Who’s Obstructionist?

We hear a lot about Republican obstructionism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–the Obama administration wants to do lots of things that ought to be obstructed. Still, it is odd how seldom we hear about Democrats being obstructionist. That is starting to change, perhaps, following the mid-term elections.

But think about the last six years: the Republicans wanted to obstruct Obamacare and the “stimulus” boondoggle, but they didn’t have the votes. The world would be a much better place, we now know, if they had succeeded. More recently they have been able to stymie smaller liberal proposals.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have obstructed some important conservative initiatives that would have yielded major, positive results. The Keystone Pipeline is one obvious example. Overwhelmingly favored by the American people, it has passed the House easily on several occasions, and last night it got 59 votes in the Senate–obstructed by the narrowest of Democratic Party margins. Keystone is a no-brainer jobs program. The Perryman Group study, done in 2010, concluded that Keystone would create from a quarter-million to a half-million new jobs:

Under “normal” oil price assumptions equivalent to the average for all of 2007, The Perryman Group found the gains in US business activity stemming from a permanent increase in stable oil supplies to include $100.144 billion in total spending, $29.048 billion in output, and 250,348 permanent jobs.

In the high-price case in which costs per barrel reach the peak levels observed in the summer of 2008, The Perryman Group measured the annual impact of an increase in stable oil supplies associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline Project to include $221.305 billion in spending, $64.193 billion in output, and 553,235 jobs.

But the Democrats obstructed that wealth creation, based on a global warming theory that they couldn’t articulate coherently–if Keystone isn’t built, the Alberta oil will be consumed in China, under less environmentally favorable conditions. Only an extremist could think that makes any kind of sense. Michael Ramirez comments:

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While the Democrats’ Keystone obstruction is well known, it is far from the worst example of their standing in the way of progress. The United States has a unique corporate tax regime: we not only tax income that companies earn in the U.S., just as all countries tax income earned within their borders. We also tax U.S.-domiciled companies on all income they earn in other countries, even though that income has already been taxed once. No one else is arrogant enough to do this. Not only that, we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

What that means is that American companies who earn money overseas, as all substantial companies do, can’t bring that money back to the United States and use it to develop facilities and hire employees here. If they bring the money back–the technical term is “repatriation”–it will be double-taxed, at America’s exorbitant rate. I would think that any corporate management dumb enough to bring money back to the U.S. under those circumstances would open itself up to shareholders’ lawsuits.

So around $2 trillion earned by American companies overseas is stuck there, contributing to the economies of South Korea, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, Poland, India, China–you name it, but not the United States. Because of the unique arrogance and stupidity of American tax laws.

Everyone knows this is dumb–even Harry Reid probably understands it–and Republicans have been trying for years to change these repatriation rules in the tax code. But Democrats have obstructed any progress. That has been great for job creation around the world, everywhere except here. Why have Democrats gone out of their way to block job creation in the United States and ship jobs overseas? I can’t tell you. You will have to ask them. As best I can tell, they are lowering your income in order to appease the nuttiest and least-informed elements of their base.

In these and many other ways, Washington Democrats have done all they can to obstruct the progress of the American economy. This is the main reason why the current recovery, now five years old, is by far the weakest recovery of the post-war era. If we can end the Democrats’ obstruction, starting when the new Congress convenes in January, America’s economy could have a bright future.

59

59 is an important number for Mary Landrieu, and not just because she turns that age this week. 59 is the number of votes Obamacare would have received in the Senate if Landrieu hadn’t voted for the legislation. In this scenario, Obamacare would have been defeated and Landrieu probably would have been reelected Senator earlier this month, or be headed for reelection in a runoff.

59 is also the number of Senators who voted for the Keystone pipeline yesterday. Landrieu thus fell one vote short in her quest to save her Senate seat by pushing the pipeline legislation through.

Taken together, the two votes — on Obamacare and on the pipeline — tell a tale. Landrieu loyally cast the deciding vote to pass Obamacare knowing that it might well significantly hurt her standing with Louisiana voters. In other words, she took one for the team.

When it came to the pipeline vote, the team refused to take one for Landrieu. The Dems who voted for the pipeline were mainly Senators from Red States (several of whom were defeated) or swing states. None of the hardcore liberals joined Landrieu.

Landrieu had hoped that Dick Durbin would be her 60th vote. After all, like several other liberal Dems, he just won reelection and has little reason to fear a serious primary challenge six years from now. Moreover, a 60th vote would not have meant the building of the pipeline. President Obama would almost certainly have vetoed the legislation.

Durbin and his liberal colleagues may have wished to avoid putting Obama in the position of having to veto the pipeline. But it’s far from clear that Obama will be spared. In the next Congress, 54 Republicans can be expected to vote for the pipeline. If about half of the returning Dems who voted for it yesterday stick to that vote, the legislation will pass and Obama will be in the hot seat.

Durbin and company probably believe that Landrieu has virtually no chance of winning the runoff regardless of the pipeline vote. Very likely, they are right. But, as noted, the pipeline legislation had virtually no chance of being enacted regardless of the pipeline vote. Under these circumstances, Landrieu will surely feel that her liberal colleagues let her down big time.

Sadly, there is nothing lower in the Washington pecking order than a Senator who has just been defeated or whose imminent defeat is certain. Nor, under any circumstances, are the likes of Dick Durbin plagued by sentimentality or considerations of personal loyalty.

Presumably, the remaining Red and swing state Senate Democrats have watched this episode closely. Presumably, they have concluded that taking one for their team doesn’t pay.

Obama Decides Being Emperor Is a Good Gig

As we and many others have pointed out, one of President Obama’s problems, as he prepares to issue an executive amnesty tomorrow, is that he has long been on record as saying that such an action would be illegal–in his words, the act of an “emperor.” Obama himself just brazens it out, saying “Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed.” But of course it has.

Yesterday ABC’s Jon Karl tried to get White House spokesman Josh Earnest to say whether Obama stands by his “emperor” comments, or whether they have become, Nixon-like, “inoperative.” Earnest responds exactly as you would expect:

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a legal memo from Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, either. Obama doesn’t have to run for re-election again, and he is just about done humoring the rest of us.

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Ultimate #Grubergate

Phil Kerpen et al. at American Commitment have compiled a mashup of videos that helps explain the phenomenon of Grubergate. Kerpen calls the video below “the ultimate Grubergate compilation.”

The video is both instructive and entertaining. It takes a playful tone with a musical soundtrack befitting light comedy, but the video is, as Noah Rothman observes, enraging. What we have here is the residue of Gruberite sludge generated for the consumption of the American public and pumped out to us by the White House, by Democratic leaders and officeholders, and by their adjunct in the mainstream media. The last point has something to do with the suppression of the Grubergate revelations by the mainstream media adjunct of the Democratic Party.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Kevin O’Brien cites chapter and verse in his column “Democrats willfully, repeatedly lied to sell Obamacare.” And when O’Brien refers to “Democrats,” don’t forget their mainstream media adjunct.

Related: “#Grubergate for dummies.”

Via InstaPundit.

No, Obama is not culpable for the Jerusalem Synagogue Attack

Our “picks” section today featurs an article by Jeff Dunetz claiming that President helped incite Tuesday’s deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue. It’s a provacative piece worthy of your attention.

I disagree, however, with the view that Obama helped incite the attack or is otherwise culpable for it.

Obama has not, of course, advcoated that Palestinians attack Israeli Jews. Moreover, Obama hasn’t said anything that rationally justifies attacks.

Dunetz focuses on Obama’s view that Israel should not build apartments for Jews in Jerusalem and that Jews should not purchase homes there. The position, offensive though it is, does not justify murder. One should be able to advocate this view without being accused of inciting violence if zealots who believe the same thing kill Jews.

Is there any causal relationship at all between Obama’s statements and the Jerusalem killings? I very much doubt it. Dunetz posits that Obama’s views “nourish” Palestinian hatred of Jews. But that deep hatred is surely independent of anything an American president says. There is no reason to believe the Palestinian people are taking cues from Obama, who apparently is not terribly popular among them, about how to behave towards Israeli Jews.

Palestinians have been killing Israeli Jews since Obama was an obscure community organizer. Indeed, they have been doing so since before Obama was born. To blame Obama is to vastly underestimate Palestinian hatred of Jews.

Blaming issue advocates for violence committed by others who may share their substantive views is a familiar move. In 2011, some on the left tried to blame Sarah Palin and other conservatives for the Tuscon shootings. The argument was specious, and not just because there turned out to be little affinity between the shooter’s world view and Palin’s.

In Israel, the anti-Oslo right was blamed by some for the killing of Yitzhak Rabin. This too was a specious attempt to obtain an undeserved debate advantage.

There is such a thing as inciting violence without directly advocating it. Dunetz makes a good case that President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have done so.

But his case against Obama is unpersuaive, in my view. Obama has many things to answer for in the Middle East, especially in Israel. But the Jerusalem synagogue attack is not among them.

Obama’s royal scam

Tomorrow promises to be a sad day for the United States, as the president will knowingly overstep his constitutional authority to regularize the immigration status of millions of illegals for narrow partisan purposes. Juliet Eilperin and Ed O’Keefe report Obama’s anticipated executive order at the Washington Post.

Obama has on several occasions correctly described the action he now intends to take as unlawful. He has dismissed it as royal rather than presidential in character. Glenn Kessler usefully compiles the instances and the relevant quotations here. For those who would prefer the ocular proof, Kessler even includes videos of the interview excerpts from which he has pulled the quotes.

Obama must feel some compunction about the forthcoming decree because he has baldly lied about his past statements disclaiming the constitutional authority he now purports to exercise. Only this past Sunday at his press conference in Brisbane, Australia, Obama asserted: “Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed.” This is simply false, as Kessler documents.

USA Today covers the same territory in an account by Robert Farley that it posts under the heading “Obama’s immigration amnesia.” “Amnesia” is of course a euphemism. (The White House transcript of Obama’s press conference with the remarks is posted here.)

Obama is a famously cold-blooded character. He now proves himself once again to be a cold-blooded liar in the upper reaches of the Clinton class.

A spiral of inanity

President Obama is marinated in the left-wing hatred of Israel and, not surprisingly, he hates Israel (not just Prime Minister Netanyahu, though there is that too). He has no patience with Israel’s struggle for survival. He seeks to engineer Israel’s surrender to her enemies. His attitude toward Israel is perhaps a little more obvious than his attitude toward the United States. As with so many issues, however, Israel presents as a test and a leading indicator.

Consider Obama’s statement on the revolting terrorist attack that took the lives of five men (including three American rabbis with dual citizenship) in Israel yesterday. Here it is as posted on the White House website.

Obama also gave slightly more extended remarks on the attack before a meeting of his team addressing the Ebola epidemic yesterday. Here are his remarks:

We know that two attackers senselessly and brutally attacked innocent worshippers in a synagogue during their morning prayers. Obviously, we condemn in the strongest terms these attacks. A number of people were wounded, and four people were killed, including three American citizens. So this is a tragedy for both nations, Israel as well as the United States. And our hearts go out to the families who obviously are undergoing enormous grief right now.

Secretary Kerry has spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Abbas has strongly condemned the attacks. Tragically, this is not the first loss of life that we have seen in recent months. Too many Israelis have died. Too many Palestinians have died. And at this difficult time, I think it’s important for both Palestinians and Israelis to try to work together to lower tensions and to reject violence.

The murderers for today’s outrageous acts [sic] represent the kind of extremism that threatens to bring all of the Middle East into the kind of spiral from which it’s very difficult to emerge. And we know how this violence can get worse over time. But we have to remind ourselves that the majority of Palestinians and Israelis overwhelmingly want peace and to be able to raise their families knowing they’re safe and secure. The United States wants to work with all parties involved to make that a reality, and to isolate the kind of extremists that are bringing about this terrible carnage.

Abbas of course incited the attack, but never mind. As Obama calls out the “kind of extremism” that may lead to a “kind of spiral,” we find ourselves drawn into a vortex of mind-numbing clichés. Like Obama’s formal statement, Obama’s remarks are so placid, so evenhanded, so shot through with stupidity and falsehood, the wonder is that Obama can keep himself awake as he reads them (video below).