Monday, July 16, 2012

Pants on Fire

Peter Wehner offers us an analysis at The Weekly Standard of what he calls President Obama's "accountability problem." After listing promises that Mr. Obama has failed to keep or has actually broken Wehner focuses on one of the president's major claims, i.e his repeated asseveration that he didn't realize the magnitude of our economic problems when he took office. Wehner argues that this claim is simply and deliberately false:
Given that Obama’s key economic promises haven’t been kept, what possible excuse can the president offer? Easy. The president’s explanation goes something like this: By the time he took office, the economic situation was far worse than anyone, including Obama, imagined. The deficit was far larger than anyone predicted. The president therefore can’t be held accountable for his failed promises. He was operating on a false set of assumptions. The crisis was much deeper than he knew when he made those promises. “We didn’t know how bad it was,” is how Obama put it last year.

Here’s the problem: If you go back and examine the record, you’ll find that Obama was fully aware of the depth and severity of the recession. As a candidate, for example, he said we were facing “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” As president-elect, Obama said we faced “a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime.”

Prior to being sworn in, Obama knew — in fact, he went out of his way to warn us — that we were shedding more than half a million jobs per month, the worst job loss in over three decades. That in 2008 we had lost more jobs than in any year since the Great Depression. That manufacturing had hit a 28-year low. That the stock market had fallen almost 40 percent in less than a year. That credit markets were nearly frozen. That businesses large and small couldn’t borrow the money they needed to meet payroll and create jobs. That home foreclosures were mounting. That credit card and auto loan delinquencies were rising. That the economy was “in a global crisis.” And that he was inheriting an “enormous budget deficit—you know, some estimates over a trillion dollars. That’s before we do anything.”

In other words, Barack Obama knew full well how bad things were when he promised he’d cut the deficit in half, when his economic team said that if his stimulus package passed, unemployment would not rise above 8 percent, and much of the rest.

What this means, then, is that Barack Obama’s only excuse for his failures is a myth and a mirage—a manufactured, after-the-fact effort to escape accountability for his own words, his own commitments, and his own failings.
How much Mr. Obama's integrity matters to voters remains to be seen, but it does seem as if something comes up every other day to remind us that he has a real problem with the truth.

Update on Iran

Strategy Page brings us up to date on what's happening with the sanctions imposed against Iran:
The new, and more severe, sanctions against Iran have been in force for nearly two weeks and they are hurting. Oil shipments, according to the Iranian government, are down 30 percent. Inflation, according to the government, is somewhere north of 20 percent. It's actually closer to 30 percent, largely because the government just prints more money to give angry Iranians, to help offset the ever-rising prices. This just makes the inflation worse....

Inflation and shortages of imported goods are both getting worse. This hurts most Iranians and has turned public opinion against the nuclear weapons program. The religious dictatorship that has run the country for three decades, long ago lost the loyalty of most Iranians. The corruption, brutality, and hypocrisy of the government has been matched by brutality and the loyalty of a quarter of the population that, for religious reasons, backs the clerics....

Normally Iran pumps three million barrels a day. But about a third of that output has already lost its customers and oil wells are being shut down to reduce production. In June, Iranian production officially shrank 150,000 barrels a day. But the reality is greater. Iran has been storing unsold oil on ships but there are no more unused tankers for this (despite ordering 12 new ones from China and India), and Iran is hustling to expand the black market for oil. Iranian sales agents are making it known that deals can be made, to get large quantities of oil at large discounts. There is some risk but the profits would be great....Iranian smugglers have been very resourceful in the past, but smuggling oil that must be moved in 330 meter long super tankers is much more difficult.

Right now the Iranian government is facing monthly losses of $3 billion a month because of lost oil sales. The Iranian government budget is $38 billion a month, so that lost oil income is a major problem for cash-strapped Iran....Much of the budget goes to aid the poor and unemployed (who got that way largely because of the corruption and economic mismanagement of the religious dictatorship). Money must also be lavished on the quarter of the population who support the ruling clerics. Many Iranians are already feeling the pinch and they are not happy.
There's more at the link. Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies are preparing for military action to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. According to debkafile:
The USS John C. Stennis arrives in August, raising the number of American aircraft carriers in waters off Iran to four including the USS Enterprise and the USS Abraham Lincoln, with the French Charles de Gaulle due soon to make up a fifth.

Thursday, July 12, American military officials announced that the US is also dispatching to the Persian Gulf dozens of tiny, unmanned SeaFox submersibles that can detect and destroy mines if strewn by Iran to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the chokepoint for transporting one-fifth of the world’s oil.

There are now additionally eight American minesweepers in the Persian Gulf as well as the USS Ponce, a platform for the special forces, helicopters and warships there to fight off Iranian marine units attempting to plant mines in the vital waterway.
There are predictions afloat that Mr. Obama will initiate some kind of action against Iran in October in order to muster the country behind him in November's election. Perhaps I'm naive, but I think that's a bit too cynical. Even if Mr. Obama would do such a thing he must realize it'd be counterproductive since such an obvious ploy would surely repel voters rather than attract them....Wouldn't it?