Tag Archives: economy. Obama

Time to admit Obamanomics has failed | Washington Examiner

Predictably, the stimulus bill has proven to be an extraordinary waste of borrowed money that has failed to create jobs, generate economic growth or do much of anything other than line the pockets of White House political allies. That and give $308 million in subsidies to BP before the Gulf oil spill disaster, and subsidize a study on what happens when monkeys snort coke.

Add Obama’s determination to raise everybody’s taxes by allowing the Bush cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire Jan. 1, 2011, and it’s easy to why banks, businesses and consumers are hoarding trillions of dollars that could otherwise spur economic growth. And we haven’t even addressed the destructive effect on economic growth of Obama’s nationalization of major portions of the economy, including the banks, health care and the auto industry.

The economy is stalling, unemployment seems stuck at European levels of idleness, the federal deficit and the national debt are at historic highs, public confidence in Congress is at its lowest-ever level and big majorities of Mainstream Americans say Obama has the country on the wrong path. Obamanomics has failed miserably and it’s time for everybody in this town to admit it so we can move on.

Read more via Time to admit Obamanomics has failed | Washington Examiner.


Charles Krauthammer – Annals of executive overreach

Last week, a draft memo surfaced from the Department of Homeland Security suggesting ways to administratively circumvent existing law to allow several categories of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and, indeed, for some to be granted permanent residency. Most disturbing was the stated rationale. This was being proposed “in the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” In other words, because Congress refuses to do what these bureaucrats would like to see done, they will legislate it themselves. Regardless of your feelings on the substance of the immigration issue, this is not how a constitutional democracy should operate. Administrators administer the law, they don’t change it. That’s the legislators’ job.

Read more via Charles Krauthammer – Annals of executive overreach.

Obama Wants Mob Banker To Fill His Old Senate Seat | Judicial Watch

The president who promised change wants a shady pal whose bank folded after giving Russian mobsters and a jailed Democratic fundraiser millions of dollars to fill the U.S. Senate seat he once occupied.

The unwavering endorsement of Alexi Giannoulias for Illinois Senator certainly indicates that President Obama wants to maintain the status quo—rather than change it—in the famously corrupt Chicago political monster that’s been empowered by his presidency.

Currently Illinois State Treasurer, Giannoulias has enough skeletons in his closet to question the support of a commander-in-chief. The family bank (Broadway Bank) he operated in Chicago was shut down earlier this year by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. For years Broadway Bank did business with convicted felons and mobsters by providing them with tens of millions of dollars in “loans” that inevitably fortified their criminal enterprises.

via Obama Wants Mob Banker To Fill His Old Senate Seat | Judicial Watch.

SO…BUSH WAS AN IDIOT? – True Conservatives on Twitter

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and used AF One to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan’s holdings of GM stock by 90%and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVD ‘s, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia , would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent”Austrian language,” would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current on their income taxes, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to “Cin co de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the fourth of May (Cuatro de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?
If George W. Bush had mis-spelled the word advice would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoe as proof of what a dunce he is?
If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he’s a hypocrite?
If George W. Bush had authorized a “green” car that has absolutely no protective parts to it and holds only two people, and would be totally destroyed if in a wreck… would you have thought him a total idiot after all these years of trying to make cars protective?

If George W. Bush’s administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11 and called him a total idiot!

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had 44 czars to run the White House and national security, none of them approved by Congress, and some turned out to be income tax evaders and self avowed communists…would you have thought him a total idiot?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years which is already putting our grandchildren in debt, would you approve or think he was a total idiot?

If George W. Bush had taken out the missile defense system in favor of a smaller one that does not have proof it will work…would you call him an idiot?

Taken from SO…BUSH WAS AN IDIOT? – True Conservatives on Twitter.

Government Control Decision Adds To Unemployment Rate!

Govt watchdog criticizes handling of car dealers


Mort Zuckerman: Obama Is Barely Treading Water

The president’s problem is simple: the economy and jobs

By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Posted: July 2, 2010

The hope that fired up the election of Barack Obama has flickered out, leaving a national mood of despair and disappointment. Americans are dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain they can be made right again. Hope may have been a quick breakfast, but it has proved a poor supper. A year and a half ago Obama was walking on water. Today he is barely treading water. Then, his soaring rhetoric enraptured the nation. Today, his speeches cannot lift him past a 45 percent approval rating.

There is a widespread feeling that the government doesn’t work, that it is incapable of solving America’s problems. Americans are fed up with Washington, fed up with Wall Street, fed up with the necessary but ill-conceived stimulus program, fed up with the misdirected healthcare program, and with pretty much everything else. They are outraged and feel that the system is not a level playing field, but is tilted against them. The millions of unemployed feel abandoned by the president, by the Democratic Congress, and by the Republicans.

The American people wanted change, and who could blame them? But now there is no change they can believe in. Sixty-two percent believe we are headed in the wrong direction­—a record during this administration. All the polls indicate that anti-Washington, anti-incumbent sentiment is greater than it has been in many years. For the first time, Obama’s disapproval rating has topped his approval rating. In a recent CBS News poll, there is a meager 15 percent approval rating for Congress. In all polls, voters who call themselves independents have swung against the administration and against incumbents.

Even some in Obama’s base have turned, with 17 percent of Democrats disapproving of his job performance. Even more telling is the excitement gap. Only 44 percent of those who voted for him express high interest in this year’s elections. That’s a 38-point drop from 2008. By contrast, 71 percent of those who voted Republican last time express high interest in the midterm elections, above the level at this stage in 2008. And these are the people who vote.

Republicans are benefiting not because they have a credible or popular program—they don’t—but because they are not Democrats. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, nearly two thirds of those who favor Republican control of Congress say they are motivated primarily by opposition to Obama and Democratic policy. Disapproval of Congress is so widespread, a recent Gallup poll suggests, that by a margin of almost two to one, Americans would rather vote for a candidate with no experience than for an incumbent. Throw the bums out is the mood. How could this have happened so quickly?

The fundamental problem is starkly simple: jobs and the deepening fear among the public that the American dream is vanishing before their eyes. The economy’s erratic improvement has helped Wall Street but has brought little support to Main Street. Some 6.8 million people have been unemployed in the last year for six months or longer. Their valuable skills are at risk, affecting their economic productivity for years to come. Add to this despairing army the large number of those only partially employed and those who have given up their search for work, and we have cumulative totals in the tens of millions.

Many people who joined the middle class, especially those who joined in the last few years, have now fallen back. It’s not over yet. Millions cannot make minimum payments on their credit cards, or are in default or foreclosure on their mortgages, or are on food stamps. Well over 100,000 people file for bankruptcy every month. Some 3 million homeowners are estimated to face foreclosure this year, on top of 2.8 million last year. Millions of homes are located next to or near a foreclosed home, and it is the latter that may determine the price of all the homes on the street. There have been dramatically sharp declines in home equity, representing cumulative losses in the trillions of dollars in what has long been the largest asset on the average American family’s balance sheet. Most of those who lost their homes are hard-working, middle-class Americans who had lost their jobs. Now many have to use credit cards to pay for essentials and make ends meet, and they are running out of credit. Another $5 trillion has been lost from pensions and savings.

But it is jobs that have long represented the stairway to upward mobility in America. For a long time, it was feared they were vulnerable to offshore competition (and indeed still are), but now the erosion is from economic decline at home. What happens as those domestic opportunities recede? Middle-class families fear they have become downwardly mobile and have not hit the bottom yet. The financial security that was once based on home equity and a pension has been swept away.

In a survey just released, the Pew Research Center explored the recession’s impact on households and how they are changing their spending and saving behavior. Nearly half the adults polled intend to boost their savings, cut their discretionary budgets, and cut their debt loads. The report concludes that the present enforced frugality will outlast the recession and its overhang. Fully 60 percent of those ages 50 to 61 say they may delay retirement. What does that mean for the young would-be employees entering the labor force over the next few years?

The administration’s stimulus program, because of the way Congress put it together, has created far fewer jobs than anyone expected given the huge price tag of almost $800 billion. It was supposed to constrain unemployment at 8 percent, but the recession took the rate way above that and in the process humbled the Obama presidency. Some 25 million jobless or underemployed people now wish to work full time, but few companies are ready to hire. No speech is going to change that.

Little wonder there has been a gradual public disillusionment. Little wonder people have come alive to the issue of excess spending with entitlements out of control as far as the eye can see. The hope was that Obama would focus on the economy and jobs. That was the number one issue for the public—not healthcare. Yet the president spent almost a year on a healthcare bill. Eighty-five percent in one poll thought the great healthcare crisis was about cost. It was and is, but the president’s bill was about extending coverage. It did nothing about the first concern and focused mostly on the second. Even worse, to win its approval he accepted the kind of scratch-my-back deal-making that suggests corruption in the political process. And as a result, Obama’s promise to change “politics as usual” disappeared.

The president failed to communicate the value of what he wants to communicate. To a significant number of Americans, what came across was a new president trying to do too much in a hurry and, at the same time, radically change the equation of American life in favor of too much government. This feeling is intensified by Obama’s emotional distance from the public. He conveys a coolness and detachment that limits the number of people who feel connected to him.

Americans today strongly support a pro-growth economic agenda that includes fiscal discipline, limited government, and deficit reduction. They fear the country is coming apart, while the novelty of Obama has worn off, along with the power of his position as the non-Bush. His decline in popularity has emboldened the opposition to try to block him at every turn.

Historically, presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent—Obama is at 45—lose an average of 41 House seats in midterm elections. This year, that would return the House of Representatives to Republican control. The Democrats will suffer disproportionately from a climate in which so many Americans are either dissatisfied or angry with the government, for Democrats are in the large majority in both houses and have to defend many more districts than Republicans. In any election year, voters’ feelings typically settle in by June. But now they are being further hardened by the loose regulation that preceded the poisonous oil spill—and the tardy government response.

The promise of economic health that might salvage industries and jobs, and provide a safety net, has proved illusory. The support for cutting spending and cutting the deficit reflects in part the fact that the American public feels the Obama-Congress spending program has not worked. As for the healthcare reform bill, the most recent Rasmussen survey indicates that 52 percent of the electorate supports repeal of the measure—42 percent of them strongly.

It is clear that the magical moment of Obama’s campaign conveyed a spell that is now broken in the context of the growing public disillusionment. Obama’s rise has been spectacular, but so too has been his fall.

America: Optimism on hold

By Alan Beattie and Robin Harding

Published: July 9 2010 20:40 | Last updated: July 9 2010 20:40

Mall of America
Shopped out: downtime at the Mall of America, one of the biggest in the US. Job growth remains too slow to support the rise in consumption required for a self-sustaining recovery

A month ago, it all seemed to be going so well. Growth in the US economy was picking up. The financial system was, mainly, functioning. The risk of contagion from Europe had diminished after an unprecedented €110bn ($139bn, £91bn) bail-out from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Things were creeping back towards normality.

Then in early June, as Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, put it, the economy hit “an invisible wall”. The US had a run of bad news – disappointing job growth; unexpectedly low employment; indices suggesting manufacturing and services losing momentum; renewed jitters from Europe’s sovereign debt markets and its banks. While most economists think it unlikely this heralds the famous double-dip recession feared by policymakers, it does come at a time when America’s monetary and fiscal authorities are struggling for room to manoeuvre.

In truth, there was always a risk that growth would hiccup at this point. Fiscal stimulus and companies rebuilding inventories have given the recovery a strong push start. But those are one-off effects; the recovery must now switch to power from its internal engine. “We haven’t entered into that self-sustaining stage yet,” says Gus Faucher of Moody’s Analytics, who estimates the chance of a dip back into recession at 25 per cent.

A self-sustaining recovery needs a steady rise in jobs, wages and profits that will allow a steady rise in consumption and investment, feeding back into jobs, wages and profits. So it is worrying that private payrolls rose by only 33,000 in May and 83,000 in June – not fast enough to support a rapid rise in consumption – and both average wages and hours worked have dipped a little.

Business investment has boosted the recovery in the past few quarters but some surveys suggest it is slowing. June’s purchasing managers index for manufacturing fell from 59.7 to 56.2 – implying still rapid but slowing expansion. Nor is the housing market a roaring source of growth. Home sales and housing starts fell in May after the expiry of a tax credit. Prices appear to have stabilised but the IMF recently noted that “the backlog of foreclosures and high levels of negative equity, combined with elevated unemployment, pose risks of a double dip in housing”.

All this sounds bad. But as Neal Soss of Credit Suisse in New York points out, there is a big difference between a slowdown in growth and actual falls in economic activity. “The economy is still growing and there’s every reason to think it will keep growing,” he says.

Like many economists, Mr Soss has always thought the recovery would be slow as households have heavy debts and banks need to repair their balance sheets. One consequence, however, may be recurring alarm about a double dip. “You’ll have some speed-up scares and some slowdown scares,” he says. “But if you’re starting from a high level of unemployment, then slowdown scares are more likely to get attached to words like ‘recession’ instead of ‘deceleration’.”

The US could really do with a helping hand. Sadly, that seems elusive. If Europe thought the Greek crisis had been solved by the EU-IMF rescue package, it had succumbed to an early bout of World Cup euphoria. It may have eliminated Athens’ immediate financing needs but it did not end speculation that Portugal or Spain would follow. Nor did it quiet fears about the amount of Greek and Spanish debt held by eurozone banks.

In the past month, a familiar pattern of risk aversion has re-emerged. Credit spreads of indebted countries widened as investors fretted about the solvency of governments; equities dropped; the dollar and US Treasury bond prices rose as investors sought safe havens. This is not all bad news: higher bond prices equal lower long-term interest rates.

But more than America needs cheaper money, it needs businesses and consumers to be optimistic. “The net effect of the past month on the US has been slightly negative. The purely economic factors cancel each other out but the uncertainty, on top of a poor jobs picture, has not done any good,” says Professor Eswar Prasad of New York’s Cornell University.

Seeking to rebalance its lopsided economy, the US is embarking on a drive to double exports and thereby create 2m jobs. But plans an­nounced this week by President Barack Obama – a ragbag of bureaucratic shake-ups and trade missions – are regarded by many economists as inadequate. Far more importantly, the global environment for demand looks unpropitious.

With a strong dollar, even higher demand growth in emerging markets is unlikely to give US net trade much of a boost. The flexibility in the Chinese exchange rate announced in June was symbolically important. But the small rises allowed so far will not suck in many US exports.

Net trade boosted US gross domestic product by 1.2 percentage points in 2009 but largely because weak consumer spending caused a huge drop in imports. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Paris-based think tank, predicts that imports will grow faster than exports, subtracting from economic growth by 0.3 percentage points this year and 0.4 percentage points in 2011.

Worryingly, a combination of economic and political factors constrains US authorities. Thus any hit to confidence from events such as the Greek crisis are likely to be magnified.

On the monetary policy front, Federal Reserve officials are, as yet, not particularly concerned about the health of the recovery. They still think that the most likely outcome is steady growth over the next couple of years. But they do think the downside risks to growth and inflation have risen in recent months, and probably outweigh upside risks such as a surge in bottled-up consumer demand.

So one measure Fed officials will watch is inflation expectations, especially if inflation is very low later this year, which could be­come a self-fulfilling process. The risk of a slide into outright deflation could prompt easier monetary policy from the Fed.

The central bank thinks it has tools available for the unlikely eventuality that it is forced to act. One is buying more long-term assets such as Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Another is cutting the interest rate paid to banks that deposit money with it. That would increase their incentive to lend money out instead.

But no amount of monetary easing will help if banks do not extend credit because consumers do not want to spend nor companies to invest. And the weapons governments tend to use in such circumstances – spending rises and tax cuts – pose prob­lems more political than economic.

On the economic side, bond market investors do not seem worried about the effect of current deficits on US solvency or expecting Washington to inflate its way out of debt. Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds have sunk to very low levels, about 3 per cent, and expected inflation derived from the prices of index-linked bonds remains about 2 per cent.

Less happily for those in the administration who believe in continued stimulus, political support for public spending is eroding. Al­though recent primary elections ahead of November’s midterms have produced mixed results, some seemed to punish candidates for favouring Big Government.

Administration officials insist that the damage is mainly to candidates who supported the troubled asset relief programme, the federal financial bail-out, rather than government spending in general. But even continuing current stimulus is a struggle. Proposals to extend unemployment benefits and prolong aid to states are snarled in Congress. One senior administration official reports an interlocutor saying: “There are only three Keynesians left in America, and they all work in the administration.”

Alec Phillips of Goldman Sachs says: “The potential expiration of stimulus measures appears to be an increasingly important risk to growth.” As Treasury secretary Tim Geithner is fond of pointing out, for all the accusations that the US is a fiscal profligate, its deficit is due to fall more sharply in the near future than that of almost any other leading economy, from 10.6 per cent of GDP in 2010 to 5.1 per cent in 2013, compared with a fall from 5.5 per cent to just under 3 per cent in supposedly self-flagellating Germany.

Mr Phillips calculates that if the stimulus bill enacted last year is allowed to expire, including unemployment benefits, aid to states and a special personal tax credit, the effect could be to subtract 2 percentage points of GDP growth – more than half the US trend growth rate – at about the middle of next year. Even a more plausible scenario, in which the unemployment payments and tax credits are extended, would take at least a percentage point off growth throughout next year.

The US economy is not yet in severe trouble. Rises in equity prices over the past few days have comforted optimists that confidence is returning. But the economy’s sputter over the past month indicates just how fragile the recovery is and how dependent America is on generating its own demand. And if it starts to turn down rather than simply to decelerate, policymakers turning to their arsenal will find it dangerously depleted.

The selective modesty of Barack Obama

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 9, 2010; A19

Remember NASA? It once represented to the world the apogee of American scientific and technological achievement. Here is President Obama’s vision of NASA’s mission, as explained by administrator Charles Bolden:

“One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering.”

Apart from the psychobabble — farcically turning a space-faring enterprise into a self-esteem enhancer — what’s the sentiment behind this charge? Sure America has put a man on the moon, led the information revolution, won more Nobel Prizes than any other nation by far — but, on the other hand, a thousand years ago al-Khwarizmi gave us algebra.

Bolden seems quite intent on driving home this message of achievement equivalence — lauding, for example, Russia’s contribution to the space station. Russia? In the 1990s, the Russian space program fell apart, leaving the United States to pick up the slack and the tab for the missing Russian contributions to get the space station built.

For good measure, Bolden added that the United States cannot get to Mars without international assistance. Beside the fact that this is not true, contrast this with the elan and self-confidence of President John Kennedy’s 1961 pledge that America would land on the moon within the decade.

There was no finer expression of belief in American exceptionalism than Kennedy’s. Obama has a different take. As he said last year in France, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Which of course means: If we’re all exceptional, no one is.

Take human rights. After Obama’s April meeting with the president of Kazakhstan, Mike McFaul of the National Security Council reported that Obama actually explained to the leader of that thuggish kleptocracy that we, too, are working on perfecting our own democracy.

Nor is this the only example of an implied moral equivalence that diminishes and devalues America. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner reported that in discussions with China about human rights, the U.S. side brought up Arizona’s immigration law — “early and often.” As if there is the remotest connection between that and the persecution of dissidents, jailing of opponents and suppression of religion routinely practiced by the Chinese dictatorship.

Nothing new here. In his major addresses, Obama’s modesty about his own country has been repeatedly on display as, in one venue after another, he has gratuitously confessed America’s alleged failing — from disrespecting foreigners to having lost its way morally after 9/11.

It’s fine to recognize the achievements of others and be non-chauvinistic about one’s country. But Obama’s modesty is curiously selective. When it comes to himself, modesty is in short supply.

It began with the almost comical self-inflation of his presidential campaign, from the still inexplicable mass rally in Berlin in front of a Prussian victory column to the Greek columns framing him at the Democratic convention. And it carried into his presidency, from his posture of philosopher-king adjudicating between America’s sins and the world’s to his speeches marked by a spectacularly promiscuous use of the word “I.”

Notice, too, how Obama habitually refers to Cabinet members and other high government officials as “my” — “my secretary of homeland security,” “my national security team,” “my ambassador.” The more normal — and respectful — usage is to say “the,” as in “the secretary of state.” These are, after all, public officials sworn to serve the nation and the Constitution — not just the man who appointed them.

It’s a stylistic detail, but quite revealing of Obama’s exalted view of himself. Not surprising, perhaps, in a man whose major achievement before acceding to the presidency was writing two biographies — both about himself.

Obama is not the first president with a large streak of narcissism. But the others had equally expansive feelings about their country. Obama’s modesty about America would be more understandable if he treated himself with the same reserve. What is odd is to have a president so convinced of his own magnificence — yet not of his own country’s.

Terror — and candor in describing the Islamist ideology behind it

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 2, 2010; A23

The Fort Hood shooter, the Christmas Day bomber, the Times Square attacker. On May 13, the following exchange occurred at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.): Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?

Attorney General Eric Holder: There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions. . . .

Smith: Okay, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?

Holder: There are a variety of reasons why people —

Smith: But was radical Islam one of them?

Holder: There are a variety of reasons why people do these things. Some of them are potentially religious-based.

Potentially, mind you. This went on until the questioner gave up in exasperation.

A similar question arose last week in U.S. District Court when Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square attacker, pleaded guilty. Explained Shahzad:

“One has to understand where I’m coming from . . . I consider myself a mujahid, a Muslim soldier.”

Well, that is clarifying. As was the self-printed business card of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, identifying himself as SoA: Soldier of Allah.

Holder’s avoidance of the obvious continues the absurd and embarrassing refusal of the Obama administration to acknowledge who out there is trying to kill Americans and why. In fact, it has banned from its official vocabulary the terms jihadist, Islamist and Islamic terrorism.

Instead, President Obama’s National Security Strategy insists on calling the enemy — how else do you define those seeking your destruction? — “a loose network of violent extremists.” But this is utterly meaningless. This is not an anger-management therapy group gone rogue. These are people professing a powerful ideology rooted in a radical interpretation of Islam, in whose name they propagandize, proselytize, terrorize and kill.

Why is this important? Because the first rule of war is to know your enemy. If you don’t, you wander into intellectual cul-de-sacs and ignore the real causes that might allow you to prevent recurrences.

The Pentagon review of the Fort Hood shooting runs 86 pages with not a single mention of Hasan’s Islamism. It contains such politically correct inanities as “religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor.”

Of course it is. Indeed, Islamist fundamentalism is not only a risk factor. It is the risk factor, the common denominator linking all the great terror attacks of this century — from 9/11 to Mumbai, from Fort Hood to Times Square, from London to Madrid to Bali. The attackers varied in nationality, education, age, social class, native tongue and race. The one thing that united them was the jihadist vision in whose name they acted.

To deny this undeniable truth leads to further absurdities. Remember the wave of speculation about Hasan’s supposed secondary post-traumatic stress disorder — that he was so deeply affected by the heart-rending stories of his war-traumatized patients that he became radicalized? On the contrary. He was moved not by their suffering but by the suffering they (and the rest of the U.S. military) inflicted on Hasan’s fellow Muslims, in whose name he gunned down 12 American soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

With Shahzad, we find the equivalent ridiculous — and exculpating — speculation that perhaps he was driven over the edge by the foreclosure of his home. Good grief. Of course his home went into foreclosure — so would yours if you voluntarily quit your job and stopped house payments to go to Pakistan for jihadist training. As The Post’s Charles Lane pointed out, foreclosure was a result of Shahzad’s radicalism, not the cause.

There’s a final reason the administration’s cowardice about identifying those trying to kill us cannot be allowed to pass. It is demoralizing. It trivializes the war between jihadi barbarism and Western decency, and diminishes the memory of those (including thousands of brave Muslims — Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghan and Western) who have died fighting it.

