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Views on the News

December 11, 2010

Views on the News*

In fifty years, there is little doubt that history will regard the administration of Barack Obama as the presidency that saved America, or at least woke up America. History will show that it was the radical nature of Obama's dogged devotion to a liberal progressive philosophy, far out of the American mainstream, that jolted awake a generation of apathetic and passive citizens just in time to save the republic. For the last two years, the President has unleashed the most aggressively left-wing agenda he could muster. Obama's un-reconstructed, throwback Keynesian economics from the 1970s and even the 1930s was a proven failure 30 years ago. Bringing it back as if nothing has happened since the Keynesian intellectual high water mark in the 1960s is public policy malpractice so extreme that it deserves sanctions. Obamanomics has now gone beyond this silliness to outright assault on critical areas of our economy. When the electorate began a backlash against his revolutionary designs at town halls and Tea Parties, he ignored them. When they rejected Obama's ideology by throwing his party out of power by historic proportions in the midterm elections, he pretended not to notice, or that he was misunderstood. Obama is not a conventional politician. He is a radical ideologue. Obama is not a leader. He is a bitter partisan, and as odd as it sounds, that is exactly what this country needed. It has been generations since Americans have been exposed to a more vivid depiction of the significant differences between the left's and the right's views of this country and its future. The delineation between conservative and liberal had grown hopelessly blurred to a majority of citizens. But Obama and his leftist cabal have been successful not only in demonstrating the frightening vision progressive liberals have of making America into a European-style socialist state. They have also managed to animate a vast conservative majority that has lain painfully dormant since the mid-1980s. The distinction is glaring and, even for those who normally avoid politics, impossible to miss. Besides the glaring proof this offers of the left's obsession with using divisive class warfare to gain power, it also reveals a notable difference in philosophy.  While conservatives believe money belongs first to the citizen and is confiscated by government, leftists believe money belongs first to the government. That government then lets select citizens keep some of it... if and only if government "can afford" to be so generous. Everywhere they turn, Americans see that the left is offering higher taxes, less freedom, more debt and regulation. They simultaneously see the right offering lower taxes, freer markets, and fiscal sanity. Voters' first opportunity to choose between those two visions occurred in the 2010 midterms. Their preference was unmistakable to everyone except Barack Obama. His recent pronouncement that "[i]t would be unwise to assume [the voters] prefer one way of thinking over another" reconfirmed that the President and his cohorts have no desire whatsoever to alter course and instead will spend the next two years butting heads with the newly elected conservative majority. This conflict is sure to make the distinction between the left and the right all the more clear to an engaged American public. The elites' uniform disenchantment with Obama says much more about them than it does him, namely that they are hopelessly lost in the intoxication of their intellectual elitism and the mire of their crippling worldview and that they didn't have a clue about Obama when they formed their little cult and still don't as they stumble upon, kicking and screaming, his abundant failings. In the end, the era of Obama will do more damage to the progressive left than any Republican Presidency could have ever done, and for that, posterity will owe him a debt of gratitude.

(“The President that Saved America” by Peter Heck dated December 4, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/the_presidency_that_saved_amer.html

Elites Should Blame Themselves, Not Obama, for Believing His Messianic Pretensions” by David Limbaugh dated December 7, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DavidLimbaugh/2010/12/07/elites_should_blame_selves,_not_obama,_for_believing_his_messianic_pretensions

The Madness of Obamanomics” by Peter Ferrara dated December 8, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/12/08/the-madness-of-obamanomics )

Republican legislators have no reason to make Faustian bargains with Barack Obama and the menagerie of union-made politicians whose destructive policies so thoroughly still dominate the Democrat Party. Republicans do not need the approval of gauzy-minded pundits at the Washington Post and the New York Times who are stuck in a 1932-65 time warp. The left-wing think tanks that once dominated thought in Washington are now intellectually bankrupt. Ultra-bright young Republicans in the House and Senate must not sacrifice the clarity of their new ideas on the phony altar of "bipartisan" compromise. They and their pro-individual, pro-prosperity, small-government policies are what the voters want and America needs. These young Republican leaders are at the cutting edge of a reawakening in America that demands intellectual competence and moral integrity in public affairs. The present tax code, largely designed and built by Democrats, does at least $2 of damage to the private economy for every $1 of tax revenue collected. They also know that raising job-killing taxes, stifling business capital investment and running up the debt are not the ways to restore prosperity to America. A new era of American exceptionalism is in the offing. It will be a time of renewal and common sense. Taxes will be lowered, money will be spent wisely and for value received, freedom will replace regulation, the economy will grow while the government shrinks, dependency will give way to work and dignity; and in Washington, smart will replace dumb. The Constitution will be restored and the borders protected. America's history and culture will be respected and its strength in the world re-established. Before any of that can happen, the Obama blitzkrieg must be stopped and the iron grip of the federal government on America's throat must be broken. The recent citizen-led midterm election victory that installed a Republican majority in the House was a cry of anguish by an oppressed people, a desperate last stand that slowed the left's destructive advance and kept hope alive. It is now time for a counteroffensive where a new alliance of Republicans, independents, Tea Partyers and Reagan Democrats, armed with ballots instead of pitchforks, must start working forward to 2012 and elect a new-style Republican to the White House and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. From now on, every Republican in Congress must stand fast, through a combination of superior skill and true grit preventing Obama from doing further harm between now and the next election.

(“Make No More Faustian Pacts With the Left” by Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins dated December 8, 2010 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/556177/201012081828/Make-No-More-Faustian-Pacts-With-The-Left.htm )

For those who doubt that liberals want to control the information that citizens can receive, we now have proof that the FCC has begun their assault on free speech. The FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says to bolster "traditional media," the FCC should conduct a "public value test" of every commercial broadcast station at relicensing time. He also advocates relicensing every four years instead of the current eight. Ever since Barack Obama became President, prominent conservatives have warned about liberal efforts to squelch conservative and Christian talk-radio. Although Copps has said the FCC will not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, his prescription for "testing" commercial broadcast stations will alarm defenders of free speech and free enterprise. The FCC's Public Value Test would include seven areas:

·    Meaningful Commitments to News and Public Affairs Programming. These would be quantifiable and not involve issues of content interference.

·    Enhanced Disclosure. Requiring information about what programs a station airs allows viewers to judge whether their local station should be subsidized with free spectrum privileges.

·    Political Advertising Disclosure.  We the People have a right to know who is bank-rolling these ads beyond some wholly uninformative and vapidly-named group that appears on the bottom of the screen to mask the special interests it really represents. 

·    Reflecting Diversity.  The FCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee has spent years providing specific, targeted recommendations to correct this injustice. (Since when has this been a mission of the FCC?)

·    Community Discovery.  The FCC required licensees to meet occasionally with their viewers and listeners to see if the programs being offered reflected the diverse interests and needs of the community. 

·    Local and Independent Programming.  The goal is more localism in the program diet, more local news and information, and a lot less streamed-in homogenization and monotonous nationalized music at the expense of local and regional talent. 

·    Public Safety.  Every station, as a condition of license, must have a detailed, approved plan to go immediately on-air when disaster, nature-made or man-made, strikes. 

The FCC wants to return to its original licensing bargain between broadcasters and the people: in return for free use of airwaves that belong exclusively to the people, licensees agree to serve the public interest as good stewards of a precious national resource.  The FCC and Congress continues its support for public broadcasting, which it described as "the jewel of our media landscape." Clearly this FCC initiative is an attempt to implement stealth censorship on media outlets using arbitrary criteria and partisan evaluation.

(“FCC Commissioner Wants to Test the ‘Public Value’ of Every Broadcast Station” by Susan Jones dated December 3, 2010 published by Cybercast News Service at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/fcc-commissioner-wants-test-public-value )

 

The Bipartisan Deficit Commission led by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson voted 11 to 7 in favor of their far-sighted plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion within the decade, which can be classified as only a symbolic victory, because under the rules of the commission, this nearly 2 to 1 margin represented a pointed failure to reach the 14 votes needed pass the recommendations on to Congress. Given the make-up of this commission, it is somewhat miraculous that the commission came up with any useful ideas at all. As a matter of fact, the commission doesn’t actually “cut” federal spending. Under the commission’s proposal, government spending would rise from roughly $3.5 trillion today to more than $5 trillion by 2020. So, under the terrible “cuts” that the commission is recommending, federal spending would still increase faster than inflation. This is the old Washington game of calling a slower increase than previously projected a “cut.” Of course, because the size of the economy will grow over time, the commission’s proposals would mean that government spending would fall from 24.3% of GDP today to 21.8% over the next 15 years. If we fail to act, federal spending is projected to consume as much as 43% of GDP by 2050. To its credit, the Commission made constructive proposals for capping discretionary spending, reforming Social Security, and simplifying the tax code (albeit with substantial tax hikes). The Deficit Commission report also revealed several overlooked truths about the federal government, health reform, the tax code and more:

·    The federal government is horribly managed.

·    Health reform's cost savings apparently were bogus.

·    Millions of workers don't pay into Social Security.

·    The tax code is a hopeless, loophole-riddled mess.

·    Obama is a big spender.

·    It's actually not that hard to cut the deficit.

The most important thing this report will reveal is whether there's any political courage left in Washington.  One of the biggest disappointments of the Deficit Commission report was its lack of substantial entitlement reform. Modern democracies have created a new morality.

Government benefits, once conferred, cannot be revoked. People expect them and consider them property rights. Just as government cannot randomly confiscate property, it cannot withdraw benefits without violating a moral code. Ultimately, the failure of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was a failure of leadership, and unfortunately, that man was President Obama.

(“6 Hidden Gems in the Deficit Commission Report” by John Merline dated December 2, 2010 published by AOL News at http://www.aolnews.com/opinion/article/opinion-6-hidden-gems-in-the-deficit-commission-report/19741541

Cowards Sank the Deficit Plan” by John Avlon dated December 3, 2010 published by The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-12-03/deficit-commission-plan-fails-alleged-fiscal-conservatives-most-to-blame/

Supersized Government” by Robert Samuelson dated December 6, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/12/06/supersized_government_108147.html

Errors of Commission” by Avik Roy dated December 7, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/254640/errors-commission-avik-roy

The Cuts That Weren’t” by Michael Tanner dated December 8, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/254714/cuts-weren-t-michael-tanner )

 

If the 2010 election produced any conservative mandates, they are to create jobs and to rein in soaring spending and deficits. Despite liberal claims to the contrary, rising spending, not declining revenues, drives America’s long-term deficits. Once the economy recovers, revenues are projected to return to their historical average of 18% of the economy, even if all tax cuts are extended. Federal spending, rising from its historical average of 20% of the economy to a projected 26% by the end of the decade, is the moving variable. Nearly all of this new spending will come from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt. Combined and adjusted for inflation, these annual expenditures will rise from $1.6 trillion to $3 trillion over this decade. Therefore, budget reform must include putting Social Security and Medicare on a fixed long-term budget with a capped growth rate. Yet major entitlement reforms would be phased in slowly. In the meantime, Congress should enact government-wide spending caps that gradually return spending to 20% or less of GDP. After a $727 billion spending increase since 2007, there is no shortage of programs to cut to meet that 20% target. The 112th Congress should target programs based on their economic impact, their cost, and the feasibility of reforming them. It should build credibility with the public by including cuts in the federal government’s spending on itself, unpopular earmarks, and even traditional conservative spending programs. Conservatives could begin with the following twelve projects:

·    One. Freeze and reform federal pay. 

·    Two. Ban earmarks.

·    Three. Ban corporate welfare.

·    Four. Reform farm subsidies.

·    Five. Recall unspent stimulus funds.

·    Six. Repeal ObamaCare.

·    Seven. Repeal the new entitlement Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS).

·    Eight. Return highway spending to states.. 

·    Nine. Defund high-speed-rail projects.

·    Ten. Trim Pell Grants.

·    Eleven. Reduce aid to states.

·    Twelve. Reduce waste.

Conservatives should harbor no illusions that cutting spending is easy, however, by carefully selecting its targets, Congress could save as much as $3 trillion over the next decade and lay the groundwork for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reform. 

(“What to Cut” by Brian Riedl dated December 6, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/254153/what-cut-brian-riedl )

 

Obama has approved nearly $5 billion for black and Native American farmers who claim they were discriminated against, which is a redistribution of wealth in the name of environmental and social justice better known as reparations! Redistribution of wealth has been an underlying purpose of this administration and Congress, and one of the most glaring examples has been its welcoming of a series of lawsuits alleging past discrimination by black, Native American, Hispanic and female farmers. Pigford v. Glickman was a class action lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture alleging discrimination against black farmers in its allocation of farm loans between 1983 and 1987. A separate suit filed by 300,000 American Indians claimed they had been cheated out of land royalties dating back to 1887. It was then-Senator Obama who introduced the original Pigford legislation in 2007. One of the fruits of this lame-duck session has been the approval of $1.15 billion to the black farmers and $3.4 billion to the American Indians to settle the two lawsuits. At last count, more than 94,000 black farmers have signed up for payments under the settlement, but based on census data there were only 33,000 or so black farmers in existence during the period in question. This is what happens when government rings the reparations dinner bell, and it's an indication of just how loose the rules are for vetting past injustices, real or not. Throw in the cult of victimology permeating modern liberalism and you have a cash cow ready to be milked and victims will come out of the woodwork. The only "proof" required was a form stating that the claimant had "attempted" to farm, perhaps planting tomatoes in the back yard, and to have a family member vouch for that assertion. The government would then send the aggrieved "farmer" a check for $50,000. Pigford is an outright raid on the U.S. Treasury that needs to be investigated. No doubt there may be valid minority claims for discrimination, but when there are more claimants than farmers, so this sure smells like a scam but the President is already invested in this scam. 

(“Reparations? When Pigford Flies” dated December 7, 2010 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/556104/201012071900/Reparations-When-Pigford-Flies.htm )

 

Multiculturalism is the most recent, and perhaps the final, expression of the late 20th-century left-wing ascendancy, which is a completely synthetic doctrine, formulated without reference to any perceptible element of the quotidian world, and it is only a matter of time until it fails spectacularly. Although derived in format and rhetoric from the civil rights movement, it has no relationship with the ideas or hopes expressed by King, Abernathy, Rustin, or any other legitimate civil rights leader. While the civil rights movement was founded in opposition to the odious practice of legal racial segregation, multiculturalism had no such concrete agenda. It was based almost completely on abstract academic theories derived in equal part from black racial extremism and Marxism, purporting to define the relationship between the dominant "white" race and all other races. It would be difficult to find a theory to beat multiculturalism for sheer vacuity. It ignores the fact that numerous groups among the "oppressor" race, such as the Irish and Jews, have been historical victims, while the "oppressed" races have often victimized in their turn when they have occupied the top slot. For these reasons among others, multiculturalism gained no greater a foothold with the American public than its political models, socialism and Marxism. Although the left attempted throughout the late '80s and '90s to force multiculturalism on the country through its activist PC component, the effort went nowhere. There were two exceptions -- the academy, whence multiculturalism arose, and the government bureaucracy. On campus, multiculturalism remained one of the weird things that academics believe. In the bureaucracy, it became another expression of bureaucratic stupidity and intransigence, which did not prevent it from having an impact, limited but malignant, on the country as a whole. After 9/11, the response of the country's intellectual leadership was straightforward: to react exactly as set forth by multicultural doctrine. The U.S., as a white European oppressor state, was obviously at fault. The Islamist jihadis, all members of an oppressed subaltern race, were victims, no matter what appearances might otherwise suggest. TSA procedure was tailored to meet multicultural norms from the beginning. No effort was spared to avoid any sign of profiling. There are lessons to learned in the world of multiculturism:

·    A primary driver of multiculturalism is cowardice - Americans as a whole were repelled by the Ground Zero Mosque proposal, while academic, media, and government figures (among them Bloomberg and Obama) feigned incomprehension.

·    Multiculturalism cannot distinguish between hustlers and legitimate figures - The civilian trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani resulted in acquittal on 224 charges of murder and 60 other serious charges while discouraging any further civilian trials.

·    Multiculturalism and the law don't mix - The TSA's new airport anti-terror strategy is a disaster which was met with total resistance from the public, marked by confrontations with officials, open arguments, and refusals to cooperate.

·    To sow multiculturalism is to reap the whirlwind - Portland opted out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force as kind of a protest against the inhuman policies of the Bush-Cheney tyranny. The population of the city was saved, despite themselves, by agents of a government they despise.

The problem is that there exists no particular impulse for reform or removal. Multiculturalism infests all levels of government, and no one involved sees anything wrong with the status quo. It is likely that we will simply stumble on as if lost in a haze until we suffer yet another large-scale atrocity. The battle against terror is a race between rationality and luck. The United States has been very lucky so far, lucky over Detroit, lucky in Times Square, lucky in Dallas, and lucky in Portland, but luck, as Fort Hood clearly reveals, won't last forever, and when it fails, rationality, intelligence, common sense, and trained intuition, must be ready to take over.

(“Multiculturalism Hits the Wall” by J.R. Dunn dated December 5, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/multiculturalism_hits_the_wall.html )

 

The dramatic improvements in Iraqi security between 2007 and 2009 have produced important, but incomplete changes in Iraq's politics, and these changes make it possible to imagine Iraq slowly muddling upward, building gradually toward a better future. -Iraq's own internal dynamics and the history of intercommunal civil wars indicate that if Iraq does not find a way to muddle slowly upward toward greater stability, it is far more likely that it will slide quickly backward into the chaos of all-out civil war than that it would simply muddle downward toward an unpleasant, weak, but minimally stable state that need not concern the United States. Washington has signaled its intention to withdraw U.S. military forces from the country, sooner rather than later. Washington has announced a strategy to exit, but it has not yet formulated an exit strategy that will secure and sustain its interests in Iraq and the region. The United States will have several different goals as it exits Iraq, but these goals, and the objectives they imply, are not all of equal importance, and Washington must recognize the priorities among them:

·    Iraq cannot be allowed to descend back into civil war - Because of Iraq's own resources and its position in the economically vital and geo-strategically sensitive Persian Gulf region, it would be disastrous for American vital national interests if Iraq were to slip into an all-out civil war, which still remains very possible.

·    Iraq cannot reemerge as an aggressive state - There is little danger of this in the near term, but as the United States works to build a strong, cohesive Iraq that would not relapse into internal conflict, it also must avoid building one that is so powerful and self-confident that it will threaten its neighbors.

·    Iraq should ideally be a strong, prosperous U.S. ally - Because it will be difficult enough to ensure that Iraq averts civil war and does not emerge as a new "Frankenstein's monster" of the Gulf, this last objective should be seen as an aspirational goal rather than an irreducible necessity.

Since Iraq is now a fully sovereign nation enjoying a resurgence of nationalism, it is essential that Iraqis see themselves as benefiting from continued American involvement in Iraq. The Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), a partnership document between Iraq and the United States that was initiated by the Iraqi government, provides a foundation for this type of assistance. If the United States wants to maintain leverage in Iraq, the SFA must ultimately deliver outcomes that Iraqis value. For these same reasons, the United States must work in tandem with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, other international organizations, and its allies (in the region, in Europe, and elsewhere) more than ever before. The more that the United States can move in synch with the UN and American allies, the more palatable American initiatives will be to Iraqis. Ultimately, the United States must condition the continuation of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship on the willingness of the Iraqi political leadership to guide their country in the direction of greater stability, inclusivity, and effective governance. 

(“Unfinished Business: An American Strategy for Iraq Moving Forward” by Frederick Kagan, Kenneth Pollack, Raad Alkadiri, J. Scott Carpenter, Sean Kane, and Joost Hiltermann dated December 3, 2010 published by American Enterprise Institute at http://www.aei.org/paper/100161 )

 

* 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:

·  Feminism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/feminism.php

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

·  Foreign Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/philosophy.php

·  Europe at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/europe.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com