Views on the News
February 12, 2011
Views on the News*
Ronald Reagan had the vision and character to confront the great issues of his time, which equipped him to effect a sea change in policy while enduring the criticism that naturally comes when leaders steer a fundamentally new course. All of President Reagan’s actions were founded on the fundamental philosophy that freedom is a powerful and effective tool for change. Each piece of his policy agenda was dependent on the idea that freedom was the answer to the problems facing the United States and the rest of the world. On the domestic front, he knew that generations of uncontrolled government expansion had taken its toll on personal freedom. He redefined a national dialogue that seemed incapable of recognizing overweening government as part of the problem rather than the solution. In the face of seemingly incurable inflation, he broke with his predecessors and supported tight money policies, weathering short-term pain for the sake of the nation's long-term economic health. He pushed sweeping tax cuts and trade policies that helped lay the foundation for years of prosperity. It’s impossible to separate President Reagan’s foreign policy from his economic principles and his vision of American society. Utilizing his mastery of rhetoric and communication, he instilled in the American psyche a belief that the Cold War was winnable because, after all, the American people could accomplish anything. In turn, the economic recovery provided the resources needed to out-build and stare down the Soviet military. Reagan's greatest achievement came in foreign policy, where the Cold War was won without a World War III. Here too he departed from the more defensive posture followed by predecessors of both parties. The Soviet economy, in his view, was weaker than most experts (including in the CIA) believed, and that weakness should be exploited. So he went on the offensive, waging an aggressive arms race and pushing for democratic reforms that precipitated Soviet collapse. The opposition to his defense policies was intense--the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in particular was widely lampooned--but Reagan's determination led the Soviets to back down. With the Soviet collapse that followed came the collapse of communist systems throughout Eastern Europe, freeing millions of people from totalitarian rule. For Reagan, the time for appeasement was over; the time for American greatness had returned: “With faith and courage, we can perform great deeds and take freedom’s next step,” he said. “And we will. We will carry on the tradition of a good and worthy people who have brought light where there was darkness, warmth where there was cold, medicine where there was disease, food where there was hunger, and peace where there was only bloodshed.”
(“Reagan was vindicated much sooner than he expected” by Frank Scaturro dated February 5, 2011 published by The Washington Examiner at http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/02/reagan-was-vindicated-much-sooner-he-expected
“Reagan’s Foreign Policy Legacy” by John Heubusch dated February 6, 2011 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/reagan%E2%80%99s-foreign-policy-legacy/ )
Top GOP oversight official Congressman Darrell Issa asked 150 industry groups which of President Obama’s regulations that impede economic growth. Regulatory agencies enact more than 3,500 new regulations in an average year. Compare that with Congress, which passes fewer than 200 pieces of legislation per year. Only Congress has the power to legislate in the American system of government, but Congress never actually votes on most regulations. This is regulation without representation, and it is a major problem. Regulation without representation is a major reason why the Code of Federal Regulations has ballooned to 157,000 pages and counting. It makes it far more difficult to do business and is slowing economic recovery. On Monday, Issa released 1,947 pages of almost unreadable letters from a slew of trade associations specifying complaints on government regulations that reach almost every part of American industry. Those letters are important because millions, sometimes billions, of dollars are at stake to businesses that drive the American economy. From more than 100 different new regulations either proposed or finalized by the Obama administration, these are the five business groups hate the most, based on the number of separate organizations that wrote Issa to recommend he look into them:
1. EPA climate change regulations - Though cap and trade was defeated in Congress, the EPA is sprinting to finalize its own regulations that would mandate reduced carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gasses” scientists think are warming the planet.
2. OSHA’s “occupational noise” regulation - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed a new regulation that would have put strict new regulations on the volume of noise experienced by workers on the job.
3. EPA’s new restrictions on ozone pollution - Like the climate change regulations, this regulation is another rule on air pollution under the Clean Air Act.
4. Implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill - Industry groups raised concerns about 20 separate provisions in the Dodd-Frank regulation that the Obama administration is currently implementing.
5. EPA’s new training requirements for renovation projects - To address the lead based paint health issue, the EPA has required extensive training for workers before they complete renovation projects on any buildings built before 1978.
