President Obama has had the absolute worst, most-horrible, unspeakably-terrible year of any president in the history of the republic. The year 2013 was worse for President Obama than the year 476 was for Romulus Augustulus, when he was removed as the last emperor, by Odovacar, as Rome fell to the Goths. It was even worse than the year Adam had, the year God kicked him out of the Garden.
We should have expected a year of miserable failures. After all, at the end of 2012 President Obama was reelected with 51% of the popular vote, making him one of only three presidents in more than 100 years to have won twice with at least 51% of the popular vote each time. The only other two presidents who achieved this feat since 1900, were Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. A terrible way to start the year.
A year ago, we were bracing to go over the “fiscal cliff” on December 31, 2012, as a result of a combination of the Bush tax cuts automatically expiring and “sequestration,” which was a 10% across-the-board cut on all government spending.
The Bush tax cuts did expire on January 1, 2013, but the crisis was averted by congress passing the Obama Tax Cuts on January 2nd and kicking sequestration down the road for two more months. This allowed Republicans to threaten a government shutdown again in two months. And again in the Fall of 2013.
Republicans were able to keep threatening government shutdowns, because congress had not passed a full budget since President Obama had been in office, not even when the Democrats held control of the House. The government was funded through “CRs” or continuing resolutions which congress would pass every few months to continue funding the government at present levels. Democrats had originally started this unusual method of funding the government through merely continuing a previous (Bush) budget, probably to keep from having unpopular expenditures in the budget pinned on them. But once Republicans gained control of the House, they were able to wield this as a weapon, periodically seeking to extract unrelated concessions from President Obama in exchange for them funding the government, something that had been done on a routine basis before President Obama was elected.
So at the end of this terribly awful year for President Obama, where are we in terms of the Republicans being able to use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Obama to do something they want (like repeal Obamacare)? The threat is totally gone. The weapon has been completely taken away from Republicans. On December 18, 2013, congress finally passed a full budget, a TWO YEAR budget. So for the next TWO YEARS, the government is fully funded leaving Republicans with no weapon. What a horrible outcome for President Obama.
During most of 2013, conservatives were confident that Obamacare would be destroyed this year. The Supreme Court was expected to rule on the constitutionality of it and strike it down. The Republican-controlled House would hold more than 40 votes to repeal it. Ted Cruz would stall the workings of the Senate to force President Obama to defund it. The Tea Party wing of the House Republicans would shut down the government until President Obama agreed to defund it. Insurance companies would cancel policies which had been specifically grandfathered in, in a deceptive attempt to make policyholders THINK they HAD to buy super-expensive, suggested policies from the insurer, instead of telling the policyholders that they could go to the Obamacare Exchange and get a new policy for much less money, using tax credits. PolitiFact would call this the “lie of the year” and attribute the deception to President Obama, instead of the insurance companies. Mainstream media would attempt to pump up ratings by pushing undocumented and unsubstantiated horror stories from people who had an axe to grind (hated President Obama and Obamacare in the first place) and by blatantly refusing to report documented success stories and, by failing to do corrective reporting when the horror stories fell apart.
And at the end of this terribly awful year for President Obama, where is Obamacare? None of the weapons formed against the law prospered. All attempts to destroy it, failed miserably. When the dust cleared, the only thing still standing was Obamacare. Every day, more and more people are signing up for it, including a million people in December, and every day, more and more people are finding out exactly what Obamacare really is and, they are LOVING it! A terrible outcome for President Obama in 2013.
CATHOLIC CHURCH & OBAMA’S "WAR ON RELIGION"
A year ago, the leaders of the Catholic Church in America were at the forefront of criticizing President Obama’s “morals.” Cardinal Burke was one of President Obama’s harshest critics. He had famously said in 2004 that John Kerry should be denied receiving the holy sacrament of Communion and in 2009 he said that a Catholic could not have voted for President Obama with a clear conscience, labeling President Obama as an “agent of death.” That same year, Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Burke to the Congregation of Bishops, giving him tremendous influence in the selection of US bishops. Leaders of the Catholic Church in America moralized against President Obama’s pro-choice and equality-for-all stances and filed lawsuits against the requirement in Obamacare that insurance policies must cover birth control pills alongside Viagra. And in Pope Benedict’s address to American Bishops, he implored them to help Catholic politicians understand their personal responsibility to bring their faith to bear on the “great MORAL issues of our time” with little mention of economic issues. All of this gave Republican leaders an excuse to sanctimoniously align themselves with Catholic leaders and beat their Pharisee chests and lament how President Obama was waging a “war on religion.”
But during 2013, the most holy of all holy men gathered in Rome to seek God as to who the new Pope should be. And after deeply communing with God, these holy men announced that God had chosen Pope Francis, who burst onto the scene decrying Reagan-designed “trickle-down” economics and criticizing income inequality with such fervor that Sarah Palin flippantly labeled this holy man of God as the “Obama of the Catholic Church” while Rush Limbaugh called him a “Marxist” and Paul Ryann patronizingly said “this guy” isn’t from around here…he just doesn’t understand American capitalism. And just two weeks ago, Pope Francis relieved Cardinal Burke – President Obama’s thorn in the side – of his position in the Congregation of Bishops, replacing him with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who said of denying Communion to a pro-choice politician, "Our primary job is to teach and try to convince people. The tradition in our country has not been in the direction of refusing Communion, and I think it's served us well." And in Pope Francis’ Christmas address to the Vatican Curia? Did he harp on their responsibility to weigh-in on the “great moral issues of the day?” No. He told them they needed to “moralize less” and spend more time “showing mercy to the needy.”
So at the end of 2013, instead of the Catholic Church leading a moralizing crusade against President Obama on social issues, Pope Francis is crusading WITH President Obama on the liberal philosophies of collectively helping the poor as commanded by Jesus and seeking to narrow the unjust income-disparity gap. Another awful outcome for President Obama in 2013.
Each governmental department has an appointed watchdog, known as an “inspector general” who is independent from the department, with near-unfettered power to investigate anything he deems improper within the department.
Groups which are seeking tax-exempt status must submit an application to the IRS and in the application they must acknowledge that they will not be engaging in activities to influence elections. It is the job of the IRS to scrutinize and investigate the applications to make sure the group will not be attempting to influence elections, before the IRS gives them the tax-exempt status. If a group has a political-sounding name, it usually gets flagged for extra scrutiny.
In 2013 the IG for the Department of Treasury (which includes the IRS) issued a report saying that the IRS under President Obama had scrutinized ONLY groups with conservative-sounding political names. (While these groups should have been scrutinized, it would be wrong to scrutinize ONLY conservative-sounding groups, while not also scrutinizing groups with liberal-sounding names.) The Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, publicly said there was deposition testimony which showed that President Obama directed the IRS to do this (to ONLY scrutinize groups with conservative-sounding names.)
How did this all end for President Obama in 2013? Over the objection of Issa who had released only a deceptively-edited PORTION of the deposition transcript, the Ranking Democrat on the committee released the entire transcript which proved beyond any doubt that the White House knew absolutely nothing about what the IRS was doing regarding the tax-exempt applications. This severely damaged Issa’s credibility, revealing to the public that he was intentionally being deceptive. His credibility was so damaged that it spilled over to other investigations he was conducting, such as the investigation into "Benghazi."
Then an IG staffer revealed that the staff was told -- from the beginning -- to ONLY LOOK FOR conservative groups which had been subjected to extra scrutiny. Remember, it was the job of the IRS to scrutinize such applications and, their actions would have been improper ONLY if they looked at conservative groups while not looking at liberal groups. So it was revealed that the IG (who had been appointed by Bush) set up the audit – from the beginning – to make it look as though the IRS had acted improperly, because the IG had told the staff to not even LOOK to see if extra scrutiny was given to liberal groups. So when everyone looked back at ALL the IRS records, they found that the IRS had acted properly all along – it had EQUALLY scrutinized BOTH liberal and conservative groups.
So not only were the IRS and President Obama COMPLETELY cleared, but Darrell Issa joined the ranks of Ken Starr and Mike Nifong (Duke lacrosse prosecutor) and the credibility and legitimacy of the House Oversight Committee was so damaged that it will be extremely difficult for them to whip up any new political witch-hunts for the remainder of President Obama’s term. It just keeps getting worse for President Obama.
At the end of 2012, conservatives were liberally throwing around the word “impeachment” regarding "Benghazi." They had two (completely opposite) theories. One, President Obama intentionally put defenseless Americans in harm’s way. Then, when the attack began and help was on the way, President Obama told the reinforcements to “stand down” because he WANTED Muslim terrorists to kill Americans. Two, President Obama did NOT want terrorists killing Americans (so close to the election), so he trotted out Ambassador Susan Rice to say that initial reports from the intelligence community indicated that the killers were motivated by an anti-Muslim film, not by terrorism.
And again Darrell Issa over-promised. He assured the American public that he had the smoking gun to prove that President Obama violated his oath of office. But after conducting hearings upon hearings upon hearings, he had nothing. Anyone who studied the issue quickly saw that security was weak because of Republican cuts to the State Department’s diplomatic budget. And they saw it wasn’t four defenseless civilians who were killed. It was one ambassador and his information officer who were killed when the attack began and, they were defenseless because people at the compound could not repel the attackers as their weapons were locked in a separate building on the compound, a decision which would have been made locally, not by the President. And the other two who died, were from CIA security teams, one located a mile down the road which assisted that night and, the other in Tripoli which arrived the next morning. The two teams were engaged in heavily-armed combat with the attackers the following morning, when a man from each team was hit by mortar fire as both manned MK46 machine guns from the roof of the CIA Annex. They died fully-armed in battle, with no less dignity or accomplishment than the 5,000 Americans who died in Bush's war.
So security WAS present and security was never told to “stand down” and the security forces took out over 100 attackers while successfully protecting more than 30 other Americans, getting all safely to the airport for evacuation. And people who studied the issue found there was legitimate confusion as to the motivation of the attackers and that ultimately it didn’t matter WHY they had attacked. And that whatever could be said about this incident, could be said 3,000 times about Bush, who ignored security warnings prior to 9/11 and, 241 times about Reagan who left sleeping Marines in their barracks in Beirut, protected only by a fence of chicken-coop wire.
But in late October 2013, the show "60 Minutes" dropped a bombshell-report based on an eyewitness account, which renewed calls for impeachment. The eyewitness confirmed to reporter Lara Logan the worst aspects of the conservatives’ theories.
And then it was revealed that the witness had completely fabricated the entire story. He wasn’t even there. 60 Minutes knew he had told his employer he wasn’t at the compound that night (a fact they failed to disclose in their story), but they didn’t know he had sworn to the FBI on his mother’s grave and all things holy, that he wasn’t there, when he had been extensively interviewed by the FBI. And they failed to disclose that he had been given a book deal by a CBS-owned subsidiary, something which should always be disclosed as it creates a motivation for a “taller tale” that will sell more books.
And where are we now, on Benghazi, at the end of 2013? 60 Minutes retracted its story, apologized for it, cancelled the book deal and, put Lara Logan and her producer on a “leave of absence.” Combined with Darrell Issa over-promising a never-produced smoking gun and Issa’s severely-damaged credibility after his exposed intentional deception on the IRS investigation, people who utter, “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” have been sent with tinfoil hats to the corners of society with people who talk about “grassy knolls” and “Area 51.” (And this was all before the New York Times made a headline-grab this past weekend in a late attempt to claim credit for killing an already-dead story.) Another horrible ending for poor President Obama.
At the end of 2012, President Obama had seen only 160 of his federal judge appointments approved by the Senate, compared to 200 at the end of Clinton’s first term and 205 at the end of Bush’s first term, primarily as a result of Senate Republicans abusing the filibuster by employing it on a routine basis, something that had not been done to any previous president. By November 2013, 59 of President Obama’s nominees for executive branch positions and 17 of his nominees for judge seats were stalled in the Senate under filibuster. And at the same time the Senate was withholding approval of these nominees, critics were blaming President Obama for having only made 17 nominations to the federal bench at a time of more than 90 vacancies, ignoring the fact that appointments were futile in the face of certain and routine abuse of the filibuster by Senate Republicans. Republicans were even attempting to abolish the three vacant seats on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to keep President Obama from filling them with his choices.
And going into 2014, where does the Senate Republicans’ ability to filibuster President Obama’s appointments stand? Gone. Completely eradicated. On November 21, 2013, by a simple majority vote, the Senate voted to send the filibuster (as it pertains to non-Supreme Court presidential nominees) to the dust bins of history. This was a terrible 2013 outcome for President Obama because during the next year, he will be able to catch up all of the judicial and executive branch vacancies as he will now need approval of only 51 of the Democrats, while the 45 Republicans throw irrelevant tantrums.
Before 2013, neither Syria or Russia would admit that Syria possessed chemical weapons. President Obama had promised that if such weapons were used, the US would intervene in their civil war with punishing air strikes. During 2013, this was a constant issue hanging over President Obama and a very complex one, because while Russia and Iran and Hezbollah supported the Syrian regime, there were several completely-separate and different rebel groups opposed to the regime and one of them had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda.
And how did this all end for President Obama in 2013? Those who won’t give President Obama credit for ANYTHING, will argue over how we arrived at the end result. Regardless, the end result couldn’t have been any better for President Obama. Syria and Russia both finally admitted that Syria has such weapons. For the first time ever, Syria agreed to let UN inspectors come in and inventory the weapons, haul them out of the country and, destroy them. And Russia agreed, in front of the entire world, to be solely responsible for making sure it all happens.
People who hate President Obama won’t give him any credit for the economy. But we all know who they would blame if any of the economic indicators were going in the WRONG direction. Because we have seen them do it for 5 years.
At the end of 2013, gas prices are just above $3.00 per gallon, nowhere near conservatives’ predictions of “6.00 a gallon by summer.” The DOW was under 8,000 when President Obama took office. In 2013, it broke all records. And then broke them again. And again. Now it sits above 16,000. The S&P 500 has also doubled under President Obama, something that has happened under only four other presidents in the S&P’s 84 year history: Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. When President Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8% and on a STEEP upward trajectory. At the end of November 2013, the unemployment rate had fallen to a five-year low of 7%, with a four-month average of adding more than 200,000 jobs per month, compared to a three-month average of LOSING 510,000 jobs per month in the last three months of 2008 when Bush was president. The GDP was at a negative 0.3% in 2008 and continued in negative territory through the 2nd quarter of 2009, before President Obama’s stimulus programs turned it to positive growth in the 3rd quarter of 2009. It has remained at positive growth for every quarter since and, stood at stellar 4.1% at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2013. Our homes lost over $2 trillion dollars in value in 2008, but by the 3rd quarter of 2013, home prices had increased by the largest 12-month gain since February 2006. In 2013 the deficit dropped to a five-year low, to less than half of where it stood in 2009, the year which included the Bush TARP funds and finishing the previously-unfunded war in Iraq. The Consumer Confidence Index stood at 38.6% in December 2008. But at the end of December 2013, it had soared to 78.1%, the highest in five and a half years.
Yes, President Obama miserably failed at everything in 2013. Just ask anyone, anywhere. They all agree.