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Views on the News

Views on the News*

January 25, 2014

                            

The architect of “the most transparent administration in history”; a man who repeatedly promised the public that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, period”; the fellow who put it about that the slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, was caused by an internet video; the guy who has twice raised his right hand and sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of his ability while also announcing out of the other side of the orifice his intention to proceed with his agenda “with or without Congress - how can you take Obama man seriously - how can you trust him?  The brief answer is, “You can’t;” you can’t trust him.  He has willfully and repeatedly lied to the American people about all manner of things touching their vital interests.  It’s almost comical, or at least it would be if Obama’s behavior didn’t intrude so blatantly upon issues of individual liberty, economic dynamism, and national security.  On one hand, Obama has spent the last five years governing as if he were a dictator.  When he doesn’t like a law, he flouts it, “waiving” it without authority for groups he likes.  His Justice Department is dedicated to an agenda of racialist activism.  On the other hand, he never seems to be held to account.  The criticism never seems to stick; it bounces around in the echo chamber of conservative angst but never seems to penetrate into the broader consciousness.  It is astounding that Obama has weathered the scandal of Benghazi with only minimal damage.  It is strange how his deployment of the IRS as a political weapon can proceed without instigating widespread demonstrations.  Obama has blatantly lied about so many aspects of ObamaCare that no one believes him anymore.   He is aided by the inertia of affluence and stupefying national power.  The United States commands extraordinary resources, economically and militarily.  It takes time to degrade them.  The middle class is much worse off now than when Obama came in to office, and the country’s military might has been seriously diminished these last several years, but there is still a long way to go before the public will sit up and take notice.  By then, the damage will be irrecoverable and Obama will be long gone.  It is an increasingly dangerous place, and the U.S. is increasingly poorly equipped to respond with authority.  What we are witnessing is not only a concerted attack on the Constitution but also an assault on our way of life: our habits of individual liberty and free enterprise, our assumption of national security and global prerogative. 

(“Reveille?” by Roger Kimball dated January 18, 2014 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2014/01/18/reveille/ )

When Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20th, 2009, he had everything a President could dream of: a 70% approval rating, his party firmly in control of Congress and the media firmly in his back pocket.  The economy was in a recession, and the country was willing to try anything to get out of it.  His term was a blank canvas on which he could paint nearly anything.  Few Presidents assume office with the stars aligned so perfectly, but somehow, he managed to squander it all.  Rather than unite the country behind his agenda, President Obama insulated himself inside a bubble of extremist progressive advisors who’d had a wish list of radical policy proposals that had failed around the world.  There was no grand, inspirational push, not even any inspiring words about America itself.  What we got was a scolding.  We were unfair as a nation.  We needed a “fundamental transformation.”  American Exceptionalism was a thing of the past, a divisive force that needed to go into the trash in favor of the message of government salvation.  His rhetoric never matched his actions.  His political skill never matched the promise so many held for him.  He never bothered to engage Republicans, and he didn’t do much to reach out to Democrats either.  There was no great vision, we soon learned.  He either didn’t notice or doesn’t care that none of it has had the promised benefits.  Thanks to a lazy, complicit media and a public that genuinely wants him or any President to succeed the President had remained relatively popular in the polls.  The public simply didn’t associate him with his failures. But that all changed as ObamaCare began to come on line.  Now, a year into his second term, his credibility is completely gone.  All Presidents find themselves to be ordinary men in an extraordinary position when they take office.  Most, though, tend to grow, both in rhetoric and ideas.  They take on larger themes, express grander visions… even when they know those visions won’t be attained during their terms or even their lifetimes.  But President Obama has gone from big to small; from a grand vision of fundamental transformation to pot legalization.  He’s shrunk in office and shrunk the office as a result.  The Presidency can be acquired through charm and pretty speeches, but governing demands leadership, inspiration and more and it’s just not happening right now at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

(“Shrinkage: Obama’s Second-Term Disaster” by Derek Hunter dated January 23, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/derekhunter/2014/01/23/shrinkage-obamas-secondterm-disaster-n1782964 )

 

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again.  Words seem to carry far more weight than facts among those liberals who argue as if rent control laws actually control rents and gun control laws actually control guns.  It does no good to point out to them that the two American cities where rent control laws have existed longest and strongest, New York and San Francisco, are also the two cities with the highest average rents.  Nor does it make a dent on them when you point out evidence, from both sides of the Atlantic, that tightening gun control laws does not reduce gun crimes, including murder. It is not uncommon for gun crimes to rise when gun control laws are tightened.  Minimum wage laws are another issue where the words seem to carry great weight, leading to the fact-free assumption that such laws will cause wages to rise to the legally specified minimum. Various studies going back for decades indicate that minimum wage laws create unemployment, especially among the younger, less experienced and less skilled workers.  It is surely no coincidence that those few places in the industrial world which have had no minimum wage law, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have consistently had unemployment rates down around 3%.  It is also no coincidence that, during the last administration with no federal minimum wage, the Coolidge administration, unemployment ranged from a high of 4.2% to a low of 1.8% over its last four years.  Economic equality was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term "socialism," and those communities all collapsed.  It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony.  People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.  Kirsten Powers repeated the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work, but there have been empirical studies, going back for decades, showing that there is no such gap when the women and men are in the same occupation, with the same skills, experience, education, hours of work and continuous years of full-time work.  Income differences between the sexes reflect the fact that women and men differ in all these things, and more.  Young male doctors earn much more than young female doctors, but young male doctors work over 500 hours a year more than young female doctors.  Then there is the current hysteria which claims that people in the famous "top 1%" have incomes that are rising sharply and absorbing a wholly disproportionate share of all the income in the country, but check out a Treasury Department study titled "Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005." that uses income tax data, showing that people who were in the top 1% in 1996 had their incomes fall by 26% by 2005.  All too often when liberals cite statistics, they forget the statisticians' warning that correlation is not causation.  When statistics showed that black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants, the media went ballistic crying racial discrimination, but whites were turned down almost twice as often as Asian Americans, and no one thinks that is racial discrimination.  When words trump facts, you can believe anything; and facts are not liberals' strong suit; rhetoric is.

(“Fact-Free Liberals” by Thomas Sowell dated January 21, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2014/01/21/factfree-liberals-n1781568

“Fact-Free Liberals: Part II” by Thomas Sowell dated January 22, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2014/01/22/factfree-liberals-part-ii-n1781570 )

While 50 years ago the federal government declared War on Poverty, but in recent years the government has led an undeclared but real new war: a War on Work. The government increasingly is using its coercive powers to punish people who want to work, creating a vast class of able-bodied Americans dependent on the government, and politicians, for their daily bread.  The statistics are startling. A smaller proportion of working-age Americans works today than when the recession officially ended 4-1/2 years ago (June 2009).  This trend is not just a failure of policies to encourage economic recovery, such as the stimulus package and the ineffective, highly expansionary Federal Reserve monetary policy.  While a vast number of government policies cause a decline in work, let me mention just six:

·    Extended Unemployment Benefits - You pay people not to work, and many respond accordingly.  Democrats want to re-extend unemployment benefits by 73 weeks, preventing the creation of many jobs and elongating the duration of unemployment.

·    Food Stamps - If the government subsidizes the purchase of life's most critical essential, food, it reduces the need to work and the number of Americans receiving food stamps has exploded in the last five years.

·    Higher Taxes on Workers - There is overwhelming empirical evidence that high income taxes impede economic growth, and people are voting with their feet migrating from the 41 states with state income taxes to the nine states that do not tax work income.

·    Social Security Disability - At a time when health care is improving, and more Americans work in relatively less-risky nonindustrial settings, there has been an explosion in the number of people paid not to work because of alleged inability to do so.

·    Federal Student Financial Aid - From 2002 to 2012, total student federal aid more than doubled, going from $83 billion to $170 billion, yet large portions of those recipients never graduate, and many that do are truly under-employed.

·    Minimum Wage - Minimum wage laws cause unemployment, and empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows that they kill jobs for the most vulnerable unskilled workers.

No nation ever achieved greatness when vast portions of its productive workforce were idle, and America will not regain its economic vitality until it ends this War on Work.

(“Federal Government Hs Declared War on Work” by Richard K. Vedder dated January 17, 2014 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-perspective/011714-686845-government-punishes-work-rewards-dependency.htm )

If President Obama would get out of the way, our national debt could be dramatically reduced and hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created in the nation’s energy sector, leading to the expansion of its manufacturing sector and still more jobs.  The federal estate contains vast energy resources, but the federal government allows energy production on a very small percentage of taxpayer-owned federal lands.  The Interior Department has leased just 2% of federal offshore areas and less than 6% of federal onshore lands for oil and gas development.  Pro-development policies would fuel a renaissance in manufacturing as lower energy prices would reduce out-sourcing and attract manufacturers to build and expand facilities in the U.S.  One factor stands in the way of this brighter economic future and that is President Obama and those who direct the work of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior which has slowed the provision of leases to energy companies to expand the discovery and extraction of energy resources.  Obama has delayed the construction of Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would generate jobs to build it and jobs resulting from it.  Energy industries already send $85 million a day to the U.S. Treasury in income taxes, royalty payments, and other fees.  It was Obama who wasted billions in loans to wind and solar companies that went into bankruptcy shortly after receiving them.  In 2011, wind power produced 1.2% of the energy used in the United States, solar power produce 0.1% and hydroelectric power contributed 3.3% of the total energy used.  Solar and wind energy is unpredictable and require back-up from traditional electrical energy plants.  Today, there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States and construction began for all of these reactors prior to 1974.  Thanks to the EPA 153 coal-fired plants have been shut down!  The Obama administration’s justification for its policies is the bogus claim that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for “global warming” or “climate change” when it plays NO role whatever regarding the Earth’s climate.  Obama has been waging a war on America’s energy needs and the benefits that would result from its expansion, but until Obama leaves office and voters remove the opponents of the nation’s energy sector, the enormous benefits to Americans in jobs and debt reduction will not occur.

(“Obama’s War on U.S. Energy” by Alan Caruba dated January 19, 2014 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/60553 )

 

Everyday Americans will now experience the unfolding and worsening train wreck called ObamaCare, now that its major provisions became operative on January 1st.  The twin objectives of ObamaCare are to provide near-universal health care coverage while reducing costs and ObamaCare will manifestly fail on both counts, as costs increase for millions of Americans, and the number of uninsured rises sharply from 47 million (including illegal immigrants, who are exempt from ObamaCare's mandates).  Anyone can now demand coverage at any time under the guaranteed-issue provision.  When the insurance company makes the required offer under the community-rating provision, the monthly premiums must be virtually the same for everyone in the local area.  Only four factors such as age and tobacco use are accounted for, but otherwise everyone is forced to pay the same, regardless if they are a marathon runner who never drinks or a morbidly obese drug addict.  If you refuse to purchase this insurance, you pay a tax penalty of $95 or 1% of taxable income, which over time increases to $695 or 2.5%, respectively.  Most young, healthy Americans will pay that penalty vs. $5,000 or more for an annual policy.  Young people by the millions will decline to pay into this system.  Many doctors will decline both new Medicaid patients and Medicare patients, because ObamaCare's reimbursement rates are too low.  Americans will have fewer medical options or willing providers.  ObamaCare subsidies only flow through state-run exchange policies, and are the only trigger for employer-mandate liabilities. So businesses will gravitate to states that eschew exchanges to avoid this mandate.  Young professionals with growing families will follow those businesses for job opportunities.  Newer doctors will flock to those states for growing businesses and paying patients, and also because those states are the ones refusing to expand Medicaid.  Government safety nets work only when relatively few people are in those nets. You cannot expand it to cover everyone and make it work.  President Obama will veto any comprehensive repeal legislation.  Americans trust freedom over bureaucracy. After several years of ObamaCare's increasingly bitter medicine, if Republicans offer Americans a true philosophical choice, they will give us a chance in the House and Senate, and after that the White House.

(“How the GOP Should Handle the Implosion of ObamaCare” by David M. McIntosh, J. Kenneth Blackwell, and Kenneth A. Klukowski dated January 22, 2014 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/012214-687210-republicans-can-improve-health-care-with-capitalism.htm )

 

The most misused buzzword of the 21st century is Sustainability, because it sounds good, but the problem is, the word has two very different meanings.  For most of us, sustainability, with a small “s”, means to make something last for a long time.   This is not the definition when government uses the word, as it is may better be described as Sustainability with a Capital “S”, and it is a socio-economic movement that promotes increased government control over the factors of production: Land-Labor-Capital, all in the name of saving the planet and promoting social equity.  For those of you that are students of politics, this is also known as Marxism.  In fact, 21st century Sustainability might better be described as a hybrid of anti-free-market capitalism, radical environmentalism, and pro-socio-fascist-Marxist doctrine.  Whenever government talks about Sustainable Communities, simply substitute the words, “Government Approved.”  The adjunct implementation buzzword for Sustainable Communities is “Smart Growth.”  Critical premises of Smart Growth are not the product of science or wisdom.  They are unproven products of pop-culture politics and wishful thinking.  Consider three examples.  Smart Growth assumes residents will choose to live adjacent to huge office parks in order to reduce commuting and traffic.  In the real world, there is little evidence to support this.  People choose their neighborhoods for a variety of personal lifestyle reasons.  Second, government asserts that Smart Growth will improve a jurisdiction’s tax base. Empirical evidence shows that dense low-cost housing does not produce enough tax revenue to pay the cost of critical services.   If the low-cost units are occupied by non-working recipients of government housing subsidies that pay little or no taxes, the local government suffers a double whammy…. fewer property taxes and fewer income taxes.  Third, dense stack’m and pack’m subsidized housing initiatives are cleverly disguised with euphemisms, including inclusive housing, workforce housing, MPDUs, and HUD block grants.  Empirical evidence suggests these programs have problematic outcomes when buyers who have failed to establish a track record of personal financial responsibility cannot afford upkeep and maintenance within their neighborhoods.  Smart Growth is intellectually dishonest and unwise.  It tramples private property rights by changing the fabric of communities with empty promises to improve our quality of life, unsupported by evidence.  Crime is also more likely to increase.  After years of observing effects, I am quite confident I have finally discovered the answer as to what constitutes a so-called healthy, better balanced, sustainable community.   Politicians and urban planners, re-engineer communities to promote social equity, with low cost affordable housing because they tend to attract citizens dependent on government services with left leaning voting proclivities.  In other words, a healthy, better balanced, sustainable community is one that contains more left-wing voters.  There are two types of people in the world.  The first type includes developers, engineers, and business owners that turn dreams into reality.  The second type includes urban planners and liberal politicians and they try to convince us that the nightmare should be our dream.

(“Sustainability, Smart Growth, and Other Nightmares” by Richard Rothschild dated January 19, 2014 published by American Clarion at http://www.americanclarion.com/sustainability-smart-growth-nightmares-27465 )

 

The Two-State Solution is dead and all that remains is for the U.S. to declare it so.  Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas made it crystal clear that he would never abandon the "right of return", would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state and would never make a deal unless East Jerusalem was given to the Palestinians as their capital, all of which cross Israel's red lines.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yaalon, and many Israelis are quite comfortable with maintaining the status quo.  Not everyone embraces the status quo.  They fear Israel's further isolation and delegitimization.  They all want to annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but differ on what to do with the Arabs that live there.  The goal is for Judea and Samaria to be under Israeli sovereignty.  It was acquired legally in a bloody, defensive war.  The vision of the Greater Land of Israel must apply sovereignty in all of the territory.  They must begin a gradual process of 25 years under the heading of 'annexation-naturalization'.  Providing the Palestinians with permanent residency and the right to apply for citizenship is not a perfect solution and will damage Israel on certain levels, but it is absolutely clear that it is better than establishing a Palestinian state. Such a state would be the ruin of Israel.  Kerry for his part has resorted to threatening Israel with dire consequences should she not capitulate.  In the United States, just as in Israel, there are millions of people who understand that the 'Two-State' solution is a disaster, and they are just waiting for someone to tell them that they can abandon it.

(“The Two-State Solution is Dead” by Ted Belman dated January 18, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/01/the_two-state_solution_is_dead.html )

Over the years, Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the redistribution of wealth, is central to her beliefs and that her regard for capitalism and the free market economy of America is nil.  The election of Hillary Clinton would be an extension of the two terms of Barack Obama and, if possible, worse.  Eight years later, having served as his Secretary of State, she will share his growing disapproval as ObamaCare unfolds as the perfect namesake of the worst President the U.S. has ever known.  Hillary may decide her time has passed and elect to avoid the ordeal of a presidential campaign even if the Democrats gave her the opportunity.  Her long career in the public eye has been filled with scandals and failures, not the least of which was her early advocacy of “HillaryCare.”  When her husband was President, she was put in charge of developing a plan to take over the healthcare sector despite the fact that she was not an elected official, but merely his wife.  It was overwhelmingly rejected.  The most astonishing thing about the 2016 elections is that the Party still regards her as the sole candidate to run for the Presidency even as 2014 Democrats seeking reelection are fleeing the disastrous failure of ObamacCare and the huge debt that Obama imposed on the nation.  Some political pundits will be inclined to dismiss Hillary as too old to run, that her agenda would not stand up to examination, that she would be in effect Obama’s third term, or that her record as Secretary of State is littered with lies and failures.  Democrats do not vote based on such things, but instead out of a nostalgic attachment to its past, to its message of fairness and equality, out of concern for its false “war on women”, “income inequality”, and the accusations leveled against the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement.  Democrats will be driven by the belief that it is time for a woman to be President, no matter how awful her qualifications or political beliefs.  This is also a belief of the nation’s leftist media and the momentum of news coverage about Hillary will be orchestrated by her.  Hillary has left a long record of scandals in the course of her “public service.”  The most recent was the lies about the killing of an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi on the 2012 anniversary of 9/11.  Nowhere during the course of her service as Secretary of State is there a single major international treaty or significant accomplishment.  Her tenure is marked by the severe loss of respect for America and its influence over foreign affairs.  Like Obama, Hillary never recalls anything involved with her past.  She knew nothing.  She was the victim of others around her.  It’s all a right-wing conspiracy.  The real conspiracy has been the takeover of the Democrat Party by the far Left and its elected office holders who appear to have no regard for the decline of the nation thanks to their relentless spending and borrowing.  Hillary Clinton has been among the most relentless of all Democrats, concerned only with her determination to become the next President and for the acquisition of wealth that puts her and Bill firmly in the one percent of the extremely wealthy that Democrats and liberals defame.  A significant defeat in 2014’s midterm elections will influence her decision, and a lot can happen between now and 2016. Even the mainstream media’s fixation on getting her elected may decline.

(“The Relentless Hillary Clinton” by Alan Caruba dated January 20, 2014 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/60585 )

 

* 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:

· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php

· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php

                                      

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com