Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Have Become Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’

Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Have Become Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’

Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke walks on St Peter's square after a cardinals' meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican. (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke walks on St Peter’s square after a cardinals’ meeting on the eve of the start of a conclave on March 11, 2013 at the Vatican. (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY (CBS St. Louis) — The Vatican’s chief justice feels that President Barack Obama’s policies have been hostile toward Christians.

In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine –and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

“It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the magazine.

The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to “restrict” religion.

“Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying “such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”

“In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly,” Burke told the magazine. “It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.”

Burke also believes there is hope that abortion will be overturned in the U.S.

“There is hope that the evil anti-life laws of the United States can be overthrown and that the anti-life movement which urges yet more of such legislation can be resisted,” Burke said. “The pro-life movement in the United States has been working since 1973 to reverse the unjust decision of the Supreme Court which struck down state laws prohibiting procured abortion. It is true that the Supreme Court decision stands, but it is also true that the pro-life movement has grown ever stronger in the United States, that is, that more and more citizens, especially young citizens, have been awakened to the truth about the grave evil of procured abortion.”

Pope Francis removed Burke from the Congregation for Bishops last December.

Obama will be meeting Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican on Thursday.

Hobby Lobby’s religious convictions aren’t for sale

Hobby Lobby’s religious convictions aren’t for sale

Friday, January 10, 2014 6:29pm

ZEPHYRHILLS — The first clue that Hobby Lobby isn’t your typical retail business is a sign at the front door saying the craft store is closed on Sundays “to allow employees time for family and worship.”

Once inside, other clues dot the shelves, from the large selection of religious crosses to the decorations quoting biblical verses. Listen closely and you can hear Christian songs playing in the background.

The faith-based subtleties are backed by conviction. David Green and his family founded Hobby Lobby more than four decades ago with the guiding mission to run the business in a way that brings glory to God. Over the years, Green has donated an estimated $500 million to Christian charities, including Oral Roberts University, of which his son Mart Green is board chairman.

Those beliefs are a footnote to most shoppers, who spend more than $3 billion a year on picture frames, craft supplies and home decor items. Even fewer know the Oklahoma-based chain is at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court dispute over a federal health care law mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs.

Last week, Hobby Lobby opened its second store in the Tampa Bay area, at 7333 Gall Blvd. in Zephyrhills in Pasco County. City Manager Jim Drumm described it as a big deal for the rural city of 15,000, where residents are used to driving a long way to get to top retail brands. A craft store had ranked high on a recent Chamber of Commerce survey asking what goods and services residents wanted in their community. Several singled out Hobby Lobby by name.

“We have a fair number of retirees, and a lot of times when you are retired, you have a lot of time on your hands and want to take up new hobbies,” Drumm said. “People were really happy when Hobby Lobby was announced.”

The store took over a Sweetbay supermarket that closed last year as part of a chainwide contraction that affected 33 underperforming locations. Hobby Lobby co-manager Kevin Ross said shoppers lined up outside before the soft opening on Jan. 31, and more than one customer has remarked that the store is busier than it ever was as Sweetbay. A surprising top seller so far? Yarn.

David Green founded Hobby Lobby out of his Oklahoma City garage in 1970. The son of a preacher, he and his wife, Barbara, started out making decorative frames, then added craft supplies, home decor and holiday decorations. They opened their first store in 1972 and have since expanded to more than 550 locations nationwide. The first Tampa Bay store opened in late 2010 in New Port Richey, another community a long way from the urban core.

Hobby Lobby chooses places where it can rent big-box buildings at an affordable rate. It doesn’t target the corner of Main and Main, like Trader Joe’s, which is opening stores along Fourth Street in St. Petersburg and off Dale Mabry Highway in South Tampa. It also doesn’t need to be across from International Plaza, like the Container Store.

Hobby Lobby usually leases space previously occupied by another retailer. Former supermarkets, hardware stores and Kmarts in mid- to higher-income suburban areas are prime sites, said Justin Greider, vice president of Florida retail brokerage at Jones Lang LaSalle commercial real estate. The space costs 50 to 70 percent of what a new building would cost.

