Views on the News

Views on the News*

  May 21, 2016


The fact that Donald Trump is the Republican presumptive nominee and Bernie Sanders is still chugging along in the Democrat primary means only one thing: Voters are pissed off.  With 94 million Americans out of the workforce, middle class voters seeing wages decline, and the average college graduate facing $35,000 in student loan debt with few job prospects, it is no wonder people are so angry.  These disaffected voters could be Hillary Clinton's undoing and propel Trump to the White House.  Clinton is facing a big problem. The "us vs. them" populist messages of political outsiders Trump and Sanders have been music to the ears of so many Americans.  They want to blow up the system Clinton has helped create and the system they believe has failed them.  A nationwide Pew Research study finds that middle class America is shrinking and wages are declining.  The report finds that more than four-fifths of America's metropolitan areas have seen household incomes decline this century.  Only 39 out of 229 metro areas saw medium household incomes grow.  The cities hardest hit are located in key electoral states like Michigan and Ohio, which could prove to be politically problematic for Clinton.  Her unlikable personality and tone-deaf comments like "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business" will not earn her any brownie points with these voters.  Her position on trade could end up hurting her with the working class voters who agree with Trump and Sanders that bad trade deals are hurting American workers.  Even more problematic for Clinton is that 44% of Sanders voters said they would vote for Trump, while only 23% said they would vote for her, and 32% would vote for neither.  Exit polling from Michigan, another important swing state that Clinton embarrassingly lost, showed the same problem for her.  Blue-collar workers aren't the only ones who feel left behind by this economy.  Whether it is the jobless college graduate who can't find work or the African-American who is facing an unemployment rate that is twice as high as that for Caucasians, Trump has an opportunity to tap into the frustrations of Americans in a way that Clinton cannot.  Republicans face a daunting electoral map, but Clinton is a uniquely unappealing candidate and Trump has already tapped into the disaffected voters who could help tip the balance of the 2016 election in his favor.

(“2016: The Year of the disaffected voter” by Lisa Boothe dated May 18, 2016 published by Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/2016-the-year-of-the-disaffected-voter/article/2591604 )

Many critics of Donald Trump's presidential run have likened it to that of his predecessor, America's historic first Fraud in Chief, Barack Obama.  One of the defining peculiarities of Trump's success so far is that a populist movement inconceivable except as a reaction to the fallout of Obama's fundamental transformation of America actually echoes Obama's own strategy and substance in so many ways.  Trump's followers have chosen to aggressively conceal and deny it.  First, the rap sheet on President Obama: Though he is a doctrinaire progressive according to his public record and past statements, he tries to evade this label during a presidential campaign.  Being unprincipled and unscrupulous, he is willing to pursue his longstanding progressive aims – e.g., socialized medicine, amnesty for illegal immigrants, government manipulation of the economy and vital industries, pragmatically and by increments, while publicly pretending not to favor those more extreme goals.  He belongs to the secular liberal faction on social issues.  In truth, he vehemently defends Planned Parenthood against those who would cut off its federal funding.  He criticizes those who oppose preferential treatment for men who like to dress up as women and use girls' bathrooms, on which issue he is allied with the influential progressive young guns of the tech world, including even PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a prominent "LGBT rights" activist.  From these associations and many others, it is clear that he has consistently used his public voice and position to accelerate the anti-family vulgarization of societal norms regarding sexual behavior, marriage and family, public decency, and personal modesty.  He instinctively favors using executive fiats to achieve his personal agenda in defiance of the principle of separation of powers, and he prefers economic and political solutions grounded in government intervention and personal bias to those that rely on the social and economic benefits of unfettered liberty.  He has a general propensity to view his public position as license to pontificate about any issue on which he believes his special brand of progressive pomposity is called for.  He perceives Middle America, rural citizens, and in general those not conforming to the progressive sensibilities of Big City USA (aka New York, Chicago, and L.A.) as poorly educated, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated.  In fact, though framing his successful primary campaign as the triumph of an inexperienced outsider facing down the Washington machine, he has since been fully revealed, to the consternation of the rational minority of his early apologists, to be right at home in the world of crony capitalism, global lobbyists, and the kabuki theater of establishment politics.  He smears political opponents who refuse to submit to the protocols of the progressive establishment's elitist collegiality as unlikeable, "heartless" cranks.  He threatens to employ the executive branch's bloated power as his personal weapon to intimidate or restrict opponents, such as unfriendly media voices and private entities whose business decisions he dislikes.  He considers the Tea Party movement an enemy force, speaks out against its members, and has a consistent record of supporting overt and covert efforts to crush or undermine it.  In conjunction with friendly factions within the media, he systematically, and apparently with no qualms of conscience, invents and perpetuates false narratives and bald-faced lies to misrepresent himself and his past, to discredit his opponents, or to protect himself from legitimate scrutiny or criticism.  He favors punishing businesses that do not play by arbitrary rules governed only by his personal notions of "fairness" and "justice"; he supports leftist policies that directly violate core principles of freedom and property rights, such as the minimum wage and affirmative action; and in the face of hard economic times, he knee-jerkingly proposes to subsidize or even nationalize industries he deems essential.  He leads a populist movement that openly rejects the republican restraints entrenched in the U.S. Constitution in favor of unrestrained deference to the leader's personal charisma and advocacy – i.e., demagoguery and tyranny.  Much of his rhetoric is cynically calculated to divide Americans into warring factions along economic, class, and racial lines in order to exploit the resulting anger and distrust.  That then is Barack Obama.  Now let's turn to Donald Trump...oh, wait.  That was Trump!

(“Is Trump the GOP’s Obama Moment?” by Daren Jonescu dated May 14, 2016 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/05/is_trump_the_gops_obama_moment.html )

Nothing is too big to fail, including civilizations, and ours is no exception.  The tendency is to take for granted the benefits, rights and privileges that have been painfully won in the past and gradually squandered in the present.  The most evident sign of civilization devolution is the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge reality, to come to terms with things as they are, and to oppose the suppression of objectivity and its substitution by fantasy, illusion and wish-fulfillment.  The West is now busy at work across the entire field of social, cultural and political life promoting its own version of Lysenkoism, a misconceived exercise of supposedly vernalizing reality by transforming fact into fantasy and truth into lie for the purpose of creating the perfect society and the redeemed human being, transferable across the generations.  Its assumptions about the world are guided not by common sense or genuine science but by the precepts of ideology and political desire.  Examples abound of the ubiquitous tendency to replace ontology with myth, the determinate with the fluid and the objective with the delusionary.  Some representative examples might include:

·    Biological sexual differentiation must yield to voluntary gender identity.

·    A cooling climate is obviously warming.

·    The demonstrable failure of socialism wherever it has been tried is proof that it has not been properly implemented.

·    Democratic Israel is an apartheid state.

·    Islam with its record of unstinting bloodshed is a religion of peace.

·    Illegal immigrants are undocumented workers.

·    Terrorism is workplace violence.

·    A child in the womb is a mass of insensible protoplasm.

·    The killing of the old and the ill is merciful, even when the recipient of such tender concern is not consulted.

·    There is no such thing as truth, an axiom regarded as true.

·    Green energy is a social and economic good irrespective of crony profiteering, exorbitant cost, wildlife devastation, and unworkability in its present state.

·    Storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis and mortality itself are natural phenomena, but Nature, which cares nothing for human life, is nonetheless sacred, vulnerable and at the mercy of human indifference.

·    Women are disadvantaged in the workforce, academia and society at large despite high-end hiring practices, legal judgments, custody protocols and university appointments, as well as student enrollment, favor women to the detriment of men.

·    An enemy is a friend.

·    Criminality is innocence.

·    Losing is winning.

·    Prosperity is avarice.

·    Redistributing wealth, i.e., robbing the affluent and productive, is a form of compassion and basic justice.

·    Those who claim victim status are always credible.

·    Accumulating debt is an economic stimulus.

·    Big government is a boon to mankind.

·    War is passé (so 19th century).

·    Diplomacy and talk—the higher Twitter—will prevail over barbarism.

·    The most gynocentric society ever created is a rape culture.

·    Palestine is a historically legitimate nation.

·    Uniformity of thought and action equals cultural diversity.

·    An exploded lie merely confirms what it lies about (e.g., Rigoberta Menchu).

·    Morality is relative.

·    Merit is an unearned distinction.

Or in other words, what is, is not, and what is not, is.  This species of Orwellian inversion, supplanting the real by the imaginary, is now an intrinsic component of the Western psyche and firmly embedded in what French thinker Pierre Bourdieu in his influential treatise Distinction calls the social habitus, a system of norms, usages, taboos and conventions that steer thought and behavior in certain approved directions and from which individuals should strive to emancipate themselves.  Biology, Nature, economic forces and human nature are not disposable artifacts, fashion accessories or hypothetical creations of unanchored will that can be investigated, plumbed, to some limited degree modified and harnessed to advantage, but they cannot be turned into something they are not or conveniently abolished without unleashing tragic consequences.

(“A Melancholy Calculation” by David Solway dated May 13, 2016 published by PJ Media at https://pjmedia.com/blog/a-melancholy-calculation/ )

One of the most harmful and also false ideas that liberals have introduced to American culture is the idea that gender is nothing more than a “social construct.”  Put another way, there’s no real difference between men and women; we just think there are differences because we accept illogical cultural norms that have been passed down through the years.  This idea undergirds liberal feminism: if a man can do it, then a woman can do it just as well, even if we’re talking about the military, firemen or being a cop.  t’s the core concept that allows liberals to try to present transgenderism as a civil rights issue instead of a mental health issue. Undoubtedly, it’s also part of the reason you see so many sad, lost, nearly androgynous young men these days.  The sleight of hand that liberals use to promote this obviously foolish idea is to point out that different cultures have different definitions of what constitutes manliness.  If gender really were merely social construct, we’d expect to see women making up the majority of warriors, hunters and the people doing backbreaking, dangerous jobs SOMEWHERE.  Along the same lines, there’s no culture where men do the majority of the child rearing.  If gender is really just a random, illogical series of habits that civilizations pick up, then we SHOULD see a lot more overlap, but we don’t, and we never will.  Part of this is based on the very real physical differences between men and women.  Men are taller, bigger, have more muscle mass.  In violent confrontations with men or in tasks that require great strength, very few women can hope to compete with even the average male.  This is the same across all cultures and it has helped create different incentives for men and woman.  Men have been and still are the ones who do dirty, dangerous and violent work. Men who are good at it are admired by other men and sought out by women.  Equivalently, women are admired for their beauty and their feminine wiles.  Again, this is something you’ll find across all cultures which again shows you that gender is not a social construct.  Instead it’s an outgrowth of biological reality.  Convenient as it may be to liberalism to pretend that there’s no difference between men and women, it’s not good for society.

(“Sorry, Liberals, But Gender Is Not a ‘Social Construct’” by John Hawkins dated May 17, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2016/05/17/sorry-liberals-but-gender-is-not-a-social-construct-n2164148 )

Even though the official unemployment rate fell below 5%, most of us who live in the real world know better: there are still an estimated 30 million Americans who have either given up looking for work or are underemployed.  According to the latest Pew Research, the American middle class has shrunk for the first time in decades and is no longer the economic majority.  We need to honestly examine inner factors that hold American workers back:

·    First, our education system fails to produce a sufficiently educated workforce. Today the U.S. spends on average $12,000 per pupil per year in K-12, one of the highest amounts in the world.  U.S. students score only “average,” according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report.  Reading scores on the national NEAP test increased less than 1% between 1970 and 2012.  Math scores on the same exam increased 2%.  Our higher education system doesn’t fare any better. About 45% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” holding jobs that typically do not require a bachelor’s degree.  The long-term trend shows a mismatch between what students learn in school and the skills and knowledge businesses need.  Colleges and universities need to better prepare our young people by closely linking future employment opportunities with their current fields of study.  We also need to have more vocational schools that can teach young people employable skills.  Anyone who is serious about helping workers ought to support effective education reform to provide young people more choices and real knowledge.

·    The second factor holding America back is our culture. We have experienced a cultural shift to one that doesn’t appreciate physical work.  Low-paying, labor-intensive jobs such as picking fruit, slaughtering chickens, and housekeeping are not desirable to even many of the poorest Americans.  Despite farmers raising some wages more than 20% and the youth unemployment rate being 12.2% in July 2015, few Americans flock to farms.  Research shows that only 3% of Americans who work full time, year round, are in poverty.  So no weapon is more powerful to fight the war on poverty than work, any kind of work.  As a nation, we need to re-emphasize the honor and dignity of work.

·    The third factor that holds American workers back is our welfare system. Our generous welfare benefits are disincentives to work.  A Cato Institute study found that in nine states, annual benefits were worth more than $35,000 a year.  Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 34 states and the District of Columbia.  In Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., welfare pays more than a $20-an-hour job, and in five additional states it yields more than a $15-per-hour job.  Since the 2008 economic recession, the U.S. government has made it even easier for Americans to sign up for welfare benefits. For example, eligibility rules for getting food stamps were relaxed and work requirements were waived.  Our generous welfare system and its accessibility not only have incentivized workers not to work, but also have created an unofficial minimum wage.  Especially for entry-level positions, they’re essentially imposing a drastic minimum wage hike—to at least $20 an hour—for American businesses, because welfare recipients have no incentive to take any job that pays less than their welfare benefits.

Education, culture, and welfare are not the only three factors holding American workers back.  Other factors, including ruinous regulations, such as the occupational licensing requirements, harm employment opportunities of American workers too.  These factors have nothing to do with immigration, but they contribute to our nation’s low labor participation rate and the bleak employment picture in America.  To help American workers, we need to focus on addressing issues such as education reform, culture change, welfare reform, and getting rid of ruinous anti-work regulations.

(“What Is Really Holding American Workers’ Back?” by Helen Raleigh dated May 14, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/helenraleigh/2016/05/14/what-is-really-holding-american-workers-back-n2162592 )


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.  No updates have been made this week to the issue sections.


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY