RTCS

Views on the News

Views on the News*

August 1, 2015

 

The rise of Donald Trump as a contender for the Republican nomination is not about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, but rather it is about the failures of the Party establishment, especially the GOP’s Capitol Hill leadership, to do what they promised to do and fight Obama’s policies with all the tools the Constitution gives them.  The American people are starving for a hero; someone who has the guts to say the truth that has become “politically incorrect” to utter in the light of day.  The American people are yearning for someone in the limelight who won’t pretend that illegal immigration isn’t illegal; who won’t pretend that making limp-wristed nuclear deals with a bloodthirsty regime isn’t insane; who will admit these things and expose what passes for Republican leadership as the gutless wonders they are.  I’ve gone round and round and round with RINOs for several years now, and frankly I just don’t get the “head-up-posterior” stupidity of these people!  Do they really think anyone worth having on your side is going to be impressed and inspired by a “leader” who is afraid of their own shadow; a “leader” who wrings their hands at even the thought of straight-talk; a “leader” who must poll-test every statement before even thinking of carving out a position?  What a pathetic pity the “Republicans” who constitute “leadership” in Washington and many of our state governments are the “hide under a bush” kind of “hero,” and not the kind who will assert REAL leadership to fight wrongs.  As flawed as he is, at least he is willing to speak out boldly on certain truths where most Republican “leaders” in the national spotlight today are too busy peeing their pants and crying over their wet pants to even say the right things.  That’s why another GOP presidential candidate is getting a lot of enthusiasm from the grassroots base, even though he doesn’t have near the star-power and exposure that billionaire TV star Donald Trump has.  Conservatives are enthusiastically cheering Ted Cruz for saying what all conservatives have known for years.  Support for Trump right now isn’t so much about his quality as a candidate as it is about being fed up with the gutless excuse for “Republicans” we have and enthusiasm at hearing someone under the GOP banner speaking out loudly about the things that concern them.  In other words, it’s a desperation-fueled enthusiasm.  Desperation got the GOP control of the House in 2010, and they urinated on the base.  Even greater desperation got the GOP control of both the House and Senate in 2014, and again they have urinated on those who elected them.  How many more times can they get away with that before the people wise up and write off the GOP as nothing but a pale version of the ultra-Leftist Democrat Party?  As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice (or three times), shame on ME! 

(“Americans are Starved for Straight Talk and Honesty” by Bob Ellis dated July 24, 2015 published by American Clarion at http://www.americanclarion.com/americans-are-starved-for-straight-talk-and-honesty-39188 )

The American people elected a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate believing that a Republican majority would be somehow different from a Democratic majority.  Unfortunately, the way the current Senate operates, there is one party, the Washington party.  Senate leadership consists of the Mitch McConnell-Harry Reid leadership team that operatea as a team and they support the same priorities.  If you look at what has occurred in the U.S. Senate since Republicans took a majority, we immediately returned after winning a historic majority to pass a trillion-dollar “CRomnibus” bill filled with corporate welfare and pork.  Then, the so-called Republican majority voted to fund ObamaCare.  Then, the so-called Republican majority voted to fund President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty.  Then, the so-called Republican majority voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Then, the so-called Republican majority voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, an egregious example of cronyism and corporate welfare.  Every one of those is the priority of the Minority Leader Harry Reid, and every one of those is the priority of the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.  They operate as a team, expanding Washington and undermining the liberty of the people.  It saddens me as a Republican to see Republican leadership lead the effort to kill an amendment that would have prevented lifting sanctions on Iran unless and until Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and unless and until Iran releases American hostages.  We then saw Senator Mike Lee of Utah bring up his amendment to defund Planned Parenthood.  When the majority leader whipped Republicans to vote alongside Democrats, it was no surprise that Democrats did not want to vote on that because Democrats in this chamber do not purport to support the right to life.  To see the so-called Republican leadership whip against allowing a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, it has the virtue of clarity. It makes clear that the McConnell-Reid leadership team is united in favor of big government spending and debt and power.  The McConnell-Reid leadership team has no interest in cutting off one penny to Planned Parenthood, which is why leader Mitch McConnell blocked a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.  To the millions of Americans who rallied in November believing if only we got a Republican majority in the Senate something would be different, this was a clarifying and a sad moment. 