“They are very, very sensitive to the amount of money they can pay in rent,” he said. “They are focused on families with some disposable income who like scrapbooking and decorating, but are price sensitive. They aren’t competing with upper-income stores like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.”

On average, stores draw from a 10- to 15-mile radius, significantly farther than a 3-mile reach for a grocery store or 5 to 7 miles for a Target. That makes it possible, for instance, to add a store in Carrollwood or Brandon but still attract shoppers from Tampa’s urban core, Greider said.

Hobby Lobby stores can be as large as 90,000 square feet but, more recently, have taken over smaller retail space in order to facilitate growth. By comparison, Michaels and Jo-Ann stores are about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet.

Hobby Lobby has been referred to as a combo Michaels, Kirkland’s and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store on steroids. Stores carry 70,000 products, many of which are made at the company’s manufacturing plant in Oklahoma. By comparison, Michaels, which has twice the number of stores, carries 37,000 items.

Hobby Lobby has been successful in more remote communities like Zephyrhills and New Port Richey, which have limited retail options, real estate officials said. In the case of the newest store, the nearest Michaels is 15 miles away in Wesley Chapel. The nearest Jo-Ann store is 24 miles away in New Tampa.

“If you locate in a more rural area, you tend to have the entire market to yourself,” said David Conn, executive vice president of retail services for CBRE commercial real estate in Tampa. “You’re not splitting the market with other competitors, and it’s unlikely a competitor will go there.”

Closing on Sundays, while welcomed by many employees and believers, comes at a price, he said. Competitors are open daily and have longer hours. Hobby Lobby operates 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week — a total of 66 hours, while Michaels is typically open 81 hours a week. To stay competitive, Hobby Lobby needs less expensive rent in areas with likely shoppers.

“It all comes down to the bottom line,” Conn said. “They are running a business. They aren’t selling Bibles.”

hobby lobby

Hobby Lobby has earned a reputation as a strong, solid retailer, particularly among government and real estate officials who have dealings with the company. The chain carries no long-term debt and starts its full-time hourly workers at 90 percent above the federal minimum wage — about $14 an hour — compared to other retailers that start at minimum wage. David Green, who owns the entire business with his wife and three children, was ranked 246th on Forbes’ list of world billionaires in 2013, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

The family’s religious beliefs run companywide. The chain employs chaplains to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of its employees, who come from all faiths, a company spokesman said. Gruesome or bloody Halloween decorations are strictly prohibited.

Though not as widely known as Truett Cathy and his family from Chick-fil-A (another business closed on Sundays), the Greens are big names in Christian circles. Last week, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, one of the sons, appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network to talk about his family’s collection of 40,000 biblical documents and artifacts, which is said to be the largest private compilation of its kind in the world. Items from the Green Collection have been on display in St. Peter’s Square and Vatican City and are part of a traveling exhibit called “Passages,” currently in Colorado Springs. Eventually, the Greens plan to open a museum for their collection in Washington, D.C.

It hasn’t been without controversy. A few months ago, Hobby Lobby officials apologized after complaints that the stores didn’t carry Jewish merchandise. As a result, the company said it would sell some items at stores near large Jewish populations in New York and New Jersey before Hanukkah.

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the federal government opposing a requirement that it provide the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” for free under its insurance plan. Compliance, the family said, would violate its religious beliefs.

Hobby Lobby won on an appeal but in October joined the government in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The court agreed in November and is expected to issue a ruling by June.

More than 90 lawsuits have been filed by nonprofit and for-profit groups nationwide against the Health and Human Services mandate involving contraceptives. Hobby Lobby is the only non-Catholic-owned business to sue and, so far, its case is just one of two headed to the Supreme Court.

Officials at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Washington, D.C., law firm that is representing Hobby Lobby for free, said a court victory would prevent the Greens from having to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.

“They hold their religious convictions closely. They are very sincere in that,” said Becket Fund spokeswoman Emily Hardman. “They just want to operate their business the way they have been.”

War on Contraception? No, an Attack on Religion.

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War on Contraception? No, an Attack on Religion.

By Ramesh Ponnuru Dec 1, 2013 8:01 AM PT

From reading the New York Times, you might think that religious conservatives had started a culture war over whether company health-insurance plans should cover contraception. What’s at issue in two cases the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear, the Times editorializes, is “the assertion by private businesses and their owners of an unprecedented right to impose the owners’ religious views on workers who do not share them.”

That way of looking at the issue will be persuasive if your memory does not extend back two years. Up until 2012, no federal law or regulation required employers to cover contraception (or drugs that may cause abortion, which one of the cases involves). If 2011 was marked by a widespread crisis of employers’ imposing their views on contraception on employees, nobody talked about it.

Ramesh Ponnuru

About Ramesh Ponnuru»

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, where he has covered national politics for 18 years.

 

What’s actually new here is the Obama administration’s 2012 regulation requiring almost all employers to cover contraception, sterilization and drugs that may cause abortion. It issued that regulation under authority given in the Obamacare legislation.

The regulation runs afoul of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Clinton-era law. That act says that the government may impose a substantial burden on the exercise of religious belief only if it’s the least restrictive way to advance a compelling governmental interest. The act further says that no later law should be read to trump this protection unless it explicitly says it’s doing that. The Affordable Care Act has no such language.

Is a marginal increase in access to contraception a compelling interest, and is levying steep fines on employers who refuse to provide it for religious reasons the least burdensome way to further it? It seems doubtful.

Supporters of the regulation are resorting, as Jessica Valenti does at the Nation, to the slippery-slope argument: What if your boss is a Jehovah’s Witness and he doesn’t want to cover blood transfusions? Again, though, it has been legal for employers in most places to make this decision for most of American history. Ever heard of anyone going without a transfusion for this reason? The problem is wholly hypothetical.

A lot of people, especially liberals, think that contraceptive coverage was a powerful campaign issue for the Democrats last year, contrary evidence notwithstanding. If that’s right, then liberals ought to have some success in getting Congress to pass the law with an explicit override of protections for religious dissenters. Until Congress takes such action, the courts should apply the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Valenti also argues that opposition to the regulation “is not about religious freedom, it’s about sexism, and a fear of women’s sexuality.” It’s a free country, and people are entitled to adopt her cartoonish views of people who disagree with her. But our statutory right to act on our religious beliefs does not depend on what Valenti thinks of them. Thank — goodness.

(Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review. Follow him on Twitter @RameshPonnuru)

The Great Destroyer.

 destroyer

The Great Destroyer

ObamaCare wreaks havoc on health care, the economy, American freedom and Obama’s presidency.

By

PETE DU PONT

CONNECT

Nov. 25, 2013 8:32 p.m. ET
Polls show an increasing majority of Americans dislike President Obama’s health-care law and disapprove of the job the president is doing. Perhaps more disconcerting for Mr. Obama is a recent Quinnipiac University poll that finds, for the first time in his presidency, a majority (54%) of registered voters feel he is not honest and trustworthy.In response, the administration rolls out ObamaCare delays or stopgap fixes just a month after Republicans were labeled extremists for proposing delays and fixes. The White House tries shifting blame for the embarrassing rollout to others—information technology contractors, insurance companies and of course, Republicans. The administration is even working to discourage use of the word “ObamaCare,” which the president had proudly embraced before the law encountered reality.Most interestingly, the administration and congressional Democrats seem genuinely surprised that their prized legislation, which was to be the crown jewel of the president’s legacy and the culmination of decades of liberal ambition, simply doesn’t work.
WORST THING BLOG INSERT
Did these folks ever study history, economics or sociology? If they had, they would have known there was little chance of success for their attempt to snatch one-sixth of our economy and thrust it under a complex set of bureaucratic regulations, market disincentives, higher costs and new taxes.Large government interventions in the market almost always fall short of their backers’ dreams (although not usually this rapidly). Such programs suffer from a common set of flaws, all of which are found in ObamaCare. First, and perhaps foremost, is the hubris inherent in the assumption that bureaucrats in Washington (or Moscow, Beijing or Pyongyang) know better than families, individuals and businesses do what is best for them.We also often find a certain “looseness” with the facts. There is overpromising at the beginning. Mr. Obama actually promised to provide better health care to more people while spending less money. While some of us saw that was obviously absurd, many are just now coming to this realization. We were told we could keep our existing plan if we liked it, “period.” But it turns out that means “only as long as the government, in its wisdom, decides it’s right for you.” The posturing and spinning continues as the administration tries to inflate the pathetically low enrollment figures. The left’s mindset is that such obfuscation (to be generous) is fine as long as it is deployed in the furtherance of the greater good, which they see as coming only from their policies.

Obamacare poison

ObamaCare embodies the usual hypocrisy of large liberal programs, as the administration bestows benefits and exemptions on favored constituencies and the politically connected. We see waivers for big labor, relief from inconvenient mandates for congressional staff, and decisions timed to minimize harm to Democrats in the next election. Conversely, those who don’t have politically correct views are ignored or mocked. We see lip service given to conscientious objections to abortion and birth control, but ObamaCare policies that run roughshod over these objections.

Perhaps most disappointing, we can observe in the administration’s handling of ObamaCare a now all too familiar subversion of the rule of law, a fundamental precept of our nation’s founding and of democracies everywhere. George Will notes that the administration has apparently decided it can adopt legislation by press conference as Mr. Obama simply announces changes to the law or that he will not enforce certain provisions. His administration then proceeds to strong-arm businesses and demonize critics.

There is the usual governmental failure to anticipate how people respond to economic incentives. Why would the administration expect the required large numbers of healthy, young people to enroll in ObamaCare in response to higher premiums? Why would the administration expect businesses to refrain from adjusting their staffing decisions based on the additional cost of ObamaCare?

Finally, we see the familiar curse of unintended consequences as the fantasy of better, more affordable insurance with more options runs into the reality of higher costs and fewer options. The failed exchange and the cancelled plans were just the beginning, followed by sticker shock at the cost of the government-mandated coverage and doctors being dropped from networks or opting out.

We don’t yet know every way in which ObamaCare will damage our health-care system, our economy and our freedom, but we can be sure more pain is coming.

Arctic sea ice up 60 percent in 2013: dramatic deviation from predictions of an “ice-free Arctic in 2013.

Arctic sea ice up 60 percent in 2013

Published September 09, 2013

FoxNews.com
  • arctic sea ice 2012 vs 2013.jpg

    NASA satelite images show the changing Artic sea ice coverage. from August 2012 (left) to August 2013 (right) — a growth of about a million square miles. (NASA)

About a million more square miles of ocean are covered in ice in 2013 than in 2012, a whopping 60 percent increase — and a dramatic deviation from predictions of an “ice-free Arctic in 2013,” the Daily Mail noted.

Arctic sea ice averaged 2.35 million square miles in August 2013, as compared to the low point of 1.32 million square miles recorded on Sept. 16, 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. A chart published Sept. 8 by NSIDC shows the dramatic rise this year, putting total ice cover within two standard deviations of the 30-year average.

Noting the year over year surge, one scientist even argued that “global cooling” was here.

“We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped,” Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin told London’s Mail on Sunday.

The surge in Arctic ice is a dramatic change from last year’s record-setting lows, which fueled dire predictions of an imminent ice-free summer. A 2007 BBC report said the Arctic could be ice free in 2013 — a theory NASA still echoes today.

“[An ice-free Arctic is] definitely coming, and coming sooner than we previously expected,“ Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, told LiveScience last month. “We’re looking at when as opposed to if.”

Noting the growth in ice, the Snow and Ice Data Center said that coverage was still well below the 30-year average. And the year over year growth in ice is “largely irrelevant,” argued The Guardian, noting that more ice is to be expected after the record low a year ago.

“We should not often expect to observe records in consecutive years. 2012 shattered the previous record low sea ice extent; hence ‘regression towards the mean’ told us that 2013 would likely have a higher minimum extent,” wrote Dana Nuccitelli.

Meanwhile, global surface temperatures have been relatively flat over the past decade and a half, according to data from the U.K.’s weather-watching Met Office.

A leaked draft of the next major climate report from the U.N. cites numerous causes to explain the slowdown in warming: greater-than-expected ash from volcanoes, a decline in heat from the sun, more heat being absorbed by the deep oceans, and so on.

Climate skeptics have spent months debating the weather pattern, some citing it as evidence that global warming itself has decelerated or even stopped.

“The absence of any significant change in the global annual average temperature over the past 16 years has become one of the most discussed topics in climate science,” wrote David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in June. “It has certainly focused the debate about the relative importance of greenhouse gas forcing of the climate versus natural variability.”

When Did Obama Decide That The Scandals He Once Thought Were Serious Are Now ‘Phony’?

When Did Obama Decide That The Scandals He Once Thought Were Serious Are Now ‘Phony’?

by Noah Rothman | 1:34 pm, July 25th, 2013VIDEO» 420 comments

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama set the tone for the debate surrounding the many controversies that have plagued his administration since the spring. The president called those scandals “phony” and denigrated those who find any worth in their investigation. But, as one prominent conservative opinion writer noted yesterday, it was not long ago that the White House was acknowledging the seriousness of the scandals he now derides as contrived.

“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said during a marathon speech in Illinois.

During a panel segment on Fox News Channel’s Special ReportThe Weekly Standard editorStephen F. Hayes asked a pointed question about these so-called “phony scandals”: “Which of the scandals is phony?”

“The president has already acknowledged the seriousness of two of them – three of them, in one way or another,” Hayes added.

“This is part of the plan to set up an argument for the fall,” he said, identifying how Democrats will counter Republican charges of malfeasance by administration officials ahead of the 2014 midterms. In essence, Hayes implied, Obama and his supporters will accuse the opponents of his administration of a pathological desire to cling to already discredited conspiracy theories.

But Hayes is right to ask precisely which scandal Obama now finds “phony” that he or administration officials previously acknowledged were grave. Was he referring to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups with undue scrutiny when seeking tax-exempt status?

“It’s inexcusable and Americans have a right to be angry about it — and I’m angry about it,” Obama said in May when IRS official Lois Lerner confessed to the targeting after planting a question about the affair with a member of the media at a routine press conference. “The fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.” Obama made these comments announcing from the White House that he had dismissed IRS personnel as a direct response to the accusations.

Nothing to see here, Obama’s supporters say. They point to newly revealed documents which purport to show that some liberal groups were targeted with scrutiny as well – though few have come forward to share their stories in the numbers that conservative groups have. But the National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports that IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who the IRS said in a statement was not involved in the 501(c)(4) application process, “became aware of the targeting of tea-party groups at some point in 2012” according to the testimony of congressional witnesses. Wilkins did have regular contact with individuals in the White House, though whether he revealed what he knew about the targeting scandal to administration officials is not yet known.

Or maybe the president meant the scandal surrounding the administration’s response to the attack in Benghazi. Did he mean when the administration sent Susan Rice, then the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, on every Sunday news programs to blame the attack on a spontaneous upraising resulting from an inflammatory YouTube video? A response which State Department officials testified seriously damaged American relations with the nascent post-Gaddafi Libyan government, and directly resulted in the delay of FBI investigative teams being able to access the scene of the attack. Which agency officials made the determination to send Rice out to make this claim remains unclear.

Americans also do not yet know who determined that minimal security for that threatened consulate was acceptable. “I am intent on making sure that we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening,” Obama said in May, shifting blame for that lack of embassy security to a lack of funding and mismanagement by Congress. “But that means we owe it to them and all who serve to do everything in our power to protect our personnel serving overseas.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) later echoed this claim in a fiery speech on the Senate floor. Boxer’s claim, and Obama’s by extension, that Congress was to blame for the light security footprint in Benghazi was given three Pinocchios from Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. During testimony before a congressional committee, one State Department official asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to convert that temporary post in Benghazi into a permanent American diplomatic facility – she was to make this announcement in December of last year on a planned trip to Libya. Was this why the facility needed to be manned with high-level diplomatic personnel, including Libyan Amb. Chris Stevens, even though the consulate was not sufficiently hardened against attacks?

Or, perhaps, Obama was referring to the controversy surrounding the Department of Justice’s sweeping and overzealous efforts to intimidate government leakers and the journalists that would speak to them by unilaterally sweeping up the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and naming Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in an attempt to violate the Espionage Act.

This “phony scandal” resulted in a series of off the record meetings (which fast became on the record meetings after reporters began to boycott those credibility-endangering parlays) between journalists, media executives, and Attorney General Eric Holder. When the DOJ subpoenas story broke, Holder insisted that, while he had no direct involvement in the investigations, he took them “very seriously.” Earlier this month, the DOJ announced that it would rewrite the rules that govern how federal prosecutors and investigators seek secret warrants to prosecute criminal leaks.

It is perfectly understandable why the president and his supporters would want to dismiss as illegitimate these and other smoldering controversies. The president himself and senior administration officials initially recognized and acknowledged the severity and seriousness of the above scandals – their seriousness has not dissipated as their scope has broadened. As the various investigations into these infractions evolved, Obama and his supporters have become more aggressively contemptuous of those pursuing them and have attacked the motives of anyone who would seek to hold a frank discussion about these infractions. This is perhaps the most compelling indication that these and other scandals are anything but “phony.”

> >Follow Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) on Twitter

Bipartisan consensus: Lengthy remarks offered tired rhetoric

Bipartisan consensus: Lengthy remarks offered tired rhetoric

Government Transparency, NSA, "top secret"

AP

BY: 
July 24, 2013 3:46 pm

President Obama’s speech on jobs and the economy Wednesday in Illinois took 1 hour, 6 minutes, making it longer than every State of the Union address of his presidency except the one in January of 2010 when he spoke for 1 hour 9 minutes.

And yet many pundits were left wondering what the point was to Obama’s lengthy remarks at Knox College today.

The Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes called it a “predictable bust” with “tired ideas” that proved Obama, whose approval ratings are at their lowest point since 2011, may be older but is anything but wiser:

And remember the “sequester”?  It was his idea to force spending cuts of $100 billion or so for 10 years.  Now, though the sequester’s impact has been chiefly to reduce our military strength, he blames Republicans for “leaving in place a meat cleaver” that’s done everything from costing jobs to gutting education and scientific research.

As usual for an Obama speech, there’s plenty of pie in the sky.  He’ll “rebuild run-down neighborhoods.”  He’s for making preschool available for 4-year-olds—no mention of the cost—and providing “a vital support system for working parents.”  Translated, that means taxpayer paid babysitting.

Forbes contributor Doug Schoen, a Democrat, derided the “much-hyped” address as little more than a campaign-style speech that doubled down on his 2012 approach: division, polarization and moving to the left.

Washington Post‘s political blog “The Fix” said Obama’s address would change very little despite being billed by aides as a major moment for his second term:

And yet, during that same OFA fundraiser, Obama acknowledged that no matter how lofty his goals or his rhetoric, the fundamental realities of the politics of the economy were almost certain to remain unchanged. ”I’m excited about the speech, not because I think the speech is going to change any minds,” he said.

Truer words were never spoken.

“The Fix” editor Chris Cillizza added afterwards, “You could be forgiven if you thought you had heard President Obama’s speech on the economy today before. Because you have.”

Before the speech, liberal Washington Post columnist and frequent MSNBC contributor Dana Milbank pondered whether yet another attempt to “pivot” to the economy showed the chief executive was “fresh out of ideas”:

If he’s to break through the resistance, Obama will need some bold new proposals. That’s why his speech returning to the oldies would seem to confirm that the White House has given up on big achievements.

To build interest in the new series of speeches, the White House scheduled an invitation-only briefing (RSVP required) for Monday, then set cloak-and-dagger ground rules requiring that the briefers not be quoted, even anonymously. Reporters protested, but they needn’t have worried: The official who gave the briefing made clear that there would be no new policies announced, at least not major ones and not initially.

Even the royal baby stole Obama’s thunder. News that the young prince had been named George Alexander Louis of Cambridge came during his prepared remarks.

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