RTCS

Views on the News

Views on the News*

 September 16, 2017

 

The lopsided votes in the House were 316 to 90 and were 80 to 17 in the Senate in support of the deal President Trump made with Democrat leaders on storm aid, the debt limit and government funding .  Remarkably, all the NO voters were Republicans.  The numbers shout that we are witnessing a potential turning point in the Trump presidency, one that could further shake up Washington and rattle the calcified political parties.  Frustrated by the failure of GOP majorities in both chambers to pass his agenda, Trump followed through on threats to work with Democrats.  Signs suggest it was not a one-off deal, as the president already is discussing other topics with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.  Hurricanes Harvey and Irma helped spark his decision.  The president was clear that, especially on storm relief, he wanted fast, bipartisan action that reflected the way ordinary Americans were helping each other, especially in hard-hit Houston.  With Irma aiming at the southeast, Trump recognized that the public would have rightly viewed political squabbling during national emergencies as an infuriating failure.  The circumstances didn’t stop all the GOP grumbling, with Republicans astonished that a president from had accepted Dems’ terms on the debt limit to get a quick deal.  He also issued a warning on tax reform.  The developments show the president shedding the party straitjacket and being true to his disrupter candidacy.  If he continues and is successful, he could create a new coalition that includes revolving members of both parties, depending on the issue.  That’s an ambitious scenario, given the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington and the cultural and political chasms across the country.  At least the president is proving in the short term that it is possible to get things done, and get them done quickly, a point he emphasized by signing the legislative package as soon as it reached his desk.  Naturally, the prospect of a bipartisan approach alarms both ends of the political spectrum, with leftists angry that Schumer and Pelosi dared to even talk to Trump, let alone make a deal.  That attitude is both a cause and effect of the gridlock that has gripped the capital for the better part of two decades and turned compromise into an insult.  Yet beyond the professional activists, ideologues and consultants, much of America yearns for more government cooperation and less combat.  They want a government that works for them, not one fixated on partisan scorekeeping and ideological litmus tests.  There are legitimate differences between the parties’ reigning philosophies, and most major issues do not lend themselves to simply splitting the difference.  The big picture is that most Americans feel government in general and Washington especially has little concern for their lives and problems.  The tiresome duels of rehearsed talking points that offer no possibility of compromise reflect a broken model of politics.  Trump’s promise to change Washington was a key ingredient in his victory, and he may be uniquely positioned to carve out a new model.  Throughout his business life, he’s been on both sides of big issues, and comes to the presidency with less of a fixed political core than anyone in ­recent memory.  That’s made him understandingly suspect to many conservatives and his inexperience has been compounded by mistakes, but that outsider, pragmatic perspective can now work in his favor.  If Trump can find both common ground and real solutions, we might look back one day and see a more bipartisan approach to governing as the one silver lining of the weather calamities of 2017. 

(“We may be witnessing a turning point in the Trump presidency” by Michael Goodwin dated September 9, 2017 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2017/09/09/we-may-be-witnessing-a-turning-point-in-the-trump-presidency/ )

To paraphrase President Clinton: The era of small government is over.  The real issue is whether we'll have effective big government or mismanaged big government, because so far, mismanaged is winning.  The semi-automatic expansion of programs for the elderly (mainly Social Security, Medicare and long-term care under Medicaid) is slowly crowding out many other government programs, from defense to the Centers for Disease Control.  The paradoxical result is that government spending will grow larger, even while it grows less effective.  The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the Republicans are responsible for this mess, but his is only a half-truth.  The other half is the refusal of Democrats / "liberals" / "progressives" to cut almost any Social Security and Medicare benefits, putting them essentially off-limits, even though life expectancy has increased and many elderly are well-off.  Plausible cuts need not be draconian.  Extending the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits by a year would reduce spending by 7%.  In 2017, combined Social Security and Medicare spending will total $1.6 trillion, about 40% of the $4 trillion federal budget.  With so much money off the table, the pressure to cut other spending intensifies.  In 2016, federal spending totaled 20.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), our economy, but by 2035, it is projected to grow to 23.5% of GDP.  That 2.6% gain may seem tiny, but it isn't because it equals almost $500 billion in today's dollars.  At the same time, the rest of government is projected to shrink. The simple answer is that the increases for the elderly overshadow the losses for everyone else.  The elderly enjoy big gains in Social Security, Medicare and "other health spending."  Meanwhile, defense spending is projected to drift toward its lowest level since 1940.  Other domestic programs (the FBI, the national parks, regulation) could face crippling defunding.  The same crippling defunding is projected for "other entitlements" (food stamps, unemployment insurance).  There's a gigantic gap between what Americans can expect from the government and what, based on existing policies, it can deliver.  We will probably muddle through for the time being, though the system's contradictions suggest a crisis is just being deferred.  We may face steep spending cuts and tax increases to curb runaway debt.  Big government may be its own worst enemy.  

(“The ‘Progressives’ Are to Blame, Too” by Robert Samuelson dated September 11, 2017 published by Real Clear Politics at https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/09/11/the_progressives_are_to_blame_too_134946.html )

 

A leftist and a liberal have almost nothing in common.  On the contrary, liberalism has far more in common with conservatism than it does with leftism.  The left has appropriated the word "liberal" so effectively that almost everyone: liberals, leftists and conservatives, thinks they are synonymous.  They aren't, so let's look at some important examples:

·    Race: The essence of the liberal position on race was that the color of one's skin is insignificant, and only racists believed that race is intrinsically significant.  However, to the left, the notion that race is insignificant is itself racist, and it regards the statement "There is only one race, the human race" as racist.  Liberals are passionately committed to racial integration, while the left supports the existence of black dormitories and separate black graduations on university campuses.

·    Capitalism: Liberals have always been pro capitalism, recognizing it for what it is: the only economic means of lifting great numbers out of poverty.  Opposition to capitalism and advocacy of socialism are leftist values.

·    Nationalism: Liberals deeply believed in the nation-state, whether their nation was the United States, Great Britain or France.  The left has always opposed nationalism because leftism is rooted in class solidarity, not national solidarity.  The left has contempt for nationalism, seeing in it intellectual and moral primitivism at best, and the road to fascism at worst.  Liberals always wanted to protect American sovereignty and borders.

·    View of America: Liberals venerated America, understanding that America is imperfect, but believing that America is "the last best hope of earth."  To the left, America is essentially a racist, sexist, violent, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic country.  Leftists often take offense at having their love of America doubted, but the left has more contempt than love for America.

·    Free speech: No one was more committed than American liberals to the famous statement "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  The left is leading the first nationwide suppression of free speech in American history, from the universities to Google to almost every other institution and place of work. The left claims to only oppose hate speech, but protecting the right of person A to say what person B deems objectionable is the entire point of free speech.

·    Western civilization: Liberals have a deep love of Western civilization, celebrating its unique moral, ethical, philosophical, artistic, musical and literary achievements.  Leftists unanimously denounced President Donald Trump for protecting Western civilization. They argued not only that Western civilization is not superior to any other civilization but also that it is no more than a euphemism for white supremacy.

·    Judaism and Christianity: Liberals appreciated the Judeo-Christian roots of American civilization.  They themselves went to church or synagogue, or at least appreciated that most of their fellow Americans did.  The contempt that the left has for religion (except for Islam today) is not something with which a liberal would ever have identified.

If the left is not defeated, American and Western civilization will not survive.  But the left will not be defeated until good liberals understand this and join the fight.  Dear liberals: Conservatives are not your enemy; the left is!  

(“Leftism Is Not Liberalism” by Dennis Prager dated September 12, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2017/09/12/leftism-is-not-liberalism-n2380044 )

 

As Americans we should all condemn and speak out against bigotry and hate wherever it may fester and whatever the ideological and political beliefs of the adherent.  In most of the main stream media, and various periodicals and internet news sources, there are discussions and articles, editorials and letters to the editor that discuss the Charlottesville protests and subsequent violence, and the tragic death of a young woman.  The gist of the outrage is directed at white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazi, however no mention is made of the group antifa (anti-fascist).  Antifa can trace its roots in Europe back decades and began there as a political movement, but it has crossed an ocean, and has now morphed into a bunch of radical militant leftists.  The president was correct when he stated the violence was perpetrated from groups on both sides, but for whatever reason antifa is escaping any condemnation or scrutiny.  In 2016 both Homeland Security and the FBI designated this group as domestic terrorists and “becoming increasingly confrontational and extremely dangerous”.  Together with Black lives Matter, this is the same bunch of masked thugs that left Ferguson Missouri and Baltimore Maryland in flames.  They have also been the cause of civil unrest and violence at University of California at Berkeley, and there is reason to believe they perpetrated attacks on Trump supporters at rally’s and during campaign events, and also at the presidential inauguration.  Their manifesto reads like a page out “Rules for Radicals”; anti-government, anti-capitalism, anti-Trump, fighting right wing ideology, white nationalism, and police brutality.  They would deny the right of free speech to anyone who disagrees with their beliefs, such as conservatives, and that would include people of faith, politicians, just ordinary Americans, and would have no hesitation to do so with violence and property destruction.  Antifa is not discriminating in who it is they target; veterans, police, journalists, and innocent bystanders.  On college and university campuses whites are being disparaged, treated with contempt and considered pariahs, and relegated to what seems obscurity.  Courses dealing in so called white privilege and white supremacy are part of the curriculum. Black students are demanding segregated dorms, whites not allowed.  The newest fad is all the rage, the removal of statues and plaques, most if not all devoted to white men.  In some cases historical evidence reveals that the figures in question were not perfect beings, and their lives had their darker days, but to judge their actions hundreds of years ago by today’s standards is ill conceived and will deny generations who follow an accurate account of the true historical past. This has not stopped the liberal progressive grievance industry; the arbiters of what is right and wrong, from insisting on the removal of any monument they believe are disturbing and hurtful to certain minority groups in America.  Now to add insult to injury, the declaration and menacing beliefs of radical leftist ideologues shows no favor, no one is exempt.  Whoever you are, whatever your station in life, and no matter your age, you will not escape their uncontrollable, bigoted and deviant actions.  If we fail to recognize these growing menaces, antifa and our own American version of an intifada against white people, and that pose more of threat than any right wing group, we will rue the day and so too will the generations who follow.  

(“The Threat and the Real Danger” by Bob Pascarella dated September 8, 2017 published by iPatriot at http://ipatriot.com/threat-real-danger/ )

The largest threat to our prosperity is government spending that far exceeds the authority enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.  Federal spending in 2017 will top $4 trillion: Social Security, at $1 trillion, will take up most of it; Medicare ($582 billion) and Medicaid ($404 billion) are the next-largest expenditures; and Other federal social spending includes food stamps, unemployment compensation, child nutrition, child tax credits, supplemental security income and student loans, all of which total roughly $550 billion.  Social spending by Congress consumes about two-thirds of the federal budget.  The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to use threats, intimidation and coercion to confiscate that dollar from another American.  Congress forcibly uses one American to serve the purposes of another American.  The forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is a fairly good working definition of slavery.  Today's Americans have little appreciation for how their values reflect a contempt for those of our Founding Fathers.  Most federal spending today is on "objects of benevolence."   No doubt some congressmen, academics, hustlers and ignorant people will argue that the general welfare clause of the U.S. Constitution authorizes today's spending,, but that is simply unadulterated nonsense.  Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Congress (has) not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but (is) restrained to those specifically enumerated."  Madison wrote that "if Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one."   In other words, the general welfare clause authorized Congress to spend money only to carry out the powers and duties specifically enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 and elsewhere in the Constitution, not to meet the infinite needs of the general welfare.  We cannot blame politicians for the spending that places our nation in peril.  Politicians are doing precisely what the American people elect them to office to do: to use the power of their office to take the rightful property of other Americans and deliver it to them.  It would be political suicide for a president or a congressman to argue as Madison did that Congress has no right to expend "on objects of benevolence" the money of its constituents and that "charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."  It's unreasonable of us to expect any politician to sabotage his career by living up to his oath of office to uphold and defend our Constitution. If we are to save our nation from the economic and social chaos that awaits us, we the people must have a moral reawakening and eschew what is no less than legalized theft, the taking from one American for the benefit of another.  

(“We’re All to Blame” by Walter E. Williams dated September 13, 2017 published by Town Hall at https://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2017/09/13/were-all-to-blame-n2379697 )

 

During last year’s election, the president voiced what we know that voter fraud exists.  The only question is to what degree, and that’s the mission of the commission.  For anyone who dismisses concerns about voter fraud, the unhinged reaction by the left at investigating it should make a logical person wonder what they’re so concerned about.  After all, if you believe the issue is false, or at the most an irrelevant factor in end results, you should welcome confirmation of that fact.  Unless one fears the actual outcome may prove how voter fraud impacts local and state races to the point of shifting the balance of power in Washington, D.C.  Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and vice chairman of the president's commission, revealed that out-of-state voters may have changed not only the outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race, but also could have impacted who won the state’s presidential contest.  He noted that New Hampshire is a state with same-day voter registration, which eliminates the ability to determine the eligibility of those voters.  He said that last year there were 6,540 same-day registrants with out-of-state driver’s licenses.  The state requires residents to obtain a state driver’s license within 60 days of moving, yet since the election “5,313 of those voters neither obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license nor registered a vehicle in New Hampshire. It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.  This number is large enough to have made the difference in the state’s U.S. Senate race as well as the presidential election.  Hillary Clinton won the swing state by only 2,738 votes.  Incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte lost her Senate seat to Democrat Maggie Hassan by the slim margin of 1,017 votes.  Liberals usually claim if there is fraud, it’s so small and isolated that it doesn’t impact end results, but margins in New Hampshire prove the falsity of that argument.  The issue of voter fraud must be addressed so every voter can be sure that their right as a citizen is not being erased by a fraudulent vote.  A Heritage Foundation database tracking documented voter fraud now contains 492 cases and 773 criminal convictions, with untold other cases unreported and unprosecuted.  Across the country, as Heritage’s database shows, voter-fraud convictions include everything from impersonation fraud and false registrations to ineligible voting by felons and noncitizens.  American voter fraud continues apace, and the United States remains one of the only democracies in the world without a uniform requirement for voter identification.  Democrats and their allies are afraid of something; an end to a scheme that they have relied on for far too long.  With the president's voter fraud commission, Democrats are afraid of losing more Senate seats and an increase of Trump’s 2016 electoral college victory.  

(“Why Democrats fear voter fraud investigations” by Tammy Bruce dated September 13, 2017 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/13/voter-fraud-investigations-eschewed-by-democrats/ )

 

