Views on the News

September 17, 2011

Views on the News*

As we approach the next Presidential election, we should consider what qualities we value in our next President, since we may have lost sight of these criteria during the last election. We not only need to assess these criteria for each prospective candidate, but also seek corroboration on this assessment to eliminate subjectivity and baseless assertions. Proof such as original birth certificates, school transcripts, and official government documents would limit the time devoted to administrative minutia to detract from any discussions on eligibility or comparisons. Subjective endorsements and anecdotal evidence can augment the record, not replace it. There are many important qualities that must be considered:

·    Integrity - honesty, faithfulness, character (harder to acquire than good grades in school!), belief in moral absolutes.

·    Wisdom - “common sense,” and “superb judgment,” including the ability “to select and surround oneself with good advisors.”

·    Patriotism – dedication to the country, support for national ideals, belief in the Constitution and First Principles and Rule of Law.

·    Courage - “guts under pressure,” “willingness to make unpopular decisions because they are the right decisions.”

·    Education – academic institutions, grades received, degrees earned, honors received, published record.

·    Work History – private sector experience, belief in the free market, public sector experience, belief in the power of government, offices held.

Interestingly, there was little mention of spirituality, the church, family and community. If integrity is the most important quality needed for a President, maybe integrity may swing the election away from some candidates and towards others?

(“The Most Important Quality You’re Looking For in a President” by Michael Brown dated September 7, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2011/09/07/the_most_important_quality_youre_looking_for_in_a_president )

On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. were attacked with aircraft hijacked by suicidal terrorists inspired by Islamic zeal and the country came together to mourn this vicious attack, but this unity did no last very long. Nearly three thousand were killed and the vast majority were civilians.  A fourth aircraft, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa., is thought to have been headed for the White House.  The targets were the economic, political, and military nerve centers in the heart of the United States.  Instead of rallying to the President as the nation had done in 1941, Democrats shamelessly politicized 9/11.  Senate Democrats who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq called Bush a "liar," and Senator Dick Durbin likened U.S. troops to Nazis.  The communist and socialist left engaged in mass demonstrations worldwide, caricaturing Bush (not Saddam, who had tortured and killed some 300,000 Iraqis during his rule) as the new Hitler.  College professors openly sided with the enemy and celebrated the attack on the Pentagon.  Left-wing Democrats charged that terrorist surveillance methods had "shredded the Constitution" and that the USA Patriot Act had created a "fascist state."  These same Democrats turned around and used those very same methods to track and kill Osama bin Laden after they took power in 2008, and they never bothered to repeal the USA Patriot Act they had so vociferously railed against.  Seven years after 9/11, the U.S. elected a President whose middle name is "Hussein," whose father and stepfather were Muslim, who spent the formative years of his youth in Muslim nations, and who stated that "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth is the Muslim call to prayer."  Barack Obama promptly went to Cairo to tell Muslims that "the U.S. is not at war with Islam" and that "the U.S. is not a Christian nation." Like the Sack of Rome, 9/11 was an attack by barbarian invaders who could never defeat the world's most powerful military in a set-piece battle.  September 11 revealed the extraordinary rot and weakness of our society.  Instead of unifying the nation, the political left manipulated the worst attack on the American mainland since the War of 1812 with base demagoguery.  After 9/11, the left was terrified to see Americans rally to the flag, to the military, and to patriotic values.  The lesson of 9/11 is this: the American left fears the American right more than it fears Islamic terrorism.  It fears patriotism and nationalism more than Sharia law.  The left would rather appease Islamic militants than rally to a conservative American President from the Republican Party who believes in the U.S. Constitution and in Jesus Christ.  On 9/11, actual terrorists hijacked airliners filled with hundreds of civilian men, women, and children and murdered those innocents by smashing them into the World Trade Center and ten years later, the Vice President of the United States said that Congressional Republicans who balked at raising the national debt ceiling to an obscene $16 trillion were "acting like terrorists," and there is no better proof of American decline than that.

(“Ten Years Later, 9/11 Reveals Depth of American Decline” by Michael Filozof dated September 11, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/09/ten_year_later_911_reveals_depth_of_american_decline.html )


In the weeks and years that followed the 9/11 attacks, Americans rose to defend civilization against terrorists and their sponsors around the globe, and despite occasional setbacks and persistent controversy, the U.S. and its allies have disrupted terrorist groups and prevented a repeat of 9/11, but a decade later, we have yet to fully grasp what the enemy is and how to defeat it permanently - much less organize our instruments of national power for victory. We have not won the war: we haven't even defined what it would be. There are limits to what can be achieved by force of arms alone - something our senior military officers have stressed repeatedly. Kinetic warfare, the use of destructive power, is essential in dealing with those who have crossed over to become terrorists. But until something stops the intake of terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers from among the ranks of Islamists, the military must contend endlessly with new terrorist offshoots. Terrorism is a tool the Islamists employ to defeat our ideology, which is expressed in the freedoms preserved by the Constitution. The truth about Islam is that its core beliefs - its ideology - compel violence against non-believers. The enemy's strategy is - by subornation, propaganda, and violence - to establish an Islamic caliphate across the globe. Terrorism is only one of the tactics it uses.  In earlier conflicts, we took on communism, fascism and other ideologies that motivated our enemies. More than mere public diplomacy or propaganda, this political warfare included diplomatic, financial, technological, economic, moral, legal and cultural acts focused on undermining the enemy’s reason for existence and means of support. During the final years of the Cold War, President Reagan targeted communism and its chief government purveyor for peaceful disposal on “the ash-heap of history.” His vision for ending the contest: “We win, they lose.” With that clarity of purpose, it was possible to organize the tools of power at the disposal of free governments. But no such clarity exists today about the post-9/11 world - especially not in the Washington foreign policy establishment. After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush was eager not to appear to be declaring war on the Muslim faith. But his administration overcorrected, and never fully grasped the need to assail Islamism - the tyrannical ideology that motivates most terrorists in the world, seeks the form of government found in Iran and wraps itself sanctimoniously in the Muslim religion. Having settled on an incomplete political goal and strategy, implementation was an uphill battle from the beginning. Bush and his lieutenants mistakenly thought that increasing knowledge among Muslims about the free world and its virtues would suffice in undermining the terrorists’ appeal. President Obama and his allies on the global left have made matters worse still. Obama’s outreach to the “Muslim world,” a make-believe construct that lends itself to the Islamists’ vision, has primarily involved apologizing for alleged sins of the U.S. and its allies going back decades. Meanwhile, the chief purveyor of Islamism, the government of Iran, has been handled with kid gloves and its godsend domestic opposition largely ignored by Washington and other capitals. As a result, while our military and intelligence capabilities have been honed to strike terrorists, the other parts of government have not delivered. Despite talk of deploying “smart power,” foreign aid has not been more closely tied to economic and political reforms. The State Departments lacks the tools and motivation to identify and promote reformers within Islam. The “civilian surges” that it was to deliver in Iraq and Afghanistan never materialized. Just this year, the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community completely missed the onset of the Arab Spring. Our intelligence agencies are no longer in the business of influencing foreign political outcomes. As events of major consequence have transpired, Washington has been left dumbstruck. When the Obama administration has acted, it has done so erratically and arbitrarily. There has been no repeat of 1947, which was the year the U.S. government drastically reordered itself to fight the then-new Cold War. Indeed, many of the tools available to Washington today derive from that year and have been stretched to manage today’s threats, with mixed results. A decade after 9/11, it is reasonable to ask government officials if there is a strategy or even a vision of ending, not just managing, the threat we have faced, and to get there, we need to think again in terms of undermining or ablating a hostile ideology and victory will again require organizing the full tools of national power and bringing them to bear against the enemy.

(“A decade later, what about victory?” by Christian Whiton dated September 7, 2011 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/07/a-decade-later-what-about-victory/

“Quo Vadis, Mars?” by Jed Babbin dated September 12, 2011 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2011/09/12/quo-vadis-mars )


All this talk about a double-dip recession in the U.S. is a bunch of baloney that misses the real issue: The United States economy never even came out of its recession in the first place; and our economy is already in a depression, one that’s about to get a whole lot worse. Just ask anyone on Main Street if the U.S. economy ever came out of a recession. I doubt you’ll find more than one out of every five Americans you talk to who believes the economy recovered. Yes, the economy did avoid a total meltdown in 2008 and 2009, but get out of a recession - give me a break!

·    First, the true unemployment rate in this country is at least 22%, not the 9.1% mythical figure Washington is reporting. The figure they report every month is what they call the “official” unemployment rate. But it includes only those ages 16 or older who are not currently employed, but are able and available to work and “actively seeking work.” Washington conveniently leaves out people who are working part-time, people whose hours have been dramatically cut, and “discouraged” workers, those who are ready, willing and able to work but have given up looking for a job because they can’t find one. The actual unemployment rate of 22% is more than double the so-called official number and almost as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s. Plus, of the unemployed, a full 45.1% have been out of work for six months (27 weeks), also rivaling the Great Depression.

·    Second, from its 1925 peak, the median home price in the U.S. fell 12.57% into a bottom in 1932. Compare that to the 32% decline since the property peak in 2007.

·    Third, in 1929, total U.S. debt as a percent of GDP stood at roughly 290%. Today, it’s approaching 1,000%, and growing.

·    Fourth, U.S. high-yield corporate bond default rates last year hit their highest level since the Great Depression. Although they’ve come down a bit since then, there’s no doubt that corporate bond default rates are going to surge again in the months ahead.

·    Fifth, there are at least half a dozen more stats that are already worse than those seen in the Great Depression: durable goods production and sales; the number of families requiring public assistance; the number and rate of children that are now homeless, etc.

No matter how you look at it, our country is not heading into another recession because it’s already in a depression, and will not improve until the current administration is sent packing.

(“Double-Dip Baloney…” by Larry Edelson dated September 12, 2011 published by Uncommon Wisdom at http://www.uncommonwisdomdaily.com/double-dip-baloney-12924 )

The most interesting thing happening in the world of politics and finance today is the way Barack Hussein Obama continues to lose traction every time he gives a speech. When longtime, staunch supporters of Obama such as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews look and sound betrayed, it is clear that even Obama’s liberal base is in disarray. Matthews, presumably a seasoned political observer, had poured all his faith into Obama, believed in hope and change, and Obama only delivered a huge national debt, the first downgrade of the nation’s triple-A credit rating, massive unemployment, and the sad repetition of failed solutions. Conservative commentators were openly disdainful of Obama’s use of a joint session of Congress as a stage for a purely political speech, but it was the public as always that had the last word. Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress was watched by only 31.5 million. People have decided that listening to Barack Hussein Obama is just a great waste of time. Even the liberal New York Times called his nearly $500 billion jobs plan a "mix ... of extensions and expansions of existing policies," with a few new ideas thrown in to hoodwink voters into hoping that this one could be a home run. "The plan -- for the most part -- is a conventional stimulus, much like the one passed at the beginning of the president's term," says The Washington Post. Among the military, whenever he addresses them, the silence is palpable. Recall the sullen response he got at West Point when he announced his Afghanistan strategy, if one can even call it that. There is a hard core of perhaps 20% who love Obama to the exclusion of his record of failure to focus on the economy. Others, though, from the black and Hispanic base are beginning to look for the exit. The race card is being played and class warfare is being encouraged. These are the tools of a demagogue. Obama, though, is convinced that if he just talks enough he can change opinion; thinks he is the master salesman, the ultimate campaigner. What he does not see, nor sense, is the derision with which his message is being received. The public has had two and a half years to take his measure and while he cannot be fired until November 2012 and will not leave until January 2013, he is pure poison to any hope of economic recovery. Nearly three-fourths of Americans now say the nation's economic outlook is "getting worse," according to the Gallup Poll. He has the reverse Midis touch; whatever he touches turns to crap. His rhythmic phrase, “Pass this bill”, repeated seventeen times in the course of his speech to Congress ignored the fact that there literally is no bill. Out on the campaign trail a day or so later he was still saying it. Obama is intoxicated with the sound of his voice, his staccato delivery, his hand gestures, and all the other elements of oratory upon which he has depended for his rise to the top. Obama just hasn’t figured out that it is not what you say, nor how you say it, that matters; what matters is the result of his policies; and they don’t work.

(“The More Obama Speaks…” by Alan Caruba dated September 12, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/40272

Obama Strikes Out Yet Again” by Donald Lambro dated September 14, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/donaldlambro/2011/09/14/obama_strikes_out_yet_again )

President Barack Obama made a speech to Congress asking to continue doing the same kinds of things that have failed again and again, just because Obama delivers clever words with style and energy. Once we get past the glowing rhetoric, all the President is proposing is more spending! Only the words have changed - from "stimulus" to "jobs" and from "shovel-ready projects" to "jobs for construction workers." If government spending were the answer, we would by now have a booming economy with plenty of jobs, after all the record trillions of dollars that have been poured down a bottomless pit. Why should we keep on doing the same things, just because those things have been repackaged in different words? Obama now assures us that "everything in this bill will be paid for," but this is the same man who told us that he could provide health insurance to millions more people without increasing the cost. When it comes to specific proposals, President Obama repeats the same kinds of things that have marked his past policies - more government spending for the benefit of his political allies, the construction unions and the teachers' unions, and "thousands of transportation projects." The fundamental fallacy in all of this is the notion that politicians can "grow the economy" by taking money out of the private sector and spending it wherever it is politically expedient to spend it - so long as they call spending "investment." Obama says he wants "federal housing agencies" to "help more people refinance their mortgages." What does that amount to in practice, except having the taxpayers be forced to bail out people who bought homes they could not afford? No doubt that is good politics, but it is lousy economics. When people pay the price of their own mistakes that is when there is the greatest pressure to correct those mistakes. When taxpayers who had nothing to do with those mistakes are forced to pay the costs - that is when those and other mistakes can continue to flourish - and to mess up the economy.

(“Back to the Future?” by Thomas Sowell dated September 13, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2011/09/13/back_to_the_future )


Barack Obama’s badly flawed worldview and the incoherent foreign policy flowing from it have now disintegrated, gravely wounding America and its friends. His response to virtually every significant threat or crisis has either complicated or worsened the problem, or, at best, left it essentially no closer to resolution. Obama has repeatedly apologized for America’s past transgressions (as he defines them), and his disinclination to be assertive on our behalf. So radically different is Obama from any prior American president that many observers have concluded that he has a comprehensive plan, and that somewhere in all that mess there must be a doctrine. Others look not for a plan, but for a plot; pop psychology and conspiracy theories abound as to why Obama is so comfortable, even enthusiastic, about American decline. For better or worse, there is no single dispositive flaw in Obama’s doctrine, since there is little that resembles a doctrine. The explanation for his policy’s failure, and its well-deserved collapse now unfolding before us, lies in a jumbled mix of philosophy, political priorities, and personal inadequacy. Like Obama’s Presidency generally, his national-security flaws combine ideology, naïveté, weakness, lack of leadership, intellectual laziness, and a near-religious faith in negotiation for its own sake. Perhaps most significantly, Obama is simply not interested in foreign and defense policy. His first thought on awakening each morning is not about threats to America, its global interests, and its friends and allies, but about his efforts to radically restructure our economy and society. That is where his intellect and his heart are focused, and his lack of attention to the rest of the world is palpable. When Obama has no other choice but to concentrate on international affairs, such as during the Afghanistan surge or the killing of Osama bin Laden, he will do so, but only for as long as is necessary to address the immediate problem before him. In those few national-security areas where Obama does his homework, a second characteristic predominates. He simply does not see much occurring internationally that threatens American interests. Such a benign view of a chaotic world may be even more shocking than his general lack of interest, but it is yet another reflection of his underlying intellectual laziness. During both the 2008 campaign and his presidency, for example, Obama has downplayed the very concept of a “global war on terror,” treated nuclear proliferation as a side issue, and ignored the enormous strategic threats posed by a rising China and a belligerent Russia. American decline, most recently reflected in S&P’s downgrade of America’s sovereign debt to below France’s level, is un-troubling and even natural to him. In days gone by, Americans with such attitudes were classified as isolationists. This president is no advocate of insularity, instead choosing multilateralism and expressing it in rhetoric that could have come straight from its source, Woodrow Wilson, who insisted that “there must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized common peace.” Here is the ideology of negotiation and global governance in its fullest flower. Radical as Obama is, his worldview is not dissimilar from those of a long line of liberal Presidential candidates, stretching back decades. So what emerges from a President who is basically uninterested in foreign affairs, who doesn’t see our manifold threats and challenges as worthy of presidential time and energy, who repeatedly stresses devotion to negotiations that are divorced from their substantive outcome, and who believes that multilateral rather than American resolve and power can address foreign problems? The now-indisputable answer is a failing, collapsing U.S. foreign policy. Obama’s personal and philosophical weakness is revealed most palpably in his view of the national-security budget. Deep spending cuts ($400 billion) in Obama’s first three Pentagon fiscal years, when virtually every other agency and entitlement program was enjoying substantial, indeed extravagant, increases, were already painful enough. Truly staggering is the combination of the further defense cuts ($350 billion) Obama ordered at the start of this year, which are now essentially written into the first tranche of cuts in the compromise legislation raising the debt ceiling, not to mention to the $500–600 billion in additional cuts that will be required if the recent debt-ceiling legislation’s “trigger mechanism” kicks in. Obama combines an inability to perceive threats, by not understanding that real differences exist between countries, not just poor communication, with inattention and laziness, naïveté, ideology, and faith in negotiation and this administration’s foreign policy has thus produced a sorry record, with every prospect for an even sorrier future.

(“The Innocents Abroad” by John Bolton dated September 19, 2011 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/276879/innocents-abroad-john-bolton )


* 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:

·  Service at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/service.php

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

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


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY