Views on the News
January 29, 2011
Views on the News*
Barack Obama: “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me,” but we won’t be fooled again! Will the man who conned the public into believing he was a moderate, but who has governed as the most immoderate leftist in the country's history, now try to pull the same con so he can be elected again? Recently Obama's approval rating turning up in large part because he didn't let the Bush tax cuts expire, enlisted cronies to help him appear more "business friendly" and paid lip service to regulatory reform. It's admirable to give people the benefit of the doubt in personal relationships, but we are talking about more than a personal relationship here and have a responsibility not to ignore the evidence. That evidence tells us that he is still an intractable left-wing ideologue committed to destructive progressive policy prescriptions. President Obama’s State of the Union address this year was unusually tepid, with even the Democrats looking unimpressed and disinterested. He even resurrected a 50 year old symbol of Soviet space leadership as a phoney crisis, but it is so far-fetched and disconnected from reality to have any value as a cause for change. His speech was so lackluster that the number of standing ovations was the least amount by any President in the last 25 years. If the State of the Union disappointed policy wonks, it's because the Obama Presidency has entered full campaign mode. His State of the Union was a road map to a second term. Obama’s State of the Union speech was the latest underachievement (failure) by the former “messiah” and a reflection that the American people no longer buy his story.
(“Our So-Called ‘Centrist’ President” dated January 24, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/560754/201101241859/The-Grand-Pivot-and8212-Whos-He-Kidding-.htm
“Obama Moving To the Center? Wanna Buy a Bridge?” by David Limbaugh dated January 25, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41373
“A Presidency to Nowhere” by Daniel Henninger dated January 27, 2011 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576106234062909502.html )
The idea that America's problem of governance is one of inadequate resources misses this lesson of the last half-century: No amount of resources can prevent government from performing poorly when it tries to perform too many tasks, or particular tasks for which it is inherently unsuited. Actually, government is not sufficiently demoralized. The hubris that is the occupational hazard and defining trait of the Political Class continues to cause government to overpromise and underperform. When new policies were proposed, the first debate was about whether the federal government could properly act at all on the subject. Today, there is no barrier to the promiscuous multiplication of programs, because no program is really new. It is an extension, modification or enlargement of something government is already doing. It is not government being "cut back" because of disappointments that reinforce themselves. Rather, it is government squandering its limited resources, including the resource of competence, in reckless expansions of its scope. Currently the federal government is funded by a continuing resolution. Congress has been so busy passing gargantuan legislation to expand government's responsibilities that it has not had enough time, energy or sense of responsibility to pass a budget. The Democrat Party is identified with this very public sector in which relative costs are rising. By contrast, the Republican Party is identified with the private sector where relative costs are declining. The public sector's involuntary tendency to become a concentration of stagnation is a reason for government to become more circumspect than it has been about the voluntary acquisition of vast new responsibilities, such as micromanagement of health care's 17% of the economy.
(“Hubris heading for a fall” by George F. Will dated January 20, 2011 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/19/AR2011011905000.html )
There are those in the Tea Parties who advocate compromise as the best tool for Republicans and Conservatives to take back control of politics, but while compromise between Conservatives and Libertarians, may well be a good idea, and certainly possible, the author failed to distinguish between them and Democrats and the Hard Left. The problem with compromise during the last half-century or so is that it almost exclusively involved Republicans supporting Democrat goals in exchange for those goals being moderated down. Recent events have shown that past compromises have led to the disastrous Democrat sweep of 2008. Therefore, material advantage and principle are effectively marching in lockstep. Abandon one and you abandon both. Working to achieve one requires you to work to achieve both. Now the nation has reached the point where the rule must be "no compromise, no surrender, no retreat." To do otherwise would return mean a return to the established policies of the last fifty years in which the slow march to a national demise continues, regardless of who is running things. At this time, we are at a point where action can still save the dying nation. The Democrat Party, ever promising restraint, does exactly the opposite, and ignores the lessons of the Great Depression. It follows the same, failed Keynesian based policies that do nothing to solve the underlying problem, while creating another; an even more massive debt. The Conservative / Libertarian approach of reduced regulation and reduced government spending is the proven remedy. The modern Left has decided that the role of government is to provide everything to everyone and to be all things to all people. This is an impossibility, fiscally and practically speaking. The government does have a proper duty to defend the nation and its people, but it has no such duty or realistic ability to provide everyone with a place to live, money and medical care. Attempting to do so will result in national bankruptcy. The time for compromises is past. The TEA Party was an integral part of the success of Republican candidates in 2010 and will continue to be in the future. One of the key issues for TEA Party activists is confrontation rather than compromise and any Republican compromise will divide them from the TEA Parties, because the Republicans would have shown themselves untrustworthy with respect to principle.
