Views on the News
February 19, 2011
Views on the News*
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., a/k/a Barry Soetoro, appeared out of nowhere with a mysterious and unknown past and got elected as a “blank screen” upon which voters could project their hopes and dreams, but have since been sorely disappointed. Obama showed up on the national stage in 2004 with a lofty speech at the Democratic National Convention, instantly propelling him to celebrity status in the eyes of a star-struck news media. At the time, Obama was employed as an Illinois state senator out of Chicago, who voted "present" approximately 130 times on controversial issues. No sooner than Obama became a U.S. Senator he had more important things than Senate business to tend to: like running for President as an all-American moderate with a nice smile. Obama presented himself as a blank slate to the American public. His two years in the Senate certainly haven't revealed any bold policy ideas. This leave-them-guessing strategy slips out in the “Audacity of Hope” prologue. Inasmuch as the press refused to vet and investigate Candidate Obama, he certainly was a "blank screen" to the uninformed in 2008:
· If someone wanted a fiscal conservative, Obama was her man;
· If another wanted a socialist, Obama was his man;
· If someone wanted a sincere Christian, Obama was his man;
· If another wanted a humanist skeptic, Obama was her man; and
· If someone want to see an image of Abraham Lincoln or FDR, no problem.
The screen was seemingly blank and the suit empty. Obama's "treatment of the issues" is no longer a mystery, and his days as a "blank screen" are over. We've witnessed Obama for two years ramming through radical, far-left appointments and bills by unscrupulous means, against the will of the electorate. In light of his brass-knuckles approach and leftist agenda, it's truly astonishing that the media somehow believe Obama can remain all things to all people. As a new President, Obama thought he could talk about spending cuts and "fiscal responsibility summits" while simultaneously burying the country in unprecedented debt and federal bureaucracy. Even more shocking is the fact that Obama continues to believe he can use doubletalk and smoke and mirrors. In the past Obama could speak partially and incompletely, leaving the audience to project onto the screen whatever it wished. Obama is no longer a blank screen because the screen now plays back his words and deeds of the last two years in high definition and his actions simply do not live up to their expectations.
(“The Era of the Obama ‘Blank Screen’ is Over” by Monte Kuligowski dated February 12, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_era_of_the_obama_blank_scr.html )
There has been disagreement for quite some time over the fundamental motives driving President Obama's agenda and the argument boils down to whether he is ignorant and doesn’t understand the impact of his action, or whether he truly understands and will impose it on the country whether we want it or not. Essentially two schools of thought on the matter have emerged:
· One school insists that the President's policy prescriptions are ultimately redistributive and seek to increase the number of people dependent on the government, since poor people always vote Democrat; and
· The other school is convinced that Obama is resolved to weaken America, to diminish the country's military and economic preeminence in the world, and traditional liberties at home in order to destroy America so he can remake it in his socialist image.
The idea that the President of the United States wakes up each morning scheming how he may ruin the country over which he presides is the stuff of fantasy. It is similarly foolish to think that it is from nothing other than the union of an ignorance of the most basic economic principles and a comparable ignorance of history that the President's obviously destructive policies are begotten. Obama's utterances and deeds are born of either an invincible ignorance of their consequences, in which case he is without question the most incompetent President of all time, or a plan to ruin America, in which case he is indeed guilty of the designs to ruin the country. Obama knows that his economic policies are productive of neither liberty, as traditionally conceived by Americans, nor prosperity. He would have to be, not just the most incompetent president ever, but among the most dense of human beings, for given the extensive exposure that he has had to both Keynesian and neo-Marxian philosophy. There can be no doubt that he wants to preside over an America that is morally superior and, hence, better, than the country that elected him two years ago. The problem, though, is that the America of Obama's imaginings is radically unlike the America to which most of its citizens have an acquired affection and even more unlike the America within which their ancestors made their home. That is, the "fundamental transformation" that Obama wants to visit upon America demands nothing more or less than the death of America as it is currently constituted; only once America as a living reality is eliminated can America as Obama's ideal be substituted for it. Our President does indeed think Americans will be "better" in the wake of the "fundamental transformation" to socialism that he wants to impose upon us and the fact remains that his intentions aside, our President is determined to see the historic nation that is the real America go the way of the dinosaur.
(“Does Obama Want the Best for America or Does He Want to Destroy It?” by Jack Kerwick dated February 13, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/does_obama_want_the_best_for_a.html
“The Paranoid Style is Alive and well in Some Conservative Quarters” by Rick Moran dated February 18, 2011 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-paranoid-style-is-alive-and-well-in-some-conservative-quarters/ )
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is regrouping under different names, but continuing to act just like the original discredited organization and maintains tight linkage with Obama and the Democrat Party leadership. ACORN is transforming itself and plans to resurface under a new name. The group filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Election Day to minimize media coverage of the legal proceeding. The New York successor organization, called New York Communities for Change (NYCC), operates out of the same office on Nevins Street in Brooklyn that is home to ACORN and its partisan arm, the socialist Working Families Party of New York. The various renamed ACORN chapters around the country will re-federate soon. ACORN’s fraud-plagued Project Vote affiliate, which used to employ President Obama, continues to operate and ran a nationwide voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive during the 2010 election cycle. The 2010 effort was run by Amy Adele Busefink, a senior ACORN executive who was convicted in a voter-fraud conspiracy in Nevada in early January receiving a two-year suspended prison sentence. ACORN itself is scheduled to go on trial in Las Vegas on April 25 for its involvement in the same conspiracy. ACORN’s housing bubble generator, ACORN Housing, changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America a year ago in an effort to escape the stigma associated with its parent company. President Obama has dispatched one of his top political advisers, Patrick Gaspard, to serve as the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Gaspard came to the White House from ACORN’s favorite labor organization, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in New York where he was political officer and protest organizer. At one point ACORN founder Wade Rathke claimed that Gaspard was the political director for the group’s New York branch, but later said he was mistaken and removed the comments from his website. ACORN is alive and well under many names and the revolving door between the White House, the Democrat Party and other leftist organizations allows it to survive and flourish despite repeated arrests in multiple states.
(“ACORN Sprouting Fresh Branches” by Matthew Vadum dated February 10, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41696&keywords=acorn
“New DNC Director’s Rotten Roots” by Audrey Hudson dated February 12, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41737 )
There is no life in our jobs market because the recession officially ended in June 2009, but the Great Jobs Recession continues apace, and the national unemployment rate is becoming an increasingly meaningless statistic when it comes to painting a true picture of economic and job growth. Not since the government began to measure the business cycle has a deep recession been marked by such high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and followed by such anemic job growth. At the heart of the unemployment rate deception are the nearly three million Americans counted as “marginally attached” to the labor force. Those folks would take a job if offered but actually aren’t actively looking and thus not counted in the government’s official statistics. There are a million more of them than there were in January 2008, thanks to the lousy job market that seems to be improving only at the margins. More jobs were lost in the recession of 2007-09 than in the previous four recessions combined, and this time it is an agonizingly slow business to replace them. More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed. That's nearly twice as many Americans out of work as there were in the black year of 1933 - 13 million then. Our real unemployment rate in 2011 is almost twice what it was before the onset of the recession in 2007, and at the current pace, it looks as if it will take until late 2016 to make up for the net job loss to date of 7.5 million. The detailed statistics are even more depressing:
· The number of full-time jobs, the critical factor in rebuilding personal confidence and spending, is down by roughly 10 million.
· Those suffering from long-term unemployment, who have collected benefits for 27 weeks or more, now amount to more than 4% of the labor force compared to the previous post-Depression peak of 2.6% in 1983.
· The mean duration of unemployment increased from 30.5 weeks in January 2010 to 36.9 weeks in the most recent tally.
· Long-term unemployment is approximately 44% of the total, the highest of any in the past 10 recessions, when it never exceeded 30%.
· The recession has primarily affected young and adult males, the traditional family breadwinners, and especially blacks.
· As of December, the proportion of men age 45 to 54 in the labor force, working or looking for work, was down to 86.2%, while for men ages 35 to 44, it was 90.9%.
· For men 25 to 34, the proportion in November was 89%.
· The average workweek for all employees in private, nonfarm payrolls is at a low of 34.2 hours and dropped last month.
· Real hourly compensation dropped in the first four quarters after this recession officially ended, compared to a more typical gain averaging 2.5% during the first four quarters of expansion after the previous 10 recessions.
Many of the job gains are in lower-paying leisure, hospitality, education, and health service industries. There is more outsourcing abroad, more automating, more conversion of full-time jobs to temps and contracts, and a stagnant median wage. Information technologies are advancing dramatically, doubling every couple of years and increasingly are being employed to eliminate jobs of all types. The risk we may face in the United States is that the high unemployment rates may become chronic if, for the next several years, we average real GDP growth of only 2%, as many predict. Generating new jobs for a growing population is a challenge to the left, right, and center of all our political parties and their entrenched positions on economic issues and millions of men and women are willing and eager to work, but their skills, brainpower, and energies are wasted… it doesn't make sense.
