Views on the News

Views on the News*

August 30, 2014


America is suddenly angry at the laxity, incompetence, and polarizing politics of the Obama administration, the bad optics of the President putting about in his bright golf clothes while the world burns.  Certainly, no recent President has failed on so many fronts: honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.  Obama certainly did not campaign on a new health-care plan that would force Americans to give up the doctors they liked and their existing coverage, while raising premiums and deductibles, while giving exemptions for insiders and cronies, and while raising the deficit.  Nor did he campaign on gay marriage, opening borders, near-permanent zero interest rates, six consecutive $1 trillion deficits, and record food-stamp and Social Security disability payouts.  Obama also promised to halve the deficit, but instead he ran up more red ink than almost all prior Presidents combined.  The antidote to the great madness of 2008 would have been, instead of focusing on what Obama claimed, recall what he had done before he ran for President and notice what he did during the campaign.  Had America done that, there would never have been a President Obama to surprise us now. The racial animosity characterized by Obama’s editorializing about Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin, and the Ferguson hysteria, or his call to Latinos to “punish our enemies,” or the tenure of Eric Holder is simply a continuation of 2008’s “typical white person,” the clingers speech, Michelle Obama’s America as “just downright mean,” “They raise the bar,” and “For the first time . . . I’m really proud of my country” commentaries, and of Obama’s earlier boast that he never missed services at the Trinity Church of the hate-mongering and anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  We are now shocked at the current spate of alphabetic scandals: IRS, AP, NSA, and VA.  Obama has played fast and loose with ethical rules, from promoting crony capitalists to attending near-constant fundraisers among the pay-to-play 0.0001 percent.  He was the first Presidential candidate who refused in a general election to accept federal campaign financing, with its accompanying rules curbing mega-fundraising.  Obama was the largest recipient of Goldman Sachs donations in the company’s history, and raised more cash in 2008 and 2012 than any other Presidential candidate in history.  We are terrified of the chaos that is spreading across the world: Egypt, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Putin’s Russia, and the Chinese–Japanese tensions.  There was no evidence in 2008 that rookie senator Obama had any foreign-policy experience or even knowledge of the world beyond Chicago, other than as a boy in Indonesia or a teen on a jaunt with buddies to Pakistan.  Now there is the matter of the succession of Presidential untruths.  The problem is not just that Barack Obama says things that are untrue but that he lies about what Barack Obama has said. He brags that he set red lines, but then he says it was the U.N. had set red lines. He boasts of pulling out every U.S. soldier from Iraq but then alleges that President Bush, the Iraqis, or Maliki did that.  He claims that ISIS are JVs but then claims they are serious.  His prevarication too is habitual and was known in 2008 when it was discovered that he had simply misled the nation about his relationships with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.  Historians will look back at 2008 as a time when the country became more or less collectively unhinged.  There was an accompanying perfect storm of sorts: He was the first serious African-American candidate, whom condescending liberals like Harry Reid and Joe Biden heralded for being clean, light-skinned, and without a black patois; he was running in an orphaned election without an incumbent Vice President or President running; an unpopular lame-duck President and the Iraq war; the sudden financial meltdown in September 2008 caused a then-behind Obama to immediately surge ahead; the McCain campaign was lackluster; and the media decidedly supported the Obama effort.  Obama ran a brilliant campaign in 2008, hinting that as a non-white he shared both their racial bona fides and their frustrations, hinting to white elites that his own unique heritage would end racial hostilities and allow them to square the circle of living largely separate elite lives and not having to feel guilty about it.  In 2008 Obama gave America more than enough evidence to doubt that he was ready for the Presidency, but when a nation becomes unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change,” there is not much one can do, until the patient wakes up from his trance.

(“The Madness of 2008” by Victor Davis Hanson dated August 26, 2014 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/386218/madness-2008-victor-davis-hanson )

President Obama has few remaining friends, either in his own party or in the media.  Just about everyone, it seems, is down on his single, solitary nature.  The President’s liberal media allies have soured on him.  It started with the ObamaCare debacle and continued through his seeming passivity or slow reaction time in the wake of the VA scandal, the Bowe Bergdahl mess, the military collapse in Iraq and so on.  What is striking now is a growing sense that Obama is not capable of rising to the occasion, that he just doesn’t like politics, that he’s disengaged, that despite his soaring rhetoric in 2008 he has a passion deficit.  All the criticism about him playing golf and being at Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a code for his supposedly being unplugged from the job.  Nearly six years into his term, with his popularity at the lowest of his Presidency, Obama appears remarkably distant from his own party on Capitol Hill, with his long neglect of would-be allies catching up to him.  In interviews, nearly two dozen Democrat lawmakers and senior congressional aides suggested that Obama’s approach has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.  All of which means the failure to get Congress to do much of anything in the second term can’t just be blamed on obstructionist Republicans.  He doesn’t court Democrat politicians who could help him.  The office rests on the power of persuasion.  Obama has never known how to lead in a bi-partisan environment, and it’s unlikely that he will learn how to in the time remaining in office.

(“Obama Stands Alone: Even the media are baffled by his deepening isolationby Howard Kurtz dated August 22, 2014 published by Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/22/obama-stands-alone-even-media-are-baffled-by-his-deepening-isolation/ )


In a time of political polarization, one thing still unites left, right and center: the disdain people have for Washington, their elected leaders and the political system.  Everywhere people look, there are reasons to feel shut out, manipulated or deprived of the whole truth.  Big money permeates political campaigns.  Political rhetoric is frequently a vehicle for half-truths or pure spin.  Members of Congress too often posture rather than legislate.  The impact is all too predictable.  Three in four Americans are dissatisfied with the way the political system works, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.  More than eight in 10 say they trust the government to do the right thing only some of the time, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.  The Pew Research Center recently found that 55% of Americans think the current Congress has accomplished less than recent Congresses, a record high.  A survey taken at the end of last year by the National Opinion Research Center and the Associated Press found that six in 10 respondents felt generally pessimistic about how their political leaders are chosen.  Gallup reported that only a fifth say members of Congress deserve to be reelected, which if it holds through November would be lowest percentage in a midterm year since Gallup started asking the question in 1992.  Political dissatisfaction is at an all time high, which is strange since the President promised “Hope and Change” but instead delivered “Hype and Lies.”

(“Why so many Americans hat politics” by Dan Balz dated August 23, 2014 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/why-so-many-americans-hate-politics/2014/08/23/e56dbaf0-18d5-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html )


Thanks, Environmental Protection Agency: You've required sewage treatment plants, catalytic converters on cars and other things that made the world cleaner than the world in which I grew up - good work.  Today, America's waterways are so much cleaner that I swim in New York City's once-filthy Hudson River. The air we breathe is also cleaner than it's been for 60 years.  In a rational world, environmental bureaucrats would now say, "Mission accomplished; we're done," but bureaucracies never say they've done "enough," because that would mean they were out of work.  America does still need some bureaucrats to enforce existing environmental rules and watch for new pollution problems, but we don't need what we've got: 16,000 environmental regulators constantly trying to control more of our lives.  Its biggest current crusade is global warming -- I mean, "climate change."  Even if it turns out that man's emission of greenhouse gases is a threat, EPA's own cost-benefit analyses don't really identify any benefits from additional regulation.  Even if we did everything the environmentalists want, the regulators admit it might only lower temperatures a fraction of a degree, a century from now.  Today, instead of environmental regulations that actually save lives, we pay to subsidize politicians' cronies and pet projects, such as electric cars.  It's ironic that, as environmentalists talk about "sustainability," they create totally unsustainable subsidy schemes.  Politicians, by shifting money away from private-sector experiments, are hurting companies that actually have some innovation that might work better.  I don't doubt there are important technological advances ahead that will make energy use more efficient and make the environment cleaner, sometimes as an unintended side effect, but I don't trust government to pick the technologies.

(“Green Monster” by John Stossel dated August 27, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2014/08/27/green-monster-n1883444 )

New data on federal public assistance programs show we've reached an ignominious milestone: More than 100 million Americans are getting some form of "means-tested" welfare assistance.  The Census Bureau found 51 million on food stamps at the end of 2012 and 83 million on Medicaid, with tens of millions of households getting both, and another 4 million were on unemployment insurance.  The percentage of American households on welfare has reached 35%.  If we include other forms of government assistance such as Medicare and Social Security, almost half of all households are getting a check or other form of government assistance. The tipping point is getting closer and closer.  The feds have even created outreach programs, including radio and TV ads in multiple languages, to encourage people to sign up for the dole because, as one ad put it, this "helps the local community."  These statistics don't even include income-transfer programs such as unemployment insurance and disability.  These two add another $250 billion to the cost of welfare and are two of the most abused and scandal-ridden dispensers of federal cash.  On top of that, the 2012 numbers exclude most of the 3 million Obama has added to the ranks of Medicaid due to ObamaCare.  The dependency problem is getting worse, not better.  Putting all these programs together, a family can get a package of benefits equivalent to a $35,000 a year job in 11 states, and in Hawaii the benefits can exceed what a $60,000 a year job would offer, according to a Cato Institute analysis.  Is it any wonder we're having trouble moving people out of welfare into work? Half of all low-income households today have no one working at all.  Staying on this course is a recipe for social chaos and economic decline.  With 100 million Americans on welfare, we have a genuine crisis on our hands, so it's time to let the states find solutions where the federal government has failed or hasn't even tried.

(“Government Dependency In America Nears the Tipping Point” dated August 22, 2014 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/082214-714486-35-percent-of-americans-are-on-welfare.htm )


An Ostrich is symbolized as burying its head in the sand when it gets scared, the concept that whatever is bad will go away if you simply ignore it.  It’s foolish, some would say stupid, but it appears to be the crux of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.  There are times when a President has to be President, even on vacation.  This is the part of the job President Obama seems to hold in contempt – the doing of it.  It is the job, and he sought it twice, but he just doesn’t seem to like doing it.  This President has been checked out to one degree or another since he checked in, but he at least paid lip service to the concept of domestic policy.  He didn’t involve himself with the details of many of the laws Democrats in Congress passed; he just gave speeches in support of their concepts and signed them, but when policy issues crossed salt water, he lost all interest.  After a series of groveling speeches trying to make up for his predecessor, who just happens to be more popular than he is now, the President retreated to the comforts of his office and buried his head to the realities of the rest of the world.  The funny thing about the rest of the world is it doesn’t go away simply because you wish it would.  The troubles of the world have a way of existing regardless whether you pay attention to them.  Meanwhile, ISIS was not laughing or golfing.  It was making it clear it wants war with the United States.  This threat, which al Qaeda also made clear before 9/11, was met with the same indifference as bin Laden’s.  The ostrich’s head is firmly planted in the sand.  The Obama administration won’t acknowledge ISIS is at war with the United States because it does not want this to be so.  It’s always good policy that when someone declares war on you, you take it seriously.  We’ve returned to a pre-9/11 mentality in our foreign policy, only before 9/11 it was somewhat justified because 9/11 hadn’t happened yet.  Those who haven’t seen the Foley video, which is most of the American people, have no idea of the true nature of the threat we face.  Hearing or reading a description of the barbarism does not do it justice.  Leaders of ISIS want Americans to see it because they think it will scare us.  The Obama administration doesn’t want us to see it because it knows it will enrage us and increase the pressure on him to act.  If the Obama administration is correct, we are still that nation that saved the world from fascism all those decades ago.  If ISIS is right, we’ve become the ostrich. And it never ends well for the ostrich.

(“America: The Ostrich Years” by Derek Hunter dated August 24, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/derekhunter/2014/08/24/america-the-ostrich-years-n1882453 )

One does not need to be Sun Tzu or George Patton to know that a nation must recognize an enemy before it can develop a strategy to defeat it, but one apparently does have to be someone other than President Barack Obama.  Since he took office, Obama has spent considerable energy trying to convince us how peaceful and magnificent the religion of Islam is and how exceptional acts of terrorism springing from it are.  He has also been telling us in words and deeds that such terrorism can best be prevented by overtures of peace and good will toward Islam, understanding that the root cause of this violence is poverty, and developing an action plan to address it.  That means the United States must downsize its military, because our sheer strength and power constitutes a threat, a provocation to the rest of the world.  It means that we must pursue "economic justice," a wretched euphemism for undermining our capitalist system and redistributing our wealth at home and abroad.  Even Obama's stalwart supporters in the liberal media now understand that this man doesn't have a clue about how to deal with threats to the United States.  Obama either can't focus on high-level problems he didn't anticipate in connection with his various utopian schemes or is so narcissistic that he rides around blindly in his golf cart like Mr. Magoo, wholly unaware of the damage he's done to his own reputation as a serious, engaged and thoughtful person.  He thought he could achieve world peace by withdrawing our forces from foreign entanglements, even without plans to preserve the order, making nice speeches about Islam, removing the term "terrorist" from our vocabulary, instituting a "reset" with Russia, whatever that means, and downsizing our military and defense systems.  Here we are, after his insistence that al-Qaida was on the run and that the Islamic State is the JV squad, watching an Islamic caliphate proliferate in front of our eyes in the Levant.  Even if hard reality is finally forcing Obama to grudgingly recognize the threat the Islamic State represents to the Middle East, he still refuses to believe or admit it represents a danger to the United States, especially with the porousness of the border he has made sure to effectuate.  It's not just his reckless naivete but his compulsion to place his political self-interests above the national interests that inhibits him from publicly acknowledging the magnitude of the threats we are facing.  The Islamic State is massacring Christians, beheading American journalists, surging toward the borders of Turkey, marching across the Middle East with the swiftness of Alexander the Great and brazenly boasting that it is inside America, poised to attack.  I hate to be negative, and I refuse to be pessimistic, but anyone not alarmed by current events is in some physical, mental or emotional state I am powerless to comprehend.

(“Obama’s Staggering Blindness to Growing Terror Threat” by David Limbaugh dated August 26, 2014 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/2014/08/26/untitled-n1883112 )


* 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:

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

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


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY