RTCS

Views on the News

January 22, 2011

Views on the News*

Many conservatives fear that our President may be a radical Marxist ideologue, a loather of American values, a false Christian more likely to follow the Koran than the Bible, a slavish disciple of the odious Alinsky, but they may be right, but there is another possibility:  Barack Obama may be nothing more than a purely political animal, committed to nothing at all except his own fame, his own pleasure, and his own power. Grasping this possibility requires understanding that those on the "Left" are overwhelmingly nihilists hungry for power:  people who no more believe in Marx than they do in Moses, the Messiah, or market economies.   This was the common thread modern totalitarianism seen by great moral minds.  All the communist leaders used the lingo of Marx and the dreary themes of this savage bully to steal the wealth of the productive to enrich themselves. Power and wealth were not given to the workers; both were kept entirely by the Party.  Might Obama be just another political hack who has conned not only Middle America but also the few who really believe in Marx?  Analyses of Obama's life amid Marxist America-haters may tell us nothing, really, about the man.  Given his background, the clearest path to power was to play the racial socialist.  Pseudo-Marxists in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China spoke the babble of Marxism because its silly words and phrases were a code of recognition devoid of other meaning.  Obama portrayed radicalism because it was the easiest, fastest, and surest way to power. When we presume that our enemies or anyone with power believes in Marxism, then we might as well believe in unicorns and leprechauns because we give these people undeserved dignity.  Political hacks attack the American middle class because the Middle Class threatens their power.  They revile Judeo-Christian faith because conscience is too constraining.  If Obama is a hack, he will embrace whatever will help him politically, like the "Obama" Tax Cuts or to keep Gitmo open.  He will slither through ideological constraints to do whatever makes him popular.  He will gamely use those pathetic, dull clods who actually believe in Global Warming or capitalist exploitation by positioning himself so that they must support him in 2012, even with dashed hopes of revolution.  We would be silly to just assume that Obama believes the things he professes to believe because he is a liar; why trust liars?  Con men usually are empty shells, and Marxism is the ultimate con game.  Barack Obama has begun yet another process of reinvention on the road to reelection. The Republicans will do well to focus on the harm of Obama's Marxist policies, since voter dissatisfaction with his agenda remains high.  Republicans need to explain the crippling costs of the ObamaCare program and how it will harm our health care, but Republicans must go beyond ObamaCare and beyond proposing their own health care plans and they must critique the entire Obama agenda for the challenges to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

(“What if Obama isn’t an Ideologue?” by Bruce Walker dated January 17, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/what_if_obama_isnt_an_ideologu.html

Obama 2.0: The Reinvention Begins” by Ed Lasky dated January 18, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/obama_2o_the_reinvention_begin.html )

 

Obama merits praise for focusing on the victims at the Arizona memorial speech calling for an end to the political blame game, but the President has lost any credibility with his record of glowing rhetoric undermined by partisan actions by his party and his administration. The main thrust of his speech, however, confirmed the progressives’ take on the situation: that it was about what people can and should be allowed to say in public. The mass murder at Representative Gabrielle Giffords’s meet-up with her Arizona constituents was immediately politicized by progressive politicians and media figures, but it’s wrong to see this as an unusual event. It’s the way things are always done when progressives have any power to reach the public: everything is political. President Obama is doing his very best to take advantage of the situation. The politicization of all things is a tactic derived from the foundations of the progressive mentality and in fact necessitated by it. In the present case, an atrocity has been used as the pretext for arguing that progressives should be given even greater and more explicit control over what people can say in public, by giving the federal government additional power over the media. The hypocrisy of this campaign of vilification is obvious. One remembers the explicit calls among progressives for the assassination of President George W. Bush, and this very week countless people tweeted their desire that conservative political figure Sarah Palin be murdered. This sort of demonization of one’s enemies is not the exclusive property of any political position, but as the present instance demonstrates with charming vividness, it is the progressive movement that practices it most shamelessly. The actual cause of the attacks was never the point. Muzzling all opposition to the progressive agenda was the sole intent of the crusade. Thus the assault against the right intensified even as more evidence arose to characterize the attack as motivated by Loughner’s personal demons. The very point of their assault on free speech rights, after all, has been that the political right is uniquely responsible for the creation of a “climate of hate” that leads to violence and murder. The real purpose behind all this concern about hate: an effort to suppress opposition to the progressive agenda, through calculated media attacks and more government regulation. What has happened in the mainstream media has been about one thing and one thing only: politics, pure and simple, in pursuit of even greater power for the federal government, and luckily the American public saw right through this insincere charade and rejected this latest example of media malpractice.

(“Once Again, Progressives Prove Willing to Politicize Everything” by S.T. Karnick dated January 14, 2011 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/once-again-progressives-prove-willing-to-politicize-everything/ )

Martin Luther King would be disgusted at how his legacy is being used: liberal blacks use him to establish a double standard, a sort of "have your cake and eat it, too," while liberal whites prostitute his dream.  Fourscore and three years later, the liberal black man in America is still a prisoner. Liberal blacks are no longer "sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination," as King wrote; instead, they have become prisoners of their own minds. Today, if there is a shameful condition of the black man, it is a condition of the black man's own creation. There can be no argument that black people have advanced to the highest possible levels in America, and black liberals know in their hearts that the sky is the limit as far as the potential for black achievement is concerned.  Despite all the overwhelming examples of achievement by blacks, however, liberal black people still complain more than any other culture about America, calling America racist and saying that the black man is being kept down.   Black liberals are conditioned to complain, the same way a child does to get his way. Meanwhile, millions of illegal immigrants stream across our borders, happy to trade places with any American, and millions more line up legally to reach the same end. King would have still have a dream today:  He wouldn't want black people dependent on the government; and as before, King would want black people to get a fair chance at the American dream as promised by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. King's legacy extends beyond the gains made by blacks today, gains that are being squandered in a mad money-grab by leftist politicians both black and white.  King's legacy has manifested itself into a group hated by the left, as much as blacks were hated by the left back in the '60s - King's dream today would undoubtedly be a vision of Tea Party movement. King recognized the tyrannical nature of the government, and he would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Herman Cain, Allen West, and many others in an attempt to free not only blacks this time, but the entire nation from the very same government that was oppressing blacks during King's lifetime. King would recognize that the oppression of government had not ended, but only shifted in an attempt to seize the entire nation, morphing as a virus would in order to survive in its host. King would recognize the disease that has us discussing America's racism in a time when America has a black President and would understand that a government suing one of its states for protecting the American dream can only be a malady of the brain, or a blatant sign of a government intent on enslavement of its citizens.

(“King’s New Dream” by Kevin Jackson dated January 17, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/kings_new_dream.html )

This Obama Great Recession is worse than any prior because unemployment is higher for longer times since the Great Depression, and less people, as a percentage of adult Americans, are actively seeking jobs than any time in the last 25 years. The United States is suffering through a deep jobs slump that can’t be explained by the rest of the economy’s performance. Rarely since the Great Depression have wages fallen so far and so fast. Just like in the 1930s, it took a disastrous and transformative Presidency to make a "depression" out of "recession." Forces older than the 2008 financial meltdown added to the downward pull in mass affluence. Many workers, especially in manufacturing, were already racing up a down escalator in pay and benefits and their situation is masked by a housing bubble and easy credit that spun an illusion of wealth. Globalization and technological change march on and the economy has finally begun adding jobs again. The total number of unemployed in America today is at least 37.5 million, rising to over 65 million if the underemployed are included, out of 150 million potential workers.  However employment usually lags behind economic growth, but the jobs that are coming back pay less than they did before, and many are gone for good. Accelerating this downward mobility has been a further plunge in health care security. The number and percentage of Americans without health coverage have hit record levels, according to new Census data. The answer is not to erect trade barriers against countries competing fairly because that's futile. What makes most sense is retraining those lacking the hot skills, funding research that races the American economy toward the next big thing, and building an infrastructure that moves people and goods around in a time- and fuel-efficient manner. All these answers require an active government willing to spend money and carefully target tax incentives. Under Roosevelt, just as it is now and was during Carter, Fed policy was an explicitly Keynesian effort to correct unemployment, which didn’t work then and won’t work now. For corporate America, the Great Recession is over, but for the American work force, it’s not, and will take years to recover. The question is whether the newly elected government has the wherewithal and the conviction to make the needed changes to turn this country back around.

(“Going Down in an Up Economy” by Froma Harrup dated January 14, 2011 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/01/14/going_down_in_an_up_economy_108544.html

The Great Depression II” by Kirk W. Kelsen dated January 18, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/the_great_depression_ii.html

In Wreckage of Lost Jobs, Lost Power” by David Leonhardt dated January 20, 2011 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/business/economy/19leonhardt.html?scp=1&sq=wreckage%20of%20lost%20jobs,%20lost%20power&st=cse )

As New Jersey, New York, California and Illinois, the four with the highest insurance premiums on their bonds, face life without a compliant Congress to approve their pleas for more cash, they'll increasingly have to follow Christie's example and rein in their unions and bankruptcy, or something like that, may be the appropriate approach. Facing huge budget difficulties, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been showing other states how to survive by taking on the government-employee unions. Last month, he got a law passed to limit wage hikes from labor arbitrations between the state and public-employee unions to an average 2% annual increase. When the states come calling, the House must say, "No." What's more, it's time to amend the federal bankruptcy laws to create a procedure for state bankruptcies, allowing states to abrogate their municipal-union contracts from the school-board level on up. States, in bankruptcy court, should be able to reorganize their finances so as to put themselves back on a stable footing. Initially, municipal-bond buyers will protest the lack of federal assistance and may even deny states and localities access to the bond market at any interest rate. Once the states reorganize, they should be able to proceed normally, just as New York City did after its financial meltdown in the '70s. Such reorganizations needn't require any ongoing federal involvement and would let the states help themselves, giving governors and legislatures a third way out of their financial mess. Raise taxes, cut spending and / or alter union contracts. Each state would face the choice of whether to wallow in overspending or take steps to correct it. Fiscal necessity will have achieved what so many of us want -- a return of true local government. Some fear the U.S. Constitution prevents federal law from extending Chapter 9 to permit state bankruptcies because it would violate state sovereignty. Yet Chapter 9 is voluntary, so states would remain sovereign with merely the option of subjecting themselves to Chapter 9 constraints. Giving insolvent states the power to break their union contracts would alter dramatically the balance of political power all across the nation and government can be returned to the people.

(“To Save the States, Let ‘Em Declare Bankruptcy” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann dated January 15, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DickMorrisandEileenMcGann/2011/01/15/to_save_the_states,_let_em_declare_bankruptcy

The States in Crisis” By John Hood dated Winter 2011 published by National Affairs at http://nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-states-in-crisis )

 

The Democrats have been trying to transform America's energy industry at our expense and Obama appears willing to bankrupt the country to achieve his dubious goals. Petroleum and gasoline prices are surging while the Obama administration and its allies seem intent on making things worse. Instead of taking actions to increase supplies of petroleum and gasoline, the administration pursues policies to restrict U.S. access to its own petroleum, ban imports of vast quantities of Canadian oil, and drive up costs of refining. The Obama administration has tried to kill off the oil industry. Instead of taking actions to increase supplies of petroleum and gasoline, the administration pursues policies to restrict U.S. access to its own petroleum, ban imports of vast quantities of Canadian oil, and drive up costs of refining. Offshore moratoriums have been unilaterally imposed by executive orders and justified using scientific panel studies that were misrepresented by the administration. The drilling permitting process has been afflicted with sclerosis. Federal lands are becoming less and less available for development. Obama does not like carbon; he boasted during the campaign that he would bankrupt coal power plants and that his policies would necessarily boost the price of power. Those words were ignored by much of the media, in thrall to the man they so wanted to win. He tried and failed to get a cap and trade bill through Congress. He warned that if that effort failed he would do another end run around Congress and rely on his Environmental Protection Agency to do his dirty work. Gas prices are approaching $4 dollars a gallon, and this is not yet the summer driving season that typically boosts gas prices as demand increases. Democrats have been trying to change our power industry by changing the rules of the game and then using our tax dollars to enrich green schemers. The grand champion of spending boosts by Barack Obama and the Democrat Congress has been a 1014% boost in spending for the "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program."   Then there is something called the Green Jobs Labor Fund-which did not even exist prior to 2009 and has received hundreds of millions of dollars. Much of the stimulus money also went toward funding green schemes, and one of the major beneficiaries have been solar power promoters. The landscape of America will be littered with these green scheme boondoggles going belly-up after gorging at the pig trough filled by American taxpayer dollars. Another taxpayer subsidized solar cell maker shut down recently in New York, for example. Solar power subsidies have helped bankrupt the Spanish economy, and the very government officials who have peddled these schemes are backpedaling furiously to keep their jobs as their taxpayers rise in revolt. The government is slashing subsidies left and right, but may already be too late to save their economy.  Even the Spanish media have warned America that Obama is driving America off the green energy cliff.   Other European governments are slashing solar tariffs as fast as they can as they to save themselves from drowning in red ink. Larry Summer, his own resident genius, found severe problems with the "economic integrity of government support for renewables"? Only in Washington would a term such as ‘economic integrity" be used to describe a fiscally foolish program that will lead to massive problems in the future. This tsunami of bankruptcies is headed our way. A cloud is passing over many of the solar schemes, because they are inefficient boondoggles. They generate electric power at a cost vastly more expensive than electricity generated by natural gas (a relatively clean-burning fuel), hydro, coal, nuclear. The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are on a crusade to foreclose the use of these fuels to power our nation. The Democrats are "enemies" of natural gas development; want to blow up dams; kill coal; the EPA is on a rampage against Big Coal; and choke off nuclear power plants by stopping the development of a repository for nuclear waste.  Solar power plants are inefficient and cannot survive on their own, but instead, they survive by virtue of an IV flowing from taxpayers to tax-takers. Eventually, reality catches up to fantasy and they close. Much of the stimulus money, as well as the Department of Energy budget, went toward these renewable green energy schemes.  Darrell Issa, now chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will investigate these green energy projects and get to the bottom of how we have been ripped off by green schemers and their friends in high places. The government is a notoriously bad investor when it comes to clean energy and Barack Obama and his band of zealots have very little real world business experience, and seem to disdain free enterprise.

(“Obama’s Solar Nightmare” by Ed Lasky dated January 17, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/obamas_solar_nightmare.html

What’s driving the spike in gas prices?” by David Kreutzer dated January 19, 2011 published by The Orange County Register at http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/petroleum-284824-prices-energy.html )

 

The new GOP majority plans to champion a bill to repeal ObamaCare to prevent what is already happening in Massachusetts, where a similar health care bill was enacted in April 2006 and it is already imploding, from happening nationally. The only measure by which Massachusetts can be judged a success is the number of people enrolled in Medicaid and other government-subsidized insurance plans. In Massachusetts, of the 410,000 newly insured, three in four are either paying nothing or very little for their insurance. They've also been successful in continuing to pull down massive subsidies from Washington to support the overhaul, because spending has exploded. Medicaid, a problem in every state, is destroying Massachusetts. The health overhaul was really Medicaid expansion, and with the rolls up nearly 25% since 2006, Massachusetts is struggling to pay the bills. The other promises turned out to be bogus as well: despite the near-universal insurance, the state still spends $414 million on uncompensated care, an expense that Romney and his architects promised would disappear; emergency-room use has not dropped as predicted, but instead increased by 9%; and private employer insurance costs, far from dropping, have continued to increase. Health insurance premiums in Massachusetts are rising 5.8% faster than expected. While stopping short of the overt single-payer system openly desired by our President and many Democrat Congressional leaders, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) inarguably moves dramatically toward many of those same endpoints. The government is allocated overwhelming authority over most medical care and has an increasing influence on every medical decision and available option for patients:

·    To control the physician-referral pattern, the government manipulates payments to doctors in specialties of its choosing.

·    To limit the use of medical technology, government declares reimbursement rates for its use.

·    To control the use of diagnostic tests and therapies, the government dictates collected charges.

·    To control availability of innovative drugs, government decides what to pay for and what not to.

·    To limit the use of chronic care, government subsidizes end-of-life “discussions” with elderly patients.

·    And by crafting requirements about the composition, structure, and breadth of the health insurance that employers may offer, government restricts your choice of doctors and plans.

All of these may be rational activities of government when it is a direct payer, because government, as insurer, has the motivation to reduce its own payments for medical care. However none of these are in the interest of the patient since they are calculations often based more on economic than medical reasons. Medicaid and Medicare do not provide nearly as much “security” as is commonly thought. Medicaid patients are already refused care by almost half of doctors in metropolitan areas across America, with some cities far exceeding that figure. Despite the administration’s vilification of private health insurers, Medicare has a higher rate of claim refusals than the major private insurers. It is a damning indictment of socialized medicine that British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that the holy grail of nationalized health care, the British National Health Service (NHS), is broken and in need of fixing. Another milestone has been achieved now that over half (27) of the states have joined a lawsuit claiming that ObamaCare is unconstitutional. Clearly, government insurance does not equate with access to care; given that universal health care access is an unsustainable financial disaster, so expanding it seems nonsensical.

(“Has Massachusetts Experience Put Obamacare On a Path to Repeal?” by Sally C. Pipes dated January 12, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/559597/201101121838/Has-Massachusetts-Experience-Put-ObamaCare-On-A-Path-To-Repeal-.aspx

Obamacare Under Attack” by Scott W. Atlas dated January 17, 2011 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/257219/obamacare-under-attack-scott-w-atlas

U.K. vs. ObamaCare” dated January 18, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/560156/201101181901/UK-Vs-ObamaCare.htm )

From the early 1990s until the present, America has been essentially alone as the undisputed sole world power and this role has produced many successes and some not so successful efforts. During this Pax Americana, a nasty war broke out in Europe, genocide materialized in Africa and the United States was harassed and wounded by stateless Islamic terrorism. We also fought a war in Iraq that ended in a bloody armistice, requiring constant policing for more than a decade, and now we're in another expensive war. Meanwhile, our trade deficit is getting worse and our industrial base has been outsourced to Mexico, Vietnam and China. It has almost become a piece of conventional wisdom among some segments of the media and academia that America is declining and China is rising to take its place. The American Age is rapidly fading, the narrative goes, and the Chinese Age is dawning. One consequence of the new more multi-polar world will be that we won't be able to do things unilaterally anymore, but the question is whether we ever did anything unilaterally:

·    When the United Nations refused to authorize the use of force to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, we joined with our NATO allies to put an end to the bloodshed.

·    During the Persian Gulf War, America had that "grand coalition" to defeat Saddam Hussein.

·    During the second Iraq war, the "coalition of the willing" was smaller, but we were hardly flying solo.

In other words, American leadership is still the global norm. China clearly wants its moment in the sun, it doesn't seem particularly eager or able to lead:

·    They have 700 billion very poor people who are aging fast.

·    The country is shot through with corruption, bogus accounting practices that make subprime mortgage bundles look like gold bullion, and a political elite that remains terrified of democracy.

·    Even with its copycat stealth fighter, China is certainly less of a military threat to the United States than the Soviet Union was.

·    There big impact is economic, but currency wars are better than nuclear ones.

·    China is still governed by a fundamentally evil system.

The most important point is that China's rise doesn't reflect some grand failure of American foreign policy but its success. Drawing China into the global economic and political system has been a bipartisan foreign policy goal for generations. For the last century, America was the good-guy lead on the international stage. In that role, we relied on a broad arsenal, literally and figuratively, to help move the world to democracy and prosperity. The United States has enumerable advantages over China and other so-called rising powers that are often too little noted. We remain the only country that can project military power across the globe. It will be a long time until China can project military power even outside of the Asian sphere. We are the worldwide leader in “industries of the future” like nanotechnology and biotechnology, we have a fertility rate at or near-replacement, the American idea remains attractive to the downtrodden masses of the world, American popular culture is widely followed and desired across the globe, our welfare state may be problematic but it is nowhere as burdensome as many other countries, we do an excellent job of assimilating our immigrants unlike too many countries, and our universities are the best in the world and a source of great technological innovation as well as a magnet for the world’s best and brightest. This global leadership effort was hard, complicated and punctuated with surprising successes and unpredicted failures and the new normal of American leadership looks a lot like the old normal, and fortunately we are able and willing to continue this role.

(“America’s China syndrome” by Jonah Goldberg dated January 18, 2011 published by Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-goldberg-hu-20110118,0,1017628.column

The myth of inevitable American decline (and China’s rise)” by Jamie Weinstein dated January 20, 2011 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/20/thedc-analysis-the-myth-of-inevitable-american-decline-and-chinas-rise/ )

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

·  Bibliography at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/welc/bibliography.php

·  Politics at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/politics.php

·  Domestic Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/philosophy.php

·  Welfare at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/welfare.php

·  Asia at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/asia.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com