Views on the News

December 10, 2011


Views on the News*  

There has been much talk lately about the need for the Republican Presidential nominee to move to the center, but this is a mistake because the only way to beat Barack Obama is to oppose him rigorously, relentlessly, and without remorse.  This election needs a fiscal, foreign policy, and economic conservative.  The man to defeat Obama must present the nation a clear choice between further socialism under Obama's control or prosperity through economic freedom, but that's not all; he will need to show the world who Barack Obama is.  Americans may be inattentive, or even self-involved, but we are not idiots.  Anyone can see the almost three years of failed Obama governance and know that the meme which the legacy media is trying to sell is a lie.  Obama is not just a failure; he is a spectacular failure -- and it's not George Bush's fault, or that of an obstructionist Congress.  For the first two years of his Presidency, Barack Obama had super-majorities in both houses of Congress.  That's 100% of 2 out of the 3 branches of government (Legislative, Judicial, and Executive).  He could have done anything he wanted -- immigration reform, tax increases for the 1%, or a stimulus twice as large.  He added $5 trillion to the national debt in less than three years; he could have doubled that, if he chose, but instead:

·    he gave us Dodd-Frank Financial Reform, which frankly reformed nothing, making it impossible for businesses to get loans and people to get mortgages, while making credit cards and bank accounts more expensive for everyone; 

·    He gave us ObamaCare, the means by which our government restricts care to the sick while making it more expensive for the healthy -- all while scaring business into constraining employment and hoarding cash, instead of hiring and investing; and

·    he shut down the oil industry in the Gulf, and any fossil fuel development on land, off our coasts, or at sea, simply to raise the price of all energy to the point where his green energy dreams would be cost-effective. 

After suffering a Barack shellac in the 2010 midterms, the President still controls one and a half of the three branches of government, while the Republicans control but half of one branch, the House of Representatives.  Yet the President's message is not remorse for two years of dismal policy and economic disaster; it is that the Republicans have prevented him from solving the country's problems.  Americans, despite how "lazy" and "soft" Barack Obama believes us to be, can see how bad things are, and even though some may buy the president's lies, most are going to lay responsibility for the nation's woes right where it belongs: at Barack Obama's feet.  Obama's only concern, since losing the House last year, has been his own reelection.  The constant campaigning in Darth Vader's bus -- made in Canada because, despite blowing tens of billions of dollars on bailing out car companies, Obama couldn't find an American-made bus acceptable for a king.  His non-involvement in the Super-Committee's debt reduction negotiation, the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline, and the proposing of the American Jobs Act (basically the same as the failed Stimulus, just half as big) all display our President as a non-participant in the exercise of active governing, while fully immersed in his eternal reelection campaign.  The Republican candidate cannot take the high road like John McCain and refuse to fight.  Barack Obama will not be constrained; he will use whatever he can against whoever is his opponent, without reservation, including every underhanded trick and lie at his disposal.  The legacy media will not only support him in this, but they will be complicit in his dirty politics.  While conservatism is a set of principles for economic governance, liberalism is a religion for world control.  The rule of law, moral convention, and civility mean nothing to someone confident that he is on the side of what is right and just.  As long as such people are true to the liberal faith, no law or ethic need apply to their actions.  Barack Obama is the ultimate of bullies.  Yet, like most bullies, it is the challenge he fears, the truth he despises.  The ultimate terror for Barack Obama is that the world will see who he really is: a petty man of little talent and few gifts.  The Republicans have to understand that mindset and get dirty and fight with both hands, for this election will be a battle to the death for the nation, and perhaps the world, so the Republican candidate needs to show the world this truth

(“Beat Back Barack” by William L. Gensert dated December 6, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/beat_back_barack.html )

Americans are beginning to take their Constitution seriously, which makes sense since this founding document is the font of all federal power.  Its carefully crafted structural provisions that we learned about in grade school, such as the separation of powers and checks and balances, are not merely an application of political theory.  If the federal government acts outside the scope of its delegated and carefully enumerated powers, then it’s no better than an armed mob.  Lawmakers and citizens no longer consider simply whether a given bill or policy proposal is a good idea but whether it is constitutional.  The Obama administration and its allies in Congress have perpetrated more than their share of such mob-like actions.  While it’s hard to narrow them down, here’s a stab at the government’s top 10 constitutional violations since President Obama took office:

·    The individual mandate - The individual mandate is unprecedented and exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has a chance to strike this down during its current term.

·    Medicaid coercion - The Court will also be taking up Obamacare’s massive intrusion on federal-state relations in the form of a coercive Medicaid expansion. The law compels states to drastically increase their Medicaid expenditures and reorganize their health care bureaucracies, on penalty of losing all (not just additional) Medicaid funds.

·    The Independent Payment Advisory Board (a.k.a. “The Death Panel”) - IPAB is the group of 15 presidential appointees who, beginning in 2014, are tasked with reducing Medicare spending. Unlike other federal agencies, IPAB is subject to no external review and no public notification in advance of proposed rules or opportunity for comment, no administrative guidelines and no judicial review. Any decisions IPAB makes automatically become law that can only be overridden by a three-fifths majority vote in the Senate.

·    The Chrysler bailout - The Obama administration bullied Chrysler’s secured creditors, who were entitled to “absolute priority,” into accepting 30 cents on the dollar, while junior creditors such as labor unions received much more, which subverts the creditor rights and  violates not just bankruptcy law but also Constitution’s Takings and Due Process clauses.

·    Dodd-Frank - This financial “reform” empowered unlimited, unreviewable and often secret bureaucratic discretion. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Financial Stability Oversight Council craft, execute, and interpret their own law.

·    The deep-water drilling ban - The Interior Department issued a blanket six-month moratorium on new oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which was struck down as arbitrary and capricious, but the government issued a new order to replace the one that was struck down, and that order was subsequently withdrawn, but the judge was so shocked by the administration’s conduct that he found the government in civil contempt of court.

·    Political-speech disclosure for federal contractors - President Obama released a draft executive order (still pending) that would require businesses with federal contracts to disclose independent expenditures on federal elections (political speech independent of candidates and parties), discouraging federal contractors and their executives from engaging in political speech. 

·    Taxing political contributions - The IRS tried to muzzle political speech by asserting that donations to certain nonprofit advocacy groups (so-called 501(c)(4) organizations) would be subject to the gift tax. The IRS has since backed down, but the suspicion remains that it was trying to chill the political speech of those opposed to President Obama’s policies, in violation of the First Amendment.

·    Graphic tobacco warnings - The FDA issued regulations requiring cigarette manufacturers to display graphic warnings on all packs of cigarettes that must cover at least 50% of the packaging and graphically portray tobacco-related illnesses. A federal judge blocked the new regulation, due to go into effect in January, but the administration is appealing.

·    Health care waivers - The Department of Health and Human Services has granted nearly 2,000 waivers to employers seeking relief from ObamaCare’s onerous regulations. Even beyond the political favoritism, such arbitrary dispensations violate a host of constitutional and administrative law provisions ranging from equal protection to the “intelligible principle” required for congressional delegation of authority to cabinet agencies.

Clearly the Obama administration and its allies in Congress do not feel they must follow the Constitution as they have tried a number of different ways to circumvent the legal process to implement unconstitutional restrictions on its citizens.

(“President Obama’s top 10 constitutional violations” by Ilya Shapiro dated December 4, 2011 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/04/president-obamas-top-10-constitutional-violations/ )

We Americans only fool ourselves if we ignore the parallels between Europe's problems and our own, although it's reassuring to think them separate, the fixation on the euro, Europe's common currency, buttresses that mind-set.  Europe's turmoil is ultimately a crisis of the welfare state, which has grown too large to be easily supported economically.  People can't live with it and can't live without it. The American predicament is little different.  Government expansion was one of the 20th century's great transformations.  Wealthy nations adopted programs for education, health care, unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, public housing and income redistribution.  The numbers are astonishing:

·    In 1870, all government spending was 7.3% of national income in the United States, 9.4% in Britain, 10% in Germany and 12.6% in France.

·    By 2007, the figures were 36.6% for the United States, 44.6% for Britain, 43.9% for Germany and 52.6% for France.

Military costs once dominated budgets; now, social spending does.  To flourish, the welfare state requires favorable economics and demographics: rapid economic growth to pay for social benefits and young populations to support the old.  Unfortunately both economics and demographics have moved adversely.  The great expansion of Europe's welfare states started in the 1950s and 1960s, when annual economic growth for its rich nations averaged 4.5% compared with a historical rate since 1820 of 2.1%.  This sort of growth, it was assumed, would continue indefinitely.   However from 1973 to 2000, growth settled back to 2.1% and more recently, it's been lower.  Demographics shifted, too:

·    In 2000, Italy's 65-and-over population was already 18% of the total; in 2010, it was 21%, and the projection for 2050 is 34%.

·    Figures for the European Union's 27 countries are 16%, 18% and 29%.

Until the financial crisis, the welfare state existed in a shaky equilibrium with sluggish economic growth.  The crisis destroyed that equilibrium.  Economic growth slowed, and debt, already high, rose.  Government bonds once considered ultra-safe became risky.  Switch to the United States and broadly speaking, the story is similar.  The great expansion of America's welfare state occurred in the 1960s and 1970s with the creation of Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps:

·    In 1960, 26% of federal spending represented payments for individuals; in 2010, the figure was 66%.

·    Economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s averaged about 4%; from 2000 to 2007, the average was 2.4%.

·    Our elderly population was 13% in 2010; the 2050 estimate is 20%.

The modern welfare state has also reached a historic reckoning.  As a political institution, it hasn't adapted to change.  Politics and economics are at loggerheads.  Vast populations in Europe and America expect promised benefits and, understandably, resent any hint that they will be cut.  Elected politicians respond accordingly.  But the resulting inertia poses an economic threat, one already realized in Europe.  As deficits or taxes rise, the risk is that economic instability will increase, growth will decline, or both.  Paying promised benefits becomes harder. Or austerity becomes unavoidable.  The paradox is that the welfare state, designed to improve security and dampen social conflict, now looms as an engine for insecurity, conflict and disappointment.  Facing the hard questions of finding a sustainable balance between individual protections and better economic growth, the Europeans have spent years dawdling; the parallel with the situation in the United States is all too obvious.

(“Europe’s Predicament is Similar to Ours” by Robert Samuelson dated December 5, 2011 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2011/12/05/europes_predicament_similar_to_ours_99403.html )

President Obama doesn't have an Israel policy, since he makes it up as he goes along, and nothing is certain except that he has created a colossal mess in the entire Middle East for us and for Israel.  Since the day he took office, President Obama has been anti-Israel and has taken advantage of every opportunity to snub Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu; he has created false hope among so-called "Palestinians"; and he has fomented problems in the Middle East that Israel is being forced to suffer through.  At one point, Obama summoned Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House for a tongue-lashing and a well-publicized, deliberate snub.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel's 1967 border should be her permanent border, and so did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  It was no coincidence that Obama delivered his "1967 Borders" speech just before Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to arrive in Washington for an official visit and the proposal was quickly rejected.  Trying to force Israel to accept indefensible borders is preposterous.  It's a step in the process of eradicating Israel completely.  If you took away all of the land that Israel has gained in wars for survival since 1948, Israel would have no land.  That's exactly what Palestinian leaders want.  In their world, Israel doesn't exist.  Israel doesn't even appear on their maps and the logo for the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations that's in use today shows the entire land of Israel as "Palestinian" territory.  Israel is the only true friend that the United States has in the Middle East and maybe the world.  Even more, Israel is on the frontline of the war between radical Islam and Western civilization.  There are two key points to make here.  The first is that U.S. policy was a total failure, something the Administration admitted.  The second was that the failure came due to Arab state refusal to help and Palestinian Authority total rejectionism, but the Administration has never admitted, perhaps not really understood, this factor.  The Obama Administration actually welcomed Islamist victories in Egypt and Tunisia, while doing nothing to prevent that from happening in Libya.  In Syria, the Obama Administration collaborated with Turkey to push Islamists to the fore in running the Syrian opposition.  In short, the Obama Administration has taken the Islamist side, the side of anti-American, anti-Western, genocide-minded toward Israel, anti-Christian, and anti-women’s rights forces.  It keeps insisting that these are harmless forces, even the “good guys” who will bring about true democracy.  The President is systematically removing strong and knowledgeable people from top posts.  The national security advisor and the secretary of defense are now political hacks, mere mouthpieces for Obama.  Israel has no friends in the Middle East, and her enemies are growing stronger by the day, and now more than ever before, Israel needs a friend in the White House, but Barack Obama is not that person

(“You Can’t be Pro-Obama and Pro-Israel” by Neil Snyder dated December 4, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/you_cant_be_pro-obama_and_pro-israel.html

Obama’s Middle East Policy: A Unified Field Theory” by Barry Rubin dated December 5, 2011 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/12/05/obamas-middle-east-policy-a-unified-field-theory/ )


* 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.  No updates have been made to the issue sections this week.


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY