I thought this was a noteworthy tome for Christmas Eve 2009, below by Daniel Henninger. We have all heard the phrase “What goes up, must come down.” With even more outrageous new allegations of fraud against Obama’s one year old presidency now barreling in on him, i.e Reverend James Manning alleging that Obama never even actually attended Columbia University, the fast moving locomotive of daring, truthful and fearless citizen journalist reporting is now running over the credibility of Obama’s leadership with freight train destructive power. Witnessing all this, it’s no wonder the White House is making not so secret preparations for coming civil unrest and martial law.
DECEMBER 24, 2009, 12:06 A.M. ET
In February 2007, Barack Obama announced he would stand for the presidency of the United States in 2008. One year into that far-from-inevitable presidency, no figure has ever so thoroughly pulled toward himself the nation’s political energy.
“I burst just like a supernova.”
But here’s NASA’s definition of a supernova: It’s a stellar explosion, an incredibly luminous star, able to outshine a whole galaxy . . . before gradually fading from view.
So one may ask after the first year of Obama: Is he a star for the ages, or is he fading fast?
Has any president so engulfed American politics? He is everywhere. He is the first real king of all media. He makes himself the constant conversation, the national siren song. No one can stop listening to him, even if it kills them to hear it.
Daniel Henninger discusses President Obama’s star power.
Nobody says “Barack Obama” anymore. He’s just “Obama.” He is the champ of one-name celebrities. Bono, Beyoncé, Sting, Madonna, Moby, LeBron, Ronaldo, even Oprah—no one’s close. Obama. Oh-BAHH-ma. Ohhhhhbama.
The election itself was part fairy tale, part fight of the century. The incredible primary battle between the rookie from Illinois and Team Clinton was a mesmerizing, six-month thriller.
It is true that his approval rating has fallen fast, though keep in mind that high unemployment brought Ronald Reagan a disapproval rating of 54% in early 1983. Still it remains impossible to view Obama as just another pol. No previous politician or president has sustained such a huge public presence. The Obama machine has hard-wired itself to the 24/7 media machine.
People started to think Obama was speaking to them every day. Why not? He has the best voice in politics since Reagan’s, and Obama hasn’t acted professionally a day in his life.
The whole Obama thing, starting with the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, followed immediately by the book “Dreams from My Father,” was built around a persona, an aura. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote that Obama told him early in his Senate career: “Harry, I have a gift.”
This column has referred previously to a January 2007 New York Times article about Obama at Harvard Law School. It has the best description I have seen of the “gift.” This was 1988 to 1991, one of the most politicized periods in the law school’s history, with divisive fights over ideas such as critical race theory. In the article Prof. Charles Ogletree recalled how the young Obama spoke to a public gathering on one particularly contentious issue, and both sides thought he was endorsing their argument: “Everyone was nodding. Oh, he agrees with me.”
That is the “gift.” What is not clear as we approach the second year of Mr. Obama’s term is whether the gift can produce magic for a presidency.
The American presidency isn’t like anything else in life. What was magic at Harvard or wowed independents in 2008 isn’t necessarily what works in the Oval Office or in a room with Vladimir Putin or Wen Jiabao, who are quite beyond the experience of political awe.
The aspect of the “Obama” phenomenon that disconcerts me most is the sense that Barack Obama himself is at times oblivious of where it has taken him. The first time was his acceptance speech last year in Denver, in which he promised to solve, well, pretty much everything. Grandiosity is de rigueur on that occasion, but this was its antic cousin, grandiloquence.
This week brought a more troubling incident. Harry Reid’s Senate had just secured its 60th vote for Mr. Obama’s health-care reform. Whatever one’s view, its trillion-dollar-plus cost is an agreed given. Days earlier the public saw Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling by almost $290 billion to make room for the needs of the $800 billion stimulus bill, the unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget, and the House’s approval Dec. 16 of a new $154 billion jobs bill. Amid this President Obama said Monday: “We can’t continue to spend . . . as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money.”
From the Wizard of Oz to Tiger Woods, the greatest danger to grand men is feet of clay. There are varieties of clay. For the politician known as Obama it is that if he is shown to be a cynic, he is finished. “Monopoly money” was an everyone-agrees-with-me remark. But to everyone, it was simply fantastic.
The American people took a flyer on Barack Obama. If they conclude Obama is just the name of another lesser god, his fall could come as fast as his rise.
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What interested me most about this report is what they chose to buy: TVs, of all things. Shouldn’t they be buying food, medical needs, fuel, seeds, hand tools, dry goods, staples, and other homestead needs? Of all useless ways to spend a rocketing downward devalued currency, for God’s sake and for your family’s sake – don’t buy a damn TV! Get a brain and prepare for what is coming!!
Panic Spending Spree: Nervous Venezuelans buy TVs after devaluation
President Hugo Chavez announced a dual system for the fixed rate bolivar Friday night while much of the country was watching a baseball game.
Shoppers crammed into electronics stores, eager to snap up imported televisions and computers ahead of the anticipated price hikes.
“I’ve been lining up for two hours outside to buy a television and two speakers because by Monday everything is bound to be double the current price,” said Miguel Gonzalez, a 56-year-old engineer standing in the tropical sun outside a popular store.
Opposition politicians seized the opportunity to criticize Chavez’s economic management, with Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma saying standards of living would drop.
“If you need to buy a refrigerator for your house tomorrow, it’s going to cost you twice as much as it did up till Friday, Ledezma said.
State run television and radio stations avoided using the word “devaluation,” preferring the word “adjustment.” One pro-Chavez radio station responded to critics of the measure by playing a popular Argentine song called “Imbecile.”
With oil crowding out other sectors of the economy, Venezuela heavily relies on imports for consumer goods, leaving it subject to big price swings depending on the exchange rate.
Older Venezuelans are accustomed to sharp losses in the value of their money, with numerous devaluations and currency regimes over the last three decades of economic turmoil.
Inflation, the highest in the Americas, at 25 percent last year, reached 103 percent in 1996 after a previous president lifted exchange and price controls.
Chavez’s high-spending policies during an oil bonanza fueled a massive consumer boom and fast growth that shuddered to a halt when oil prices plunged a year ago.
The sharp drop in oil revenues also undermined the bolivar and made a devaluation inevitable at some point.
A “pandemic response bill” currently making its way through one state legislature would allow authorities to forcefully quarantine citizens in the event of a health emergency, compel health providers to vaccinate citizens, authorize forceful entry into private dwellings and destruction of citizen property and impose fines on citizens for noncompliance.
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Who’s afraid of Barack Obama?
The new president spent his first months in office coasting on love and popularity. In his health care speech to Congress Wednesday, he rallied after a rough summer with a new round of tough talk.
But with the moment of truth fast approaching on Capitol Hill for the signature item on his domestic policy, Obama seems to lack one item that most presidents find helpful to have in their White House tool box: Fear.
On the left and on the right, interest groups and members of Congress have been eagerly enjoying the rewards—publicity, negotiating leverage—of challenging the president or dissenting from his policies.
That’s usually a practice presidents try to discourage—especially among members of their own party—by making it clear that the long-term penalty will be greater than any short-term gains.
But the practice has been encouraged by this president’s own intellectual and political style—a preference for negotiation, combined with a disinclination toward drawing bright lines about his own bottom line.
In the speech this week, Obama rallied Democrats by saying he would not tolerate GOP distortions of his health care ideas, but also signaled unmistakably that liberals in the end will probably need to join him in caving over their hopes for a “public option” health insurance plan. Even the legendary Rahm Emanuel, cast early on as the White House enforcer, has taken a slightly more statesmanlike portfolio, with no obvious deputy hit man to step in.
It’s got some people in both parties wondering whether there really is a steel fist inside Obama’s velvet glove.
Democrats in Congress told POLITICO they’ve been surprised that there seem to be no obvious consequences for sharp criticism of the White House. Cheerleaders on the left are beginning to urge him, in the words of Maureen Dowd, to be “more Rocky, less Spocky.”
“One of the few areas of agreement on the right and left is that both sides want to see more strength of leadership from him,” notes Dan Gerstein, a Democratic political consultant. “There has to be respect – and fear.”
“His problem has been almost from the beginning that while Democrats on the Hill appreciate him, they’re occasionally inspired by him, they’re not all that impressed with him,” said Bush political advisor Karl Rove. “They appreciate his diffident attitude, but I’m not sure it’s one that inspires either fear or respect.”
Democrats, on Capitol Hill or the White House, aren’t likely to be swayed by taunting from the likes of Rove.
But it is true that as the health care debate reaches its denouement, Obama is almost certainly going to be pressuring liberals in his own party to accept less than they once expected, and conservative Democrats to spend more than they want.
When this moment comes, Obama will likely need find the power of reason is more effective when backed by a demonstrated willingness to crack heads.
“One of the things you lose the ability to do when you step back from the legislative process is to jump in there and be beefy when things don’t go the way you want,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who has criticized the White House’s plans from the left at no apparent political cost.
The decision to let Congress lead the way to health care reform was a strategic one, driven by the failures of the Clinton Administration. Come the fall, if Obama eventually signs major legislation, it may look like a brilliant one.
But the diffidence is also closely linked with Obama’s personality and his governing style: In private debates, advisors say, he likes to hear and restate arguments; he more rarely shows his own cards.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0909/27057.html#ixzz0R2eLUGa5
And he has yet to take a tough stand, or pick a difficult fight, on many of the major policy issues of the day. He continues to search for a Goldilocks solution in Afghanistan – not too hot, not too cold, and projected nothing more than caution when Iranians took to the streets. He has allowed disfavored proposals from allies – like the Employee Free Choice Act – to die of their own accord, professing support all the while.
The question is where this personal and strategic blurriness turns into a more dangerous political sense of weakness, a dangerous perception for American presidents George H.W. Bush learned when Newsweek labeled him a “wimp” on its front page. His son labored to avoid that mistake, his obsessions about projecting strength sometimes coming off as swagger.
When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) was reduced to abject, groveling apologies for bellowing “You lie!” at Obama during his address to a joint session of Congress, it wasn’t just an opportunity for Democrats to cast Republicans as less than constructive; it was also a reminder of presidential stature and power.
But Wilson, within 24 hours, had come back around to his own defense, and he’s a rare Republican to have paid any price for attacking the president. After early internal debates over whether accommodation would be more effective than confrontation, congressional Republicans have clearly decided that they have little to lose from a fight.
One Republican consultant, Nelson Warfield, traced that realization to the passage of energy legislation through the House over near-unified Republican opposition.
“After the uniform stand against cap and tax [as Republicans deride the bill], there was no price to be paid,” he said.
“There hasn’t been any cost for opposing him – in fact there’s been a premium ,” he added.
“He’s not meeting the basic standard of manhood,” taunted Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant whose clients include the National Republican Trust, which ran some of the earliest, most scathing anti-Obama ads.
Partisan jibes are, of course, nothing new. But Obama’s capacity to inspire fear on his own side of the aisle also remains in doubt. The House Progressive Caucus and members of its Blue Dog minority have taken steady shots at his health care views and his management of the issue without any obvious bruises to show for it, and many take his hands-off stance as a kind of license.
Obama has been accused of weakness before. In the summer and fall of 2007, he found himself reassuring even his own backers that he could face Hillary Clinton. In the summer and fall of 2008, he beat back Senator John McCain’s attempt to cast him as effete.
The Democratic consultant Paul Begala, who is close to the White House, noted that the President gives two kinds of speeches: “Olympian and even-handed ones” like talks on race and on Islam and the West; and tougher stemwinders, like his direct assault on Hillary Clinton at Iowa’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in 2007 and his speech at last year’s Democratic National Convention.
“Given how screwed up Washington is and how deep the partisan poison runs, it’s for the most part a good thing that he’s coolly analytical and a consensus builder,” said Gerstein, the Democratic consultant. “But what we’ve seen in his first nine months in office is that there are times when that is not just the wrong approach – it’s counterproductive, because it allows people to get off the hook, or take advantage of you – as opposed to a more LBJ-style kick ass, take names way of wielding power.”
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Lucas Smith – Barack Obama’s Kenyan Birth Certificate – rotated 90 degrees