Views on the News
September 10, 2011
Views on the News*
Most people in the U.S. still subscribe to the notion of American ‘exceptionalism’: the idea that theirs is a unique nation, forged from revolution; underpinned by a properly functioning democracy and the rule of law; blessed with abundant natural resources, human ingenuity and endeavor; and insulated by geography and military might. Americans are optimistic by nature and design. They like to think well of themselves and see the best in other people. The proud patriotism which European liberals despise and mock is both genuine and sincere. It cuts across class, religious and racial divides. Until 9/11, America was the most open society on earth, the Statue of Liberty both a statement of intent and a beacon to the world. The majority of Americans are hospitable, generous and welcoming - nothing like the crass caricatures peddled by the Left in Britain. The country has taken immigrants from all corners of the globe and forged a common identity. Religious freedom is an article of faith. Americans want to be liked, but the realization that half the world nurtures an irrational hatred towards them is hard to stomach. On a positive note, the upside of the ‘war on terror’ is that the draconian measures instigated by the Federal Government, including the exponential expansion of the surveillance state, have kept America safe. There has not been a successful attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, so that’s why criticism of the loss of freedoms has been muted. The American Century may have come crashing to a tragic halt on 9/11, but we must all hope the U.S. soon recovers its sense of purpose and self-belief. I still have faith in the American capacity for ingenuity, enterprise and reinvention. The idea of American exceptionalism may be battered, but it hasn’t been extinguished and it’s still the planet’s last best hope.
(“America’s taken a hammering in the decade since 9/11, but never doubt that it can rediscover its awesome self-belief” by Richard Littlejohn dated September 3, 2011 published by The Daily Mail at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2033230/RICHARD-LITTLEJOHN-Americas-taken-hammering-decade-9-11-But-doubt-rediscover-awesome-self-belief.html )
The emotion that Obama stirred in the hearts of millions of Americans, that illusory sense of history created by so many hours of media manipulation, the expectation that now things would be better, is gone, and it isn’t coming back. The time when the Obama brand still seemed like it might have something to offer the American people is long past. There will still be voters who go to the polls and pull the wrong lever, but they won’t do it because they seriously believe that another term will make America a better place. Rather they will do it for reasons of identity - political identity, racial identity and because ‘anything is better than voting GOP’ is also an identity. As Obama’s popularity has slipped, he has become more openly hateful. The vindictiveness that was hidden away has been put up for display in the store window. The worse his numbers have fallen, the uglier his words have become. Obama was never graceful, but the spitefulness is no longer camouflaged. The petty insults have become common as his persona has grown charmless. Having failed as the Messiah of Hope and Change, he is swiftly becoming the Messiah of Hate. No one around him thinks he can sell himself as a better alternative to a generic Republican candidate, but if he can make the Republican candidate look like a completely unpalatable choice to most voters, then he can still win. 2012 is set to be half his 2008 campaign … the dark half. All the smears and demonization without any of the hope. There are an uncounted number of Democratic voters who pulled the lever for him, even though they had second thoughts. He can’t defend any of his policies and doesn’t want to. He only has two modes for discussing policy, the simplistic and the long-winded, neither of which hold up well during a campaign. In 2008, he ran on the idea of what his administration would be like, but he can’t do that a second time. The idea was already realized and the reality of it is popular with no one. In 2008, he was able to maintain the illusion of civility, while letting the media do his dirty work for him. Obama is now being his own hit squad with the constant derogatory references to Republicans in speeches that are otherwise as empty of content and purpose as a three inch lake, don’t accomplish their goal. Even his attacks have a tepid whiny quality to them. His putdowns condescend to his listeners, turning what should have been insults aimed at Republicans, into an insult to his audience’s intelligence. Alarmism that would work better if he hadn’t already done exactly what he was accusing his hypothetical opponents of. However the unctuous smile is sliding off and what’s underneath it is the entitled anger of a man who is always used to getting his way, and who has yet to understand that for the first time in his life, Obama is about to lose.
(“Messiah of Hate” by Daniel Greenfield dated September 4, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/40040 )
Over the past three years, President Obama has done a remarkable job of undermining three very different ideals: progressivism, capitalism and moderation. Progressivism, his own brand, has taken the biggest blow, which may be why so many progressives, particularly environmentalists, have been so critical of their chosen candidate. The progressivism embraced by the President was not the middle-class-oriented, growth-inducing kind associated with previous Democrats. Instead, Obama’s progressivism was shaped by his fellow academics, who have enjoyed unprecedented influence in this administration, as well as closely aligned classes such as affluent greens, urban land interests, venture capitalists and the mainstream media. Expressing the world view of the well-heeled, Obama’s progressivism did not focus on class mobility and economic growth, but undermined basic capitalism. Obama’s stimulus did not seek to increase productivity capacity or create good blue-collar jobs. It largely missed the recession’s biggest victims: minorities, the working class and the young who are well represented of the 1 in 5 Americans now not working. The President instead chose to service the needs of organized constituencies such as public sector unions, large research universities and “green capitalists.” Obama’s regressive progressivism strangled blue-collar sectors of the economy. Many of his key policy initiatives, particularly in the health and environmental areas, scared businesses from expanding their operations. Sadly, the one infrastructure project embraced by the administration, high speed rail, reflected trendy urbanist theory more than common sense. Similarly, Obama’s much ballyhooed “green jobs” have proved an expensive bust. The traditional left is also increasingly persuaded that Obama’s policies have been better for the silk stocking set than the lunch pail crowd. Banks and high-end finance capital have been the biggest beneficiaries of Obama, a peculiar accomplishment for a nominally progressive administration. Wall Street’s subsidized ride to profits, courtesy of TARP and the Bernanke-Geithner fiscal policies, has helped a relative handful of investors and brokers to enjoy record pay in 2009 and 2010. Obama’s most recent fetish, moderation, also is proving something of a bust. Anxious not to be labeled anti-business, he has surrounded himself not with entrepreneurs but consummate crony capitalists — chief of staff Bill Daley (scion of the Chicago machine family), General Electric‘s Jeffrey Immelt and proposed Commerce Chief John Bryson, who has spent much time as a master manipulator for a large regulated utility. For three years President Obama has accomplished a hat trick of economic ineptitude that has downgraded the street cred of progressivism, capitalism and even reason. By all rights, Obama should be thinking about his profitable future as a post-Presidential celebrity, but for reasons having little to do with his own record, he’ll likely be entering a re-election campaign with a decent chance for another chance to screw up even worse.
(“Obama’s Economic Trifecta: How the President Helped Kill Progressivism, Capitalism, and Moderation” by Joel Kotkin dated September 6, 2011 published by Forbes at http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2011/09/06/obamas-economic-trifecta-how-the-president-helped-kill-progressivism-capitalism-and-moderation/ )
If all you read was economic news, you would think the economy is slowly moving away from the financial crisis of 2008, but the economic reality is very different. In fact, the only change since September 2008 is that things have gotten worse:
· Our federal government is close to bankruptcy, as are many of our states, counties, and cities.
· Our unemployment rate is higher than it was when Obama was elected, and appears to be going higher.
· We have millions of homes in or near foreclosure, and many which are abandoned and falling into disrepair, yet construction companies continue to build new homes.
· Obama's stimulus failed to create jobs, and so did QE1 and QE2.
· Even as Social Security enters deficit territory we've created a new unfunded entitlement with ObamaCare.
· Around the world, individual debts became too much so they were unloaded on banks.
· The debt of the banks then became too much so they were bailed out and unloaded on the taxpayers.
· Now sovereign debt is too much and countries are collapsing and the United States has been downgraded.
The reality is that what the unemployed feel that the recession never really ended. It may have ended from a strictly statistical measure of GDP, but employment never recovered and the root causes of the financial crisis have never been addressed. As long as we continue to ignore the fundamental problems in our economy, there's no need to get excited about occasional good economic news. It's nothing more than statistical noise. The state of our economy will not significantly change until we change our economic policies:
· Instead of trying to prevent housing prices from falling, we need to let them fall and find their bottom.
· Instead of stopping foreclosures, we need to foreclose on homes as quickly as possible and get it over with.
· Instead of pumping up the stock market with QE1 and QE2, we need to let the market find its true value.
· Instead of trying to convince consumers to spend more money to spark economic activity, we need to encourage them to complete the process of deleveraging and fixing their balance sheets.
· Instead of getting in the way of corporate bankruptcies, we need to let those companies fail.
None of these things will be pleasant, but they are absolutely necessary before there can be any expectation of a true, solid recovery. Recovery doesn't need to be impossible, but it is impossible given the policies of President Obama, so recover is extremely unlikely until Obama leaves office.
(“Obama’s Schizophrenic Reality” by Craig Steiner dated September 7, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/craigsteiner/2011/09/07/obamas_schizophrenic_reality )
The main impediment to job creation continues to be uncertainty, especially cost uncertainty for businesses over labor, energy, healthcare, general regulatory costs, and taxes. The Keynesians would say the remedy for today's economic problem is for the federal government, as the single biggest actor, to "prime the pump." This pump-priming reaction is termed the "multiplier effect." But with a national debt of more than $14 trillion and unfunded, future "off the books" debt of Social Security and Medicare combined at $104 trillion in present value, Uncle Sam ain't the man he used to be. This in turn makes American businesses that are sitting on a pile of cash focus on deleveraging. It appears as though everyone except Uncle Sam is working like mad to strengthen their balance sheets. The legitimate fear across the country is that Washington's refusal to join our common-sense parade will result in higher taxes, more regulations, more inflation and Japanese-style stagflation. Any time the President addresses the nation, be prepared to hear a lot about “investment” rather than “government spending.” The term “stimulus” – discredited by his earlier, failed almost-trillion-dollar boondoggle – will be replaced with the innocuous-sounding “targeted measures.” Realize that when he advocates higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” he’s really talking about individuals earning more than $200,000 per year, or couples earning more than $250,000. Just know that when the President invokes “revenue enhancement” and “shared sacrifices” and “a balanced approach” and “making spending reductions in the tax code,” he’s trying to make his single-minded obsession with tax increases more palatable to a government-weary, overtaxed electorate. Put simply, however novel (or creative) the words, the song will be the same: More taxing, more government spending, and more efforts to “spread the wealth around.” This technique is part of an effort to obscure a far-left agenda which Americans are deeply (and increasingly) hostile, and profoundly insulted to realize that the President thinks that we are “intellectually challenged” (read: stupid) enough to fall for it.
(“And now a word from a job creator…” by Mike Whalen dated September 5, 2011 published by Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/5/and-now-a-word-from-a-job-creator/ )
* 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:
· Bibliography at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/bibliography.php
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php