Anyone noticed through the fog of Russia, Comey, Charlottesville, and now two monster hurricanes that the U.S. economy is booming faster than any time since the late Clinton years?  It is undeniable that the pace of improvement is quickening.  In the last year of the Obama administration, the economy was decelerating with a dismal 1.6% growth rate.  The economy revved up to a 3% growth rate in the April-June 2nd quarter this year, which is a nice bounce but still not a great number.  A preliminary sneak peek at the current 3rd quarter GDP by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, estimates an even brisker 3.4% growth.  It’s easy to read too much into short term trends, since they can turn on a dime.  This new bounce in the step of the economy is confirmed by many other indicators, almost all of which point straight north.  The Dow Jones industrial average is up over 3,000 points (starting with the 700 point rally the day after the election) and the net wealth of Americans, mostly through their pension funds, has increased by more than $4 trillion.  In August consumer confidence soared to near its highest level in at least a decade.  Other surveys find that confidence for their small business members is hovering at near record highs.  You hear these same sentiments anecdotally from employers, because optimism abounds.  This is also reflected in nearly 200,000 monthly job growth and an unemployment rate that continues to fall.  The rate of job growth for black Americans is nearly 50% higher than the monthly average under President Obama.  Just a few months ago many economists were warning that the economy and the stock market were tapped out and that a recession and a stock market correction was overdue.  Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted that slow growth was “the new normal” for America.  The Obama brain trust could only squeeze out 2% growth from the American economy even in a good year, so there was no way President Trump could do better.  The post-Great Recession recovery was running $2 trillion behind an average recovery and $3 trillion below the trend line from the pace of the Reagan expansion.  This growth deficit was a result of policy mistakes: tax hikes, a regulatory squeeze, the economy-wide costs of ObamaCare, and an anti-American energy policy.  Liberals have taken note of the economic revival and are scrambling to invent plausible explanations without having to assign any credit to Trump.  The latest spin is that this is the “Janet Yellen economy” driven by the Fed’s low interest rate policies.  Sure low interest rates and inflation are a big plus for the economy, but under Trump, Yellen has been raising rates and is promising more rate hikes to come, and even that hasn’t quelled business optimism one iota so far.  The Trump presidency has ended Washington D.C.’s war against business.  The Obama-era regulatory rampage has come to a screeching halt.  Some 16 Obama-era regulations have been suspended so far for every new regulation imposed.  A notable dividend from these policies is the improbable comeback in coal.  Coal production is up more than 12% this year after being declared a dead industry by liberals last year, which means not just more mining jobs, but added hiring in trucking, steel and manufacturing as well.  That’s a microcosm of the Trump effect.  Again, these are short-term numbers and an economy and especially a stock market dependent on pro-growth policy changes to come, could be short-lived.  This is why in the aftermath of the Obamacare repeal whiff, enacting the Trump tax cut this year is critical to the expansion.  Some of the elation we are seeing in the stock market and business spending is due to the anticipation effect of tax rate cuts before year’s end.  The lower corporate tax rate would mean trillions of dollars of after-tax stock returns over the next decade and at least some investors are buying ahead of that. Failing to pass a tax cut, could reverse the financial and jobs gains we’ve seen.  So far seven months into his presidency, love him or hate him, Mr. Trump has shifted the economy and wealth creation into a faster gear. If Republicans, and hopefully pro-business Democrats, can pass a meaningful tax cut this fall, the Trump boom may just be getting started.  

(“The Trump boom arrives” by Stephen Moore dated September 10, 2017 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/10/donald-trump-gives-the-economy-a-boost/ )

 

Sixteen years ago a war was brought to our city streets by an enemy we already knew but misunderstood.  The 9/11 attack may have been the ultimate “black swan” event: something that we should have known was coming and should have prepared for but didn’t.  There are many reasons for the failures to foresee and to prepare, some of which still apply to us today.  They are reflected in our cultural attitudes, the way we have fought the war, and in the people we have chosen to be president since September 11. 2001.  They form the lessons we should have learned from this war and still haven’t.  Osama bin Laden declared war on America in his religious “fatwa” published by a London newspaper in 1996.  It called upon every Muslim to kill Americans anywhere they are found and said that his followers had no intention except to enter paradise by killing us.  Our intelligence agencies knew not only of his intent but of his growing ability to carry out his goals.  They knew of the training camps that the Taliban used to help train bin Laden’s men.  So much was known and ignored.  As the Twin Towers burned on 9/11, sources were pouring out information that bin Laden was behind the attacks.  Our war against the Taliban began on October 7, 2001 and it continues to this day.  Two presidents, Bush and Trump, adopted strategies to try to defeat them and to support the Afghanistan government while our troops fight the Taliban.  President Obama only compounded Bush’s mistake in nation-building, kicking the can down the road so that his successor would have to deal with Afghanistan and Obama wouldn’t be blamed for “losing”.  President George W. Bush had said he was opposed to nation-building during his 2000 campaign, but he immediately reverted to it in Afghanistan and continued it in Iraq.  Bush, because he had become a neoconservative, believed that everyone, everywhere, had the most fundamental desire to be free in the same way Americans are, but he was fundamentally wrong.  The Muslim culture, ingrained in believers for about fourteen hundred years, doesn’t allow the freedoms we enjoy in any way, far less as we enjoy them.  That is the most basic of the unlearned lessons of this war.  Muslims, ideologically and culturally, are different from Christians and Jews in this most fundamental way.  It’s why we weren’t welcomed as liberators in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Taliban have never been defeated and the Iraqi terrorist networks, both Sunni and Shiite, have not been either.  Bush was convinced that Afghanis and Iraqis would welcome the arrival of the new freedoms we sought to give them, but they didn’t.  Their religion, and the culture derived from it, made us the enemy regardless of what we did.  The second unlearned lesson is another of Bush’s mistaken beliefs.  He believed that nation-building succeeded in Japan and Germany after World War II, and it did, but only because the enemies there had been utterly defeated.  The ideology of Nazism died with Hitler and his cronies.  Japan’s utter defeat defeated the ideology of Shintoism that drove Imperial Japan to its conquests.  Bush rejected the idea of fighting the ideological war that the Islamist wage against us.  The lesson of World War II, and the Korean War, and Vietnam, is that if you don’t fight a war in a manner calculated to win it decisively, you will lose it inevitably.  Unless an enemy is as defeated as the Japanese and Germans were in that war, the war can go on indefinitely, and it has.  Nevertheless, President Trump’s “new” Afghanistan strategy will continue nation-building despite the fact that the Taliban, though beaten many times, are undefeated.  Their ideology, Islamism, remains as strong in Afghanistan as it was before 9/11.  Trump leaves U.S. forces to fight the terrorists, but still devotes lives and funds in the futile hope of building an Afghanistan that can defend itself from Islamic terrorism.  North Korea’s ideology, known as “juche”, is as tenacious and murderous as the Islamist ideology.  There is no evidence to suggest that we are attacking the Norks’ ideology.  Suffice it to say that unless the enemy’s ideology is defeated, the enemy is not substantially weakened far less defeated.  The third unlearned lesson is that we have to gather intelligence rapidly, from every source we can find and in every manner we can imagine.  At home, we have shied away from gathering such intelligence for reasons of political correctness, the fear of offending anyone.  The New York Police Department had a special unit gathering intelligence in Muslim gathering places, including mosques, and even in neighboring states, but as soon as he was inaugurated, Mayor Bill de Blasio ended the unit’s operations.  The National Security Agency and the FBI use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to intercept communications between terrorists here and abroad.  The relevant sections of FISA, including Section 702, which authorizes such snooping, will expire in December unless Congress acts to renew them.  President Trump has yet to call for FISA’s reauthorization.  Note well that the denials of “wiretapping” Trump Towers were carefully phrased to limit them to that specific.  There is no denial that Americans were targeted for interception of cell phone conversations or emails.  We are at war with an enemy that is bound to a religion and culture unlike ours. They do not share our values, and we have never defeated any of them or their ideology. For the sake of political correctness and congressional cowardice, we are about to abandon some of the most essential tools of intelligence gathering we need in this war, so no wonder we’re losing.  

(“Unlearned Lessons of the Endless War” by Jed Babbin dated September 11, 2017 published by The American Spectator at https://spectator.org/unlearned-lessons-of-the-endless-war/ )

 

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.  No updates have been made this week to the issue sections.

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/

 

RTCS