(“The So-Called Republican Majority is Advancing Only Washington’s Priorities” by Ted Cruz dated July 26, 2015 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://dailysignal.com//2015/07/26/the-so-called-republican-majority-is-advancing-only-washingtons-priorities/ )

 

Chicago has long been stereotyped as a city where any-means-necessary politics have ruled, and where excess is preferable to moderation.  Convicted felon Tony Rezko, leftist extremists Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger, radical Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, felon and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich are all part of Barack Obama’s Chicago tutelage. Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel’s infamous adage, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” was the unofficial motto of the Obama administration’s efforts to grow government, up-regulate, and borrow immense sums, measures impossible without a climate of induced panic and fear.  Chicago politics” seems a common denominator in serial scandals involving political bias, cronyism, and incompetence at the VA, IRS, DHS, ICE, NSA, Secret Service, and, most recently, Office of Personnel Management.  The NSA’s monitoring of the Associated Press journalists fit perfectly the Chicago stereotype, which often involves two prime characteristics: sending a message to political opponents that the power of government can be unleashed against unwise criticism, and using off-the record understandings and under-the-table sweeteners to close a deal.  Obama has been not just voicing Chicago clichés, but apparently living them.  Right before the 2012 election, amateur video-maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula found himself put in prison for a minor parole violation, since his little-watched video was falsely blamed, rather than an al-Qaeda affiliate and the administration’s own lax security, as the cause of the lethal attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  During Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, the Tea Party likewise learned about the Chicago way.  At the high-water mark of that populist conservative movement, suddenly many Tea Party affiliates ran into trouble with the IRS.  It was later found out, well after Obama’s reelection, that IRS bureaucrat Lois Lerner had deliberately targeted conservative nonprofits on the basis of their politics. At the time, Obama feigned outrage.  We forget that politicizing the IRS worked, in the sense that on the eve of Obama’s reelection lots of conservative groups were deflated.  More important, Obama subsequently established the deterrent idea that opposition to him might earn audits for his critics.  There has been bad blood between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ever since their acrimonious 2008 nomination fight.  Hillary should beware: Obama has a long Chicago memory, and as an unfettered lame duck he no longer worries about polls or national elections.  Coincidentally, Hillary just learned that federal officials are once again looking into her private e-mail mess and her possible release of classified information to friends and associates.  Even more curious, the Obama administration is apparently going ahead with its bizarre plan to force elite suburbs to diversify and become more racially proportionate under federal guidance. Disbursements of federal money will apparently be used to alter zoning laws in wealthier areas, with the purpose of granting access to the underprivileged.  It is not a surprise the first target community is Westchester, N.Y., home to Hillary Clinton, because pettiness too is a Chicago Presidential trait

(“The Presidency, Chicago Style” by Victor Davis Hanson dated July 28, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421661/presidency-chicago-style )

 

Two decades ago, in the spring of 1996, Newsweek magazine described a group of voters it called the “radical middle,” formerly known as the Silent Majority.  Voters in the radical middle, Newsweek wrote, “see the traditional political system itself as the country’s chief problem.”  The radical middle is attracted to populists, outsiders, businessmen such as Perot and Lee Iacocca who have never held office, and to anyone, according to Newsweek, who is the “tribune of anti-insider discontent.”  Newt Gingrich rallied the radical middle in 1994, year of the “Angry White Male,” but his Republican Revolution sputtered to a halt after the government shut down over Medicare in 1995.  Once more the radical middle had become estranged from the GOP.  Well, here we are again, at the beginning of a Presidential campaign in which the Republican Party, having lost its hold on the radical middle, is terrified of the electoral consequences.  A brash showboat and celebrity, self-promoter and controversialist, silly and mocking, a caricature of a caricature, Donald Trump is no one’s idea of a serious presidential candidate, which is exactly why the radical middle finds him refreshing.  Not an iota of him is politically correct, he plays by no rules of comity or civility, he genuflects to no party or institution, he is unafraid of and antagonistic toward the media, and he challenges the conventional wisdom of both parties, which holds that there is no real cost to illegal immigration and to trade with China.  Trump’s foreign policy, such as it is, is like Perot’s, directed not toward Eurasia but our southern border.  Trump would enjoy press coverage no matter what he ran on, but the fact that he has chosen, perhaps unwittingly, illegal immigration to be his cause makes the coverage all the more polarizing, visceral, contentious, spiteful.  He dared say what no one of his wealth and prominence ever says: that illegal immigration is not limited to DREAMERs and laborers and aspirational Americans, those traversing our southern border include also criminals, rapists, and narcotics traffickers and human smugglers, displaced souls from illiberal cultures who carry with them not only dreams but nightmares, bad habits, and other costly baggage.  Trump didn’t step on the third rail; he embraced it, he won’t let go of it, and in so doing he’s become electric.  What Republicans are trying to figure out is not so much how to handle Trump as how to handle his supporters.  The men and women in the uppermost ranks of the party, who have stood by Trump in the past as he gave them his endorsements and cash, are inclined to condescend to a large portion of the Republican base, to treat base voters’ concerns as unserious, nativist, racist, sexist, anachronistic, or nuts, to apologize for the “crazies” who fail to understand why America can build small cities in Iraq and Afghanistan but not a wall along the southern border, who do not have the education or skills or means to cope when factories move south or abroad, who stare incomprehensibly at the television screen when the media fail to see a “motive” for the Chattanooga shooting, who voted for Perot in ’92 and Buchanan in ’96 and Sarah Palin in ’08 and joined the Tea Party to fight death panels in ’09.  These voters don’t give a whit about corporate tax reform or TPP or the capital gains rate or the fate of Uber, they make a distinction between deserved benefits like Social Security and Medicare and undeserved ones like welfare and food stamps, their patriotism is real and nationalistic and skeptical of foreign entanglement, they wept on 9/11, they want America to be strong, dominant, confident, the America of their youth, their young adulthood, the America of 40 or 30 or even 20 years ago.  What the radical middle has seen in recent years has not given them reason to be confident in our government, our political system, our legion of politicians clambering up the professional ladder office to office.  Two inconclusive wars, a financial crisis, recession, and weak recovery, government failure from Katrina to the TSA to the launch of ObamaCare to the federal background check system, an unelected and unaccountable managerial bureaucracy that targets grassroots organizations and makes law through diktat, race riots and Ebola and judicial overreach.  The Republican Party has had two historic midterm victories, only to see its gains at the ballot box overruled by Presidential veto or decree, by infighting, by incompetence.  Trump is not a conservative, nor by any means a mainstream Republican, is not a minus but a plus to the radical middle.  What unites them is opposition to elites in government, finance, journalism, culture; their search for a vehicle, whether it’s a political party or an outspoken publicity maven, that will displace the managers and technocrats and restore the America of old.  If history repeats itself, it will be because the Republican elite was so preoccupied with its own economic and ideological commitments that it failed to pay attention the needs and desires of millions of its voters, so the demagogue rises as the party splits.  

(“Revenge of the Radical Middle” by Matthew Continetti dated July 25, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421589/donald-trump-radical-revenge )

 

Today, several widely unanticipated trends suggest that America is in some significant respects entering a new Victorian Era.  Some may regard that as regrettable, others as welcome, still others as a mixture of good news and bad news.  One such trend is the sharp decline in teen sexual activity.  A Center for Disease Control survey showed that less than half of teenagers over 14 in 2013 have engaged in sexual intercourse, a sharp decline from 1988, and the decline is sharper among males than females.  Sexual appetites have surely not diminished and popular culture has hardly encouraged abstinence.  An accompanying trend is a sharp decline in births to teenage mothers.  Readily available abortions don't explain it: the number of abortions has been declining since the 1980s.  One explanation is a "triumph of soft conservatism over time," but also as "another aspect of modern risk aversion."  That latter trend is also apparent in the decline in unsupervised play for children and removal of jungle gyms and slides from playgrounds.  A tendency to risk aversion also helps explain the movement against the supposed plague of sexual assaults in colleges and universities, with administrators running kangaroo courts in which the accused (almost always men) are assumed guilty and denied due-process rights.  The 1960s saw a sharp decline in birth rates, the end of the baby boom, especially among the highly educated and affluent.  The highly educated abandoned Aquarian rates of divorce and extramarital sex in the 1980s, but high rates have remained among the less educated.  Now there's been a trend since the 1990s toward higher birth rates at relatively late ages, and lower childlessness among highly educated women.  More women with higher educations are deciding the stay at home with children and pause their careers.  Queen Victoria, a teen bride and mother of nine (the last at age 37), might approve.  Even the legalization and vastly increased approval of same-sex marriage has a Victorian aspect.  Same-sex marriage advocates argued that marriage would domesticate homosexuals.  The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 63% of Americans are uncomfortable with the nation's direction on social issues, even though 52% supported the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling overturning bans on same-sex marriage.  Perhaps that apparent ambivalence is an understandable response as America moves in some significant ways from the Age of Aquarius to a new Victorian Era. 

(“Is America Entering a New Victorian Era?” by Michael Barone dated July 28, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbarone/2015/07/28/is-america-entering-a-new-victorian-era-n2030956 )

 

A common feature of Obama administration economic policies is the use of government coercion.  The ObamaCare health law mandated that individuals buy insurance, so the administration's tax increases grabbed more earnings from millions of people, and federal agencies are imposing an increasing pile of labor, environmental, and financial regulations on businesses.  Pro-market policy experts point out the negative effects of each intervention, but the administration keeps dreaming up with new ways to take our money, restrict what we do, and manipulate the economy.  Coercion is not a practical way to help the economy because regulations and taxes rarely make us better off.  Some people may gain, but the vast majority of people lose. Coercion tends to destroy value, not create it and here is why:

·    First, because the government uses coercion, its actions are based on guesswork.  Regulations are top-down commands, not efforts at finding common agreement.  So government actions generate no feedback regarding whether or not they generate any net value.  We know markets generate value because they are based on voluntary and mutually beneficial exchanges. Decision-making in markets is a reality-based system guided by individual preferences.

·    Second, government actions often destroy value because they create winners and losers.  Regulations squelch personal choices and impose one-size-fits-all rules.  In markets, people choose the amount of each item they purchase, and they can pursue a vast array of different interests, lifestyles, and careers.  With their support of big government, liberals seem to believe that people can be made better off by quashing their individual choices.  With America's increasingly pluralistic society, it makes more sense to allow for diverse market solutions, rather than top-down rules from Washington.

·    Third, government activities fail to create value because the funding comes from a compulsory source: taxes. Unlike in markets, bad government decisions are not punished and failed policies are not weeded out because the funding is not contingent on performance.  In markets, the quest for profits spurs businesses to search for better ways of doing things. Businesses aim to maximize value for themselves, and they end up boosting the broader economy, which is the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith.

·    Fourth, government programs often fail to generate value because the taxes to support them create "deadweight losses" or economic damage.  Taxes are compulsory, and so they induce people to avoid them by changing their working, investing, and consumption activities.  That reduces overall output and incomes.

Coercion imposes deadweight losses and creates winners and losers, which is the polar opposite of the win-win exchanges in markets. Politicians hope that their interventions create more winners than losers, but that is wishful thinking because their decisions are based on no more than guesswork.  Liberals assume that the government has an advantage in tackling society's problems because it is such a powerful institution.  The government tends to make bad decisions, entrenches them, and drags the whole economy down

(“Coercion is Bad Economics” by Chris Edwards dated July 26, 2015 published by Reason at http://reason.com/archives/2015/07/26/coercion-is-bad-economics )

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision mandating same-sex “marriage” nationwide is being heralded as the decisive blow in the nation’s Culture War.  The court's decision does not mark the end of the war, but rather serves as an occasion to declare a new Culture War.  Tthe Culture War has always been both an embarrassment and a disaster for liberals.  They expected no opposition to their program during the giddy days of the sixties. They adopted the narrative of a movement that represented all minorities and freed all the oppressed. They were to liberate women and individuals from “oppressive” traditions and morality. They were to inaugurate a society where everyone could be what they wanted to be and do their own thing.  They claimed to have the passion of youth to man the barricades against the moneyed business establishment and rebel against university curricula dominated by teachings of dead white males.  Culture Warriors are now being urged to bow to the inevitable by either giving in or fading away.  Liberals everywhere are parroting the mantra that the Culture War is over because the sexual revolution cannot be undone.  The nation needs to move on.  The Culture War has shattered this narrative and turned it on its head.  It is women and young ladies that swell the ranks of the pro-life movement and aging feminists that lead the pro-abortion charge.  It was vibrant African-American preachers and parishioners, not mainline denominations that were so actively engaged in the recent fight against same-sex “marriage.”  Today “doing one’s own thing” means conforming in lockstep to politically correct norms.  It is not “the people” that fund liberal causes, but Hollywood pseudo-elites, rich white liberal males or the tax-exempt foundations of dead ones.  It is the moneyed establishment of Fortune 500 companies that cave in, grovel and lend (or perhaps sell) their full support to liberal causes, government mandates, and immoral lifestyles.  It is the Little Sisters of the Poor that stand up to big government when it mandates contraception.  That is not to say that the liberals are defeated. They still hold huge chunks of the battlefield, but they no longer have a credible narrative.  The fact is that the nation remains polarized and neither side can claim victory.  The June 26th Supreme Court decision is significant because it signals a change in war tactics.  The left was forced to abandon its false narrative as a democratic movement of “the people.”  Having failed to convince significant sectors of the public to accept its agenda, it used the courts to brutally impose it upon a tired and divided nation.  Now it seeks to declare war on the Culture War by declaring it over, but this will not happen because it is more important now than ever before

(“The War on the Culture War” by John Horvat II dated July 25, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/07/the_war_on_the_culture_war.html )

Islamic jihad has declared war on the United States and all of Western civilization.  ISIS has announced its intention to dominate the world and fly its black flag from the White House in continuation of a 1,400-year-old war against us “infidels. In the first 100 years after the death of Mohammed (632 AD), Islamic jihad conquered most of the known world except Western Europe.  Christian forces blocked the first century of Islamic conquest at the very bloody Battle of Tours in 732 AD.  Islamic jihad continued to threaten the very existence of Christianity throughout the next millennium.  The Islamic jihad’s massive fleet was destroyed in 1571 by the Holy League fleet in the Aegean Sea.  More than a century later, Islamic jihad, having conquered the Middle East and most of Eastern Europe, had surrounded and besieged the crown jewel of Western Christendom, Vienna.  After a two-month siege of Vienna, relief forces from Poland and Germany arrived.  The British established a mandate for Palestine on September 11, 1922, and at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes were killed on September 11th.  Millions of Islamists remember the humiliations of September 11th and seek to humiliate the “Great Satan,” the United States. This explains the attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.  Islamic jihad is our enemy.  It has declared war on us and will kill us anywhere it can. No American is safe anywhere in the world until this suicidal ideology is defeated. Islamic jihad can be defeated, and it can be done in less time than it took to defeat the USSR in the Cold War.  Our strategy, however, must be tailored to the times and circumstances:

·    CYBER WARFARE: ISIS is using the Internet to inspire, recruit, and direct terrorists around the world.  It’s time to launch cyber warfare against them both offensively and defensively and to do so worldwide. They will stop using the Internet only when they no longer trust the communications network. 

·    FINANCIAL WARFARE: If all its resources could be shut off, ISIS would atrophy. The U.S. has a powerful global financial reach, so we should cut off all funds flowing to ISIS.  We need to shut off the flow of oil from the ISIS regions and shut off payments going to them. 

·    EDUCATION: Millions of young boys are indoctrinated daily with the ideology of Islamic jihad. The madrassas are a breeding ground for violent jihad and serve to identify and recruit the most zealous. Countering this indoctrination will require a worldwide effort and may well be endless, but it is necessary to make the attempt, because reduction in the teaching of intergenerational hatred is the foundation for a peaceful future.

·    HUMINT: Americans saw the need to expand our network. We are still making progress, but this administration has demonstrated an unwillingness to gather strategic information. If we are to have success in defeating Islamic jihad, our intelligence community must expand significantly. It is essential to the principle of nosce hostem (know your enemy), which will require time, resources, commitment, and, most of all, leadership.

·    STRATEGIC ALLIANCES: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia all have demonstrated a willingness to fight Islamic jihad. Our relationships with these countries have been badly damaged.  Our relationship with each will need to be restored. Then a strategy will need to be developed with them at the table.

·    EGYPT: Egypt is key to ultimate global success against Islamic jihad. Al-Azhar University in Cairo is the world’s premier center of Islamic theology. It is where Obama gave his speech to the Muslim world in 2009, and where Egyptian president al-Sisi delivered his own address to the Muslim world. Sisi made clear his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, to the imposition of sharia law, and to Islamic jihad. 

·    KURDISTAN: The Kurds are loyal allies.  They are likely the largest ethnic group in the world without a country.  Millions of Kurds live in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.  An independent Kurdistan as a perpetual ally replacing the ISIS caliphate would be strategically priceless.

·    SYRIA: Assad must go. Syria’s terror-fomenting alliance with Iran will breed ever more violence in the Mideast until a pro-Western government replaces the regime. However, Assad has a certain utility until ISIS is destroyed in Syria.

Religious friction has been at the heart of conflicts since the time of Mohammed.  Conflicts between Shia and Sunni are complex enough without the overlay of the history of conflict with Christianity.  Anti-Semitism, dominates the region of the Middle East.  We are in a global conflict with jihadists who use Western technology and exploit cultural vulnerabilities to invade through peaceful migration, recruit through the Internet, indoctrinate through mosques and madrassas, and radicalize and direct Islamic jihad.   Islamic jihad has no real capacity to compete; history is on our side; culture is on our side; economics are on our side; military capability is on our side; we just lack only a strategy and the will.

(“Know Your Enemy: A Primer on Islamic Jihad” by Steve King dated July 25, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421606/islamic-jihad-isis-war-west-enemy )

 

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 sections:

·    Bibliography at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/welcome/bibliography.php

·    Politics at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/politics.php

·    Immigration at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/immigration.php

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

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

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/