RTCS

Views on the News

August 21, 2010

Views on the News*

One of the few campaign promises that Barack Obama has kept was this: “We are going to change the United States of America!” but unfortunately the change was for the worse. As in many other cases, those who were thrilled by the thought of “change” seldom seemed to consider whether it would be a change for the better or for the worse. True believers in the Obama cult assumed that it had to be a change for the better. Now it is slowly dawning on more people that it is a change for the worse - runaway government spending, under the banners of “stimulus” and “jobs” is not stimulating anything except political pay-offs to special interests. As for jobs, the percentage of the population with jobs keeping on declining, even as the administration points to all the jobs it is creating. It is of course not pointing to all the other jobs that it is destroying, whether by taking money out of the private sector or by loading so many mandates on employers that labor is made artificially too expensive for many employers to do much hiring. The most dangerous and most lasting damage that this administration has done to this nation has been in the international jungle, where it is alienating our long-time allies, dismantling our credibility by reneging on our commitments to putting up a missile shield in Eastern Europe and, above all, doing nothing meaningful to stop the leading terror-sponsoring nation in the world, Iran, from getting nuclear weapons. Against that background, the Obama administration’s undermining of our long-standing international alliances with Britain and Israel, among others, while seeking to reach accommodations with nations hostile to this country, raises painful questions and even more painful possibilities for the future. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars on political pork barrel projects from coast to coast its only major cut in federal spending has been its move to cut $100 billion from the Defense Department’s budget. If there was ever a time when we needed a larger standing army, as distinguished from relying on National Guard troops, taken suddenly from civilian life and sent on multiple tours of combat duty, this is that time. We need a bigger and constantly modernizing military, not a bargain basement military, trimmed down to leave more money for pork barrel spending. Change can be a wonderful thing, but President Obama has shown us that all changes are not good, and some need to be changed back!

(“Change for the Worse” by Thomas Sowell dated August 18, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/08/18/obamas-change-for-the-worse/ )

 

The President’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer and now at the lowest point so far since Barack Obama took office. According to Rasmussen, just 24% of American voters strongly approve of the President’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46%, strongly disapprove. 65% of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70% of independents. The Real Clear Politics average of polls now has President Obama at over 50% disapproval, a remarkably high figure for a President just 18 months into his first term. Strikingly, the latest USA Today/Gallup survey has the President on just 41% approval, with 53% disapproving. There are an array of reasons behind the stunning decline and political fall of President Obama, chief among them fears over the current state of the US economy, with widespread concern over high levels of unemployment, the unstable housing market, and above all the towering budget deficit. Americans are increasingly rejecting President Obama’s big government solutions to America’s economic woes, which many fear will lead to the United States sharing the same fate as Greece. Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire. On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. As for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one. There are at least 10 key reasons why the Obama Presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms:

·    The Obama Presidency is out of touch with the American people.

·    Most Americans don’t have confidence in the President’s leadership.

·    Obama fails to inspire.

·    The United States is drowning in debt.

·    Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat.

·    Obama’s support for socialized health care is a huge political mistake.

·    Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive.

·    US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration.

·    President Obama is muddled and confused on national security.

·    Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness.

The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth. This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a President once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, advancing policies that undermine the U.S. as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.

(“The stunning decline of Barack Obama” by Nile Gardiner dated August 12, 2010 published by The Telegraph Media Group at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100050412/the-stunning-decline-of-barack-obama-10-key-reasons-why-the-obama-presidency-is-in-meltdown/ )

 

The economy is stalling, unemployment seems stuck at European levels of idleness, the federal deficit and the national debt are at historic highs, public confidence in Congress is at its lowest-ever level and big majorities of Mainstream Americans say Obama has the country on the wrong path… Obamanomics has failed miserably and it’s time for everybody in this town to admit it so we can move on. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) program is an excellent example of how much the government spent to rescue the economy, and how little good it has done:

·    $85 billion to prop up GM and Chrysler, as well as auto suppliers - GM is still “Government Motors” and claims a healthy profit this past quarter, but taxpayers, who still own about 70% of the preferred stock in the company, shouldn’t be checking their mailboxes for dividend checks any time soon.

·    $70 billion for consumer and business lending initiatives - This was a program designed to jumpstart business and consumer lending. As with every other program that was supposed to shock the economy back to life, it has failed miserably.

·    $75 billion to help those with mortgages that were underwater to stay in their houses - The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has a success rate of only 32%, so a re-default rate of 67% has to be considered an abject failure.

Obama made TARP his own, eschewing its original intent by vastly expanding the reach and power of the federal government, taking it into areas of the economy it had never ventured before, so TARP’s failures are Obama’s failures. Some estimates place the amount in toxic assets held by banks, still hovering in the background despite massive efforts to hide, write down, or otherwise resolve the value of these worthless securities and derivatives, at several trillion dollars face value. One federal program, the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP), promised to buy $1 trillion worth of those troubled assets, but only has purchased $12 billion to date, another failure that can be laid at the doorstep of Treasury Secretary Geithner. The question of ownership, whether the banks are owned by the government or whether the government is owned by the banks, is open for debate after all the wheeling and dealing done by Democrats in Congress and the administration in getting their “financial reform” package passed. These are failures that are statistically quantifiable. Even with the evidence of incompetence and catastrophe, including anemic economic growth, high unemployment, massive uncertainty, and the growing possibility of the United States falling back into recession, we should calculate the failure of President Obama on a much more fundamental level. Everyone from corporations, to small businesses, to ordinary folk are holding onto their money and playing it safe. Businesses aren’t hiring because not even the government knows how new laws like national health care and financial reform, as well as new regulations from every department of government, are going to affect their bottom line. Obama’s calls to action fall flat because his attempts to connect our past with the present in order to build a brighter future fail on the fundamental level of believability.

(“Have Obama’s Policies Failed? Let Us Count the Ways” by Rick Moran dated August 13, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/have-obamas-policies-failed-let-us-count-the-ways/ )

 

Liberals defend their government overreach using a tried and true approach known as the old Liberal Three Step, challenging Constitutionality under various guises until one sticks. The dance has been around for the better part of the last century and seeks to undermine individual liberty, limited government and our Constitution:

·    The first step in the Liberal Three Step is the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution whenever a liberal has a “great idea” he or she wishes to implement. James Madison, who is considered the father of the Constitution and the preeminent authority on the document for his time, said in both Federalist 41 and 45 that Congressional powers under the “general Welfare” clause were limited. Thomas Jefferson said on the issue, “Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated.”

·    If the first step fails, liberals then jump to the second step, the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. This clause states Congress has the power, “To regulate Commerce … and among the several States.” In Federalist 42 James Madison said of the commerce Clause that its power was for, “the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter.“

·    When the first two fail, liberals try the third step, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” This is not prescriptive since if an illegal act is passed, the illegal act can’t become legitimate just because Congress said so.

Of course like any dance, the old Liberal Three Step repeats itself. After having gone through three steps and having their arguments thoroughly debunked and shattered the dancer returns to their home position and begin step one all over again. Arizona has challenged the federal government to enforce its own laws with SB 1070, but the court overruled, but appeals will definitely follow. When Missouri voters overwhelmingly repudiated Obamacare last week, it was the latest shot across the bow of the federal juggernaut, but it won’t be the last. A lawsuit opposing the healthcare bill, filed on behalf of twenty states and small business organizations, will move forward after a federal judge refused to grant the administration’s motion to dismiss the case without hearing it. States are beginning to push back on federal overreach with lawsuits and legislation of their own and the supreme Court may be required to issue the last word.

(“The Old Liberal Three Step” by J.J. Jackson dated August 14, 2010 published by The Land of the Free at http://www.thelandofthefree.net/conservativeopinion/2010/08/14/the-old-liberal-three-step/

Obama vs. the States” by Rich Trzupek dated August 17, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/08/17/obama-vs-the-states/ )

 

A new oversight report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, details the failures of the Obama administration during the Gulf oil spill and the ways in which the administration either failed to exercise authority it had or acted in ways that hindered the massive cleanup effort. President Obama and Administration officials failed in several instances to remove regulatory and bureaucratic impediments, and to ensure that proper and adequate resources were available to address the BP disaster,” the report states. President Obama had ample authority to personally take charge of the cleanup effort and faults him for not exercising this authority. Obama could have personally assumed command of the cleanup effort, instead of leaving it in the hands of BP officials and cabinet members. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) specifies that the President shall ensure effective and immediate removal, mitigation, or prevention of a substantial threat to human health and welfare. While the OPA allows a president to delegate his authority to other government officials and involve local and outside authorities, “the authority and responsibility to act” belongs to the president, the report notes. The OPA gives the President three options: “perform cleanup immediately (‘federalize’ the spill), monitor the response efforts of the spiller, or direct the spiller’s cleanup activities.” The report harshly criticizes Obama for taking the less-involved of the roles available to him under the OPA. While his lieutenants and BP officials directed the cleanup, Obama vacationed and played golf. The report also notes that Obama, despite having the clear authority to direct the operations of BP, did not meet with the company’s CEO Tony Hayward until June 16th, 57 days into the disaster. While Obama had the authority to issue executive orders that could have cut through the bureaucratic red tape blamed by local officials for delaying their efforts, he inexplicably chose not to do so. The report points out that many state and local actions technically required federal government approval, a process that could have been expedited had Obama ordered agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to do so. The report also debunks the claim that the administration’s efforts were hindered by the Jones Act, which restricts foreign-flagged vessels from operating within U.S. waters. The Jones Act was cited as a major impediment to supplementing the small U.S. fleet of oil skimming and recovery vessels. The Jones Act has been waived as part of disaster response in the past, including a waiver to assist in response to Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago. However, during the emergency response to the BP disaster, the Obama Administration failed to issue a Jones Act waiver. The report concludes by issuing a blunt indictment of the administration’s performance, saying that its failure to remove red tape and fully take charge of the cleanup made an already historic disaster worse.

(“Oversight Report Slams Obama ‘Failure’ on Oil Spill” by Matt Cover dated August 16, 2010 published by Cybercast News service at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/71112 )

 

President Obama used the occasion of the White House Ramadan iftar dinner to announce his support for the Ground Zero mosque, and has since regretted saying anything. He made a radical declaration to appeal to a radical constituency and then pretended he’d not taken that position. There is no doubt that Obama endorsed the building of a Muslim mosque and community center on private property near Ground Zero as a religious freedom issue. Muslims will view this as a triumphant mosque marking Islam’s superiority and victory and can lie about the funding (as Imam Abdul Rauf has done), and lie about the commitment to interreligious dialogue and harmony (as Rauf has done), and refuse to denounce jihad terrorists (as Rauf has refused to denounce Hamas), and all that is fine with the President of the United States! Since there are over 100 mosques in New York City, there are not enough Muslims to justify another Mosque, particularly at this location, so it’s only purpose is as a symbolic reminder of the religious makeup of the 9/11 terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center. Muslims have worshipped in New York City without incident both before and after the 9/11 attacks, so the controversy is not about religious freedom. No one has questioned the legal right to construct this mosque complex. This is a question of wise judgment, of good citizenship, of calculated insult and deep emotion. Imam Rauf is not being a good citizen and is not "building bridges," but exploiting the arrogance of our cultural elite toward their fellow citizens. He is an exuberantly divisive figure, not a healer. New York Governor Patterson offered to help the mosque developers find another Location, but the offer was rejected and the real objective of confrontation revealed. Local polls in New York show clear majorities of city and state residents oppose the plan and view the idea of a 15 story mega-mosque on this hallowed ground is indecent, offensive, and outrageous. It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, and while the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who suffered so much.

(“Obama Backs Ground Zero Mosque at Ramadan Celebration” by Pamela Geller dated August 14, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38564

Unshakeable Bam’s latest shaky stand” by Michael Goodwin dated August 15, 2010 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/unshakeable_bam_latest_shaky_stand_JDfYCppVHIc8gX2PNzlGPK

Obama’s Ramadan Pandering” by Robert Spencer dated August 15, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38572

Obama’s Support for Ground Zero Mosque Pilloried” by Mark Impomeni dated August 16, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38567

When Rights Make Wrongs” by Ralph Peters dated August 18, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/08/18/when_rights_make_wrongs.html )

 

Politicians often give their bills clever names designed more to obscure than to reveal and in reality CLASS creates another entitlement likely to increase our exploding federal deficit. CLASS was a little-noticed part of the massive ObamaCare bill that the President signed in March and stands for “Community Living Assistance Services and Support.” It is supposed to provide affordable long-term care insurance to American workers and will start next year enrolling people and collecting premiums. If CLASS was a normal insurance program, it would invest these premiums to build reserves. These reserves would later be tapped to provide benefits for those individuals in need of long-term care services, but CLASS doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately CLASS is structured like Social Security since all premiums collected will be spent immediately while its trust fund will be filled with government IOUs. Since participants need to pay five years of premiums before they’re eligible to collect any benefits, a sizeable amount of short-term revenue will be raised from CLASS, which was a ploy to reduce the projected cost of ObamaCare. By including the revenues from CLASS, politicians were able to pretend they’d reduced the cost of the bill by $70 billion. Even Uncle Sam can’t spend your money twice, since it’s impossible to spend the money today on government programs and invest the money to fund eventual benefits. Once CLASS starts paying benefits in 2017, it’s difficult to predict how soon after that the program would dive into the red and pay out more in benefits than it collects in premiums. Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimate it could be as soon as 2025. Actuaries who have analyzed CLASS believe that premiums will be insufficient to fund benefits. This raises the possibility that CLASS will put taxpayers on the hook for a bailout of this program and/or beneficiaries will receive less than they were promised. Lawmakers knew about these dangers when they voted for the CLASS Act. The program hasn’t taken effect yet, so there’s still time for lawmakers to fix their mistake and repeal the CLASS Act, but better yet, lawmakers should scrap ObamaCare entirely and fix health care one small step at a time.

(“Go To the Back of the CLASS” by Ed Feulner dated August 18, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/EdFeulner/2010/08/18/go_to_the_back_of_the_class )

 

The ranks of the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party citizen rebellion can be counted in the millions, reminding all of us that America was founded on the revolutionary principle of citizen participation, citizen activism and the primacy of the individual over the government. The rebellion's name derives from the glorious rant of CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who in February 2009 called for a new "tea party" from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The TEA Party movement has blossomed into a powerful social phenomenon because it is leaderless—not directed by any one mind, political party or parochial agenda. The criteria for membership are straightforward: Stay true to principle even when it proves inconvenient, be assertive but respectful, add value and don't taking credit for other people's work. The community is built on the Trader Principle: We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. TEA Partiers reject the nanny state philosophy of redistribution and control because it is bankrupting our country. While the TEA Party is not a formal political party, local networks across the nation have moved beyond protests and turned to more practical matters of political accountability. Already, particularly in Republican primaries, fed-up Americans are turning out at the polls to vote out the big spenders. They are supporting candidates who have signed the Contract From America, a statement of policy principles generated online by hundreds of thousands of grass-roots activists. Published in April, the Contract amounts to a TEA Party "seal of approval." It demands fiscal policies that limit government, restrain spending, promote market reforms in health care—and oppose ObamaCare, tax hikes and cap-and-trade restrictions that will kill job creation and stunt economic growth. The American values of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility and limited government bind the ranks of this movement. That makes the TEA Party better than a political party. It is a growing community that can sustain itself after November, ensuring a better means of holding a new generation of elected officials accountable. The TEA Party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.

(“A Tea Party Manifesto” by Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe dated August 17, 2010 published by The Wall street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704407804575425061553154540.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop )

 

* 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:

·  Foreign Policy Nations at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/philosophy.php

·  Defense at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/defense.php

·  Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php

·  United Nations at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/unitednations.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com