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Views on the News

Views on the News*

July 5, 2014

                            

Move over, Republicans, Obama has a new boogeyman: his pet media!  The President has let out his frustrations on the fourth estate for failing, in his view, to cover serious issues facing the American people and instead focusing on the frivolous.  Obama’s disdain for the political press is well known, but he seems to be emphasizing it as part of a new White House push to convince the public that the President is focused on solving problems such as the economy and the environment, while his Republican rivals are focused foremost on scoring political points by blocking him at every turn.  Obama denounced the press and the GOP for driving debates over “phony scandals.”  It is obvious that Obama is trying to distract attention from the parade of scandals that plague his administration that remain unresolved for years which will require a new politically correct definition of “phony.  The us-against-them narrative of Obama’s latest messaging is aimed at making him more accessible at a time when his approval ratings are near all-time lows for his tenure.  This is a very transparent political ploy to manufacture some sympathy for a President under siege of his own making, and the mainstream media is so eager to please that they repeat this without question.

(“Obama’s new boogeyman: The press corps” by David Nakamura dated June 27, 2014 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/06/27/obamas-new-boogeyman-the-press-corps/?tid=hpModule_ba0d4c2a-86a2-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394&hpid=z9 )

Decades of socialist/progressive indoctrination in our schools, media and culture, plus six years of Obama, has yielded a devastating unspoken consequence: it is the loss of who we used to be as Americans.  In his 1961 Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  Democrats have perverted Kennedy’s inspiring challenge.  Their dispiriting goal is to have as many Americans as possible controlled by and dependent on government, even for life itself, which is at the root of ObamaCare.  I mourn the loss of the independent self-reliant mindset which made our parents great; and the pride and dignity it generated within them.  Welfare (government assistance) was a last resort and for the truly needy.  Today, far too many Americans see no shame in living on government assistance or scamming the system.  The Left’s campaign led by the Obama Administration to instill an entitlement mindset in many has proven successful.  Over 11 million are receiving disability benefits; 

riddled with fraud.  Clearly, many believe working is for suckers when the government is handing out freebies.  My heart aches for my America when character, excellence and hard work were rewarded, celebrated and respected.  That mindset of putting ones best foot forward and striving for loftier standards is what I fear we are rapidly losing as Americans.  Apparently, character is no longer expected in our leaders. President Obama is caught repeatedly lying to the American people and the response is ho-hum, let’s move on.  Amidst the unbelievably long list of scandals, crimes and misdemeanors of the Obama regime, the damage that this evil man and his minions have done to the internal make-up of many Americans is extremely disturbing and heartbreaking.  I have faith that the liberal’s, socialist’s and progressive’s toxic disease of entitlement thinking has not reached critical mass.

(“A Heartbreaking Unspoken Consequence of Obama” by Lloyd Marcus dated June 27, 2014 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/64111 )

Thanks to their cozy relationship with the Obama administration, a new class of super-wealthy oligarchs keeps getting more powerful while the country’s middle class shrinks.  Our current President has enabled the Age of Oligarchy.  There is the diminished role for small business, greater concentration of financial assets, and a troubling decline in home ownership.  On a cultural level, there is a general malaise about the prospect for upward mobility for future generations.  For the entitled few, these have been the best of times. With ever more concentration of key industries, ever greater advantage of capital over labor, and soaring real estate values in swanky places such as Manhattan or San Francisco which constitute “vast gated communities where the one percent reproduces itself."   This shift towards oligarchy well precedes President Obama’s tenure.  It was born from a confluence of forces: globalization, the financialization of the economy, and the shift towards digital technology.  Obama is not entirely to blame, it is more than a bit ironic that these measurements have worsened under an Administration that has proclaimed income inequality abhorrent.  The stimulus, with its emphasis on public sector jobs, did little for Main Street. And under the banner of environmentalism, green cronyism has helped fatten the bank accounts of investment bankers and tech moguls at great public expense.  Obama and the Democrats are also increasingly backed in their “progressive” causes by the very people (Wall Street traders, venture capitalists and tech executives) who benefit most from the federal bailouts, cheap money, low interest rates, and low capital gains tax rates.  Indeed in the first five years of the Obama Administration the share of financial assets held by the top six “too big to fail” banks soared 37%, and now account for two-thirds of all bank assets.  By 2011, pay for executives at the largest banking firms hit new records, just three years after the financial “wizards” left the world economy on the brink of economic catastrophe. Meanwhile, as “too big to fail” banks received huge bailouts, the ranks of  community banks continues dropping to the lowest number since the 1930s, hurting, in particular, small businesspeople that depend on loans from these institutions.  Wall Streeters have not been the only oligarchs to thrive under Obama.  The tech industry, once an exemplar of dynamic capitalism, has become increasingly dominated by a handful of firms and their venture capital backers.  These tech companies all enjoy strong, even intimate, ties to the Obama Administration.  They have little reason to fear anti-trust crackdowns or scrutiny of their increasingly gross violations of privacy from friendly government lawyers.  For the most part, the oligarchs have lined up with Obama from the start.  If Obama has proven a god-send for the oligarchs, he has been less solicitous of small business.  Long a key source of new jobs, small business start-ups have declined as a portion of all business growth from 50% in the early 1980s to 35% in 2010.  Indeed, a 2014 Brookings report, revealed small business “dynamism” has declined significantly over the past decade, with more firms closing than starting for the first time in a quarter century.  Much can be traced to the expansion of regulatory power.  “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once noted, “but we can't have both.”  Many, if not most Americans, recognize that our political economy is not working for the majority of the country. The vast majority recognize the reality of crony capitalism and understand that government contracts go to the politically connected.  American politics has ceased to function as a rising democracy and come to resemble an emerging plutocracy.  These days, political choice is fought over by dueling groups of billionaires appealing to right and left to see who will best look after their interests.  Among the .01% wealthiest Americans who dominate political giving, the largest contributions besides the conservative Club for Growth went to Democrat aligned groups such as Emily’s list, Act Blue and Moveon.org.  Seven of the ten Congressional candidates most dependent on the money of the ultra-rich were Democrats.  In 2012, Obama won eight of the country’s ten wealthiest counties, sometimes by margins of two-to-one or better.  He also triumphed easily in virtually all the top counties with the highest concentrations of millionaires and among wealthy hedge fund managers.  The defeat of house majority leader Eric Cantor partly reflected concern over his incessant lobbying and cozying up to Wall Street.  Similarly, opposition to Hillary Clinton’s corporatist campaign is coming from at least some Democrats, notably Senator Elizabeth Warren.  If the corrupt bargain between the oligarchs and the political class goes unbroken, the political revolution may not be far behind.

(“Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy” by Joel Kotkin dated June 28, 2014 published by The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/28/dawn-of-the-age-of-oligarchy-the-alliance-between-government-and-the-1.html )

 

The values and concerns of the Democrat voter and the Democrat establishment and the Republican establishment are all birds of a feather interested in getting stuff from the government, through direct benefits or subsidies or crony deals, while the Republican base is odd man out.  That's because conservatives' values and concerns include dedication to free markets, light regulation, individual autonomy, respect for conscience, refusal to privilege victimhood, and the rule of law.  The Republican establishment is torn between attending to the values and concerns of its Republican voters and the day-to-day game of thrones in Washington DC that everyone else is playing.  The GOP establishment is right that conservatives and tea party activists are their problem.  Right-wingnut racist-sexist-homophobes want to tear down the whole corrupt edifice of servile benefits and crony ExIm Banks and print-the-government-out-of-a-jam Keynesian economics and the censorship of conservative speech.  Conservatives aren't sensible, and don't want to be.  They have a vision, a faith in a society of responsible individualism, where people rise above the instincts of power politics, of going along to get along, of cadging free stuff in the wake of a powerful patron.  They want a society where you don't have to truckle to a powerful patron.  They want a world where ordinary people get ahead on talent and hard work, not by checking boxes on some diversity form, and they believe in a government that is limited in its powers.  Conservatives’ job is to have the best ideas around, keep them fizzing, and make sure that the ideas are pitched to solve the problems of the next ruling class after the end of the late great authoritarian welfare state.  Politics is downstream from culture.  Conservatives are the people, the troublesome people, that actually live the liberal conceit of speaking truth to power, and unless they keep doing that, nothing will change.

(“Admit It: We Wackos are the Problem” by Christopher Chantrill dated July 1, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/06/admit_it_we_wackos_are_the_problem.html )

 

The civil-rights struggles of the mid-20th century were liberalism at its best and culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed racial discrimination in employment and education and ensured the ability of blacks to register and vote.  Good intentions aside, which efforts have facilitated black advancement, and which efforts have impeded it?  Many liberals today don’t seem interested in asking this question, even though 50 years into the war on poverty the picture isn’t pretty.  While gains have been made, significant racial disparities persist in some areas and black retrogression has occurred in others.  The black-white poverty gap has widened over the last decade and the poverty rate among blacks is no longer declining.  The black-white disparity in incarceration rates today is larger than it was in 1960.  The black unemployment rate has, on average, been twice as high as the white rate for five decades. In fact, black America has long been stuck in a severe recession.  Confronted with these statistics, liberals continue to push for the same “solutions” that clearly haven’t worked before.  Obama said that he wants to increase reading proficiency and graduation rates for minority students, yet he opposes school voucher programs that are doing both.  He called for more of the same job-training programs that liberal politicians have been pushing for decades despite scant evidence of their effectiveness.  Faced with these failures, the President continues to blame the past.  Obama was doing exactly what liberals have been conditioning blacks to do since the 1960s, which is to blame black pathology on the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws, and the president is conditioning the next generation of blacks to do the same.  This is a dodge.  Those legacies are not holding down blacks half as much as the legacy of efforts to help them “overcome.”  The left’s sentimental support has turned underprivileged blacks into playthings for liberal intellectuals and politicians who care more about clearing their conscience or winning votes than advo­cating behaviors and attitudes that have allowed other groups to get ahead.  Meanwhile, the civil-rights movement of King has become an industry that does little more than monetize white guilt.  Liberalism has also succeeded, tragically, in convincing blacks to see themselves first and foremost as victims. Today there is no greater impediment to black advancement than the self-pitying mindset that permeates black culture.  White liberals think they are helping blacks by romanticizing miscreants.  Black liberals are all too happy to hustle guilty whites.  The result, manifest in everything from black studies programs to black media to black politics, is an obsession with racial slights real or imagined.  Much more disturbing is that half a century after the civil rights battles were fought and won, liberalism remains much more inter­ested in making excuses for blacks than in reevaluating efforts to help them.

(“Why liberals should stop trying to ‘help’ black Americans” by Jason L. Riley dated June 28, 2014 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2014/06/28/how-liberals-make-it-harder-for-blacks-to-succeed/ )

The Obama administration’s judicial opinions have been defeated in thirteen cases before the Supreme Court since January 2012 that were unanimous decisions.  It continued its abysmal record before the Supreme Court with the announcement of two unanimous opinions against arguments the administration had supported.  First, the Court rejected the administration’s power grab on recess appointments by making clear it could not decide when the Senate was in recess. Then it unanimously tossed out a law establishing abortion-clinic “buffer zones” against pro-life protests that the Obama administration argued on behalf of before the Court.  The tenure of both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder has been marked by a dangerous push to legitimize a vast expansion of the power of the federal government that endangers the liberty and freedom of Americans.  They have taken such extreme position on key issues that the Court has uncharacteristically slapped them down time and time again.  Historically, the Justice Department has won about 70% of its cases before the high court, but in each of the last three terms, the Court has ruled against the administration a majority of the time.  Even the liberal justices on the Court, including the two justices appointed by President Barack Obama, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, have disagreed with the DOJ’s positions.  Those decisions are very revealing about the views of President Obama and Eric Holder:  Their vision is one of unchecked federal power on immigration and environmental issues, on Presidential prerogatives, and the taking of private property by the government; hostility to First Amendment freedoms that don’t meet the politically correct norms; and disregard of Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless government intrusion.  These are positions that should alarm all Americans regardless of their political views, political-party affiliations, or background.

(“Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Obama for the 12th and 13th Time Since 2012” by John Fund dated June 26, 2014 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/381296/supreme-court-rules-unanimously-against-obama-12th-and-13th-time-2012-john-fund )

 

There's capitalism, and then there's "crapitalism" (crony capitalism).  Capitalism is great because it lets entrepreneurs raise money so they can scale up and get their products and services to more people.  If there is free competition, innovators with the best ideas raise the most money, and the best and cheapest products spread far and wide.  But it's “crapitalism” when politicians give your tax money and other special privileges to businesses that are "most deserving of help."  Often those businesses turn out to be run by politicians' cronies.  When there is scandal, such as the Energy Department lost $500 million on Solyndra, we hear about it, but often we don't.  You probably didn't know about the department's other fat losses on businesses like Solar One, the Triad ethanol plant, FutureGen, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor and so on.  Even the Small Business Administration is an embarrassment.  They loaned $1 million to a Lamborghini dealership and $3 million to a Rolex dealer.  Most government handouts go to the middle class and the rich.  Government has no business handing out loan guarantees to companies.  The Agriculture Department's Market Access Program gives millions of dollars to affluent groups like the Pet Food Institute, the Wine Institute, Sunkist and Welch Foods. In return, politicians get campaign contributions.  The biggest funder of this crony capitalism is the Export-Import Bank.  Most of the government's export loans go to Fortune 500 companies like G.E., like Boeing, who could easily finance these things themselves.  The Export-Import Bank claims they create American jobs, but when the Export-Import Bank helps Boeing sell a jet to Air India, it hurts Delta Air Lines.  When government picks winners, it pats itself on the back, and gains crony friends in industry, but it creates losers at the same time.  Benefits of government spending go to a concentrated few -- who fight to keep the program going.  Gifts from government get companies to focus on lobbying instead of innovation. Government favoritism creates bad incentives.  We already have a time-tested policy for deciding, without government interference, where resources should go. It's called the free market, and it works much better than government does.

(“Crapitalism” by John Stossel dated July 2, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2014/07/02/crapitalism-n1857887 )

It’s now official: On foreign policy, Barack Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter, which has been synonymous with weakness on the world stage.  The late 1970’s was the era of double-digit inflation, a worldwide oil crisis, Iranian hostages and Soviet military advances from Latin America to Afghanistan.  Obama’s rise to power mirrored his Democratic predecessor’s in many ways.  Both men came to office in the wake of widespread public disenchantment with the political establishment, and promoted themselves as outsiders and breaths of fresh air.  For Carter, in a 1977 commencement speech, it was “our inordinate fear of communism” that Americans needed to overcome.  For Obama, in his 2009 Cairo address, it was the “fear” and “mistrust” that had grown between the West and Muslim world in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Both men came into office emphasizing the promotion of human rights as a crucial dimension of American foreign policy.  Both men gave the impression that their good intentions would be enough to accomplish these Herculean tasks.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, the reality of the world came crashing down.  Carter announced a series of proposals directed at weakening America’s adversaries. First was a 5% increase in defense spending, a move that angered many of his Democratic allies in Congress who had taken to slashing the defense budget in the wake of the Vietnam War.  Carter announced what would later come to be known as the Carter Doctrine: that the United States would use military force to protect its vital interests in the Persian Gulf.  Next came an embargo on grain and agricultural technology to the Soviet Union. Carter also declared that the United States would boycott the 1980 Moscow summer Olympics unless the Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan.  The correlations between the world situation in the twilight of the Carter administration and in the second Obama term are hard to ignore. Once again, Russia has invaded a neighbor. Only this time, that neighbor is on the European continent, and Moscow went so far as to annex — not merely attack — its territory. And once again the Middle East is in flames, with the prospect of another Islamist movement taking control over a state, this time in Iraq.  Rather than respond to the collapsing world order by supporting our allies and undermining our adversaries, the Obama administration dithers.  It is an indication of just how worrisome the situation is that many in Washington are pining for the resolve and fortitude of Jimmy Carter.  Few take America, least of all Secretary of State John Kerry, at its word anymore.  Two days earlier, Kerry was in Cairo meeting with Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt’s military dictator.  The United States had just released millions of dollars in military aid to Egypt, aid that had been frozen after al-Sisi launched a coup to topple the country’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president last year.  So convinced was he that American presence, rather than absence, causes problems, Obama hastily exited Iraq in 2011 rather than try to negotiate an agreement that would have left a stabilizing American military force in the country.  Obama and his surrogates endlessly complain about the “disaster” they inherited from the Bush administration there, but the country was largely pacified by the time Obama entered the White House.  Today, due largely to American absenteeism in the region, Islamist militants that make Al Qaeda look like a Rotary Club control a large chunk of the country.  Obama’s hands-off approach seems to be aimed at appeasing a domestic constituency that sees diplomacy, no matter how toothless, as the best way to maintain peace.  Global instability is on the rise and faith in America’s stabilizing presence is on the decline, and all we have from Washington are empty, millennial-friendly buzz phrases.Leading from behind” was how one, too-clever-by-half administration official termed Obama’s global strategy. Hitting “singles” and “doubles” is Obama’s own, jocular assessment of his foreign policy.  Now, “Don’t do stupid ‘stuff’” is the mantra being repeated throughout the halls of the White House and State Department, but Don’t do anything at all” seems more apt a description of this administration’s approach.

(“Barack Carter” by James Kirchick dated June 29, 2014 published by New York Daily News at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/barack-carter-article-1.1847138 )

 

* 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:

·  National Philosophy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/philosophy.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com