Views on the News
Views on the News*
April 2, 2016
In the March 2015 speech that launched his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas pledged to “restore that shining city on a hill.” Cruz has repeated the language in countless campaign appearance since then, no doubt as a way to build a connection in voters’ minds between him and President Ronald Reagan, who made the phrase famous in the 1980s. In his charge to fellow Puritans in 1630 on their way to settle the New World, John Winthrop laid out what has since become an iconic vision for the new colonies as “a city upon a hill.” The phrase re-emerged in 1961 when President-elect John F. Kennedy called on local, state and federal governments to be “as a city upon on a hill.” Reagan famously invoked the phrase throughout his Presidency, and it has since become an iconic part of the way America is talked about both at home and abroad, as a descriptor of American leadership in the world. Political speech that appeals to our nobler ideals is important. There’s a reason this imagery has been so popular in American politics, and leaders have a responsibility to find the delicate balance between stern, honest speech on the immediate challenges facing our nation and a hopeful vision of the future. With that in mind, there is a better way to talk about America that aims to foster a truthful recognition of our remarkable achievements without creating delusions of grandeur. This new approach entails a focus on three key principles: American achievement, constitutional government, and our unprecedented civil, economic, and religious freedoms. Each of these qualities is a genuinely exceptional element of American success in the world, and we would do well to renew national attention on each one of them. We must commit to once again become a nation that effortlessly combines energy and prudence in leadership at home and abroad.
(“What We Talk About When We Talk About America” by Richard Gamble dated March 30, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/richardgamble/2016/03/30/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-america-n2141265 )
Populism is writing the first chapter of Obama’s legacy, since both parties’ simultaneous populist surges originate with him and the nation’s negative appraisal of his administration. No recent President has been as absorbed as Obama with creating a legacy as it has led to this White House’s accomplishments-at-all-costs culture and a series of hastily and ill-conceived initiatives abroad and at home. His intention in all his actions, if not his public words, has been to return the baton to the person from whom he wrested it in 2008: Hillary Clinton. Clinton has repaid Obama’s favor by wrapping herself ever tighter in Obama’s legacy as her nomination fight drags on. As her negatives have risen, she has clung tighter to the mantle of her more popular would-be Presidential predecessor. So with a President who has focused on his legacy since his inauguration and become only more so, who over seven years has driven Washington’s partisan divide wider than ever, and whose anointed heir has run to diminish any differences with him, Obama should be the only issue in this race. From the parties’ fringes, the Tea Party movement and Occupy Wall Street, populism has simultaneously surged to centrality in both races. In the Democrat race, Senator Sanders is consistently polling at the 40% level nationally. On the Republican side, Trump has won 19 of the 29 contests and is polling nationally just below 50%. By any definition, populism is a major and still growing force. For almost every constituency, the Obama presidency has delivered varying degrees of disappointment. Under Obama, the economy has been at its best mediocre, while taken overall it has been poor. In Washington, the federal debt has more than doubled. His signature legislation, ObamaCare, falls even further below expectations. In Congress, his major legislative victories have been few and rarely due to his leadership in recent years. His Washington wins have most lately come from going around Congress, and circumventing the Constitution itself. Together, Obama’s tenure has enraged and increased his opponents, alienated Independents, and sapped the enthusiasm of many Democrats. Republicans have raced ahead of their party establishment, as evidenced by the popularity of Trump and Cruz, to reject Obama. Independents voted against him four years ago, going 50 to 45% for Romney. While Democrats cannot bring themselves to reject him personally, nationally two in five reject Clinton, Obama’s anointed successor. America’s electorate is frustrated and fragmented. From this, populism has erupted. From Sanders on the left, to Cruz on the right, the American electorate has never spread so broadly. Never has it been so far from unity in the center with Clinton and Trump only occupying it relatively. Even if populism does not prove lasting, Obama has spawned its most virulent outbreak in decades. When it comes to Obama’s legacy,even if it does not have the last word on Obama’s presidency, populism is ghostwriting the first chapter of his legacy.
(“The Populist Surge Is Obama’s Biggest Legacy” by J.T. Young dated March 28, 2016 published by PJ Media at http://dailycaller.com/2016/03/28/the-populist-surge-is-obamas-biggest-legacy/ )
As the first black President, Obama had a great opportunity to prove that racial divisions in the country have greatly receded. It is no longer the 1960s and the era of Jim Crow, instead we have the opposite situation; minorities are now given affirmative action to make sure they end up in equal positions in education and jobs as whites — oftentimes regardless of their academic qualifications. This may be unfair to whites, especially whites who never had ancestors in the South who were slave owners, and worked their way up from poverty to get where they’re at today. It could be argued that race relations have changed to where things are reversely discriminating against whites. Instead of acknowledging this progress, Obama has done the exact opposite, hyping up incidents where blacks encounter law enforcement in negative situations and claiming there was racism involved. As a result, anytime a black man dies due to an encounter with law enforcement anymore, there is now a large segment within the black population, as well as sympathetic left-wing activists, who get vocally upset and claim it must be due to racism. His first major incident involved the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates at his home in 2009, where Obama incorrectly blamed law enforcement for racial discrimination. Next, there was the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman that Obama exaggerated the circumstances as racial targeting. In 2014, white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri after being assaulted and repeatedly attacked, that Obama tried to blame law enforcement for doing their jobs. Finally, last year Freddie Gray was arrested in Baltimore, and died from injuries to his neck and spine while being transported in a police van, which Obama tried to recast as a racial crime by multi-racial law enforcement and political leadership. Obama could have healed race relations by stating after each of these incidents that he did not believe racism played a role. Instead Obama is devious and he has a twofold agenda: 1) Keep blacks and sympathetic left-wing activists voting Democrat by asserting that racism still exists and the Democrat Party is the one that will help them with its politically correct diversity policies, and 2) turn people against law enforcement. Obama’s legacy as President is that anytime a black person suffers injuries at the hands of the police, there will be rioting and the police will be vigorously prosecuted in highly publicized, devastating trials. The only way they will be able to avoid it will be to stop arresting blacks, creating a two-tier justice system. America is one of the most colorblind nations in the world; it is sad to see how Obama has falsely labeled these incidents as racist and hyped them up, needlessly causing racial conflict as well as destroying the lives of the officers involved.
(“How Obama Created Black Lives Matter” by Rachel Alexander dated March 28, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/rachelalexander/2016/03/28/how-obama-created-black-lives-matter-n2139910 )
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, conventional wisdom among economists, business leaders, and policy makers was fairly straightforward: Once the banks were bailed out, the stimulus spent, and businesses had a few years to recover, the U.S. economy would return to its usual healthy growth. If any recovery has turned conventional wisdom on its head, it’s this one. Over the last eight years, America’s economic prospects have lagged even the most pessimistic early predictions. In 2011, the Federal Reserve predicted that U.S. real GDP would, at worst, grow by 3.5% in 2013 and that the economy would expand between 2.5% and 2.8% annually in the long run. In every year since, the Fed has revised its predictions downward. Even employment, a source of uplifting headlines in recent weeks, is deceptively weak. These confounding circumstances have led many economists to rally behind the concept of so-called “secular stagnation,” the idea that the economic problems the U.S. continues to face aren’t a product of the “business cycle,” the ebb and flow of boom times and recession (hence the “secular” part), but may well be permanent drags on the modern economy. It’s a kind of long term and sustained slow-down in economic growth. The phrase was originally coined in a 1938 address by economist Alvin Hansen, grappling with the sluggish recovery that followed the Great Depression. He predicted that slower population growth and a lower speed of technological progress would combine to thwart full employment, wage increases, and general economic expansion. Hansen’s reasoning was without new people entering the work force and new inventions coming onto the market, there would be less investment in new goods, employees and services. World War II effectively solved one of Hansen’s concerns when the U.S. population exploded, thanks to a post-war baby boom. Meanwhile, high government spending during the conflict boosted the economy, and new inventions like jet airplanes, interstate highways, and eventually computers kept productivity and growth churning. Secular stagnation also has its fair share of prominent skeptics. Harvard Professor Kenneth Rogoff agrees with some of the stagnation theory, such as lower population growth hurting output, but attributes most of the slowdown to a passing “debt supercycle” where post-recession economies are dragged down by high levels of debt that hold back growth until deleveraging is complete. Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke chalks up slow post-recession growth to a global “savings glut” where investment is held back by various trade and economic policies, such as the decision by some countries to build large hoards of foreign currency reserves. If Bernanke is right, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy and those bad policies must simply be reversed. What makes secular stagnation so disconcerting for economists who do believe in the theory is that it defies traditional remedies for poor growth. In the past, if the economy had too little investment and growth stalled, the Federal Reserve could simply lower interest rates, which reduces returns on savings and makes borrowing and investing cheaper. If interest rates go low enough, business owners often decide that spending on expanding their business or research and development will yield higher returns than saving. At the same time, individuals are more inclined to spend or invest than to let their money sit in a bank. That typically kicked the economy back into gear. Ideally, a central bank like the Fed can fine tune the interest rate so that investment is sufficiently desirable that the economy reaches full employment. If negative rates are necessary to reach full employment, that could pose a major problem because there is a limit to how negative the U.S. Federal Reserve can push interest rates before it triggers a financial revolt. Secular stagnation has essentially forced America to choose between dangerous financial instability and painfully sluggish growth, but either way, average consumers seem to lose. This gloomy prospectus hasn’t stopped economists from working on solutions. One possible fix: instead of lowering rates, have the government fill in the investment gap with its own spending. One downside to that plan is it’s unclear exactly when the economy would stop having to use government spending as a crutch for growth. In the secular stagnation environment, [the need for high public investment or debt] is a permanent state of affairs as long as the slow moving factors are not reverting. Eventually policy makers get around to doing the right thing, but I think it’s a slow process. Meanwhile, Americans affected by stagnation is to accept the reality and plan for a long, slow recovery.
(“This Theory Explains Why the U.S. Economy Might Never Get Better” by Jacob Davidson dated March 25, 2016 published by Time at http://time.com/4269733/secular-stagnation-larry-summers/ )
ObamaCare barely passed Congress in 2010, and if people had known how it would develop, the health-care act would likely never have become law. Back in 2009, when the law was proposed, and in 2010, when it was signed, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) proponents were giddy with optimism. The truth has turned out to be very different. There are seven things about ObamaCare that turned out to be very bad.
· Low enrollment - in March 2010, the CBO estimated that 21 million people would be enrolled on the exchanges. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only between 9.4 million and 11.4 million signed up in 2016.
· High numbers of uninsured - The number of uninsured was supposed to decline from 50 million to 22 million in 2016 and remain at that level. Instead, there are still 31 million uninsured, and the number is never projected to go below 29 million, according to CBO.
· Lost doctors - President Obama promised “if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor.” A common (and popular) way to reduce premium costs has been to reduce the number of doctors in the insurer’s network, which leads to a much greater likelihood of people losing their doctors. Initially only 20% of “essential community providers” to be included in networks, but the number went up to 30% after there was a backlash from hospitals.
· Lost plans - President Obama promised, “If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.” Unfortunately, many plans disappeared because they did not comply with the ACA regulations. Over the past year, the number of insurers offering plans in exchanges has dropped by nearly 6%. Mqny states have lost more than 80% of their insurers.
· Higher premiums - President Obama claimed that the Affordable Care Act would reduce annual insurance premiums by $2,500 for a typical family. Results found that, since 2008, average employer family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865. In some states, premiums rose by nearly 40%. Average premiums rose by 49% from 2013 to 2014.
· Higher deductibles - Practically no one forecast that even after spending additional thousands of dollars a year for health insurance, families would have to spend thousands of dollars more on medical care before being able to take advantage of insurance for more than annual check-ups. The New York Times reported that many people couldn’t afford to use the health insurance that they have purchased because of the deductibles.
· High costs. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected that ObamaCare will result in an additional $274 billion in administrative costs alone over the period of 2014 through 2022. Legislative options that would repeal and replace ObamaCare are projected to save taxpayers even more: $474 billion over the 2016-2025 period.
Many members of Congress voted for ObamaCare to help the American public and put America’s health-care system on a sounder foundation, but for most Americans, the opposite has happened. Health-care expenses for many individuals and families are higher, their insurance costs are higher, their choice of doctors and insurance is diminished, and the total costs of the program are burdening a weak economy. Had members of Congress known then what they know now, they would never have passed ObamaCare.
(“7 Ways Obamacare Failed Americans and Shortchanged the Country” by Diana Furchtgott-Roth dated March 25, 2016 published by Fiscal Times at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2016/03/25/7-Ways-Obamacare-Failed-Americans-and-Shortchanged-Country )
Whether you accept it or not, the free world is at war. Islam has brought a war against the civilized world. While the majority of the world’s 1.65 billion Muslims are peaceful and are not terrorists, the concern is with the fundamentalists, who are the terrorists. Estimates vary, but if for example 90% of Muslims are peaceful, this means 165 million are fundamentalists. If you ask President Obama he will tell you “America is not at war with Islam.” Islam has declared war on America and the free world. While many think fundamental Islam’s initial overt salvo against the US was 9/11, it actually began with the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. However, what wasn’t known until after 9/11 is that Muslims had hatched a plan to take over the US and the West back in 1982. This 14-page plan outlined a specific strategy designed to bring about worldwide Islamic domination. Some of the plan’s goals were:
· Networking and coordinating among like-minded Islamist organizations.
· Avoiding open alliances with known terrorist organizations and individuals to maintain the appearance of moderation.
· Infiltrating and taking over existing Muslim organizations and redirecting their goals in line with Muslim Brotherhood goals.
· Using deception to mask the intended goals of Islamist actions, as long as it doesn’t interfere with Sharia law.
· Establishing financial networks to fund the conversion of the West.
· Conducting surveillance, obtaining data.
· Monitoring Western media to warn Muslims of plots fomented against them.
· Build networks of schools, hospitals and charitable organizations dedicated to Islam.
· Using Western institutions until they can be converted into service of Islam.
· Involving ideologically committed Muslims in democratically elected institutions on all levels in the West.
· Supporting jihad movements across the Muslim world.
· Inciting hatred by Muslims against Jews and rejecting any discussion of conciliation and coexistence with them.
· Develop a comprehensive 100 year plan to advance Islamist ideology across the world.
Congruent to this document one must not ignore the phenomenal growth of Islam. Virtually all statistical reports confirm it is the fastest growing religion in the world, including the US. Worldwide Islam is rapidly catching up to Christianity. In as little as 50 years Islam may be the world’s #1 religion. In 1970 there were roughly 100 mosques in the US. The most current statistics on mosques in the US are from 2010, which puts the number at just over 2,100. The incredible growth of Islam and its goal of domination is well defined in a document titled “Liberty vs. Sharia.” This methodical outline breaks down four stages of Islamic conquest, and the characteristics of each stage. Their effort includes Muslim “no go zones.” They are primarily in rural areas where Muslims gather together beyond the eyes of most people in order to develop their plans, and in many cases train for the coming battles ahead. However, their influence is also starting to penetrate urban America. The combination of political correctness, liberal media, overly zealous civil liberties, which include relaxed civil and criminal laws, coupled with freedom of movement is the most vulnerable environment. Many considered 9/11 as a wake-up call for America and the West. However, the snooze button was pushed and too many Westerners have remained in sleep mode. Many of them have hardened their politically correct naiveté to the point of acquiescing to the Muslim agenda which is endangering the lives of the growing number of those who have come to realize the very real threat being faced in the US and Europe.
(“On the Path of Submission to Islam” by Dan Calic dated March 29, 2016 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/03/on_the_path_of_submission_to_islam_.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. No updates this week to the issues sections.