Churchill famously mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. But his greatness lay not in mere eloquence. It was his appeal to the moral core of a decent people to rise against an ideology the nature of which Churchill never hesitated to define and describe — and to pronounce (“Nahhhhzzzzi”) in an accent dripping with loathing and contempt.

No one is asking Obama or Holder to match Churchill’s rhetoric — just Shahzad’s candor.

Obama’s thuggery is useless in fighting spill

By: Michael Barone
Senior Political Analyst
June 20, 2010

President Barack Obama waves as he exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Friday. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Thuggery is unattractive. Ineffective thuggery even more so. Which may be one reason so many Americans have been reacting negatively to the response of Barack Obama and his administration to BP’s Gulf oil spill.

Take Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remark that he would keep his “boot on the neck” of BP, which brings to mind George Orwell’s definition of totalitarianism as “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Except that Salazar’s boot hasn’t gotten much in the way of results yet.

Or consider Obama’s undoubtedly carefully considered statement to Matt Lauer that he was consulting with experts “so I know whose ass to kick.” Attacking others is a standard campaign tactic when you’re in political trouble, and certainly BP, which appears to have taken unwise shortcuts in the Gulf, is an attractive target.

But you don’t always win arguments that way. The Obama White House gleefully took on Dick Cheney on the issue of terrorist interrogations. It turned out that more Americans agreed with Cheney’s stand, despite his low poll numbers, than Obama’s.

Then there is Obama’s decision to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf. This penalizes companies with better safety records than BP’s and will result in many advanced drilling rigs being sent to offshore oil fields abroad.

The justification offered was an Interior Department report supposedly “peer reviewed” by “experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” But it turned out the drafts the experts saw didn’t include any recommendation for a moratorium. Eight of the cited experts have said they oppose the moratorium as more economically devastating than the oil spill and “counterproductive” to safety.

This was blatant dishonesty by the administration, on an Orwellian scale. In defense of a policy that has all the earmarks of mindless panic, that penalizes firms and individuals guilty of no wrongdoing and that will worsen rather than improve our energy situation. Ineffective thuggery.

And what about the decision not to waive the Jones Act, which bars foreign-flag vessels from coming to the aid of the Gulf cleanup? The Bush administration promptly waived it after Katrina in 2005. The Obama administration hasn’t and claims unconvincingly that, gee, there aren’t really any foreign vessels that could help.

The more plausible explanation is that this is a sop to the maritime unions, part of the union movement that gave Obama and other Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle. It’s the Chicago way: Dance with the girl that brung ya.

Or the decision to deny Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to deploy barges to skim oil from the Gulf’s surface. Can’t do that until we see if they’ve got enough life preservers and fire equipment. That inspired blogger Rand Simberg to write a blog post he dated June 1, 1940: “The evacuation of British and French troops from the besieged French city of Dunkirk was halted today, over concerns that many of the private vessels that had been deployed for the task were unsafe for troop transport.”

Finally, the $20 billion escrow fund that Obama pried out of the BP treasury at the White House when he talked for the first time, 57 days after the rig exploded, with BP Chairman Tony Hayward. It’s pleasing to think that those injured by BP will be paid off speedily, but House Republican Joe Barton had a point, though an impolitic one, when he called this a “shakedown.”

For there already are laws in place that insure that BP will be held responsible for damages and the company has said it will comply. So what we have is government transferring property from one party, an admittedly unattractive one, to others, not based on pre-existing laws but on decisions by one man, pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg gets good reviews from everyone. But the Constitution does not command “no person . . . shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law except by the decision of a person as wise and capable as Kenneth Feinberg.” The Framers stopped at “due process of law.”

Obama doesn’t. “If he sees any impropriety in politicians ordering executives about, upstaging the courts and threatening confiscation, he has not said so,” write the editors of the Economist, who then suggest that markets see Obama as “an American version of Vladimir Putin.” Except that Putin is an effective thug.

Michael Barone, The Examiner’s senior political analyst, can be contacted at mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com. His columns appear Wednesday and Sunday, and his stories and blog posts appear on ExaminerPolitics.com.