Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cruising the Web

Explaining how Woodrow Wilson destroyed the American presidency and other presidents have followed his model. And we all suffer because we have come to expect that our president has such massive powers to change the scope of history.
This bias toward progressive presidencies is part of Woodrow Wilson’s legacy, for the Princeton professor changed the way both practitioners and his fellow academics thought about the presidency. Both Professor Wilson and President Wilson believed that the Constitution was not fit for the complexities of twentieth-century American life. A document written at a time when the horse and buggy was the main mode of transportation was seen as an obstacle to creating an activist government capable of checking big business. Wilson held that it was the responsibility of the president to break the gridlock caused by the Constitution’s separation of powers and unleash the power of the federal government to restrain the barons of industry.

The president would break this gridlock by serving as his party’s leader, thereby bridging the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature, and would preside over an executive branch composed of experts who would regulate the economy in the interest of the common man. In addition to presiding over this regulatory state, the president would serve as an educator and visionary who would lead the nation through his oratorical skills.

The president would no longer be indebted to a political party for his selection, for presidential nominees would be chosen through primaries and the nominee would then impose his will on his party, not the other way around. Wilson’s chief executive was free to be as big a man as he wanted to be, with his power no longer anchored in the Constitution or in his party, but rooted in his personal charisma; presidential effectiveness would hinge on his personal attributes, not on any formal grant of power.

More than a century later, we continue to live under Woodrow Wilson’s regime, as scholars judge Wilson’s successors by the standards he set. Wilson upended the Founding or Constitutional understanding of the role of the president and overturned the expectations of what a president could be expected to achieve. Unfortunately, the Wilsonian conception of the presidency, adopted wholeheartedly by Democrats and eventually by Republicans, produced a massive expectations gap—a long train of heightened expectations followed by dashed hopes.
Well, we're seeing now the result of such out-sized expectations as we observe the scandals of this president. What all these scandals have in common is a bureaucracy so large that no president and no congressional committee can exercise appropriate oversight. S.E. Cupp explains:
From Fast and Furious at the ATF to the Pigford fraud at the Department of Agriculture, the IRS’ political targeting to the State Department’s Benghazi mess, the debacle at HHS to spying at the NSA and the DOJ, President Obama is running out of agencies and departments to defend in his two years left in office.

This White House has either had the worst luck in recent memory or it is responsible for breaches of public trust so vast, it’s no wonder public faith in our government is at a record low.

And now, we must add the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs — one so singularly sad, offensive and disappointing it almost feels wrong to put the callous deaths of at least 40 veterans who served our country in the same category as political tax targeting. Still, in some ways it is more of the pitiful same.

There are hearings that try to coax information out of high-level bureaucrats who never seem to know enough or to tell the entire truth. Desperate finger-pointing, that Republicans must somehow be to blame, from Obama loyalists. And endless delays and stall tactics to slow-walk or withhold key information until the public tires of the exercise.

The truth Democrats don’t want you to know is that these scandals are not about racism or Republicans or obstruction votes or even President Obama.

They are about the collapse of a big-government bureaucracy that consistently lets you down, but which the left depends on to keep your vote.
When the defense of the President or the corresponding head of that department is that no one person could know about what was going on because the government is so large that he couldn't have had any idea of what shenanigans were going on, people should pause to question the size of that bureaucracy. If no one can administer such an expansive bureaucracy that veterans are being shunted off to fake appointment lists and not getting medical care in VA hospitals across the country then something must change. Listen to our Senate's socialist:
Big-government bureaucracy is the problem, and Democrats unintentionally tell us that all the time. But don’t take my word for it.

“The point is, we are a big country,” says self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. “The VA sees six and a half million people a year. Are people going to be treated badly? Are some people going to die because of poor treatment in the VA? Yes, that is a tragedy and we have to get to the root of it.”

Well, I think he just did.
Do you think that this will change any of Bernie Sanders' opinions on the role of big government? Don't bet on it.

The WSJ fills in some of the blanks in the President's West Point speech about his own record on foreign policy.
We know that no foreign policy speech can cover the entire world. But listening to Mr. Obama trying to assemble a coherent foreign policy agenda from the record of the past five years was like watching Tom Hanks trying to survive in "Cast Away": Whatever's left from the wreckage will have to do.
Even the NYT is waking up to the fact that President Obama casts foreign policy choices using straw-men arguments. Somehow, the President thinks that our policies toward Russia have been a success in isolating Russia. And yet Russia just concluded a massive oil deal with China. That's defining isolation down.

John Podhoretz was not impressed with the straw-men killed in the President's speech.
His speech at West Point was billed as one of the most significant of his presidency — an address in which Obama would lay out a philosophical case for his administration’s conduct and choices.
He found it necessary to deliver such a speech because of the worldwide distress his disastrous off-the-cuff remarks in Asia caused a few weeks ago.
Then, he summed up his foreign policy this way: “You hit singles; you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.”
With these words, the president seemed to be suggesting the United States ought to be evaluated much as a baseball sabermetrician would evaluate a quality utility player — one of those guys who bounces around the major leagues and adds some small but meaningful value to a team’s production.
The United-States-as-utility-player may be the country he’d prefer to lead, given his lifelong skepticism about America’s ability to bring about change for the better beyond our borders.
But it doesn’t do the slightest justice to the power, influence or responsibilities of the country he was twice elected to lead.
His words alarmed even his friends. Thus, it was time, he clearly felt, to put flesh on the bones of his foreign policy, to give us the Obama Doctrine.
But, as usual with Obama, he mostly talked about what he is not, and what the United States should not be — rather than what he is and what the United States ought to be.
For example, our president opposes both “so-called realists,” as he referred to them yesterday, and “interventionists.”
Both have a point, he said, but “neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment.”
The demands of the moment are, it would appear, for some singles and doubles.

The administration is still trying to hide how they deliberately shut down Mt. Rushmore for political gain during last year's government shut down. We'll have to wait for the FOIA requests to wend their way through the judicial system to find out all the political maneuvering that went on behind the scenes.

President Obama has a very fuzzy and bizarre vision of what American exceptionalism is - even though he now believes in it "with every fiber of his being. By the way, does anyone believe that?

Gee, sharply raising taxes on the rich didn't work out as expected for the French.
French President Francois Hollande has raised income tax, VAT and corporation tax since he was elected two years ago.

The Court of Auditors said receipts from all three taxes amounted to an extra 16bn euros in 2013.

That was a little more than half the government's forecast of 30bn euros of extra tax income.

The Court of Auditors, which oversees the government's accounts, said the Elysee Palace's forecasts of tax revenue in 2013 were so wildly inaccurate that they cast doubt on its forecasts for this year.

It added the forecasts were overly optimistic and based on inaccurate projections....

Meanwhile, economic growth has been inconsistent and the unemployment rate hit a record high of 11% at the end of 2013.

The French economy saw zero growth in the first three months of 2014, compared with 0.2% growth three months earlier.
Somewhere, Arthur Laffer has a napkin on which he'd be happy to draw his famous curve and explain things to the French.

Oh, dear. Ottawa city fathers have made a massive error.