Views on the News
November 19, 2011
Views on the News*
How did the man who three years ago won a higher percentage of both the popular and electoral vote than any Democratic Presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide almost 50 years ago find himself fighting uphill odds to keep the White House? A year out from the election finds President Obama in parlous political circumstances. The poor economy he inherited has been very slow to recover, with unemployment stuck above 9% and long-term unemployment at record post-war levels. The housing sector, where most people’s personal wealth is concentrated, remains mired in deep recession. Although the President had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress in his first two years, he has only two major legislative achievements to his credit: the stimulus bill and ObamaCare. The first is widely perceived as both a total failure and motivated more by politics than economics. Its $800 billion was directed towards public service union members and liberal causes, such as “green energy,” rather than economic recovery. Meanwhile, ObamaCare remains deeply unpopular with the general public and is headed for the Supreme Court, which could well find its key provision unconstitutional next summer, just as the election gets into high gear. Budget deficits have soared during the Obama years, with three trillion-dollar-plus deficits in a row. This has caused the national debt to swell to a level that, relative to GDP, has not been seen since the end of World War II. For the first time ever, the United States has lost its AAA credit rating, a deep embarrassment for the country and thus the administration. Not surprisingly under these circumstances, the President’s approval ratings have been in sharp decline. Obama seemed like a breath of fresh air: only 47 years old, personable, articulate and the first African-American to be a candidate for a major-party nomination with a serious chance of winning. Obama was a blank slate: only served a few years in the Illinois State Senate, where his record was thin, and less than a single term in the U.S. Senate, where his record was even thinner. This allowed people to project on to Obama what they wanted to see, an immense advantage in politics. The Obama campaign used it to the fullest. He cultivated an image of a new kind of president, one who would cut through the old Washington merry-go-round of partisan bickering and special-interest pandering. He would be post-partisan, a President who would throw the special-interest moneychangers out of the temple of the nation’s capital. This tapped into the public’s obvious yearning for serious change in how Washington worked. Perhaps his biggest advantage in the 2008 election was that the mainstream media fell in love with Obama. Running for President and being President are two entirely separate matters. Once in the White House a new Obama emerged, one quite different from the post-partisan, special-interest-bashing candidate. What appeared instead was a hyper-partisan liberal ideologue who attended to his special interests, such as labor unions, as assiduously as any other Washington politician. An arrogance and rigidity that had not been seen in the candidate became increasingly evident in the President. In the State of the Union speech in January 2010, he publicly criticized the Supreme Court, many of whose members were sitting in front of him, for one of its decisions, an unprecedented action. He made little if any attempt to reach across the aisle for Republican support. As a result both his major pieces of legislation passed with hardly any Republican votes in either house, and partisan rancor deepened dramatically. A groundswell of opposition to the Obama administration’s big spending ways also quickly emerged and became known as the TEA Party. Obama made few if any political adjustments. Then in November, 2010, a tidal wave election gave decisive control of the House back to the Republicans and added seven Senate seats to their column, while Republicans won races for governor and state legislative seats across the country. As in personal life, the faster one falls in love politically, the faster one is likely to fall out of love, and once gone, sudden love is rarely rekindled. Candidate Obama was like a handsome, attentive suitor, but President Obama is like a husband who insists on having his way and that is Barack Obama’s biggest problem as he seeks re-election.
(“Obama not the man America voted for” by John Steele Gordon dated November 13, 2011 published by New York Daily News at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/obama-man-america-voted-article-1.976962 )
America, in the view of President Barack Obama, is not a happy place, but instead a dark region where people cheat each other; corporations brutalize the public, and opportunity is out of reach and this view does not resonate well with the general public. Obama’s relentless reelection focus on America’s demons is a communications error that could haunt his bid for a second term. Americans want to be told the truth. They don’t want their president to pretend that the economy is thriving. What they probably won’t abide is a message that there is something fundamentally wrong with the nation that Obama, like some prophet preaching through Gomorrah, was sent to fix. Obama is trying out a reelection model that posits a broken country which needs him to “finish the job” he started. America, in Obama’s view, is an unfair place, where “our school system” is working “for just some children;” where immigrants live “in second-class status.” The wealthiest are unscrupulous cheats who would have their secretaries fork over a bigger percentage of their income to Uncle Sam than they do. Corporations and their henchmen on Washington’s K Street have fixed the system so they can rip it off at will. Together, the wealthy and corporations are assailing the middle class. “The only class warfare I’ve seen,” Obama said, “is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.” For too many, Obama suggests, the American Dream is dead or dying. Obama claims that the avenues to success are not passable for everyone, and only he can reopen them. Obama’s vision reflects the worldview of a former community organizer, whose long focus has been on the disadvantaged. He only sees injustice around every corner. Obama believes the economic crisis he is grappling with is a result of unfettered American greed. One can view the United States as a turbulent place teaming with sharks, rather than an oasis where all can safely navigate a way to success, but giving voice to such views might not win a majority in the Electoral College, since Obama’s pessimism borders on delusional paranoia.
(“Obama’s dark vision of America” by Keith Koffler dated November 16, 2011 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/68459.html )
Three continuous years of looting and lawlessness have brought American government to a heretofore inconceivable state of degeneracy. From incompetent political hacks trampling on the Constitution from the benches of the judicial branch, through tax evasion and outright thievery in Congress, to endemic perjury to cover up high crimes and misdemeanors, up to and including involvement in murder, in the executive branch, the obscene spectacle of government gone wild is becoming overwhelming, blotting out decency and America’s history of honesty and adherence to moral principles. The collusion between the judicial and executive branches in running rough-shod over the Constitution has allowed Obama-Soetoro and his co-conspirator, Attorney General Eric Holder, to engage in a degree of lawlessness that in the past, would have put even Democrats in prison. Their gun-running scheme, Fast and Furious, aimed at creating the phony impression that massive numbers of “automatic” weapons were being bought in the U. S. and smuggled into Mexico, in order to demand new, draconian gun control laws, resulted in the murder of Border Patrol Agents, ICE Agents, and dozens of Mexican citizens. Eric Holder has publicly refused to take responsibility for Fast and Furious and it’s a proven fact that Holder lied to Congress about his involvement in Fast and Furious. The Injustice Department has become little more than a political club to be used for bashing the perceived enemies of Obama-Soetoro and his gang of Democrat thugs. Federal law has become a political buffet, where Obama-Soetoro, the Democrats, and their Injustice Department pick and choose the laws they enforce. States that try to enforce federal immigration laws, for instance, are now regularly sued by the government that passed the laws in the first place, and federal immigration agents have been instructed to ignore the law, and not detain the criminals the catch. Similarly, the open-border policies of the globalist Obama-Soetoro administration, like the globalist Bush administration before him, have resulted in the arrest of another Border Patrol Agent for doing his sworn duty. All of this sure makes one wonder if there are not powerful hidden agendas driving these actions: Agendas like murdering the Constitution and instituting a North American Union, for instance, or killing the Second Amendment, or accepting massive amounts of laundered blood money from the Mexican drug cartels to let them operate pretty much unimpeded, selling death and destruction in the cities and suburbs of America.
(“Murder Most Foul” by Michael Obemdorf dated November 12, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/42287 )
The old liberal stereotypes have made a comeback in the public discourse, because the old behaviors have resurrected the old caricatures also. At least on the domestic front, the age of Obama has been a kind of procession of the postwar era’s major liberal clichés, as one familiar leftist type after another has come out of retirement to remind American voters why liberals have always made them nervous:
· Big spender. Obama began his tenure with a massive $800 billion “stimulus” bill consisting largely of payoffs to traditional Democratic constituencies and investments in assorted pet projects of the left. In the subsequent three years, the large national debt Obama inherited has roughly doubled in size, domestic discretionary spending has increased by 25% (even without counting the stimulus), and we have experienced the three largest annual deficits in American history.
· Incompetent economist. Liberals have become identified with an economics of stagnation and decline. Since Obama took office, unemployment has averaged 9.3%, and economic growth has been anemic despite enormous measures intended to improve both. Repeated promises of a strong recovery around the corner have contributed to an impression of hapless incompetence, and the public’s expectations regarding the economy are now more pessimistic than they have been since the late 1970s, while overall faith in government is at record lows.
· Technocratic micromanager. An explosion of regulatory discretion and the birth of several large new public programs have revealed an extraordinary faith in bureaucratic administration among today’s Democrats. It is most evident in ObamaCare, with its vast array of interlocking rules and programs overseen by an army of waiver-granting clerks, and its board of 15 philosopher-accountants setting prices.
· Big taxer (never far behind the big spender). The tax burden imposed by ObamaCare alone comes to roughly $770 billion over ten years. There was a time when Democrats ran away from the mantle of the party of tax increases, but recently the administration and Congressional Democrats had put higher taxes at the top of their list of fiscal priorities. They now insist that no further budget deals will be possible if taxes are not raised.
· Class warrior. President Obama travels the country arguing that the rich have done too well at the expense of all other Americans and should be made to give more to the government, though he has added the unusual twist of including himself among the moneyed interests.
· Cultural elitist. This was the type that Obama exhibited when he shared his opinion of the religious and cultural attachments of western Pennsylvanians in 2008. In 2009, the President’s asserted that a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, acted “stupidly” when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. Obama reminds Americans of what has so often unnerved them about modern liberals, from the riotous counterculture of the 1960s through today’s NPR snobs.
· Snarky, pseudo-alienated, disheveled young protester. The Occupy Wall Street protesters do not seem to have a clear idea of what their complaint might be, or what should be done about it. They seem increasingly to give vent, instead, to a vague unfocused ennui, unaware that their bizarre reenactment of their professors’ wistful exaggerations of the 1960s threatens to offend a great many Americans whose cultural memories extend further back than the invention of the iPod. As the Occupy Wall Street movement has gradually turned ugly in recent weeks, the Democrats who had earlier associated themselves with the protests have no doubt begun to recognize the peril in which they have put themselves and their party by even tacitly encouraging the resurrection of this most disagreeable liberal type.
A Gallup poll showed that only 21% of Americans consider themselves liberals, and the rest of the country might well put up with liberals in power now and then, but not if the left insists on constantly reminding us why, to coin a phrase, we are the 79%.
(“Liberals Playing to Type” by Yuval Levin dated November 21, 2011 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/liberals-playing-type_608016.html )
The winners in the nearly three years of Obama’s Presidency are the big guys - big business, big labor, and big government - corporate profits have reached record levels, the influence of the biggest labor unions has surged in Washington, where it matters most, and the federal government has grown in size and reach. President Obama claims to be the champion and protector of the little guy. He’s committed to making Washington “responsive to the needs of people, not the needs of special interests [and] not just people who are hurting now, but also responsive to future generations.” Meanwhile, the weak economy has hurt small business, the country’s number one job creator. Labor leaders have entrée at the White House and federal departments and agencies as never before. The most frequent visitor to the White House in Obama’s first year was Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union. Big government is a cliché that’s all the more true in the Obama era. Federal employment grew by 140,800 in Obama’s first two years, and the clout of federal officialdom has increased substantially. In Obama’s case, there’s more to the gap between what he professes and what his administration has produced than meets the eye. His hypocrisy is breathtaking, but it represents the way he prefers to govern. Dealing with a few big institutions, even if they are dinosaurs, is easier than consulting more widely. So he is relying on government to remedy every national ill, rather than letting markets, private groups, and individuals play pivotal roles. For contributions to his reelection campaign, Obama has tapped the segment of big business he’s referred to as “fat cat bankers”: Wall Street. Wall Street has reason to be grateful because during Obama’s tenure, Wall Street has roared back, even as the broader economy has struggled. Wall Street firms earned more in the first two and a half years of the Obama administration than they did during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration. Smaller community banks haven’t fared as well. Wall Street banks have the manpower to comply with new restrictions endorsed by Obama and passed by Congress. Small banks don’t. The loan business of small banks suffers because of these rates. Organized labor is also a big-time funder of Obama’s campaign, as you might expect given the President’s sensitivity to every need of big unions. He’s turned the National Labor Relations Board into a knee-jerk advocate of the most extreme pro-union positions. The new health care law would create 159 new boards, commissions, or programs, including the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created with sweeping authority over how money is loaned to consumers. The biggest beneficiaries of the Obama government transformation are unelected bureaucrats.
(“Obama Loves the Big Guys” by Fred Barnes dated November 21, 2011 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/obama-big-guys_608006.html )
If lawmakers really cared about consumers, they would ditch expensive renewable energy mandates that require a subsidized market for resources that are not practical on a large scale. It’s a classic case of putting the cart before the horse; policy came before practical application. The Department of Energy (DOE) reports that 24 states and the District of Columbia have renewable energy mandates ranging from Maine’s high of 40% to Pennsylvania’s low of 8%. Also known as a “Renewable Portfolio Standard” (RPS), these policies require that energy providers ignore practicality and price in order to obtain a minimum amount of electricity by a specific date from sources that environmental zealots consider “renewable,” such as solar and wind. Five other states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Vermont, placate special interest groups while remaining more realistic with “non-binding goals” rather than an RPS. It doesn’t matter if the resources don’t exist because the government will subsidize the manufacturing of those resources. It doesn’t matter if those resources are little more than science projects because the government still will subsidize them. The U.S. doesn’t have a corner on the market of misguided energy policy. Europe is also a major contributor to the myth of enlightened energy policies. These mandates are rooted in a clean, green fantasy, and a market must be invented to fulfill it. The taxpayer-supported solar panel industry is struggling. The subsidized manufacturing and purchasing distorted the market and while prices declined, subsidies didn’t. American manufacturing, much of it subsidized with taxpayer guaranteed loans, ramped up in response to European demand as well as the push to meet U.S. state renewable energy mandates. The market is grossly oversaturated. To say that both national and state energy policies on renewable, especially solar, are absurd is unfair to the word absurd. The fantasy of “green energy” as policy requires that government mandate, create, and, then, subsidize an economically impractical source of energy. Just look at Ascent, Abound, Solyndra, First Solar, and, of course, consumers. At least one elected official in the U.S. has come to his senses - Maine Governor Paul LePage recently stated that his state must get rid of its job-killing 40 percent RPS because it raises energy costs putting the state at an economic disadvantage. The federal government must stop enabling the fantasies of green energy zealots with renewable energy mandates and massive taxpayer subsidies for failed companies and their science projects.
(“A Stupid Energy Policy” by Amy Oliver dated November 12, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/amyoliver/2011/11/12/a_stupid_energy_policy )
Obama falsely claimed that “we are in a much stronger position now than we were two or three years ago with respect to Iran” but the truth is precisely the opposite. Iran poses a graver and more immediate danger to world peace and security, and to the security of the U.S. homeland, than ever before. Iran is moving, virtually unimpeded, ever closer to developing nuclear arms capability. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations watchdog body dealing with nuclear power security, issued an alarming report with more detailed evidence than ever before that Iran is working toward developing a nuclear bomb capability. The U.N. report laid out information on the secretive Iranian program to enrich uranium, its development of a payload system to carry a nuclear weapon on a missile, and the computer modeling and testing of high explosives to trigger a nuclear device. Iran is also planning, or already building, at least one missile base in Venezuela, which will be equipped with medium-range missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland. Moreover, Iran has announced that it will send its warships to establish a presence along the marine border with the eastern and southern coasts of the United States. Iranian Rear Adm. Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi said that its frigates and destroyers have been equipped with “surface-to-surface missiles.” Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and military reach has extended beyond the Middle East, including to the Western Hemisphere. Its Quds forces, along with Hezbollah cells, are using Venezuela as a base from which to expand their activities throughout Latin America and to form collaborations with drug cartels in Mexico, for the purpose of infiltrating the United States through its porous southern border. Let’s not forget the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington. All of these serious provocations are happening during Obama’s watch. His appeasement policies, including his naive engagement-without-conditions approach to negotiating with Iran, have exacerbated the dangers. Valuable time was lost as Obama continued his quixotic quest for unconditional talks with Iranian officials. When there was a real opportunity for regime change during the Iranian “Green Movement” uprising against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election in June 2009, Obama was AWOL. The Obama administration itself is reluctant to impose the one additional sanction that could have a real bite – cutting off Iran’s central bank from the international financial system. Iran’s central bank is the clearinghouse for much of its petroleum trade, which is the key driver of its economy. Cutting off Iran’s central bank from the international financial system would effectively freeze much of its oil export market with crippling effects on Iran’s economy. Fearing a spike in global oil prices that would likely result from such a cut-off and a potentially negative economic impact on U.S. allies which currently depend on imports of Iranian oil for which they make payments linked with the central bank, the Obama administration is unwilling to take the one bold step short of military action that could actually make a difference.
(“Obama’s Iranian Delusions” by Joseph Klein dated November 15, 2011 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2011/11/15/obamas-iranian-delusions/ )
* 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:
· Social Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/socialsecurity.php
· Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php
· United Nations at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/unitednations.php