Whether You’re Gay Or Straight

Have you installed Google Maps or Angry Birds on your smartphone? Apps for mobile devices – including those two phenomenally popular ones – evidently offer the National Security Agency a gateway into your device, and therefore a great deal of insight about who you are – your age, your sex, your whereabouts, and even whether you’re straight or gay; celibate or promiscuous.

The Guardian released yet another Edward Snowden revelation today that outlines how the NSA (as well as Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ) can use so-called “leaky” mobile apps – programs that transmit user data across the Internet – to monitor user behavior and build databases that harbor very personal information, as well as delineate broad patterns across wide demographics.

From The Guardian:

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

The newspaper published a leaked NSA instructional graphic that demonstrates the type of personal information a leaky app can yield – including, according to The New York Times, “address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.” The program has reportedly been operational since at least 2007.

Content Director Revealed Newspaper Company Plan To Build Concealed Carry Database

A media company that owns dozens of newspapers in 12 States “considered” creating private “state-by-state databases” tracking “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” as part of its strategy to report on “the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits” across the Nation.

Civitas Media is a newspaper conglomerate that operates 88 newspapers. A confidential source within the company leaked an internal email that mentioned the plan to the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

In a blog post built at 8 a.m. Friday, BFA spilled the beans about Civitas Media’s plan.

Content Director Jim Lawitz sent the email on Jan. 19 to “All Content Directors,” “All Content Producers” and “All Content Producers” at Civitas’ regional newspapers. BFA contacted some of those newspapers; no one would comment.

After all the hoopla stemming from BFA’s report, Civitas Media CEO Michael C. Bush issued a statement, which was on the company’s website by mid-afternoon Friday:

Civitas Media never had any plans or intentions of publishing in print or online lists of holders of “conceal and carry” permits. Nor will Civitas Media develop databases of permit holders. A poorly crafted internal memo meant to highlight editorial discussions and planning incorrectly indicated that such a database was being planned; it has been considered and rejected.

But that isn’t what the email indicates. See it for yourself. The first paragraph under the heading is the relevant one:

civitas-email

Several online commenters pointed out that “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” is perverse phrasing for a universal, natural right that the 2nd Amendment simply codifies as a safeguard to protect citizens from tyranny.

The company likely would have been met with varying degrees of success, depending on the public records laws in State where requests were filed. As BFA pointed out, its home State of Ohio has a rocky history of protecting the privacy of lawful gun owners with laws. The organization even struck back against another newspaper, the Sandusky Register — which in 2007 published a list of more than 2,600 Ohio concealed handgun license holders — by making public similar information about that paper’s managing editor:

In response, Buckeye Firearms Association decided to use truly publicly-available records to obtain information about [managing editor] Matt Westerhold and publish that information, which included his address and photos of his home, a description of his vehicle and license plate number, (which he had been driving when he committed a recent traffic offense). Later, in an article entitled “What is the harm in publishing lists of concealed handgun license holders?,” we used Westerhold as a case study to show how a person can use public records to obtain information that could be used by someone with intent to do harm. We obtained (but did not republish in its entirety even though it was acquired through public record) his birth date, social security number, and even the name of his then-pre-teen child. We pointed out that from the information we gathered though public record it would have been easy for a criminal to determine where the child went to school, what bus the child rode on, etc.

In short, our point is and always has been that THE ONLY USE FOR THESE LISTS IS TO TARGET AND VICTIMIZE GUN OWNERS.

Americans Hate Congress In General Worse Than Their Congressmen In Particular

While the results of a Gallup poll last week shouldn’t give any sitting member of Congress great cause for optimism, they do affirm a pervasive feature of the American political zeitgeist: It’s easier to hate everyone else’s Congressional delegates than it is to hate your own.

While the poll indicates few incumbent Congressmen seeking to hold on to their seats should feel safe in 2014, it does reveal that people have an innate tendency to sympathize with their own elected leaders’ shortcomings more than the shortcomings of elected officials hailing from other States.

According to Gallup’s annual “Mood of the Nation” poll, 46 of Americans said they will vote for their Congressional incumbents again — and that’s a record low. But it’s still a more favorable approval rating than Americans have for Congress as a whole: Only 17 percent of those questioned said that “most members of Congress” should be re-elected.

From the summary:

The legendary Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously coined the phrase “all politics is local,” a dictum that guided his Democratic majorities against Republican electoral waves in the 1980s. More generally, the saying describes the local versus national phenomenon that also occurs when the public is asked about such things as healthcare, education, and crime. But now that adage rings less true as voters see their own U.S. representative in the same way that they see most other members of Congress — as not deserving re-election.

Relative to previous polls, that’s true. But local sympathies still win out over generalizations. With the gap in public opinion closing in, however, 2014 could be a tumultuous election in which some incumbents defy expectations by surviving brutal campaigns, while others fall to insurgents from both sides of the political spectrum who promise not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.

“Typically, results like these have presaged significant turnover in Congress, such as in 1994, 2006, and 2010,” Gallup observes. “So Congress could be headed for a major shake-up in its membership this fall. However, unlike those three years, when one party controlled both houses of Congress, the beneficiary of the anti-incumbent sentiment is not clear in the current situation, in which one party controls the House and the other, the Senate.”

Whatever the outcome, expect most of the real turnover to occur in the primaries, when partisan voters get their chance to exact righteous vengeance by ousting the incumbents and replacing them with newcomers who’ve risen within the same political party.