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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
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Obama's Contempt for Law (Chavismo Comes to Washington)


Last month the Obamas hosted a White House conference on bullying. It was intended as a show of support for victims, but watching this president in action, it might just as easily have been a tutorial.

We've gotten glimpses of Obama's intimidating instincts from the beginning. Now as his administration flounders, his aggressiveness is becoming less and less veiled.

His first targets, as so often with bullies, were unpopular figures that few were inclined to defend. At a 2009 meeting with bankers, Obama arranged the atmospherics to convey his displeasure. According to Politico, whereas White House meetings are usually comfortable affairs with snacks and beverages offered, the bankers got different treatment. There was one glass of water at each place — no refills. Obama pressured those present to reduce executive salaries and warned: I'm "the only thing between you and the pitchforks." Thanks, Evita.

This president rewards his friends and punishes his enemies (his words) — with little concern for the rule of law. In the bailouts and restructurings of General Motors and Chrysler, the president forced some of the companies' secured creditors to take 30 cents on the dollar while giving much more generous terms to the United Auto Workers. Secured creditors are those who lend money to a strapped company only because they are guaranteed to be paid off first in the event of bankruptcy. But the Obama administration has contempt for such economic realities to say nothing of the law. The obvious consequence will be that companies will find it harder to find financing in future. It was also an early signal that this administration respects few boundaries.

Contempt for law and procedure characterized Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill as well. After the well was capped, a swaggering president described his intentions toward BP: "I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness." Twenty billion was the amount the president demanded. The president never described by what authority he was requiring BP to set aside this funding — presumably it was the same authority implied in the case of the bankers — the "pitchforks."

That BP should have been held responsible for the damage it caused is not in question.

But we have laws and procedures for this sort of thing. Or we once did. We are not accustomed to presidents arbitrarily ordering private actors to make restitution. You might have expected this high-handedness to alarm civil libertarians among the press corps. No, all of the press's outrage was expended on a Texas congressman who mentioned that BP was the target of a "shakedown." It was.

At the same time, the president used the spill as an excuse to shut down drilling in the Gulf altogether for an extended period. A federal judge issued an injunction against the moratorium and later declared the Obama administration to be "defiant." "Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium," wrote Judge Martin Feldman, " . . . provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government's contempt." Undeterred, the administration switched tactics and simply stopped issuing new permits — a clear abuse of regulatory discretion.

The economic effects have been severe to a region already damaged by Katrina and the spill itself. An industry group, Greater New Orleans, Inc. reports that 50 percent of businesses have laid off employees due to the moratorium; 76 percent have lost cash reserves; and 46 percent have moved all or some of their businesses away from the Gulf region.

What, except overweening contempt for law, can explain President Obama's decision to give Charles Cordray a recess appointment as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when the Senate was not in recess? "What I'm not going to do is wait for Congress," Obama told "60 Minutes." "So whenever we have an opportunity and I have executive authority . . . we're just going to go ahead." Or even without executive authority apparently.

Last week the president returned to bullying the Supreme Court (He had done so once before, during a State of the Union address). The president warned the court that its legitimacy was suspect because its members are "unelected." This is brutish talk from any political figure, all the more from one who preens that he taught constitutional law. What's next? Warning that Obamacare is all that stands between the justices and the pitchforks?

Hugo Chavez is ailing. But his spirit is thriving in the White House.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



7 Comments | Post Comment
The spin on this is galling but will be music to the eyes and ears of the believers.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Steve
Mon Apr 9, 2012 2:18 PM
Mona said:

the bankers got different treatment. There was one glass of water at each place

Umm, you have to be kidding, after what they did to this country they should have been visited in jail, there they could have all of the bread and water they could want. The nerve of you asking for graciousness from Obama after what these as*****e bankers did to this country. Who said he couldn't lead, Obama, you gave them more than I would have. I would have had them in handcuffs, on video, played live, after what they did to this country. Mona, you are obscene.

Moma said:

a swaggering president described his intentions toward BP: "I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness

once again, at the meeting I would have met the execs of BP with the FBI and handcuffs, on live TV, Fox would be nice. We can sort out the legalities later.

Mona, you are such a shill for big business, it's pathetic, that you would affirm their bad behavior is outrageous and disgusting. How many lives and animals were destroyed by the banks, and BP?

Shameful, there's no excuse for you, you make me sick, go away.............

Conservative Mantra: Big business, I've got mine, screw you America
Comment: #2
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:43 PM
Bloom Hilda,
Again you can't see the truth. The banks didn't cause the crash. The banks were sued by the Federal Government in an effort to force them to loan money to people who couldn't afford them. Then the Feds created a system to offload those bad loans. The rating services turned a blind eye to the bad loans likely because they couldn't believe banks would make bad loans or that the Feds would sue banks until they gave in due to the high cost of the legal defense. The whole crash caused by politicians trying to "give" poor housing was predicted nearly as it happened in the 1940's.
Liberal Mantra: You worked hard, scrimped saved and earned your way you evil bastard, I'll tax it all away and spend it for you as foolishly as I squandered everything I ever earned leaving me penniless. You should be poor like me you greedy evil villian. I have a right to your money.
Comment: #3
Posted by: C Moellers
Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:04 PM
Re: C Moellers

Oh Puhleeeeeeeeeez, the banks sold junk mortgages, wall street sold junk mortgages, go look up AIG.......they didn't care if people were qualified, they got their fees and unloaded the junk for short term profits, they didn't use due diligence, they knew it would crash, they didn't care, the junk was sold and unloaded for quick profits numerous times per bundle. Remember the game, hot potato ??? Sound familiar?

Republican Mantra: Make a quick profit, no matter who gets hurt, geeee, sounds like Bain and Romney
I've got mine, screw you
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:30 PM
A Conservative Mantra we've all heard: "They had to do it, a law was passed to enable low income people to buy homes." Conservative Mantra..... and a completely unacceptable excuse.
The government did not say abandon all reason, morality, and common sense. They did not say get around our regulations with your "Shadow Banking System".
They didn't say give a loan to whoever asked, with a sub prime adjustable rate mortgage that would immediately strangle the buyer if interest rates increased and then use it to increase your own bottom line. The Subprime mortgages were then bundled, bought and sold. Approximately 90% of subprime mortgages issued in 2006 were adjustable-rate mortgages.

Ms. Bloom is point on and here's some facts that the most basic search will show:
Although a number of politicians, pundits, and financial industry funded think tanks have claimed that government policies designed to promote affordable housing (CRA) were an important cause of the financial crisis, detailed analyses of mortgage data by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Federal Reserve Economists, and independent academic researchers suggest that this claim is probably not correct.
Community Reinvestment Act loans outperformed other "subprime" mortgages, and GSE mortgages performed better than private label securitizations. Loans made by CRA-regulated lenders in the neighborhoods in which they were required to lend were HALF as likely to default as similar loans made in the same neighborhoods by Independent Mortgage Originators who were NOT subject to the law.
In the years leading up to the crisis, the top four U.S. depository banks moved an estimated $5.2 trillion in assets and liabilities off-balance sheet into special purpose vehicles or other entities in the Shadow Banking System. This enabled them to essentially bypass existing regulations regarding minimum capital ratios.

So much of Ms. Charen's column is offensive, this is but one part in which an opposing viewpoint and the facts without distortion expose the deceitful web she continues to spin.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Steve
Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:10 AM
Re: Steve

Wonderful post Steve, factual and non-debateable, I want to see the extreme right, GOP, spin those facts. Everytime there is a factural response to a conservative post the spin machines twist and turn it around until you feel like you've fallen into the rabbit hole. It will be interesting to see the moth Romney, develop from a hard line right wing conservative to a mellow, yellow, moderate independent in the next few months. I would not call him an etch a scetch, I would call him a Pupa, at each stage he metamorphosizes into something new. Shall we call him a man for all seasons or a chameleon? I like Pupa, you never know what the next stage will show. He has six months to trash Obama with misleading, untruthful ads. He has six months to turn back into the moderate, reasonable, independent Governor who was so successful, it should be interesting to watch. Read the Metamorphosis, (Kafka)AKA Romney.

Conservative Mantra. I've got mine, screw you
Comment: #6
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:59 AM
Liberal sheep like Steve and Broom can whine and promote their masters propaganda all they want but they can't escape the truth. Thug, criminal organizations like ACORN, thug, blackmailers like Jesse Jackson, and corrupt, clueless politicians like Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Obama coerced banks into making loans to people who had no chance of repaying. I never supported the banks and I thought they shouldn't have been saved but to try and excuse your incompetent, corrupt liberal masters from this disaster is laughable and pathetic.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Thetruth
Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:54 PM
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