The total cost of federal regulations last year was over $1.75 trillion which well exceeds the $1.5 trillion budget deficit that has gotten so much more attention. Since industry concerns were ignored when these regulations were passed, what do we think has changed so that President Obama will do anything after the fact?
(“The top five Obama regulations that American businesses hate most” by Jonathan Strong dated February 8, 2011 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/08/the-top-five-obama-regulations-that-american-businesses-hate-most/
“Regulation Without Representation” by Wayne Crews and Ryan Young dated February 8, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/562532/201102081909/Regulation-Without-Representation.htm )
Republicans are off to a rocky start re-taking control of Congress, and their inability to live up to the “Pledge to America” many be a harbinger of more disappointments to come. Scarcely a month after being handed control of the U.S. House, Republicans are already losing sight of why they were given another chance. In retreating from their commitment to cut $100 billion from the budget the GOP is demonstrating a fundamental but all too familiar lack of courage. The party that in 1994 would abolish the Department of Education now brags that it is outspending the White House when it comes to education. Fiscally conservative Republicans swear eternal fealty to farm subsidies generally, but, even worse, to ethanol subsidies in particular. Since the rise of the Tea Party, many Republicans have rediscovered fealty to the Constitution. Where in the Constitution is the authority for farm programs? That means any serious attempt to cut federal spending is going to require Republicans to take on their own constituencies. Farm subsidies will provide an early test of whether Republicans convince their own constituencies that cuts in spending in their districts is good for the country. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Senator, has proposed a “modest” $500 billion spending cut, eliminating departments and severely cutting back on others and not including any required entitlement reforms. Republicans have thus far refused to address the entitlement behemoths of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – ticking time bombs that pose even graver dangers to our nation’s long-term solvency.
(“Republicans are Weak on Farm Subsidies” by Michael Tanner dated February 9, 2011 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/259294/republicans-are-weak-farm-subsidies-michael-tanner
“Going Gingrich” by Howard Rich dated February 10, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/HowardRich/2011/02/10/going_gingrich )
The Obama administration is waging a stealth attack on fossil fuel energy production, undermining United States energy independence and willfully raising energy prices to subsidize immature alternative energy development. The United States Congress is solely responsible for America's energy crisis and the high costs of fuel. While restricting access to American sources of petroleum for years, Congress has been throwing billions of American tax dollars at alternatives to petroleum. Following decades of "investment," alternatives still supply less than 4% of our energy needs. Continual increases in world demand for energy alone guarantees that alternatives will remain a minor part of energy supplies for very long time. The alternate and new sources of energy that politicians favor are too costly, too inefficient or too far in the future to have a meaningful impact on today's requirements. Congress subsidizes corn ethanol despite the market shortcomings and environmental issues with ethanol. Politicians and special interests tell us that a newer, increasingly fashionable ethanol scheme, biomass technology, shows promise. An administration that has no respect for Congress, the courts or the Constitution, has been found in contempt for reissuing a drilling moratorium that a U.S. district judge found overly broad. The Obama administration's trouble with the courts has continued with a judge's ruling that the Interior Department's reinstating of a drilling moratorium followed by a de facto moratorium via an overly restrictive permitting process constituted contempt. The drilling moratorium was groundless on both the law and the facts. The moratorium is driven by ideology and not safety. Its purpose was to further the administration's war on domestic energy production, including a seven-year ban on offshore drilling off both coasts and the eastern Gulf. It includes putting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits and designating oil- and gas-rich Alaskan waters as critical polar bear habitat in the face of an exploding bear population. It continues to place energy-rich lands in the West off-limits in a nation starved for energy and jobs. "Each step the government took following the court's imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance," the judge said in his ruling. "Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second moratorium …provides this court with clear and convincing evidence of its contempt." Successive smack-downs by the courts on ObamaCare's health insurance mandate as unconstitutional are a result of its overreach. The EPA has claimed unto itself the power to regulate carbon dioxide, a byproduct of human and animal respiration and the basis for all life on earth, as a pollutant. The EPA's dangerous policy is based on flawed science that contradicts the intent of Congress, usurps its power, and its authority must be stopped. It is not so much that the administration differs with the law, but it considers itself above the Constitution.
(“White House’s Contemptible Drilling Ban” dated February 4, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/562250/201102041911/White-Houses-Contemptible-Drilling-Ban.htm
“Energy Dollars and Sense” by Jerry Shenk dated February 6, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/energy_dollars_and_sense.html
“Stop EPA’s Energy Tax” dated February 10, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/562838/201102101907/Stop-EPAs-Energy-Tax.htm )
The Obama administration has botched relationships across the Middle East, and has undermined any credibility and trust that the United States once enjoyed. After two years of his Presidency, Obama has defined a doctrine aimed at reducing America from "superpower" to "also-ran." By shunning allies and empowering enemies, by reducing military strength, Obama is reducing our ability to protect allies and pursue interests abroad. Given his record, it's no longer possible to accuse Obama of naivete: He is at work pursuing his goal. Objectively the Middle East in the first two years of his term has not been one of his triumphs:
· The Iranians have continued full speed ahead toward getting nuclear weapons. Though the administration deserves credit for getting higher sanctions through the UN, these have not actually affected the problem.
· The Israel-Palestinian peace process, partly through Obama's mismanagement, has fallen completely apart.
· Lebanon has been taken over by a Hezb'allah-dominated government with Syrian and Iranian tutelage.
· Hamas's control over the Gaza Strip has been stabilized and entrenched due to U.S. policy mistakes.
· Turkey has continued to drift toward the Iran-Syria bloc and disregarded U.S. interests without costs.
· The policy to moderate Syria has failed completely while Damascus is both confident and more aggressive.
· Pakistan seems more and more unstable while not being particularly helpful toward U.S. counterterrorist efforts.
· Obama's charm offensive toward Islamism has yielded no benefit for U.S. interests.
· The Obama Administration's rush to push out Mubarak's regime has created a very dangerous situation that might spread to other countries.
Generally, U.S. friends in the region are distressed, doubting they can trust in America's protection; U.S. enemies are encouraged, believing America is weak and in retreat. It's a bit more complex to assess the two U.S. war zones:
· U.S. forces have been largely withdrawn from Iraq, though this was in large measure made possible by the surge that Obama opposed and ridiculed and Iraq's governmental situation is in something of a mess.
· No progress has been made in Afghanistan while there are dangerous hints of U.S. concessions to the Taliban, while U.S.-Afghan governmental relations are quite rocky.
Well, nobody said it would be easy (actually a lot of the Obama people and their supporters did say it was going to be easy). It is barely possible to ignore all the above points; hard to distort them into something positive; tempting to blame the predecessor or other countries. So what are some implications:
· Israel will not take risks or make concessions based on this administration's promises because it doesn't keep its promises or its commitments. The Administration is only proving the ineptness that Israelis already expected.
· The same applies to the Palestinian Authority who also don’t believe the U.S. government is going to protect it from Hamas.
· Likewise the Saudis and Jordanians don’t believe America will protect them from Iran.
· There is little likelihood that the democratic oppositions in Lebanon and Turkey and Iran believe the United States will help them much like they did in Egypt.
The fact that Obama has lowered the U.S. profile in the Middle East has not only frightened friends and galvanized adversaries; it has created a vacuum in which every actor, friend and foe, feels free to ignore Washington’s wishes. Unintentionally, the mistakes of the Obama Administration have become a factor spreading the power of radical Islamist movements. In two short years, "hope and change" have taken us from "peace through strength" to weakness that will embolden our enemies everywhere. These are not partisan statements and the Middle East cannot afford to ignore them, but until there is a United States regime change they must live with this reality.
(“The Obama Administration and the Middle East: A Half-Time Assessment” by Barry Rubin dated February 6, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_obama_administration_and_t.html
“Obama’s Pattern of Shunning U.S. Allies” by Jed Babbin dated February 7, 2011 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/02/07/obamas_pattern_of_shunning_us_allies_108799.html
“The Wages of Weakness” by Lee Smith dated February 14, 2011 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/wages-weakness_541427.html )
Contrary to the media narrative the core elements of the Egyptian protests are freedom loving patriots who want to drag their country kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The American Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement of millions of like-minded Americans from all backgrounds and political parties. Tea Party members share similar core principles supporting the United States Constitution as the Founders intended, such as: Limited federal government; Individual freedoms; Personal responsibility; Free markets; and Returning political power to the states and the people. As a movement, The Tea Party is not a political party nor is looking to form a third political party any time soon. The Tea Party movement is about reforming all political parties and government so that the core principles of our Founding Fathers become, once again, the foundation upon which America stands. Few outside observers noticed the democratic momentum building in Arabic and Farsi language chat rooms until people took to the streets. One of the great under-reported stories was the enormous penetration of the West’s better political ideas, democracy and individual liberty, into the Muslim consciousness. What has not been publicized is the nature of the protestors that resemble the American Tea Party as a grassroots movement of Egyptians, loosely known as the April 6 Youth Movement. Bush’s decision to build democracy in Iraq seemed so lame to many people because it appeared, to be another example of American idealism run amok, the forceful implantation of a complex Western idea into infertile authoritarian soil. President Bush saw truths that more worldly men missed: the idea of democracy had become a potent force among Muslims, and “authoritarianism had become the midwife to Islamic extremism.” With no history of grassroots movements, the vision for the way forward in Egypt is to adopt a strategy of getting the Internet-connected youth to take over existing parties and movements from online strongholds. Whether the strategy is workable or not, it is certainly innovative; it represents an attempt to exploit the role of modern connectivity in a revolutionary process. The Tea Party USA has used online organizing tools to try and take over the Republican Party. Like America’s Tea Party, this leaderless popular revolution has no rigid organizational structure, no big office building in a great metropolitan area, and no television stations. Unless this grassroots movement organizes and coalesces, the government will revert to its original form and the freedom agenda will be lost. An organization strategy has emerged to go online to break this self fulfilling prophecy:
· First, Organize - Get their names, ages, addresses & districts. Based on location, start organizing them into committees, and then have those committees elect leaders or representatives. Do the same in every major Egyptian city in which the Protesters braved police suppression and came out in the thousands. Protect the Data with your life. Get encryption programs to ensure the security of the data.
· Next, Transform Your Activists into Voting Blocks – Once you have the contact information and location of all the protesters that showed up, segment into voting blocks in parliamentary districts: i.e. a foundation for an Egyptian Unity party, an Umbrella party that promotes equality, democracy & accountability, without any ideological slants. Once you institute the structure, start educating the members on their rights and their obligations as citizens.
· Use Your Power to Create a New Government - the Egyptian Unity Party will not be a permanent structure, but rather a transitional entity with a clear and direct purpose: create the grassroots organization to take back the parliament and presidency in the next elections. Once sufficient votes and seats have been obtained, the party will amend the constitution to promote civil liberties, plurality, and truly democratic elections. Once that constitution is in place, the party can disband, and its elected members can start forming their own parties and coalitions, based on their personal beliefs and ideologies, or they can join any of the existing parties, and breathe some life into their decaying parties.
The “Egyptian Unity Party” would be to Egypt what the Tea Party has been to the U.S. political process - an agent to change other parties. This strategy as a concept isn’t bad, but it underestimates the difficulty involved in such a task. There is nothing wrong with the core idea; it is in fact the same idea behind the primary challenge process, interstate compacts, and even the Constitutional amendment process. In all of these, the Internet plays a major part. The principal difference between this Egyptian version and the Tea Party USA is that the latter can move between the online and real worlds seamlessly. Far from being a fluke, the role of self-organization in Egypt may simply be a harbinger of things to come throughout the region. Fortunately for Egypt, American Tea Party organizations can offer assistance in the creation, nurturing, and transformation of a freedom agenda for the Egyptian people.
(“The Egyptian Tea Party” by Richard Fernandez dated February 7, 2011 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2011/02/06/the-egyptian-tea-party/
“Democracy Becoming ‘Kosher’ for Muslims” dated February 8, 2011 published by News Max at http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/democracy-kosher-halal-middle/2011/02/08/id/385418 )
* 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: