Wrong Way Obama: Far More Say America Off Track Than Under Bush

Recent polling shows that far more Americans believe their country is heading in the wrong direction under Obama than at any time under Bush. Currently, 23% say America is heading in the “right” direction, and 71.2% believe we are going the wrong way – a 49 point gap. The widest negative spread under Bush was 34 points in November 2007.

Continue reading “Wrong Way Obama: Far More Say America Off Track Than Under Bush”

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Congress Threatens Obama’s Politburo of Czars

The U.S. House has passed a budget containing language that would strip President Obama of his stable of unelected, unconfirmed “czars.” The $1 trillion budget also contains a provision forcing Obama to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline within 60 days.

Although the measure is expected to pass the Senate, President Obama may resort to his bag of tricks and pull a signing statement overriding the bill’s language.  As the left liked to point out about George W. Bush’s use of the maneuver, the practice is widely considered to be unconstitutional.

Weasel Zippers relays:

The U.S. House approved a $1 trillion spending bill on a 296-121 vote to fund the federal government’s operations through Sept. 30. As part of a compromise struck late Thursday, the funding bill specifically prohibits “czars” related to health care, climate change, the auto industry and urban affairs.

The Senate is expected to pass the measure on Saturday.

This is what the Republicans should have been doing since they took over the House. Try to force Obama to veto otherwise popular legislation or popular provisions of legislation. This puts Obama on the record as adverse to real job creation and economic growth.

Obama Beats Bush in Military and War Spending

Those who thought electing Barack Obama would usher in a new era of hope and change and a redirection from George Bush’s militarism and spending on overseas wars might want to look away. We wouldn’t want you to lose the pleasant illusion that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning warmonger in the White House celebrating the assassination of a foreign head of state he didn’t even kill is something other than what he claims.

Below is a graph of U.S. defense spending from 2000, the year that Bush “stole” his election, projected to the end of Obama’s term. Those on the left who are bad at math have pretty colors to illustrate that both the DOD Budget Increase and Overseas Contingency (Wars) segments have gotten fatter, meaning that we are spending more under Barack Obama, who had a Democrat-controlled House and filibuster-proof Senate for his first two years, than at any time under fellow “war criminal” George W. Bush.

Is this graph from one of those right-wing think tanks that makes up its own statistics? Not unless you count the Office of Management and Budget as an arm of the Koch Brothers.

For those numbers guys in the audience, below are National Defense Outlays since 1960, as grabbed from a U.S. Census Bureau report.


As one can see from the chart, National Defense Outlays in dollar figures and as a percentage of GDP have gone up under Obama. Unless right-wingers are conspiring with the OMB and the Census Bureau, Barack Obama owns these numbers.

So fine, we’re spending more money overseas. Perhaps President Obama is putting less troops in harm’s way? Wrong again. In 2010, President Obama sent and kept more American troops overseas than at any point under George W. Bush.

Another right-wing conspiracy? These numbers are from the Department of Defense, which is not likely to be influenced by “teabagger” money.

Maybe President Obama is spending more money on national defense, and is sending more of our troops overseas, but he has slashed Homeland Security funding? Not the case.

Even when one accounts for Department of Defense funding, President Obama’s administration is spending far and away what George W. Bush did in any year of his presidency.

The popular perception that George W. Bush was a warmonger, while Barack Obama is a peace-loving president who is simply trying to successfully end the wars he inherited from Bush, just doesn’t fly. President Obama is every bit the “warmonger” George W. Bush was, and then some.

OccupyWallStreet’s Completely Grassroots, Union-Backed, PR-Managed Movement

Imagine my surprise waking up this morning and accidentally switching on NBC’s Today show to find a glowing segment on the blossoming OccupyWallStreet movement.  After a bit of charming uptalk set to images of apparently drugged out Dyonisian yippies senselessly prancing around in the streets, it was unblinkingly mentioned that several unions have decided to back the “grassroots” movement.

And although the group’s list of demands is “unclear” to NBC (let me help you on that one – here, here, and here), it is generally acknowledged that the hacktivists are against big corporations and Wall Street bankers.  The tea party are too, but those rubes actually understand how causation works: businesses wrongfully took government-expropriated funds from citizens; ergo, government is the prime mover in the bailouts and stimulus debauchery. This faddish lot is certainly not the tea party; if you will, it is the coffee party with a shot of espresso.

You will not hear any of these completely grassroots, anti-establishment, talk “truth to power” types utter a peep about how Obama, whom some want to see re-elected, rode a wave of corporate contributions to power, and in turn, rewarded banks and corporations with part of TARP, bailouts and stimulus, while getting America into debt to an extent unseen before in human history. And this supposedly spontaneous group of former SDS-professor educated young skulls of mush has acquired its own PR group to help defray closer scrutiny of its goals. Well, you’re not the only ones who know about critical theory, young intellectual proletariat.

So criminal communist and dethroned Obama “green jobs czar” Van Jones (Who’s that? asks Joe Biden) wants to create a rival to the tea party, which he praised because it has no secret headquarters or titular head. All of a sudden, a pathetic group of trust fund babies posing as a Moron Spring is found sitting on a street corner in lower Manhattan griping because big government did what big government does – control the means of production.  Obama took money from the laborers and gave it to whom he saw fit. You guys elected him – that’s “democracy,” right – so what’s the problem?

In any event, it is a bit suspicious when Van Jones starts praising the tea party and talking up the OWS crowd and then begins rambling about an “Oktober offensive.” Rings a bell for us tea party folks who don’t know anything about socialism.

Turns out those who smell the stench of totalitarianism all over this movement are right. Connections from the Day of Rage protest to the backing of the current manifestations OccupyWallStreet and OccupyAllStreet show some left-wing heavyweights are involved: SEIU, Ford Foundation, the communist National Lawyers Guild, and through the Ruckus Society, George Soros‘ Open Society Institute, and the Tides Foundation. These are some seriously depraved entities, and we need to identify them and recognize their nearly-invisible hands are at work early and often. If this blob of leftist activists starts metastasizing and incorporating thuggish elements, we might have something a bit more malignant to be concerned about.

[Continued on Political Crush]

The Anti-War Left's Disappearing Act

Forget about David Copperfield, and his painfully ironic vanishing Statue of Liberty.  The greatest disappearing act of modern times has got to be the anti-war left under President Barrack Obama.

Beginning about two minutes after the 9/11 attacks, the anti-war left whirled itself into a furor over a Commander-in-Chief who dared to protect America against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Well, Bush the alleged Gruppensfuehrer didn’t quite say or do a peep about all those fifth columnists, Patriot Act notwithstanding.

From “Hell no, we won’t go!” – we have an all-volunteer army and no one wants you hippies anyway – to “No Blood for Oil!” –  the latter deserving of one of the biggest raspberries in history for phony protest slogans – today’s anti-war left from its very inception was a crapicopia of bogus bluster and bawldfaced bullshit.

DailyKos, Media Matters, HuffingtonPost, MotherJones, and CodePink, these are the radical field marshals who soldiered out their human fodder for their own “war at home”: the war against human freedom, and most shallowly, against the Democrat’s political opposition. Click on the links to their websites today, once, to see what a raucous bunch those creeps are now that the man leading “Bush’s wars” and expanding our wars overseas into Libya and Yemen is one of their own.

The crazed national atmosphere fostered by the anti-war left and publicized by the complicit media led in great part to the defeat of the Republicans in 2008.  Weary of the left’s incessant, petulant whining about fighting terrorists and their Islamist extremist backers overseas, many votes for the messiah and no-shows for the Republicans were due to the desire of Americans for the left “to shut the hell up, already.”  Like a sleepless man at four a.m.whose neighbors are up partying all night, as long as the 120 decibel “Fucking Perfect: The Remix” gets shut off, the mob can come over and loot the place, but only if they’re quiet and only if they leave the half-drunk carton of chocolate milk and Cocoa Pebbles.

Along with the Sit on our Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac-daddy engineered meltdown, and the fact that John McCain was a Casper Milquetoastesque figure right out of central casting for a soppy Republican douchebag, Barrack Hussein Obama was ushered into power on a political red carpet in order to “fundamentally transform” America from a global superpower that had defeated every major enemy who crossed its path, one of the freest nations in terms of individual liberty, and whose economy was the envy of the world to…France at best, North Korea at worst.  Probably not a good idea.

In retrospect, the hubris of President Obama makes Bush the “cowboy” look like one of the meekest presidents in history; one whose national crises were foisted upon him, and who led our operations overseas with no other ascertainable intention than to defeat “bad guys” and to “fundamentally transform” the Middle East into something other than a disorganized clusterschtupp.  President Obama ran on “shutting down Gitmo,” ending “facial aqua-surfing” (that’s the new Obama lexicon), halting super-extraordinary rendition, and bringing the troops home.  And here we are, almost three years later, and Obama is partying, golfing, filling out basketball brackets…while our compatriots are mired in tractionless wars in sandy hellholes devoid of moral leadership.

To denigrate the courage and sacrifice of our military troops by labeling their mission ‘pointless’ in the midst of a war overseas – that takes a special kind of character.  And admittedly, there may be a time and place to do so, since intelligent and principled people sometimes disagree on the appropriateness of military intervention, including its political aims and execution.  And admittedly, the Bush administration was about the most feckless and clumsy imaginable at explaining the legal, national security, and humanitarian justifications for ending the Saddam Hussein regime.  After all, Hussein had attacked our troops and violated the Gulf War treaty in numerous ways; as opposed to Gaddhafi who actually cooperated after Bush made an example out of Hussein.  But for the anti-war left to shamelessly clamor in public in the most patently political manner and then go out to lunch for three years while their man is in office – doing the exact same things they previously condemned – shows the anti-war left has no conscience, no decency, not even any respect for our military men and women.  War is just a means to an end for the organized left – mainly to get Democrats elected.

The shallowness and vacuum of principle and decency of anti-war activists on the left is completely beyond the pale, and gives us a unique glimpse into their demented psyches.  The reason the left is so loathe to condemn America when it is being defended by a Republican president, as opposed to a Democratic one, is that it is so demoralized, so partisanly power-hungry, so hell-bent on implementing its program for socially re-engineering the nation, that it cannot stand America when it stands up for itself.  But it will rise up and speak “truth to power” to see its Constitutionally limited government undermined, its sovereignty subverted, and its economy mindlessly redirected from wealth production to redistribution.

Leftists may think such a redistributionist system to be more just, but since they are apparently blind to their blatant manipulation by the Democrat’s anti-war lemming masters, as well as the destructive effects of the Democrats’ economic policies, how do they know they are not being manipulated into endorsing a system that merely erodes America’s power and its ability to defend itself?  How do they know that the Democrat Party’s domestic policies, like their foreign policies, aren’t implicitly designed to degrade the United States’ standing in the world, all supposedly in the interest of “international equality” and “global social and economic justice”? And finally, does the left really want America to be co-equals with flagrant human rights abusers like China, Russia, and Iran? Do they really want convergence with those rising world powers, all of which stand for the opposite of what the left imagines itself to support?

The anti-war leftists better get their heads unscrewed from their fourth point of contact and realize they’ve been used. Join a real cause – become an anti-Democrat.

Left-Wing Media Responses to Obama’s Libya Invasion

President George W. Bush and President-elect B...
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On March 19th, 2011, President Obama followed the directives of the United Nations Permanent Security Council (Russia abstaining), and initiated a U.S. offensive against Moammar Qaddafi‘s Libya. Qaddafi was ostensibly attacked for bloodily putting down a nascent rebellion, following recent similar revolts in Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and most successfully, neighboring Egypt.

It will be fascinating to monitor the left-wing media in their surely schizophrenic responses to Obama’s new conflict, given their vehement and relentless attack on President Bush in his military campaigns following 9/11, which he was authorized in broadly bi-partisan fashion to carry out. The mental acrobatics will assuredly put Cirque de Soleil to shame.

One resource to monitor and compare any disparity in narratives on the left between “Bush’s” Iraq War and “Obama’s” Libyan campaign (whose offensive codename “Odyssey Dawn” reminds me of a band in the 1970s) is The Wayback Machine. Using this tool, one can enter a website address and track it back in time. The dates of the initial offensives for Iraq and Libya are eerily similar: March 19th, eight years apart. So we will enter in the website addresses and compare the responses for March 21st, 2003 and 2011. (Providing ample time to get on top of the story and formulate an opinion).

Media Matters
As you can see, 2003 archiving has been scrubbed. Let’s look at March 21st, 2011. Nothing but unabashed criticism of FoxNews.

DailyKos
One of the most vehement protesters of the Iraq War. Let’s go back in time to 2003. The closest ‘snapshot’ date is March 26th. We have “selling the public an easy war” – a criticism of Dick Cheney. There is alarmism about Iraq’s Republican Guards, which were cut to shreds by American forces; followed by a lament to abandon the Geneva Conventions because the U.S. military bombed an Iraqi television station. The next story brands the military campaign “Bush’s War on the World.” One of the strangest articles criticizes the Iraqi forces for seeming ‘overconfidence.’ After a regular bit, there is one of the endless casualty bios we witness during the Iraq War (not criticizing DK for running it, but these pieces have disappeared under Obama). DK then cites ‘experts’ who claim that ‘Shock and Awe’ “failed completely.” We can forgive them for the misestimation, since they hadn’t lived through an Obama presidency yet.

Let’s glance at DK today. There is a nice fluff piece on “Netroots for the Troops” – a charity for our military overseas. God love ’em, but where’s the criticism of Obama on Libya?

Mother Jones
This should be one of the more interesting comparisons. We won’t be surprised to find fierce criticism if we go back in time to March 2003 – to the 20th. On ‘War Watch’ – we have a questioning of the legality of the war (but the problem is, they are questioning it based on international standards, not on Constitutional grounds. Whether or not Congress can “authorize” the president to go to war is the relevant matter.) We have hand-wringing about “profiling” of immigrants – left-wing hysteria, if one can judge as much. There is a photo of George Bush as a cowboy and a reader criticism featured that implies Bush is going to war to avoid doing anything about domestic issues. There is an insinuation that Bush entered the war because he was “in the pocket” of Big Oil, which turned out to be completely false liberal fantasy (the left tends to ascribe materialist motives to everything the supposed right does.) Unrelated, there is a chilling appraisal of a documentary of the Weather Undeerground, minced with weasel words. Quote, “Watch the film, and it’s impossible not to wonder what response the Weather- men’s bombs might provoke today.” Very principled and consistent with your non-violent posture on the war, Mother Jones.

The Mother Jones entry for March 21st led to one hilarious false positive, a headline on the frontpage: “Why aren’t you outraged by this, America?” Aha! We have our lefty outrage against President Obama for Libya! But alas, it is just a piece lamenting the James O’Keefe set-up of NPR’s Ron Schiller. But Eureka! we have a relevant piece, “What’s happening in Libya explained.” this article proves that the left can do by-the-numbers journalism to suit it’s purposes, intermixed with slick false narratives, or convenient presumptions. Examples:

Libya has been ruled for 42 years by a cunning, repressive, eccentric dictator who has frequently described his own people as “backwards.”

And this varies with Saddam Hussein’s regime how? Let me help: Hussein’s reign was about 100 times worse.

Inspired by pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world, Libyan dissidents had planned a “day of rage” for Thursday, Feb. 17.

Aren’t we a bit coy to call all of these uprisings “pro-democratic”? Democratic surely doesn’t mean “Western liberal” or “peaceful.”

Mother Jones shows that it can do reasonably fair journalism, but only if it suits its political purposes, which apparently is helping Democrats get elected.

HuffingtonPost
Although there are no articles archived for 2003, the website is famous for its relentless attacks on George Bush during the Iraq War. In the absence of a 2003 article, let us see what is online today, March 21st. The lead story is “Obama’s Libya Policy Makes Strange Bedfellows Of Congressional Critics,” which signals a reasonably critical editorial stance towards the action. Ironically, there is a passage on the War Powers Act, making a distinction that suggests the left elite knew calling “Bush’s war” “illegal” was a fraud all along:

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, the president can send U.S. armed forces into conflict only with the authorization of Congress or if the United States is under attack or serious threat. Absent such authorization, however, the president does have a 48-hour window to report about military deployments overseas. While Congress is supposed to be consulted “in every possible instance,” a broadening interpretation of executive powers has greatly diminished its “sign-off” authority.

In other words, President Bush went out of his way to seek (unnecessary) U.N. approval, built a “Coalition of the Willing” (is there any other kind?), and then received authorization from Congress: Exactly what a president is supposed to do. In contrast, here is criticism from a Republican and a Democrat cited in the article:

“I think [the president] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah.) told The Huffington Post. “I see no clear and present danger to the United States of America. I just don’t. We’re in a bit of the fog at the moment as to what the president is trying to ultimately do.”

“In the absence of a credible, direct threat to the United States and its allies or to our valuable national interests, what excuse is there for not seeking congressional approval of military action?” asked Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in a separate interview. “I think it is wrong and a usurpation of power and the fact that prior presidents have done it is not an excuse.”

This strange bit of standard journalistic practice was preceded by a bizarre admission:

Lower on the leadership ranks, a strange-bedfellows coalition of progressive-minded pols and Tea Party members has emerged, not only raising doubts about the underlying strategy but the legality of it as well.

If President Obama is losing Huffington Post, it shows a weakness in political position that does not bode well for the rest of his presidency. We are still early on in the conflict, and the radical sites seem hesitant to pull the trigger on slamming Obama (for continuing all manner of relatively pro-war policies that are increasingly vindicating Bush from a political standpoint), and the more mainstream left Huffington Post is lurching into open criticism.

New York Times
The standard bearer of the left. If President Obama has lost NYT on the offensive, then he could be in real political trouble. First, let’s check 2003. Scrubbed. No surprise there. One could get it on Lexis-Nexis if one wanted. But we all remember the Abu Ghraib front page stories for forty days, so its reputation for anti-war coverage during the Bush presidency is famous. Let us compare today’s feature story on the event, “Airstrikes in Libya; Questions Back Home.” This a fairly tame headline, and indicates a likely fawning response to the attack (from the left’s point of view, the Times was weak on condemning the Iraq War offensive in the initial stages). What one finds, however, is pretty forceful criticism underlaying the “balanced” meta-narrative. One sign that Obama is losing the left:

The decision to join in a military assault against Colonel Qaddafi seemed sure to prompt further debate about whether there is a consistent Obama doctrine for defining national interest and the need for the use of force, could strain relations with liberals who are already uneasy about the president’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan and, should it not go well or continue for weeks or months, divert attention from his domestic policy and political initiatives.

The New York Times shows an unusually critical bent directed against their anointed leader Barack Obama.

CodePink
Crickets chirping on Libya. But there are cute “war criminal” costumes caricaturizing Condaleezza Rice and George Bush.

CNN
We don’t need The Wayback Machine to recall the daily casualty updates. (The Wayback server is down, anyway). What distinguishes CNN from the other lefty outlets is blatant apologism for Obama with a piece, “Why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003.” What ensues is a mealy-mouthed and feckless attempt to justify the attack on the grounds that ‘the UN and the Arab League said it was okay.’ The article whitewashes the fact that Hussein was much worse, and had not only gassed his own people, but attacked the sovereign state of Kuwait. In addition, Qaddafi cooperated with the United States in giving up its wmd program after the United States invaded Iraq, as Bergen disingenuously writes, nearly “unilaterally” (I guess Congress doesn’t count, nor the British, Aussies, and other nations who assisted in the endeavor). One would expect more of a ‘national security expert’ than what one finds in this specious, illogical piece. But then again, “this is CNN.”

LA Times
Shockingly, a reasoned and consistent op-ed piece is published entitled, “Libya: It’s not our fight.” The by-line reads: “Regardless of its good intentions, the U.S. intervention in Libya will be depicted once again as aggressive, predatory and anti-Muslim.” Although one can dissent from the line of argument, at least there are principles at work, and a valid point of view. (At a minimum, there must be consistency for a logical argument to be ‘valid.’) I would disagree with the author, however, that Islamists are at war with the West because of U.S. actions. The only thing needed to provoke Islamists is to exist and to be non-Muslim.

The Daily Beast
The new left-wingers on the block show the most aggressive criticism yet in “Behind the Libya War.” The by-line’s first sentence captures the tone: “Why are we bombing Libya, when we’re nearly broke and already fighting elsewhere?” The acerbic vibe doesn’t end there:

It’s remarkable, when you think about it. The U.S. is already fighting two, deeply frustrating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The public mood is isolationist; the president is by nature cautious; the federal government is nearly broke. Libya is peripheral to core American interests, and most Americans would have trouble finding it on a map, even with the name written in.

The same liberal elitist condescension is there (Beinart is a professor), only this time, it is directed at a Democrat, and not a Republican. Professor Bienart’s premise is shaky, however: The reason for Obama’s foray into Libya is related to his foreign policy advisor’s upbrining in the “crucible” of Bosnia. I guess. But still, Beinart’s academic (in more than one sense of the word) dissent from a Democrat-led policy shows there’s a first for everything – although we can find true professorial vivisection from the almost-right Niall Ferguson. Which brings us to Newsweek.

Newsweek
Oxford professor continues his scathing criticism of Obama on the pages of Newsweek with his appropriately titled, “The Big Dither.” (Ferguson’s questioning by MSNBC libs over Eqypt is too delicious not to link up.) Although, Ferguson supports the war for his own reasons, he questions Obama’s timing:

This was the right thing to do. Was. But it should have been done weeks ago, when it first became clear that Gaddafi, unlike Mubarak, was able and willing to unleash military force against his opponents. Now, with loyalist forces approaching the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, it may well be too late.

Ferguson has maintained that when one has a strategic vision, one is better able to identify interests and take decisive action in the international arena. And Obama surely lacks strategic vision, as far as conventional international relations analyses go.

Foreign Policy
Further along on the academic path, but breaking mainstream due to the popular takes of famous anti-semitic and neo-realist scholar Stephen Walt, we find Foreign Policy. FP echoes the apocalyptic tidings of the left during the Iraq War, calling Obama’s Libyan expedition a “quagmire ahead.” FP contributes to the discussion by unveiling this little-discussed nugget:

Finally, Qaddafi is a particularly unscrupulous and ruthless adversary with long experience using terrorism as a strategic weapon — Libya was a large source of suicide bomb volunteers during the Iraq war — so members of the coalition should expect terror retaliation in various forms.

The left continues its usual trend of chicken little naysaying without actually delving into the fundamental issues and principles at play. Perhaps elitists think the American people are too dumb to think more deeply about whether or not America should commit troops to warfare?

Conclusion
President Obama’s questionable handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his continuation of Bush’s security policies, and his initiation of a war with Libya have yielded at least one positive result, by the left’s own standards: A true diversity of opinion on the left, and even some burgeoning agreement with the right. That’s “hope and change” I can get behind.

Waiting for Superman

Waiting for Superman is a heart-wrenching documentary about our failing public education system. Lauded by both critics and the general audience, while vehemently attacked by teacher’s unions, it is an Oscar-worthy documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim, who also pieced together An Inconvenient Truth.

Still waiting for the awards to roll in? Don’t hold your breath.

Waiting for Superman is not just a scathing indictment of public education, it is one of the most damning eviscerations of collectivism in the documentary format.

The film tracks several youngsters attending various struggling inner city and suburban schools who want to enroll in much higher-performing charter schools.

The only problem? The demand is so high that each child’s chances to enroll must be determined by lotteries, which are drawn at the end of the film.

Watching these children’s faces as they optimistically fight to achieve their dreams, so grotesquely (and misleadingly) bound to school enrollment, is a painful experience that leads to a compelling conclusion: Our system is failing the children, and precisely because it is a system.

The teacher’s unions are slammed for the greedy, unaccountable rackets that they are in this film. It is done consciously and unapologetically. This pretty much puts a blood libel on the rest of Guggenheim’s career in Hollywood. He shouldn’t expect to clink cocktail glasses with the likes of Gwynneth Paltrow anytime soon.

For all the lefties’ verbiage about speaking “truth to power,” they still pretend they aren’t in power, and they still pretend their abysmal track records aren’t the truth.

American public schools, when held to the standards of George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy’s “No Child Left Behind,” are approximately living up to 15% to 30% of expectations coming up on ten years of the program’s initiation. Yet the wallets of the teachers in unions keep growing fatter, while test scores in math, science, and reading keep plummeting.

The problem? Many of the teachers are unaccountable tenured employees. Getting rid of a tenured teacher in many states is like trying to get rid of bed bugs with a pair of tweezers; it can be done, but it’s long and tedious.

In Illinois, for example, in only thirty two districts of over six hundred has a teacher ever been fired. And in New York, there is an appeals process for teachers accused of misconduct requiring them to sit in offices for eight hours a day, for up to three years, drawing full salaries and benefits, doing nothing but reading newspapers or looking at porn on their blackberries. The program’s cost to New York taxpayers? Over $100 million a year.

The film has been characterized by left-leaning media outfits as “tendentious” (this from people who think there is no objective truth, only “narratives”), while the National Education Association rallied the troops to label it “propagandistic.” The NEA laments that teachers weren’t consulted to give us an “inside” look on education. That’s kind of the point.

And the left can say the film paints with a “broad-brush,” but that’s exactly what the statistics the film draws on are meant to do.

The conclusions many gather from the film are mixed, and even detractors see some redeeming value in the film in that it “promotes discourse.” But almost everyone misses the point, because most people are unable to see the ideological dynamics at play and are unable to imagine alternatives, having been educated within the same system themselves. This may sound haughty and arrogant, but I’ll explain. (And it can be more thoroughly explained in Ayn Rand’s The Return of the Primitive.)

The right concludes that charter schools may be a way out of public school’s institutionalized mediocrity, but that is not the right conclusion (and not because of the left’s reasoning that “choice” is the problem). Charter schools may replicate the teaching methods of public schools, leading to the same mediocrity. In one shot in Waiting for Superman, children in a charter school hold up a banner saying, “Team beats the Individual every time.” Exactly right.

But we’ll come back to that point later, let’s take a look at some reactions on the left.

A WFS parody site called “Not Waiting for Superman” protests that teacher’s unions are not a major problem, and any suggestion that they are is a brazen assault on teachers themselves. As if expecting accountability and something for our money is the same as impugning the teaching profession.

But contrary to the perception inside the bubble of teacher’s unions, the unions are not widely held in high regard. In fact, they are often seen by citizens as money-grubbing extortionists which do their best to inure teachers from the demands of their clients. Which is kind of a union’s raison d’etre, come to think of it.

Teacher’s unions have also been declining in esteem because of fresh political opposition from such rising stars in the GOP as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie, though ideologically flawed when it comes to Islam and environmental issues, has done much to spotlight the outrageous abuses of teacher’s unions. Christie took on the unions with budget cuts followed by a staunch refusal to compromise. This garnered him a death threat from one supposedly angelic teacher’s union.

The spread of new media has also lead to tarnishing of the teacher’s unions’ image, which would have been impossible under the old media monopoly. Circulating videos of teachers yelling such demands as “Save our children! Give up the bucks! Where’s the cash? We need it fast!” (KAC Ep.2 2:30-2:45), as well as websites devoted to exposing teacher’s unions, show an ugly side of unions that the major networks and publications simply won’t portray. (One reason is explained by the movie itself: The Democrat Party is beholden to teacher’s unions.)

While the middling left is in denial, the hard left concludes from the film that the public schools’ failings derive from a lack of “social justice.” In the hard left’s imagination, a static, self-perpetuating world of economic and human mediocrity solves all problems. But let’s use a typically useful trick and flip the left’s worldview on its head to find the right answer.

