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Views on the News

May 19, 2012

 

Views on the News*  

If the election were held today, Mitt Romney would win by a landslide.  The published polls reflect a close race, but most poll only registered voters, not likely voters.  Rasmussen is the only pollster who tests likely voters, and his latest tracking poll has Romney ahead by 48-43.2.  Obama has a better than 50% job approval in only 10 states and the District of Columbia, and his approval has dropped in almost every single state.  Obama’s personal favorability, which has usually run about 10 to 20 points higher than his job approval, is now equal to his job rating.  Obama’s crashing personal favorability reflects the backlash from his recent speeches.  In substance, their focus on class warfare and their bombastic, demagogic style are not playing well with the voters, and they do not seem in the least Presidential.  Nor does his message of attacking Big Oil seem constructive, because they do not see in repealing their tax breaks a way of lowering prices at the pump or of increasing the supply of oil.  Obama’s trip to Afghanistan looks like grandstanding, and his insinuation that Romney would never have launched the strike looks like a low partisan blow.  Obama cannot summon the commitment he got in 2008 by negatives or partisanship.  It was precisely to change the “toxic” atmosphere in Washington that he was elected. To fan it now is not the way to regain the affection of those who have turned on him.  If the election were held today, Obama would lose by at least 10 points and would carry only about a dozen states with fewer than 150 electoral votes.  And the Republicans would keep their Senate seats in Arizona, Texas and Nevada while picking up seats in Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Montana. The GOP will also have good shots at victory in the Senate races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.  The journalists in the mainstream media, who are not politicians and have never run campaigns, do not realize what is happening.  The Democrats, as delusional in 2012 as they were in 2010, are too much into their own euphoria to realize it.  Meanwhile America is sharply and totally rejecting Obama and all he stands for and embracing Romney as a good alternative, and while few are saying these words, they are the truth. 

(“Romney Should Win in a Landslide” by Dick Morris dated May 10, 2012 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/05/10/romney_should_win_in_a_landslide_114108.html )

Remember how candidate Barack Obama complained in 2008 that any discussion not involving the economy was a "distraction," but this time, Obama’s entire campaign is built on distracting voters from any discussion of the economy.  During his 2008 campaign, one of Obama's favorite words was "distraction" which he constantly plugged it into his speeches and interviews to dismiss any controversy that might have erupted, or an issue he didn't particularly want to talk about.  Typically, Obama would follow up by talking about how we need to focus instead on "the real issues."  Obama even used the distraction gambit to challenge actual policies.  He even complained about the entire gay marriage issue in his "Audacity of Hope" book, saying that "the heightened focus on marriage is a distraction from other, attainable measures to prevent discrimination of gays and lesbians."  Of course, the media dutifully played along, challenging any Republican who brought any of this up as trying to distract the public from the important issues.  But now that Obama has to defend his record on the issues he claimed were the only ones the mattered: jobs, energy, health care, he has nothing to offer but distractions:

·    He goes on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to distract the public with his alleged coolness.

·    He jets to Afghanistan to distract the country with boasts about how he courageously ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden.

·    Then he tries to distract the public by shifting his position on gay marriage for the fifth time.

·    And, naturally, the media gladly fall in line, running 5,000-word pieces on Romney's high school days, as if that's what Americans actually care about.

Does Obama, or his friends in the media, really think he'll have enough material to keep the public distracted from his utter failure as a President all the way to November?

(“Obama’s Views on Distractions Have Evolved, Too” dated May 11, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/611227/201205111844/obama-launches-campaign-of-distraction.htm )

Over the past three years, President Obama has demonstrated his willingness to lie about anything and everything if it leads to the acquisition and retention of maximum power for himself and his cohorts.  Obama follows a pattern of overloading the system with deception, making responses to every individual distortion impractical or outright impossible.  While Obama's opponents spend their precious time addressing each new lie, Obama keeps the focus off the end-zone, and seizures of power previously unthinkable are accomplished.  At some point, citizens grow weary of hearing that their leaders are out for their ill, that political policies are nothing more than grand deceptions.  Who wants to believe that his President is a serial liar that seeks to impose full Socialism on the land of the free?  This strategy has a name; it is called "The Big Lie," and it depends in part on a fundamental truth of human nature: fatigue.  Obama has masterfully refined the Big Lie with his own approach; call it "Deception Fatigue."   To the untrained eye, his approach of covering obvious and blatant lies with even more shallow and little-rehearsed fibs would seem an ineffective way to deceive a well-educated populace.  President Clinton disarmed Americans, well-aware of his penchant for falsehood, with humor.  Obama achieves the same effect with repetition.  Citizens eventually lose momentum and give up.  Resistance gives way to desensitization or simply self-diversion.  Obama lies about everything; he’s clever; and he’s manipulative.  He will often avoid the direct approach and will instead opt for insinuation and implication e.g., when he stood before Congress at the 2010 State of the Union shortly before the narrow passage of his majority-opposed health care reform bill and intimated that if Republicans would merely provide alternatives to his reform proposal, he would look at them.  This statement carries the implication that Republicans had no alternative reform proposals and were merely taking cheap shots at the President's "perfect" plan, but Republicans had in fact provided numerous alternatives, none of which President Obama would acknowledge or give the time of day.  Similarly, when observers challenge Obama's power-grabs, Obama utilizes redirection and name-calling to divert public attention from his massive constitutional overreach.  He will accuse Republicans of "dividing" instead of "uniting" or, worse, release ads tarring anyone who opposes government expansion at the expense of liberty as "the mob."  His use of indirect labeling can be observed in Obama's dismissal of the constitutional role of the Supreme Court to interpret the law.  Obama said that he hoped that an "unelected body" wouldn't overturn his law.  This cynical derision implies that the role of the US Supreme Court is unfounded and somehow unsanctioned.  This kind of cynical demagoguery targets not the educated public participant, but the uneducated voter.  Obama will lie even when he is on tape contradicting himself.  The best example of this outrageous inability to tell the truth can be observed when Obama passionately asserted his opposition to a "universal single-payer" health care system, even though he is on tape advocating for just that.  Then there's Obama insisting he did not have ties to ACORN, despite his record of direct support.  It must take true audacity to contradict your own statements on recorded media and simply not care if anyone notices.  It was Lenin who once observed that "a lie told often enough becomes truth."  America can ill afford "deception-fatigue" any longer.  We can no longer be complacent about our President's mendacity.  Time is running out, so we'd better wake up and take action to put an honest man into the White House while we still can.

(“Deception Fatigue” by John Griffing dated May 15, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/deception_fatigue.html )

 

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is poised to blow a $3 trillion hole in the budgets of state and local governments, but to be precise, GASB is getting ready to blow the lid off of the $3 trillion hole that is already there.  The problem is this: State and local governments have, for the most part, woefully underfunded their employee pension systems.  As a result, they have massive unfunded liabilities for future pension payments -liabilities that total as high as $3 trillion, by some estimates.  They can’t forgo writing those pension checks, they don’t have money set aside to cover those pension checks, and they are promising ever more generous pension checks in the future.  To the extent that the total pension liability is greater than the value of the net assets available in the plan for paying benefits, a government has a net pension liability, and would report that amount as a liability in its accrual-based financial statements.  At present, the difference between a government’s total pension obligation and assets available for benefits, often called the unfunded liability, is disclosed in notes, but does not appear on the face of the financial statements.  Recognition in the financial statements, alongside other liabilities such as outstanding bonds, claims and judgments, and long-term leases, will clearly put the pension liability on an equal footing with other long-term obligations.  If unfunded pension liabilities must be considered “on an equal footing” with other obligations, then the credit position of a great many state and local governments will be degraded.  Treating future obligations like future obligations is one step toward rationalizing public-sector pensions, but it will have painful consequences: If state and local governments don’t want to see their balance sheets go into the toilet permanently, they are going to have to start making bigger contributions very quickly.  Pension-funding costs already are a significant and growing share of state and local spending.  That means that taxpayers right now are going to have to bear higher taxes or reduced services (or both) in exchange for precisely nothing.  Pension benefits are guaranteed, usually by statute and sometimes by constitutional provisions.  States and cities can’t just decide not to write those pension checks.  A guaranteed (risk-free) future benefit normally would require that the assets be invested in risk-free investments, such as Treasury bonds, but those investments, being theoretically risk-free, are relatively low-paying propositions.  Businesses with incentives to understand these trends already are acting on them.  Many firms have identified California’s unstable and deteriorating fiscal position as a reason for relocating to other states.  Caterpillar cited Illinois’s fiscal condition as a reason for choosing to relocate a new facility elsewhere.  Some cities already have been downgraded to junk status.  We used to joke that if a private business ran its operations as irresponsibly as the government does, the boss would go to jail, but alas, we now know that that is not true.  What is going on with our budgets is a combination of gross negligence, semi-criminal misuse of funds, and legalized looting, and a change in the accounting rules may help us understand the scale of the crime, but it will take more than a GASB change to bring the miscreants to justice and return budgets to solvency.

(“GASBombed” by Kevin D. Williamson dated may 15, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/299951/gasbombed-kevin-d-williamson )

 

The White House, Democrats, and sympathetic elements of the media have been remarkably successful in establishing this idea: that President Obama, a pragmatist at heart, has sought to accommodate congressional Republicans time after time, only to be spurned by a party bent on rejecting his policies across the board, but there’s a problem with this notion because it’s not true.  Obama and Republicans are far apart ideologically, so much so there probably was no chance of reaching a compromise on health care legislation.  They might have cooperated on the economic stimulus package enacted in 2009 and on a number of smaller issues.  Except then and now, Obama has shown little or no interest in taking GOP proposals, alternatives, or tweaks seriously, or even considering them at all.  The first opportunity for a bipartisan compromise between the White House and Republicans involved the stimulus.  They gave Obama a one-page “House Republican Economic Recovery Plan” at the second session with five suggestions: a tax rate cut for lower income families, another for small businesses, spending cuts to pay for stimulus, an end to taxation of unemployment benefits, and a homebuyers credit. The President said none of the suggestions looked “crazy.”  That was the last the Republican leaders heard from Obama until after House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Dave Obey, the since-retired chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, had drafted the official Democrat stimulus bill, without a smidgen of Republican input.  The day after Pelosi and Obey finalized their bill, Obama appeared before a gathering of all House Republicans, urging them to consider his ideas for reviving the economy.  A few days later, he attacked Republicans for rejecting those ideas by opposing the stimulus, and it passed the House with no Republican votes.  From this experience, GOP Congressional leaders concluded their relationship with the President was going to be “difficult,” a Republican leadership aide said, and it has been.  The only breakthrough occurred when Obama agreed to spending cuts last year at a time when blocking them would have been politically risky.  On stiffening regulation of the financial industry, the White House made no overtures to the House.  Both the White House and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner worried the bill wouldn’t attract Republicans, a not entirely unreasonable fear.  After Obama’s health care bill was enacted with no Republican votes, the President and his advisers decided against courting Republican support for Wall Street reform.  On health care, Obama did summon Republican Senators to the White House.  Obama listened but didn’t offer concessions or discuss possible terms of a compromise, and before they’d departed the White House grounds, the Senators discovered a wire service was already reporting that Obama had met with Republicans.  They realized Obama had used them to create an impression of serious consultations with Republicans and nothing more.  On occasions when Republicans initiated legislation that might pass muster with Obama, they’ve generally been ignored.  Earlier this year, House Republicans put together the JOBS Act to give small businesses better access to capital.  Their bill was designed to find common ground. It included several items from the jobs bill Obama proposed last year and avoided measures that might have been seen as poison pills by the White House.  Still, Republicans got nowhere, until a section was added to make it easier for technology companies to raise capital.  With the tech lobby applying pressure, the White House produced a letter of support.  The situation with Obama and Republicans is pretty clear: his idea of compromise is when Republicans collapse and fall in line behind his agenda, and he wants to be bipartisan, but only if that means getting his way.

(“He’s No Pragmatist” by Fred Barnes dated May 21, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/he-s-no-pragmatist_644415.html )

 

Despite media obituaries proclaiming their demise, the TEA Party is alive and well, and highly energizedLike with Mark Twain, the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.  The resounding defeat of Indiana's six-term Senator Richard  Lugar by primary challenger and TEA Party favorite Richard Mourdock is proof positive that the TEA Party has not been sleeping, just...steeping.  Lugar was an establishment guy after spending 36 years in the Senate.  Lugar misjudged the mood of the electorate and lost touch with the values of his constituents.  He sought votes in a state where he didn't even live and was surprised when polls showed him behind.  In the end, his defeat was no surprise to anyone.  The TEA Party did not just have a "comeback" in Indiana.  The fact is that they never left in the first place.  They've been working, watching and waiting for the chance to make their wishes known.  They are eager, excited, dedicated to their cause, the cause of a free nation and a free people.  The political earthquake of November 2010 was a TEA Party-inspired event.  Since then, the grassroots movement has matured from a simple protest movement into a professional coalition of local and national groups dedicated to re-establishing fiscal responsibility, constitutional rule, and accountability of elected officials.  They know what they want.  They've learned from their mistakes, and their political savvy is growing.  Numerous websites, blogs, and radio programs are being created every day by average Americans intent on defending their God-given rights.  Writers, authors, speakers, filmmakers, musicians, actors, and artists have all added their talents and abilities to the cause.  People of every background, race, profession, and religion are joining together in a vast and powerful citizens' movement to rein in our out-of-control federal government and hold unruly politicians' feet to the fire.  The TEA Party movement is no flash in the pan.  It is not a fad, and it is not temporary.  It is American patriotism and citizenship on fire.  It will continue to grow in strength and influence because it is born of the American people, stoked by a love of country and fanned by a deep yearning for liberty.  The socialist left and the Republican establishment have a lot to lose in this election.  They may even join forces as they suddenly realize that they have much more in common with each other than either would have believed: they both seek power; they both seek wealth and influence; their primary motivation is self-preservation; and they share a common, dreaded adversary: a Constitution-wielding American public.  Today, the American people remain a powerful force.  Citizens' voices have immense influence.  Because of the TEA Party, a more mature and seasoned citizenry will make their presence known in the halls of Congress.  Their voices will be heard loud and clear in the West Wing and beyond; in state houses and local governments; in national capitals the world over; and for a long time to come.  Politicians of both parties should take notice because to ignore the Tea Party is to tempt fate and to risk being thrown overboard, like former Senator Richard Lugar, and like those 342 crates of English tea floating in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773.

(“Hot Steeping Tea” by Jay Clarke dated May 12, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/hot_steeping_tea.html )

Since mid-2010, precisely the time millions of US citizens used up all of their 99 week of unemployment insurance, disability claims have risen by 2.2 million.  Those on disability are not counted in the workforce and are not considered unemployed.  The number of workers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) jumped 22% to 8.7 million in April from 7.1 million in December 2007, Social Security data show.  That helps explain as much as one quarter of the decline in the U.S. labor-force participation rate during the period.  Unemployment insurance requires that applicants search for job opportunities, while disability insurance requires they be unable to work.  Less-stringent screening procedures, more attractive benefits and a waning need for less-skilled workers have bolstered SSDI rolls.  In addition, “difficult-to-verify disorders,” including muscle pain and mental illness, more easily qualify for SSDI under program reforms.  Based on current trends, 7% of the nonelderly adult population could be receiving disability benefits by 2018 which is two years after the SSDI program will run through its trust fund.  From an "efficiency" standpoint one has to be nuts to not to want to stop the fraud, and throwing money at alcoholics, drug addicts, and those claiming mental stress does nothing but increase those number of claims.

(“2.2 Million Go On Disability Since Mid-2010; Fraud Explains Falling Unemployment Rate; Will Higher Disability Taxes Fix the Problem?” by Mike Shedlock dated May 5, 2012 published by Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/05/22-million-go-on-disability-since-mid.html )

 

Analysts now say the housing market is so weak it may not rebound in our lifetimes, yet the White House is pursuing the same policies that put it on its back in the first place.  Worse, many of the officials it has put in charge of reviving the housing market are the same ones who crafted the fatal policies before the crisis.  Homeownership for blacks, now at 43.1%, is the worst since 1995, when the government first launched its reckless housing policies in a national campaign to boost minority homeownership.  When HUD in 1996 required Fannie and Freddie, which set qualifying rules for the entire mortgage industry, to meet new lending quotas for credit-poor borrowers, they reduced down payments to 3%.  By 2000, when HUD lifted those quotas to 50% of their business, Fannie and Freddie bought loans from banks with no down payments at all.  Shaun Donovan and Bill Apgar implemented these pre-crisis policies at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and they now run HUD for Obama, still pressuring Fannie and Freddie to ease credit for low-income minorities.  The Clinton Justice Department began a witch hunt against racist lenders.  Today’s Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has cracked down on no fewer than 60 banks for alleged lending bias.  Bank defendants are being told to set aside "special financing programs" for minorities with weak credit and donate millions to ACORN clones that shake down banks for such risky mortgages.  Scores of risky mortgages are already being inked, restarting another cycle of risky financing.  These programs fed the subprime mortgage bubble and triggered record defaults and foreclosures that devastated urban neighborhoods.  Liberals have turned the American Dream into a nightmare for millions of minorities, hurting more than helping the people liberals claim to care about most, so doubling down on these disastrous housing programs make no sense.

(“Blood of Housing Massacre On Obama’s Hands” dated May 15, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/611580/201205151857/housing-murderers-return-to-scene-of-crime.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:

·  Family at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/family.php

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

·  Energy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/energy.php

·  Environment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com