Untruth, Inc.

From VDH:

We can usefully view the Obama administration’s chronic untruthfulness as a sort of multifaceted corporation of untruth, with all sorts of subsidiaries.

THE BALD LIES OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY
Remember the al-Qaeda-is-on-the-run 2012-election talking point? It was mostly a lie. The administration deliberately released to sympathetic journalists only those documents from the so-called Osama bin Laden trove that revealed worry and dissension among the terrorists. Then it nourished essays by pet journalists trumpeting the decline of al-Qaeda. Disturbing memos that confounded that narrative, as Weekly Standard journalist Steven F. Hayes recently noted, were kept back. “On the run” was dropped after the 2012 election, when events on the ground made such an assertion absurd.

Recent disclosures by some of the combatants about the night of the Benghazi attack remind us that almost everything Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama swore in the aftermath of the debacle was knowingly false. A video did not cause the attack. The rioting was not spontaneous. A video-maker, an American resident, was soon jailed, while one of the suspected killers was giving taped interviews at a coffee house in Benghazi. There were ways of securing the consulate and the annex that were not explored, both before and during the assault. Talking points were altered. Again, the catalyst for untruth was reelection worries by an administration that believes its exalted ends of social justice allow any means necessary for reaching them.

Has anything the administration said about pulling our troops out of Iraq proven true? Was it really the Iraqis’ fault or George Bush’s? Was our leaving proof that Iraq might be one of the administration’s “great achievements”? Was the Iraq that we left without any peacekeepers really “stable”? On more than ten occasions the president bragged on the campaign trail that he alone had ended American involvement in Iraq. When Iraq predictably blew up after our departure, he snarled to reporters that he was angry that anyone would dare accuse him alone of being responsible for our precipitate departure.

Was there any element of “reset” with Russia that was accurate? Obama came into office lambasting the prior administration for alienating Russia — when all it had done was adopt some rather moderate measures to punish Russia for invading Georgia. Reset, in truth, was a remission of punishments — from missile defense with the Czechs and Poles to cut-offs of some high-level negotiations — and thus served as a signal to Putin and his subordinates that Obama believed America had been wrong to react to Georgia. And we know what followed from that.

LIES TO HIDE WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
On issues where the public is at odds with the administration, the Obama team too often makes things up to hide its isolation. Little the administration has stated about the IRS scandal has proven true. It was not a slip-up in one local office; nor were liberal groups equally targeted. There was quite a bit more than a “smidgen” of corruption. The administration’s strategy was to make so many things up that the public got confused and the matter went away. The corruption worked to defang the Tea Party in 2012, and the cover-up — except for fall woman Lois Lerner, who took the Fifth Amendment — worked even better.

Have any of the statements the administration has presented about our southern border proven true? Do we know how many people have recently crossed into the United States illegally, what exactly U.S. immigration policy is, or where exactly foreign nationals are and what are their statuses? The public polls strongly against lax borders and blanket amnesties, so the administration apparently must deceive to permit both — and in a politically disingenuous fashion of postponing the requisite executive orders until after the 2014 midterm elections, while blaming the delay on the crisis on the border that it caused.

Did much of anything prove accurate about the Affordable Care Act? Costs, keeping our doctors and existing plans, the effect on the deficit, the website? Had the president in 2008 outlined honestly the ACA’s provisions, he would never have gotten elected, or had he by 2012 fully implemented them, he would never have gotten reelected. Lying about Obamacare and demonizing any who objected were smart politics, but the president will never regain the trust of those whose premiums spiked, who lost their coverage and their doctors, and who still do not understand what exactly Obamacare is.

MYTHOGRAPHY
Most of the assertions uttered in the 2009 Cairo speech were untrue, from false claims about Islamic achievement to supposed Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition in Córdoba — at a time when there were no Muslims in Córdoba. Emperor Hirohito no more surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur than George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR were in office when their respective wars ended and they supposedly agreed to prisoner exchanges — or than Barack Obama’s grandfather helped to free Auschwitz. Obama sees history in the same postmodernist fashion in which he looks upon his own past — details are constructed by everyone, and thus truth is a relative concept that should not be adjudicated by those with privilege against those who are using narratives to advance social justice. The result is that almost any time the president makes reference to the past, ours or his, we can assume two things: His facts are wrong, and they are wrong in a way that is meant to highlight his own godhead.

AMNESIA
There are lots of things that Obama says that he knows will simply fade into oblivion. Did we ever believe that Joe Biden was going to bird-dog abuses in spending for the stimulus to ensure shovel-ready jobs? Did we really believe that Obama would halve the deficit by the end of his first term — or that he would close Guantanamo Bay? Did he really obtain congressional approval for bombing Libya, as he once promised for such operations? Did anyone believe that the Obama administration would not hire former lobbyists or that it would end the revolving door, any more than we believed Obama’s assurances that those who made less than $250,000 would not have any of their taxes go up? What exactly is an Obama step-over line, red line, or deadline? Obama’s serial rhetorical emphatics — Let me be perfectly clear, Make no mistake about it, In point of fact, You can take that to the bank, I’m not kidding, I’m not making this up — are the usual verbal tics that warn the audience that a complete untruth is to follow.

SCAPEGOATING
Then there is another sort of untruth summed up best as blame-gaming — “They did it, not me!” The president confessed to having no strategy to deal with the Islamic State. But that was the fault of the Pentagon for not yet formulating any. The Islamic State had crept up on us — and that was the fault of the intelligence services. The world is in chaos? The new social networking — the much-bragged-about hip keystone of Obama’s two election campaigns — is to blame for making the gullible believe the world is falling apart. The president had to remove every last soldier from Iraq — but he didn’t really do that; it was either Bush or Maliki. The president ignored his own red lines in Syria? But they weren’t his own: The U.N., not he, made them. The president dubbed the Islamic State the jayvees? No, he actually meant an array of groups.

Such blame-gaming is simply the current foreign-policy manifestation of a long-established Obama-administration trait of blaming dismal news on something other than its own policies: ATMs were responsible for high joblessness; the stimulus failed, but House obstructionism was to blame. The Republican House also blocked immigration reform — which Obama easily could have passed when the Democrats controlled the Congress in 2009–10. Tsunamis and earthquakes, including a mild tremor in D.C. itself, rattled the economy and contributed to the discouraging economic statistics. Bad GDP news? The American people had gotten a bit “soft” and lost “their competitive edge.”

REDACTED
Sometimes there are lies by omission. The administration is simply incapable of uttering the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism,” and that fact requires all sorts of lying by omission about who exactly is killing Americans and why. So we are serially told that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular, that workplace violence caused Fort Hood, that jihad is largely a personal journey, that the idea of terrorists creating a caliphate is absurd, and all the other euphemisms necessary to hide the apparently unpleasant truth of killing by radical Islamists.

As far as the VA, AP, IRS, NSA, and other scandals go, do not count on any confession, investigation, lawsuit, or special prosecutor to reveal the truth in the next two years. The Obama administration will lose documents, redact critical information, find e-mails only years later, and lie about evidence until most of its members are safely out of office and working for Citigroup, one of the major TV networks, or Goldman Sachs.

Obama’s prevaricating has lost him any thought of a legacy, all the more so because for years as a candidate and as president he pontificated about his new transparency and the need for executive candor — itself an untruth at best, and at worst a cynical ploy to provide cover for a deliberate effort to enact policies that could not be honestly presented to the American people.

The two fuels that run Untruth, Inc., are, first, a realization that most of the president’s policies, whether deliberately or as a result of indifference and laziness, run counter to what most Americans support, and, second, a media establishment so invested in his agenda that it will not call the administration to account. So the engine of lying keeps humming. On any given day the president of the United States can step up to the teleprompter amid the latest disaster and swear that he did not do what he just did, or insist that someone else, not he, did the dastardly deed, or simply skip over recent history and make things up. The press at first quibbles, then nods in agreement, and Obama is empowered to do it again and again. We have not seen such a disingenuous president since Richard Nixon — but he, at least, was countered rather than enabled by the media.

Source

Advertisements

Something Obama Didn’t Lie About

From Mark Steyn:

In Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, the eponymous Auric Goldfinger observes:

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it’s enemy action.

That may be overly generous.

A couple of weeks back, cancer patient Bill Elliot, in a defiant appearance on Fox News, discussed the cancelation of his insurance and what he intended to do about it. He’s now being audited.

Insurance agent C Steven Tucker, who quaintly insists that the whimsies of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy do not trump your legal rights, saw the interview and reached out to Mr Elliot to help him. And he’s now being audited.

As the Instapundit likes to remind us, Barack Obama has “joked” publicly about siccing the IRS on his enemies. With all this coincidence about, we should be grateful the president is not (yet) doing prison-rape gags.

Meanwhile, IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee over the agency’s systemic corruption, answers “I don’t recall” no fewer than 80 times. Try giving that answer to Wilkins’s colleagues and see where it gets you. Few persons are fond of their tax collectors, but, from my experience, America is the only developed nation in which the mass of the population is fearful of its revenue agency. This is unbecoming to a supposedly free people.

Source

Obama Republic

From Mark Steyn:

‘This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.

Is all this spending necessary? Every day, the foot-of-page-37 news stories reveal government programs it would never occur to your dimestore caudillo to blow money on. On Thursday, it was the Food and Drug Administration blowing just shy of $200 grand to find out whether its Twitter and Facebook presence is “well-received.” A fifth of a million dollars isn’t even a rounding error in most departmental budgets, so nobody cares. But the FDA is one of those sclerotic American institutions that has near to entirely seized up. In October 1920, it occurred to an Ontario doctor called Frederick Banting that insulin might be isolated and purified and used to treat diabetes; by January 1923, Eli Lilly & Co were selling insulin to American pharmacies: A little over two years from concept to market. Now the FDA adds at least half-a-decade to the process, and your chances of making it through are far slimmer: As recently as the late Nineties, they were approving 157 new drugs per half-decade. Today it’s less than half that.

But they’ve got $182,000 to splash around on finding out whether people really like them on Facebook, or they’re just saying that. So they’ve given the dough to a company run by Dan Beckmann, a former “new media aide” to President Obama. That has the whiff of the banana republic about it, too.

The National Parks Service, which I had carelessly assumed was the service responsible for running national parks, has been making videos on Muslim women’s rights: “Islam gave women a whole bunch of rights that Western women acquired later in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we’ve had these rights since the seventh century,” explains a lady from AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady at the National Park Service website, nps.gov. Fascinating stuff, no doubt. But what’s it to do with national parks? Maybe the rangers could pay Dan Beckmann a quarter-million bucks to look into whether the National Parks’ Islamic outreach is using social media as effectively as it might.

Where do you go to get a piece of this action? As the old saying goes, bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. But the smart guys rob taxpayers because that’s where the big money is. According to the Census Bureau’s latest “American Community Survey,” between 2000 and 2012 the nation’s median household income dropped 6.6 percent. Yet in the District of Columbia median household income rose 23.3 percent. According to a 2010 survey, seven of the nation’s ten wealthiest counties are in the Washington commuter belt. Many capital cities have prosperous suburbs — London, Paris, Rome — because those cities are also the capitals of enterprise, finance, and showbiz. But Washington does nothing but government, and it gets richer even as Americans get poorer. That’s very banana republic, too: Proximity to state power is now the best way to make money. Once upon a time Americans found fast-running brooks and there built mills to access the water that kept the wheels turning. But today the ambitious man finds a big money-no-object bureaucracy that likes to splash the cash around and there builds his lobbying group or consultancy or social media optimization strategy group.

The CEO of Panera Bread, as some kind of do-gooder awareness-raising shtick, is currently attempting to live on food stamps, and not finding it easy. But being dependent on government handouts isn’t supposed to be easy. Instead of trying life at the bottom, why doesn’t he try life in the middle? In 2012, the top 10 percent were taking home 50.4 percent of the nation’s income. That’s an all-time record, beating out the 49 percent they were taking just before the 1929 market crash. With government redistributing more money than ever before, we’ve mysteriously wound up with greater income inequality than ever before. Across the country, “middle-class” Americans have accumulated a trillion dollars in college debt in order to live a less comfortable life than their high-school-educated parents and grandparents did in the Fifties and Sixties. That’s banana republic, too: no middle class, but only a government elite and its cronies, and a big dysfunctional mass underneath, with very little social mobility between the two.

Like to change that? Maybe advocate for less government spending? Hey, Lois Lerner’s IRS has got an audit with your name on it. The tax collectors of the United States treat you differently according to your political beliefs. That’s pure banana republic, but no one seems to mind very much. This week it emerged that senior Treasury officials, up to and including Turbotax Timmy Geithner, knew what was going on at least as early as spring 2012. But no one seems to mind very much. In the words of an insouciant headline writer at Government Executive, “the magazine for senior federal bureaucrats” (seriously), back in May:

“The Vast Majority of IRS Employees Aren’t Corrupt”

So, if the vast majority aren’t, what proportion is corrupt? Thirty-eight percent? Thirty-three? Twenty-seven? And that’s the good news? The IRS is not only institutionally corrupt, it’s corrupt in the service of one political party. That’s Banana Republic 101.

What comes next? Government officials present in Benghazi during last year’s slaughter have been warned not to make themselves available to congressional inquiry. CNN obtained one e-mail spelling out the stakes to CIA employees: “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”

“That’s all very ominous,” wrote my colleague Jonah Goldberg the other day, perhaps a little too airily for my taste. I’d rank it somewhere north of “ominous.”

“Banana republic” is an American coinage — by O. Henry, a century ago, for a series of stories set in the fictional tropical polity of Anchuria. But a banana republic doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a sensibility, and it’s difficult to mark the precise point at which a free society decays into something less respectable. Pace Obama, ever swelling debt, contracts for cronies, a self-enriching bureaucracy, a shrinking middle class preyed on by corrupt tax collectors, and thuggish threats against anyone who disagrees with you put you pretty far down the banana-strewn path.

Source

Obamacare is Not a Law, But a Hierarchy of Privilege

From Mark Steyn:

On his radio show the other day, Hugh Hewitt caught me by surprise and asked me about running for the United States Senate from New Hampshire. My various consultants, pollsters, PACs, and exploratory committees haven’t fine-tuned every detail of my platform just yet, but I can say this without a doubt: I will not vote for any “comprehensive” bill, whether on immigration, health care, or anything else. “Comprehensive” today is a euphemism for interminably long, poorly drafted, and entirely unread — not just by the people’s representatives but by our robed rulers, too (how many of those Supreme Court justices actually plowed through every page of Obamacare when its “constitutionality” came before them?). The 1862 Homestead Act, which is genuinely comprehensive, is two handwritten pages in clear English. “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is 500 times as long, is not about patients or care, and neither protects the former nor makes the latter affordable.

So what is it about? On Wednesday, the Nevada AFL-CIO passed a resolution declaring that “the unintended consequences of the ACA will lead to the destruction of the 40-hour work week.” That’s quite an accomplishment for a “health” “care” “reform” law. But the poor old union heavies who so supported Obamacare are now reduced to bleating that they should be entitled to the same opt-outs secured by big business and congressional staffers. It’s a very strange law whose only defining characteristic is that no one who favors it wants to be bound by it.

Meanwhile, on the very same day as the AFL-CIO was predicting the death of the 40-hour week, the University of Virginia announced plans to boot working spouses off its health plan beginning January 1 because the Affordable Care Act has made it unaffordable: It’s projected to add $7.3 million dollars to the university’s bill in 2014 alone.

As Nancy Pelosi famously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” But the problem with “comprehensive” legislation is that, when everything’s in it, nothing’s in it. The Affordable Care Act means whatever President Obama says it means on any particular day of the week. Whether it applies to you this year, next year, or not at all depends on the whim of the sovereign, and whether your CEO golfs with him on Martha’s Vineyard. A few weeks back, the president unilaterally suspended the law’s employer mandate. Under the U.S. Constitution, he doesn’t have the power to do this, but judging from the American people’s massive shrug of indifference he might as well unilaterally suspend the Constitution, too. Obamacare is not a law, in the sense that all persons are equal before it, but a hierarchy of privilege; for example, senators value their emir-sized entourages and don’t want them to quit, so it is necessary to provide the flunkies who negotiated and drafted the Affordable Care Act an exemption from the legislation they imposed on the citizenry. Once again, the opt-out is not legal. As the Wall Street Journal trenchantly observed, “OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in Congressional pay in return for less overall compensation.”

OPM has no authority to pay for plans that lack FEHBP? Who knew?

Despite being the presumptive next senator from New Hampshire, I am in fact an immigrant, and, although I do my best to assimilate, I never feel more foreign than when discussing “health” “care” “reform.” Across the planet, my readers from Tajikistan to Tuvalu are wondering: Is an OPM a new kind of procedure? Is it the latest high-tech stent or prosthetic? But, no. Nothing in the health-care debate is anything to do with medicine or surgery, only with OPMs and FEHBP and the death of full-time employment.

What does your employer or (for the discarded husbands of the University of Virginia’s Women’s Studies Department) your spouse’s employer have to do with health care? For most of modern history, your health care was a matter between you and your doctor. Since World War II, in much of the developed world, it’s been between you, your doctor, and your government. In America, it’s now between you, your doctor, your government, your insurer, your employer, your insurer’s outsourced health-care-administration-services company . . . Anybody else? Oh, let’s not forget Lois Lerner’s IRS, which, in the biggest expansion of the agency in the post-war era, has hired 16,500 new agents to determine whether your hernia merits an audit.

All third-party systems are crappy and inefficient. But socialized health care has at least the great clarifying simplicity of equality of crappiness: liberté, égalité, merde. It requires a perverse genius to construct a “health” “care” “reform” that destroys everything from religious liberty to full-time employment, while requiring multitudes of new tax collectors and other bureaucrats and ever fewer doctors and nurses. The parallel public/private systems of Continental Europe cost about 10 percent of GDP. The Obamacare monstrosity blends all the worst aspects of a private system (bureaucracy, restricted access, co-pays) with all the worst aspects of a government system (bureaucracy, restricted access, IRS agents) and sucks up twice as much GDP, ever less of which is spent on “health care” and ever more on the intervening layers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties.

But, as the AFL-CIO’s resolution emphasizes, that hardly begins to state the distorting effects of Obamacare. In my part of the world, a common employment profile is for the husband to have his own one-man business, doing construction all summer and snowplowing all winter, while the missus does an administrative job with the school district or some other government or quasi-government racket in order to get health coverage. In my experience, most of the people who do the latter don’t terribly enjoy it: They take the job mostly for the health care. So it’s un-American, in the sense that it requires them to sacrifice the pursuit of happiness for the certainty of low-deductible plans.

But it also has a broader destabilizing effect: As I noted a couple of weeks ago, at the low end, about 40 percent of Americans now do minimal-skilled service jobs — the ones that, in the wake of Obamacare, are becoming neither full-time nor part-time but kinda-sorta two-thirds-time in order not to impose health-insurance obligations on the employer. In the middle, a similar number of Americans are diverted into those paper-shuffling jobs that do provide health benefits — say, in the “human resources” department of the bureaucracy; the kind of job in which you pass the time calling someone in Idaho to say you need them to fill in a W-9 before you can send them a 1099, or vice versa. And, at the top end, privileged Americans spend six-figure sums acquiring college degrees that admit them to an homogenized elite that tells itself Obamacare makes perfect sense for everyone except them. The U.S. economy can never recover until more of its real “human resources” are engaged in genuine wealth creation. Yet Obamacare instead incentivizes the diversion of more and more manpower into the Republic of Paperwork.

The cynical among us have always assumed Obamacare was set up to be so unworkable a grateful populace would embrace any 2016 Democrat promising single-payer health care. The way things are going the entire system may collapse first. If any Republicans are trying to devise a health system that doesn’t involve employers, the IRS, and paperwork without end, they’re keeping awfully quiet about it.

Source

You Have Faltered

I’m not here as a serf or a vassal. I’m not begging my lords for mercy. I’m a born free American woman. Wife, mother, and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It is not your responsibility to look out for my well-being and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty, and you have faltered.

— Becky Gerritson

In Contempt

From Andrew C. McCarthy:

You can always rely on the administration of Barack Obama, a former constitutional-law lecturer (or as his résumé-inflating fans put it, “professor”), to do the sleazy thing when it comes to the Constitution the president is sworn to defend. Thus, the performance on Wednesday of Lois Lerner, chief of the Obama IRS’s Conservative Harassment Division, before the House oversight committee.

There’s an old scam criminal defendants occasionally pull. They give a bit of exculpatory direct testimony – just enough to gaze plaintively at the jurors and swear, cross-their-hearts, that they are pure as the driven snow. Then, just as the moment of submitting to cross-examination approaches, they announce that, even though they’re really, truly innocent, they just can’t answer the mean prosecutor’s questions – on advice of counsel, of course, in reliance on the Fifth Amendment.

Everyone familiar with this area of the law knows that this is contemptuous conduct. To testify, by definition, is to agree to submit to cross-examination. Once you begin to answer questions – i.e., to testify – you waive your right not to testify – i.e., not to answer questions.

In a trial, the judge does not put up with such shenanigans, which are, after all, a fraud on the process. The court rules that, by giving exculpatory testimony on direct examination, the defendant has waived his Fifth Amendment privilege; therefore, the defendant is directed to answer the prosecutor’s questions on cross-examination. If he persists in refusing to answer, he is held in contempt. Thereafter, each refusal to answer is a separate contempt, for which the defendant can (a) be jailed by the judge (until he relents and agrees to be cross-examined), and (b) later prosecuted by the government, because contempt is an indictable crime, too.

The point of the scam is obvious. The defendant wants to get his proclamation of innocence out in the public domain – maybe it will influence a juror or two. Lerner is not on trial (not yet, anyway) but her tactic had the desired effect: all day long the networks have been running loops of her assertions of innocence.

Source