The problem with our public schools is not financial or even structural, it is ideological; and tautologically, if Americans were ideologically and culturally self-interested, public schools would not have the stranglehold on education that they do.

America has stopped elevating the individual. We fear competition. Hell, we fear just about everything. We have stopped striving with bravery and curiosity into the unknown. We have stopped treating life as an adventure where we forge ahead, boldly experimenting, seeking to improve human life through civilization and scientific progress.

As a people, we have stopped demanding of ourselves, and have stopped “living in truth.” We are as intellectually unhinged as we are morally and economically unhinged. We no longer ask hard questions demanding introspection or self-criticism, or demand much of ourselves, for that matter. We don’t try to be exceptional. We don’t try to be leaders. We don’t try to be much of anything.

And it is precisely any shred of competitive spirit that built America that leftists want to snuff out. Instead, they want to build a world where no one fails and everyone succeeds. Wielding such mantras as “self-esteem,” “tolerance,” and the unrelenting need for “creativity,” at the expense of any objective standards, they desire to insulate our children from reality itself, setting them up to fail. And failing is exactly what our children are doing.

The left should stop trying to fix “the system” it once so admirably challenged. It needs to stop trying to make a better world, and start helping Americans become better people. Because ultimately, becoming a good person is a hard journey that begins and ends with oneself.  There is no way to have a great world without great individuals.

Elections and Polls Matter: Head Counts Signal When Policy To Be Continued By Other Means

Rasmussen released a poll at the height of the healthcare witching hour last year that showed the level of support for the Democrats‘ government-run healthcare program hit 41%. The percentage of those opposed was at a staunch 56%. When the polls suggest a 60-40 split on a policy issue, it signals a danger sign for politicians to tread carefully.

Some may object that public opinion polling is an inexact science (it is), and polls can be rigged to convey a certain given result (they can be). But beyond the rebuttal that Rasmussen’s polls in particular have been shown to be both accurate and robust, there is a simple reason that his poll (and polls in general) should be taken seriously: They provide a head count.

I’m not just talking about a head count in regards to elections, although this is useful information also. But in classical political terms, polls provide a head count in the event of a hypothetical civil war (hypothetical being the operative word). Democrats would be well advised to take massive opposition to their political program seriously, for a myriad of reasons; at least according to well-respected political analysts.

Political scientist Adam Przeworski explains:

Yet I think that voting does induce compliance [to governmental coercion], through a different mechanism. Voting constitutes “flexing muscles”: a reading of chances in the eventual war. If all men are equally strong (or armed) then the distribution of vote is a proxy for the outcome of war. Referring to Herodotus, Bryce announces the he uses the concept of democracy “in its old and strict sense, as denoting a government which the will of the majority of qualified citizens rules, taking qualified citizens to constitute the great bulk of the inhabitants, say, roughly three-fourths, so that physical force of the citizens coincides (broadly speaking) with their voting power (italics supplied). Condorcet claims that this was the reason for adopting majority rule: for the good of peace and general welfare, it was necessary to place authority where lies the force. Clearly, once physical force diverges from sheer numbers, when the ability to wage war becomes professionalized and technical, voting no longer provides a reading of chances in a violent conflict. But voting does reveal information about passions, values, and interests. If elections are a peaceful substitute for rebellion (Hampton 1994), it is because they inform everyone who would mutiny and against what. They inform the losers – “Here is the distribution of force: if you disobey the instructions conveyed by the result of the election [or poll – ed.], I’ll be more likely to beat you than you will be able to beat me in a violent confrontation” – and the winners – “If you do not hold elections again or if you grab too much, I will be able to put up a forbidding resistance.” [See the Democrats’ recent proposal to repeal the 22nd amendment.] Dictatorships do not generate this information; they need secret police to find out. In democracies, even if voting does not reveal a unique collective will, it does indicate limits to rule. Why else would we interpret participation as an indication of legitimacy, why would we be concerned about support for extremist parties?

In the end the miracle of democracy is that conflicting political forces obey the results of voting. People who have guns obey those without them. Incumbents risk their control of governmental offices by holding elections. Losers wait for their chance to win office. Conflicts are regulated, processed according to rules, and thus limited. This is not consensus, yet not mayhem either. Just limited conflict; conflict without killing. Ballots are “paper stones,” as [the socialist] Engels once observed.

(Przeworski, Adam. “Minimalist Conception of Democracy: A Defense.” In The Democracy Sourcebook. Dahl, Robert, Ian Shapiro and Jose Antonio Cheibub. (Eds.) (2003). MIT Press. Cambridge, MA. pp. 15-16.)

An objection from the Democrat side of the aisle can be anticipated. Didn’t Obama win the election? Doesn’t that give the president the mandate to push through his agenda, even over unyielding opposition?

There are many good reasons why this isn’t the case.

Obama’s victory of 52.9% of the vote over John McCain’s 45.7% of the vote does not constitute a “mandate” by most historical presidential standards. The electoral college tally of 365 to 173 also does not qualify as a bona fide mandate to enact one’s agenda. By comparison, in 1984 Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale with a popular vote margin of 58.8% to 40.6% and he racked up a jaw-dropping 525 electoral votes. It is safe to say that after that election, after having seen Reagan’s policies for four years, and after sizing up the messenger of the liberal agenda, the public trusted and supported Reagan and his policies.

In the 2008 election, Obama captured just over half the popular vote, and his opponent McCain was conceivably withing striking distance, if a few events would have played in his favor (the economic “crisis” that sprung up within hailing distance of the election and McCain’s fumbled reaction to it did not aid his cause). McCain was not a fair bellwether for ideological conservatism, even considering his conservative-populist running mate. Numerous polls, especially the Battleground polls, suggest that conservatism is a stronger (even though neglected) undercurrent in American politics than either party currently assumes (according to the poll between 58% and 63% self-identify as “conservative” or “very conservative”). The candidacy of John McCain shows that the Republicans miss this point. Thus there was a latent conservative opposition not accounted for with the election of Obama over McCain.

This dismissal of ideological conservatism by both parties was exacerbated by the media coverage of both President Obama and former President Bush. While Bush was demonized and caricatured ad nauseum by the Democrat attack dogs in the press daily during his administration, Obama was glorified and held aloft as a transcendent figure during his campaign. The drawback to this tactic is two-fold: In the first place, it is risky to try to gain votes simply by trying “not” to be someone else. This may get you through the election, but it will not play nine months into your administration. In the second place, when the American public finally gets to know the “un”-candidate, presumably after the election (the infamous chat between Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose shortly after Obama won the election, when the question “Do we really know Barack Obama?” arose comes to mind), when the people see the president “warts and all” – there is a danger of a rapid deflationary effect in public approval.

Thus a media-manipulated victory comes with a price. A country is not run through the media, though solipsist neo-marxists may truly believe this to be the case. The problem with too much media coverage of Obama is just that: Too much media coverage of Obama. While the Old Media think they may be able to run interference for a president who lies as casually as he rolls out of bed to put on his Sunday slippers, the fact is that the public is armed with the Internet and can play – and replay – his every video and audio utterance and witness for themselves his continual indiscretions with the truth.

Returning to the question of whether or not Obama and the Democrats can impose their will on the American people. The answer is they can – at their own peril.

Contextually, political scientists such as Gabriel Almond and Seymour Martin Lipset have been arguing we are a democracy since at least the 1950s, and since the 1970s, Robert Dahl’s “Polyarchy” (a modified form of democracy) has led the way as far as theoretical models of democratic governance go. But America is not governmentally-structurally a democracy, we are a constitutional Republic; our system was designed with checks and balances specifically to prevent democracy and monarchy (Aristotle in Politics thought democracy to be the most unstable form of government and one leading directly to tyranny under a demagogue).

There is an important reason for the change in parlance mid-century from republic to democracy. The neo-marxist Gramscian strategy of a “long march” through the public institutions of America – the news media, the universities, the public schools, Hollywood, the arts – is an attempt to mold public opinion to support socialism, all in the name of “democracy.” Democracy as a political form is thus instrumental to the cultural revolution the neo-marxists have tried to pull off through their takeover of entertainment and news media. Once the majority of Americans support giving up their freedom, so the thinking goes, the trumpeted demagogue can coax the people to vote away their rights. The resisters can then be marginalized, and bullied by condemning them with such name-calling as “extremists” and “the party of no” (as if the Democrats were the “party of yes” under Bush). The cult of personality the neo-marxists erected around Obama was meant to insulate him, to evoke strong loyalty associations and feelings of sympathy whenever anyone opposes him or wants him to fail. His minority status as the first black president merely reinforces this effect. Since most Americans are not racists and do not want to be associated with racists, this “race card” is played relentlessly on Obama’s opponents in order to marginalize them further.

Yet the media and the Democrats must now face the fact that their tactics have backfired as they have failed to fully see the consequences of their actions – a most apropos ending for arrogant statists who think they know everything. They have failed to talk the clear majority of conservative Americans out of their rights. By pushing their agenda too far and too fast, and most importantly, with blatant disrespect for the American public and especially the political opposition, they awoke the conservative majority and have pulled many “moderates” and “independents” over to their side. The future reeks of political disaster for the Democrats – whether or not they pass the remaining items on their leftist agenda.

The Democrats have stared into the abyss – and finally, the abyss stared back.