Views on the News
November 6, 2010
Views on the News*
Not every midterm election has national implications, but Tuesday’s election was a referendum and rejection of President Barack Obama, his administration, his signal accomplishments and his aspirations and resulted in the biggest midterm shift of party since 1938. The President won by a landslide in 2008, but since then he has steadily lost support, especially among self-declared independents and women. When Barack Obama was sworn in as President, most Americans were proud. He not only was our first African-American president, he talked of racial harmony, building political bridges, prosperity, enhancing America's status worldwide, etc. What we came to find out rather quickly, however, is that this President was not only incapable of delivering on those lofty promises, he was also over his head in routine matters. When pushed, be became aloof and divisive. In a crisis, he reacted like a deer in headlights. He seemed more comfortable apologizing to the world for America's power instead of standing tall and extolling our many virtues. He saw the election as a mandate for sweeping change, but most Americans chose to hear rhetoric about a more cooperative "post-partisan" era:
· The Democrats faced a reckoning for the financial crisis as a pretext for a government takeover of the economy and for the exercise of raw, unchecked, arbitrary power.
· It faced a reckoning for spending trillions of dollars of money we haven't even earned yet on big-government programs and paybacks to the public employees' unions.
· It faced a reckoning for engineering the government takeover of whole industries and for expropriating the rights of bond-holders in order to favor the interests of unions.
· It faced a reckoning for acting as if there are no constitutional limits on federal power, as if they can do anything they like so long as they tell us it's for the "general welfare."
· The Democrat Party faced a reckoning for using the financial crisis as a pretext for a federal takeover of the economy and exercise of raw, unchecked, arbitrary power.
· It faced a reckoning for spending trillions of dollars of money we haven't earned yet on a wish-list of big-government programs and paybacks to the public employees' unions.
· It faced a reckoning for engineering the government takeover of whole industries and for expropriating the rights of bond-holders in order to favor the interests of unions. It faces a reckoning for acting as if there are no constitutional limits on government power, as if they can do anything they like to us so long as they tell us it's for the "general welfare."
· The Democratic Party faced a reckoning for not being "shovel-ready"-for being effective only at preventing private economic activity-for enacting, in the first weeks of the new Congress, a stimulus bill that swiftly succeeded in bankrupting the country, but which failed to stimulate anything other than the bloated pensions of state employees and the six-figure incomes of federal bureaucrats.
· And most of all, it faced a reckoning for passing a trillion-dollar takeover of our health care against our will and over our loudly expressed objections.
· The Democrat Party faced a reckoning for showing contempt for the governed-for telling us that they had to pass the bill so that we could find out what was in it, as if we were too stupid to analyze it for ourselves-for smearing ideological opponents as racists-for regarding all the bitter clingers in flyover country as mentally defective because, in the words of President Obama, they're "hard-wired not to always think clearly" when the issues get too difficult for their poor little heads.
· The Democrats faced a reckoning for reviving the basic principle of aristocracy: the idea that there is a small elite in the nation's capital who know better than us how we ought to work and think and who are therefore entitled to run our lives and spend our money.
Democrats have made an unprecedented mockery of representative government, ignoring the will of the people with arrogant disdain. Respect for the will of the people is the very soul of democracy, and without it, liberty is nothing but a sham. The Tea Party movement is a reflection and Democrats lost a significant number of seats in Congress. Either the brakes will be applied on the Democrat-socialists' drive to transform us into a failing European-style social democracy or this country will hurtle over the cliff of no return.
(“What Tuesday might mean” dated October 29, 2010 published by The Orange County Register at http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/government-273543-democrats-tea.html
“Yes, we can change it back” by Sherman Frederick dated October 31, 2010 published by Las Vegas Review-Journal at http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/yes--we-can-change-it-back-106399558.html
“This Is America, Stupid” by Kyle-Anne Shiver dated November 2, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/11/this_is_america_stupid.html
“Democratic Party Faces a Reckoning” by Robert Tracinski dated November 2, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/02/democratic_party_faces_a_reckoning_107813.html )
More than three centuries ago, the residents of America staged a rebellion against an oppressive ruler who taxed them unjustly, ignored their discontents and treated their longing for freedom with contempt. Americans revisited that tradition this week, when their anger and exasperation swept through Congress like avenging angels. The hated oppressor isn't a foreign colonial government, but our own professional political class. Obama surrounded himself with highly educated elitists whose cleverness is not in doubt, but who are very remote from the experience of small-town Americans, and from the businesses big and small that generate the country’s prosperity. Republicans were not gloating because they were too furious. They were opposed to the Big State, European social democratic model of government which Obama had imported to Washington. They were also at least as angry with the leadership of their own party for having conceded far too much of the argument. The American Left hated George Bush (and even more, Dick Cheney) because of his military adventurism. What was less understood was that the Right disliked him almost as much for excessive government spending, bailing out the banks, and failing to keep faith with the fundamental Republican principle of containing the power of central government. Anger against Washington, national institutions and politicians is being vented in a fashion the country has not known since the Vietnam War. The tide surged hard to the right in the midterm elections on pent-up disappointment, and outright anger, among voters who saw a gaping disconnect between their needs and the policies of Obama and the troops on Capitol Hill:
· They wanted jobs – instead they got a year's worth of wrangling over health care.
· They wanted fiscal prudence – instead they got $14 trillion worth of national debt.
· They wanted bipartisan pragmatism – instead they got partisan paralysis.
· In the end, they wanted change, and at this first opportunity, they ordered it.
This could be a seminal moment in American post-war history, when popular rage against the political elite brings about realignments within parties which change the whole nature of the country's democratic choices.
(“Midterm elections 2010: Prepare for a new American revolution” by Janet Daley dated October 30, 2010 published by Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/janetdaley/8098844/Midterm-elections-2010-Prepare-for-a-new-American-revolution.html
“Americans are about to give Obama a bloody nose. Why? He just doesn’t share their core values” by Max Hastings dated November 2, 2010 published by Daily Mail at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1325751/Mid-term-elections-Obama-doesnt-share-Americans-core-values.html
“President Obama has new orders from the voters to get the economy moving – and fast” dated November 3, 2010 published by New York Daily News at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/11/03/2010-11-03_barack_gets_bammed.html )
The Tea Party phenomenon has captured America’s attention, not only for its muscle at the ballot box, but for its make-up, consisting primarily of people who have never before been involved in politics or public policy. Ordinary people, they found each other and banded together over a common passion for the American ideals voiced in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Tea Party spokesmen focus on government overspending and reach. But dig into the crowd and you find many of the “Indians” are worried about America’s security, voted to protect marriage, are incensed at judicial arrogance, and believe abortion is immoral. Polls show that many Americans identify with the Tea Party, even if they have not participated. They sense that the ultimate goal of the “ruling elite” is not only to tell us what we can do, but to weaken the structures that promote stability. By breaking down our national identity, disparaging patriotism, mocking religion and morality, and burdening job-producers and taxpayers, these ruling elites assault the principles that make America exceptional. Tea Partiers are not much different from the foot soldiers of the Reagan Revolution, who were not driven by political party as much as by concern that our own government was causing our country to deteriorate by weakening our military, economy, families and standing in the world. The Reagan coalition generally fell into three camps: 1) People concerned about national security, 2) Others worried about economic issues, and 3) Those alarmed by a breakdown in morality, family, and religion (with abortion embodying an assault on all three). They became known as the three legs of the conservative movement, joined together like the three legs of a stool. Each leg is vital and irreplaceable and dependent on the other. Solid, stable economies are not likely in a country that cannot defend itself from violent attacks. Nor are they likely without a preponderance of individuals who believe that stealing private property is wrong and lying or breaking contracts is immoral. National security requires both a well-equipped military focused on its primary goal of defending and protecting America from enemies and a foreign affairs doctrine grounded in the belief that America is exceptional. The morals and character, along with patriotism, essential for a strong economy and national defense are primarily formed by families. The new political environment that emerges from this election will challenge the Tea Party movement’s ability to remain unified in its quest to limit the size and scope of government. Liberty comes from a virtuous people, free to keep and voluntarily share the fruits of their labor because they are protected by a restrained government that defends, from enemies foreign and domestic, their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
(“The Tea Party needs to stick together” by Wendy Wright dated November 1, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/11/01/the-tea-party-needs-to-stick-together/ )
The Grand Old Party, known to many as simply the "G.O.P.," passed away during the recent election season. Despite having once been known for such luminaries as Lincoln and Reagan, in recent years the party had slipped into a near-comatose state of minorityhood and, under the leadership of a continuing parade of elder statesmen, had demonstrated an unfailing ability to reach across the aisle and compromise principles in the name of "getting things done." It is survived by a group of aging professional politicians whose primary interest has been their own political careers and assuring the blessings of continual reelection upon themselves and their cronies. For the established Republican elite, the professional politicians who have shaped the party's policies, picked its candidates, apportioned its funds, and dispersed the fruits of political power, the Party is over. There's a new group of bosses in town and they're called The American People. The old-timers who have always urged conservatives to stay within the party have been among the first to jump ship and start independent candidacies when that seems to be the only way to protect their power, and their condescending attitudes toward the likes of Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint make me question whether they really understand that they work for us, or think that this message was intended for Democrat ObamaCare supporters only. Thanks to the internet, our nation has gotten small enough to once again allow a direct participatory political process, and the old, traditional G.O.P. establishment will either accept this new reality or face a party split that will condemn the Republican Party to the history books. Hopefully, the career politicians will "read the tea leaves" and accept the new realities, driven from the bottom up, putting principle before politics and service before self-interest, but if not, then the Tea Party folks may have no choice but to abandon the elephant for a real party of their own, marching under a new name and banner (maybe a mama grizzly?).
(“R.I.P., G.O.P.” by Bill Markin dated November 1, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/11/rip_gop.html )
Now that Republicans find themselves in the position of the proverbial dog that caught the car, the question is what they should do next. This is a once in the lifetime chance to return to re-earn the trust of the American people by demonstrating that they listened to the people and will deliver the changes the people want and need. Victorious Republicans should enjoy their election victory, but they should also understand it does not mean that the American people have bought wholesale into conservative political philosophy, as is so tempting to believe after a big election. Republicans need to have a plan for overcoming media bias and explaining what they’re doing to the public. If Republicans avoid over-estimating what this victory means and focus on the business of the American people, the gains of 2010 can be the beginning of a conservative resurgence. There are definite lessons to be learned from this election:
· Americans don’t want “ObamaLite” - Voters elected Republicans to halt and reverse big government policies, not compromise for watered-down versions of the same bad ideas.
· Respect the Constitution - Rightful authority flows from the U.S. Constitution and most importantly, Republicans need to respect the underlying principle of the Constitution, namely, protecting individual rights.
· Don’t mistake this as a mandate to pursue a divisive “social conservative” agenda - the recurrent theme in the countless grassroots Tea Party rallies across the country has been for fiscal responsibility and limited government, not social conservative issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
There are also some much needed changes that Republicans will be expected to deliver:
· It’s the Economy, Stupid - Republicans will be expected to deliver by cutting spending, taxes, and regulation to create more jobs.
· ObamaCare Must Be Stopped - Republicans must follow through on that promise to Defund, Repeal, and Replace the Health Care Reform.
· Cut Spending, Not Just Taxes - Republicans have promised to extend all of the Bush tax cuts, cut taxes for businesses, and make the tough choices to cut spending.
· Ban Earmarks - Republicans imposed a moratorium on earmarks in 2010, and now a permanent ban on earmarks is needed.
· Level with the American People - Balancing the budget and reducing the debt are going to require hard, painful choices, but Americans can handle the truth.
· Offer an Alternative - Republicans need to develop and put forward a positive agenda that Americans can embrace.
· Investigate, but Carefully - Certainly a little bit of oversight is long overdue in Washington, but beware of appearing partisan and mean-spirited.
· Tackle Entitlements - It is impossible to seriously reduce government spending without tackling entitlements, notably Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
· Don’t Fear a Shutdown - Republicans in the House have the power of the purse, meaning that they can control taxes and spending if they stick to their guns.
· Remember, the Tea Party Is Still Out There – Don’t get caught up in the “business as usual” ways of Washington, because the same forces that swept them into power will sweep them right back out.
Republicans have been given a chance to block (and possibly reverse) many of the bad policies of President Obama. They have been given a chance to return America to the right direction, and given a chance to re-earn the trust of the American people. I hope the Republicans repay this trust by showing that they will indeed “dance with the one who brung them” and listening to the Tea Party voters who restored them to power.
(“Ten Takeaways from the Big Night” by Michael Tanner dated November 3, 2010 published by National Review online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/252032/ten-takeaways-big-night-michael-tanner
“GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You” by Paul Hsieh dated November 3, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/gop-dance-with-the-one-who-brung-you/
“What Republicans Need to Do Now” by Adam Graham dated November 3, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/what-republicans-need-to-do-now/ )
The presumed GOP congressional majority and the party’s somewhat likely Senate majority will be spending much of the next two years in a knock-down, drag-out fiscal fight with President Obama, his party, and his press apparatchiks. With the battle lines already being drawn, it becomes difficult to imagine how this gets resolved without a repeat of the federal government shutdown the country experienced in 1995. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but if it happens, the outcome needs to be different from 15 years ago. The President, who is not prone towards any kind of compromise, will likely veto anything that doesn’t keep the spending spigots wide open. It is reasonable to believe that he would let the government shut down rather than give in to the GOP Congress. A post-November 2nd governance will include two very important aspects: (1) Holding Republicans feet to the fire will be critical, requiring the Tea Party movement to continue to be an engaged, energized and take-no-excuses force, and (2) Democrats are likely to look back at their public relations success in 1995, when the new Republican Congress and Bill Clinton, their man then in the White House, had a showdown over the longest government shutdown in history of some 21 days. The Republican goal is not a shutdown, of course, but a fiscally sound budget and all the GOP needs to do is to have the guts to fight for it and the perseverance to stick to their principles long enough to achieve their objectives.
(“A Coming Government Shutdown?” by Tom Blumer dated October 31, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/a-coming-government-shutdown/
“The coming government shutdown” by Paul Jacob dated October 31, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/PaulJacob/2010/10/31/the_coming_government_shutdown )
Democrats may try to pass as many as 20 bills in the lame-duck session, and there is still some risk of an all-out push on everything from energy, to card check, to enormous Social Security tax hikes based on the president’s deficit commission recommendations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already promised in his own re-election campaign to reintroduce both the DREAM Act, a fast-track for young, undocumented aliens to achieve legal citizenship, and a vote on the repeal of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also vowed to bring up a one-time $250 payout to retirees since Social Security benefits will not be increased next year. Also included on the Democratic agenda: the resurrection of Card Check, the extension of unemployment benefits, the imposition of duties on US imports, and a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Democrats in the Senate hope to bailout union pensions by attaching the bailout to an across-the-board extension of the current tax rates. Senator Bob Casey submitted a bill that creates a new entitlement program that would set up a permanent bailout of the union multi-employer pension plans that are desperately underwater through a new "fifth fund" at the government Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Casey’s bill would create a line item on the federal budget through the PBGC to fund these union pension bailouts annually, union pensions that are underwater as a result of mismanagement that pre-dates the 2008 financial upheaval. The pressing issue for the lame duck is the union pension bailout with new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules currently set to take effect December 15. Non-union companies without the multiemployer union plans have been operating under these types of transparency rules all along and the participating companies have had decades to address the issue of the pension underfunding but have not done so. Now companies and unions alike are looking for a taxpayer bailout in the lame duck session that could garner enough support from both sides of the aisle blanketed in the tax cut extension. The lame duck session offers the last chance for Democrats to force unwanted changes through Congress while they still have a majority.
(“New Lame Duck Threat to Bailout Union Pensions” by Connie Hair dated October 8, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=39336
“The Lame Duck Season” by Frank Crimi dated November 4, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/11/04/the-lame-duck-season/
“Beware the Lame Duck Bearing Gifts” by Phil Kerpen dated November 4, 2010 published by Pajamas Media at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/beware-the-lame-duck-bearing-gifts/ )
Remote, tribal and intensely poor, Yemen is becoming the new Afghanistan, a sanctuary for the militant Islamic terrorism that last week spread quiet panic on three continents. Al-Qaida loves a vacuum. What better place to sink roots than a perpetually failing state whose beleaguered government has battled a secessionist movement in the south, Shiite rebels in the north and a border war with Saudi Arabia, a country that is the poorest of the Arab states, 40% of whose 24 million people live below the poverty line on less than $2 a day. While most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis, Yemen was Osama bin Laden’s ancestral home. A place where everyone is armed, Islamic militants were able to operate freely there. Militants in Yemen carried out precursor attacks on American targets long before 9/11, the most spectacular being the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, in which 17 sailors died and 39 were injured. The organization’s growing sophistication dates back to 2009, when two al-Qaida branches in Saudi Arabia and Yemen merged to form al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A second more recent development, however, is causing even greater concern among intelligence and counterterrorism officials in Washington and allied capitals – the shift in roles of Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant cleric, a U.S. citizen now a senior member of the group. Once a man who inspired terror (Major Nidal Hassan’s savage attack on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, in which 13 died and 32 were wounded, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed effort to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet over Detroit last Christmas day) Awlaki has recently become an operational leader. Awlaki knows American society intimately: its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, as well as its strengths. He appreciates American’s national security “attention deficit disorder.” He knows well that the nation’s anger tends to be short-lived, our obsessions fleeting. He understands that our homeland is too easily distracted, by Halloween and Christmas, by sports and TV seasons, by economic pressures. Under his influence, AQAP has just issued its first English language magazine,Inspire, a 65-page compendium of news terrorists can use, not just odes to martyrs living and dead, but updates on terrorist weapons, techniques, and plots that are intended to help aspiring young jihadis be all they can be. Last August the CIA assessed that the Yemen-based franchise eclipsed al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan, frequently referred to as “al Qaeda Prime,” as the most dangerous al Qaeda branch in the world. The Obama administration pledged to take strong action against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the aftermath of the Christmas Day attack. The Pentagon more than doubled its military assistance to Yemen this past year, from $67 million to $155 million. Those funds went to providing helicopters, Hummers, communications systems, and training for a Yemeni military currently engaged in two other domestic conflicts unrelated to al Qaeda. The increased military assistance is the centerpiece of an administration policy that entrusts the Yemeni government to combat AQAP with support from U.S. intelligence agencies and Special Operations forces. Unfortunately, the overall situation in Yemen has only deteriorated since the adoption of the “Trust Yemen” policy, and AQAP has only strengthened. The al Qaeda franchise has waged an insurgency throughout much of southern Yemen since June, targeting primarily Yemeni intelligence, law enforcement, and military interests. It has stepped up its recruitment efforts to attract aspiring jihadists in the West by releasing two issues of an English-language magazine entitled, “Inspire.” The Yemeni government has yet to make any arrests in direct connection to the Christmas Day attack, and AQAP’s entire leadership apparatus, including its leader, deputy leader, main spiritual leader, and operations leader remain intact and functional. Further, the Yemeni government has taken no action against the American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who plays a prominent operational and recruiting role within AQAP, or against Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen from North Carolina who also plays a key role in the group’s efforts to recruit aspiring Western jihadists. The Obama administration needs to carefully consider an altered approach to the security challenges posed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula if it hopes to prevent future attacks originating in Yemen and achieve its top priority of keeping America safe.
(“Yemen is Becoming the New Afghanistan” by Judith Miller dated October 30, 2010 published by News Max at http://www.newsmax.com/Miller/yemen-afghanistan-terror-attack/2010/10/30/id/375392
“The continued al Qaeda threat from Yemen” by Chris Harnisch dated November 1, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/11/01/the-continued-al-qaeda-threat-from-yemen/ )
* 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:
· Agriculture at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/agriculture.php
· Elections at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/elections.php
· Health Care at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/healthcare.php
· Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php
· Foreign Aid at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/aid.php
· Middle East at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/middleeast.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php