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Barack Got Enemy

Barack Got Enemy

What is it with this President? Obama has an obsessive need to find enemies against whom to campaign. When Obama’s presidency is over, hopefully in four years (but likely eight years) there will be two sets of psychologists: Those who provide therapy to the American population which has seen its life savings and economic system destroyed, and those who analyze the psychosis of the Demonizer-in-Chief.

During the presidential campaign, Obama singled out the wealthiest 5% of Americans as the object of his scorn:

The Obama campaign contended that the overwhelming majority of Americans would not see a tax increase under his plan, only the wealthiest 5% or so.

Time and again, the wealthiest 5% were singled out in Obama’s campaign as an enemy against whom the rest of America could rally. It was a successful tactic mathematically.

Attacking the wealthiest 5% was enough to get Obama elected, but not enough to get most Americans to agree to socialize the economy by paying for free health care and education for everyone through college. So Obama needed to refine his attack to an even narrower subset of the population, the top 2%:

President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end “tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won’t see their taxes increased by “one single dime.”

But even attacking the top 2% isn’t enough to convince Americans to adopt a command economy, so now Obama has invoked the dreaded lobbyists:

… I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak.

My message to them is this: So am I.

Oh, please. Obama’s multi-trillion dollar spending spree is a lobbyist’s wet dream. More money will be made by more lobbyists divvying up this pork than in the collective history of the United States.

Attacking lobbyists is not the point of Obama’s latest ploy. Rather, painting anyone who opposes him as a “lobbyist” is the point. In attacking the “lobbyists” Obama is doing what he did on the issue of race during the campaign: Anyone who opposes me doesn’t just have a different opinion, they are evil and dangerous to the rest of you. This tactic simultaneously generates support among the majority and silences the minority.

Other presidents have been accused of using “enemies” as a political rallying point. Almost invariably, however, these enemies have been foreign (the “evil empire” and “axis of evil”). Obama is the first president “in my adult life” to set American against American, to create enemies at home as a political rallying point, to create a climate in which law-abiding American citizens are singled out as being worthy of attack.

Yep, Barack has met the enemy, and he is us.

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For more on this, check out my prior posts The Revolt of the Kulaks Has Begun, The Last Bull Capitulates and Not Too Early For “I Told You So”.

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Comments

I fear the climate in the US is going to become very ugly. I also think his goal is to wear us all down with the constant barrage of crisis talk. His speech patterns have become more and more confrontational and my hope is it will wear thin with the citizens (those that even pay any attention). I know I’m worn out and tired….

Thanks for the great posts. Your quality is excellent.

Very well said. I was thinking the same thing when I read a post over at Power Line. Obama is the king of the Straw Man conquerors, not only does he define the opposition arguments, he re-defines who they are. In this case he is defining everybody that opposes his policies as “special interest”. Thanks for putting it so well.

Jer

It’s a very successful strategy for demagogues like Obama–he does it very well.

Obama: The Thief In Chief

The recovery starts when Obama looses his job.

“The contrast between the ‘we’ and the ‘they,’ the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses.” — F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

I am a special interest. Special only to me and my family, perhaps. My special interest is in freedom. I plan to lobby for it too.

“Obama is the first president ‘in my adult life’ to set American against American, to create enemies at home as a political rallying point, to create a climate in which law-abiding American citizens are singled out as being worthy of attack.”

Taxation is an attack?

Meanwhile, you might want to read “Nixonland”. You could also look at a myriad of speeches by Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, where “liberal Democrats” and “unions” were used as an epithets.

Then again – I’ve long suspected that many on the right don’t really think of liberal Democrats or union supporters as fundamentally “American”, so there probably is an internal consistency to your commentary.

Speaking for the 2% here: We get it. You hate us and the jobs we provide. You hate the money we give you when we buy stuff from your stores and pay you for services.

It’s fine. It’s your choice and we don’t take it personally.

It’s just that when you’re smart enough to get into the 2% group, you’re also smart enough to know when its time to relocate your person and capital to a place that welcomes it. My ancestors left a place that abhorred success 130 years ago and came to the USA back when it welcomed success. Me and Mrs. 2% spent all this weekend figuring out our exit USA citizenship strategy which we will be executing over the next 3 years.

Hope you all enjoy workers paradise.

Hey “RonClark” – You may not get it, but other Obama supporters do. Unions are running television ads in upstate NY with the theme “tax millionaires, not workers.” The ad features a fat white-haired old white man laughing mixed with scenes of workers suffering. This is part of a campaign to fuel class envy and anger, not to mention racial tension. This is part of a campaign which also is pitting upstate versus wealthier downstate, where a 250k salary doesn’t go that far. Check out this story from the AARP Bulletin, of all places, http://bulletin.aarp.org/states/ny/articles/talk_of_states_millionaires_tax_expands_to_notsorich.html, about how proposals for a “millionaires” tax will affect hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and then tell me Obama hasn’t turned Americans against Americans.

This Panic President has shown by word and deed for years that he simply HATES America. We were sceaming it a year ago and no one would listen. There has never been a president of this country who so hated virtually every citizen. There are no words in the English language to describe how purely appalling he is.

The American people are a lot smarter than this bozo and his lackeys. We will find ways to subvert and work around, under and outside his draconian and destructive policies. This country isn’t ready to bow down and kiss the feet of these Marxist masters yet. Not quite yet.

Always remember that in the eyes of Obama and the rest of his party, you are the problem.

Not so hard to understand. Every family has some member that can’t cope with self-direction. These types depend on drama and contention in order to motivate themselves. When the hated “enemy” leaves the relationship, they fall apart.

Exactly. As I asked rhetorically back in December of 2006, “Did Obama just call me a racist?”

Professor Jacobsen – all this demonstrates is that you have extraordinary sensitivity to criticisms of the wealthy, and no ear for criticisms of unions and economic liberals. Or the poor. Or environmentalists. Or atheists. Or people in the peace movement. Sure, the unions are taking out ads. And for years, the Kochs and Mellon-Scaifes have been funding Heritage, Cato, et al to demonize unions. I’m wondering if you’re naive, tone-deaf, or like Limbaugh, intentionally misleading others. But get real – this is nothing new, and to suddenly become upset that Obama realizes that no tax revenues can be raised from any class except the wealthy without greatly dampening consumption seems a bit misguided.

And I apologize for misspelling your name.

Not an issue of sensitivity, hearing, or bad intent. Reality is that Obama needs to create an enemy and a climate of fear to push through a restructuring of the economy that most people don’t want, as Rahmbo recognized in his comments about not letting a good crisis go to waste. Unfortunately, Obama can’t squeeze enough out of that enemy to pay for his plans, and even if he could, we would not be better off as an economy, unless you like the French model of confiscatory taxation, high unemployment, and massive under-employment. Your taxation bias shows through in the comment that “Obama realizes that no tax revenues can be raised from any class except the wealthy without greatly dampening consumption.” History shows that the best way to raise revenue is to lower tax rates so that tax rates do not distort economic activity.

I don’t know why anyone is surprised by Obama’s use of this tactic. He was a student of Alinsky whose “Rules For Radicals” number twelve reads:

“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.) “

“History shows that the best way to raise revenue is to lower tax rates so that tax rates do not distort economic activity.”

But when you have a largely healthy economy – but a large Federal Debt – doesn’t cutting tax rates distort economic activity? I’ve yet to see a tax cut “raise tax revenues” (as some point out has happened in the past) without a concurrent increase in the deficit. This has always seemed a lot to me like giving someone a dollar, having them give you 50 cents back, and then trumpeting that you’ve made 50 cents more in revenues. Great for hype – not so great for improving your balance sheet.

RonClark. I assume the Professor is referring to a static or reduced spending model when he makes his claim. I am not sure that has happened in recent history either, hence the lack of the example you seek.

Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Questions?

“Other presidents have been accused of using “enemies” as a political rallying point. Almost invariably, however, these enemies have been foreign (the “evil empire” and “axis of evil”).”

Weren’t you paying attentino when Clinton did it? Obama isn’t the first President to attack Rush Limbaugh, you know. The Democrats explicitly attacked “rightwing evangelicals” before the 1994 elections, believing (naively) that they were a tiny minority and therefore were safe to go after. The “Politics of Division” is an old trick, goes back to the beginnings of the Republic, actually. Demogagues find someone to scapegoat they think can’t or won’t fight back. Usually they’re right: The “rich” are pretty much indifferent to political attacks: they pay lobbyists to keep that all pretty much empty rhetoric.

RonClark: “But when you have a largely healthy economy – but a large Federal Debt – doesn’t cutting tax rates distort economic activity?

What distorts economic activity is having different tax rates for different people. If you cut all tax rates equally across the board, you’ll have the same level of distortion you started with, but greater economic activity in each tax bracket. If you cut just one, or a few, tax brackets, then yes you’ll ‘distort’ economic activity, in that you’ll have a different overall distortion than you started with.

I’ve yet to see a tax cut “raise tax revenues” (as some point out has happened in the past) without a concurrent increase in the deficit.

What usually happens is that the votes to pass the tax cut are bought by reciprocal votes to increase spending, more than canceling out the revenue effect of the tax cut. It remains the case that lower taxes equals more money in people’s pockets.

“What distorts economic activity is having different tax rates for different people.”

By that simplistic statement, one can easily jump off to the premise that any government intervention in the economy – from building roads, to funding schools, to how they place fire stations and police stations in the community, to deciding to buy airplanes from a plant in Alabama instead of Washington State – all distort the economy.

As a matter of pragmatism, once government enters the arena of providing public services and defense, it will have to make decisions based on what it considers optimal and sustainable. In the case of tax rates, if you apply them uniformly at the rates needed to balance even the pre-meltdown budget, you will end up killing off the ability of much of the lower rung workers ability to pay for things like food, housing, medical costs, etc. Eventually, this would actually create a demand for greater government intervention in providing those services.

If Joe earns $35K a year, a 35% tax rate would significantly affect their ability to raise a family. If Pete earns $350K a year, a 35% tax rate would have a very minimal effect to provide the basic necessities of life.

We can declare that government has no point in actually ensuring that Joe can raise a family – that’s a matter of policy difference. One can argue that with reduced taxes on the wealthy, enough economic activity will result to ensure that any working Joe can raise his family – I believe that’s an easily falsifiable proposition. I personally don’t believe in tax “fairness”, since nothing in life is “fair”. I believe in tax pragmatism and sustainability – and since the 1970’s (with a short period of reversal in the 90’s) we’ve done a very bad job at pragmatism and sustainability.

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