Obama’s Americorps scandal — and the First Lady’s meddling

Obama’s Americorps scandal — and the First Lady’s meddling

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 12, 2009 09:43 AM

President Obama is hoping you won’t notice his abrupt change of inspectors general over at Americorps, the government-run, taxpayer-subsidized “community service” boondoggle (which Republicans helped expand as part of the $6 billion GIVE/SERVE Act in March despite its wasteful track record. Thanks, Republicans).

With intervention from Michelle Obama, the Americorps inspector general was given the boot and replaced — for doing his job too well, it seems, and uncovering squandering of funds by favored contributors, educational institutions, and left-wing groups.

This Associated Press article only scratches the surface:

President Barack Obama plans to fire the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs amid a controversy between the IG and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star.

The IG, Gerald Walpin, was criticized by the U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Johnson and his nonprofit group, St. HOPE Academy, which received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program.

On Thursday, Obama said in a letter to Congress that he had lost confidence in Walpin. Neither the president nor deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest would give details. The president must give Congress 30 days’ notice before removing Walpin, who is being suspended with pay for the 30 days. Earnest said, “The president will appoint a replacement in whom he has full confidence as the corporation carries out its important mission.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a letter to Obama, pointed to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an IG is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons. Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and “it appears he has been doing a good job.”

In fact, there’s much more.

This little-noticed story in Youth Today yesterday points to another example of Walpin blowing the whistle on fraud:

The inspector general (IG) of the Corporation for National and Community Service is being removed by President Barack Obama, a week after the IG questioned the eligibility of the largest and most expensive AmeriCorps program, and while the IG was contesting the “propriety” of a settlement made with a mayor for alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds.

Funding for the largest AmeriCorps program – the Teaching Fellows Program, run by the Research Foundation of the City University of New York – is in abeyance pending resolution of widespread problems identified in a recent audit. Although Walpin recommended that funding be curtailed and that previous funds (perhaps as much as $75 million) be repaid to the corporation, the corporation has said it will take no action on that matter.

Walpin concluded that nothing was being gained by the grants to CUNY and that the money was simply being used to subsidize an existing and funded program.

I highly recommend that you head over to the Americorps’ inspector general’s report site here. You can find the entire CUNY report here. Let me repeat what the IG found: Waste, duplication, ineffective spending, criminal background check lapses, and repeated violations of the grant rules. And they’re not doing anything about it. Just a snippet from the executive summary:

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Corporation for National and Community Service (Corporation), contracted with Cotton & Company LLP to perform agreed-upon procedures to assist the OIG in grant cost and compliance testing of Corporation-funded Federal assistance provided to The Research Foundation of the City University of New York (RFCUNY). The Corporation awarded two Education Award Program grants to RFCUNY that were categorized as Professional Model grants.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

As a result of applying our procedures, we questioned education awards of $16,152,414 and draw downs of $773,254. In general, we questioned the education awards for members whose eligibility was not established in accordance with grant requirements for criminal background checks. Draw downs were questioned mostly for fixed fees related to members whose eligibility we questioned and also for drawing down in excess of fees earned. In addition, our compliance findings when taken as a whole indicate pervasive problems of eligibility, timekeeping, and documentation. A questioned cost is an alleged violation of a provision of law, regulation, contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or other agreement or document governing the expenditure of funds or a finding that, at the time of testing,
includes costs not supported by adequate documentation.

…Participants who successfully complete terms of service under AmeriCorps grants are eligible for education awards and, in some cases, accrued interest awards funded by the Corporation’s National Service Trust. These award amounts are not funded by Corporation grants and thus are not included in claimed grant costs. But at the time that a grant is awarded, and due to the grant award, these amounts become immediate obligations of the National Service Trust. Therefore, as part of our agreed-upon procedures, and using the same criteria used for the grantee’s claimed costs, we determined the effect of our findings on AmeriCorps members’ entitlement to education and accrued interest awards.

The following is a summary of grant compliance testing results…

1. RFCUNY drew down more funds than it was due.

2. RFCUNY did not follow certain AmeriCorps Provisions.

3. The supervisory signature on members’ timesheets was not the members’ supervisor, or that of someone with direct knowledge of hours served by the members.

4. Members did not always record actual service hours on their timesheets.

5. Some members’ timesheet hours were not accurately recorded in the Corporation’s Web-Based Reporting System.

6. RFCUNY did not require its members to timely submit their member contracts, forms, and timesheets.

7. RFCUNY used preprinted member documentation and did not ensure that all member documentation was completed, signed, and dated.

8. RFCUNY did not maintain documentation to demonstrate that each member’s evaluation complied with AmeriCorps Regulations and the Member Agreement.

9. RFCUNY did not maintain documentation to demonstrate that members received criminal background checks and that any background checks conducted complied with AmeriCorps Provisions.

10. RFCUNY entered incorrect member start dates in Corporation systems and in member contracts.

11. Some members worked beyond their contract-end date.

Another recent IG report on Americorps waste by open-borders lobbying group, La Raza (”The Race”) spotlighted its failure to complete background checks and institute secure financial controls. And on and on and on.

And guess who’s meddling in these affairs? Yep, First Lady Michelle Obama:

Some decisions about CNCS are being made by First Lady Michelle Obama, according to service advocates (who asked not to be named). Last week, Mrs. Obama announced that her chief of staff, Jackie Norris, would move to CNCS as a senior adviser. Officials said yesterday that Norris is scheduled to arrive on June 22.

Who’s looking out for you now? Cronies, that’s who.

More on the First Lady’s role in installing Norris and intervening to help pick the next Americorps CEO:

First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Jackie Norris, is being sent to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in what is both a White House shake-up and an indication of the first lady’s sway over the corporation that oversees AmeriCorps, Serve and Learn and the Senior Corps.

Observers believe Norris, whom Obama came to know early in the Iowa caucus campaign, was forced out of the White House so that long-time Obama friend Susan Sher could take over. But those same observers see her appointment as senior adviser to the corporation as an overall win for CNCS, believing that Norris still will have a straight line to the White House.

CNCS remains without a CEO after the withdrawal last month of Nike vice president Maria Eitel, even before her nomination went to the Senate. Although the corporation’s CEO must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, Michelle Obama reportedly has taken the lead in selecting the nominee.

This stinks. Shades of Travelgate, anyone?

The more things Change…

***

Ed Morrissey: “Will Congress stand up to the executive branch and protect the Inspectors General? Or will they roll over and allow Obama to accrue even more power to protect his buddies and to allow corruption to run rampant?”

***

Flashback on the Americorps/ACORN fraud history, circa 2004:

Although ACORN’s projects run a wide gamut, the group claims as its purpose helping low- and middle-income Americans — through initiatives ranging from improving urban public schools, to providing counseling on how to avoid “predatory lending,” to increasing the availability of “affordable housing.” Most of these programs are conducted locally, by state-level ACORN organizations — which are often set up as 501(c)3 nonprofit entities distinct from the national ACORN umbrella, a 501(c)4 lobbying organization. Sounds benign enough — except that, according to Bob Huberty, executive vice president of the Capital Research Center, these tax-exempt 501(c)3s “have no reason for existence other than to get grants from the government and foundations.” They are, essentially, an ACORN front for asking Uncle Sam to subsidize political activity.

Ask ACORN does — and it definitely receives. Take, for example, the most recent tax information from one of ACORN’s subsidiary nonprofits: the ACORN Housing Corporation, Inc., based out of the organization’s national headquarters in New Orleans. For the tax year beginning July 1, 2002, and ending June 30, 2003, ACORN Housing Corp.’s 990 Form shows a total of $1,710,203 received in government grants (the year before, the total was $1,977,306).

The nominal purpose of those millions is to “provide low rent housing & loan counseling services to low income individuals.” But if the government is funding the actual, legitimate work of ACORN at the local 501(c)3 level, it means that the national lobbying organization can dedicate more of its unrestricted resources to electioneering. Furthermore, explains Craig Garthwaite, director of research at the Employment Policies Institute, “The funding is not only fungible in that if they receive money for X, they can spend more on Y.” He cites one particular example of money-rerouting malfeasance: the crooked dealings surrounding an AmeriCorps grant in 1996. According to an EPI study, when the ACORN Housing Corp. applied for the grant, they denied any connections to the main ACORN lobbying group (the grant is not for political advocacy). But the AmeriCorps inspector general discovered that “not only was AHC created by ACORN, engaged in numerous transactions with one another, and sharing staff and office space — but it utilized the AmeriCorps grant to increase ACORN membership, a violation of federal guidelines.” (ACORN charges membership dues, much as labor unions do; thus, by exploiting AmeriCorps funding to inflate its membership rolls, ACORN used government resources to bring in even more money — money with no restrictions on its political use.)

***

And another relevant flashback on Michelle Obama’s interest in government-directed “service,” via IBD last fall:

Barack Obama was a founding member of the board of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife became executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies in 1993. Obama plans to use the nonprofit group, which he features on his campaign Web site, as the model for a national service corps. He calls his Orwellian program, “Universal Voluntary Public Service.”

Big Brother had nothing on the Obamas. They plan to herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they’ll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of “social change.”

The pitch Public Allies makes on its Web site doesn’t seem all that radical. It promises to place young adults (18-30) in paid one-year “community leadership” positions with nonprofit or government agencies. They’ll also be required to attend weekly training workshops and three retreats.

In exchange, they’ll get a monthly stipend of up to $1,800, plus paid health and child care. They also get a post-service education award of $4,725 that can be used to pay off past student loans or fund future education.

But its real mission is to radicalize American youth and use them to bring about “social change” through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation — the tactics used by the father of community organizing, Saul “The Red” Alinsky…

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Ousted AmeriCorps watchdog defends waste probe–An inspector general fired by President Barack Obama

Ousted AmeriCorps watchdog defends waste probe

By ANN SANNER and PETE YOST, Associated Press Writers Ann Sanner And Pete Yost, Associated Press Writers 32 mins ago

WASHINGTON – An inspector general fired by President Barack Obama said Friday he acted “with the highest integrity” in investigating AmeriCorps and other government-funded national service programs. Gerald Walpin said in an interview with The Associated Press that he reported facts and conclusions “in an honest and full way” while serving as inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In a letter to Congress on Thursday, Obama said he had lost confidence in Walpin and was removing him from the position.

Walpin defended his work on Friday. “I know that I and my office acted with the highest integrity as an independent inspector general should act,” he said.

Obama’s move follows an investigation by Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star. Johnson and a nonprofit education academy he founded ultimately agree to repay half of $847,000 in grants it had received from AmeriCorps.

Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled the investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy.

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Obama said in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”

The president didn’t offer any more explanation, but White House Counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter late Thursday to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited the U.S. attorney’s criticism of Walpin to an integrity committee for inspectors general.

“We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president’s decision was carefully considered,” Craig wrote.

Walpin said he gave the integrity committee “a full and complete response” that was also signed by several people who worked on the case. “I have no question but that we acted totally properly,” he said in the interview.

Grassley had written Obama a letter pointing to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an inspector general is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons.

Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and “it appears he has been doing a good job.”

The inspector general found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.

In August 2008, Walpin referred the matter to the local U.S. attorney’s office, which said the watchdog’s conclusions seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all the information gathered in the investigation.

“We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent,” Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said in an April 29 letter to the federal counsel of inspectors general.

Walpin’s office made repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office to inform the media that it did not intend to file any criminal charges.

In settling the case, the government agreed to lift its suspension of any future grants to the academy and Johnson agreed to immediately repay $73,000 in past grants. The academy was given 10 years to repay the remaining $350,000.

Brown said at the time of the settlement that prosecutors determined there was no fraud, but rather a culture of “sloppiness” in St. HOPE’s record-keeping.

Kevin Hiestand, chairman of the board of St. HOPE Academy, said in a statement it was “about time” Walpin was removed. “Mr. Walpin’s allegations were meritless and clearly motivated by matters beyond an honest assessment of our program,” he said.

Ken Bach, who works in the inspector general‘s office at the national service corporation, will be acting inspector general until Obama appoints someone to the position.

Walpin, a New York attorney, was appointed by then-President George W. Bush and sworn into office in January 2007 after being confirmed by the Senate, according to a news release on AmeriCorps’ Web site. Walpin graduated from College of the City of New York in 1952 and received a law degree in 1955 from Yale Law School. He was a partner with the New York City law firm Katten Muchin and Rosenman LLP for more than 40 years.

Alan Solomont, a Democrat and the board chairman of the government-run corporation, and Stephen Goldsmith, a Republican and the board’s vice chair, said they strongly endorsed Obama’s decision.

___

On the Net:

Johnson speaks on behalf of Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?vmu7cDShVckg

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive — proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive

Dozens of US cities may have entire neighborhoods bulldozed as part of drastic “shrink to survive” proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.

 

By Tom Leonard in Flint, Michigan
Published: 6:30PM BST 12 Jun 2009

 

A boarded up house sits for sale in Michigan. Photo: GETTY

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

 

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.

Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes.

Most are former industrial cities in the “rust belt” of America’s Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.

“The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we’re all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way,” said Mr Kildee. “Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity.”

Karina Pallagst, director of the Shrinking Cities in a Global Perspective programme at the University of California, Berkeley, said there was “both a cultural and political taboo” about admitting decline in America.

“Places like Flint have hit rock bottom. They’re at the point where it’s better to start knocking a lot of buildings down,” she said.

Flint, sixty miles north of Detroit, was the original home of General Motors. The car giant once employed 79,000 local people but that figure has shrunk to around 8,000.

Unemployment is now approaching 20 per cent and the total population has almost halved to 110,000.

The exodus – particularly of young people – coupled with the consequent collapse in property prices, has left street after street in sections of the city almost entirely abandoned.

In the city centre, the once grand Durant Hotel – named after William Durant, GM’s founder – is a symbol of the city’s decline, said Mr Kildee. The large building has been empty since 1973, roughly when Flint’s decline began.

Regarded as a model city in the motor industry’s boom years, Flint may once again be emulated, though for very different reasons.

But Mr Kildee, who has lived there nearly all his life, said he had first to overcome a deeply ingrained American cultural mindset that “big is good” and that cities should sprawl – Flint covers 34 square miles.

He said: “The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing.”

But some Flint dustcarts are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there were simply too few people to pay for services, he said.

If the city didn’t downsize it will eventually go bankrupt, he added.

Flint’s recovery efforts have been helped by a new state law passed a few years ago which allowed local governments to buy up empty properties very cheaply.

They could then knock them down or sell them on to owners who will occupy them. The city wants to specialise in health and education services, both areas which cannot easily be relocated abroad.

The local authority has restored the city’s attractive but formerly deserted centre but has pulled down 1,100 abandoned homes in outlying areas.

Mr Kildee estimated another 3,000 needed to be demolished, although the city boundaries will remain the same.

Already, some streets peter out into woods or meadows, no trace remaining of the homes that once stood there.

Choosing which areas to knock down will be delicate but many of them were already obvious, he said.

The city is buying up houses in more affluent areas to offer people in neighbourhoods it wants to demolish. Nobody will be forced to move, said Mr Kildee.

“Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow,” he said.

Mr Kildee acknowledged that some fellow Americans considered his solution “defeatist” but he insisted it was “no more defeatist than pruning an overgrown tree so it can bear fruit again”.

Just Make Stuff Up


June 12, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

Just Make Stuff Up
President Obama’s war on the truth.

By Victor Davis Hanson

In the first six months of the Obama administration, we have witnessed an assault on the truth of a magnitude not seen since the Nixon Watergate years. The prevarication is ironic given the Obama campaign’s accusations that the Bush years were not transparent and that Hillary Clinton, like her husband, was a chronic fabricator. Remember Obama’s own assertions that he was a “student of history” and that “words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up.”

Yet Obama’s war against veracity is multifaceted.

Trotskyization. Sometimes the past is simply airbrushed away. Barack Obama has a disturbing habit of contradicting his past declarations as if spoken words did not mean much at all. The problem is not just that once-memorable statements about everything from NAFTA to public campaign financing were contradicted by his subsequent actions. Rather, these pronouncements simply were ignored to the point of making it seem they were never really uttered at all.

What is stunning about Obama’s hostile demagoguery about Bush’s War on Terror is not that he has now contradicted himself on one or two particulars. Instead, he has reversed himself on every major issue — renditions, military tribunals, intercepts, wiretaps, Predator drone attacks, the release of interrogation photos, Iraq (and, I think, soon Guantanamo Bay) — and yet never acknowledged these reversals. 

Are we supposed to think that Obama was never against these protocols at all? Or that he still remains opposed to them even as he keeps them in place? Meanwhile, his attorney general, Eric Holder, is as voluble on the excesses of the Bush War on Terror as he is silent about his own earlier declarations that detainees in this war were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. 

Politicians often go back on earlier promises, and they often exaggerate (remember Obama’s “10,000” who died in a Kansas tornado [12 perished], or his belief that properly inflating tires saves as much energy as offshore drilling can produce?). But the extent of Obama’s distortions suggests that he has complete confidence that observers in the media do not care — or at least do not care enough to inform the public.

The “Big Lie.” Team Obama says that Judge Sotomayor misspoke when she asserted that Latinas were inherently better judges than white males. Yet the people around Obama knew before Sotomayor was nominated that she has reiterated such racialist sentiments repeatedly over many years. 

Obama complained that his deficits were largely inherited — even though his newly projected annual deficit and aggregate increase in the national debt may well, if they are not circumvented, equal all the deficit spending compiled by all previous administrations combined. 

The president lectures Congress on its financial excesses. He advocates “pay as you go” budgeting. But he remains silent about the unfunded liabilities involved in his own proposals for cap-and-trade, universal health care, and education reform, which will in aggregate require well over a trillion dollars in new spending on top of existing deficits — but without any “pay as you go” proposals to fund them. 

By the same token, his promise that 95 percent of Americans will receive an Obama “tax cut” is impossible. Remember, almost 40 percent of households currently pay no income taxes at all — and the $1.7-trillion annual deficit will necessitate a broad array of taxes well beyond those assessed on incomes above $250,000. 

Obama talks about cutting federal outlays by eliminating $17 billion in expenditures — one-half of one percent of a $3.4-trillion budget. Here the gap between rhetoric and reality is already so wide that it simply makes no difference whether one goes completely beyond the limits of belief. Why would a liberal “budget hawk” go through the trouble of trying to cut 10 or 20 percent of the budget when he might as well celebrate a 0.5 percent cut and receive the same amount of credit or disdain? If one is going to distort, one might as well distort whole-hog.

Outright historical dissimulation. On matters of history, we now know that much of what President Obama says is either not factual or at least misleading. He predictably errs on the side of political correctness. During the campaign, there was his inaccurate account of his great-uncle’s role in liberating Auschwitz. In Berlin, he asserted that the world — rather than the American and British air forces — came together to pull off the Berlin Airlift. 

In the Cairo speech, nearly every historical allusion was nonfactual or inexact: the fraudulent claims that Muslims were responsible for European, Chinese, and Hindu discoveries; the notion that a Christian Córdoba was an example of Islamic tolerance during the Inquisition; the politically correct canard that the Renaissance and Enlightenment were fueled by Arab learning; the idea that abolition and civil rights in the United States were accomplished without violence — as if 600,000 did not die in the Civil War, or entire swaths of Detroit, Gary, Newark, and Los Angeles did not go up in flames in the 1960s.

Here we see the omnipotent influence of Obama’s multicultural creed: Western civilization is unexceptional in comparison with other cultures, and history must be the story of an ecumenical, global shared brotherhood.

The half-, and less-than-half, truth. At other times, Obama throws out historical references that are deliberately incomplete. To placate critical hosts, he evokes the American dropping of the bomb. But he is silent about the impossible choices for the Allies — after Japanese atrocities in Manchuria, Korea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa — facing the necessity of stopping a Japanese imperial killing machine, determined to fight to the death. 

He lectures about equivalent culpability between Muslims and Americans without mentioning American largess to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians. He mostly ignores American military efforts to save Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia — and American criticism of Russia’s and China’s treatment of their own persecuted Muslim minorities.

When Obama contextualizes the United States’ treatment of Muslims, does he do so in comparison to the Chinese treatment of the Uighurs, the Russians in Chechnya and Afghanistan, or the European colonial experience in North Africa? 

When he cites European colonialism’s pernicious role in the Middle East, does he mention nearly 400 years of Ottoman Muslim colonial rule in the Arab-speaking world? Or the Muslim world’s own role in sending several million sub-Saharan Africans to the Middle East as slaves? By no stretch of the imagination is purported Western bias against Islam commensurate with the Islamic threats that have been issued to Danish cartoonists, British novelists, the pope, or German opera producers. 

Obama surely knows that a mosque is acceptable in America and Europe in a way that a church is not in most of the Gulf States, or that Muslims freely voice their beliefs in Rotterdam and Dearborn in a way Westerners dare not in Tehran, Damascus, or Riyadh. 

Here we see the classic notion of the “noble lie,” or the assumption that facts are to be cited or ignored in accordance with the intended aim: Interfaith reconciliation means downplaying Muslim excesses, or treating Islamic felonies as equivalent with Western misdemeanors.

Why has President Obama developed a general disregard for the truth, in a manner far beyond typical politicians who run one way and govern another, or hide failures and broadcast successes? 

First, he has confidence that the media will not be censorious and will simply accept his fiction as fact. A satirist, after all, could not make up anything to match the obsequious journalists who bow to their president, proclaim him a god, and receive sexual-like tingles up their appendages. 

Second, Obama is a postmodernist. He believes that all truth is relative, and that assertions gain or lose credibility depending on the race, class, and gender of the speaker. In Obama’s case, his misleading narrative is intended for higher purposes. Thus it is truthful in a way that accurate facts offered by someone of a different, more privileged class and race might not be. 

Third, Obama talks more than almost any prior president, weighing in on issues from Stephen Colbert’s haircut, to Sean Hannity’s hostility, to the need to wash our hands. In Obama’s way of thinking, his receptive youthful audiences are proof of his righteousness and wisdom — and empower him to pontificate on matters he knows nothing about.

Finally, our president is a product of a multicultural education: Facts either cannot be ascertained or do not matter, given that the overriding concern is to promote an equality of result among various contending groups. That is best done by inflating the aspirations of those without power, and deflating the “dominant narratives” of those with it.

The problem in the next four years will be not just that the president of the United States serially does not tell the truth. Instead, the real crisis in our brave new relativist world will be that those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.


National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTAyNzFjMmMwOWJjYmFmMTA2ODdjODZmZmQ0MWE1Mzg=

Ahmadinejad & Obama – kindred spirits?

Ahmadinejad & Obama – kindred spirits?

Michael B. Zukerman
From the Washington Post (no less):

“Ahmadinejad has turned the Iranian economy upside down, making sure that advantages flow to the lower class. His government has increased state wages and pensions and has made health insurance free for 22 million people. He derides economists who blame him for high inflation and unemployment, saying that they are tied to the higher classes and that his goal is to “spread justice.”

Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Obama… peas in a pod

 
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/06/ahmadinejad_obama_kindred_spir.html at June 12, 2009 – 01:18:44 PM EDT