(“The Great Jobs Recession Goes On” by Mortimer B. Zuckerman dated February 11, 2011 published by US News & World Report at http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2011/02/11/the-great-jobs-recession-goes-on
“Why the Unemployment Rate Has Become a Bad Joke” by Jeff Cox dated February 14, 2011 published by CNBC at http://www.cnbc.com/id/41583533 )
Please don’t confuse the discussions to pay for current government operations under a Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution with the Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget discussions that will begin in April after the release of the Republican House proposal. First, remember that a Continuing Resolution is required to pay for current government operations because the Democrat Congress was so busy passing unneeded and unwanted legislation last year that they didn’t bother to write, much less vote on, a Fiscal Year 2011 Federal Budget. Democrats tried to pass a Continuing Resolution for 2011 during the lame duck session, but Congress would only approve a three month extension. Republicans promised in their “Pledge to America” to cut the budget immediately by $100 billion. Initially Speaker John Boehner’s Republican leadership proposed cutting the 2011 budget by $32 billion. But that wasn’t enough for the incoming freshmen, who demanded that it be cut by $61 billion. Even that wasn’t enough for leaders of the Republican Study Committee, which represents two-thirds of House Republicans, who proposed cutting another $20 billion, for a total of $81 billion, all out of the next seven months of government operations. The House opened up for debate the list of almost 600 amendments, mostly from Republicans trying to cut still more out of, or end, programs they dislike. There are a number of amendments proposed that specifically defund all or part of the ObamaCare implementation, starting with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforcement agents. Other amendments seek to defund or cut back over-reach and misuse of monies wherever they are spent: funding for Presidential czars, defunding Planned Parenthood abortion services, funding for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas emissions regulations, funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Wall Street reforms, funding for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “net neutrality,” cutbacks at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and cutbacks funding the United Nations (UN). The current funding resolution ends on March 4th, so Democrat rhetoric has begun threatening to shutdown the government without an “acceptable” Continuing Resolution compromise. This compromise must include raising the debt limit and, of course, spending concessions to guide the upcoming 2012 budget discussions. Remember that the most important reason for FY 2011 Continuing Resolution funding discussions is to set a more realistic baseline for FY 2012 Federal Budget.
(“Out of Control in the House” dated February 16, 2011 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/opinion/17thu1.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=out%20of%20control%20in%20the%20house&st=cse
“Amendments Passes to Eliminate Obama Czars and Defund FC Net Neutrality Rules” by Emily Miller dated February 17, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41869
“Creative Destruction and the Federal Deficit” by Frank Ryan dated February 17, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/creative_destruction_and_the_f.html
“Shut Down the Government” by Matt Towery dated February 18, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/matttowery/2011/02/18/shut_down_the_government )
Last November, voters made it clear that the country is tired of spending-as-usual in DC and that they are watching legislators in DC carefully to see what they are doing to trim the fat, but the White House proposed Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget was released and, since his cuts are accompanied by proposals for two times the amount in spending, it doesn't look as if the White House got the message. The very word “budget” suggests a financial plan that one expects to live within, based on how much money one earns. It suggests prudence, plus the intention to put aside some earnings as savings for future or unexpected needs. None of this applies to the Congress, nor to the White House. The financial crisis in which the nation finds itself today can be traced to FDR’s four terms, during which the nation went through the Great Depression. It was an economic event that could have and should have been much shorter if liberal “solutions” had not been initiated. FDR never saw an entitlement or regulatory program he would not endorse, starting with Social Security. His successor to office, Harry Truman, pushed through Medicare. The debacle known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began back then, growing out of the notion that the government had to guarantee everyone they could live in their own home. By the time they neared collapse, they owned more than half of all the mortgages in the nation. Our nation's current budget development system is one of "incremental" budgeting. Agencies only document the need for increases over the previous year's budget, in a process that assumes that Congressional approval of a previous year's funding is sufficient justification to form the base funding of the upcoming year. There is little consideration of whether the funding was judiciously spent or if the program was successful. The President has put forward another budget that spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. Under his plan, the federal government would spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years, doubling the national debt by the end of his term and tripling it by the end of the decade. The President's much-hyped "spending freeze" for a small fraction of the budget simply locks in the elevated spending levels of the last two years. Last year, the President punted these problems to a commission instead of putting forward his own ideas for balancing the budget. Unfortunately, the President's budget incorporates virtually none of his own deficit commission's recommendations. If Obama were serious about spending cuts he would have re-claimed the hundreds of billions in appropriated but unspent funds, some of which remain unspent for two decades. Conspicuous by their absence was the lack of any proposals to address the “elephants in the room:” Socials Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Rebranded as "investments," Obama’s budget proposal includes flushing more money down the black hole of partisan boondoggles: solar panels and high speed rail. The budget proposal also includes massive $1.5 trillion tax hikes with tax revenues growing from 14.4% of GDP in 2011 to 20.0% of GDP in 2021. In order to get America back in the black, absent any ideas from the President, Republicans will take the lead reforming the “sacred cows” of American politics: the bankrupt entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
(“Bankrupting America” by Alan Caruba dated February 14, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/33328
“The GOP Challenge – Creating a Culture of Cuts” by Lurita Doan dated February 14, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/LuritaDoan/2011/02/14/the_gop_challenge--creating_a_culture_of_cuts “President failed on budget” by Jeff Sessions and Paul Ryan dated February 14, 2011 published by USA Today at http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-02-15-column15_ST2_N.htm
“Americans deserve the truth about the U.S. budget crisis” by David Meyers dated February 14, 2011 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/14/americans-deserve-the-truth-about-the-u-s-budget-crisis/ )
The Democrat-run investigative panel's 600-page report on what caused the financial crisis was released, then promptly thrown onto a dusty shelf because the conclusions were politically driven and avoided the true root causes. From the beginning, the report's conclusions were tilted, placing much of the blame on Wall Street, greedy lenders in the private sector and the lack of adequate federal regulation. It played down the government's central role in the mortgage scandal that drove the economy into a deep recession. This commission refused to look back to the Community Reinvestment Act, enacted under President Carter and invigorated under President Clinton, and its role of government interference in the private sector. Roughly half of subprime lending was directly or indirectly "attributable to the CRA," according to the Federal Reserve. Under pressure from HUD, their affordable-housing mission regulator, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought about 50% of all CRA loans from 2001 to 2007, and these dodgy loans helped sink the mortgage giants. Washington butted into the housing market to close the "mortgage gap" between whites and blacks and using the CRA, it steered bank loans to credit-impaired borrowers; the loans failed; and the gap is as wide as ever and the mortgage industry is in shambles. The commission's investigation was limited to validating the standard narrative about the financial crisis -- that it was caused by deregulation or lack of regulation, weak risk management, predatory lending, unregulated derivatives, and greed on Wall Street. Democrats refused to acknowledge the reckless role that government housing policy played in the run-up to the subprime mortgage collapse, which is still wreaking havoc in the nation's depressed housing industry and in the larger economy. The CRA corrupted the market flow of credit by rechanneling money into risky and unprofitable investments, the bankers didn't make these loans out of the goodness of their hearts - politicians pushed them into it.
(“I Hate to Burst Your Bubble; U.S. Government is To Blame” by Donald Lambro dated February 11, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/donaldlambro/2011/02/11/i_hate_to_burst_your_bubble;_us_government_is_to_blame
“Reinvest in West” dated February 14, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/563136/201102141852/Reinvest-In-West.htm )
Egypt has now been awakened by its youth in a unique way, not to fight Israel, or America, but in a quest for personal empowerment, dignity and freedom, and the consequences of what eventually happens in Egypt , for good or ill, will be enormous. In this part of the world, people have very sensitive antennae for legitimacy and authenticity because they have been fed so many lies by their leaders. Egypt is the most important nation in the Arab world. Egypt's population (80.5 million) is more than that of Iraq (29.7 million), Saudi Arabia (25.7 million), and Syria (22.1 million) combined. If Egypt becomes a stable, Western-style democracy, it will transform the region. But if Egypt becomes an "Islamic republic," as Iran did after its revolution in 1979, war and depression are likely. So it's important to get the transition right. We're off to a rocky start since the protests caught the Obama administration by surprise, and it's been behind the power curve ever since. The interim government in Egypt will be faced with high unemployment, rising food prices and shortages as well as agitation from the radical Islamist elements. This is a recipe for further massive upheaval and the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood, who by standing on the sidelines throwing rocks at the government can proclaim to the populace that they can solve Egypt's problems. The Egyptian people as a whole do not want the ascendancy of radicalism in their country. Unfortunately by not having a strong democratic movement and parties in place combined with the economic circumstances currently in play, this was the worst time possible to have a revolution. The agitators on the Left in concert with the Islamic radicals will attempt to foment food riots and call for the dissolution of parliament and the government. The only hope Egypt has is to hold out as long as possible for new elections, allow democracy-based parties to develop and ignore and if necessary crack down of those who initiate civil unrest. If Egypt does move to democracy, this movement, combined with social media, will be more subversive to autocratic regimes than Nasserism, Islamism or Baathism combined being the first pan-Arab movement that is not focused on expelling someone, or excluding someone, but on universal values with the goal of overcoming the backwardness produced by all previous ideologies and leaders.
(“Beware the Muslim Brotherhood” by Jack Kelly dated February 13, 2011 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/02/13/beware_the_muslim_brotherhood_108878.html
“The Comings Battle for Egypt” by Steve McCann dated February 14, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_coming_battle_for_egypt.html
“Pharaoh Without a Mummy” by Thomas L. Friedman dated February 15, 2011 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/opinion/16friedman.html )
* 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:
· Agriculture at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/agriculture.php
· United Nations at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/unitednations.php