RTCS

Views on the News

June 26, 2010

Views on the News*

President Obama has run into the unavoidable force known as “reality,” and he is suffering by comparison to his words and actions. Obama’s election was based on the promise of a new mature and pragmatic leadership, but leadership has been the element missing from Obama’s administration for a year and a half. Leadership has been missing from the Democratic party for at least a decade. Obama’s relationship with America, like many a young marriage, is growing sour. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the magic has drained away. Even among his most ardent supporters, there now exists a certain frustration and disillusionment not necessarily in the execution of his duties, but in his inability to seize moments, chart a course and navigate the choppy waters of public opinion. What’s left for many is a big plume of disappointment and sadness lurking just beneath the surface. The stimulus did very little to help the economy, and unemployment is stubbornly high. A majority of Americans still hate ObamaCare, and Obama’s endorsed candidates have performed about as well as a BP well cap. Obama continuously relies on the contrived and what has been a heartless, teleprompter Presidency since the inaugural. Once the marriage was official, reality set in and Obama tried to lower expectations. The question began to emerge whether Obama was an “empty suit” only “one speech deep” before a hard leftist philosophy is revealed. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found 62% of people think the country is on the wrong track. The Rasmussen daily tracking poll shows that 27% of voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President, while 40% Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -13. A Gallup report stated that Obama’s “first-year ratings were the most polarized for a President in Gallup history.” It’s too early to declare the Obama Presidency a failure, but it’s not too early to ask, if this is the best Obama has, how it can end up being anything else?

(“Slickness won’t save sinking Obama” by Michael Graham dated June 17, 2010 published by Boston Herald at http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view/20100617slickness_wont_save_sinking_obama_his_luster_liquidating/

The Thrill Is Gone” by Charles M. Blow dated June 18, 2010 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/19/opinion/19blow.html?ref=opinion

Leaderless” by B.J. Bethel dated June 21, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/06/21/leaderless/ )

 

Obama blew the response to the Gulf oil spill and is doing everything in his power to rewrite history to obscure his abysmal response. The White House can start issuing more statements, the president can visit the region every week, and he can finally decide whose behind to kick. The attached articles below document Obama’s slow, misguided, PR-driven response on a day-by-day basis, showing what happened each day in the Gulf and what Obama did that day. One disturbing trait that has emerged is that no one is in charge and no one knows what the goal is. To this day the sum total of Obama's efforts has been speech making, finger pointing and visiting the affected area, which looks good politically, but doesn't really accomplish anything, and, of course, appointing commissions to study the matter. Meanwhile the disaster that need not have been a disaster has been exploited for political purposes: to take shots at the Bush administration; to promote job killing cap and trade legislation; and to threaten criminal prosecution of BP executives. For years we have heard big government Democrats like Obama pride themselves on being the protectors of the people through heavy regulations. Yet, all the federal regulations and bureaucracy did not stop the oil spill. In fact, the federal government actually helped to cause the spill to occur by not enforcing its own standards and inspections, and then allowed that spill to explode into an environmental disaster by doing nothing to resolve the spill. With each passing day, the perception that the President has been hesitant, ineffective and unwilling to cut through bureaucratic red tape to fight the spill has grown. And now after nearly two months of failure, the company and the Coast Guard have no further plans to plug the Macondo oil well leaking into the Gulf. Instead, the goal is merely to contain the leak until a relief well comes online, a process that could take months. Meanwhile the announced moratorium on deep water drilling has been overruled, since it was arbitrary and would cost the Gulf Coast in excess of 50,00 much needed jobs. The President and his staff are frantically trying a "do-over," hoping that if Obama can just appear angry enough, or in charge enough, or concerned enough, America will forget how badly he flubbed his original response. Something even Obama can't do is go back and change his original response, because he was wrong; he blew it; and he can never, never get those first days and weeks back.

(“Obama golfs while Gulf burns” by Mike Riggs dated May 28, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/28/what-obama-has-been-doing-while-the-gulf-coast-dies/

Obama during oil spill – golf, parties, photo-ops… and more golf!” by Kevin Krusty dated May 28, 2010 published by PolitiPage at http://politipage.com/2010/05/28/obamas-days/

Disaster in the Gulf: 61 Days and Counting…” dated June 16, 2010 published by Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/05/28/disaster-gulf-days-counting/

How Do You Spell Response?” by Carol Peracchio dated June 19, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/06/how_do_you_spell_response.html

What the Gulf Oil Leak Tells Us” by Steven D. Laib dated June 20, 2010 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2010/06/20/what-the-gulf-oil-leak-tells-us/

A Big Government Disaster” by Christopher Merola dated June 21, 2010 published by Town Hall at )

 

Obama has reiterated his false belief that moving from carbon-based fuel to renewables will create American jobs, heal the climate, put more distance between us and geopolitically unstable regions and punish those nasty oil companies while saving our shrimp and seagulls… but unfortunately none of it is true. The President’s beloved (if doomed) “cap-and-tax” legislation would: do little or nothing to alter global climate trends, reward oil companies like BP that backed the bill from the start, destroy jobs by increasing the cost gap with coal-powered China and India, introduce new environmental hazards like huge windmills chopping up birds by the thousands and, as it raises the price of domestic drilling, give the Middle East a lovely gift. The “cap-and-tax” bill that the House passed last summer aims to force Americans to reduce those dreaded carbon emissions by 83% in less than four decades -- to the same per-capita level as 1867. Yet even under the Al Gore-approved climate-science models, the bill would do nothing to stop global warming. The bill is 1,000-plus pages of rules, regulations, handouts, subsidies and whatever else House leaders deemed necessary. The central point is clear enough: the bill simply drives up the price of fossil-fuel based energy so high that the nation will have to somehow get along with only 17% of the gasoline and fossil-fuel-powered electricity that it uses today. Don't ask how much it will cost, because no one really knows, since you can't put a price on something that has yet to be defined. Neither bill (neither the House-like Kerry-Lieberman tome, nor the Senate climate-change lite) would do anything measurable about climate change. This legislation will push even more of our industry into migrating to China, India and other nations that have no intention of reducing emissions by making energy more expensive. Bottom line: This legislation won't lower global temperatures -- but merely make life more expensive. This legislation will force you to buy things you don't want, like much more expensive cars, and to use energy sources you'd normally bypass, like ethanol, solar and windmills, and all have to be massively subsidized, with your tax dollars, to compete with today's mix of coal, gasoline and natural gas.

(“Obama tilts at windmills” by Kyle Smith dated June 20, 2010 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/obama_tilts_at_windmills_YQ4UT5HeL5bUD1VUP6LanJBam’s climate Rx: All pain, no gain” by Patrick J. Michaels dated June 21, 2010 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/bam_climate_rx_all_pain_no_gain_rrEOObpwCeZkI43QmmKH4O )

 

The 1974 Budget and Impoundment Act requires Congress to pass a budget resolution by May 15 of each year, but this year is different because Congressional Democrats aren’t simply delaying, they’re deliberately refusing to offer a budget until after the November elections. Congressional Democrats are simply choosing to ignore the law. In the short term, failing to pass a budget resolution almost guarantees even more irresponsible spending. A budget resolution sets spending targets for congressional committees and makes it procedurally more difficult for members of Congress (in either house) to increase spending, but budgetary chaos means more spending.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said passing a budget "isn't possible" without the input from Obama’s appointed deficit commission, which isn’t scheduled to give a report until December, conveniently after the November elections. It’s win-win for Congressional Democrats: Moderates get to avoid a tough vote and liberals get to spend more. The long-term problems are worse, since when Congress does not pass a budget resolution before the election, Democrats will push one through during the lame-duck session before a new Congress is sworn in. Democrats will be able to ratchet up discretionary spending, and these increased levels of spending will be the fallback levels in the event that future spending disputes require Congress to revert to continuing budget resolutions.  If ensuring budgetary chaos and locking in higher levels of discretionary spending isn’t depressing enough, there’s always the prospect of a genuine debt crisis. Virtually everyone agrees that the current level of federal spending is unsustainable, but the Obama administration has shown no interest in cutting spending. Indeed, President Obama wrote to European leaders ahead of the upcoming G-20 summit in Toronto and warned that their austerity measures—including spending cuts—could slow our recovery, and even raised the possibility of still greater U.S. government spending. When debt and deficits get so out of control, Democrats create a crisis so they can create a solution which includes even bigger government and increased spending.

(“Dereliction of Duty” by Stephen F. Hayes dated June 28, 2010 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/dereliction-duty

A Bad Lie, At Best” by Jillian Bandes dated June 24, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/JillianBandes/2010/06/24/a_bad_lie,_at_best )

 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took over a foreclosed home roughly every 90 seconds during the first three months of the year and have become two of the nation’s largest landlords. Before the housing collapse, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac controlled as much as half of the nation’s residential mortgage market. Since then, both companies have gone belly up, and rely on the federal government to keep them alive. So far the tab stands at $145.9 billion, and it grows with every foreclosure and the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the final bill could reach $389 billion. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased American home ownership over the last half-century by persuading investors to provide money for mortgage loans. The sales pitch amounted to a money-back guarantee: If borrowers defaulted, the companies promised to repay the investors. Rather than actually making loans, the two companies — Fannie Mae older and larger, Freddie Mac created to provide competition — bought loans from banks and other originators, providing money for more lending and helping to hold down interest rates. As it turns out, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increasingly were channeling money into loans that borrowers could not afford. As defaults mounted, the companies quickly ran low on money to honor their guarantees. The federal government, fearing that investors would stop providing money for new loans, placed the companies in conservatorship and took a 79.9% ownership stake, adding its own guarantee that investors would be repaid. The huge and continually rising cost of that decision has spurred national debate about federal subsidies for mortgage lending. In the meantime, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are editing the results of the housing boom at public expense, removing owners who cannot afford their homes, reselling the houses at much lower prices and financing mortgage loans for the new owners. The outsides are weeded and the insides are scrubbed; stolen appliances are replaced; brackish pools are refilled. Until the properties are sold, they must be maintained: contractors mow lawns twice a month during the summer, and are paid $80 each time; for a monthly grass bill of more than $10 million. All told, the two companies spent more than $1 billion on upkeep last year. Republicans have repeatedly attempted to offer amendments to the financial-regulatory system to shut down, privatize, and spin off Fannie and Freddie, or at least to include the full cost of their bailouts in the federal budget. Democrats have repeatedly ruled that these amendments are not germane to the underlying overhaul of the nation’s financial-regulatory system even though Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were central players in the financial collapse. Prices have plunged, so by the time a home is resold, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on average recoup less than 60% of the money the borrower failed to repay, according to the companies’ financial filings. You might assume the federal money is all part of a sweeping plan to wind these companies down gradually, until the private sector can pick up the slack, but in fact, the opposite is occurring. Even as they rely on federal handouts, the companies are expanding their control of housing markets. Last year, the GSEs financed or backed about 70 percent of single-family mortgage loans. They now hold about $5 trillion in their investment portfolios. Policymakers apparently think the best way to handle a company that’s “too big to fail” is to make it bigger. And there’s no end in sight. The Obama administration lifted all caps on how much the companies could drain from federal coffers. Once limited to “only” $200 billion apiece, they can now borrow endlessly, and they don’t even have to prepare a plan to pay the “loans” back. The stock market has spoken and the twin GSEs will soon be delisted, as investors see no end to losses in sight and the money will never be repaid, so the stock is now trading for less than $1 per share.

(“Cost of Seizing Fannie and Freddie Surges for Taxpayers” by Binyamin Applebaum dated June 19, 2010 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/business/20foreclose.html?hp

Fixing Fannie and Freddie” by Ed Feulner dated June 22, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/EdFeulner/2010/06/22/fixing_fannie_and_freddie )

 

It is an understatement to say that ObamaCare is unpopular, but the more Americans learn, the more they support its repeal. One of ObamaCare’s major selling points was that nobody would be forced to change their insurance policies or doctors. As Obama’s team drafts the regulations for implementing this massive government takeover of the healthcare industry, it’s becoming evident that the President and his supporters misled the American people. It was recently reported that 1.5 million Americans may lose their health coverage this year due to ObamaCare regulations. Now we’re learning that new regulations may force tens of millions to lose their employer-provided healthcare plans. That’s because, come 2014, the federal government is going to dictate what kind of coverage you must have. We were told that the federal mandates would apply only to policies sold in the new federal healthcare “exchanges.” Polls found that large majorities of Americans (75%) with health insurance were happy with the coverage they have now. So Democrats reassured a nervous public that employer-provided plans would be “grandfathered in” or exempted from the new requirements. That’s not what the latest draft regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services suggest. More than 100 million Americans are insured through their employer. Its worst-case assumption is that 80% of small-employers will lose grandfathered rights by 2013. Which is why the administration recently announced it will spend $125 million on a campaign to sell it to them. If you’ve found the Obama administration’s handling of the oil crisis troubling, its inability to coordinate private companies and government-run entities, its failure to manage unexpected events and costs, and its inefficiency in streamlining approval processes and regulations, then you’re really going to be disturbed by the coming healthcare disaster.

(“Obamacare’s Broken Promises” by Gary Bauer dated June 20, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37561 )

 

Organizations that promote or perform abortions spent nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money since 2002, according to a Government Accountability Office. The GAO looked into the expenditures of six organizations and their affiliates: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council, The Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, and Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report says these organizations and their affiliates spent $967.1 million in federal funds for fiscal years 2002-2009. Each of these organizations promotes or performs abortions. Planned Parenthood Federation of America's (PPFA) audits show the organization spent just $657.1 million between 2002 and 2008 from federal government grants and programs, but the abortion behemoth's own annual reports show that it took in $2.3 billion from government grants and programs during the same time period. Planned Parenthood admits to systematically having killed more than 1.8 million pre-born babies between 2002 and 2008. Planned Parenthood’s 2006-2007 annual report, for example, states the organization performed 289,750 abortions in 2006 alone—a year it spent $100 million of taxpayer’s money. It performed 306,310 abortions in 2007, when it spent $97.6 million of federal funds. In a debate where the primary focus is a woman’s body and a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a child to his or her delivery, the “other partner,” the father of the baby, is rarely given consideration, and is often completely disregarded altogether. The question of abortion is myopically women-centric, since the decision deeply impacts the dad also. President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting taxpayer-funded abortions under the new healthcare law, but continues to fund organizations that perform over 250, 000 abortions each year at taxpayer expense. 

(“Planned Parenthood’s missing millions” by Rita Diller dated June 18, 2010 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/18/planned-parenthoods-missing-millions/

Taxpayers Spend $1 Billion to Promote Abortion” by Elisabeth Meinecke dated June 20, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37604

A Women’s ‘Choice’ That Affects Men: Post Abortion Trauma” by Jerry DeBin dated June 20, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/JerryDeBin/2010/06/20/a_womans_choice_that_affects_men_post-abortion_trauma )

 

Barack Obama came into office as the heir to a great foreign policy legacy enjoyed by every recent U.S. President, but he has squandered the reputation that he inherited. The United States stands on top of the power ladder, not necessarily as the dominant power, but certainly as the leading one. As such we are the sole nation capable of exercising global leadership on a whole range of international issues from security, trade, and climate to counterterrorism. We also benefit from the fact that most countries distrust the United States far less than they distrust one another, so we uniquely have the power to build coalitions. As a result, most of the world still looks to Washington for help in their region and protection against potential regional threats. Yet, the Iraq war lingers; Afghanistan continues to be immersed in an endless cycle of tribalism, corruption, and Islamist resurgence; Guantánamo remains open; Iran sees how North Korea toys with Obama and continues its programs to develop nuclear weapons and missiles; Cuba spurns America's offers of a greater opening; and the Palestinians and Israelis find that it is U.S. policy positions that defer serious negotiations, the direct opposite of what the Obama administration hoped for. America right now appears to be unreliable to traditional friends, compliant to rivals, and weak to enemies. The United States for 60 years has met its responsibilities as the leader and the defender of the democracies of the free world. We have policed the sea lanes, protected the air and space domains, countered terrorism, responded to genocide, and been the bulwark against rogue states engaging in aggression. The world now senses, in the context of the erosion of America's economic power and the pressures of our budget deficits, that we will compress our commitments. The world needs the vision, idealism, and strong leadership that America brings to international affairs, and this must be done and we are the only ones who can do it.

(“World Sees Obama as Incompetent and Amateur” by Mortimer B. Zuckerman dated June 18, 2010 published by US News & World Report at http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/2010/06/18/mort-zuckerman-world-sees-obama-as-incompetent-and-amateur.html )

 

Barack Obama may be the first American president to accidentally carry out an isolationist foreign policy and the uncertainty of the American trumpet, the indecisiveness of the American hand, and the modesty of the American goals are freeing the strong and forcing the weak to prepare to fend for themselves. One impact is the absence of American deterrence gives hope to anti-Israeli instincts. Iran will start to reassert its claim to oil-rich southern Iraq, which was the cause of the Iraq–Iran War of the 1980s. Turkey will challenge with military force the Kurds in northern Iraq for the oil-rich lands around Kirkuk while also using the opportunity to repress Kurdish moves toward a de facto independent Kurdistan in what are now parts of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. In the Middle East, all players in the region are assuming America will not be a long-term player. Next, consider revanchist Russia’s drive to re-dominate the lands of its old empire. Once again, it is the weakness or absence of strong American diplomacy that is the coming hallmark of developments in Russia and its border area. This newly modest American diplomatic/military stance in Central Asia is causing increased assertiveness by all the traditional players (India, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China) along with the increased confidence of the radical Islamists and drug merchants in the region. The characteristic aspects of Mr. Obama’s new foreign policy in action might fairly be described as: (1) a refusal to assert American will; which leads to (2) the description, but not the attainment by force, of American objectives; and, thus, (3) acquiescence to the assertion of will by other nations or forces. Though this may not be intentional isolationism, it is turning out to be pretty much the same thing. Each of these impending international disasters is on its own timeline and they all point to the same conclusion: a world no longer guided by a powerful, benign hand, but rather a world that is the target of malignant grabbing hands and pounding fists.

Obama the Isolationist?” by Tony Blankley dated June 23, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/436953/obama-the-isolationist/tony-blankley )

 

Conservatism's critics often see it as an undifferentiated mass animated by hostility to "big government," support for social traditionalism and a deep animosity toward liberalism, but conservatism is a diverse movement with many philosophical threads and tensions. Successful conservative politicians such as Ronald Reagan (and George W. Bush in his first term) kept the peace among economic, social and big business conservatives while moderating the movement's public rhetoric. In opposition, conservatives often manage to bury their differences. The rise of the Tea Party movement is a throwback to an old form of libertarianism that sees most of the domestic policies that government has undertaken since the New Deal as unconstitutional. It typically perceives the most dangerous threats to freedom as the design of well-educated liberal elitists out of touch with "American values." In its extreme antipathy to the power of the federal government, this movement may prove to be threatening to both political parties. The language of the new anti-statists, like the language of the 1950s' right, regularly harks back to the U.S. Constitution and the Founders in calling attention to perceived threats to liberty. A group called Tea Party Patriots describes itself as "a community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!" Tea Party Nation says it is "a user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God given Individual Freedoms which were written out by the Founding Fathers." What's remarkable is the extent to which the Tea Party movement has displaced the religious right as the dominant voice of conservative militancy. The religious conservatives have not disappeared, and Sarah Palin, a Tea Party hero, does share their views on abortion and gay marriage. The social issues have been overshadowed by the broader anti-government themes pushed by the New Old Right, and the "compassionate conservatism" that inspires parts of the Christian political movement is not as important with today’s movement.

(“The Right’s Disturbing New Anti-Statists” by E.J. Dionne dated June 21, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/06/21/the_disturbing_new_right.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

·         Budget at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php

·         Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/education.php

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

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

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

·         Gun Control at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/guncontrol.php

·         Welfare at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/welfare.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com