Views on the News

Views on the News*

September 26, 2015


For millions of Americans, Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency was a redemption tale for an America that had lost its way in the immediate post-9/11 years.  Obama’s promise was to be a transformative figure, his supporters averred.  He would reverse a suspiciously colonialist Bush-era foreign policy, deliver the country into a post-racial period, and restore America’s faith in the power of collectivism and the righteous efficacy of government. As the winter of the Obama Presidency approaches, it seems beyond dispute that this Presidency has robbed Americans of what remaining faith they had in the value of collective action.  The power of massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best, dubious.  The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands.  The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith in the virtue of self-governance.  It is this kind of contempt for public institutions that leads republics to ruin.  Barack Obama’s administration is scandal-plagued.  In its twilight years, this White House has subordinated accountability and the preservation of faith in public sector competence to exculpation from the political press.  The in-party spent the better part of the three years that followed the deadly assault on diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi by framing the investigation into it as a manifestation of Republicans’ pathological hatred for the President.  The Obama-era has made it difficult to recall that it was once the left that prided itself for serving as sentinels standing guard against abuses by powerful government agencies.  Yet another simmering scandal involving the misuse of the IRS has ensnared Democrats.  Lerner, who has been accused of targeting conservative political action committees with undue scrutiny, wrote. “We are witnessing the end of ‘America.’  Motive and opportunity having been established, but we are told that there is nothing to see here.  It is the nonplused reaction from the public and the watchdog press to the revelations involving the manipulation of intelligence related to the campaign against the Islamic State that is the most disturbing.  On August 25, a bombshell report in the New York Times indicated that the Pentagon IG’s office was investigating credible claims that CENTCOM officials altered intelligence reports related to ISIS.  Those reports had been reviewed by ranking war planners, including the president, and were designed to paint a rosier picture of the state of the campaign than was warranted.  In some cases, analysts were also urged to state that killing particular ISIS leaders and key officials would diminish the group and lead to its collapse. Many analysts, however, didn’t believe that simply taking out top ISIS leaders would have an enduring effect on overall operations.  It is simply too coincidental that this White House, which wanted nothing more than to avoid becoming embroiled in a new conflict in the Middle East, was being fed intelligence that reinforced their preferred preconceptions.  It is the height of irresponsibility for an informed citizenry to learn that the commander-in-chief was allegedly being misled by his subordinates, putting American interests in jeopardy in the process, and to simply brush it off as the cost of doing business.  The reprehensible revelations above are just a handful of the abuses of public trust that have occurred over the last six years.  Americans have grown complacent over the course of Barack Obama’s presidency. A sense of disillusionment that would shrug off these and other misuses of the public trust is unnerving and dangerous.  For the sake of the republican ideals, the voters and the press must get serious about holding this White House to account.

(“The Poisonous Obama Years” by Noah Rothman dated September 22, 2015 published by Commentary Magazine at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/politics-ideas/the-poisonous-obama-years/ )

For some years, below the surface, a quiet counter-revolution has been advancing  in the base of the Republican Party and in the country in general, while the party’s establishment elites in Washington have continued on with business as usual, seemingly oblivious to the unrest of the rank and file, as if fly-over red state voters  could be taken for granted.  This counter-revolution was conceived and undertaken to change the trajectory of America’s departure from its founding principles -- to bring reform to the GOP rather than to overthrow the party.  In short, the hope was to reverse Republican establishment diffidence about out-of-control, unaccountable government and its attendant crony corruption.  Perhaps the best way to understand and assess elites is by their choice of the players and the “playbook” that guides them, which together determine what happens on the ground.  The GOP lost the last two Presidential elections largely because neither candidate had a winning persona or campaign formula.  The upstart, minimally qualified Democrat candidate won by virtue of a superficial but alluring charisma and a superior ground game.  In addition to a very effective use of social media, that ground game primarily consisted of unrelenting offensive tactics and strategy taken out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals playbook: deception employing any means to discredit and keep the opponent off balance.  In response to election results tied to a failing Republican establishment, in 2009 the Tea Party movement sprang up as a truly grassroots collection of citizen activists.  The early Tea Party had no central hierarchy; its participants were motivated by a deep patriotic passion to reverse the country’s precipitous decline as measured by such simple indicators as trillion dollar deficits and unsustainable debt, stifling regulation, and the overall lack of transparency and accountability throughout government.  Obama’s disrespect for the rule of law was revealed at the outset of his administration in his unprecedented action that overturned longstanding code and precedent of bankruptcy law.  His bailout and restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler stood the hierarchy of capital claims on its head, arbitrarily destroying bondholder value while rewarding unions and giving the federal government a majority ownership of  GM.  If changing existing law by executive fiat were not enough, the next catalyst for Tea Party engagement was unprecedented political corruption in the making of new law for which the Barack Obama took credit. The Chicago way was on full display in maneuvering to pass the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, better known as ACA or ObamaCare.  In addition to using blatant lies and secrecy to pass the healthcare reform bill, Obama secured the votes of two reluctant Democratic senators in Louisiana and Nebraska by offering their states $300 billion and $100 billion respectively, in what was brazen federal government bribery using taxpayers’ money.  Meanwhile, Tea Party leaders turned their eye on stopping ObamaCare by preventing a Democrat filibuster with the special election of Scott Brown to an open Senate seat following the death of Ted Kennedy, a seat safely held by Democrats since 1953 in the blue stronghold of Massachusetts.  Brown was considered a moderate, but he stood firmly with Tea Party positions, being committed to ending backroom deals behind closed doors, simplifying and lowering taxes, eliminating wasteful government spending and, most importantly, stopping Obama’s government-run healthcare fiasco.  In the end,  Brown’s successful election that shaved the Democrat vote to a maximum of 59, denying  them the ability to overcome a Republican filibuster, came to naught as the Democrats out-maneuvered the Republicans by changing the rules,  turning the hugely expensive and disruptive healthcare bill into a mere budgetary reconciliation vote, which required only a simple majority.  The rise of the Tea Party may have started from recognizing that Washington had become corrupt and tone-deaf to the voices of the people.  The greater catalyst for its rise was exasperation with the Republican establishment’s failure as an opposition party, in particular its inability to check a radical President and his subservient party.  In the three elections since the Tea Party came into being,  Republicans  promised that they would defund or repeal ObamaCare, stem the flow of illegal immigrants, reduce trillion-dollar deficits and debt, rein in regulatory excess, and stand up to unlawful executive orders.  Republicans failed to deliver on any of these promises.  The fact remains that the GOP appears weak in the face of a resolute, even dictatorial, President with the present veto rate dramatically lower than that of any of the last ten Presidents.  The fecklessness of the GOP establishment has clearly emboldened Obama and the Democrat Party.  Within weeks of the November 2014 mid-term Republican landslide, President Obama announced his executive order granting amnesty to some 5 million illegal aliens.  As the new Congress took office in 2015 with newfound Republican majorities in both houses, GOP leaders should have been able to shake their legacy of being “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”  That didn’t happen, as was shown in their handling of Obama’s unfolding nuclear deal with Iran.  Obama outmaneuvered the Republicans once again by refusing to allow his negotiated deal to be designated a treaty.  Rather than fighting for and standing firm for the Constitutional requirement of  treaty status for such an agreement, Republicans embraced the Corker bill, which ended up turning  the Constitution on its head, allowing Obama’s deal to go through unless Congress could mount a 2/3 vote to overcome his inevitable veto of their bill rejecting the Iran deal.  The lesson here is simple:  the Constitution is the playbook for governing the U.S. and when the GOP fails to uphold and fight for it they do so at their peril and that of the nation.  At a time when America faced fewer challenges, a former GOP presidential candidate once said that “moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue [and] extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.” Unusual times require an unusual candidate that has a winning persona with the courage to face and overcome hostility with the triumph of substance over form. 

(“The Quiet-Counter-Revolution Gets Louder: Essential Lessons for the GOP” by Scott S. Powell dated September 19, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/09/the_quiet_counterrevolution_gets_louder_essential_lessons_for_the_gop.html )

The Left is incorporating gambits used by oppressive regimes for centuries to force a culture shift upon this country.  Their tactics use the true LGBT acronym:

·         Label—those who do not agree with the morality shift are tagged with denigrating terms that quantify bigotry.

·         Govern—allow a fractional minority (environmental lobby, illegal immigrant, homosexual, ethnic group, etc.) to influence the institution and enforcement of statutes that limit free expression of speech, religion and entrepreneurship.

·         Bully—use the thousands of newly scripted, restrictive ordinances and regulations to pressure the majority to conform to a moral standard that sullies their individual beliefs, and rights to live by those beliefs.

·         Tax—create and apply fines, fees and licenses (revenue) against individuals refusing to accept or indulge the new moral standard.

These are tactics that have long been used by invading forces to subjugate populations. Islam is probably the best example of application of these tools, witnessed by ISIS as it learned these ruling principles from history.  As Islam swept across Arabia, Africa and Spain in the seventh century, the invaders: first labeled the indigenous people, who did not accept or agree with Islam, as infidels; then Caliphates were established that instituted and enforced, by violence if necessary, unbending sharia laws; Individuals were compelled to renounce their faith and convert to Islam, profess shahada; and then the only allowances made for those who would not convert was expulsion, execution or accede to second-class citizenship and pay a tax for the privilege (jizya).  All invading armies used the same basic rulebook. Alexander the Great pressured the native peoples to accept and adhere to Greek culture, the Greek tongue becoming the lingua franca throughout the world almost to India’s borders.  Rome used the same policy as they applied the sword to each conquered tribe or nation.  America is under blatant attack by minority forces applying the well-worn theory of conquest and submission, only this time it is a subtle culture shift brought about incrementally.  On top of the culturally invasive groups that pressure the increasingly unstable governing bodies, those same governing agencies now propose the resettlement of hundreds of thousands that will further undermine America’s culture.  The Syrian refugees, who have been heavily infiltrated by people from other nations, will add to the millions of illegal entrants already in our midst.  The sheer numbers of all these groups will induce a culture change by overwhelming the indigenous American culture, which comprises colonization.  The United States of America was birthed as a haven for free expression of religion, speech and livelihood, yet what has been engineered over the last century has been the slow deterioration of that liberty.  The last few decades has accelerated the process by importing millions of individuals, legally and illegally, who have no interest in assimilating to the culture of Freedom that is America.  They have brought with them their fear of different beliefs and a staunch adherence to rigid rules that are counter to American freedom of thought.  This nation was meant to be accepting of all faiths and creeds but not at the expense of one group to the inflexibility of another.  The nonjudgmentalism of sexual orientation, the illegitimacy of racism, or the obduracy of Islam, these doctrines are all pressuring and infringing on the religious expression and pursuit of wealth by others.  Using the revised LGBT acronym, the fearful (homosexual, reverse racist, Christian-phobic) apply mob action, rogue judiciary and restrictive regulation to limit the rights of those who disagree, minority harassment of the majority.  A founding premise of this nation is that each individual is a free operative, unfettered by oppressive law, taxation or labeling; free to follow their faith without undue interference by minorities forcing their opinion and lifestyles on others.  Any immigrant wishing to make their home in America must be willing to accept the native culture of Freedom and they are to be held to that standard to gain entrance.

(“Label, Govern, Bully and Tax the people into submission” by Dru Kristenev dated September 21, 2015 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/article/75471 )

Cities in the U.S. are going bankrupt, but it is not the private sector of the cities that is causing the bankruptcy but the public sector, specifically public union spendingThese cities spent so much money on public salaries and pensions that they couldn’t tax the people enough, so they began to borrow money; then they began to borrow money again to make the payments on the money they had first borrowed.  In the private sector this kind of Ponzi scheme is a crime, but since government does it, and they won’t jail each other, they get away with it.  No public sector union has yet shut down.  They always find ways to engineer finances so the public is stuck with the bill.  Unions get all the benefits and force taxpayers to take all the risks.  In all cases so far the cities doing this, the public unions, are all run by Democrats.  Public pensions are out of control.  Los Angeles, CA has four retired Fire Department officials who earn over $800,000 a year in their pension.  There’s dozens more who earn from $300,000 and more.  The core issue is whether city governments can act independently of the electorate and engage in binding contracts with public unions without the consent of the taxpayers.  They have managed to create and maintain a distance between their fiscal decisions and the will of the people.  The city bankruptcy rulings of Stockton, CA and Detroit, MI give some clues as to the constitutional context of this public debt.  Federal bankruptcy law is written to address only in the private sector debt.  City bankruptcies are created by public sector unions.  This model of debt is different.  No longer is Person A indebted to Person B for their own debts, but a new Person, Person C, the taxpayer, is on the hook to pay for the pension debts created by Person A.  Often these debts were secretly created so many communities do not know how much pension debt they have.  This debt has been created for them without their permission and is hidden from public knowledge.  It remains to be seen whether an individual taxpayer can sue a city government for this debt.  Two major cities have recently gone through Federal bankruptcy proceedings: Stockton, CA and Detroit, MI.  By Federal law the state must authorize the local city to file for bankruptcy.  This in itself is questionable because if a state is totally run by one political party, as the states containing these bankrupt cities are, then there is a built-in obstacle to filing for bankruptcy and mandating financial solvency.  In both Stockton and Detroit, Federal judges ruled in favor of theft of money from muni bond investors and keeping the public pension system mostly intact.  Only government officials were represented, and they fought to maintain this three-party arrangement.  This three-party contract may be unconstitutional for several reasons.  One, when judges rule to maintain the public sector contracts and force Federal bailouts of the cities, they are legislating taxes on all Americans and Article 1 Section 7 of the  Constitution clearly states “All bills for raising revenues shall originate in the House.”  Federal judges have no authority to issue rulings that raise revenues on all Americans.  Secondly, these three party contracts are taxation without representation.  The only way the taxpayers could have a say is for the entire contract and its terms to be placed on ballots, but they were not.  Third, cities force taxpayers to pay property taxes based on the threat of selling their home for back taxes.  The 5th Amendment clearly states that government may not take property for public use without just compensation.  Fourth, there is nothing in contract law that legalizes three-party contracts.  This type of contract is restricted to government.  Illinois and Michigan both state that public contracts cannot be “diminished or impaired” yet this standard does not apply to private contracts.  These states may be violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and this issue should be address by SCOTUS.  It is only by dodging these two types of constraints that cities are able to create these huge debts, abuse the rights of the taxpayers, and run their communities into bankruptcy and economic ruin.

(“City Bankruptcy Rulings Challenge Constitutional Democracy” by Michael Bargo, Jr. dated September 22, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/09/city_bankruptcy_rulings_challenge_constitutional_democracy.html )

Modern capitalism is under attack, with some preferring our economic system be called “technological and institutional betterment at a frenetic pace, tested by unforced exchange among all the parties involved,” or perhaps “fantastically successful liberalism, in the old European sense, applied to trade and politics, as it was applied also to science and music and painting and literature,” or simply “trade-tested progress.”  Many humans, in short, are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were in 1800.  In the two centuries after 1800 the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person rose by a factor of 30 or 100.  The “Great Enrichment” of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments.  Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history.  The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights.  Routines cannot account for the strangest secular event in human history, which began with bourgeois dignity in Holland after 1600, gathered up its tools for betterment in England after 1700, and burst on northwestern Europe and then the world after 1800.  The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress, letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when Steve-Jobs like they imagine betterments.  The Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal: “Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.”  Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire the values of trade and betterment.  Or at the least the polity did not attempt to block such values, as it had done energetically in earlier times.  They undertook to respect, or at least not to utterly despise and overtax and stupidly regulate, the bourgeoisie.  The reason for the Bourgeois Revaluation was the surprising, black-swan luck of northwestern Europe’s reaction to the turmoil of the early modern, the coincidence in northwestern Europe of successful Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution: “the Four Rs.”  The dice were rolled by Gutenberg, Luther, Willem van Oranje, and Oliver Cromwell.  By a lucky chance for England their payoffs were deposited in that formerly inconsequential nation in a pile late in the seventeenth century.  None of the Four Rs had deep English or European causes.  A result of Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution was a fifth R, a crucial Revaluation of the bourgeoisie, first in Holland and then in Britain.  The Revaluation was part of an R-caused, egalitarian reappraisal of ordinary people.  The Industrial Revolution and especially the Great Enrichment came from liberating commoners from compelled service to a hereditary elite, such as the noble lord in the castle, or compelled obedience to a state functionary, such as the economic planner in the city hall, and it came from according honor to the formerly despised commoners exercising their liberty to relocate a factory or invent airbrakes.

(“Perhaps the most powerful defense of market capitalism you will ever read” by James Pethokoukis dated September 21, 2015 published by American Enterprise Institute at http://www.aei.org/publication/perhaps-the-most-powerful-defense-of-market-capitalism-you-will-ever-read/ )

Two notorious wars of words are active in today’s culture; the American Black Lives Matter (aka BLM) complaint domestically and the quarrels at home and abroad about terror, violence, and Islamic culture.  Black America and Islam are united by grievance, the perception, in both cases, that the plaintiffs are victims; preyed upon or handicapped by race, religion, politics, oppression, bigotry, history, or all of the above.  In both cases, general and sweeping indictments of “majority” cultures are used to justify a litany of social pathologies that run the spectrum from poverty, illiteracy, addiction, crime, on to terrorism.  Violence is the mastic that joins both Islamist and black American cultures.  Ironically, in both African America and Muslim countries, most of the crime, terror, and related bloodletting is self-destructive; black on black crime at home and internecine Muslim mayhem in Arabia and the wider Ummah.  In America, black lives don’t matter to African Americans any more than Muslim lives matter to Islamists abroad.  Perceptions of “oppression” by African Americans, as with Islamists, are self-inflicted wounds.  Police violence is a statistical footnote in the gross context of pathological social mayhem,  If black men behaved better in America there would be no need for a disproportionate police presence, no need for confrontations in black communities.  If Muslims behaved better globally, there would be no need for coalitions, “humanitarian” interventions, or air strikes anywhere. Violence begets violence.  Statistical evidence for social or behavioral deficits in black America is overwhelming.  Pathologies include semi-literacy, crime, welfare dependencies, substance abuse, obesity, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, single parent homes, abuse of women, and abortion just to name some of the more obvious problems.  In America, 325,000 black men and women have been killed by other blacks in the past 35 years.  A black woman in America is five times as likely to have an abortion as a white woman.  Seventeen million black babies have been aborted since 1973.  Death by “choice” in black America is almost twice the death rate from all other causes.  Killing minorities in the womb, or at birth, in the name of women’s rights is a little like endorsing ISIS and ethnic cleansing in the name of human rights.  The body parts bazaar at Planned Parenthood is another symptom of mission creep at the temple of good intentions.  Nobody wants to know how many black organs are pedaled by Planned Parenthood today.  There is at least one American exemplar where politics, religion, and social pathology intersect in significant ways.  The Nation of Islam (NOI) in America is a strange bird even in a global aviary of diverse Islamic militants, cults, and sects.  NOI combines Black Nationalism with exclusionary Islamist theology.  Indeed, the Black Muslim movement argues for the resegregation of the races in much the same way that Shia and Sunni Islamists call for Islamic religious monoculture. Inclusion and tolerance is not the strong suite of the NOI or any of the larger Islamist movements.  NOI complaints just echo the special pleading and distortions that characterize race arguments in the United States.  Crime weary Americans fear or distrust an angry black minority for the same reason it fears barbarous Muslim terror and bombs.  Behavior and bigotry are different things. When violent behavior validates a culture, the fault is not in bias since all behaviors inform all beliefs.  Too many Mohammedans, now on a global scale, use terror, bombs, or worse to leverage real or imagined grievance.  Nonetheless, Europeans and Americans take great pains to minimize atrocities committed in the name of God, a prophet, and “sacred” books.  The so-called “Islamophobia” phenomenon, like perceptions of racism, is a self-inflicted wound.  Five memes dominate street credibility in the US: Islam, hip-hop/rap, college/professional athletics, criminals, and ex-cons.  One in three black male Americans is likely to have a prison record, a principal reason that explains the shortage of African-American cops.  American prisons now double down as a primary recruiting venue for cults like the Nation of Islam.  Positive black role models, including Martin Luther King, are often marginalized in black America as “Uncle Toms” or “Aunt Jemimas.”  Success stories like Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas, Janis E. Brown, Thomas Sowell, Allen West, Star Parker, or Walter Williams are seldom held up as role models for black children.  Instead, the media celebrates rappers, athletes, entitlement/reparation shills, and media mimbo/bimbos like “Whoopie” Goldberg, Jesse Jackson, Jerimiah Wright, Al Sharpton, and Donna Brazile.  Black Americans felons too are often celebrated as yet another class of victims, not convicted punks. Fortunately, the victim narrative and the excuse litanies are, at last, showing signs of wear.  Black intellectuals and some prominent black police chiefs have come forward to change the conversation, arguing that Black culture and behavior, not racism or police persecution, is at the heart of African American darkness.  Deenen Borelli, author of Blacklash, lays the blame for the new American “plantation,” black pathology and dependency, on failed government social policy and failed politicians like Barack Obama.  Ben Carson has the potential to repair the damage done by Barack Obama.  He candidly expressed the opinion that a Muslim “shouldn’t” be President of the United States.  Carson thus became the first candidate from either party to underline the incompatibility of American and Muslim values.  Ben Carson may be the diagnostician that provides a new prognosis for race relations -- a new cure where success and civility eradicates the social melanomas of black dependency and white resentment.  Political candor and healing, call it a “blacklash” of civility and common sense, seems to be just what the doctor ordered for America.

(“Victimology, African Americans, and Islam” by G. Murphy Donovan dated September 23, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/09/victimology_african_americans_and_islam.html )


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:

·    Politics at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/politics.php

·    Environment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY