Obama's Vegas Values
President Obama's rhetoric frequently displays a moral posture, as if to ground his actions in values resonant with most Americans. It is all a sham, of course. The transcendent value of Barack Obama is power, and right now that means re-election.
An examination of his posturing on gambling in Las Vegas offers a fine example of his hypocritical moral posing. First, he hectored us. Here is what he said in 2009 when he was admonishing corporations who were receiving bailout money not to even think about business-related trips to Las Vegas:
"You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime."
A year later, Obama warned families against gambling away college tuition: "You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
There is an attitude of resentment toward those who are purportedly looting taxpayers with luxury vacations, and reprobation toward those who "blow" cash. This posture reinforced his strategy of the moment, directing public outrage over the Wall Street bailouts toward the entire class of the rich. His remark to a banker about being the one standing "between you and the pitchforks" proves that he was using moral rhetoric to reinforce his power. First he whips up the mob, then he offers protection, a familiar racket in Chicago. Recall that Saul Alinsky palled around with gangsters and learned from them.
The pose as champion of frugality, corporate parsimony, and parental financial responsibility has no basis in the actual policies favored by Barack Obama, of course. President Food Stamp's actual policies have made more people dependent on government handouts, which creates more Democrat voters, thereby enhancing his and his party's power.
But right now, power means winning the election. Nevada is a swing state with deep and serious unemployment. No doubt this is one reason why the First Lady and the Obama daughters recently had another of their trips there on taxpayers' dimes. So it should come as no surprise that his administration is now working to blow almost $5 billion dollars of taxpayer money (that is a lot of dimes) on a high-speed rail line that the Washington Post characterizes as a "gravy train" in an editorial that is critical of the Obama team's plans:
The Federal Railroad Administration is considering lending $4.9 billion to a company called Desert Xpress, for the purpose of building a high-speed rail line to Las Vegas from Victorville, Calif., some 81 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The brainchild of several wealthy Las Vegas casino moguls, Desert Xpress enjoys the backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and has already secured approvals from the Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service, among other federal and state agencies. It is pursuing about $1.6 billion in private financing.
All that's left is the Federal Railroad Administration's okay on the loan. According to a recent Associated Press report, the $4.9 billion loan would be three times as much as all previous lending by the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, a little-known pot of low-interest, long-term credit previously used mainly to upgrade existing lines.
The feds are trying to justify this, as they do so many of these types of schemes, as a jobs project that will reduce carbon emissions, pandering to both unions and greenies. The Post's editorial demolishes these rationales and is of the opinion that if the line is so valuable to casino moguls, they should spend their own money to build it. Money that could be spent upgrading existing railroad lines in heavily trafficked corridors should not be wasted on a line to the slots.
No doubt Senator Harry Reid would benefit, as would Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who is in a tough race against Republican Dean Heller for the Senate seat that opened up when John Ensign resigned (Heller was appointed to serve out Ensign's remaining term, ending this year). The Obama campaign is not raising money as rapidly as it did in 2008, so why not use taxpayers to fund the 2012 campaign?
The second part of Obama's posturing on familial frugality is no longer operative, either. Face it: gambling, or gaming, as industry professionals like to call it to remove the taint of "gambling," is a destructive activity for a significant share of its practitioners. Clark County, where Vegas is located, may benefit, but people bring their problems back home, and other counties have to pick up the pieces after people run into problems by gambling and losing too much money. Families do go on welfare now and then after gambling away their resources.
Where is Obama's compassion for this victim class? Where is the scorn for the capitalists (including Sheldon Adelson) who get rich as the oppressed victims of an addiction (disease victims!) suffer?
That particular moral posture is backstage, waiting in the wings for a second term, when he'll have more "flexibility" to bring about the "fundamental transformation" he laid out for us as his vision.
Big hat tip: Ed Lasky