How Donald Trump Repeated Barack Obama’s Biggest Mistake… With Similar Results

As news of the Republican midterm defeat continues to trickle in, it is becoming more apparent that 2018 was a blue anti-Trump wave after all. The Republicans made small gains in the Senate, thanks to an abnormally friendly map, but the GOP lost the House as well as seven gubernatorial seats and numerous seats in state legislatures across the country. How we got to this point is remarkably similar to how Barack Obama led the Democrats to lose more than a thousand seats in his eight years.

 

As I have written in the past, Donald Trump has echoed many of President Obama’s mistakes and has now yielded similar results. The bottom line is that both Barack Obama, who campaigned as a moderate Democrat, and Donald Trump, who was elected with the support of a minority of voters, both governed as though they had a broad mandate to enact a laundry list of wishes from their most partisan supporters when what voters really wanted was for both parties to work together.

 

Barack Obama began his administration with staggering popularity and goodwill. Two years later, he had squandered much of his approval by forcing through an unpopular health care reform law against the will of the people. Opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the way that Democrats enacted the law were prime factors in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

 

Ironically, Obamacare was unpopular when passed by the Democrats and promises to repeal and replace the law played a major role in the rise of the Republican Congress since 2010. Unfortunately, President Trump and Republicans made a hash of healthcare reform. In fact, Republicans handled health care reform so badly that they managed to do what Obama and the Democrats could not do: They convinced voters that the Affordable Care Act was a good thing.

 

Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions are so popular that the law directly contributed to the loss of a Republican Senate seat in Arizona. Just before the election, Republican candidate Martha McSally told Sean Hannity that she was getting her “ass kicked” over her vote to reform Obamacare because Democrats were invoking fear that Republicans wanted to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions. It now appears that McSally has lost her Senate race to Democrat Kirsten Sinema.

 

In addition to healthcare, the Trump Administration has adopted a number of other unpopular policies as well. The tax reform law that caused the economy to surge is still not popular with voters. Trump’s policy of separating illegal immigrants from their children was widely unpopular. Likewise, Trump’s personal behavior consistently drives down his approval ratings.

 

In 2010, Democrats took a “shellacking,” in President Obama’s words. Republicans gained six Senate seats, 63 House seats, and six governorships as well as doing well in down-ballot races for state and local offices. The GOP won control of the House but, like Democrats this year, were unable to win the Senate. For Republicans, it took two more elections until the party finally won the Senate in 2014. Now, rather than building on those hard-won gains, Republicans are giving them back.

 

To say that the 2018 wave was not as large as the 2010 wave misses the point. Democrats had more seats to give up than Republicans did. Even after losing six Senate seats in 2010, Democrats controlled 53 seats including two Democrat-leaning independents. The House results in 2018 will leave Democrats within a few seats of the 242 that Republicans controlled after 2010.

 

The bigger picture is that 2018 was a wholesale rejection of President Trump by moderate and suburban voters. USA Today reported that more than 80 suburban counties voted more Democrat this year than in 2016. In 20 of these counties, Democrats saw a double-digit surge. CNN’s exit polls show that Republicans lost female voters as well as minorities, the middle class, and college-educated voters. Republicans lost moderate voters by 26 points this year compared with eight points in 2014.

 

President Trump, like Barack Obama, has an abrasive style that is much-loved by his ardent supporters but few others. Like Obama, Trump tends to divide up the electorate and focus on turning out his base rather than on winning converts. Also, like Obama, President Trump is apparently incapable of reaching across the aisle to form a bipartisan legislative coalition, preferring instead to use (or overuse) his executive authority to make small, temporary changes rather than sweeping, permanent ones.

 

Republicans may look at all that and say, “So what? Obama got re-elected.”

 

That’s true, but Obama also had a large victory than President Trump, who lost the popular vote and only eked out an Electoral College win with skin-of-the-teeth victories in several states. Obama had much more support that he could lose. And lose it he did, just not quite in large enough numbers to lose the 2012 election.

 

Up until now, Republicans have maintained a narrative that President Trump’s economic success will overcome problems with his personal style. After the midterms, it is painfully obvious that this view is not true. President Trump is overwhelmingly popular with Republicans and unpopular with everyone else. That leaves the Republican Party in a difficult spot.

 

The GOP has three different options for moving forward. First, its members can convince President Trump to change course. Trump could possibly reach out to the new Congress and become the dealmaker that he claimed to be in 2016. The two parties could work together to resolve the issues that confront the country. Obviously, this won’t happen.

 

The second alternative is for Republicans to distance themselves from Trump and try to repair the damage with moderate voters. One problem here is that Donald Trump does not take rejection well. Distancing oneself from the president will bring forth the full wrath and fury of the First Tweeter. A second problem is that many polls suggest that today’s Republican voters are more loyal to Donald Trump than to traditional Republican ideals. Unless Republican voters sour on Trump, most Republicans officials who oppose him are likely to be on the losing end of the fight.

 

Finally, the third option is for Republicans to say, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead,” and go right on doing exactly what they are doing. This is the option that Democrats chose after 2010 and, given President Trump’s claim that the midterms were a “big victory” for Republicans, it seems likely that the GOP will follow this course now.

 

If the parallels between the Obama and Trump Administrations persist, Trump might be re-elected by following Obama’s model of doing very little aside of issuing Executive Orders and blaming the opposition for their obstructionism. However, given Mr. Trump’s slim victory margin in 2016 and the GOP’s lack of success in the “blue wall” states this year, it seems more likely that the parallels will diverge as the president fails to win a second term.

 

If President Trump and the Republicans realize the error that they are making, they may be able to break the pattern before the party suffers a series of Obama-like defeats. Although they would have to stand up to factions of the base on issues such as immigration, if Republicans can come together with Democrats to create bipartisan solutions, they might be able to win back their majority. More importantly, they would be helping the country and doing the job that the voters hired them to do.

Even When Jeff Flake Is Right, He’s Wrong

There was a lot to like about Arizona Republican Jeff Flake’s speech on the Senate floor yesterday.  It was an impassioned call for a decency that is sorely lacking in our politics today, and on substance I think he was largely correct.  The coarseness that has become the new normal in Washington is indeed lamentable, and–more dangerously–it has also obfuscated the debate over what should be far more important issues.  President Trump, who has an unfortunate habit of running his mouth when prudence would be a far better course of action, bears a great amount of responsibility for this sorry state of affairs, and Flake was justified in calling him out for it.

What Flake doesn’t realize is that he’s also dead wrong.

Here’s the passage that undermines his own argument:

Here today I stand to say that we would be better served — we would better serve the country — by better fulfilling our obligations under the Constitution by adhering to our Article 1 — “old normal,” Mr. Madison’s doctrine of separation of powers. This genius innovation which affirms Madison’s status as a true visionary — and for which Madison argued in Federalist 51 — held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract with each other, if necessary.

“Ambition counteracts ambition,” he wrote. But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, we Republicans — would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats?

 The answer to that question is yes, the GOP has meekly accepted such behavior from dominant Democrats–and they’ve been doing it for a long time.  An ad featuring a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing granny over a cliff in her wheelchair?  Check.  How about another one accusing George W. Bush of going easy on the monsters who dragged a black man to death in Texas?  Got that too.  Let’s also not forget Harry “Red Eye” Reid calling Mitt Romney a tax cheat on the Senate floor.  Republicans grumbled about it, but ultimately Reid suffered no consequences for his slander.  Then there was 8 years of the Bush presidency, during which he was accused of everything from knowing about 9/11 in advance to blowing up the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  Bush never wanted to sully the dignity of his office by fighting back, which was noble–but it also allowed his enemies, including the media, to define him.

None of that happened in a vacuum.  GOP voters noticed, and started asking, “How come our guys don’t get as nasty with them as they get with us?”  In short, they got sick of Democrat bullies kicking sand in their faces on the beach and decided to send away for Donald Trump’s body building kit.

Flake goes on to say:

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

Again, he’s talking about Trump here–but couldn’t he just as easily be talking about the media?  What have they been doing, if not dividing us along the lines of man and woman, black and white, straight and gay, liberal and conservative?  With every issue, they try to drive a wedge between Americans and then peddle the outrage, turning it into clicks and views while pushing a simple, constant narrative:  Democrats Good, Republicans Bad!  That’s also the old normal–one in which conservatives reliably lose.  If those are the good old days Jeff Flake is pining for, he can have them.

Congrats Barack Obama! Steve Bannon Says You Aren’t the Worst President

Former Presidential advisor Steve Bannon gave Barack Obama some good news in California over the weekend. To thunderous applause, Bannon declared someone other than Obama “the worst President” in American history. No, not Jimmy Carter. Bannon, to the applause of the California GOP, declared George W. Bush the worst President ever.

Proving more and more how cult like Trumpism is, the Californians who had voted for Bush twice, were now willing to jeer him because Steve Bannon said so.

Bush has lots of flaws and his presidency really did lead to both Obama and Trumpism, but the man kept us safe for eight years and united the country in a way neither Obama nor Trump could. He does not deserve the label of worst President, but he gets it because he dared to call out the white nationalism that Bannon designed Trumpism to feed off of.

There have been many books written about anti-Christs and Beasts and false prophets from Revelation. I do not think Bannon is or Trump is and do not mean here to suggest they are. But given how easily they can get a crowd to cheer for things the crowd once opposed and jeer things the crowd once supported, let’s not pretend it won’t be easy when the Beast actually does show up.

And cultural Christianity makes all these things easier.

Did George W. Bush Really Bash President Trump?

There has been a lot of criticism from Trump supporters for President Bush after his speech on conservative values this week. The criticism stems from the perception that Bush was attacking Donald Trump in the speech, even though Bush never specifically mentioned Trump.

In the speech, Bush laid out the case for traditional conservative solutions and decried a number of disturbing trends that are rocking western countries. Among the problems that Bush cited are lack of public confidence in institutions and democracy, bigotry, casual cruelty, nativism, and isolationism. Pundits, both on the left and the right, assume this to be an attack on Trumpist populism.

What most observers miss is that many of these problems are as easily attributed to the left as to the right. For example, wasn’t it Barack Obama who argued that America should have a smaller role in world affairs and who led the national retreat from the world stage? With his opposition to free trade and interventionist foreign policy, Bernie Sanders can be called an isolationist as easy as Donald Trump.

It was also Barack Obama’s presidency that saw public faith in government shattered. Ironically, the president for whom government was the solution to every problem presided over eight years in which public confidence in almost every branch of government fell to historic lows.

With respect to bullying and bigotry, would Trump supporters and others on the right argue that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are not bullies and bigots who engage in casual cruelty? Leftist groups that promote violence in place of civil discourse and who value one ethnicity over others are as deserving of these labels as anyone.

But in fairness, President Bush’s words do bear a strong resemblance to President Trump as well. If the president’s partisans get defensive on these counts, it is probably because the general denunciation of policies and attitudes can be applied as easily to the new Republican Party as to the left. It is only by looking back to past Republican presidents, that we can fully see much the GOP has changed in recent years.

The “deficit of confidence” that President Bush named as “one of our worst national problems” applies not only to both Donald Trump and Barack Obama, but to Democrats and Republicans in general. For more than a decade, government has seemed incapable of addressing anything but the simplest problems. If you need a post office named, they can do that. Anything more significant gets bogged down in partisan stalemate.

President Bush’s speech was not aimed at Donald Trump. Or rather, it was not aimed only at Donald Trump. But it is understandable why Trump partisans would take offense. It is, after all, the truth.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

You Can Take a Bum to Dinner, But You Can’t Make Him Pay

Certain habits are hard to break. Longtime convicts, once released, still hover over their food as if it’s about to be taken away. Veterans of war go into fight-or-flight at loud noises. And Donald Trump still makes promises to write checks without a thought of actually doing it.

We don’t have to rehash all the times over the last 40 years Trump has made promises, walked on to platforms at charity events to which he was not invited, and lavishly pledged millions of dollars, which he never gave. At best, he’d make a few phone calls and get someone else to donate the money. Or he’d raise it through his family foundation and simply pass the money through. (The Clintons used the same ruse.)

But now the press is on to that schtick. David Fahrenthold has a legal pad full of examples, which won him a Pulitzer Prize, and forced Trump to actually fulfill his cash promises. But old habits are hard to break.

In June, Trump called the Gold Star father of Sgt. Dillon Baldbridge, who was killed by an Afghan police officer. The father explained that he was broke and his son’s ex-wife would get the death benefit check. Trump glibly told the dad he’d write a check for $25,000. Great day for a thankful dad.

Then a card, but no check.

Enter the Washington Post. On Wednesday, they reported that Chris Baldridge never got the promised money, prompting a phone call to the White House–which declined to discuss the subject. Then by Wednesday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said “the check has been sent,” followed by a sound thrashing of the media.

The check was in the mail, because WaPo called the White House. It’s that simple.

To be fair, President Obama had a similar problem in 2015–which took ABC News 18 months to discover and report, although the amount wasn’t disclosed. I bet ABC was working on a hagiography of Obama’s miracles of light and grace, and wanted to include that story, only to find that it never happened. Obama said it was an oversight.

And Trump’s failure was probably an oversight. I mean after the heat he took from WaPo on his charitable donations going back decades, you’d think the president would be more on his game to fulfill cash donation promises.

But like I said, certain habits are hard to break.

O’Care: Teddy, Scott and the Blue Dog Democrats

This past Friday, true to his campaign promise, President Trump’s administration removed a key Obamacare birth control requirement. 

The Trump administration on Friday rolled back an ObamaCare requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Under highly anticipated rules published Friday, any for-profit or non-profit employer or insurer can stop following the birth control mandate on moral and religious grounds. The changes also let publicly traded companies obtain a religious exemption but not a moral one. The rules take effect immediately. The changes follow an executive order President Trump signed in April that instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to address “conscience-based objections” to the mandate, which has faced strong opposition from religious schools, charitable organizations and priests and nuns. The decision is a big win for social conservatives, a voting bloc that strongly supported Trump in the presidential election.

Within hours, liberal organizations were announcing plans to file lawsuits with the intent of obtaining an injunction barring the government from removing the birth control mandate.

The action has already drawn lawsuits. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center said Friday  they would challenge Trump administration’s changes in court. “Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy. By taking away women’s access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the NWLC. “This will leave countless women without the critical birth control coverage they need to protect their health and economic security. We will take immediate legal steps to block these unfair and discriminatory rules.”

The game plan for challenging the administration’s removal of the birth control mandate is highly flawed and specious. This leaves liberals and the MSM with little choice but to attempt to control the narrative through deception and historic revisionism. This is the backstory they don’t want you know, and hope the courts won’t consider.

Along with President Obama being elected in 2008, the country also chose to give the Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives, and a 60 seat super-majority in the Senate.  The super-majority in the Senate meant the president could virtually get any legislation he wanted passed. He wanted healthcare legislation, and in the spring of 2009, both the House and Senate began work in various committees with the goal of producing a comprehensive healthcare bill.

But, along the way they hit a major roadblock. On August 25, 2009, Sen. Ted Kennedy D-MA died of brain cancer. By that time the Tea Party movement had gathered steam and had become a major voice opposing any national healthcare legislation. In January 2010, a Republican, Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Sen. Kennedy.

The Senate no longer had a Democratic super-majority, putting healthcare legislation at very real risk of failure. Senate Republicans were in lockstep vowing to filibuster any healthcare legislation, and this forced the Democrats to find another avenue for passage of one of President Obama’s major campaign promises.

Enter Budget Reconciliation. This seemed to be an ideal path for Democrat success because any bill coming from the House of Representatives to the Senate through this method required only a simple majority for passage. But this path also had potholes, and those were very real threats to the party leadership.

While the Democratic Senate leadership was working to solve several objections from various Democrat senators, Rep. Bart Stupak D-MI was leading a small pro-life Democratic caucus, and their demands were centered around eliminating all federal funding for abortion, abortion counseling, and any birth control mandate. Coupled with the Republican members of the House, this small group had the leverage to kill the bill.

In order to bring these Blue Dog Democrats back into the fold, the President and Nancy Pelosi agreed to their stipulations. It was only after the bill passed, that these pro-life Democrats realized party leadership had lied to them, and had crafted a bill which  allowed the Secretary of Health and Human Services the latitude to implement a birth control mandate within Obamacare.

Back to the present. An Executive Branch mandate isn’t law, rather it’s part of the Executive Order category. Rolling it back requires nothing more than another Executive Order, which happens routinely when the next president takes office.

The MSM, liberals and the Democratic Party Leadership will begin their campaign of deceit making various claims, none of which are actually based on legal grounds. They are following a staged script, one which no doubt will end up at the Supreme Court.

First, some liberal organization will find a liberal federal judge sympathetic to their cause, and will file suit for an injunction seeking to preserve this mandate. The Executive Branch will appeal, and one way or another this will end up in the Supreme Court.

It is highly doubtful this will end up in success for Democrats. The Supreme Court gives far too much weight to the Chevron Doctrine.

In its 1984 decision, the Supreme Court said that when Congress passed a law that did not have a clear meaning, courts should defer to the federal agency applying the law unless its interpretation was unreasonable. The court reasoned that experts at agencies had been trusted by Congress to make informed decisions. This has become the doctrine. In the decades since, courts have commonly deferred to agencies not just on the environment but in areas touched by laws such as the Federal Communications Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

While this will be red meat for the far left, this is just another issue which will push mainstream Americans away from their party.  Once again, the fringe is controlling the party, giving Republicans a very real Nancy Pelosi issue to run against.

The bottom line is they mishandled the entire legislative process in passing Obamacare, and now that incompetence is coming back at them with a vengeance.

Claims Of Obama-Era Domestic Spying Are Overblown

As a conservative, it pains me to be perceived as defending Barack Obama. I was a strong and consistent opponent of Obama during his eight years in the White House and rarely, if ever, agreed with him on anything. Yet at times, the criticism and attacks on Obama went too far and I feel obliged to speak up. Such was the case when conservatives charged, against all evidence, that Obama was actually a native Kenyan and that he planned to declare martial law in Texas. It’s the case now with charges of rampant spying on political opponents by the Obama Administration. Objectively speaking, the evidence to support these claims is simply not there.

Such is the case with the recent op-ed by Sharyl Attkisson in The Hill. As with many on the right, Attkisson assumes recent revelations of the surveillance of Paul Manafort are really an attempt to spy on Donald Trump. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Like the others, Attkisson fails to mention that the surveillance started two years before Trump tapped Manafort to be his campaign manager. Attkisson also overlooks the fact that there were many valid reasons for Manafort to be under scrutiny after he closely worked with the party of Ukrainian dictator and Putin figurehead, Viktor Yanukovych.

If the CNN report on the monitoring of Manafort is to be believed, and Attkisson seems to think it does, Manafort was apparently not under surveillance while he was Trump’s campaign manager. The report states that the two FISA warrants that covered Manafort were active from 2014 through “some point” in 2016 and again through fall of 2016 to early 2017. This seems to exclude the period from March through August 2016 when Manafort worked for the Trump campaign and possibly the entire time that Trump has been president.

Other examples of surveillance of by Attkisson are similarly overblown and misinterpreted. She cites comments by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that “they, too, reviewed communications of political figures, secretly collected under President Obama.” When examined, the testimony in question deals primarily with Michael Flynn, the national security advisor who was fired for lying about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn’s case falls under incidental surveillance in which the Russian diplomat, not Flynn himself, was the person under surveillance. Spying on foreign diplomats is a legitimate role of the intelligence community.

Likewise, Attkisson’s claim that the Obama Administration spied on Congress is misleading. The Wall Street Journal article on which her claim is based makes clear that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the surveillance target, not members of Congress. The article makes clear that the NSA did not intentionally monitor the congressmen, saying that the incidental collection of their conversations with the Netanyahu government led to an “Oh-s— moment” and very valid concerns that the Obama Administration was intentionally monitoring the legislative branch.

Attkisson also cites the example of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.). In the 2012 article linked by Attkisson on Counterpunch.org, Harman was allegedly the subject of two NSA wiretaps in 2006 and 2009. Obama can obviously not be blamed for the first wiretap since George W. Bush was president in 2006. In any case, once again we see that the target of the surveillance was not Rep. Harman, but a suspected Israeli agent.

Attkisson’s example of Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is another example of a congressman being snared by contact from suspected foreign agents. In Kucinich’s case, the government recorded a call made to his congressional office by Saif el-Islam Qaddafi, at the time a high-ranking official in Libya’s government and a son of the country’s ruler, Moammar Qaddafi.

While the Obama Administration did spy on Fox News journalist, James Rosen, it appears that it did so legally. The Department of Justice obtained a warrant to search Rosen’s emails in connection with an investigation into leaked classified information, says the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Likewise, the cyber spying on the Associated Press was “legal, as far as I can tell,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said at the time. “The administration isn’t violating the First Amendment. But they are certainly doing more than has ever been done before in pursuing the private information of journalists. And we’ll see if there’s any political check on them, because there doesn’t appear to be any legal check on what they’re doing.”

Attkisson’s claim that the Obama Administration spied on her is also unverified. The CBS News article describing the breach that Attkisson links to contains a disclaimer: “To be clear, the federal government has not been accused in the intrusion of Attkisson’s computer; CBS News is continuing to work to identify the responsible party.”

Attkisson sued the Obama Administration over the hacking in 2015. The suit is ongoing and she says that the Trump Administration is continuing to defend the case in court. She fails to explain why the Trump Administration would defend illegal actions by the Obama Administration, especially if Donald Trump was also a victim of Obama’s illicit surveillance.

In her closing argument, Attkisson cites alarming statistics about the increase in surveillance under Obama. Nevertheless she fails to point out that, per her source, in 2016, when Obama had supposedly increased surveillance at an alarming pace, only 336 US citizens were targeted by FISA warrants. Likewise, the same memo that Attkisson cites as evidence that the “intelligence community secretly expanded its authority in 2011 so it can monitor innocent U.S. citizens like you and me” actually says that the NSA realized that “its compliance and oversight infrastructure… had not kept pace” and “undertook significant steps to address these issues….”

Additionally, the alarmists fail to acknowledge that the first request for a FISA warrant on Trump campaign staffers was rejected in June 2016. This rejection seems to indicate that at least some intelligence officials under Obama took domestic surveillance protections seriously.

Likewise ignored is a statement in The New York Times from April 2017. Citing an unnamed official, the Times reported with respect to surveillance of Carter Page, another Trump campaign official, “The Justice Department considered direct surveillance of anyone tied to a political campaign as a line it did not want to cross.” This may explain the break in surveillance of Paul Manafort as well.

While there is a lack of evidence of systemic abuse of surveillance by the Obama Administration, there are legitimate concerns. For example, how did the recording of Kucinich’s phone conversation find its way into the hands of reporters four years later? The leaks of Michael Flynn’s conversations to the media were illegal, the lies Flynn told about them to Vice President Pence notwithstanding. The leakers have never been publicly identified or punished.

The unmasking of American subjects of incidental surveillance by Obama Administration officials is also problematic. Susan Rice appears to have been cleared of wrongdoing by House investigators, but Samantha Power still needs to explain her actions.

Finally, the revelations that the CIA inappropriately accessed Senate computers in 2014 shows the need for strict third-party oversight. Nevertheless, the fact that the breach was disclosed at all is encouraging. A subsequent review found that the incident was the result of an error and not intelligence officers acting in bad faith. More protections for journalists from surveillance would be an appropriate reform as well.

The claims of rampant Obama-era spying reflect many of the hallmarks of a classic conspiracy theory. For instance, the dots must be connected between many disparate events and rational explanations have to be ignored. A conspiracy by the Obama Administration to spy on political opponents would mean that virtually everyone in a leadership role in the intelligence community would be complicit, yet few have been fired by President Trump. When he did fire James Comey, illicit spying on Americans was not one of the reasons given.

Occam’s Razor holds that the simplest explanation is most often correct. In the case of Obama’s domestic surveillance, the simplest explanation is that there was probable cause for monitoring in most cases. That includes the cases of Paul Manafort and Carter Page. In other cases, some Americans were caught up in incidental surveillance of legitimate surveillance targets. Michael Flynn fell into this category. Donald Trump may have as well.

Obama Calls GOP Attempts to Repeal Obamacare “Aggravating”

In a speech in New York City on Wednesday, Barack Obama admitted his aggravation with the GOP’s continued attempts to repeal Obamacare, the former president’s signature legislative achievement.

“Those of you who live in countries that already have universal health care are trying to figure out what’s the controversy here,” Obama told his audience at the Gates Foundation event.

“It is aggravating,” he continued, “And all of this being done without any demonstrable economic or actuarial or common sense rationale, it frustrates.” He condemned the “people trying to undo that progress for the 50th or 60th time.”

Of course, Obama makes no mention of the men and women who were dumped into Obamacare exchanges when their insurance was canceled, despite being promised repeatedly that their health insurance wouldn’t change.

Millions of Americans found that aggravating.

The former president makes no mention of how the law’s employer mandate pushed companies to replace full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the extra cost of providing expensive health coverage.

American workers found that aggravating.

Obama seems to forget the scorched earth legal battle he fought to force all groups to cover contraception, including abortifacients, regardless of religious liberty objections.

Groups like Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor found it aggravating.

Americans in the Obamacare exchanges saw their premiums rise by an average of 25% last year.

That’s aggravating.

Those same Americans are also seeing their deductibles increase by double digits as well. For example, deductibles went up by about 17% for those with a silver plan.

That’s aggravating.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will be one of the main factors increasing the national debt to $30 trillion over the next decade.

That’s aggravating to tax paying Americans. And their children. And their children’s children.

After all of this money and effort, only 12.2 million people signed up for Obamacare in 2017. Those numbers were slightly down from 2016, and way off of the 21 million predicted when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. In all, 28.2 million Americans opt to pay the penalty for not having health insurance rather than paying for Obamacare. The stated goal of the legislation was to make sure every American had health insurance, and that goal is nowhere close to being achieve.

How aggravating.

If one wasn’t already used to hearing such audacity from the former president, it would be astonishing to hear this man attack Republicans for not being properly aware of the “economic” and “actuarial” realities of healthcare reform. Time has proven that Obama, despite his feigned certitude, was making it up as he went along.

Americans watched in powerless horror as Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid forced this monstrosity of a law on the country. They suffered the consequences as they were forced to buy plans they didn’t want at prices they couldn’t afford. And despite Obama’s assumptions to the contrary, they have never seen socialized medicine as “progress.”

American voters responded by sending more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the last 90 years, with a clear mandate to fix the mess Obama left of our healthcare system. Despite difficulty, they continue to try to achieve that objective.

For this, Obama is aggravated. Good. It’s his turn.