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Views on the News

May 2, 2009

 

Views on the News*  

In his first 100 days Obama has used his overwhelmingly Democrat majority in Congress to rush a massive amount of questionable spending into law planting the seeds for a gradual slide into economic socialism and surrender of global leadership to the United Nations.  Obama has described his New Foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century:  new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation; new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive; new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations.  Two of his stated goals (economic recovery, energy independence) are undermined by his actual policies.  As in everything that Obama does the impact of his legislation has been largely symbolic so far with little, if any, real achievement, or expectation that real progress will ever be made.  Bailing out companies, chasing stimulus money, converting government preferred stock into common stock (moving towards social democracy), making perpetrators victims, waiting for government to intervene and fix.  The Obama administration’s doctrine that only a large activist government, one that spends large sums of money as fast as possible, can ensure that the U.S. will have a prosperous future is sadly at odds with economic history.  After throwing billions of dollars at Chrysler, their bankruptcy can only be viewed as a failure of Obama’s bailout program.  Economic growth in the U.S. will be meager at best if Obama’s policies are implemented, even after the current financial and mortgage crisis passes.  On the foreign front President Obama goes to Europe and the Middle East, bowing and scraping (literally, just ask King Abdullah) and apologizing for the United States of America.  Obama rejects the advice of his own CIA director and decides to release specific details about the interrogation tactics our intelligence community used against some suspected terrorists, demoralizing and humiliating the men and women who are in the unenviable position of trying desperately to keep this country safe from another 9/11.  The question now is what will be the impact of these changes?  Although voters are not blaming Democrats for the initial downturn, they recognize that at some point ownership of the nation's economic problems switches from President Bush to the current occupant of the Oval Office.  Obama has done everything he can to elongate this recession as cover for his social engineering agenda and his Democratic Party will pay a price at the polls starting in 2010.  Polls show voters ambivalent about Obama's expansion of government, skeptical of global warming theories, and appreciative despite the financial crisis and recession of the efficacy of market capitalism to produce economic growth.  After this crisis is over, the American people want a return to normalcy, with balanced budgets and a limited state.  Americans still want to see power dispersed among a diversity of institutions, not concentrated in the hands of “super-technocrats” in Washington.  However the impact of Obama’s policies will be the balance of economic power moving away from the private and toward the public sector.  As a result Americans have a lower approval of Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969.  The explanation for Obama's low approval is that he ran as a moderate but has clearly governed from the far left.  If your only source of news was the Mainstream Media, there is no way you would hear anything but adulation which explains why their industry market share continues to plummet!  The best thing Obama can do now is to put a down payment on a peanut farm in Georgia, since he is well on his way to becoming the “second coming” of Jimmy Carter.

 

Obama has embraced a new “Gospel of Less” that preaches that ambition has been the root cause of every problem we have, from pirates attacking our ships to terrorists hating us to the Wall Street melt-down.  America at its best has always been about ambition; the desire for more.  The preachers of this “Gospel of Less” have picked up where Reverend Wright left off, suggesting that our very success is the magnet justifiably attracting so much hatred, and it’d serve us better to dial it back.  The President has divided the country into two camps by those who could need help and those who should be helping.  It is actually a road map to “placate” those who need help and punish those who have achieved and are the would-be helpers.  The President has, of course, demonized anyone who dares to earn over $250,000 a year, and made it abundantly clear he intends punishing such over-reaching at every opportunity.  Income disparity has more to do with ambition and initiative disparity than all other factors combined.  So it shouldn’t surprise us that a president who throws around other peoples’ money with unprecedented abandon is painting over-achievers as evil-doers, over-achievement as cause of all ills, and under-achievement as the life choice most worthy of pats on the back and hand-outs from the, well.  The trouble with Obama’s message is that it’s the over-achievers who create all the jobs, and the rich who make hospitals, medical research, universities, theater, and even political campaigns possible.  It’s their taxes that pave most of the roads, pay for most of our military, in fact, pay for most of everything.  Create enough discouragement and disincentive for over-achievement and the standard of living of the under-achieving mass majority will plunge.  Then the government must provide everything for everybody, and that will be a reality no one will like.  It’s why refugees risk all to get here from Cuba, but nobody is swimming from here to get Cuba.  If socialism is so superior to capitalism, why aren’t there armadas of rafts full of Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood blabbermouths, liberal activists, ACORN folks, etc. paddling as fast as they can away from here to the utopia waiting there?  Now Obama is preaching this gospel of less based on small thinking and shrunken ambitions.  It was pathetic when Jimmy Carter did it, and it is pathetic now, and it’s an insult to the nation.

 

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The “Media Pandemonium Machine” gives us perpetual crises, all the time as a tactic to distract voters to focus on bogus threats with imagined consequences instead of real problems with inadequate solutions.  The Mexican swine flu pandemic; global warming; human flesh-eating bacteria; SARS; ozone holes; mad cow disease; the curse of the killer tomatoes; waterboarding torture; CO2 greenhouse gases; bee colony collapse; it never ends!  As long as scare stories sell, as long as millions of indoctrinated suckers fall for them they will never end.  They've got you on a rat-running wheel, running scared every day, like rats scrambling to get away from electrical shocks that never actually come.   The Left rules by constant fear, but none of its predicted catastrophes come true.  There is an element of sadistic cruelty in the leftist Media Pandemonium Machine.  "Pandemonium" is the imaginary Hell of devils, and there is something truly demonic about the torrent of media madness we have to tolerate every day.  Only you can solve the problem of media madness by ignoring them: turn away from the scare headlines on the daily news, turn off the radio, don't click false-alarming websites.  The great liberal Media Pandemonium Machine is spreading disease, all right, but it's a psychiatric disease -- of unjustified fear, depression, and despair.  Unfortunately there are some very realistic dangers -- like terrorists blowing up a chunk of Manhattan or getting nuclear weapons.  You may not happen to remember this, because our media studiously avoid the subject, but real jihadi terrorists actually crashed real airplanes into Manhattan in 2001, after slitting the throats of cabin personnel and pilots.  And the same Islamist fanatics were planning to bring down the Los Angeles Library Tower and other American landmarks by hijacking six passenger planes from Heathrow Airport in Britain.  They are still trying and they are happy to tell us about their ongoing efforts.  If the terrorists ever succeed in creating another domestic catastrophe, the Left will blame anybody but themselves.  Real wackos like Kim Jong Il have real nuclear weapons and three-stage missiles, and they are actively spreading the technologies of mass destruction around the world, to Pakistan, Syria, and Iran; maybe other places, too.  All those real dangers are just swamped by the imaginary ones that the liberal Media Pandemonium Machine spreads over our lives like a blinding psychic fog.  Somehow this liberal fear machine avoids pointing out real dangers, since they are not very good understanding reality or defending against these genuine threats.

The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is Obama’s attempt to nationalize the leftist “community organizer” program and create a corps of political operatives to perpetuate Democrat dominance.  The Serve America Act reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created in 1993.  The Corporation engages four million Americans in result-driven service each year, including 75,000 AmeriCorps members, 492,000 Senior Corps volunteers, 1.1 million Learn and Serve America students, and 2.2 million additional community volunteers mobilized and managed through the agency's programs.  Paying people on false pretenses to do unnecessary things is the soul of AmeriCorps.  Since President Clinton created this program in 1993, politicians have endlessly touted its recruits as volunteers toiling selflessly for the common good.  The bill will fund 250,000 paid “volunteers” with a budget of $5.7 billion over five years and $10 billion over 10 years. That’s a lot of tax money to be spent bribing people away from actual volunteerism and into government-paid work. At the same time, President Obama is seeking to cut tax deductions for charitable giving by wealthy Americans. The combination could transform America, and not for the good. Generosity has been a hallmark of American character. It’s a product of the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and it’s the polar opposite of cold, contractual transfers that characterize socialism. In fact, socialism is so ugly in practice that it has to destroy its competitor, private charity, hence the proposed assault on charitable tax deductions.   AmeriCorps already got an extra $200 million from the stimulus bill.  Most AmeriCorps members then go on to work for government agencies or nonprofit groups.  Their AmeriCorps gig is more of a career stepping stone than an act of financial hari-kari.  AmeriCorps' prestige has perennially been at war with its boondoggles.  AmeriCorps has always relied on Soviet Bloc-style accounting to justify itself.  AmeriCorps advocates claim that AmeriCorps members spur 1.7 million other Americans to volunteer each year.  AmeriCorps routinely counts anyone who works in a project that AmeriCorps members "manage" as a new volunteer.  America has enough real volunteers: it does not need mass production of government-issue bogus volunteers.  The glorification of AmeriCorps should awaken Americans to the bogus leftist idealism permeating Washington.

 

Since assuming office, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has led the Interior Department on a crusade to slow, reduce or stop oil and gas development on federal lands, both onshore and offshore.   President Obama pledged that “as we transition to renewable energy, we can and should increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas… we're not going to transform our economy overnight. We still need more oil, we still need more gas.”  While the President certainly makes it sound like his Administration is acting to make us less dependent on foreign oil, he has spent his first 100 days in office throwing up roadblocks for the production of American-made energy.  The recession, economic crisis, and economic stimulus are being used as a cover to pass measures that will have a major negative impact on our lifestyles and our economy.  Salazar canceled leases already issued to companies to develop energy in Utah against the wishes of the Utah Congressional Delegation and governor.  He canceled the sale of commercial oil shale leases in the west that hold the key to what the government says is an energy resource of 2.6 trillion barrels....10 times as big as Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.  Then he ordered a halt to a plan for offshore oil and gas leasing that was almost 30 years in the making after Congress and President Bush finally lifted the moratorium that had made the U.S. the only country in the world that embargoed its own oil from itself….an act that would constitute an energy war against the U.S. if another country tried it.  Instead of helping us find and develop more oil and gas to run our transportation system, heat our homes and fire our furnaces, the secretary is probably best known for his much-ridiculed declaration a couple weeks ago that we could replace all of our coal plants that generate electricity with American coal and instead run the country on offshore windmills built in the Atlantic Ocean.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu has advocated he desire "to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”  The steeper the price at the pump, they reason, the fewer miles Americans will drive, the less petroleum they will consume, and the greener their lifestyles will become.  Meanwhile the proposed “Cap and Trade” stealth tax will not only limit CO2 emissions, but also raise the price for existing energy as the costs are passed through to the consumers.  Hard-pressed U.S. consumers and producers will find no relief from artificially inflated prices by turning to lower-cost imports, as the climate change zealots propose to erect trade barriers to raise the costs of foreign products produced under less severe environmental policy constraints.  That’s how one builds “street cred” in the White House that now has more Czars than the Romanov Dynasty and more environmental extremists than a local chapter meeting of EarthFirst!  The EPA, under direction from Czar Browner, declared that carbon dioxide was harmful to human health, even though it is the building block of all life on earth and we exhale it each time we breathe.  Any U.S. restrictions, whether consistent with WTO agreements or not, would undermine development in poorer countries and make it more difficult to achieve a multilateral consensus on the rules of trade that best support environmental objectives.  The government will now decide what your energy bills will be, how much energy you can use, and whether you have a job… do we really want to surrender this power to our government?

 

President Obama has promised an $8-billion federal investment in high-speed rail, plus $5 billion more over the next five years.  That’s just $13 billion in all, and for that, Obama promises to start building ten different rail corridors, each between 100 and 600 miles long.  Any real-life high-speed rail system on the scale Obama is promising would be vastly more expensive than the $13 billion he has committed; in fact, it would require close to half of the $787 billion contained in his recently passed stimulus package.  We know this because high-speed rail systems in other nations were not built, and are not operated, anywhere near as cheaply as Obama suggests.  In the past decade, Taiwan built a single 215-mile high-speed passenger route for $15 billion.  Germany, France, and Italy, often cited as advanced railroad nations, subsidize their rail systems heavily: between 1995 and 2003, Germany spent $104 billion on subsidies, France spent $75 billion, and Italy spent $64 billion.  Since its inception thirty-nine years ago, Amtrak has been a losing proposition.  It survives only because of generous annual federal subsidies.  That number was $1.3 billion in taxpayer money in 2008.  On its own in the free market, Amtrak would have gone the way of the Ford Edsel years ago.  High speed rail is another liberal pipe dream that will require massive federal subsidies to appear marginally affordable, while the real cost is buried in our increasing tax burden.

 

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President Obama’s first 100 days as a world leader have been an overwhelming failure, a damaging mix of diplomatic gaffes and humiliating apologies for America’s past, combined with a naïve outreach to American-hating tyrants and despots, as well as an overwhelming indifference towards traditional allies, including Britain.  It is hard to think of a U.S. president who has done more to weaken his country on the world stage in such a short period of time than that of the hapless Jimmy Carter.  As naïve and simplistic as it sounds the core tenets of the Obama Doctrine are:

·    Americans are to blame. 

·    Problems can be negotiated away.

·    Problems that can't be talked out can be bought off. 

·    Islamist terrorism doesn't exist. 

·    Israel's the obstacle to Middle East peace. 

·    Our nukes threaten world peace and we need to get rid of them.

·    Our military is dangerous. 

·    Our intelligence services are even more dangerous than our military.

·    Blame President George W. Bush.

What has Washington gained in return for its new approach?  More sneering condescension from continental European leaders, a refusal to fight in Afghanistan from most of the NATO alliance, an increase in saber-rattling from North Korea, an acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program, a renewed assertiveness from Moscow, and an insulting book on the evils of Western imperialism as a gift from Chavez.  The new approach is the product of an American-Idol-style White House obsessed with spin and image at the expense of American power.  Obama’s foreign policy actions in his first 100 days have served largely to undermine American power and strengthen our foes.

 

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The policies we’ve seen come out from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue represent some of the most reckless spending, borrowing and taxing America has ever seen, with a fair share of broken promises thrown in for good measure.  His first 100 days offer us a frightening glimpse of what a "changed America" could look like: trillions in debt, suffocated free markets, diluted forms of capitalism, and individual liberties sacrificed at the altar of collectivism.  Democrats have demonstrated an arrogance of power that uses the economic recession as justification to enact their policies designed to unravel the very fabric of our way of life.  In addition to their irresponsible spending and dangerous borrowing, the Democrats have already taken steps to nationalize our banking and automotive industries and have their sights set on America’s health care system and energy industry.  Democrat arrogance toward those who dare to dissent illustrates that there clearly is another side to the high-minded rhetoric and feel good sentiment.  First came the Democrats’ $787 billion economic stimulus package.  It was intended, first and foremost, to help create much-needed jobs.  What it became was a bill larded up with billions of dollars in pork-barrel spending that offered American families little hope in terms of direct job creation.  Then came Nancy Pelosi’s $410 billion in spending on a fiscal year 2009 omnibus package that contained 8,000 earmarks.  Next came the President’s jaw-dropping $3.6 trillion budget that would raise taxes on the very job-producing small businesses our economy needs right now.  It will leave a $9 trillion deficit hanging over the heads of our children and grandchildren and leave them indebted to China and countries in the Middle East for generations to come.  Republicans understand that maximizing our resources to get our economy back on track has to be the top priority.  Congressional Republicans have offered to work with the President on bipartisan solutions only to be shut out of the process by Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats.  The most obvious expression of voter frustration with the spending policies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats could be seen in the many “Tea Parties” that took place across America on April 15th, but these true grassroots events were callously dismissed by Democrat leadership.   The only reaction to Arlen Specter coming out of the closet as a Democrat vs. his “Republican in Name Only” guise is “Good Riddance,” since his voting record has been liberal for years!

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you go out of your way to find it, you will miss important breaking events.  I package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning for your reading pleasure and to fill in factual vacuums. 

 

If you are sick and tired of government and politics as usual, read my web site with its individual issue analysis and recommendations sections at: http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com .  Individual issue updates this week include:

 

Week’s Best Articles:

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY