Views on the News

Views on the News*

September 19, 2015


In this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders.  They're willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.  Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress.  Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.  In our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House.  The majority of Americans approved of the performance of incumbent Presidents, but Barack Obama is the exception.  Obama's nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as ObamaCare was of the first.  Historians may well agree because these two policy achievements have many things in common: they were both unpopular when proposed and still are now.  Both ObamaCare and the Iran deal were bulldozed through Congress through legislative legerdemain.  Democrats passed ObamaCare by using the temporary 60-vote Senate supermajority gained through a Minnesota recount and the wrongful prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens.  After they lost the 60th vote, they resorted to a dubious legislative procedure.  This year Obama labeled the Iran treaty an executive agreement, and Congress concocted a process requiring only a one-third-plus-one rather than a two-thirds vote for approval.  Only 38% of members of Congress supported it.  In 2008 Obama promised he would "fundamentally transform" America, and ObamaCare and the Iran deal are indeed fundamental transformations of policy -- transformations most Americans oppose.  ObamaCare assumed that financial crisis and recession would make most voters supportive of, or amenable to, bigger government, but polling doesn't show that. Obama assumed that if America could "extend a hand" to such propitiated enemies as the mullahs of Iran, they would become friends with us, but most Americans think that's delusional.  No wonder voters are angry.  Republican voters are frustrated and angry because for six years they have believed they have public opinion on their side, but their congressional leaders have failed to prevail on high visibility issues.  They haven't made gains through compromise because Obama, unlike his two predecessors, lacks both the ability and inclination to make deals.  So Republicans who imposed harsh litmus tests in previous presidential cycles are flocking to Donald Trump, a candidate who would fail every one of them.  They are paying little attention to candidates -- Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal -- who advance serious proposals to change public policy.  In polls, Democratic voters have stayed loyal to the President.  To listen to their candidates you would think we are in our seventh year of oppression by a right-wing administration.  Most Americans hoped the first black president would improve race relations, but now most Americans believe they have gotten worse.  So a President who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions: a fundamental transformation indeed!

(“How Obama Has Fundamentally Transformed American Politics” by Michael Barone dated September 15, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbarone/2015/09/15/how-obama-has-fundamentally-transformed-american-politics-n2052643 )

America is more divided today than it has been since the Civil War, but then the divisions were more black and white.  Today, the great divide involves a dizzying array of issues, from the power of the federal government to gay marriage.  For conservatives, Barack Obama's Presidency has been a nightmarish experiment in ultra-liberalism that no scientist, political or otherwise, could have produced in a laboratory.   For liberals, Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is the ultimate reactionary Frankenstein's monster, created out of wealth and privilege.  Together they are the archetypes of what has gone wrong with America.  Donald Trump epitomizes "it's all about me" capitalism, while Barack Obama incarnates "we are the world" multicultural liberalism.  In spite of their "Make America Great Again" and "Yes We Can" slogans, neither of the two men is truly motivated by the well-being of the United States nor serves it.  Not surprisingly, both have created personality cults.  For Obama, who was raised in Hawaii in the absence of his African father and by a stepfather for a number of years in Indonesia, it's about his search for identity.  Barack Hussein Obama is a multi-hyphenated personality.  All Americans are to some extent hyphenated, having all come from somewhere.  Native Americans had their identity hyphenated by the European intruders.  Some say the difference between today's immigrants and their predecessors is the acceptance of multiculturalism, which encourages newcomers to retain their customs and language rather than fully assimilate into the dominant culture.  With Obama, it goes beyond multiculturalism and race.  Although he identifies himself as a black American, Obama himself acknowledges that he has little in common with black Americans' primarily west African history of slavery and emancipation.  Barack Obama seems focused on integrating America into a globalized world as a more equal partner and making Americans model global citizens, as he sees himself.  In the process, he has lost the trust of allies such as Israel and the Sunni Arab states; allowed traditional rivals, such as Russia, to once again evade the international order; emboldened enemies like Iran; and allowed non-traditional networked organizations such as ISIS to flourish.  Domestically, he has further fractured an already polarized society.  Donald Trump was the poster boy for the 1980s "me generation" of material greed.  Back then, he was the golden boy of the media – the American success story.  There is nothing hyphenated in his personality or in his name, which is prominently displayed on his buildings, yacht, jet, and helicopter.  Unlike in Obama's case, Trump's German immigrant father was by his side, giving him the money, experience, and Ivy League education to help push him to the top.  The rest was ego.  His crown achievements of the '80s were Trump Tower in NYC and the flashy Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City.  His own homes are flashy, adorned with gold and diamonds, as are his elegant spouses, whom he has changed almost as many times as he has filed for bankruptcy.  While Trump lives the modern American dream, it is Obama, who could only dream of his father, who managed to create a stable family life.  So must Americans choose between an amorphous cultural-political globalization and a self-serving narcissistic capitalistic society?  The American center still exists.  It has been co-opted significantly by the media, which blurs the boundaries between reality and "reality."  A Trump presidency following Obama's would convince the world that the U.S. is inexorably divided, not to mention downright nuts, with each administration doing an about-face in foreign policy, with one making a Iran an ally and the other walling out Mexico as an enemy.  The domestic rift would become a chasm.  Obama wants to remove the barriers between America and the world, not just allow immigrants to access its wealth more easily, but tear down the walls of American exceptionalismOnly by tearing down partisan barricades will Americans "Make America Great Again."

(“Obama, Trump, and the Great American Divide” by Vernon Roken dated September 13, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/09/obama_trump_and_the_great_american_divide.html )

For generations historians have asked why there has never been a major socialist movement in American politics, at least not compared with Western European democracies, where socialist parties have often held power or exerted decisive influence.  To many scholars, the question lost relevance after communism fell in Eastern Europe and the Western European socialist parties abandoned their statist agendas for American-style platforms of regulating capitalism and correcting its excesses. Yet since the Great Recession, young intellectuals have been rediscovering Marx, and campus politics, fairly left wing to begin with, have veered into ever more radical terrain as movements like Occupy Wall Street have made the battle between the 1% and the 99% the front line of debate.  The “Why no socialism?” query has many answers.  The proletariat here in America lived too well to gamble their stake in the status quo.  While Americans might not really have had more opportunities to advance economically than Europeans, they perceived themselves to have such opportunities, and that those perceptions tamped down any revolutionary desires.  Because the United States, unlike Europe, lacked a feudal history and the rigid class system that followed, its citizens never developed the class consciousness necessary for a robust socialist movement.  The incorrigible utopianism of socialist thought, which kept its followers from accepting the give-and-take that American politics has always demanded.

(“Can Bernie Keep Socialism Alive?” by David Greenberg dated September 10, 2015 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/bernie-sanders-socialism-eugene-v-debs-213093 )


Reports that the official unemployment rate has fallen to 5.1% may appear to vindicate the policies of easy money, corporate bailouts, and increased government spending.  However, even the mainstream media has acknowledged that the official numbers understate the true unemployment rate, because the government's unemployment figures do not include the 94 million Americans who have given up looking for work or who have settled for part-time employment.  Few in Washington, D.C. acknowledge that America's economic future is endangered by excessive spending, borrowing, taxing, and inflating.  Instead, Congress continues to waste taxpayer money on futile attempts to run the economy, run our lives, and run the world.  America's hyper-interventionist foreign policy feeds the growing rebellion against the dollar's world reserve currency status.  The main reason many are seeking an alternative to the dollar is their concern that, unless Congress stops creating, and the Federal Reserve stops monetizing, massive deficits, the U.S. will experience a Greek-like economic crisis.  Despite the clear need to reduce federal spending, many Republicans are trying to cut a deal with the Democrats to increase spending.  These alleged conservatives are willing to lift the "sequestration" limits on welfare spending if President Obama and congressional democrats support lifting the "sequestration" limits on warfare spending.  The only positive step toward addressing our economic crisis that the Senate may take this year is finally holding a roll call vote on the Audit the Fed legislation.  Passage of the Audit the Fed bill would finally allow the American people to know the full truth about the Fed's operations, including its deals with foreign central banks and Wall Street firms.  Revealing the full truth about the Fed will likely increase the number of Americans demanding that Congress end the Fed's monetary monopoly.  Every day, the American people see evidence that, despite the phony statistics and propaganda emanating from Washington, high unemployment and rising inflation plague the economy.  Economic anxiety has led many Americans to support an avowed socialist's presidential campaign.  Perhaps more disturbingly, many other Americans are supporting the campaign of an authoritarian crony capitalist.  If there is a major economic collapse, many more Americans, perhaps even a majority, will embrace authoritarianism.  An economic crisis could also lead to mob violence and widespread civil unrest, which will be used to justify new police state measures and crackdowns on civil liberties.  Unless the people demand an end to the warfare state, the welfare state, and fiat money, our economy will continue to deteriorate until we are faced with a major crisis. Those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.

(“Congress Fiddles While the Economy Burns” by Ron Paul dated September 15, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/ronpaul/2015/09/14/congress-fiddles-while-the-economy-burns-n2051755 )

President Obama visited Alaska to preach about the inevitable doomsday scenarios the world will face if Americans fail to embrace his extreme climate change agenda. Like all climate alarmists, the President wants Americans to believe there is no uncertainty about climate change.  They pretend to know exactly how much human action contributes to the changing climate.  By denying any uncertainty, their goal is to shut off debate.  “Just trust us. We know what’s best for you.”  The truth is there are more questions about climate change than there are answers.  Even the most advanced climate models all failed to predict the lack of warming the Earth has experienced over the last 18 years, but the President and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuse to let facts get in the way of their imposing greater government control over the lives of the American people.  Below are some irrefutable facts about climate change that do not fit into the alarmists’ scare tactics:

·    For the past 18 years, weather satellites have not measured a global increase in temperatures although carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased over that same period.  Weather satellites are the most advanced instruments for measuring global temperatures.  The fact that these satellites have not detected a measureable temperature increase despite an increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere calls into question the correlation climate change alarmists preach between carbon emissions and temperature.

·    According to the EPA’s own data, U.S. carbon emissions have decreased 9% since 2005. These carbon reductions have occurred as a result of technological advancements and free market forces, which will continue. This raises the question of whether burdensome regulations are necessary.

·    The natural cycle of global temperatures has resulted in both higher and lower temperatures over the past 1,000 years than exist today.  These temperature fluctuations occurred before significant fossil energy use, so temperatures the Earth is experiencing now have been seen before.

·    If implemented, the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan would reduce global temperatures by only 0.01, or one one-hundredth of a degree Celsius.  The EPA’s carbon rules will have only a minor impact on global climate change, yet regulations will cost billions of dollars and jeopardize thousands of jobs.

·    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that there is little or no connection between extreme weather and climate change.  According to a 2012 report, the IPCC stated that there is “high agreement” that long-term trends in weather disasters “have not been attributed to … climate change.”  There is scientific agreement that weather disasters are not caused by climate change, despite President Obama repeatedly trying to connect the two.

·    Population growth, especially in the developing world, will account for even more global carbon emissions.  Carbon emissions from developing countries are projected to increase by over 125% by 2040.  World population is expected to surge by over 2 billion people by 2050, an increase of more than 30%, yet few climate scientists acknowledge the potential impact of population growth on carbon emissions.

·    Carbon dioxide accounts for a very small part of the Earth’s overall atmosphere and those levels have fluctuated throughout the Earth’s history.  Carbon dioxide currently accounts for only .038% of our planet’s atmosphere. And human-made carbon dioxide only makes up about 3% of that.  It’s hard to believe that such a small amount would supposedly have such huge consequences.

The EPA and other government agencies fail to present all the facts. Their agenda comes first, accuracy comes second. Climate change has many explanations and unanswered questions.  American people need good science, not science fiction promoted by alarmists.

(“Climate Change: Seven indisputable facts” by Lamor Smith dated September 9, 2015 published by The Hill at http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/252989-climate-change-seven-indisputable-facts )


The climate has been changing since the beginning and will continue to change throughout time.  Although some will call us "deniers," the truth is we are merely global warming skeptics. What we're skeptical of is man's role in that change. Maybe there is an anthropogenic factor, but it's impossible to say with any degree of certainty just how much of an impact, if any, man makes.  The climate is too complex, the variables too numerous.  The EPA's carbon rule for power plants alone would cost consumers $366 billion over 14 years, and for all that money, we'd cut the rise in global temperature by 0.02 degrees and sea level increases by 0.01 inch.  These costs don't include restrictions that could be imposed on automobile emissions, carbon taxes, any sort of carbon-trading regime or the over-the-rainbow renewable energy programs that politics have produced.  The better path is to do what humans have always done — adapt.  Modern man ought to be able to adapt to long-term changes, provided climate policies don't stifle human progress and economic growth.  That last point is critical. The worst thing policymakers could do is enact schemes whose costs hurt economic development.  We're not giving in to trendiness, pressure from celebrities and other faux climate experts, or struggling to be popular.  We remain skeptics, not of science but of the hype, the politics, the exaggerations, the cooked temperature record and the wild claims that have been made about man-caused climate change.

(“Why We Don’t Need to Worry Even If It’s Really True” by Kerry Jackson dated September 16, 2015 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/091615-771338-why-we-dont-need-to-worry-about-climate-change.htm )

Thanks to American refugee-resettlement and family-reunification policies, Minneapolis has the dubious distinction of hosting the largest concentration of Somalis in the United States, some 30,000, according to census records, though Somali leaders say that underestimates the population by tens of thousands.  The influx began in the 1980s, as Somalia succumbed to internal violence, and continued through the ’90s, as it was consumed by civil war.  Before the Obama administration welcomes 10,000 (or more) Syrian refugees, it should consider the Somalis.  For Minnesota, the arrival of Somali refugees, recently, up to 12% of the annual national intake, not including those settled elsewhere who then move to Minnesota, has not been an obvious boon.  The num­ber of So­ma­li adults and children who participated in the state’s fam­i­ly cash as­sist­ance program jumped 34% from 2008 to 2013, to 5,950.  At the same time, food assist­ance participation increased 98%, to 17,300 adults and children, which does not include U.S.-born Somalis.  Shelters, food banks, and local charities serve thousands of Somalis annually.  There is the terror problem, where more than 60 young Somali men and women have left Minnesota to join al-Shabaab, the Islamic State, and other Islamic terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Africa.  The FBI has begun to monitor the community, and it is the target of a federal pilot program to counter violent extremism.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the conflict in Somalia has created 1.1 million refugees, and another 1.1 million internally displaced persons.  Those numbers are dwarfed by the crisis in Syria: 4 million refugees on the run, and another 7 million persons internally displaced.  If the United States took in Syrian refugees in the same proportion as Somali refugees, we would be looking at 400,000 new residents.  One can extrapolate the consequent strain on welfare programs, and the increased threat of terrorism.  The terror threat from the Somali-American community comes not from refugees, but from their children, American-born Somalis who have never been to Africa.  Setting aside the near-certainty that at least some Syrian refugees will be connected to the Islamic State, refugee resettlement is sure to incubate national-security threats that will not manifest themselves for 20 years.  Minneapolis’s Somalis have self-ghettoized. One sees a community at tension with its adopted home.   Being a community of refugees, forced to flee a country torn by two decades of civil war, their embrace of America is grateful, but not necessarily enthusiastic.  It was right, as an act of humaneness, of charity, to accept Somali refugees in the numbers we have.  We know much more now about the threats we face, and we have the Somali community as an example of the consequences of a generous refugee policy in an age that eschews assimilation.  It would be entirely humane to rescue those suffering from Syria’s mayhem, but it would be inhumane to gravely threaten American security in the process.

(“Before Welcoming Thousands of Syrian Refugees, We Should Consider What Somali Immigrants Have Brought the U.S.” by Ian Tuttle dated September 11, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/423902/obama-syrian-refugee-plan-somalis )


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 sections:

·    Energy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/energy.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY