Views on the News

Views on the News*

June 14, 2014


If you think of the United States of America as a store, its recent decisions and scandals resemble a sale, perhaps a fire sale, or maybe even a “Going Out of Business” sale.  The list of dramatic markdowns is breathtaking including: trading away five murderous terrorists for a likely Army deserter; an open invitation to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to cross the Mexican border; and a decision to recognize the terrorist group Hamas as part of the Palestinian government.  On the home front, environmental regulations will cost thousands of coal miners their jobs and drive up the cost of electricity for millions.  The ObamaCare mess is hardly resolved, and the Veterans Affairs scandal keeps getting worse.  Ticking quietly in the background is the mother of all threats - an Iranian nuclear bomb.  Obama has taken the military option off the table, and without it, Iran has nothing to fear.  Add to the combustible mix the expansionist moods in Russia and China.  What seemed for years a steady and slow decline increasingly feels like a headlong race to the bottom.  America is careening downhill, and a crack-up appears inevitable.  The country simply cannot continue to remain the beacon of the free world if we are consumed by our own dysfunction and distrust.  We have reached this crisis because centrist Democrats have failed to stand up against Obama and demand more moderate policies.  Leaving aside occasional grumbling from party elders, Obama gets ­almost unanimous support from every Dem in Congress for every piece of his radical agenda.  Evidence shows that one of his most pernicious practices, using the IRS to punish conservative groups, grew out of congressional demands from liberals.  While that doesn’t excuse Obama’s role, it does demonstrate that his party has enabled and encouraged his improper conduct.  The result is that the constitutional system of checks and balances has been gutted as Democrats act as an amen chorus for the executive branch.

(“Obama is driving the country to ruin” by Michael Goodwin dated June 7, 2014 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2014/06/07/obama-is-driving-the-country-to-ruin/ )

Democrats are poised to lose big this November because since 2009, nearly all Democrats have embraced Barack Obama like a medal about their necks, but his chickens have come home to roost.  Their proud Obama medal has turned into a rotting albatross, and its stench only Obama's most ardent or uninformed supporters can abide.  Many people have the mistaken belief that the electorate votes based on policy and character, but the vast majority are "low-information voters", who queue on opinions, perceptions, and mannerisms based on vague sources and singular events.  To win in November, Republicans must transform popular Democratic incumbents into well-known villains.  Considering that many Democrats have done multitudes of villainous deeds, this seems simple enough, but just as a chicken forgets in three steps, the low information voter forgets in three months.  In Illinois, we have a political saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me again and again and again, I must be a Democrat.  The political tricks are cheap and plentiful.  Most of Obama's misdeeds have been highly partisan, and rather than view them as scandalous, the Democrat base viewed them as proper, and celebrated or defended them.  The IRS scandal was excused because conservative political activities should never be non-profit.  The energy embezzlement was excused because it was necessary "investment" in our future.  His lies about ObamaCare have been excused because they were necessary to further the cause.  Barack Obama is sticking a hot poker into the backside of America, and seems to be enjoying it.  The Democrats have now taken the opportunity to remove that rotting albatross by openly criticizing Obama.  We will see even more outrageous, nonpartisan policy failures come from the White House. As October nears and Republicans assault Democrats with ObamaCare, Fast and Furious, the Stimulus, the IRS, and others, expect Democrats to blame it all on Obama.  The energy loans were a good program, until Obama ruined it.  Gun smuggling was a big problem, until Obama tried to use it as a political tool.  The Stimulus would have worked, if Obama had distributed the funds properly.  ObamaCare would have had no problems, if Obama had been honest about it from the start.  Vilifying Obama could save many Democrats, but make no mistake, the outrage is false, because once election day passes, expect every Democrat to be completely loyal and supportive of Obama, until six months before November 2016. 

(“Winning With Fake Outrage” by Anthony J. Ciani dated June 11, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/06/winning_with_fake_outrage.html )


Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.  At home, the bungled rollout of the ObamaCare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.  Abroad, a surging Russia, an aggressive China, a war torn Middle East and a resurgent terror network are putting his foreign policy credentials to the test.  With the GOP hoping to seize control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, and the inevitable decline in Presidential power that occurs as second term Presidents move toward lame-duck status, Obama risks being sidelined and marginalized for the remaining two years of his term.  Few American Presidents came into office viewed with so much optimism and hope. Obama was swept and re-swept into office with a clear expectation that being smart, or at least not being stupid, would be enough to mend fences around the globe and at home.  Stymied in Congress, where a coalition of Republicans and red state Democrats have effectively blocked his major initiatives in both the House and the Senate, the President is determined to use his executive powers to carve out a legacy whether Congress likes it or not.  The new EPA regulations to cut CO2 levels from power generators and his decision to sidestep Congress on the release of five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl show a White House anything but resigned to the prospect of Presidential decline.  Obama aspires to be a transformational leader at home and abroad.  The ACA attempts to redesign an industry that accounts for 17.2 % of GDP.  The EPA’s new regulations cover 66% of the country’s energy production.  Overseas, he’s picked goals like getting a global climate treaty, destroying Al-Qaeda, democratizing the Arab world, eliminating nuclear weapons and achieving détente with Iran.  Unfortunately complex projects are hard to carry out, and the President seems to consistently underestimate the difficulties in turning compelling visions into practical programs.  As a result, he now finds himself haunted by goals and expectations he set for himself, caught in a gap between promise and performance that has proved unexpectedly hard to close.  Meanwhile, President’s Obama’s repeated calls for gun control legislation and immigration reform have fallen flat.  Overseas, the gap between promise and accomplishment is, if anything, more daunting.  Early in his first term Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a decision that struck even his most ardent admirers as premature; there isn’t much talk today of a repeat visit to Oslo.  Once again, the President seems to have underestimated how much effort would be required to achieve the goals he set out.  He clearly underestimated the difficulties of building a stable and businesslike relationship with Russia and was shocked and surprised at Putin’s attack on Ukraine.  He underestimated the difficulty of getting the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement, overestimated the strength of the democratic forces in Egypt, and seems not to have fully understood the difficulties in winning the Afghan war until after he committed American troops to a surge. His administration has also seriously underestimated China’s readiness to oppose American policy in the Pacific; the South and East China seas are becoming more dangerous and more militarized by the day.  With 30 months to go, the public is fed up with empty promises and hungry for concrete accomplishments.
(“The incredible shrinking President” by Walter Russell Mead dated June 7, 2014 published by New York Daily News at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/incredible-shrinking-president-article-1.1820383 )


As the 2016 presidential nomination approaches, we ought to recall the single most important issue in preserving our liberties and saving our nation: restoring federalism.  Coerced sameness is the nectar of totalitarianism; regional variety is the lifeblood of liberty.  Those evil regimes of the last century invariably destroyed the rights of local governments.  Nazis began almost immediately to completely destroy state governments, which in Weimar Germany had been very robust, and books about Nazi Germany at the time noted that this was the single most important change in government under the Nazis.  The Soviets made Moscow the center of everything and crushed the independence of the myriad Soviet Socialist Republics.  Our American Republic was created by sovereign states who conditionally relinquished some powers to the new federal government so that it could do those few things that it could do better than states.  No one thought that the federal government was needed to protect the rights of individuals from oppression by state governments.  Until the juggernaut of centralized federal power began to overwhelm states, the differences among states in our quilted nation provided an effective structure for different sorts of Americans to live both as loyal citizens of the republic and as happy citizens of genuinely different states.  Mormons, driven across half a continent, created in Utah a state in which they could practice their religion in a single state sympathetic to that faith without compromising good citizenship in the American Republican.  Diverse states meant that Jews in New York could establish a polity in which public schools would let out on Jewish as well as Christian holidays and in which Jews completely integrated into the life of the world’s largest city.  Social issues like abortion were likewise amicably resolved through federalism.  Before Roe v. Wade, there was no “Right to Life” movement, because each state regulated abortions according to popular will.  If hyper-federalism was a disaster on social issues, it has been just as bad on economic and government service issues.  The natural operation of economic laws will reward states that tax wisely and spend intelligently and will punish those states that are incompetent wastrels.  We see that in the migration of people and business out of the quasi-Marxist regions of our nation.   When federal bureaucrats try to destroy different approaches to education, they stifle competition in approaches to learning and insure that failures in policy are never changed and that instead, barnacles of self-interested political groups, like public employee teachers unions, clog all discussion of change.  Fifty different systems of public education provide genuine studies in success or failure.  One dull script from Washington insures only groupthink.  Restoring state power at the expense of federal power could prove a powerful political theme in the 2016 election.  Few Americans, whatever their notional ideology, trust Washington, which they rightly see as infested with self-important people enriched at our common expense.  Washington insiders are seen as corrupt, arrogant, myopic, two-faced, and out of touch.  The contrast between Imperial Washington and state government is stark.  There is a grand, largely untapped unhappiness that ordinary Americans feel not just toward one political party or another, but toward Washington, whose denizens inhabit the very richest parts of America in northern Virginia and central Maryland. 

(“Our Most Important Issue” by Bruce Walker dated June 8, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/06/our_most_important_issue.html )


Karl Marx in 'Das Kapital,' places the hinge of economic tension at the supposed opposition between the competing interest of labor and capital and further he believes that "capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based."  However, this can only become true if free markets become controlled, or distorted, by the establishment of monopolies, be they private or state owned.  In the early twentieth century, U.S. Governments were alert to the destruction of free markets by monopolistic cartels and enacted strong anti-trust laws to curb their power, achieving strong economic results in the first three decades of the 20th Century.  In contrast, the socialist governments of post WWII Britain used public funds to establish state owned monopolies, similar to those existing in the Soviet Union, resulting in dramatic economic declines that continued into the 1980s when the U.K. was rescued by the free market policies of Margaret Thatcher.  Her central strategy was to restore individual freedom by breaking state owned monopolies and reducing the coercive control of trade unions, unleashing a resurgence of prosperity in Britain that was imitated in many other countries.  History provides ample evidence that when allowed to function properly free market capitalism generates massive national prosperity with high employment, a strong currency and rising standards of living.  It is only when the state manipulates and over regulates free markets that capitalism fails.  However, capitalism usually takes the blame for the failures of statism.  State monopolies create poverty for all but the politically connected elite.  Even the Soviet Union, a military superpower, was brought to its economic knees by state monopolies.  Communist Party Secretaries, Andropov and Gorbachev, were forced to the recognition that free markets should be introduced within Russia.  This led to 'Perestroika' and 'Glasnost' and the freeing of markets in Russia.  To achieve inherently unpopular global power, national elites must cooperate to bring about such levels of economic chaos and human suffering that people, despairing of ineffective democracy, will look for strong, global government as a welcome solution.  However, those who look towards strong global government must realize that likely it will lead to a world of extreme global inequality in which any effective opposition will be impossible.  

(Is Inequality Caused by Capitalism or Statism?” by John Browne dated June 12, 2014 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2014/06/12/is_inequality_caused_by_capitalism_or_statism_101115.html )

President Obama's economic legacy may already have been written as his administration waits in vain for a recovery.  Obama's economy has performed worse than any President's since Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Simply averaging real gross domestic product (GDP) growth over a President's tenure, Obama's is the lowest by almost a full percentage point.  Even to catch George W. Bush, Obama would have to average real economic growth of 3.55% over each of the next three years.  That would mean a 25% increase above his best year's growth, 2.8% percent in 2012.  Last year's growth was just 1.9%, and this year's first quarter came in at a negative 1%.  After 5 years in office, the defense that he inherited a poor economy no longer resonates with most Americans.  Looking at the earlier Presidents, receiving a troubled economy is not unique (FDR and Reagan did) and others, such as George W. Bush with September 11th, experienced unavoidable events that hit the economy hard.  Obama's economy has also had some substantial monetary and fiscal policy boosts.  The Federal Reserve has held interest rates at rock-bottom levels for an unprecedentedly long time. Fiscally, federal spending averaged 22.8% of GDP during the President's first five years (well above its 20.5% average over the previous 40 years) and debt held by the public more than doubled from $5.8 trillion to $12 trillion between 2008 and 2013.  According to a nationwide AP-GfK poll conducted in May, the economy was the nation's top issue, with 86% saying it was extremely or very important, with health care placing second.  Obama's economic performance rating was just 39% approval to 59% disapproval, with 65% rating today's economy "poor."   Only 29% thought the economy would improve over the next year, while 36% thought it would worsen.  Basically, Obama received a decidedly negative rating on the nation's top concern, and expectations for improvement were low.  Changing people's minds over the next three years may be no less difficult than changing the numbers. Opinions once formed are hard to change.  Time is running short for Obama to benefit from an economic recovery, and the odds of a turnaround are growing longer by the day.

(“Closing the book on Obama’s record of economic failure” by J.T. Young dated June 9, 2014 published by Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/9/young-closing-the-book-on-obamas-record-of-economi )

If the Bergdahl uproar feels creepily reminiscent of the Benghazi uproar, or the Syrian "red line" uproar, or the choose-your-own- Obama -foreign-adventure uproar, it's because they all have a common denominator because this is what happens when political hacks formally take over foreign policy.  Barack Obama isn't the first President to make foreign-policy decisions on the basis of domestic political calculations. He does, however, win the distinction of being the first President to utterly disregard, even treat with contempt, the institutions and procedures that were designed to help the commander in chief insulate the serious business of foreign policy and national security from baser political concerns.  The NSC has been by procedure and fierce tradition a rare apolitical forum, a place for the President to hear hard reality. NSC staff have been foreign-policy grownups, and its meetings are barred to political henchmen, until the Obama White House.  In early 2009, David Axelrod, Obama's top campaign guru and "political protector" began to attend some meetings of the National Security Council.  President Obama's first national security adviser, former Marine General and NATO Commander Jim Jones, left after only two years following clashes with Obama's inner circle.  He was replaced by Democrat political operative and former Fannie Mae lobbyist Tom Donilon.  He joined Ben Rhodes, the Obama campaign speechwriter, who in 2009 had been elevated to deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Also present was Tommy Vietor, whose entire career prior to NSC spokesman was as an Obama spinmeister.  A serious-minded NSC, in the tumultuous aftermath of Benghazi, would have responded with a sober assessment for its President of the real and continued terror threat, and of the failings that resulted in four dead Americans.  Instead we find the NSA crafting an internal email advising his colleagues to spin, and blame it all on an Internet video.  The same political Svengalis rooted for Obama's decision to set an Afghan withdrawal deadline, over the objections of military personnel.  They were the architects of the President's decision to drop his "red line" warning to Syria's Bashar Assad on Congress, and then blame Congress for failure of action.  They gave us resets, pivots and leading from behind, and have explained that Obama's foreign policy is best described as "Don't do stupid [stuff]."  Despite the endless loop of foreign-policy fiascoes, this White House seems oblivious of the need for institutional change.  It has had its share of experienced hands (Bob Gates and Leon Panetta) come and go, but shows no evidence it learned from them.  In Obama world, there is only politics, and so the world will continue to burn.

(“Meet Obama’s Kissingers” by Kimberly A. Strassel dated June 5, 2014 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/articles/kimberley-strassel-meet-obamas-kissingers-1402011139 )

Everything about this horrendous Bowe Bergdahl affair reminds us just how out of touch President Obama is with ordinary Americans and American sensibilities.  Obama reportedly expected that the American people would meet his egregiously lopsided deal exchanging five Osama bin Ladens for one Benedict Arnold with a "euphoric" response.  Obama obviously doesn't share the ordinary American's concern about jihadists, as he has bent over backward to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, tried to sanitize the term "terrorism" from our vernacular and often pretended we are not in a war with Islamic jihadi.  The more we are learning about the deal the more it looks as though Obama didn't have Bergdahl in mind at all in this exchange.  He wasn't primarily motivated to secure a soldier's release at the "end of a war" as he claimed. The war is not over even in terms of our own involvement in Afghanistan, but it will likely never be over for the Islamists, whose lives are dedicated in perpetuity to killing infidels.  It is far likelier that Obama was first motivated to release these killers and then looked around for a plausible cover.  Once again, Obama has painted himself in a corner with arrogance-colored paint, which has necessitated a massive propaganda campaign to justify his actions.  Once again, he sent Susan Rice out to lie for him, and once again, his aides have had to walk back what she said.  The similarity of the pattern is striking.  Obama and the leftist radicals he surrounds himself with have no clue how most patriotic Americans think, because if they did, there is no way Obama would have made such a monumental miscalculation, unless he really just doesn't care what we think, as long as he can proceed with his dangerous obsession to transform America.

(“It Was Probably Never About Bergdahl” by David Limbaugh dated June 6, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/2014/06/06/it-was-probably-never-about-bergdahl-n1848324 )


* 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.  There are no updates to the issue sections this week.


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY