Originally published at http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/eyeonfreedom/Obama-stalker-in-chief
Last week, it was revealed that the United States government is creating electronic dossiers on its citizens. This presents a stark contrast with our traditions where law enforcement and national security personnel peer solely into the lives of individuals intent on doing us harm, not the population writ large. Rather than doing the investigative legwork necessary to convince a neutral third party that such snooping is warranted and reasonable, the government argues that it is perfectly legitimate to create such dossiers and obtain warrants to read them only after it has discovered information that it considers interesting. Of course, given that the government holds the keys to the proverbial file cabinet, it doesn’t really matter whether some third party agrees that the government ought to be able to read the contents of the files contained therein. Further, how would anyone outside the government really know whether their file has been read? Therein lies the crux of the problem.
On Friday, President Obama proclaimed that if we do not trust the executive branch (aka President Obama) and we do not trust Congress (after he finished telling us how awful they are) and we do not trust the courts (that informed me I am responsible for paying for Sandra Fluke’s birth control though in her case I will pay happily) “we are going to have a serious problem.” Well heck yes Mr President, we do have a serious problem!
We have learned that the NSA is collecting Americans’ phone records, emails, audio and video chats, transferred files and credit card records. If news reports are accurate, the data is so refined that the NSA is even capturing keystrokes as they are typed. This is in addition to an administration that is capturing Americans’ health records and will begin to capture information concerning Americans’ driving habits beginning next year. If liberals had their way, the administration would begin capturing information about gun ownership as well. This data is in addition to the copious financial records collected by the IRS. We are told the NSA data snooping program has helped stop terrorist attacks. Yet, with all this information, it took an astute street vendor to prevent a bomb from exploding in Times Square. Two terrorists who managed to kill and injure scores in Boston, hid out for one week within one mile of the explosions only to be discovered by a guy who left his house for a smoke!
Consequently, many are concerned about the amount of information the federal government is accumulating about the behavior of law abiding American citizens and the potential for abuse. We are witnessing this abuse unfold with the IRS targeting of President Obama’s political adversaries. There are reports that the administration may have targeted CIA Director General David Petraeus, a critic of the administration’s policy in Libya. NSA employees may have eavesdropped on individuals with whom they had personal grudges. During Congressional testimony, Attorney General Eric Holder refused to answer in an open hearing whether the NSA targeted members of Congress as part of their surveillance program. It makes one wonder whether there is a reason Speaker Boehner has been rather muted in his criticism of the Obama administration of late.
President Obama suggested recently that “you can’t have 100% security and 100% privacy.” Perhaps that is true. On the other hand, in his dissent of a recent Supreme Court case that upheld Maryland’s collection and storage of prisoner DNA unrelated to solving the particular crime for which the prisoner was charged, Justice Antonin Scalia noted
“Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. This will solve some extra crimes, to be sure. But so would taking your DNA whenever you fly on an airplane … (or) taking your children’s DNA when they start public school.”
Justice Scalia may have been summoning his inner Benjamin Franklin
”Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”
Several months ago, I published a column on this blog about the Orwellian nature of the Obama administration. The Obama Presidency – George Orwell’s 1984 Redux. Allowing the federal government to maintain a database of our DNA, blow a gush of air beneath our skirts when we board an airplane and know all manner of our personal private information may help the government predict future crime. Then again as the Times Square attempted bombing and the Boston Marathon bombings demonstrated, it may not. What it will do is allow the government to increase its control over our lives.
At Ohio State University, President Obama suggested that some will “warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.” I agree. Justice Scalia concluded
“It may be wise, as the court obviously believes, to make the Leviathan all-seeing, so that he may protect us all the better. But the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would not have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”
Count me among those men!
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) June 10, 2013
During an impromptu moment in the third hour of a recent nationally syndicated radio show, three doctors, practicing three different specialties, located in three different areas of the country called to bemoan the future of their profession under Obamacare. They spoke about how doctors are being driven from private practice into hospital practices by disparate reimbursement rates because hospital groups are easier for the government to control. They spoke about how hospitals are given financial incentives to reduce care to patients in a method similar to the unpopular HMO model of care promoted by the Clinton administration. They spoke about how increased electronic record keeping burdens are meant to calibrate and manage patient care so as to reduce the cost of care to the government rather than improve the quality of outcomes. Remember when Dr Obama told you to take the blue pill instead of the red pill? One doctor even spoke about how the Veterans Administration denies hip and knee replacements to young veterans. Since the “shelf life” of a prosthetic hip is 10-15 years, a young veteran would require more than one during the course of his lifetime.
This is occurring under the backdrop of rising private health insurance premiums, rising Medicare premiums, businesses large and small dropping full-time employees so as to minimize their health insurance burden under Obamacare, reports that 3/4 of policyholders could be hit by massive taxes on “Cadillac” health plans, labor unions relinquishing support for Obamacare and liberal media cheerleaders worrying that the failure to implement health insurance exchanges might turn the public against Obamacare even further as the cost of creating these exchanges continues to rise. An author of Obamacare in the United States Senate worried recently about a coming “train wreck!” even as President Obama proclaimed that most people are “already experiencing most of the benefits of the [Un]Affordable Care Act, even if they don’t know it.” These “benefits” include the loss of care for subsidized enrollees in California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California. Enrollees must not like their doctors very much because many will not be allowed to keep them!
Yet, rather than running for the hills allowing the Democrats that championed Obamacare’s passage to wear it as an albatross around their necks, Republican “leaders” in Congress seek to strengthen Obamacare while simultaneously negotiating to exempt themselves and their staffs from its effects. In a moment of obvious frustration, Chip Roy, Chief of Staff to Senator Ted Cruz, suggested in a private email leaked to an online newspaper, “The message [stinks]! We oppose Obamacare. Period. We will repeal it. Period.”
During this period of prolonged high unemployment where nearly 10 million Americans have left the workforce, it has become clear that even if Congress or the Obama administration were to grant an individual or a group an exemption from the mandates of Obamacare, there is no escaping its effects on the broader economy. Yet, rather than concentrating their efforts on plans to scale back Obamacare or directing voters’ attention to all of the ill effects that it will bring, many Republicans in Congress are focused on immigration reform proposals that were not a focal point of the recent election and barely 5% of the electorate consider important. Considering that the cost of Obamacare continues to be revised upward and the federal debt approaches $17 trillion, voters are puzzled as to why many Republicans are laboring to pass a $6 trillion boondoggle instead of fighting to scale back Obama’s nearly $2 trillion health insurance mess!
Given this administration’s recurring difficulty embracing the truth, it is amazing that Republicans do not push back more forcefully and more often against President Obama’s attempts to ‘fundamentally transform’ America. Chip Roy is incorrect. The Republican message does not stink. It is nonexistent.
May 19, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service scandal now devouring the Obama administration — the outrageous use of the federal taxing authority to target tea party and other conservatives — certainly makes for meaty partisan politics.
But this scandal is about more than partisanship. It’s bigger than whether the Republicans win or the Democrats lose.
It’s even bigger than President Barack Obama. Yes, bigger than Obama.
It is opening American eyes to the fundamental relationship between free people and those who govern them. This one is about the Republic and whether we can keep it.
And it started me thinking of years ago, of my father and my uncle in Chicago and how government muscle really works.
Because if you want to understand The Chicago Way of things in Washington these days, with the guys from Chicago in charge of the White House and the federal leviathan, there’s one place you start:
You start in Chicago.
My father and uncle ran a small business, a supermarket on the South Side. Uncle George worked in the front, my father in the butcher shop in the back. My uncle had been a teacher. My father had plowed his fields with a mule.
They were immigrants who came here from Greece with nothing in their pockets but a determination to work, and the belief that here, in America, no other power could roll in with tanks and put their boots on the necks of their children.
My father and uncle, like the rest of the family, valued education and books and free political debate. And so at large extended family Sundays, we’d all sit around the dinner table, many uncles and aunts and cousins, young and old.
There were conservatives and socialists, Roosevelt Democrats and Reagan Republicans and a few bewildered, equivocal moderates in between, everyone squabbling, laughing, telling stories.
No matter whose house we were visiting, the TV was never turned on after dinner. Instead, we’d have coffee and fruit and dessert and argument. We had different views, we loved each other, and even strangers who showed up were expected to join in, to debate education, the presidency, social issues, the war, drugs, bluejeans, long hair, baseball, everything.
Uncle Alex was the uncle who told us young people how best to make our points. He ran a snack shop in the Bridgeport neighborhood — the legendary home of Chicago mayors and Democratic machine bosses.
“Don’t wait for a ticket,” he’d say, and puff on his cigar, always in a white shirt and tie, on those family Sundays. So we’d just jump in when we could, like the rest.
One Sunday, I must have been 12 or 13, I decided to ask what I thought was an intelligent question that was something like this:
We talk politics every Sunday, we fight about this and that, so why aren’t you politically active outside?
Why don’t you get involved in politics?
There was an immediate silence. The older cousins looked away. The aunts and uncles stared at me in horror, as if I’d just announced I was selling heroin after school.
You could hear them breathing. No one spoke. I could feel myself blushing.
Someone quickly changed the subject to some safe old story. It could have been the one about how our grandfather named the family mule — a white, big-headed animal — after President Truman. My sin seemed forgotten.
But I couldn’t forget it. I couldn’t understand how we could argue about politics over baklava and watermelon and coffee, but not put it into practice.
We could support a political candidacy, we could donate or work for one or another politician that we agreed with.
This is America, I said.
“Are you in your good senses?” said my father. “We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us.”
And no one, not the Roosevelt Democrats or the Reagan Republicans, disagreed. The socialists, the communists, the royalists, everyone nodded their heads.
This was Chicago. And for a business owner to get involved meant one thing: It would cost you money and somebody from government could destroy you.
The health inspectors would come, and the revenue department, the building inspectors, the fire inspectors, on and on. The city code books aren’t thick because politicians like to write new laws and regulations. The codes are thick because when government swings them at a citizen, they hurt.
And who swings the codes and regulations at those who’d open their mouths? A government worker. That government worker owes his or her job to the political boss. And that boss has a boss.
The worker doesn’t have to be told. The worker wants a promotion. If an irritant rises, it is erased. The hack gets a promotion. This is government.
So everybody kept their mouths shut, and Chicago was hailed by national political reporters as the city that works.
I didn’t understand it all back then, but I understand it now. Once there were old bosses. Now there are new bosses. And shopkeepers still keep their mouths shut. Tavern owners still keep their mouths shut.
Even billionaires keep their mouths shut.
One hard-working billionaire whose children own the Chicago Cubs dared to open his mouth. Joe Ricketts considered funding a political group critical of Obama before last year’s campaign. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, made it clear that if the Cubs wanted City Hall’s approval to refurbish decrepit Wrigley Field, Ricketts better back off.
It happened. He backed off. It was sickening. But it was and is Chicago.
And now — with the IRS used as political muscle and the Obama administration keeping that secret until after the president was elected — America understands it too.
Earlier today, 16 Republicans voted to bring a bill to floor of the United States Senate that they had not read. That is not because they are lazy. It is because the bill was not available for ANY United States Senator to read because it had not been written completely. For all these Senators know, the bill to curtail our second amendment rights might contain riders funding or expanding the powers of Obamacare. It will likely contain earmarks for other special interest spending, something that is not unheard of in Washington, DC. If the TARP bill contained a $2 million earmark for the makers of wooden arrows which everyone agreed was the cause of our economic recession, anything is possible. Yet, here we are in 2013 passing bills so we can find out what is in them.
While I commend Senator McConnell for voting with the minority, today’s vote demonstrates both his weakness and his lack of conviction for preserving the Constitution. I could never imagine 16 Democrats abandoning Harry Reid to vote their ‘conscience’, in part because it would imply they have one. The very first thing Harry Reid did after the vote was take to the floor of the United States Senate and thank his good friend, John McCain. Perhaps McCain and his good friend Lindsey Graham, up for re-election in 2014, are the new leaders of the Republican Party.
The GOP needs to do a lot of soul searching if it wants to regain majority status. Considerable effort has been expended blaming the Tea Party movement for recent electoral losses. I beg to differ. Our legislators read bills before voting on them!
Karl Rove published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he claimed that Republicans lost the 2012 Presidential election, in part, because Democrats maintain a significant data advantage over Republicans. While this may be true, Rove’s contention is that with its own “army of computer engineers, mathematicians and social scientists” Republicans will be able to win elections they would have lost otherwise. As a practicing mathematician, I can tell you that Rove has no idea what he is talking about.
Rove’s contention is the following: By hiring an “army” of mathematicians and data analysts as Obama did in 2012, the RNC or the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee can sift through voter files in order to rank and track likely voters. This is what marketers attempt to do when they sell soap. Unfortunately, politicians are not soap and no ad in Field and Stream of Mitt Romney and his lovely wife wrapped in white bath towels hopping out of the shower holding bars of Dove will make voters more likely to vote. The reason is simple. Voters HATE politicians. We hate them. We do not trust them. When people knock on our door or call us on the phone asking for our vote, we lie just to get rid of you. It is not accidental that 5 out of 6 Americans think Congress is doing a lousy job. So what would a mathematician tell Karl Rove if he asked for my advice about how to improve upon his 1.3% success rate in the 2012 elections? I would tell Karl to do some principal component analysis.
What is that? In short, it is a statistical tool to identify the most significant drivers of a physical process, in this case an election result. In other words, all other things being equal what is most important to voters to ensure that enough of them get out the door to vote for a candidate. I will save Karl the time and expense of hiring an “army” of mathematicians and answer the question for him. When voters are dissatisfied, if the opposition presents a stark contrast with the status quo and is believable, they win. That is how Obama won in 2008 and why Romney lost in 2012. When there is more than one election on the ballot, results are often driven by the result at the top of the ticket. It is just that simple. You do not have to be a mathematician to appreciate this fact. Rove does and is using his op-ed to deflect criticism.
A few facts. Obama lost 5% of his 2008 vote in 2012 yet still managed to win. This was, in part, because many voters were uncertain that the philosophical father of Obamacare, someone who spent the latter part of his campaign praising government run health insurance, would provide a significant enough contrast to Obama.
By campaigning as the 41st vote against the Obama agenda, Scott Brown increased turnout in Republican leaning counties by 77% to become the first Republican to represent Massachusetts in the United States Senate since Harry Truman was President. Two years later after embracing parts of the Obama agenda, Brown lost handedly to a more authentic liberal.
Karl Rove contends that “personal messaging” will help Republicans sway potential voters. Rove believes that was a source of Obama’s success. How many “independents” did “Republican” Linda McMahon’s door hangers sway when they asked voters to elect her to overturn the President’s health care law while simultaneously asking voters to re-elect the President? Apparently not many as McMahan lost in 2012 by the same 12 point margin that she lost by in 2010. Voters recognized a pander and we’re not swayed.
For all his years in politics, it is apparent that Karl Rove has never spent election day in an urban inner city neighborhood. Obama won re-election because he out-hustled Romney in urban neighborhoods where the vote favors Democrats. This was old-fashioned Democrat machine politics pure and simple. Republicans would do well to copy the Democrat model for election day grassroots organizing and focus efforts there. They should have local poll watchers maintain their own voter lists and deploy an “army” of volunteer election lawyers and poll watchers as the Democrats do.
Rove concludes “erasing the GOP’s data deficit is no substitute for effective messages and strong candidates.” I agree. While Rove wants to focus his efforts on helping Republicans “deliver those messages better,” I believe that our efforts would be better spent on delivering a more effective believable message that contrasts with the Democrats. In a country where conservatives outnumber liberals in 47 out of 50 states, you would think politicians would pander to conservatives to try and win elections. Clearly, there is a disconnect. You do not need to be a mathematician to appreciate that a believable message is the meat that gets your supporters to the polls. Everything else is gravy.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) March 21, 2013
“Every Republican officeholder and candidate in the country should have two words tattooed on their hands; growth and opportunity.”
Those are the reasons U.S. Senator Ted Cruz gave for introducing his ‘Restore Growth First – Defund Obamacare’ amendment to the continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. Cruz seeks to frame the conversation emphasizing that restoring economic growth from the current average of 0.8% to the historical average of 3.3% will go a long way toward solving our unemployment problem, balancing our budget and preserving our military strength. Cruz understands that Obamacare will accentuate our economic difficulties. Attendant issues are forcing employers to cancel coverage as a result of rising premiums and limit employee hours to escape coverage mandates. As such, Cruz proposes to postpone funding Obamacare at least until our economy begins to grow again.
Yet, Cruz is a realist understanding that when there are 55 Democrats in the U.S. Senate “emphatically in favor of Obamacare,” the likelihood of passing such legislation is slim. Nonetheless, Cruz is pressing on as part of a broader effort to turn the conversation to issues that benefit Republicans, and Americans! Cruz wants Obamacare to be part of a broader conversation about tax and regulatory reform and the burdens government is placing on small business. Cruz is offering his amendment in no small part so that an amended continuing resolution will return to the House of Representatives and force Republican leadership to revisit their decision to re-authorize the Obama-Pelosi-Reid budget of 2009 that the federal government is continuing to operate under. Cruz understands that visiting these issues at every availability will shift the topics of conversation from gun control and immigration to those of interest; not only by grassroots activists who have been leading the fight against Obamacare but also unaffiliated less partisan voters.
GOP House “Leadership” caused a stir over the weekend when they suggested they would continue passing legislation without the support of a majority of their caucus. Republicans across the country would do well to follow the advice of the Pied Piper. Republican politicians and political operatives might be pleasantly surprised to discover that when you distinguish yourself from your political opponents by word and by deed, people will follow.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) March 11, 2013