Views on the News
April 23, 2011
Views on the News*
Despite Government propaganda and manipulated statistics to the contrary, our economy continues to deteriorate as demonstrated by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Inc. cutting its outlook on the U.S. to negative, increasing the likelihood of a potential downgrade from its triple-A rating, as the path from large budget deficits and rising government debt remains unclear. The only surprise is why S&P waited so long to report on the obvious and why it didn't also remove the Triple A credit-rating of US debt. That downgrade of debt will follow eventually. Apparently S&P doesn't want to pronounce a corpse dead until it is put into the ground. Economic damage over the last several decades is structural, yet decision-makers continue to treat the problem as a normal, albeit severe, economic cycle. The US economy and many other world economies are in a debt death spiral. European "bailouts" are charades of the first order. They merely move problems from sick countries to healthy ones, jeopardizing the survival of the Eurozone. Academic economists fiddle with models and assumptions, looking desperately for something that will enable them to rationalize the situation. The irony is that it is Keynes' ideas that are responsible for the economic mess. In the meantime we spiral downward as life slowly ebbs from the economy. There is no way out except to recognize the level of debt is not supportable. Excess debt must be liquidated in order for the economy to recover, but that requires pay-downs and defaults, not bailouts. There will be lots and lots of defaults, because there is no other way. Massive amounts of debt must be liquidated, but confidence also must be restored. In order to right the economy, the fear and uncertainty imposed by existing and future government mandates and actions must be removed. The charade that government can solve this problem may continue for a while. So might the notion that the government cannot go bankrupt. Yet both beliefs are false and will be seen to be so. Spending, hiring, and investment will be unresponsive to anything the government may or can do because the myth of government is breaking down around the world.
(“It’s All Coming Apart” by Monty Pelerin dated April 19, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/its_all_coming_apart.html )
The deteriorating fiscal condition of the federal government under President Obama and the Democrat majority during Obama's first two years in the White House stands in sharp contrast with what Americans were doing to shore up their financial condition over the same time period. While Obama and the Democrat majority pulled us further into debt, more Americans reduced their debt and reined in excess spending. What many Americans did in 2009 and 2010 to improve their financial condition is exactly what conservative Republicans and the recently released Ryan proposal are seeking to do to the federal government. It would be wise for politicians on the Right to connect the two in the eyes of the voters. Contrast what the average American household did during the years in which the Democrats were in charge and the corresponding massive increase in government debt and spending. From a financial perspective, the left was running polar opposite in its financial philosophy than that of the American citizen during the time in which Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and the White House. There has been and continues to be a desire by the American consumer, who is also the American voter, to get his or her financial house in order by cutting expenses and slashing their debt. Sometimes these spending reductions and outright elimination of expenses have been difficult and painful. Things that seemed necessary had to be cut because the spending had to stop at some point. Unfortunately, the spending increases never stopped under Obama and the Democrats. The common sense financial state-of-mind among Americans is what conservatives appeal to when proposing reductions in government spending and battling against the 2012 fiscal budget. The American voters understand the necessity of reducing debt and making hard choices and Republicans explicitly linking to this strategy could pay substantial dividends in the 2012 elections.
(“The Democrats’ Final Disconnect From Americans” by Chad Stafko dated April 16, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/the_democrats_fiscal_disconnec.html )
Most of the current leaders and many of the rank and file within the American conservative movement have as their defining characteristic a bottomless pit of pessimism and timidity, combined with an overarching fixation with civility, while their political opponents, the liberals, have as their defining characteristic an air of confidence that they are always right as well as the smartest people in any room, combined with the knowledge that they can intimidate and exploit the aforementioned natural proclivity of the conservatives. Those on the left side of the American political spectrum have latched onto political theories and philosophies that stress the importance of a collective or strong central government as the primary solution to man's need to survive and prosper. These concepts have as their core the need for a central ruling class, theoretically benevolent, which dovetails nicely with the innate superior mindset of the left. In order to govern and control the levers of power, the left must obtain the consent of at least the majority of the citizenry. Never mind that the centralized approach to governing by a dominant ruling class has ultimately failed throughout the history of mankind, whether it was designated as a monarchy, oligarchy, or dictatorship, or in the modern era, adherents of Marxism, socialism, or communism. For these philosophies to succeed, they must have an economic underpinning that can provide the foundation for massive social spending. Conservatives, on the other hand, have a much harder sell. They must tout the fact that only limited power granted to government combined with a capitalist economic system can produce sufficient wealth to underwrite a social safety net for the public and finance the wealth and security of any nation. Capitalism does by its nature celebrate the success of the individual, not the collective. Individuals, separately or together, driven by the motive of self-enrichment, produce goods or services desired by others. In the process, jobs and wealth are created, thus benefiting society as a whole. In times of great prosperity it is a given that the people will prefer to focus on personal pleasures and entertainment and ignore, to a large degree, where a nation is headed, leaving that to its leadership. It was far easier to believe that the good times would last forever and overwhelm any damage an accelerated shift to a powerful central government would create. All civilizations will at some point begin a painful and accelerating slide into insolvency and ultimate obscurity. It is at that point when some societies begin to wake up from their stupor and question their leaders as to the how and why. Unfortunately it invariably takes a crisis of massive proportions and the potential loss of a way of life before the population becomes alarmed. The United States is now at that critical juncture. Yet the leaders of the conservative movement and its political party, the Republicans, are still unwilling and apparently unable to forcefully take on their opponents. The left and their political party, the Democrats, are loath to recognize the cliff just over the horizon. They are instead reveling in winning the game of one-upmanship and regurgitating the rhetorical flourishes that highlight the kabuki theater that has been the relationship between the two political entities over the past 80 years. The times, however, have changed beginning with the mid-term election in November 2010 and the grassroots emergence of the Tea Party movement. The majority of the American people now recognize the reality of the country's situation and the folly that are the machinations of the governing class in Washington D.C. President Obama, despite a well crafted and media driven cult of personality, is falling miserably behind in his handling of virtually all key issues. Despite an innate poll advantage in sampling that favors Democrats, 60% of voters disapprove of his actions regarding the economy, on the deficit 64% object and with health care 57%. More than 69% of likely voters say the country is on the wrong track; just 23% approve of the direction the nation is taking. Based on recent votes by the Senate Democrats backing his most unpopular policies, among them the repeal of ObamaCare and the EPA carbon regulations, it is apparent that the Democrats are willing to follow Obama anywhere he might take them. The Democrats and the left are so certain that the Republicans and many Washington based conservatives will revert to form that they are willing to risk re-election to back their President whom they believe will win easily in 2012. The United States is being held captive by an ideologically driven President, not because he has the support of the people but because the opposition is too cowed and browbeaten to offer more than token resistance and threadbare platitudes. The surrender on the government shutdown, the premature waving of the white flag over the issue of raising the debt ceiling, and the woeful lack of support of the Ryan budget plan by the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party have emboldened Obama and the Democrats. Despite the protestations of Obama and his sycophants in the media, the United States has stalled and tipped over into a long-term death spiral. It is no longer sufficient for the opposition party to use excuses such as they only control one House of the Congress or that they need to capture the White House to make a difference. Their inaction and passivity could well re-elect President Obama. The Republicans in Congress, those running or contemplating a run for the Presidency, the titular heads of the conservative movement, the conservative media, and the TEA Party movement must adopt a much more aggressive stance and demeanor toward the left and its allies, be it the media, unions, or their elected politicians. Their playbook is 80 years old, dog-eared, and open for all to see. The left and Obama will cower and retreat when confronted with a new and fearless conservative movement. If the battle is fought on those terms over the next nineteen months and the electorate chooses to re-instate Obama and the Democrats, then the choice of the American people will be to participate in the decline and fall of the United States.
(“No Time for Civility” by Steve McCann dated April 20, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/no_time_for_civility.html )
Republicans have to figure out how to talk about immigration without sounding like one of the characters from The Wizard of Oz: the Scarecrow (no brain), the Tin Man (no heart), or the Cowardly Lion (no courage):
· No brain: Rather than think deeply about illegal immigration and how to control it, as well as how to fix the immigration system so more people can come to the United States legally, some Republicans merely recite bumper sticker slogans like “Deport all illegals” or “Seal the border.”
· No heart: Rather than see the current debate as simply an extension of a conversation that has been going on since the late 1770s when Benjamin Franklin warned that German immigrants would ruin the young nation, some Republicans still portray the immigrants of today as inferior or dangerous.
· No courage: Rather than admit the obvious - that illegal immigrants only come to the United States because there are U.S. employers here who hire them, some Republicans steer clear of proposing employer sanctions for fear of angering their supporters and benefactors in the business community.
It’s not that Republicans are tough on illegal immigration, or that they value the rule of law, or that they care about border security, or that they care about American workers. It’s that Republicans can’t seem to talk about the immigration issue in a candid and honest way that eschews racism, acknowledges labor needs, and holds everyone accountable. The message is bad, and the tone is worse: It’s always us vs. them, with Latinos on the “them” side. The GOP needs a better message on the immigration issue:
· Talk about how it’s unfair for illegal immigrants to jump the line when others have had to play by the rules and wait their turn;
· Admit that Americans won’t do the jobs that illegal immigrants do at any price, and explain that this is why we need a guest worker program;
· Stress that some of the estimated 10.3 million illegal immigrants in the United States should have a pathway to earned legal status if they meet conditions, including returning to their home country to be processed for legal reentry;
· Call for harsh penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and make sure they’re enforced since we’ll never fix this problem unless we attack it at the roots;
· Promise a complete overhaul of the system by which immigrants can legally migrate to the United States so we can bring in more of them through the front door and do it a lot quicker than we do now; and
· Condemn in no uncertain terms the racism and nativism that poison this debate.
This is the only roadmap for 2012 Republican Presidential hopefuls to survive the pitfalls of the immigration debate, because every other path leads to the political margins and to eventual defeat.
(“A Roadmap on Immigration for 2012” by Ruben Navarrette Jr. dated April 17, 2011 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/a-roadmap-on-the-immigration-issue-for-2012/ )
For eight years, the left labeled George W. Bush as a war hawk, a reckless cowboy, and an idiot for his careless foreign policy, his endless invasions of tribal Arab countries, his reckless financial policies, and his stumbling speeches, but now that Barack Obama has adopted many of Bush's foreign policies and exceeded him in many respects. There has been very little practical difference in the politics of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, from immigration (both have espoused amnesty) to the Bush Tax Cuts to the Patriot Act. On the issue of foreign policy, Obama has not diverged at all from the Bush Doctrine. Obama has doubled down in Afghanistan, where, under his leadership, more U.S. soldiers have died than during the near-decade under George W. Bush's presidency. In Iraq, the so-called war of choice, President Obama declared in August 2010 that the last full combat brigade had departed, but 25 American troops have been killed in Iraq since then, and our military base and embassy in Iraq are among the largest in the world. Finally, President Obama has also launched new military operations, famously in Libya in 2011 and not so famously in Somalia in late 2009. Our current President has also mirrored Bush by not following through on his promise to close Guantánamo Bay. In President Bush's speech on the invasion of Iraq and President Obama's speech on the air assault on Libya, both presidents emphasized the same key elements: the need for allies in the region, a dictator who assaulted and slew his own people, their desire to present legitimate governments to the people of fractured nations, and both spoke of their reluctance to use military action. Perhaps the American left did not vilify George Bush because of those policies. Perhaps it was the negative attention the media focused on George Bush that did it. The answer is that the American left are hypocritical for their current defense of policies that they themselves once deemed unsupportable and now they must either depict President Obama in the same light or eat crow and acknowledge George Bush is the author of a doctrine that his successor would faithfully follow, and Bush deserves the credit!
(“Is Barack Obama George W. Bush?” by Ryan James Girdusky dated April 16, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/is_barack_obama_george_w_bush.html )
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) performance in Libya provides yet another reason why America should quit the 61-year-old NATO collective defense alliance. The U.S., which led the operation’s initial decapitation phase to protect the Libyan people against systematic attacks, has more pressing priorities in East Asia and the Middle East. Besides, Libya is a European concern, not an American problem. The alliance’s mission conduct is marked by incompatible goals and political and operational infighting, and most members are too stingy with their militaries. The unintended consequence is to encourage Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who is playing NATO’s fecklessness for a stalemate. Only 14 of the alliance’s 28 members are actively participating in the operation, and just six of those are striking targets on the ground in Libya. Meanwhile, the U.S. supports the operation with 46 aircraft for command-and-control, electronic warfare, and refueling missions, which accounts for half of the operation’s overall costs. NATO’s lackluster performance in Libya demonstrates that the alliance has outlived its usefulness. Consider five more reasons America should quit the alliance:
· First, America pays disproportionately for Europe’s security, while the Europeans are on a defense-spending holiday. The U.S. contributes 25% of NATO’s operating budget and spends more than twice the percentage of its gross domestic product on defense [4.7%], compared with all but one of its NATO partners [Greece at 4%].
· Second, the lack of defense investment results in ill-prepared NATO militaries. Most NATO forces lack sufficient helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles for operations in Afghanistan, and few European troops are equipped and trained for modern warfare.
· Third, NATO is irrelevant when dealing with modern security threats. The alliance lacks fundamental technologies for fighting terrorism, rebuilding failed states, and fighting counterinsurgencies.
· Fourth, NATO is not a promising global partner. Afghanistan has become a crucible for the alliance’s global partnering, with its “two-tiered” nature with some allies willing to fight and die to protect people’s security, and others who are not.
· Finally, Europe is no longer key to American security because the Soviet Union, our Cold War nemesis, is gone, and in its place is the Russian Federation, which poses far less of a strategic threat. That is why the U.S. is shifting its resources from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.
These issues justify Washington’s reconsideration of our NATO membership. Defense Secretary Gates warned that the U.S. military would have to scale back its overseas commitments and shrink to meet President Barack Obama’s proposed defense cuts. Unfortunately the Obama budget is driving a reduction in Defense capabilities, instead of the Defense mission and needs driving the budget to support this all important role.
(“Time for the U.S. to Quit NATO” by Robert Maginnis dated April 19, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=43018 )
Republican candidates for President have failed to produce much in the way of excitement, although some, though acceptable in terms of past experience and even legislative accomplishments, lack the excitement and/or charisma that the public seeks in today's candidates. Governor Chris Christie and Donald Trump have generated a lot of buzz recently. They both evidence certain key similarities in their personal styles: neither is afraid of conflict, both are plainspoken, both view political compromises more as concessions than wins, and neither fears pursuing practical solutions rather than emotional appeals. Christie is convinced of the righteousness of his cause, and Trump's independence of thought is assured by his fortune and position. As important as style is, though, it is only one component of leadership. The lack of substance in the form of knowledge, experience, vision, and integrity cannot be compensated for by speeches and slogans. If there is one thing that has characterized the Obama administration above all else, it is a pitiful lack of leadership. The American people expect their President to lead, not just his country but its allies in the free world. The reality is that true leadership requires both style and substance. Through their outspoken personal style, both Christie and Trump have created a positive response among the American people. Christie's experience speaks for itself. Whether Trump can withstand scrutiny over time is open to question, but, clearly, both have energized the race and made a salient point about the need for inspiration on the right. If the Republican Party is serious about winning in 2012, it is critical that Republicans realize that style will be as crucial as substance in the contest, and the combination of the two is requisite in conveying the essence of complex questions (such as economic policy) in a manner that the general public understands and trusts.
(“Substance and Style Needed to Defeat Obama in 2012” by Frank Burke dated April 15, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/substance_and_style_needed_to.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:
· Domestic Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/philosophy.php
· Agriculture at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/agriculture.php
· Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/education.php
· Employment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/employment.php
· Environment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php
· Health Care at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/healthcare.php
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php
· Judiciary at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/judiciary.php
· Foreign Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/philosophy.php
· Foreign Aid at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/aid.php