Views on the News
Views on the News*
May 3, 2014
With multiple crises spiraling out of control around the world, stories about the Obama Presidency are taking on the air of postmortems and even The New York Times is starting to recognize that Dear Leader is a global flop. These stories amount to an autopsy of a failed Presidency. The Democrats, in and out of office, supported him with unprecedented gobs of money and near-unanimous votes. They said “aye” to any cockamamie concept he came up with, echoed his demonization of critics and helped steamroll unpopular and unworkable ideas into reality. Some backers knew better, and said so privately, but publicly they were all in. Whether it was ObamaCare, his anti-Israel position or the soft-shoe shuffle around the Iranian nuke crisis, they lacked the courage to object. They said nothing as Obama went on foreign apology tours and stood silent as our allies warned of disastrous consequences. Despite protests from a succession of Pentagon leaders, former Democrat defense hawks are helping Obama hollow out our military as Russia and China expand theirs and al Qaeda extends its footprint. That system broke down under Obama, and the blame starts with the media. By giving the President the benefit of the doubt at every turn, by making excuses to explain away fiascos, by ignoring corruption, by buying the White House line that his critics were motivated by pure politics or racism, the Times and other organizations played the role of bartender to a man on a bender. The Media joined the party, forgetting the lessons of history as well as their own responsibilities to put a check on power. A purpose of a free press is to hold government accountable, but there is no fallback when the watchdog voluntarily chooses to be a lapdog. From the start, support for Obama often had a cult-like atmosphere. He sensed it, began to believe it and became comfortable demanding total agreement as the price for his leadership. The milking of perks, from golf trips to Florida to European vacations for the first lady, is shockingly vulgar, but not a peep of protest comes from his supporters. The IRS becomes a political enforcer, but that is accepted because nobody will risk their access by telling Obama no. The evidence is everywhere that his ideas are flawed, that his view of economics, diplomacy, the military, history, science and religion are warped by his own narcissism. He doesn’t even talk a good game anymore. Those who shielded him from facts and their own best judgment did him no favors.
(“The media is turning on President Obama” by Michael Goodwin dated April 27, 2014 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2014/04/27/the-media-is-turning-on-president-obama/ )
The reason Marxists have been unable to promote revolution in Western Europe and America is simple: the majority of European and American workers didn't believe a word of what the Marxists had to say and neither did they want what they had to offer. Workers didn't want to be spoon-fed and led by an elite (or a “revolutionary vanguard”) or very privileged Marxists/Leftists into a giant Gulag like the Soviet Union. They were to “take over the institutions” and bring about “cultural Marxism” from the top. This new Leftist hegemony was to be imposed upon the working class via the schools, universities, local councils, the law, etc. Leftists like Antonio Gramsci believed that without a hegemony, the working class would remain 'particularistic' or individualistic. In his own day, Gramsci didn't believe that the working class had a collective will, unlike the capitalists, so that middle-class Marxists such as himself must create it for them. Despite the abstract reality of the working class, it is still made up of a “plurality of demands, political initiatives, traditions and cultural institutions.” That plurality is inherently unstable from a Marxist perspective. This is where the Gramscians step in to provide a sense of stability to that plurality by creating a determinate class-consciousness, or a new hegemon, for the working class. That could only be done by “taking over the institutions,” not through the classical violent (Marxist) revolution. Traditional Marxists believed that such a hegemonic consciousness (or class consciousness) would come naturally to the working class as capitalism inevitably led to the increasing polarization of society. The more polarized, or poor, the working class became, the more class-conscious they would become. If economic alienation and polarization didn't automatically make the working class more class-conscious (or if Marx's prophesy of “pauperization” didn't occur), then Gramsci and other middle-class Marxists would make the workers class-conscious. Instead of the “modes of production” generating class-consciousness, here we have Gramscians attempting to generate consciousness instead. The best way to create a new working-class consciousness is to take over the institutions in which ideas/ideologies, rather than “material conditions,” are primary. Thus Leftists have conquered many institutions of the UK and America and therefore created, just as Gramsci wanted, a Leftist 'hegemony.' They have taken over large parts of the following: the legal system, the universities, councils, the charities, the BBC, the press, various churches, the police and so on. The goal is primarily about cultural Marxism from the top; as well as the continuing Leftist Long March through those remaining institutions which are not, as yet, completely under their control.
(“Antonio Granci: Take Over the Institutions!” by Paul Austin Murphy dated April 26, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/04/antonio_gramsci_take_over_the_institutions.html )
Medical insurance and public education might seem to be two different worlds with different problems, but the proposed solutions were essentially the same. Here are ten descriptions that apply equally to ObamaCare and Common Core:
1. HUGE FEDERAL POWER-GRAB: The obvious result of both ObamaCare and Common Core is that Obama and his czars get a bigger government to administer, more money to play with, more jobs for their loyal troops, and more control over people’s lives.
2. NOT RESPONSES TO POPULAR DEMAND: ObamaCare and Common Core were massive, top-down interventions demanded by left-wing politics and ideology, not something the public asked for. Alleged problems were used as an excuse for adopting solutions that would grow government.
3. INCOMPREHENSIBLE BY DESIGN: Thousands of new requirements, regulations, laws, and standards were contained in dense verbiage that neither Congress nor the public would ever read and couldn’t understand if they did. Almost every paragraph includes expanded powers and hidden consequences.
4. PUBLIC EXCLUDED FROM LEGISLATIVE PROCESS: The complexity of the political process, plus the density of jargon and propaganda, ensured that John Q. Citizen was ignored. These programs were passed by stealth, chicanery, arm-twisting, and bribes.
5. DISHONEST MARKETING: The Obama administration made endless promises that turned out to be endless lies, all symbolized by Obama’s promise that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. States were told that if they liked their schools the way they are, they can keep them that way.
6. MEDIA COMPLICIT: The mainstream media became cheerleaders. News reports were not critical or analytical. No newspapers in America opposed these radical programs.
7. VERY EXPENSIVE, WITH RISING COSTS: The propaganda for these programs emphasized that the government would save money and individual citizens would get more for less. Medical costs immediately went up for individuals, with Common Core as well.
8. FUNDAMENTAL TRANSFORMATION: Both programs embody what Obama meant when he talked about “a fundamental transformation of the country.” Socialists have been seeking this “transformation” for 100 years.
9. TOTALITARIAN INTENT: Both programs prescribed in detail how everyone must think and behave. Both programs allow the government to collect far more information and to meddle in more aspects of everyone’s life.
10. INSTANT TRAIN WRECKS: Both programs, once they left the station, became train wrecks. As things continue to go wrong, Obama will simply declare: “It’s a big success.
All the similarities mean that once you understand one of these programs, you understand the other. There is fraud, malfeasance, and bad faith hanging over both of these schemes. The logical thing is repeal both ObamaCare and Common Core, or get accept the worst.
(“ObamaCare and Common Core: Two Fronts of the Same Coup” by Bruce Dietrick Price dated April 27, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/04/obamacare_and_common_core.html )
A favorite saying of liberals not long ago was: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” but liberals now have changed their minds because all dissent must be suppressed, censored, or at the very least marginalized. Hillary Clinton, then a senator, said it. It was on bumper stickers. John Kerry, also a senator, said in 2006, as violence engulfed Iraq, that dissent in wartime and support for a war are “two sides of the very same patriotic coin.” Most liberals now condemn dissent over political issues. Global warming activists are seeking to silence “deniers,” urging the media to ignore them and publications to reject their writings. Liberals, including Obama, claim ObamaCare is a success, thus critics should shut up. Others say dissent from Obama’s policies is illegitimate, motivated only by his being an African American. Liberals, it turns out, aren’t very liberal these days, and not just in their efforts to stifle dissent. Liberals become name-callers, casually using words like “racist” to delegitimize thoughts, ideas, and proposals they oppose without mounting any substantive argument against them. Another poisonous term once detested by liberals has become part of their political vocabulary: “un-American.” Senate majority leader Harry Reid calls the Koch brothers, who aid Republican candidates, “un-American.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says Republicans are “un-American.” The lawyer for IRS official Lois Lerner says it would be “un-American” for the House to hold her in contempt. On policies, too, liberals have drifted away from traditional liberalism. Until Obama was elected, Democrats were champions of human rights. Obama let concern for human rights interfere with other foreign policy concerns. He was silent when demonstrations for democracy erupted in Iran. He’s made little effort to free political prisoners around the world, notably in Russia. For decades after World War II, liberals were passionate defenders of democratic Israel, but today they aren’t. They’ve acceded to Secretary of State Kerry’s approach to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Free trade has gradually slipped from the liberal agenda. The short explanation is unions oppose free trade, so now liberals oppose it. On tax reform, liberals continue to say they are for it. Liberals were leading voices for the tax reform in 1986 that eliminated preferences and loopholes, broadened the tax base, and cut rates. but that’s no longer the liberal formula. Obama’s version of tax reform is killing business tax breaks and spending the money rather than using it to reduce taxes. Liberals now call themselves “progressives,” whatever that menas, but a name change was appropriate, because the folks formerly known as liberals certainly aren’t very liberal anymore.
(“Shut Up, They Explained” by Fred Barnes dated May 12, 2014 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/shut-they-explained_788987.html )
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal put forth a 23-page proposal seeking to answer critics of Republican efforts to terminate ObamaCare. This proposal distills several conservative ideas on health care into a few big ones:
· Ending the disparate tax treatment given to employer-based rather than individual health plans, and instead issuing a standard deduction for health insurance which would incentivize the market to control insurance costs rather than letting them run riot.
· Establishing a ten-year, $100 billion pool of block grants to allow states to subsidize the purchase of health insurance for those whom a standard tax deduction won’t benefit.
· Expanding options for consumers with Health Savings Accounts and creating incentives for, establishment of, and participation in, wellness programs.
· Reconfiguring Medicaid and Medicare to make it more difficult to practice fraud by replacing the federal government’s current “pay and chase” model with something more sensible.
· Guaranteeing available insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.
· Turning Medicare into a premium-support plan for seniors purchasing their own insurance and reforming the Medigap program.
· Measures to improve the ability to maintain insurance coverage through job changes, the creation of interstate purchasing of health insurance, and tort reform.
· Allowing for the creation of pools for group insurance, which don’t center on employment at a specific firm. In other words, making it possible for trade groups, fraternal organizations, churches, alumni groups, and other voluntary organizations to provide health insurance to their members.
It’s a decent summary of Republican and conservative health reform ideas which have existed for some time, along with a few new ones. Jindal’s proposal put the lie to the Democrat narrative that conservatives don’t have anything to offer on health reform. The fact is there are lots of alternatives to the clunky, overpriced, unworkable, Industrial Age, nanny-state model the President has foisted on an unwilling public. Jindal’s plan has as its primary virtue that it doesn’t present itself as “comprehensive,” but rather a set of individual reforms, which could be passed, experimented with, and, if necessary, discarded one by one. There was a time when such an approach was considered good legislation. One major dysfunction in Washington is the widespread preference for sweeping, omnibus changes to whole sectors of the American economy without anyone knowing exactly what they’re voting for. Less than a month after its release, the public knows nothing of Jindal’s health care reform plan. It’s hard to build support for your health care proposals when nobody has seen them. The lack of salesmanship and inability to create a buzz make the Freedom and Empowerment plan just one more forgotten white paper drowned in an ocean of Democrat calumnies about how conservatives don’t have any ideas on health care.
(“His Own Worst Salesman” by Scott McKay dated April 29, 2014 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/articles/58333/his-own-worst-salesman )
President Obama’s most dangerous lie is that al Qaeda has been “decimated” and is “on the path to defeat.” al Qaeda is present and active in twice as many countries as it was six years ago (i.e., near the end of the Bush administration). Moreover, al Qaeda is not even “on the path to defeat” in Pakistan, where the Obama administration has concentrated its efforts. To the contrary, it is resurgent there, having succeeded in recruiting well-educated, middle-class Pakistanis. Meanwhile in Syria, al Qaeda fighters are enjoying their greatest successes since at least 2006, before the Bush administration’s surge routed them in Anbar province where, by the way, al Qaeda is also resurgent. Obama engineered a self-inflicted defeat in Iraq. He refused to provide meaningful assistance to non-al Qaeda rebels in Syria, paving the way for al Qaeda’s dominant position in the rebellion. Underlying the Obama administration’s failed approach to al Qaeda is its absurd, politically-driven definition of that organization. The administration applies a definition that tracks the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which gave President Bush the authority to wage war against al Qaeda and still defines the limits of Presidential authority in this fight. Under that definition, al Qaeda would consist of “those nations, organizations, or persons planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001…” Under this definition, and only this minimal definition, Obama can honestly claim that al Qaeda has been decimated. It can also justify its primary strategy for dealing with al Qaeda, a war of attrition against specific individuals. al Qaeda has replenished its ranks, including new leaders. Given the levels of violence it has perpetrated in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and given the numerous al Qaeda terrorist plots that are continually being uncovered in Europe and the Middle East, it makes no sense to view al Qaeda as consisting of the men who planned 9/11 and the people who affiliate with or adhere to that particular crew. Most of the original al Qaeda men are gone but their successors soldier on, and with increasing success. Team Obama’s definition of al Qaeda is useful to the President. It enables him to claim victory over al Qaeda and to de-escalate the fight with an eye towards withdrawing from it. Unfortunately, al Qaeda is not war weary; it is stronger than it’s been in years and arguably stronger than ever.
(“Obama’s most dangerous lie” by Paul Mirengoff dated April 26, 2014 published by Powerline at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/obamas-most-dangerous-lie.php )
* 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