Views on the News

May 18, 2013

Views on the News*  

Obama is keen to expand government, but he wants nothing do with administering it, even though he’s part of a lavishly funded operation called “The Obama Administration,” but he’s reluctant to discuss what the Obama Administration does.  The spectacle of a non-President loosely associating himself with an un-Administration that doesn’t take responsibility for anything is particularly troubling in combination with Obama’s vision of the all-powerful super-State.  The same people who targeted Obama’s political opponents for audits will be the enforcement arm of a health-care plan that’s already coming apart at the seams… a plan that grants insane levels of “discretion” to the iron-fisted bureaucracy that will be enforcing scores of mandates against millions of individuals and business entities.  The combination of huge deficits plus non-budgeted federal spending is an evasion of accountability.  Fraud and abuse become permanent fixtures of the Leviathan State, because none of its dependents are expected to sacrifice a nickel after scam artists scurry away with billions of dollars.  Politicians score points by promising to crack down on problems that never get addressed, because their failure to actually address the problem is not hurting any vengeful constituencies.  It’s easy to talk about accountability when you know you’ll never be forced to eat your words at the ballot box buffet.  We find ourselves with an Administration that can no longer earn the minimal level of trust that would be required for a trim libertarian government, let alone reach the highly improbable level of transparency and accountability that would make Obama-sized government seem vaguely reasonable.  Scandal after scandal rocks this Administration, but none of its power players are ever held to account.  No one admits wrongdoing; nobody gets fired.  Bloody disasters from Benghazi to Boston are portrayed as stunning surprises nobody could have anticipated, but then we learn of countless red flags that were ignored… by the same government that devotes very special levels of scrutiny to law-abiding domestic political opponents.  We are told to accept the authority of those who recognize no authority and we can be punished for failing to comply with their agenda, even when obedience violates our conscience, but no dereliction of duty on their part is unacceptable.

(“Enter the non-President and his un-Administration” by John Hayward dated May 13, 2013 published by Red State at http://www.redstate.com/2013/05/13/enter-the-non-president-and-his-un-administration/ )

We are seeing the utter implosion of the Obama second term.  First, a hearing for whistleblowers over the Benghazi terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2012, revealed that the White House had failed in their duty to provide security to Americans on the ground in Libya.  Then, ABC News reported that the Obama administration had manipulated talking points to minimize the organized nature of the terror attacks.  Next, the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that during the 2012 election cycle, it gave heightened scrutiny to non-profit applicants who happened to have the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their titles.  The media quickly reported that the discrimination went deeper than that: Any group that wanted smaller government, pushed Constitutional education or even wanted to improve quality-of-life found itself under the IRS microscope. Then, it turned out that the IRS hadn't merely been targeting conservative groups, it had been targeting Jewish groups that didn't meet the Obama administration's foreign policy criteria of being ambivalent about the state of Israel.  Finally, the DOJ admitted that for two months, it had been secretly grabbing telephone records for reporters and editors at the Associated Press. The head of the Associated Press called the action "a massive and unprecedented intrusion."  The legacy of the Obama administration is to blame everyone else.  It began with Bush.  Then it became Congressional Republicans.  Now it's everybody within the Obama administration with the sole exception of the President.  To call this unpresidential would be the understatement of the year. It is cowardly. Obama has spent his entire career leading from behind then jumping forward to take credit when things go right.  He drafted off the Bush administration's anti-terror policies to find and kill Osama Bin Laden, then he ran his re-election campaign on that kill as his entire foreign policy.  He tried to crush small business then claimed credit for the jobs they created in spite of his policies.  And when things go wrong, Obama ensures he is far out of the line of fire.  It's always everybody else's fault for this President, which means that he can't be trusted.  His entire Presidency has rested on the pitch that Americans should trust him.  Even if the American people were to embrace his policies, there is no guarantee he'd be in control of the agencies charged with implementing them. He's been an absentee landlord for the entire executive branch for five years now, unless he is to blame, but in that case we have a far more serious problem than incompetence.

(“Obama: the Buck Doesn’t Stop Here” by Ben Shapiro dated May 15, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2013/05/15/obama-the-buck-doesnt-stop-here-n1594616 )

The greatest myth in American politics today is the view, perpetrated by the Democratic Left and elements of the news media, that Barack Obama is a political moderate when in truth he represents an ideology that is barely within the American mainstream as understood over two and a quarter centuries of political experience.  Indeed, the crisis of American politics in our time is a crisis of political deadlock, and it is a deadlock born largely of the President’s resolve to push an agenda for which he has no clear national consensus.  If Obama has his way through the remainder of his Presidency, and he thoroughly intends to, he will leave behind an American system very different from the one he inherited.  Aided and abetted by news-media acolytes, he has managed to finesse his true domestic intentions.  Throughout America’s political history a fundamental fault line has divided those who wish to enhance and aggrandize the power of government and those who fear the abuse of unchecked governmental prerogative.  Those who want more power invested in government are liberals; those who don’t are conservatives.  Some have been content to operate largely within the power interrelationships they inherited.  Others, including Obama, want to infuse government with powers and prerogatives far beyond their previous scope.  The opponents of governmental aggrandizement, citing the Constitution, fought their adversaries’ efforts to expand governmental power and activity.  Obama is seeking to expand the federal government’s reach far beyond any previous President’s best efforts.  His “ObamaCare” health program inserts the federal government more directly than ever into some 15% of the economy.  His Dodd-Frank legislation with its new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeks to regulate financial markets through widespread bureaucratic meddling.  Obama’s zest for power seems to breed contempt for the legislative and judicial branches of government.  Since Congress rejected his cap-and-trade legislation, he has sought to implement much of it through regulatory activity and executive decision making.  In unleashing military action in Libya, he stiffed Congress’s constitutional authority in war-making decisions.  His drone-warfare efforts have been conducted largely without regard to the sensibilities of Congress.  Every thinking American knows that the country’s out-of-control entitlement system is responsible for its public-debt, which represents the most dire threat facing the country today.  Obama shows little interest, and his party even less, in addressing the entitlement crisis as part of any solution to the debt crisis.  The only question is how much damage Obama will be able to generate before the next election.

(“The Myth of a Moderate Obama” by Robert W. Merry dated May-June 2013 published by The National Interest at http://nationalinterest.org/article/the-myth-moderate-obama-8376 )


It’s become a cliché these days to say you don’t trust the media because the problems aren’t as bad as they appear; they are much, much worse.  As usual, almost everyone is focused on exactly the wrong things.  The problem isn’t that the occasional journalist makes a mistake on deadline.  The problem isn’t big business, or corporate control.  It isn’t even the Koch brothers.  Here are the real problems, and there aren’t any solutions:

·    Speed - Newspaper companies used to put out one newspaper per day.  Those working on features could spend weeks or even months on them.  Today, we want the news as fast as Twitter, or faster, but with lots of checking too.  With reporters increasingly running around like headless chickens, perpetually tweeting, blogging, doing videos and writing stories, mistakes are going to happen more and more.

·    Money - Media outlets are advertising for unpaid “an experienced writer” with a “solid” record of publishing articles in outlets such as the New York Times, National Geographic.  If readers won’t pay the magazine for the news, how do they expect the magazine to pay the writers?  This collapse of the economics of reporting is deeply corrupting, leading to superficial reporting.  

·    Access – Interviewers are paid for access to newsmakers, but access is denied to those who ask tough questions.  To get critical interviews, you must promise an easy ride.  No one who asks tough questions will ever get “access,” and an increasingly powerless media needs access.

·    Consensus – The best reporters are smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.  They were tough, angry SOBs and they produced great stories.  Now reporters who get promoted and succeed in the modern news organization are people who are gregarious, who “buy in” to the dominant consensus, who go along to get along and don’t ask too many really awkward questions.  Consensus” opinions and conventional wisdom, repeated over and over again by various commentators and vested interests are the new norm.

·    Narratives - We think in terms of stories that are narratives around facts, whether the facts justify the narratives or not.  In the new world of Infinite Media, where there are no rules, walls or restraints, all parts of the media are subject to an overwhelming incentive to pander to that bias.

Americans are programmed to call that “freedom,” but media today is actually closer to chaos with trust lost and never recovered.

(“The news media is even worse than you think” by Brett Arends dated May 10, 2013 published by Market Watch at http://articles.marketwatch.com/2013-05-10/finance/39152427_1_media-jason-collins-newspaper )

The town is turning on President Obama, and this is very bad news for this White House because more and more people have become disillusioned with this President.  Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now.  Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this President to begin with, are starting to speak out. Now reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.  Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on, so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.  Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats.  The press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.  This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system.  Republican outrage is predictable, maybe even manageable, but Democrat outrage is not.  Democrats are privately befuddled by the White House’s flat-footed handling of this P.R. and legal mess, blaming a combination of bad timing, hubris and communications ineptitude.  None of this is going away.  Top Republicans tell us the Benghazi investigations will last at least months, and probably until the midterms of 2014 and beyond; also the IRS scandal and new scrutiny of how the Obama White House clamps down on its critics. Republicans are  working up plans to use the backdrop of government incompetence and over-reach to try to further undermine implementation of the new health care law.  The long-term danger is that the political system and the public start to view the President, his motives and ideas through a more skeptical lens.  The AP Washington bureau chief, said “One common thing with Benghazi and the IRS scandal, is we’re being misled every day. We were lied to on Benghazi, on the talking points behind Benghazi, for months. We were lied to by the IRS for months and now they’re sending a clear message to our sources:  ‘Don’t embarrass the administration or we’re coming after you.’”

(“D.C. turns on Obama” by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei dated May 14, 2013 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/dc-turns-on-obama-91386.html?hp=t3_3 )


Liberalism, sometimes called Progressivism, is an intolerant religious culture with its own sacraments, such as abortion, socialized medicine, gay rights, green energy, wealth redistribution, gun prohibition, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, among others.  Its high priests are treated as infallible.  The religion actively seeks to reduce and replace all other religions with which it competes.  It is enmeshed with the state, so that the religion and government have become virtually indistinguishable.  Imagine a closed, regressive, sometimes violent culture.  Freedom of thought brings punishment.  One is not encouraged to consider alternative views.  One's place in the culture is determined by circumstances of birth, and he can never be otherwise defined than by such things as race, gender, and social status.  Strict adherence to the code is enforced at the risk of severe repercussions.  Only carefully cultivated and proscribed beliefs are acceptable, and others are strongly, even violently discouraged.  The beliefs are not grounded in truth, and often are the product of bigotry and overt prejudice.  Intolerance and self-righteousness are hallmarks of the culture.  Only dogmas approved by the hierarchy are permitted to be repeated.  Those who chant and believe them, while punishing those who do not, are faithful.  They are rewarded with acceptance, financial benefits, and even fame.  They are held up as examples of virtue.  They are deemed heroic.  Opponents of the closed culture, however, are portrayed as dim-witted and slow-thinking, motivated by malice rather than wisdom or experience. Those who presume to profess a different faith have earned the privilege of being slandered and defamed by the culture. In this culture, religion and law are hopelessly blurred, so that the tenets of the culture's religion become policy.  There are core beliefs which cannot be challenged or limited.  Nonbelievers are infidels, and those who convert to conflicting beliefs are apostates.  The dishonest beliefs of the culture are forced into the minds of its children from the earliest age.  Indoctrination motivates the educational system as well, which encourages prejudice against those who think differently while encouraging self-congratulation for one's own prejudices and false beliefs.  The culture has decided it owns the children and will form them as they should be.  Those who do not adapt themselves to the closed culture are shunned, ostracized, publicly humiliated.  They are treated as unworthy of existence alongside the virtuous practitioners of the closed culture. They are labeled the cult's "enemy".  The practitioners of the Liberal religion reveal themselves whenever they must defend the faith from any risk of exposure as a fraud.  They wage their own form of jihad upon the nonbelievers and apostates.  When truth is punished, and honesty is condemned, all members of a society are obliged to look clear-eyed at those whom the cult protects, and question why any of us would permit such people to rule us.  It is long past time to protect our honorable nation from the soulless culture that seeks its destruction from within.  The dishonesty and vitriol of their detractors could not more clearly illustrate the differences between the cult and the rest of us.

(“Cultural Warfare” by Jeffrey T. Brown dated May 11, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/05/cultural_warfare.html )


Although our government-supplied data suggests we are experiencing low inflation and modest economic growth, the economy shows symptoms of low growth, rising prices, and diminishing purchasing power.  There is strong anecdotal evidence that inflation in the United States is higher than official figures.  Americans are downsizing their lives as their incomes fail to keep pace with rising prices.  These symptoms are at odds with the widespread belief in an accelerating recovery that has resulted in braggadocio in Washington and euphoria on Wall Street.  Cost conscious consumers are shifting away from higher margin packaged products sacrificing convenience for cost.  Rising prices were obscured by consumers purchasing lower quality products.  They are opting out of the convenience of prepared foods.  There is a steady increase in the share of income that Americans devote to food and energy.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis data, in 2002 Americans spent about 17.8% of income on food and energy.  In the first quarter of 2013 the share had risen by a factor of 20% to 21.3% of income.  Increased share of spending on necessities like food and energy is consistent with falling living standards.  The March trade deficit also narrowed to $38.8 billion, but the reduction didn't come from increased exports (which actually declined), but by the sharpest drop in imports since February 2009.  Oil imports declined to a seventeen-year low, in part due to rising domestic production, but also due to a record low in 13 years in gasoline consumption.  While some may argue that is a function of greater energy efficiency, it's more likely that usage is down because of high prices and high unemployment.  The government also reported that personal spending rose by .2% in March.  The combination of symptoms suggests that the extent to which people are being impoverished by accelerating inflation is not reflected in official government measurements. This explains why unemployment remains high even as GDP appears to rise.  It is my belief that the unprecedented expansion of the money supply under the current Fed leadership is pushing up prices for stocks, bonds, real estate, and consumer goods.  Market indices neatly capture the price increases for all of these categories except for the latter, which has been concealed by an overly adjusted CPI.  If consumer inflation data were reported more accurately, it would be revealed that much of the apparent growth is an illusion because patients are getting sicker, but the doctor is too distracted to notice.

(“Symptoms Don’t Lie” by Peter Schiff dated May 11, 2013 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/05/11/symptoms_dont_lie_100315.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:

·  Agriculture at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/agriculture.php

·  Foreign Trade at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/trade.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY