Views on the News
May 26, 2012
Views on the News*
Team Obama’s re-election strategy is essentially an amalgam of 2004 and 2008: from 2004 relying on mobilizing supporters more than persuading swing voters; and from 2008 mobilizing a subset of the coalition Obama won 3+ years ago, but unfortunately this strategy may fall short. The political perfect storm that swept Obama into office has been replaced with the Obama record; Obama’s available demographics will have narrowed accordingly. Obama’s reelect strategy is visible in the daily headlines, but typically not considered in toto. Political junkies notice Obama’s student loan policy is a sop to the young, the absurdly fictional “Julia” a pitch to single women (esp. single mothers), the reversal on same sex marriage a balm for Hollywood’s big donors, gay rights activists and the media, and so on. Barack Obama’s approval ratings have declined from lofty heights because he has governed as “What Swing Voters Haven’t Liked About Democrats For Decades.” Obama is campaigning as he has governed, as an Old Democrat pandering to interest groups, engaging in big-spending crony capitalism while failing to address our structural economic concerns for the common good. I would underline that Obama is using a familiar strategy because it’s not really clear that he’s ever had to use any other one. Once he won the Democrat primary for his State Senate seat in 1996, he had the seat for life, representing Hyde Park, an ultra-liberal neighborhood. The 2008 Democrat party was indeed a tough fight, but again Obama was assembling his familiar coalition: African-Americans, Hollywood, gays, and the party’s liberal wing, to overcome Hillary’s white working-class base. 2008 was a perfect storm for Obama’s appeal to independents, centrists, Democrats who were unconvinced in the primary and frustrated Republicans. So far, 2012 looks like far from ideal future, thanks, in large part to the job he’s done as President and the unimpressive results since January 2009.
(“Obama’s Career-Long Electoral Strategy” by Jim Geraghty dated May 17, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/300216/obamas-career-long-electoral-strategy )
By the time he took office in 2009, President Obama had fashioned a reputation as an idealist committed to reforming the way business is done in Washington, but now Obama’s poor record has become his own worst political enemy. In 2008, Obama ran a “bring us together” campaign. He presented himself as a political “uniter” eager to bridge differences between the parties. This year, he’s unleashed an “us versus them” campaign, catering to Democrat interest groups and seeking to marginalize Republican challenger Mitt Romney as an unacceptable alternative as President:
· To appease environmentalists, he blocked the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada.
· For younger voters, he’s proposed to keep the temporary interest rate reduction on student loans from doubling.
· Feminists got the contraception mandate.
· To appeal to Hispanic voters, he promoted the DREAM Act to give their children a path to permanent residency.
· To African Americans, Obama intruded himself into the case of Trayvon Martin, remarking that if he had a son, he’d look like Martin.
· For gays, he declared his support for same-sex marriage.
· For organized labor, he stacked the National Labor Relations Board with union partisans.
Obama has pursued these tactics crudely. He’s done little to disguise his preferential treatment of narrow (but sympathetic) slices of the electorate. He’s been concentrating on special interests, not the national interest, and it shows. His blatant political favoritism has backfired. Obama’s style of running for reelection has taken its toll. Obama’s “ham-handed” campaign has wiped out his “last shred of brand equity.” He’s descended to the lowest common denominator: a Washington pol. Yet Democrats continue to cite Obama’s likability as a political strength. Indeed, it once was, but no more. In the recent bipartisan Battle-ground Poll, nearly one-quarter of voters said they like Obama personally but disapprove of his policies. 68% of those voters said they won’t vote for Obama, and another 20% said they’ll “consider” someone else. Only 6% said they plan to vote for him. Obama has a bigger problem: the growing assessment he’s simply incapable of reviving the nation and this spring, they’ve begun to render a tougher verdict: Obama may not be up to the job and someone else needs to be President.
(“No More Mister Nice Guy” by Fred Barnes dated May 28, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/no-more-mister-nice-guy_645184.html )
The 2012 election season has begun in earnest, and the mainstream media find themselves in the position of having to defend and reinforce a failed President, Barack Obama, the man they chose to sleep with in 2008, which does not help their industry declining problems. Ideology plays a major role, as an overwhelming majority of journalists and editors are politically left of the majority of the American people. This craven cheerleading for and knee-jerk defense of the President raises the question: is there another more practical and base factor behind this unprecedented sycophancy? It is no secret that the mainstream media, as a business, is on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse, as virtually all sectors are hemorrhaging red ink -- with no end in sight:
· The New York Times Company, often considered the bellwether of the national media, has reduced its labor force by 47% since 2000. The average daily circulation has dropped by over 21% during the same period. The stock price has dropped by 85%.
· The Washington Post, the other most influential metropolitan newspaper in the country, has seen its average daily circulation drop by 37% since 2000. Its print advertising revenue has plummeted by over 60% since 2000.
· Among the largest chain of newspapers in the country, the McClatchy Company has experienced a similar downturn with its average daily circulation dropping 30% in only four years. Many of the individual papers within the group have resorted to massive layoffs and selling assets, as not only circulation, but ad revenue has dropped precipitously. McClatchy stock has fallen by 93% since 2000.
· The Gannet family of newspapers (the largest in the country) paid circulation has dropped 28% since 2000, while their ad revenue has dropped by 48%. Their stock has also fallen by 80%.
· The traditional news magazines (TIME, Newsweek, and US News & World Report) have declined by over 46% since 2000. Advertising revenue has dropped by nearly 70%. A clear indicator of the demise of this media sector is the sale of Newsweek by the Washington Post Company for $1.00.
· The three network evening news broadcasts have suffered a similar fate, losing 44% of their viewers since 1991.
The mainstream media is first and foremost a business. Like any business, it must generate revenue, pay its bills, and make a profit for its shareholders. To produce income, it must attract customers (advertisers and subscribers) to buy its product (the news as well as viewers or readers). Based on the results over the past twelve years, it is obvious that the product the mainstream media are promoting is not selling. Yet there is no willingness to change their biased reporting and editorial policies, one of the major factors in the loss of readership and viewers, as more people each year are turning to the new media as an alternative source of news. By not accepting responsibility for their deteriorating plight, the mainstream media are willing to surrender their independence and become a wholly owned mouthpiece for a regime determined to control all aspects of American society and to bankrupt the country.
(“The Media Mess of Pottage?” by Steve McCann dated May 21, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/the_media_mess_of_pottage.html )
There is one class that works more hours per day, more days per year, for more years of their lives and that is the “private sector producer class.” They have less job security, they pay more for health coverage, and their retirements are not guaranteed. Their incomes are determined by their performance, limited by economic reality, and tied to the fortunes of their employers. Part of what private-sector workers produce is taken for the benefit of another class, the “government class.” The government class plays by a different set of rules, dictated by unions and implemented by the politicians they help elect. For government union members, income is not determined by job performance, but by how many years they’ve managed to stick around. The government class works fewer hours, get more vacation time, and make more money than their producer class colleagues. They’ll get better health coverage, and it’ll cost them less. The government class will retire at an earlier age and with a pension providing a guaranteed income, something fewer than 1 in 10 producer-class workers enjoy. The government class is powerful because government employees are members of unions that contribute heavily to political campaigns. If you’re in the producer class, you’re working harder than ever to pay for it all. Next time you see government employees demanding that you sacrifice even more for them, remind them that a public servant is supposed to serve the public, not turn the public into their servants.
(“Slaves to the Government Class” by Kyle Olson dated May 24, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/kyleolson/2012/05/24/slaves_to_the_government_class )
If the U.S. government were a private company being audited by standard practices, it would be considered much further in the red than official national debt figures show and the federal government would probably be shut down and its key executives prosecuted for fraud. The “official” national debt is $15 trillion, and in fiscal year 2011, taxpayers paid $454 billion in interest (20% of all federal receipts). The $15 trillion actually represents the tip of a very large iceberg because when off-budget and contingent liabilities are factored in, total federal liabilities exceed $100 trillion. Nobody knows the future obligations of our entitlement programs. It is also clear that more financial bailouts are coming:
· Fannie Mae asks for a new multibillion-dollar bailout every few months.
· Soon the FHA will climb aboard the bailout bandwagon.
· There’s also the U.S. Post Office, for which a taxpayer bailout is all but assured.
· Amtrak, which probably has another bailout coming as well.
· Many state governments, including their public pensions, may also ask for a bailout.
· The FDIC may require a bailout to cover the insured deposits of the big banks.
· The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) may require a bailout to insure individual brokerage accounts of up to $500,000 in value.
· The Pension Benefit Guarantee Program (PBGP) may also require a bailout to guarantee defined benefit pension programs.
Still, Uncle Sam is able to borrow at near-zero interest rates, which makes it nearly affordable for us to pay what we owe. The disturbing news is that interest rates will rise, and when we have a national debt seven times our annual tax receipts and interest rates start doubling and tripling, things will get ugly. At some point, the charade will be up and we’ll have to admit we’re broke. In short: America is bankrupt. It’s time to admit it because America simply cannot pay its bills much longer. Our government has promised too many people too many things, and somebody’s going to get shortchanged. When a person has debts he cannot repay, he declares bankruptcy and then formulates a plan for repaying his creditors to the greatest extent possible. It may be time for the United States of America to declare bankruptcy and the sooner we acknowledge that fact, the sooner we can figure out the most favorable terms that are acceptable to all creditors.
(“Why America Should Declare Bankruptcy Now” by Peter Schiff dated May 22, 2012 published by The Fiscal Times at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2012/05/22/Why-America-Should-Declare-Bankruptcy-Now.aspx#page1 )
Despite Obama's latest assertion of having created 4 million jobs in the last 26 months, the reality is that in the past two years, 5.4 million workers have left the job market entirely. These are the 5.4 million whom academics like to call "discouraged workers," and as far as the administration and its media cheerleaders are concerned, they do not exist. Worst of all, they are not even counted in official tallies of the unemployed. They are those whom the Obama administration simply wishes to ignore: working-age adults who have dropped out of the labor market completely and those for whom the economic recovery underway should have created jobs but has not. The fact is that these millions of Americans are not so much discouraged as they are hopeless. They are working-age adults who, in a normal economic recovery, would have found jobs in an expanding economy, but this recovery is not at all normal. The U.S. economy has expanded on average at something like 2% since Obama took office, and now, with the latest GDP growth figures for the first quarter of 2012 revised downward to 1.8%, the economy seems to be slipping back toward stagnation, if not recession. During a normal period of recovery, the economy grows at a rate of more than 4%. Ever since Obama took office, the economy has suffered. Under constant attack by a hostile administration, businesses have decided not to expand, or they have moved or expanded their operations overseas. The result is that 4.7 million fewer jobs have been created in the past three and a half years than would otherwise have been the case -- almost enough to provide a job for every one of those who have dropped out of the labor market. Those 5.4 million include older workers who have lost their jobs and decided to apply for disability benefits or exhaust their 401(k) savings while waiting to file for Social Security at age 62. A large number are young men and women in their teens and twenties who have never worked at full-time jobs. They are, in many cases, well-educated young people who have completed college degrees but who are unable to find suitable employment in this stagnant economy. The educated young people who fill these jobs are falling permanently behind in their careers. Over the course of their lives, they will achieve less, earn lower salaries, and accumulate less in retirement savings. If the President had "focused like a laser beam" on job creation, as he promised to do in 2009, he would not have found it that difficult to create jobs, but instead of following up on his promise, Obama treated job-creation as a mere photo op. Instead, he chose to squander nearly a trillion dollars in his 2009 stimulus bill, a fraudulent measure that has stimulated nothing except debt levels. There can be no doubt as to who is responsible for those lost jobs, and for the lost dreams of each of those 5.4 million Americans. For the suffering of those who have dropped out of the labor market entirely, as well as for the 21 million (14% of the labor force) who are officially counted as unemployed or underemployed, there is only one person to blame. In November, those 26.2 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or no longer looking for work need to remember who was in charge the last four years and vote accordingly for a new President who actually creates real jobs.
(“The Lost 5 Million” by Jeffrey Folks dated May 23, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/the_lost_5_million.html )
Discouragement over job prospects (Persons who believe no job is available.)
It looks like Mexico will elect Enrique Pena-Nieto this summer and it looks like the U.S. will elect Mitt Romney this fall, which gives us an opportunity to “reset” the relationships between our countries. If this turns out to be the case, let's hope that these two men bring some fresh ideas, because the U.S.-Mexico relationship desperately needs a new "reset." It's fair to say that President Calderón and President Obama did not get much done. Theirs was not a fruitful relationship for three reasons:
· President Obama was never really interested in Mexico. Candidate Obama ran against free trade agreements and promised to renegotiate NAFTA.
· The Obama-Calderón relationship was poisoned from day one when President Obama, pandering to the labor unions, dumped the "truck agreement" that President Bush had negotiated, without consulting Mexico.
· Finally, President Calderón made the foolish mistake of carrying President Obama's water on SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law. It made Calderón the face of the Arizona law and killed any chance of getting anything done.
We've reached an important point, and a new relationship is desperately needed. In short, President Romney and President Pena-Nieto need to sit down and speak bluntly to each other. Border security is a matter of national security for both countries. If we're going to address the Mexican cartels, it's time to let U.S. soldiers tackle them directly. The border patrol does a great job, but they are no match to gangs with high-powered weapons. We need to escalate our game and drive home the point that breaches of our border will not be tolerated. Romney should authorize commanders on the ground to use whatever tactics are necessary, from pre-emptive attacks to drone strikes. In other words, we need to start using our technology to win this war! U.S. soldiers will bring a new seriousness to the mission and welcome relief to a Mexican army drained from five years of a very heavy war. The Mexican army has done a great job, but Mexico's army was never created to fight a war of this kind. It has to be retrained, like in Colombia under Plan Colombia. President Romney needs to remind U.S. voters that they are funding the drug wars with their illegal drug purchases. It's important for President Romney, and Anne Romney, to talk about drug consumption as a threat to our children and a deposit in the cash register of the Mexican cartels. President Pena-Nieto needs to tell Mexicans, and their political class, to stop blaming U.S. immigration laws for all of Mexico's problems. It's time for Mexico to reform itself so that the country is more attractive to young people. Regardless of who's in office, Mexico and the U.S. need a tough and frank discussion about some mutual, and very serious problems. We did not have it with President Calderón and President Obama. President Romney will tell the new Mexican president some things that President Calderón never heard from President Obama, and will work with him to help solve our common problems.
(“Time for a Reset between the U.S. and Mexico” by Silvio Canto Jr. dated May 21, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/time_for_a_reset_between_the_us_and_mexico.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:
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php