Views on the News

April 7, 2012

Views on the News*  

The conventional wisdom about the 2012 Presidential race has been this: Reelection efforts are all about the incumbent and this incumbent is beatable, because President Obama’s job approval rating has consistently been below 50%, and this also reflects above all a poor economy, and voters vote their pocketbooks.  It’s true, the conventional consultant wisdom continues, that Republicans aren’t too popular either, but if the election is a referendum on Obama, and if Republicans can just avoid getting in their own way by raising wacky social issues or scaring people about their own plans for Medicare, and if the GOP can raise money, hammer away at Obama, and put together a first-class voter turnout operation in key states, then Obama should lose, and an Obama loss means a Republican victory.  A conventional, cautious, backward-looking GOP campaign effort against President Obama is as likely to produce a close reelection for the President as a close defeat.  Republicans would be making a mistake if they spent the fall simply assuming, or hoping, that the late break will be sharply against the incumbent, as in 1980, or that the incumbent’s rally will fall short, as in 1992.  A forward-looking campaign, more like Reagan’s in 1980 and Clinton’s in 1992 since it will not depend solely on unhappiness with the incumbent.  The Republican candidate must be able to describe a different, and clearly better, future for the country:

·    Can he explain how an Obama second term would be even more dangerous and damaging than the Obama first term has been?

·    Can he explain that we’re heading off a cliff of debt and deficit if Obama’s fiscal policies are allowed to continue?

·    Can his campaign make vivid the harm Obama’s tax hikes and regulations will do to the economy, and Obama-care to our health care system and our country?

·    Can he explain what a second term of Obama judicial appointments will have on our federal courts?

·    Can he explain the damage an Obama second term will do to self-government, and limited government, and constitutional government in America?

·    Can he conduct a campaign that describes how much more dangerous the world might look in 2016 if we continue Obama’s foreign and defense policies?

·    Can the Republican campaign present a choice of paths for the future, à la Paul Ryan’s budget and his explanation of it, rather than simply complain about the recent past and the difficult present?

Republicans will need to run a campaign that explains.  Explanation, as opposed to denunciation of others or celebration of self, hasn’t much characterized the campaign of the likely Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, so far.  If Romney, assuming he’s the nominee, can’t lift his general election campaign above the level of the primary contest, he’s likely to lose, so the irony is that a Romney victory in the primaries will then pose the ultimate test of his ability as a turnaround artist.  

(“Forward, March!” by William Kristol dated March 16, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/forward-march_634907.html )


Something's happening to President Obama's relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies, and they are now inclined not to like him.  Supporter’s level of dislike for the President has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.  What is happening is that the President is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who's not operating in good faith.  This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness, and it's his fault, too.  As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it's a big fault.  The shift started on January 20th, with the mandate that agencies of the Catholic Church would have to provide birth-control services the church finds morally repugnant.  Events of just the past couple of weeks have contributed to the shift.  There was the open-mic conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in which Obama pleaded for "space" and said he will have "more flexibility" in his negotiations once the election is over and those pesky voters have done their thing.  Next, a boy of 17 is shot and killed under disputed and unclear circumstances. The whole issue is racially charged, emotions are high, and the only memorable words from the President's response were, "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon."  Now the Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration.  All these things have hardened lines of opposition, and left opponents with an aversion that will not go away.  I am not saying that the President has a terrible relationship with the American people.  I'm only saying he's made his relationship with those who oppose him worse.  From the day Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity - unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures.  These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating; is America over, can we turn it around?  That's what the American people were thinking about.  The President had his mind on health care.  And so the relationship the President wanted never really knitted together.  Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America.  Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many voters, and a worsening relationship with some of the people who voted for him last time.  Really, Obama cannot win the coming election, but the Republicans, still can lose it.  

(“Not-So-Smooth Operator” by Peggy Noonan dated March 29, 20212 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577312043447691520.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop )

GOP White House contenders think the President is taking the country down the path to "European socialism," but they are wrong since it is actually something much more radical.  Few knew of his carefully calculated plans for using the democratic process to gain power and bring about "social change" on a large scale.  Obama has unleashed a juggernaut of legislation and regulations on industry that rival the New Deal in scope.  From the moment he stepped into office, Obama has used his power to redistribute capital and bring corporate America under state control.  Among other things, he has:

·    Forced all large banks, including healthy ones, to take federal bailout money while forcing them to pass stress tests before they can get out from under state control.

·    Forced banks to renegotiate private mortgage contracts to forgive principal payments for customers while ordering the banks to liberalize their lending practices and even open branches in blighted and unprofitable areas outside their service area.

·    Signed sweeping regulations that give the state new authority to control the entire financial sector, from banks to hedge funds to insurance companies to even car dealers.

·    Crafted unprecedented powers to monitor and redirect the capital flow of all financial firms in the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as adjust their capital requirements and even shut them down and restructure them.

·    Renegotiated the terms of Detroit creditor contracts so autoworkers get preferential treatment at the expense of shareholders while preserving the high union cost structure that bankrupted GM and Chrysler.

·    Centralized control of the health care industry through 2,730 pages of new mandates that bring insurance companies and drug-makers under the supervision of the state and force the wealthy to subsidize the uninsured at a starting cost of $1.6 trillion.

·    Transferred an additional $1 trillion in private taxpayer wealth to welfare programs and public works projects, which have increased dependency on the state to record levels.

All of these measures put more power in the hands of the state and, in the case of health care, exert more control over the individual lives of Americans.  As such, few are popular.  The tactic he used to do this was to make capitalists the enemy of the people.  By using media propaganda to convince enough people who lost their jobs or homes in the financial crisis that they were victims of Wall Street "exploitation, " and by fomenting class envy between "the 99%" of Americans he imagines as "struggling" and a nebulous 1% overclass of "millionaires and billionaires" and "fat cat bankers" he demonizes as "greedy."  History provides a harsh reminder of how such class warfare ends if carried out to its extreme.  Less than a century ago, Karl Marx, another trained lawyer who never spent a day in the private sector, portrayed a life-or-death "class struggle" between capitalists and workers and published blueprint for worker revolution, "The Communist Manifesto." 

·    Abolition of property and land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

·    Abolition of all right of inheritance. 

·    Confiscation of the property of all emigrants [those leaving the country] and rebels. 

·    Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly. 

·    Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State. 

·    Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. 

·    Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. 

·    Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country. 

·    Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.

Marx argued that capitalism splits industrial society into two hostile camps: the "bourgeois," whom he described as anyone employing a worker, owning a business or making money from investments, and the "proletariat" that he figured made up the other 90% of society.  He claimed that the wealth controlled by the top 10% "exists solely due to its nonexistence in the hands of those (other) nine-tenths."  In other words, profits produced by merchants, entrepreneurs and investors don't really belong to them.  Marx believed they were stolen from workers and that workers would one day rise up and, justifiably, "wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeois."  Turning the tables, the working class would then become the ruling class, though Marx believed this would happen in stages.  Socialism was the first or "lower" phase of communist society, he envisioned, where democracy and vestiges of capitalism are still present but only as a means to an end.  The final or "higher" phase of communism abandons state capitalism altogether and runs a centrally planned economy under a new constitution.  Marx argued the dreams of the "individual" should be sacrificed for the "collective."  "Individual actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations." Actually it wasn't Marx who said that, it was Obama, in a little-noticed 1995 interview he conducted with a liberal Chicago journal.  Marx also called for abolishing the traditions, institutions and religions of the old order, arguing that the masses couldn't fully serve "the State" if they still clung to religion.  When the Bolsheviks struck in 1917, their leader, V.I. Lenin, immediately declared war on banks, scapegoating "vile" and "greedy" bankers and merchants for all the problems of the underclass, and he seized banks and shops, since for the revolution to succeed, Lenin said he had to first control capital.  Nationalizing medicine was also key.  If the communists controlled health care, Lenin said, they could own and control families, from cradle to grave.  Lenin's other main target was the education system.  If the Reds socialized schooling, from kindergarten to college, they could brainwash the masses into serving the state instead of their own "selfish" interests.  By 1920, Lenin had established "free" universal health care (excluding the "deprived class" of merchants) and "free" higher education for all (except for the sons and daughters of merchants, who were blocked from college).  He also had succeeded in nationalizing all commercial banks as well as transportation.  The new ruling class finance soaked the rich with punitive taxes, redistributing their wealth and shook down bankers.  Does any of the above sound familiar?  Such class warfare battle lines have, tragically, been redrawn in America, the same capitalist nation that defeated Soviet communism only two decades ago, and on one side are the people who create wealth and on the other are those who loot it and this election may very well decide who wins. 

(“Obama Pits America’s Makers Against Its Takers” dated March 30, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/606265/201203301828/obama-echoes-communist-manifesto-in-blueprint-for-change.htm )


Democrat strategist James Carville insists a Supreme Court decision striking down the mandate for everyone to buy health insurance, and perhaps the rest of the 2,700-page law, would work to Obama’s political advantage, but instead it will be a devastating rebuke to the President.  The idea is that an albatross would be lifted from Obama and he would be freed in his bid for reelection from attachment to the most unpopular program enacted during his presidency.  The crown jewel of his presidency will have been repudiated as unconstitutional.  His pretensions of uniquely knowing how to get things done in Washington will be shattered.  Obama will be a diminished political figure.  He will become a lesser president, far from the top ranks where he has envisioned himself.  Assuming ObamaCare is voided, Republicans will still have plenty to say about health care.  They can remind voters of the promises Obama made about his plan that were false.  Nor will bureaucrats in Washington have a strangle-hold on the health care system if the Obama plan is struck down.  We’ve already seen bureaucrats in action with Obamacare only minimally implemented.  And with ObamaCare gone, a threat to individual liberty will have been turned away.  Never in more than two centuries of democratic government in America had individuals been told they must buy something or else.  The easiest thing for Republicans to turn aside will be enraged Democrats and their allies in the media.  Republicans will always be treated to a breathtaking media double standard.  When conservatives join a liberal ruling, they’re applauded for rising above their political leanings.  When they form a majority in a conservative decision, they’ve stooped to political hackery.  If ObamaCare is invalidated, we’ll hear far worse.  Chief Justice John Roberts will be blamed for letting politics reign on the Court.  Hypocrisy this thick will crumble under its own weight when the Court does the right thing, and America will be fully justified in rejoicing. 

(“A Lose-Lose Case” by Fred Barnes dated April 9, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/lose-lose-case_634909.html )

Not even the most die-hard, partisan Democrats would dare argue that the Obama recovery has been especially vigorous: instead, they argue that the new president was dealt an impossible hand.  Nearly three years after the Great Recession officially ended, the jobless rate is still above 8%, the longest stretch of such high unemployment since the Great Depression.  Add back in all the discouraged job seekers and the part-timers who wished they had full-time gigs, and the unemployment rate is just shy of 15%.  While the economy is growing, it’s not growing rapidly.  At this point in the typical post-World War II recovery, the economy was growing at an average pace of nearly 5%.  The Obama recovery has managed just over 2% average annual GDP growth.  Indeed, take-home pay for US workers, adjusted for rising prices, has actually fallen over the last year.  Then there’s the moribund housing market - recent data show home prices still falling; nationwide, they’re off a third from their 2006 peak, all the way back to levels last seen in 2003.  All in all, Obama’s economic rebound kind of feels more like a bust than a boom.  His defenders insist that’s not his fault, that the Great Recession was not only nastier than any other economic downturn since the 1930s but also different; it wasn’t caused by an oil shock or a sharp spike in interest rates.  Economic downturns caused by a financial collapse, they argue, are typically followed by lackluster recoveries.  This excuse doesn’t quite make it off the runway.  A Federal Reserve study from late last year looked at the behavior of recoveries from recessions across 59 advanced and emerging market economies during the last 40 years.  The Fed found, to no great surprise, that recoveries “tend to be faster” after severe recessions, such as the one we just had.  It’s the “rubber-band effect”: The deeper the downturn, the more robust the rebound, unless government messes things up.  This same Fed study found that bank or other financial crises “do not affect the strength” of subsequent recoveries.  A recent analysis from JP Morgan suggests that housing might explain half of the Obama recovery’s underperformance versus the Reagan recovery.  While President Reagan cut long-term marginal tax rates, Obama tried a massive burst of federal spending.  One empowered private enterprises, while the other empowered government.  Of course, economies will eventually recover on their own, as this one seems finally to be doing, but Obamanomics shouldn’t get much credit for it.

(“O’s lame excuse” by James Pethokoukis dated March 30, 2012 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/lame_excuse_15jqc1xL9eJRTNwywqEJbJ )


Anyone who still believes a word on energy out of Barack Obama's mouth has to be a complete idiot or completely clueless, because the man is a veritable lie-machine.  Every speech, every utterance and aside, is designed to mislead , whether by misstatement, omission, or outright licentious license.  A real leader takes responsibility and gives credit, but Barack Obama takes credit and shirks responsibility.  He has to lie because he wants to be the father of all success, while failures are a symphony of blame-shifting, George Bush, the tsunami, those bastards the Canadians who want to send us "sharia-free" oil, in other words, anyone but Barack?  He is now the "Energy President," taking credit for the portion of the Keystone XL pipeline still being built, after he rejected the entire pipeline twice, and the particular leg of the pipeline that is going forward didn't need his approval, and the increase in production is happening on private land, something Barack couldn't prevent.  Obama has done everything in his power to destroy the oil industry in America, virtually shutting down production in the Gulf of Mexico, off our continental shelf, and in and around Alaska, anywhere he could, except on private land.  While claiming that America has only 2% of the world's reserves, this number is a perfect example of the man's ever-abating affinity for the truth.  It counts only the reserves from wells currently pumping, while America has 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil which is enough to meet all of our energy needs for more than 200 years, without imports from enemies.  There are people who voted for Obama in 2008 not because they were progressives, but because they bought into the chimera of hope and change.  The price of gasoline is high because Barack Obama wants it to be high.  He told us, over and over again how raising the price of energy has always been his plan to win the future, and his strategic retreat from his only successful policy is exactly that: a strategy.  The President's imbecilic battle against the fossil fuel industry, prosperity, and energy self-sufficiency is a losing proposition, disastrous for our economic well-being.  He wants it both ways: waging war against fossil fuels while taking credit when, in spite of his best efforts, oil production increases.  Yet Barack Obama's endless war on energy is not just about restricting oil production; he wants to destroy the coal industry as well.  For this he tasks the EPA.  Every policy from Obama's EPA seems to hurt the economy, the consumer, and the nation in general.  The administration recently celebrated the closing of the 100th coal power plant since 2010, and the EPA has issued new regulations on CO2, which will prevent the building of any coal plants in the future.  Since coal provides 45% of our electricity needs, and we are not replacing the generating capacity, at some point there will be rolling blackouts.  As the President promised, the price of electricity will "necessarily skyrocket."  Later this year, the EPA will introduce rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to maximize gas extraction.  If Obama wins re-election, he will shut down fracking in an attempt to kill natural gas as well.  In reality, no fossil fuel will ever be acceptable as a source of energy to rabid environmentalists like our President.  All this is done in the name of climate change.  The myth of global warming is behind every Obama decision on energy.  He believes that green energy is the future, despite its uselessness in the present as a viable replacement for fossil fuel.  It is too expensive and inefficient.  Climate change radicals like our President insist on nothing less than American economic suicide in order to prevent something that might happen in a hundred years.  This is why Barack wants high energy prices, because he believes he is saving humanity.  It is a mistake to call Obama an idealist who means well, or an evil man intent on the destruction of the nation.  In reality, he is a dogmatist who wants his way or no way, and he thinks he knows what's best for the nation and humanity, and Obama will give it to us even if America is destroyed in the process.

(“Obama’s Endless Energy” by William L. Gensert dated April 4, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/04/obamas_endless_energy.html )


The White House sicced its meanest attack dogs, Media Matters and MSNBC, on Rush Limbaugh, but they couldn't knock him off the air and their advertising boycott has failed.  Even the Washington Post admits the conservative talk-show giant has survived a month long crusade to cow sponsors and stations into dropping Limbaugh over intemperate remarks he made about a coed fan of ObamaCare.  Turns out the ad losses were far fewer than liberal Media Matters claimed in a running tally on its website.  In fact, virtually all of Limbaugh's long-term sponsors stuck with the show, in spite of relentless brow-beating by both Media Matters and MSNBC, which also works closely with the White House.  There is evidence the left's campaign backfired, as Limbaugh's ratings soared and attracted new sponsors and his 20 million listeners stuck by him.  Many are members of the TEA Party, fed up with Obama's government overreach.  So, indirectly, Limbaugh's survival also reflects the strength of the TEA Party movement.  Yet the left has also been writing the conservative group's obituary.  Michael Moore just months ago proudly predicted that Occupy Wall Street would dwarf the TEA Party in size and influence.  Today, Occupy Wall Street is broken and its promised "spring offensive" never materialized.  In a delicious irony, the few rabble left in Manhattan have taken to booing and heckling Moore as a "1%er" and "$50-millionaire" whenever he drops by for a photo op.  There are more and more stories that show how out of touch with reality the left is, especially about the conservative movement's popularity, and the conservative and the TEA Party impact will be heard loud and clear in November.

(“The Left Misreads Popularity of Limbaugh, Tea Party” dated March 30, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/606319/201203301853/limbaugh-survives-white-house-mauling.htm )


* 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:

·  Bibliography at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/welcome/bibliography.php

·  Philosophy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/philosophy.php

·  Civil Rights at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/civilrights.php

·  Health Care at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/healthcare.php

·  Legal at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/legal.php

·  Foreign Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/foreignpolicy.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY