A Melancholy State of the Union Address

By Sal Bommarito

President Obama addressed Congress last night in his final State of the Union address. I’m relieved that I will no longer have to sit through another attempt by the president to convince America that he is a superstar.

The expectations for the first African American leader of the free world were very lofty when he exploded onto the political scene prior to the 2008 election. We all had such high expectations. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deliver the goods.

The reasons for Obama’s less than mediocre performance are attributable to the obstructionist Congress according to Democrats, and to the president’s unwillingness to build bridges to his opponents if you ask Republicans.

Regardless of where you think blame lies, the world is a much more dangerous place because of the president’s insular worldview and refusal to acknowledge the perspectives of those who disagree with him.

The problems for this president began almost immediately. With a huge mandate and the control of both houses of Congress, he began a campaign to build his legacy without concurrence from Republicans. Most of his opponents expected him to collaborate with them in the spirit of bipartisanship; but it never happened.

Obama had little experience when he moved into the White House; he was an amateur who did not know the inner workings of Washington. One would have to believe that more seasoned politicians informed Obama that cooperating with others would pay huge dividend in the future. But, Obama assumed total control. The result was twofold. Democrats ramrodded Obamacare down the throats of Americans, his first legacy undertaking. And, just a few months later the death of Ted Kennedy and the election of a Republican to replace him caused Democrats to lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

The ensuing months and years have been chock full of political divisiveness and fights over budgets culminating in Republican majorities in both Houses. Republicans were unable to enact new laws because they could not overcome the Senate filibuster or the president’s veto. And, every proposal by Obama was dead on arrival in Congress.

To make matters worse, the president continues to challenge his opposition by circumventing Congress’ duty to propose and make laws. Using presidential regulations, Obama has changed existing laws unilaterally. This bold and brazen snub of our Constitution could have a lasting impact on the country and the relationship between the two political parties.

From his first day in office, President Obama began to work diligently on his legacy. He wanted to be the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Domestically, he fell short because his objectives for the country were not consistent with the majority of Americans. And, he squandered the opportunity to convince Congress that his ideas had merit.

Last night, the president tried to convince us that has legacy is great. But alas, nobody believed it including members of his own party. For every victory he lauded, we all knew something was misleading about what he said.

Obama said that the U.S. has the greatest military force in the world, by far. Yet, discord overseas has never been greater because America shirked its responsibility to lead others against mutual enemies. The U.S. has acted ineffectively after so many new crises including ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Ukraine, Iran, North Korea and the Russian invasion of Crimea. Obama’s inaction has disappointed our allies, and they no longer believe America will fulfill obligations to them.

Obama said Obamacare provided medical coverage to 18 million uninsured Americans. But, we know that over 12 million represent Medicaid. These people could have been given insurance without spending billions on a new medical infrastructure. Also, the timing of Obamacare just as the country was entering a huge recession made the implementation of the entitlement that much more challenging.

Obama said that unemployment is at a low point of 5%. But, we know that if you add back those who have given up looking for a job, the rate is closer to 10%. And, many of the millions of new jobs Obama touts are low paying positions or part time.

Obama continues to attack the most successful in the country even though they pay for most of America’s needs. The president has stoked class warfare, and the bad feelings associated with it. Taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the poor is unworkable. A much more productive strategy would be to put everyone to work and have them earn their keep.

One the most dangerous tactics of the administration has been its diversion away from national security. The country has any number of important long-term problems such as climate change, education, voters’ rights, etc. However, peace-loving people around the world are on edge about the threat of terrorism. Many of us feel insecure, and the president’s stubborn approach towards radical Islamic elements is disquieting. National security should be the president’s most important concern.

We all know that ISIS and Al Qaeda do not pose existential threats to America, but they do to many countries in the Middle East including our most important ally, Israel. And, terrorists have proven that they can attack us on our homeland; consider 9/11 and more recent events. The president’s burning desire to make a nuclear deal with Iran does have existential implications for the U.S. A nuclear Iran, at some point, will be a real threat to America. World War III is not imminent, but it might be if an unhappy ayatollah or a crazed isolated leader in Asia decides to launch nuclear missiles at one of our allies.

The country has spent more money during the Obama administration than any other time in history. Yet, welfare is at a high point, our military is less ready, our infrastructure is crumbling, health care still threatens to bankrupt the country and so on.

The State of the Union speech was a melancholy event. The sadness and disappointment of Americans relating to President Obama is obvious. He was taking victory laps even though most Americans know he did not perform up to historical standards by any measurement.

How Much Does Obama Love America?

By Sal Bommarito

The controversy about Rudy Giuliani’s suggestion that President Obama does not love America was nothing more than a publicity stunt. After reading an article in the New York Times about Giuliani’s comment, it’s clear that at least one of Obama’s chief apologists, The Times, has missed this point. Rudy wants to be relevant on a national level, and he sought the attention of the Republican base. His tactic was to question the president’s love of country. A very awkward confrontation has ensued. My take on the debate is, “A president can’t love America, if he or she doesn’t love all Americans.”

Saying someone does not love his or her country is a very serious indictment in this age of political correctness. No one has the ability to look into someone else’s heart to make an assessment of true feelings. Most people listen to words spoken and observe actions taken to form opinions.

Some of Obama’s words and actions during his tenure have been very critical of America and many Americans. The Times article points out that the president has in fact made these types of comments, but suggests that he often follows up by saying that America is the greatest country in the world, or something in that vein.

It’s important to define what “love America” really means. If it means love of this country and all of its inhabitants, it’s not a stretch to conclude that Obama does not love America to the fullest extent.

Consider the president’s attacks on the wealthiest among us, the so-called 1%ers. If the affluent committed crimes as they accumulated wealth there would be no controversy. But, the president has often indicated that affluent people do not pay their fair share. If your fair share is your tax bill, what is Obama’s point? Is it unfair, unreasonable, illegal, immoral or insensitive to work hard and accumulate money, or even to inherit wealth? Obama suggests that the affluent should further subsidize the poor. This would be acceptable if our leaders first tried to put this group of people to work, and simultaneously eliminated the waste and inefficiencies in our “big” government.

Obama’s handling of recent tragedies such as Ferguson has made certain American feel uneasy. Why didn’t the president demand that protesters act within the law? Why did he turn the other way when demonstrators destroyed their own city by looting local businesses?

Obama has been vicious towards his opposition in America. From the outset of his administration, he has not reached across the aisle in Congress. His vitriol increases when others disagree with his policies and decisions. On a number of occasions, Obama acted like he despised the members of Congress. In fact, he  wantonly circumvented the responsibilities of Congress with dubious executive orders.

In spite of very favorable treatment by the press, President Obama has repeatedly shunned efforts by reporters to obtain more information about scandals that have plagued his administration (including the IRS, Benghazi, Veterans Administration to name a few). And, pertinent information about the Middle East/ISIS crisis is considered top secret. Ironically, the president has deprived Americans of important data (like how is the ISIS war coming along?) while at the same time, he telegraphs his battle strategy to the enemy (the U.S. will not employ ground troops).

Obama’s “unloving” attitude extends far beyond the borders of the U.S. A short list of countries and leaders on his hate list includes: Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin, N. Korea, Arab countries, et al. In fact, diplomatic policies have led many nations to doubt that the U.S. is a reliable ally. But, the greatest hypocrisy is that the president is hell-bent on signing a treaty with Iran that will likely enable it to develop a nuclear weapon. Is this smart diplomacy, or is it a deal that he thinks will solidify his legacy? When did Iran redeem itself of being a destabilizing force in the Middle East? And, when did it prove that it would be responsible with nuclear weapons?

Regularly, on grand international stages, President Obama has degraded the U.S. He attempts to ingratiate himself to others by exposing America’s problems. His vision of history is closely correlated to our enemies. Whenever something negative transpires, it is because of U.S. actions. America is responsible for the emergence of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah because we have been loyal to our most important ally, Israel, at least up to this time.

The president empathizes with other countries that have racial, religious and social issues. The only problem with doing so is that the law protects every minority in the America, and other countries commit crimes, including genocide, against competing cultures, religions and sexes. America is not anything like the rest of the world. America is not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than most other places on Earth.

As Obama has attempted to change the culture of America, he has completely abandoned two of his greatest supporting groups. In spite of his tilted comments relating to police brutality towards African Americans and the like, very little has been done to create jobs. Yet, food stamps and other services have increased dramatically. Moreover, the plight of Millennials has worsened over the past six years. Jobs are scarce and school indebtedness is crippling.

So, where is the love? Who and what does President Obama love? I think Rudy initiated a very relevant debate.

Obama’s Inappropriate Relationships With Arab Nations

By Sal Bommarito

President Obama is finding himself on the wrong side of several critical issues in the Middle East. They include his ambivalence towards Egypt under its new secular president, encouragement of secret negotiations that may lead to an Iranian nuclear capability and animosity towards the State of Israel and its Prime Minister.

 

The Counter Jihad Report” discussed a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in which he “attacks the root causes of continuing conflict between certain adherents of Islam and freedom-loving secularists . . .”

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, a theocratic based political group, took control of the country in 2012 under the leadership of former President Mohammed Morsi. He was subsequently deposed in 2014 by el-Sisi, a secular leader, who imprisoned his predecessor along with many of his followers.

 

President Obama has been supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2009, he made a speech at the University of Cairo and lauded President Morsi and his organization. Since Morsi’s incarceration, Obama “has seemingly turned his back on Egypt . . .”

 

“It is truly fascinating that here is the one leader in the Muslim world who has the courage not only to confront the enemy, but also its ideology.” El-Sisi has been “calling out Islamists and the clerics, mullahs [and] imams who are causing strife globally.” Yet, Obama has not been responsive to him.

 

“ . . . we cannot shy away from defining this enemy . . . It is unbelievable that anyone would refer to the Islamic terrorists who wrought savage carnage this week [in Paris] as activists.”

 

At the same time, President Obama is staunchly defiant of Congress’ suggestion that more conditional sanctions against Iran should be enacted. In fact, he threatened to veto any laws to that effect during his State of the Union address.

 

Many in Congress, including powerful Democrats such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are uncomfortable with negotiations relating to the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon. The president believes that his closed-door meetings will be negatively impacted if Congress moves to introduce new sanctions. The opposition to these negotiations does not believe Iran can be trusted, and the country has been an impediment to peace in the region.

 

On a related note, the New York Times reports that Iran’s supreme leader released a letter to “youths in the United States and Europe imploring them to learn about Islam from original sources . . .” The Ayatollah is concerned about the image of Islam on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The cleric indicated, “ . . . researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodshed wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during [WWII].” The intent of the letter was to transfer blame for current hostilities to the west.

 

Obama is determined to appease Iran during the negotiations even as the vast majority of Americans and Congress are becoming more uncomfortable with the potential of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

 

Israel considers the development of nuclear capability by Iran to be an existential problem. It is inconceivable that any person could come to another conclusion, particularly the man who is the leader of Israel’s most important ally. Time and again, Obama has not supported Israel to assure its survival. His attitude has made the Jewish state all the more vulnerable during his tenure.

 

In an act of defiance, Congress invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the body without endorsement of the administration. The story is reported in the New York Times. The topics dearest to Netanyahu are Iran, its ambition to have a nuclear weapon and implementation of more sanctions. The Prime Minister’s appearance flies in the face of the president who objects to any interference of his negotiations with Iran.

 

The writing is on the wall. President Obama is regularly kowtowing to the interests of Muslim countries that are hostile to the U.S. It is a mystery why he has adopted this tactic. We should expect Congress to delve deeply into Obama’s motivations in the months ahead and to obstruct many of his initiatives.

 

President Obama’s diplomacy relating to the Islamic world needs to be vetted by his critics. Apologists of the president should stand aside and give politicians and leaders who disagree with Obama a chance to express their views.

The State Of The Union Address: What A Disaster

By Sal Bommarito

Last night, President Obama declared war on everyone except radical Islamists. His animosity directed at so many Americans was clearly on display as he continued to polarize America. History will not be kind to this president as he escalates his reputation as the great divider.

 

The president attacked many of the same groups in his speech that he has during his tenure in office. Conservatives and Republicans are, of course, his favorite target. The bad feelings that exist between the left and the right in our government are, to a great extent, based upon Obama’s attitude towards the opposition party from the moment he first became president.

 

Democrats controlled the Executive and Legislative Branch (the latter with a filibuster-proof majority) in 2008 after Obama was elected. From the get-go, the president made no effort to work with those on the other side of the aisle creating great resentment that exists to this day. During the next six years under Obama’s leadership, Democrats have been reduced to observers in Congress, the latest blow occurring in the 2014 mid-term elections. Effectively, the president has no power to govern other than through executive orders, which will be addressed later.

 

Obama’s demonization of the most successful people in America, commonly referred to as the 1%ers, has been an abomination. It is puzzling from a logical perspective, yet perfectly clear from a political/progressive perspective why the president feels it is so important to disenfranchise affluent citizens.

 

Effectively, the president has abandoned an important segment of our population. He believes he is a modern day Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He fails to recognize that the rich in the Robin Hood metaphor stole from their subordinates while the affluent today have earned their wealth legally.

 

Alternatively, Obama should be trying to close the income gap by raising opportunities for all Americans, not by absconding from one group and paying it to another. He should be encouraging all those without jobs to find one and ensuring that jobs be made available to all able-bodied individuals. Those that have fallen behind can earn their way to a better life rather than living off of the munificence of government.

 

Businesses and banks are another favorite target of the administration. Why would the president attack two of the most important engines for economic growth and creation of new jobs? The country needs higher paying jobs to mitigate the inequality that has evolved over the years. Businesses create jobs. And, banks enable businesses to grow by providing capital. Excessive regulation (as opposed to reasonable regulation) will be counter-productive in the long run to an improved economy.

 

Obama wants to help the middle class. He is focusing on this group because it is the largest in the country. Suggesting new entitlements at the expense of the affluent is a strategy that will likely be popular among Americans. But many Americans do not want a larger, more intrusive government, or more taxes that give it too much power over the people. In fact, many people appreciate that government has been wasteful ultimately resulting in the need to increase taxes regularly.

 

Middle class individuals want an opportunity to increase their lot, but every time they earn more, they are taxed at a higher rate. In effect, workers are earning more money but not putting it all into their pockets; Uncle Sam must get his cut. At some point, liberals will come to the realization that waste, tax cheating and gaming the system illegally are the real villains, not those who have made a comfortable life for themselves by working hard.

 

Obama is, rightly so, becoming seriously concerned about his legacy. Frankly, it is too late for him because he has not been able to shed his combative attitude going into his last two years. The only chance the president has to earn a respectable place in history is to demand comity and effectively lead the nation domestically and internationally.

 

There are issues that naturally unite Americans including homeland security and the threat of radical Islam. If Obama would have showcased a more aggressive attitude towards the real enemies of America, he could have gained a lot of support from all corners. John McCain (R-AZ) has enumerated this on many occasions.

 

The U.S. needs more jobs and jobs that pay higher salaries. This is a winning objective for any president. Yet, Obama chose to give more money away for a variety of uses that the Republican-controlled Congress will eschew. He missed a wonderful opportunity to unite the nation with a jobs program.

 

The ability to work with the opposition sets some presidents apart from others. Many former presidents had to deal with hostile political environments. Obama has done less than most to foster a good working environment in Washington.

 

In fact, he has also declared war on the Constitution by circumventing the responsibility of Congress to enact laws. Executive orders are more rightly applicable to existing law; they should not replace the enactment of laws by legislators. This tactic has made Obama’s job of bringing the country together more difficult.

 

To make matters worse, he began the new legislative term by threatening vetoes on every new initiative by the new Congress. Does this man understand the meaning of leadership and compromise? I don’t think so.

 

In the meantime, Congress will pass laws and the president will veto them out of spite. The only salvation for congressional Democrats is to work with the majority to overcome the vetoes of a very confused and unproductive president.

President Obama, The Lame Duck President

By Sal Bommarito

I’m glad to see an article in the New York Times that supplements my last post relating to the performance of President Obama.

The focus of the story was Obama’s lame duck status. The authors of the op-ed piece have implicitly given up on the possibility of Obama being named the luckiest president (Washington), most imaginative (Theodore Roosevelt), most intelligent (Jefferson), best at handling Congress (Lyndon B. Johnson) and  best president (Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt share this honor). The liberal media continues to search for new ways to prop up Obama’s pathetic legacy so it has invented a new presidential category “The Best Lame Duck President.”

One of the first comments in the op-ed was “Obama is making a run for [the best lame duck president]. Since the midterm elections, in his first month and a half as a lame duck , Mr. Obama has taken dramatic action on immigration, climate change and now, formalizing relations with Cuba.” All this is true; it is dramatic, but many Americans have issues with the actions because they feel they are  unwise, ill conceived and/or they have not been endorsed by Congress.

How can presidential actions like granting amnesty to five million illegal aliens be a great action if Congress is not involved in the decision? Understand, I am in favor of immigration reform and would welcome a well-thought out, bipartisan plan to assimilate these people. But, the president is greatly increasing the authority of the executive branch by initiating a new law without  Congress. This is quite different than establishing regulations to make changes to existing laws. Moreover, the plight of 10-15 million illegals is a national issue that will have widespread implications politically, financially, socially and practically.

The basis of a strong lame duck president is that he or she has little or nothing to lose since this status occurs after midterm elections and it has no effect on the president’s political future. Should a president who no longer has skin in the game be able to make unilateral decisions that could impact the country for generations? I say emphatically, no.

President Obama was unable to sell his ideology via traditional constitutional means for six years. My previous post reviews the circumstances involved in detail. Obama was somehow incapable or unwilling to compromise with the opposition, as if he was the first president that had to deal with a hostile minority.

Obama may do irreparable harm with his new found power. Presidential  edicts  relating to climate change and Cuba have been severely criticized. A full blown debate in which all sides can express their opinions is what our forefathers would prefer rather than all decision made by one man.

President Obama Is Not Going To Be A Conciliator

By Sal Bommarito

The president seemed awfully relaxed during his press conference yesterday, after an election that completely changed the power structure in Washington. Republicans are now the majority in both houses of Congress. Given that Obama’s policies, management style, ambivalence and defiance were among the most important things that swayed voters, it is shocking that he so glib and unconcerned about trying to find ways to work together for the benefit of the country.

Many politicians that supported the president were crucified at the polls, yet the president has decided to let it all roll off his back. Publicly, he has shown little empathy for those who were defeated. One reason for this approach may be the fact that almost none wanted Obama to campaign with them.

The president said he would try to work with his adversaries, but also threatened to govern without congressional endorsement, if Congress did not approve of his initiatives. One day after the country repudiated the president and his party, he did not think it was important to seek genuine reconciliation with the new Congress.

It is more than disconcerting that several critical issues are brewing while the president prepares to go to battle with Republicans once again. The war with ISIS is a prime example. The president used the War Powers Act to attack ISIS without congressional approval. However, after a period of time, the president must go to Congress to obtain concurrence or a declaration of war.

The problem is that the president’s plan is faulty. He continues to insist that no U.S. ground forces will be deployed, even though the war cannot be won without such support according to most experts. Alternatively, the coalition intends to train Iraqis and a “moderate rebel force” in Syria to provide ground assistance. The plan is inane because of the time it will take to make the force battle ready. Additionally, the newly trained soldiers are not expected to be large enough or skilled enough to repel the more experienced ISIS fighters. So, a strategy to continue bombing is something Congress will definately consider carefully.

Immigration is one of the most important issues for America today. Forging a plan that protects Americans from drastic demographic and socioeconomic transformation will be a great challenge. The president has threatened to implement reforms (citizenship for millions of illegals) by edict and without congressional approval. He does not have the right to go it alone, nor does he have the right to unilaterally grant immunity and citizenship to illegal immigrants without limits and responsibilities. Unfortunately, this potential action by the president could lead to a serious constitutional confrontation.

Many Americans who are experienced in deal making believe the president has a low social IQ. He does not recognize or accept others who disagree with his perspectives; he is incapable of compromise. He casts aside all opposition, including members of Congress. This is a recipe for disaster. The result of his continued propensity to disenfranchise the other party will result in two more years of complete governmental paralysis.

President Obama: Give Us The Facts About The ISIS War

By Sal Bommarito

The Republican landslide in the 2014 elections will likely reopen the debate about the U.S. mission in Iraq and Syria. The current objective is to degrade and destroy ISIS.

There is no evidence that the coalition forces are making significant progress towards this endgame. In fact, ISIS is becoming more powerful as recruits pore in, and stolen oil is sold to finance operations. Further, the atrocities committed by these savages remain unchecked. Reports are flowing in telling of mass executions throughout the widespread ISIS territories.

Yet, the U.S. strategy continues unchanged while the White House and the Pentagon say things are moving along satisfactorily. Perhaps, the generals who are covering for the president will be more forthcoming when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) becomes chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and asks them under oath whether they believe the current tactics will assure victory.

The Guardian published a scathing article which indicates that the “Pentagon denies U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS is unraveling.” A Pentagon spokesman said, “I don’t believe that we view current events a major setback to the goals that we’ve set with respect to training and equipping the moderate opposition [in Syria].” The comment was made after an Al Qaeda faction routed a Syrian resistance group that was supposed to “anchor” an anti-ISIS proxy force.

The plan is to train 5,000 fighters in Syria, which is supposed to take one year, “against an ISIS force that may command as many as 31,000.” The arithmetic looks very bad for the ground forces that are expected to supplement U.S. bombing efforts.

“ . . . the administration is signaling a counter offensive to oust ISIS from Iraq, led by the Iraqis and backed by U.S. airpower and Iranian Shia militia . . .” The force will not be ready until 2015. This strategy aligns the U.S. with Iran. Many are wondering what the price of this support will be. Might it include a green light for Iran to continue its nuclear program?

Michael Eisenstadt of the Institute for Near East Policy wrote that the U.S. should “’define down success,’ as a marginalized ISIS that can no longer conquer or hold territory.” Even this would be a tall order considering the strength of the enemy at this time.

The problem for the Obama administration is that it embroiled us in a war with ISIS without committing to doing what is necessary to win. Every American hates the idea of sending ground troops to the rat holes known as Iraq and Syria. But if defeating ISIS is an important element of securing our homeland and/or providing national security, ground troops will be deployed sooner or later. It’s too bad the administration did not consider this before initiating a relatively ineffective bombing campaign.

The New York Times Comes To Obama’s Rescue

By Sal Bommarito

The New York Times wing of the Obama administration was in full tilt today. The leading editorial criticized Democrats running for office who eschew the president and his “greatest” achievements.

Readers should be offended that the NY Times played the race card not once but twice in the editorial: “Mr. Obama remains highly unpopular among white voters, particularly in Southern states . . .” and “[Democrat candidates running for office] run the risk, though, of alienating important constituents who prefer a party with a spine, especially black voters, who remain supportive of Mr. Obama.”

Here’s a news flash, Candidate Obama won the last two presidential elections with support from every racial group. His problem is not racial; it may be that the president has not kept promises made during his campaigns, and he’s a sub par leader domestically and internationally.

Let’s consider the actions of several Democratic senatorial candidates. Alison Lindergan Grimes, has refused to say whether she voted for Obama. Only one candidate, Gary Peters, “has been willing to appear with the president on the stump . . .” Other candidates, Mark Begich and Kay Hagan, have spoken against Obamacare and want to “fix it.” Maybe there are some serious problems with the law if members of the president’s party are unhappy with it.

Ms. Hagan and Mark Pryor have even suggested that the Obama policy on Ebola ought be changed, and a travel ban should be installed for all residents of Africa. And finally, candidate Mary Landrieu “has fought loudly against the president’s energy policies . . . [and] she even opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.”

By the way, all of the comments made above were extracted from the NY Times article.

The bottom line is that President Obama is unpopular and Americans are very unhappy with his performance. In this group, are a number of Democrats. And, the NY Times continues to abet Obama’s lost causes.

Is The U.S. Effectively Leading The Coalition To Victory Against ISIS?

By Sal Bommarito

To this point, the Obama administration has not received accolades for its leadership in the war against ISIS. The most obvious observation is that ISIS is winning the battle opposing the U.S., Iraq, Syria and the coalition.

Obama said he would degrade and defeat ISIS. This stated objective is impossible without ground support of U.S. airstrikes. Everyone around the world knows this to be the case. Yet, the Obama administration has vetoed the use of U.S. ground forces and, in spite of overwhelming skepticism, still contends that Iraqis will be able to defend their country and “moderate” rebels in Syria can overcome ISIS. Ironically, American generals are chiming in and indicating that neither of the aforementioned groups will be able to do the job. If this is true, how will the coalition bring down ISIS?

The coalition force is a sham; the U.S. is conducting most of the airstrikes and is spending the most money trying to defend Arab nations. Why is it the responsibility of the U.S. to come to the rescue of the Middle East without assurances that Arab nations will participate to the full extent of their capabilities, militarily and financially?

The U.S. went to war without an achievable mission. Most Americans believed that the U.S. would never become enmeshed in another war that has no reasonable short-term endgame. No longer would America put its soldiers in harm’s way and commit hundreds of billions of dollars unless our national security was at risk. Supposedly, we learned an important lesson from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq that extended decade-long wars, which drain our resources, should be avoided. Obama’s decision to move forward was no different than the false pretenses for invading Iraq over a decade ago; that action has not been fully remedied to this day. The president should tell us how the war with ISIS is going to end. Are we going to continue bombing forever?

Obama is not a wartime president. He is too ambivalent and reluctant, and does not accept the fact that radical Islam is the enemy of all non-Arab nations. Moreover, it is clear that he frequently does not implement plans proposed by his military experts. Our leader is living in a dream world in which America is expected to solve all problems and protect downtrodden people around the world. The ISIS crisis is not a civil rights controversy that can be rectified with passive resistance. It is a long-term, bloody civil war that is going to spread throughout the Middle East.

Exasperating this pathetic moment in American history is the loss of American credibility and leadership. Historically, the U.S. was able to reason with other nations in time of duress. We were able to convince our allies that we had no hidden agenda and that we wanted peace. Today, the U.S. is reviled at the United Nations, and we no longer have effective working relationships with other major powers with the exception of Great Britain. Our former allies in Europe and Asia doubt American resolve and competence.

But even more important, as we face down ISIS, the Arab nations relish our military ineffectiveness even as they demand that we protect them. It is infuriating to many Americans that unqualified cooperation is not forthcoming from Arab allies even as we bomb ISIS. If the U.S. is all in in the fight against ISIS, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and all the other Arab nations better be prepared to fight and provide ground support and financial assistance. Anything less than their full cooperation will enable ISIS to commandeer more land and oil.

Obama’s Lost Legacy

By Sal Bommarito

Being President of the United States is a very tough job. For politicians, it is the most coveted position in America, but it takes a toll, if the sudden appearance of gray hair is an accurate barometer of stress. See any recent photos of President Obama.

 

More and more, Americans feel that the current man in the job has been unsuccessful. Obama’s problems began early in his presidency when he expended a huge amount of political capital to enact the Affordable Care Act, not so affectionately known as Obamacare. The timing of this initiative could not have been worse as the economy was still struggling. The federal government should have been focusing on increasing employment, not establishing a new entitlement.

 

Soon scandals and missteps were popping up all over including the IRS targeting conservative groups, bad decisions in Benghazi that cost the lives of an ambassador and others in the embassy and inappropriate behavior in our veterans’ hospitals. Most recently, the Obama administration is like a deer in the headlights, unable to respond to developing and continuing crises in the Middle East and the Ukraine.

 

In fairness, problems arise for all presidents. It is the ability to cope with these challenges that differentiates our leaders. Unfortunately, “leader” is not something that is often tagged onto Obama. It is this reality that has hurt his presidency the most.

 

Before diving into the concept of leadership, we should identify the most important thing every president must have to be effective. A president-elect chooses his cabinet and White House staff soon after Election Day. In most cases, a president can convince almost anyone to work for him. After all, who would turn down a direct request from the most powerful person on earth? There is absolutely no excuse for a president not to have the most competent people on earth by his side.

 

Personnel choices are both practical and political. The president needs staff that can interpret the pulse of the nation and the ebbs and flows of Congress. But also, the president needs people who are experts on a plethora of issues that arise covering a broad swath of government activity ranging from the economy to health care to defense to diplomacy.

 

With a distinguished staff, a president can do wonders even if his party does not control every branch of the government. The president must be confident that the minutiae of every situation are vetted before he leads and authorizes action. It is impossible for any one person to have a working knowledge of all the issues that may cross the president’s desk, even if the president is Barack Obama.

 

A lack of expertise has hurt Obama domestically and in foreign affairs. On the home front, the president decided to ram his ideologies down our throat. Progressive and very controversial proposals that could only be enacted with widespread support of Congress were dead on arrival. After his election, the president spent little time building coalitions with other politicians and seemingly expected blind acceptance of his proposals.

 

Overseas, the president took the title of leader of the free world to an extreme. He did not form strong bonds with foreign leaders and did not heed their advice. Once again, a dearth of diplomatic expertise resulted in a chaotic and indecisive decision making process.

 

Let’s discuss leadership. In some types of governments, leaders tell their subordinates and citizens what to do. In America, our president must form alliances to solve complicated and controversial problems. He must build consensus.

 

The president must convince lawmakers and the public that he has done the research and spoken with many informed individuals before presenting a plan of action. For instance, a lot of the torment and division during the past six years caused by Obamacare could have been avoided if the president had listened to those who insisted that medical reform should have been delayed in favor of stimulating the economy.

 

Americans do not respond favorably to leaders who are condescending, smug and act like they are smarter than those they govern. We want to be treated with respect. Ideological bullying only works for dictators.

 

The president has apparently given up and seems ambivalent even as the world becomes more dangerous and fragile. He refuses to alter his attitude and method of operation, so he is unable to pass any significant legislation. This is not to say that Republican obstructionism is good for the country. But, what did the president expect from the branch of government that he despises?

 

I am totally disheartened by the state of our federal government and just about every move the president has proposed in recent months. If he had more capable advisers and listened to the electorate, America would be in better condition and not demonized by so many other nations around the world.