Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saul Alinsky Leaves the White House

When Barack Obama leaves the White House tomorrow, he leaves with his worst dreams unrealized. Still, what he leaves behind is awful. Thank goodness he’ll be gone.
The very day after Obama was elected in 2008, I predicted in this space that his team would steal the Senate by hook and crook (see: Al Franken); nuke the filibuster at least for judicial nominees; liberalize voting laws (or enforcement thereof) to make fraud easier while charging opponents with “vote suppression”; drum up spurious allegations of civil rights violations; punish anti-abortion protesters; enact “copious new regulations, especially environmental, to be used selectively to ensnare other conservative malcontents”; invasively use the IRS to harass conservative organizations; and tacitly encourage civil unrest in furtherance of Obamite goals.
All those predictions of course came true.
Obama and company also waged bureaucratic war against independent inspectors general; tried their hardest (even illegally) to hobble fossil fuels industries; evaded Congress’s intent by sending cash and uranium to a near-nuclear-ready Iran; fumbled and stumbled while veterans suffered virtually criminal neglect; wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on projects that were not “shovel-ready” and did not create many jobs; oversaw an economy in which the workforce participation rate dropped to historically low levels while real median household income also fell and personal debt rose, and in which food stamp rolls grew to a number larger than the population of Spain; horrendously politicized the Justice Department; and saw race relations worsen for the first time in decades.
In what should have been treated by the media as major scandals (or more major than the media represented them), the Obama administration encouraged illegal gun-running to Mexican cartels, with untold numbers of resultant deaths; failed to provide adequate security before or rescue during the Benghazi tragedy; provided tax subsidies in return for campaign cash from useless “green energy” companies; spied on journalists; freed five killers in return for a deserter; failed to police or protect email use at the State Department; polluted a river through the ineptitude of the Gold King Mine Disaster; illegally (arguably) granted, to political allies only, numerous “waivers” from Obamacare; and of course committed the actions I related in the first paragraph of this piece, including the dismissal of the New Black Panther case and the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
And in almost every case, they covered up and/or lied about these actions, often egregiously and sometimes, quite arguably, criminally.
And those are only the major scandals and embarrassments: The total list of bad faith, bad (lack of) integrity, bad policies, bad law, and bad results is almost too long to compile. (Its legal arguments were so laughable that it lost far more cases before a unanimous Supreme Court, including its own appointees, than any other president.)
All of those outrages above, though, will in the long run be little remembered in comparison with the three major self-inflicted disasters of the Obama presidency: The near-doubling of the national debt, the near-ruin of our health-insurance system, and the extreme diminution of American prestige and power worldwide combined with the rise of the Islamic State (henceforth ISIS).
The debt hike from $10.7 trillion to $19.9 trillion is not just some accounting concern. It is unsustainable — and that’s even without taking into account the unfunded liabilities, ten times higher, resulting from future Social Security, Medicare, and other obligations. Combined with all sorts of other worrisome economic realities and trends, it could both help bring on an economic collapse and make it much harder to recover from one. (Conservatives who just a few years ago were debt-obsessed have grown strangely silent on this issue recently. Their obsession was justified; their silence is not.)
As for Obamacare, its abject failure is obvious. It often didn’t let us keep our doctors or insurance plans, and even forced us to abandon them. It drove premiums up by astonishing, even frightening, percentages. It forced doctors to spend more time looking at machines than at their patients. It catalyzed a trend towards care that is less personal, more mechanized — and often less creative or aggressive, as doctors (for multiple reasons) fear innovation and are more loath to try alternative treatments for hard cases that don’t respond to the bureaucratically “approved” regimen.
Obamacare is also frustrating lots of doctors into early retirements, cutting the supply of health care even as it boosts demand.
Finally, and most dangerously, Obama on the world stage has so enthusiastically pursued his blame-America-first, “America must atone and withdraw” policies that this nation stands at its weakest point since at least the Carter Administration, and arguably since the mid-1930s. Our military has been badly hollowed and hobbled — with smaller force levels, fewer ships, and more restrictive rules of engagement than ever before, not to mention the imposition onto it of a social agenda that almost assuredly harms its effectiveness.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia has annexed part of Ukraine, threatened other parts, saber-rattled against the Baltics, and tacitly countenanced (at least) the murder of numerous enemies, all without effective response from Obama. North Korea is no more contained than ever, and almost certainly much closer to a deliverable nuke. Iran grows as a hegemon, as a threat to more moderate Arabic or Islamic regimes, and as a threat to use nuclear weapons. Iraq, stable when Obama took office, almost completely collapsed due to Obama’s too-precipitous withdrawal. Turkey has continued its 15-year march towards Islamism and away from the West. Western Europe is politically splintering as it is overrun by refugees. Eastern Europe, which was so strongly inclined to admire the United States, found itself increasingly snubbed and abandoned.
Among Communist (or proto-Communist) regimes, China threatens aggression in the western Pacific, Venezuela is in horrid turmoil, and Cuba continues to commit atrocities against human rights.
And, of course, Obama has badly, egregiously mistreated our great ally Israel.
As for ISIS, it is unclear whether the Obamites actually encouraged its early growth (by mistake), or merely were surprised by its virulence and dangerous effectiveness — which is bad enough, and undeniable. Either way, ISIS grew and committed almost unimaginable atrocities on Obama’s watch.
While we should never blame anybody for terrorist atrocities but the terrorists themselves, and while no sensible person would ever accuse Obama of secretly intending ISIS to thrive as it has, it is fair to observe that his policies against it — just like Clinton’s and the early Bush-43’s policies against Al Qaida — failed to adequately stem its rise.
The world is a much more parlous place because of Obama’s legacy. He entered office on an Alinskyite power trip, wanting to completely transform America. He failed at that, thank goodness, but he did succeed in weakening this great nation.
If Barack Obama knew how to slink, he would slink out of the Oval Office and completely offstage, bowed and beaten by his record of scandal and failure, as much or even more of a pariah among an American majority than Jimmy Carter was in the early 1980s.
Instead, he’ll try to stick around as a constant presence, lecturing us and hectoring us and insisting that we don’t live up to his exacting standards.
The best thing we can do is ignore him — and go about our business of rebuilding, purposely oblivious to his irrelevant fulminations.

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