(“No Time for Compromise” by Steven D. Laib dated January 22, 2011 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2011/01/22/no-time-for-compromises/ )
The more time that the Mainstream Media devotes to attacking her is more proof that Sarah Palin is the Democrat’s worst nightmare and deserving of more conservative attention. Among the most astonishing phenomena of the current political scene in the U.S. is the relentless percussion of hatred, animadversion, revilement and outright dissimulation hurled against Sarah Palin, the mirror image of the orgy of adulation which Barack Obama enjoyed prior to his election and in the auroral days of his administration. The media have clearly gone beyond the limits of reason or propriety. Let’s enter the world of Sarah Palin for a moment:
· If she grants interviews to Oprah or Barbara Walters, she’s accused of wanting to be a celebrity; If she denies those interviews, she’s labeled a coward.
· If she’s quiet when viciously attacked, she’s accused of hiding; If she speaks up, she’s described as injecting herself into the story.
· If she addresses health care reform, bailouts, and QE2 via columns, Facebook, and Twitter, she’s accused of not engaging in unscripted conversations; In 2008, she was criticized by many for calling it like she saw it and going off script at campaign events.
· When she resigned as Governor, she was labeled a quitter; I assure you that if she hadn’t resigned, she would have been painted by many as a self-centered hypocrite who didn’t care about Alaska.
Many on the Left and Right are ready and willing to pounce on Sarah Palin’s every move. The question is why, and the answer is simple: She’s just a regular person like you and me:
· She’s a regular person who has managed to pack convention halls and book signings, to release two bestselling books, to launch a successful and unconventional television series, to boost the ratings of every television show she has appeared on – and she has done it all just by being herself.
· To top it all off, she’s, heaven forbid, happy.
· While running a city and a state, she managed to keep her values intact.
· She sustained a successful marriage and prioritized her children.
· She kept smiling and loving life.
· She even made time for those 5 a.m. runs.
What the Democrats and their supporters earnestly fear is not only that Palin may be around for the indefinite future, but that she is indeed potentially electable in 2012 and must be stopped at all costs. This is perhaps the principal motive for so libelous a spectacle as the left’s all-out debauch of vilification. To the business-as-usual politician and/or media hack, she’s simply maddening:
· They say she’s not smart enough. (Translation: She doesn’t speak our pretentious language.)
· They claim she’s too controversial. (Translation: She stands by principle, even when it’s unpopular.)
· They declare she’s not presidential. (Translation: She doesn’t play by our rules, and that scares the crap out of us.)
· They insist that her TV series proves she’s not a serious politician. (Translation: If she pulls a Reagan, we’re screwed.
Palin also has something else, something not possessed by previous targets. She has a following. All previous figures had their admirers, and Reagan led a movement. But none had or has what Palin has -- a large group of people who look up to her, who view her as an example and a role model, who bleed when she bleeds and hurt when she hurts. Palin’s work ethic, record of achievement, and commitment to principle inspire many ambitious Americans. The insecure feel the need to tear you down in order to lift themselves up. She continues to prove that she’s bigger and better than those who play dirty; that her family and her faith are her anchors, and that her commitment to principle is impervious to their constant digs. The “war against Sarah” is a clear indication of the feasibility of her candidacy for the presidency. The greater the fury and bluster and dissembling she is met with, the greater the likelihood that she poses a genuine threat. Back in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan was a wild-eyed right-wing conservative who could never be elected President and now Sarah Palin scares them so badly that Democrats feel they must attack her incessantly to stop her potential quest for office.
(“Why Sarah Palin Drives Them Wild” by Jedidiah Bila dated January 20, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41284
“The Disdain for Palin” by Christopher Chandrill dated January 25, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/that_disdain_for_palin.html
“Sarah in 2012?” by David Solway dated January 27, 2011 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2011/01/27/sarah-in-2012/
“Sarah Palin’s Way Forward” by J.W. Dunn dated January 28, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/sarah_palins_way_forward.html )
During the recent recession, the U.S. Congress passed two large economic stimulus programs and neither worked since they did not address underlying problems. President Bush’s February 2008 program totaled $152 billion. President Obama’s bill, enacted a year later, was considerably larger at $862 billion. After more than three years since the crisis flared up, unemployment is still very high and economic growth is weak. Why have such large sums of money failed to stimulate the economy? To answer this question, we must look at where the billions of stimulus dollars went and how they were used. Keynesian stimulus packages come in three basic types:
· In the first type, the federal government puts money directly into the hands of consumers hoping that they will use the money to increase their purchases of goods and services.
· In the second type, the federal government directly purchases goods and services, including infrastructure projects, equipment, software, law enforcement, and education.
· In the third type, the federal government sends grants to state and local governments hoping that those governments will use the funds to purchase goods and services.
Unfortunately there was no noticeable effect on consumption, because individuals used the money to shore up depleted bank accounts or pay off overextended credit card bills. Despite the large size of the 2009 act, the change in federal-government purchases it has generated has been remarkably small, or only 3% of the $862 billion spent. From the enactment of the stimulus in March 2009 to the third quarter of 2010, a total of $173 billion was issued to state and local governments to provide state and local governments with additional funds to enable them to boost their purchases of goods and services in tandem with federal purchases, but purchases declined with the initial reduction in revenues—and despite the addition of those $170 billion in ARRA grants, remained at this lower level throughout. The bottom line is that the impact of the ARRA grants on government purchases was negligible. The federal government borrowed funds that it mainly sent to households and to state and local governments. Only an immaterial amount was used for federal purchases of goods and services. The borrowed funds were mainly used by households and state and local governments to reduce their own borrowing. In effect, the increased net borrowing at the federal level was matched by reduced net borrowing by households and state and local governments. There was little if any net stimulus and the irony is that basic economic theory and practical experience predicted this would happen.
(“Where Did the Stimulus Go?” by John F. Cogan and John B. Taylor dated January 2011 published by Commentary Magazine at http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/where-did-the-stimulus-go--15610 )
The House GOP has proposed $2.5 trillion in spending cuts to the 2011 continuing resolution that is funding our government in lieu of a budget. In addition to eliminating funding for healthcare reform, saving $900 million, they're proposing ending federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cutting the federal workforce through attrition by 15%, and returning federal spending on everything except defense, homeland security, and vets to 2008 levels. After that, they created a list of additional specific cuts, and here are just a few:
· Sell excess federal properties. $15 billion total savings.
· Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings.
· Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings.
· Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings.
· New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.
· Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
· U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings.
· Eliminate duplicative education programs. $1.3 billion annual savings.
· Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.
· National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings.
· Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annual savings.
· Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.
· No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings.
· Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings.
· Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.
· Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.
· John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.
· Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.
· Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings.
· Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings.
· General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings.
· Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings.
· FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.
· Require the IRS to deposit fees for services it offers to the Treasury. $180 million annual savings.
· National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.
· National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.
Spending cuts like these are not going to get us there because reining in entitlements is what really needs to be done. What this list says is that people who are worried about the size and scope, and the massive spending of the federal government are not crazy.
(“100 Programs the Republican Study Committee Wants to Abolish or Cut” by John McCormack dated January 20, 2011 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/100-programs-republican-study-committee-wants-abolish-or-cut_536787.html
“GOP’s $2.5 trillion in Proposed Spending Cuts are Commonsense” by Mary Kate Cary dated January 21, 2011 published by US News & World Report at http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/mary-kate-cary/2011/01/21/gops-25-trillion-in-proposed-spending-cuts-are-commonsense.html )
Countries most often destroy themselves by refusing to gauge the consequences of their actions, but that blind spot creates a weakness and the bigger it gets, the more vulnerable the country becomes. America’s blind spot has been an unwillingness to recognize the economic cost of its social programs. American prosperity was built on the combination of vast resources, cheap labor, class mobility and few regulations creating a society with the shortest line possible between innovation and production. But as liberalism’s regulatory culture made everything from mining to manufacturing to employment more expensive, the old American economic miracles were no longer possible. The United States has not run out of money (even if it’s imaginary money at this point), but the line between innovation and production has become ridiculously elongated and convoluted. About the only place where it’s still possible to come up with a product and quickly get it to market is the internet—which is why it’s about the only healthy sector in the economy. America still has vast resources, a large population and a huge pool of talent, but its overregulation made companies think of it as a market, rather than a source of industry. Their solution was to move the industry and the jobs overseas, and then export the products manufactured there back to the United States. That way prices could stay low, while maintaining the illusion of a healthy economy. Outsourcing brought in cheap products, while further damaging America’s economy and destroying the ability of its workers to be able to afford to buy anything but those cheap products. China is not willing to be used as only a source of cheap labor or raw materials. Instead it insists that companies who buy raw materials from it also move their manufacturing there, which touched off the recent Rare Earths crisis. Like a predator that devours its prey in stages, the Chinese economy is consuming the American economy. The lure of cheap labor and cheap goods will vanish with growing prosperity and the weakening of the dollar. China has been America’s economic vampire, exploiting weakness and lassitude to replace the economy from the bottom up. Instead of going to war, it instead learned the lesson of capitalism, seducing and destroying American companies and consumers, beginning at the bottom and going all the way to the top. Liberal ideas of a post-national order led America to build up international organizations such as the WTO that have actually undermined America’s economic power. China and Russia are both post-Communist nations that turned into capitalist oligarchies. But while doing business in Russia is ridiculously expensive due to its kleptocratic regime which demands massive amounts of bribes from foreign companies, the PRC officials collect their bribes but understood that ultimate prosperity for them and everyone else will come about from economic growth. America has its own kleptocracy, the bribes are more subtle, but paying out union officials through a formally negotiated contract or donating to your local congressman in order to qualify for subsidies and tax breaks is also part of the cost of doing business in the kleptocracy that America’s formerly vital economy has been transformed into. The American economy was built on opportunity. Today its politicians speak about opportunity as if it were something doled out by the government, but actually opportunity is what happens when the government gets out of the way. The American Republic and then American democracy were built on a rising middle class. If the left succeeds in expunging that middle class, then America will become a straightforward tyranny. The political elite promised, in response to the damage that their bureaucracy was doing to the American economy, that the old kind of jobs weren’t needed anymore. Bureaucracy was a parasite on the back of American prosperity, growing all out of proportion until the mosquito was bigger than the man. But when the parasite is bigger than what it feeds off, both begin to die. Since American bureaucracy is tethered to social welfare and to otherwise “protecting” the public from various things, it has a constant moral impetus for growth that is not only detached from the available capital created by the economy, but at times its growth is actually in inverse proportion to the success of the economy. Rather than gauging the consequences of a growing bureaucracy contrasted with a diminishing industrial and manufacturing sector, the political elite instead allowed the jobs and the production to go overseas in order to maintain the system of regulations that they derived wealth, power and influence from. Obviously this couldn’t go on forever. With more and more people working for the government, there were only two ways to raise enough money to pay all of them: Either through domestic taxes or Chinese money. Trendy Krugmanite economics might cater to a generation of Western liberal politicians who refused to believe in absolutes when it came to ideas and numbers, but the PRC was pursuing an older and harder approach. To survive, America must dramatically reform. If it needs added incentive, all it has to do is look toward Europe to see the poverty and inertia that is headed its way. Within a generation, the American auto industry has gone the way of the British auto industry. Given another generation, we will have nothing but subsidized companies and a vast bureaucracy administering the dole lines. There will be free higher education, free health care, free everything, and it will be worth about as much. America will be nothing more than another market for Chinese products made and sold by Chinese companies that will not be cheap anymore.
(“The Chinese Dragon and the American Eagle” by Daniel Greenfield dated January 20, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/32314 )
* 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: