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Views on the News

Views on the News*

October 24, 2015

 

Obama seemed to be following in Carter’s footsteps, becoming a failure both at home and abroad.  That comparison is mistaken, however, because Obama is far worse than Carter.  In the late 1970s, Carter came to represent American weakness abroad and decline at home, from the Iran hostage crisis to the terrifying effects of “stagflation.”  The later Obama years have seen the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), Russia’s posturing in Ukraine and Syria, and a tremendously sluggish “recovery” with low labor participation rates.  In Carter’s last years, however, he changed course: beginning the policies which, under his successor Ronald Reagan, would reinvigorate both the economy and American presence around the world.  By this measure, Carter achieved a much better legacy, and Obama would be hard-pressed to catch up.  While America suffered throughout the Carter years, in 1979, U.S. setbacks around the world reached fever pitch.  As the year opened, Cuban troops were roaming Angola, and a pro-Communist regime ruled Ethiopia.  Then the Sandinistas won in Nicaragua, leftists took control in Grenada, Soviet Russia invaded Afghanistan, and in November an Iranian mob captured the U.S. embassy and took over 60 American hostages.   In 1980, the “Carter Doctrine” showed that America meant business, and it reinvigorated our position around the world.  It was a sea change for Carter’s foreign policy, and it set the vital groundwork for Reagan’s final victories over the Soviet Union later that decade.  Despite facing similar problems, President Obama has not decided to boldly reverse his policies as Carter did.  Indeed, the similarities between 1979 and 2015 are astounding: Russia has invaded a neighbor and is posturing in the Middle East, a radical ideology has toppled governments across the world, and the President is pushing an unpopular deal with an adversary that cannot pass in the Senate.  Carter changed his tune, toughened up and set a path for Reagan.  Obama has doubled down, even forcing the Senate to try to overturn his veto on the Iran deal. Carter faced the Soviets and gave them an ultimatum, Obama told Russian president Vladimir Putin that he is “prepared to work with him.”  Despite Obama’s insistence that President George W. Bush left him a “disaster” in Iraq, U.S. forces had largely pacified the country following the 2007 “surge.”  Obama’s hasty decision to pull out in 2011, rather than reach an agreement to leave a stabilizing American force in the country, opened the door for ISIS.  Shia government repression triggered a terrorist response from the Sunni minority.  Now, ISIS has established an Islamic caliphate in the region, inspiring terror attacks across the globe.  This generational gap between Carter’s “Old Left” politics and Obama’s more radical “New Left” ideas helps explain why Carter would be willing to change his tune while Obama might prove more obstinate.  The two Presidents have two very different sets of priorities.  “While Carter feared a ‘crisis of confidence’ on the part of the American people in America, Obama rejects the idea of American exceptionalism or the basic goodness of the American idea.  Carter valued America and genuinely wanted to promote the interests of the United States, while Obama followed “the New Left’s rejection of western and American civilization and its embrace of the ‘other.’”  Obama is openly contemptuous of Republican constitutional government.  He has contempt for government by consent when the people do not consent to the policies he believes.  Obama is completely uninterested in adhering to the forms of the Constitution, to the point of being incredulous that anyone would care about those forms.  Consider Obama’s reach for executive authority when Congress (the body which makes the law under our Constitution) does not agree with him.  Rather than altering his policies for the good of the people, Obama persists, aiming to enshrine his agenda in law, with or without the Constitution.  Compared to the rule of such an ideologue, the Carter days may be good indeed.

(“Is Obama as Bad as Carter? No, He’s Worseby Tyler O’Neil dated October 18, 2015 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/blog/is-obama-as-bad-as-carter-no-hes-worse/ )

Republican and Democrat voters, making drastically different assumptions about the politics of the 2016 Presidential race, are pulling their parties even further apart and setting the stage for a historic ideological battle in 2016.  Socialist Bernie Sanders has been rising in the polls and drawing huge crowds, and front-runner Hillary Clinton, rather than putting him on the defensive, has been eager to embrace a broad liberal policy agenda.  What's happening in the Democrat Party is that President Obama's two election victories have given its voters confidence the demographics of the nation are working in their favor.  Democrats figure that the coalition of unmarried women, minority groups and young voters aren't going to back a Republican nominee who wants to defund Planned Parenthood, support voter ID laws, crack down on illegal immigration, oppose efforts to combat climate change, protest gay marriage, and so on.  Given their growing confidence that the changing face of America is with them, Democrat voters feel more comfortable letting their liberal flag fly in a way that Bill Clinton would have never dreamed of.  Republicans, are making a completely different calculation. Looking ahead to the 2016 campaign, they see Hillary Clinton's numbers steadily tanking under an ethical cloud, as a growing number of Americans say they don't trust her.  They're confident that Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate have made the Presidency ripe for the picking, so they see no reason to settle.  Half of Republican primary voters polled nationally are supporting candidates who have never held elective office.  It's more an abstract rebellion against anything smacking of the Washington Establishment.  Conservative credentials are deemed essential.  Two electorates, both smelling victory, see no reason to cede policy ground, so ideological warfare is sure to follow.

(“Why the 2016 presidential race will be a historic ideological battle” by Plilip Klein dated October 15, 2015 published by The Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/why-the-2016-presidential-race-will-be-a-historic-ideological-battle/article/2574244 )

 

This nation’s economic future is in shambles thanks in large part to the policies of Barack Obama and his fellow travelers in the Democrat Party.  In fact the current economy is, in many ways, the equivalent of the Great Depression of the 1930’s with one huge exception: massive government programs mask the country’s bankruptcy.  In 2015 the primary issue of concern to the American people is the economy and its impact on the future of the country and that of their progeny, a problem aggravated by massive legal and illegal immigration.  In 1935, at the mid-point of the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was 20%.  In that year it is estimated that 42 million Americans were unemployed or not in the labor force.  In 2015 that number is 102.5 million.  Factoring the population growth since 1935, the equivalent number for 1935 would be: 104.0 million.  Thus in 2015 nearly the same percentage of Americans are either not in the labor force or are unemployed as were in an era considered to be the bleakest economic period in the nation’s history.  No one seems willing to openly discuss and confront the specific economic failings of the Obama presidency:

·    Since September of 2008 the working age population has increased by nearly 17 million.  However the number of employed has increased only 3.3 million.  Meanwhile those unemployed or not in the labor force has ballooned by 13.4 million.

·    There has been a net 3.3 million jobs created since 2008.  However, this includes the loss of 1.9 million goods producing jobs (which pay an average of $1,052 per week).  Meanwhile 2.1 million jobs in the retail and leisure & hospitality arenas and nearly 2.1 million health services jobs were created (three sectors that pay an overall average of $571 per week).

·    The median household income of all Americans has declined by 3.1% (adjusted for inflation) since 2008.  In fact the income of the bottom 50% of all Americans has dropped by 4.1% (adjusted for inflation) since 2008.

·    Another factor impacting the economic health of the American people is immigration. Since 2008 the immigrant (legal and illegal) population in the United States has increased by nearly 4.5 million or 12% as compared to an overall population growth of 5.1%. This increase in the immigrant population has not only put pressure on a declining job market but it has also been a major factor in the erosion of median income in the country.

·    In 2008 Federal Government spending was $2.9 Trillion in fiscal 2016 it will be nearly $4.0 Trillion, an increase of 37.9%.  Further the national debt in 2008 was $10.7 Trillion today it is approaching $18.6 Trillion (with no end in sight), an increase of 73.8%.  In the meantime the nation’s economy has grown by only 11.6% since 2008.

·    In 2008 28 million Americans were on food stamps; now its over 46 million (a 64% increase).

·    Since 2008 the Obama cabal has added nearly 18,000 pages to the Code of Federal Regulations.  It is estimated that complying with regulations now cost the economy nearly $2.0 Trillion a year and is, along with high taxes and innumerable mandates, one of the principal reasons for the lack of new business start-ups and loss of jobs.

One of the primary hallmarks of the United States was that of a classless society wherein economic factors allowed the citizenry to take advantage of the marketplace in order to move up the social and economic ladder based on their efforts and willingness to work.  However, this scenario is rapidly disappearing as the opportunities for upward mobility cease to exist.  In its place a class driven society, similar to all other quasi-socialist countries past and present, is now becoming inevitable.  The American people of all political stripes are acutely aware that all is not well with the economy and their future prospects, but they are, for the most part, not aware of the depth of the problems and why.  This is due to the Democrats and the mainstream media acting as if the seven years of the Obama administration never happened, and proclaiming whatever is not going well is the fault of capitalism and that the solution is a more pure form of socialism with an emphasis on expanded government largess and state control of the economy.   However, the primary reason for the ignorance of so much of the American electorate is due to an opposition party unwilling and too cowardly to forcefully and repetitively state the facts of how and why the economy is in downward spiral and point the finger at Obama and his party’s infatuation with failed socialist tenets.  Instead Republicans must demonstrate an understanding of what is happening to the average citizen today, explaining the failures of Obama and the Democrats and then offering solutions.  If the Republican candidates do not aggressively attack the economic issues then the Democrat Party, in collusion with the media, will continue to convince a growing number of voters that the economic tribulations of the United States are the end-product of unfettered capitalism and the avarice of the rich.  The next election will be decided on economic issues (which includes immigration), and while extremely important, foreign affairs and social issues will not be the determining factor of who will be seated behind the desk in the oval office or what party will control Congress.

(“No Time for Cowardice in the GOP Presidential Field” by Steve McCann dated October 19, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/10/no_time_for_cowardice_in_the_gop_presidential_field.html)

 

The Democrat Party is not a party of Great Society liberals anymore.  Socialist Bernie Sanders isn’t only pulling a quarter of Democrats to his cause, he’s pacing the field ideologically.  In a New York Times piece describing Hillary’s alleged progressive epiphany, we learned that the Democrat Party front-runner believes a sound economy requires the “toppling” of the wealthy.  Where taxes were once conceived to fund safety nets, police, education, communal improvements through infrastructure, and the nation’s defense, nowadays Democrats talk about taxation as if it were a tool to take from the undeserving and give to companies, people, and programs to create societal equality, justice, and harmony.  There’s not any difference between a Democrat Socialist and a Progressive Democrat other than the speed at which one wants to work.  State coercion against individuals, even with the blessing of a majority, is still state coercion.  Controlling the means of production, even if you attempt to achieve your goal with a combination of punitive taxation, fees, regulatory schemes, cronyism, and executive action, is still controlling the means of production.  Sooner or later one kind of authoritarianism leads to another.  YouGov recently found that while only 52% of Americans have a favorable view of capitalism, 26% have a favorable view of socialism.  Among Millennials, 36% have a positive view of socialism.  Democrats were just as likely to have a favorable view of capitalism (43%) as they do of socialism.  Young voters don’t understand the incredible success economic freedom has had in alleviating real poverty.  The World Bank projected that world poverty would fall to a record low of 9.6% in 2015.  The principal reason for the expected decline is the spread of economic freedom.  The Economist reported the number of destitute fell from 43% to 21%, between 1990 and 2010.  This is a reduction of almost one billion people.  China’s capitalism reforms have allowed 680 million people to escape poverty from 1981-2010.  The extreme poverty rate in China was 84% in 1980, and now it’s 10%. This expansion of prosperity happens in places that feature an array of races, ethnicities, religions, resources, and climates.  What these countries share explaining this incredible success on poverty is more economic freedom.

(“Introducing ‘The Democratic Socialist’ Party” by David Harsanyi dated October 16, 2015 published by The Federalist at http://thefederalist.com/2015/10/16/introducing-the-democratic-socialist-party/ )

The United States is the biggest debtor of all, with $18 trillion or so in official debt, and a hell of a lot more if you play by something resembling normal accounting rules.  If and when the Fed should decide it really needs to raise rates, there’s that $18 trillion-and-growing pile of debt waiting to prison-rape American public finances.  Everybody sees this coming.  If e assume that nothing has magically transformed the nature of debt and finance in the past decade or so and that interest rates will, eventually, move back toward normalcy.  If interest rates return to their level in 1995, then we’re going to be paying $1.4 trillion a year just in interest on the existing debt; which is to say, interest payments alone will account for 45% of all federal taxes that will be collected in 2015.  If interest rates should return to their 1982 levels, then we’ll be paying $2.6 trillion a year in interest payments alone, or 84% of the taxes the federal government will collect this year.  Strictly speaking, there is no economic reason to believe that historical extremes are the limit on where interest rates can go.  Interest rates on government debt are driven by two things: how credible investors think your fiscal story is and what other options they have.  As the world grows richer, there will be a lot of low-risk government instruments available to soak up all that money sitting in U.S. government bonds.  My hope is that when this crisis comes, it will prove an instrument of free-market reform. Washington may do some proactive reform, particularly to entitlements, but it’s a safe bet that the big hairy stuff like privatizing retirement and health care entirely isn’t going to happen until Washington is left with no other options.  The sort of reforms that are likely to happen in the next ten years or so will not prevent a crisis, but, if done right, they will give us some say over what sort of crisis we have: a slow, low, manageable one or a short, sharp, ruinous one.  Some of my conservative friends believe that we’re going to be rescued by the Growth Fairy, but I believe in the Bankruptcy Fairy.

(“The Debt Crisis Approaches” by Kevin D. Williamson dated October 16, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425658/debt-crisis-approaches-kevin-d-williamson )

ObamaCare is heading toward a death spiral.  The Obama administration is having trouble selling insurance plans to healthy people who don’t enroll, because premiums have to be hiked to cover the costs of older, sicker people, discouraging even more young people from signing up.  Last week, the administration predicted enrollment for 2016 will be less than half what the Congressional Budget Office predicted in March.  Despite subsidies to help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs, most of the uninsured who are eligible for ObamaCare are saying “no thanks.”  Only one in seven is expected to sign up.  That’s despite a hefty increase in the financial penalty next year for not having insurance.  It is bad enough that healthy people aren’t buying.  The administration is spending billions of your tax dollars covering up the problem, paying insurers to keep offering the plans, even though they’re losing their shirts. But facts are facts and there’s no hiding these.  Many states are looking at premium hikes of 30% or more.  The Heritage Foundation estimates that insurers lost 12% selling ACA plans in 2014, with more losses this year.  Don’t shed any tears for the insurance companies.  Though they’re losing money on exchange plans, overall they’re profitable and their stocks are doing well.  It’s John Q. Public who’s bearing the brunt, just as ObamaCare intended.  If you get insurance at work, you’re paying an extra tax to fund “reinsurance” for ObamaCare plans.  It’s a fund to defray the cost of their most expensive enrollees.  So far, insurers have collected about $7.9 billion.  Congressional testimony shows the payments kept ObamaCare sticker prices about 11% lower than they otherwise would have been.  In short, you pay a tax to make ObamaCare look more affordable than it is.  Even with these hidden subsidies, ObamaCare isn’t working because the design is fatally flawed.  The 5% of the population with serious medical conditions consume nearly 50% of the health care.  When you try to sell insurance to sick and healthy people for the same price, the healthy don’t sign up, because it’s too expensive.  New York State learned that in the 1990s, when one-price-for-all insurance laws pushed premiums to the highest in the nation, crushing the individual insurance market here.  ObamaCare repeats that mistake. Despite slapping the uninsured with penalties, which will jump to 2.5% of household income in 2016, they’re not signing up.  The need to coerce enrollment with penalties is proof the plans are a bad deal.  With ObamaCare enrollment floundering and losses mounting, the nation needs alternatives.  The Republicans are coalescing around a reform plan, but Democrats are doubling down.  Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to burden the existing, unpopular plans with more “free” goodies, and make it harder to dodge the mandate.  A real reform would cover the seriously ill, people with pre-existing conditions, in separate plans with separate pricing and subsidies to make them affordable.  Just like the high-risk pools many states used to maintain, that’s the lesson of the failing ObamaCare scheme.

(“ObamaCare is entering its dreaded ‘death spiral’” by Betsy McCaughey dated October 19, 2015 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2015/10/19/obamacare-is-entering-its-dreaded-death-spiral/ )

Nothing exposes the cynical hypocrisy of the left more than its jihadist attitude toward the dubious theory of man-made global warming.  The left pronounces manmade global warming "settled science" but then insists that we continue to spend billions of dollars in climate change research.  If it is truly settled science, then we need to spend no more money at all on research, and if this supposed dire threat requires immediate action by governments, then even research on the best way to contain climate change is unnecessary.  What climate change research really means is the heavy-handed use of taxpayer-funded leftist totalitarianism in the institutional bureaucracies of academia, whose sole purpose is to propagandize the gullible with specious reasoning, with the heavy stamp of "Official Science."  The left professes to love progress, but climate change itself is progress.  Changing climate throughout history gradually reduces the value of land owned by those who live in the most desirable areas and gradually increases the value of land owned by those who live in less desirable areas.  Regardless of whether the world is getting warmer or getting colder, climate change redistributes wealth.  Keeping nature exactly as it is reflects the hidebound mindset of an ultra-reactionary, which describes a modern leftist.  These are the same dull, plump nabobs who despise free enterprise precisely because that process is constant and unmanaged revolution when the left wants nothing really ever to change at all.  That means that these privileged leftists never see smaller government or more freedom as the solution to environmental problems, and so even if next year new scientific evidence suggested that the planet is cooling, not warming, the same leftists who today lecture that free enterprise is heating the planet would then, undoubtedly, find that free enterprise was cooling the planet.  Don't wait for leftists to tell us that we need no more money for climate research (that is how they pay their pseudo-scientific toadies).  Don't wait for leftists to address real ecological issues like Venice or the San Andreas Fault (those are far too real problems).  Don't wait for leftists to depopulate their rich old centers of wealth and power on the coasts (that would actually cost the left power and wealth!).  Everything the left does is to hold forever its power, position, and wealth.  Leftist hypocrisy on climate change is utterly, absolutely corrupting.  The only "science" allowed is science that helps that unsavory greed.

(“Climate Change and Leftist Hypocrisy” by Bruce Walker dated October 18, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/10/climate_change_and_leftist_hypocrisy.html )

What is baffling in international affairs is the massive reality denial, by the international community including President Barack Obama and his administration, of the increasing threat of Islamic terrorism and of the ultimate responsibility of Iran for the recent terrorist outbreaks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has described Israel as a "cancerous tumor." That must be eliminated.  On September 23, 2015 (which happened to be Yom Kippur), Khamenei denounced Israel for its "repeated insults" regarding the sanctuary of Al Aqsa Mosque.  He regards Israel's behavior toward it as the ultimate degree of ruthlessness and evil, with this behavior being the foremost problem for Muslims.  Three weeks earlier, he declared his support for anyone who strikes against Israel and the "Zionist regime."  By such action, Islamic jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.  Though Khamenei did not issue a fatwa, he did display a poster of the proper way to eliminate Israel.   His influence on, if not instigation of, the terrorist attacks by young Muslims in Jerusalem and the West Bank is evident.  No one can be amazed that the United Nations assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Taye Brook Zerihoun, on October 15, 2015 was "extremely concerned" about what he called the recent violence among Israelis and Palestinians.  The compound, containing the Jewish holy site of Jospeh’s tomb in the city of Nablus, which is under Palestinian Authority administration, did not "catch fire."  It was ignited by 150 Palestinians using homemade firebombs and Molotov cocktails.  Zerihoun, in spite of the one-sided desecration by Palestinians of respected religious places, called on all sides to respect the sanctity of all holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Moreover, although he realized that social media and irresponsible rhetoric had played a dramatic role in the escalation of violence, he asserted that both sides should be blamed. He spoke of both the reckless statements made by Palestinians and Israeli extremist elements reinforced by some mainstream voices, and even more pointedly of the heavy-handed approach by the Israeli Security Services.  One has come to expect statements and resolutions from the United Nations at best allocating equal blame and expressing moral equivalence between the actions of Muslim Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, if not expressing unilateral condemnation of Israel.  President Obama recognized that Israel had a right to maintain basic law and order and protect its citizens from knife attacks and violence on the streets.  But, equating victim and perpetrator, he called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding.  Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to be more aware of reality than his spokesperson in saying, on October 15, 2015, that there was no excuse for the violence and that no amount of frustration is appropriate to license any violence anywhere.  He said the Palestinians need to understand this and urged Abbas to condemn the violence loudly and clearly.  Hamas, the rival of Abbas's Fatah movement and an ally of Iran, has played a major role in igniting the attacks.  Those attacks have nothing to do with the alleged evils of Israel: denial of the rights of Palestinians who are supposed to be living under constant threat of losing their homes, lands, and income.  There are 300,000 Palestinians living and working in Jerusalem, with permanent residence status, who receive the same social benefits and health insurance as Israelis.  The real problem, unrecognized or reluctantly acknowledged by the U.N. hierarchy and Obama, is that Palestinian leaders, especially of Hamas, have instigated a holy war by their false accusations

(“Obama Must Dispute Iran’s Incitement to Terrorism” by Michael Curtis dated October 19, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/10/obama_must_dispute_irans_incitement_to_terrorism.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:

·    Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/education.php

·    Immigration at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/immigration.php

·    Budget at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/