What a president will say and do to stay in power.
Americans have endured many politicians with a capacity for "embellishing" the truth. Yet as the last three years have revealed, with a special emphasis on the current election campaign, president Barack Obama is in a class by himself. He has lied so often and with such ease, it is impossible to catalogue them all. But some of the more egregious and dangerous lies deserve exposure, because the same man who was virtually a black box when he was elected in 2008 -- with ample help from a collaborative, compromised media -- is once again trying to pull the proverbial wool over the electorate's eyes.
Let's begin with energy, where the president's most recent departure from the facts with respect to gas and oil stand out. This is largely due to an ironic twist of fate: the man who promised energy prices would "skyrocket" if he were elected is furiously backpedalling away from that promise, because those skyrocketing prices imperil his re-election hopes.
Thus, the president makes the assertion that oil production is higher than it has been in the last eight years. The statement is technically true, but leaves out the damning details that could be summed up by the reality oil production is up in spite of the president's efforts, not because of them. First, the president is taking credit for drilling permits issued by previous administrations. Furthermore, as this government resource chart reveals, the number of oil and gas leases issued on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land declined dramatically from 2,416 in 2008 to 1,308 in 2010. The acreage available for those leases has also declined, from 2.6 million acres to 1.3 million acres, over the same period. In 2011, oil and gas production on federal land declined by another 11 and 6 percent, respectively, as well. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released last Wednesday reveals that 96 percent of the increase in oil production occurred on land not owned or controlled by the federal government.
What about offshore drilling? Again, the president is taking credit for an increase his administration had nothing to do with, and cooking up more lies in the process. Thus, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's recent claim regarding an increase in oil production from 450 million barrels in to more than 589 million barrels in 2010, conveniently omits that those production numbers are the result of leases issued from 1996-2000 under the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act, or that the Obama administration's moratorium on oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has caused a 300,000 barrel per day decline in production for 2011, and a projected decline of more than 150 million barrels of oil in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Perhaps the president's biggest energy whopper is his newfound "support" for the Keystone XL pipeline. Last fall, the president once again punted on authorizing its construction, claiming that he was forced by Republicans to make a hasty decision about the project, as part of a compromise regarding the extension of the payroll tax reduction deal. Such "haste" is completely undermined by the reality that the project had already undergone a three-year study, and had been OK'd by EPA. The move was a transparent sop to his radical environmentalist constituency. But the reality of rising gas prices affects a far larger portion of the electorate necessary to his re-election.
What to do? At a campaign stop in Cushing, OK last week, the president took credit for approving the southern half of the Keystone project--which was already scheduled for construction beginning in June and doesn't need presidential or State Department approval, since it doesn't cross an international boundary. The part that does require such approval is where the president's stall remains in effect. When is half-a-pipeline better than none? When one is running for re-election, knows he can distort the facts, and has a compliant mainstream media that will help him obfuscate the issue enough to hopefully satisfy both groups of potential voters.
And that's conventional energy sources. Green energy company Solyndra, which went bankrupt despite close to a half-billion dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies, has provided yet another opportunity for the president to "massage" the facts. “Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt. But understand: This was not our program per se,” said Mr. Obama, trying to lay blame for the company's failure on the Bush administration. He added China to the mix as well, noting that the "Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn’t compete."
Both statements are lies. Loans for alternative energy programs were approved with bipartisan support in 2005, but Solyndra's loan was part of the 2009 stimulus package. Furthermore, the loans were made with full knowledge that, in 2010, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Solyndra "ha[d] suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit that, among other factors, raise[d] substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” China had nothing to do with it.
Moving on to other arenas, today the U.S. Supreme Court will begin the hearings process on the constitutionality of the healthcare bill, yet another undertaking rife with falsehoods. Mr. Obama claimed the bill would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years" and that “if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.” Both claims have been shot to pieces. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects the cost of the healthcare bill will reach an estimated $1.76 trillion over 10 years and that four times as many people currently insured by their employers will lose that coverage than originally envisioned. Mr. Obama's defenders would call those inaccurate predictions. Yet the fact that ten years of taxes were originally collected beginning in 2010 to cover six years of costs for a bill that would not be fully implemented until 2014 -- precisely to rig the CBO's original 10-year cost projections -- reveals the truth.
On the economic front, the president's "inaccurate predictions" are rather legendary. While one may grant that a nearly one trillion dollar stimulus package projected to bring unemployment below 8 percent can be subject to economic whims beyond anyone's control, there is no question that, in 2009, the president said it would provide the nation with "shovel-ready projects all across the country." One year later? In a NY Times interview, the president admitted “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”
And remember the overall media contention, bolstered by the White House, that it was John Boehner who reneged on a deal with respect to last years' debt ceiling talks? A 4,600-word inside-the-room narrative by the left-leaning Washington Post, summed up by the even further left-leaning Politico, reveals that it was the president who walked away from the table, not Mr. Boehner. “The story makes it clear that the facts are as we’ve always described them,” said Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman. The White House declined to comment on the record. As for the president's promise to "cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office" to approximately $650 billion, try a deficit of $1.15 trillion in 2012, coupled with yet another promise to cut it to $901 billion in 2013. Furthermore, the man who in 2009 claimed he was "taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control" has accumulated more debt ($4.9 trillion) than any president in the nation's history.
Speaking of history, the president's characterizations of people associated with those portions of his past that haven't been deliberately concealed strains credibility at best and amounts to outright lying at worst. The president's contention that Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, whose group bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings was "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and is "not somebody who [sic] I exchange ideas from [sic] on a regular basis," has been debunked. Mr. Obama led the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), an organization founded by Ayers that provided more than $100 million to radical education activists and community organizers. Ayers served on CAC's governance committee with Mr. Obama, and worked with him to craft the organization's by-laws.
It is also known that in 1995, Ayers hosted a gathering at his house to help promote Mr. Obama's initial political campaign for the Illinois Senate. Also at that meeting was Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, who was a member of the Weather Underground as well. How does Obama rationalize a relationship with a known domestic terrorist? "[T]he notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George," answered Mr. Obama during a 2008 primary debate, after George Stephanopoulos inquired into the association. Apparently what does makes sense is the deliberate attempt to minimize the relationship, knowing full well the media's ongoing incuriousness regarding the president's past will keep the issue at bay.
The situation is much the same with respect to Mr. Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Americans are supposed to believe that the radically racist views of the man whose church Mr. Obama attended for 20 years, who baptized his children and officiated over his marriage, were largely unknown to the president. We are supposed to believe this even though the president appropriated Wright's "Audacity to Hope" sermon for his political coming-out speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, and for the nearly identical title for his second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope. The media were apparently satisfied with the president's assertion that Wright's statements were essentially anecdotal, that this is "what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor."
Considering the president's track record, one would be hard-pressed to believe anything he says without verifying the information from other sources. As the above indicates, Barack Obama is more than willing to lie when it suits his purposes, and, more often than not, the mainstream media is more than willing to accommodate him. How many of those lies the electorate is willing to believe may be the make or break element of the 2012 presidential election.
Ironically, one lie may come back to haunt him. In 2008, Obama claimed, among other things, that the Bush administration was to blame for high gas prices. Now, the president is claiming "there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices," that there are “are no quick fixes to this problem” and that “some politicians [read: Republicans] always see [high energy prices] as a political opportunity." Thus, Barack Obama's re-election chances may be imperiled from an age-old axiom: What goes around, comes around.
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