Views on the News
Views on the News*
December 12, 2015
In the long and dismal History of human bondage an unbroken chain of command economies and tyrants has kept their boot on the neck of humanity. Then came the American experiment, the spirit of ‘76, the miracle at Philadelphia, and for brief moment in the hours of human bondage the flame of freedom flickered and then blazed, lighting the way to a new age: the Age of Liberty. Unfettered by central planning and tyranny, the ingenuity and enterprise of man brought forth in two short centuries more innovation and accomplishment than the previous eons of slavery. Then the shackles were re-forged by the Progressives who want the power to dictate the lives of others for goals they say are for the betterment of others but which are in reality merely tools they use to gain power. Through manipulation of the media and control of education, the Progressives gained the tacit approval of the general population. Most people were too busy with working and living their lives to keep their attention on the wider society. The prosperity freedom had created bred generations of people who began to take it for granted. Today, after years of bread and circus cycles of neglect, we have a mass of citizens who follow like sheep to the slaughter or lemmings to the cliff anywhere the Progressive puppet masters portray as the next free entitlement. Founded upon a limited government, today we have an imperial President who rules by decree as we pretend that the Constitution is still in force. We flounder and lurch from one crisis to the next on the world stage because we are divorced from our principles and hypnotized into believing we actually still stand for freedom when we actually are a front for multi-national corporations and international banks. We have descended into mediocrity by adopting the same over-regulated ”from everyone according to the ability to everyone according to their need” pathology that doomed the commissars with their five-year plans, their gulags, and iron curtains. Whenever this rob-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor looting of producers to support non-producers runs into trouble, which is whenever they run out of other people’s money, they blame Capitalism: the goose that lays the golden eggs. In a classic bait and switch the Progressive collectivists offer freedom and deliver regulations. They offer prosperity and deliver stagnation, inflation, and economic ruin. Our rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul pied pipers blame capitalism when in reality Socialism is the problem and Capitalism is the solution. This progressive slide into the dustbin of History will only be reversed by applying the opposing forces of freedom.
(“Socialism is the Problem, Capitalism is the Solution” by Robert R. Owens dated December 4, 2015 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/article/77280 )
Climate change is a hallmark cause for President Barack Obama, evidenced by his relentless drive to convince the world that global warming is a bigger threat than ISIS. Few realize that the “green movement” is about building large personal fortunes for an elite few. President Obama laid out his threat to bypass Congress and ignore the American people during his 2013 State of the Union address by exerting his authority under Executive Orders:
“I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Obama's green energy plan put the coal industry on life-support, targeted oil and gas as the enemy and sought to impose restrictions on power plants that generate electricity to homes and businesses. What the President reportedly hides behind the curtain is his alliances with international green elites, a select group of political and Wall Street cronies, and energy regulatory czars who have orchestrated a CO2 carbon-taxing scheme that would put billions of dollars into their own pockets. A regulatory structure is being assembled through federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The plans were drawn, the carbon-credit trading exchange, registered as the Chicago Climate Exchange, was established and set to transfer cash. CCX founder Richard Sandor launched the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2003 after getting two research grants from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. During the recent 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Obama made another high-stakes play to push through his green agenda despite the high cost to even the poorest of Americans. A list of powerful global titans from politics to banking to Wall Street remain on the ready to engage in a revived carbon-emissions trading program. They do so despite the evidence that weighs against any such necessity. Publicized reversals by such global-warming heavyweights as the Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and NASA’s James Hansen now state that global temperatures have not substantially risen for nearly two decades. Yet, Obama gears up to invest billions of America’s tax dollars in the green abyss, even while other countries across the globe are backing away. European nations have already experienced a severe hit to their economies and negative blowback from their citizens. Nature itself foils the environmentalists as the U.S. Department of Energy admits that once emitted that 98% of all the carbon dioxide emissions are again absorbed by nature. The media neglect the real reason Obama wants your hard-earned dollars to flow into a global green machine. He continues to push, at the expense of America and despite contrary scientific data, for a massive financial commitment to global warming. The CCX reportedly changed names. While ultimately drowning the carbon-trading scheme and not shorelines, nature turned on the CCX planners when the Himalayas did not melt, the polar bear population grew, and carbon dioxide output revived and increased farming yields that today feed millions more people across the globe as a result.
(“Money and Power Drive Obama’s Climate Agenda” by Sharon Sebastian dated December 5, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/12/money_and_power_drive_obamas_climate_agenda.html )
Amidst the general concern over this stubbornly slow growth, liberals prefer to focus on income inequality. Liberals have contorted an effect of America's slow economy into its cause. There are ample reasons for America's economic concerns. For almost nine years, real GDP growth has not matched 2006's 2.7% increase. During this time annual growth has averaged 1.4%. Unemployment is currently 5%, but only because labor force participation is down too (62.4%). The left sees free market competition as inherently inefficient and unfair. For them, it as a zero-sum system; that it is one with fewer, but bigger, winners, and more, but bigger, losers, simply validates their original verdict. Liberals are unlikely to be persuaded by the obvious observation: income inequality is rather simply, if also miserably, cured which is what the late and unlamented communist regimes succeeded so mightily in, an equality of poverty for all but the ruling political class. Liberals will not be persuaded by evidence that a slowing economy produces the income inequality they bemoan. A slow economy creates a first-out/last-in squeeze on its most marginal producers and workers. The process results in their ever greater marginalization, which manifests itself in diminished income and greater inequality. A slowing economy decreases opportunity. As businesses downsize, they do so first among their least productive elements. The longer the slowness, the more hesitant they are to bring back less productive elements. Even when rebound is clear, the least productive are the last brought back. Between exiting and returning, such workers miss the opportunity to gain new skills, while those remaining do so, and see existing skills atrophy and become outdated. The longer the duration, the greater the effect. Of course such a process exacerbates income inequality, an inequality already existing due to the fewer skills that made these workers more marginal in the first place. Liberals want to believe that the private sector's superiority is illusory and that it can be replicated, if not superseded, by the public sector in the form of government grants and training programs. Common sense states otherwise. Training primarily equips a person to get their first job in a field, but it is that first job that leads to the specific experience and training in an organization. It is this specificity that creates real value for an employer. Simply, training outside the workforce is less dynamic than working inside it. Inevitably, training is done by case study, which makes it years removed from today's actual state of development. Working is immersion in current innovation as it develops and unfolds. The divide between the two is more profound than that between theory and practice. It is a gulf between past and present - between recitation and innovation. Training at best develops generic skills; working provides the specific, individualized and more highly remunerated ones. Slow overall growth stalls the entry of the less productive into, and accelerates their exit from, the workforce. No obstacle is to be more avoided than a barrier to entering the workforce, and no more remorseless such barrier exists than a slow economy. Liberals have seized on income inequality as their version of the current economy's flaw because it both shifts the focus of blame from their policies, and seemingly justifies a greater pursuit of those policies: higher spending, higher taxes, and more regulation - in the cause of redistribution. In doing so, they have not just reversed effect and cause, but cure and culprit. Far from ameliorating the effects of income inequality, the left's policies have created the slow growth that most exacerbates it, which is where we now stand, and have stood for almost a decade.
(“A Lack of Growth, Not Inequality, Is the Problem” by J.T. Young dated December 10, 2015 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2015/12/10/a_lack_of_growth_not_inequality_is_the_problem_101912.html )
In this 103rd year of the income tax, it is timely to note that there still is no intellectually sturdy case for progressive taxation. Arguments for it are invariably arguments for increased equality of social outcomes. Because individuals have different vocational desires and different aptitudes for adding value to the economy, inequality is inevitable. Because individuals have different social sensibilities, opinions will differ about what degrees of inequality are intolerably unlovely (more about this aesthetic metric in a moment). But inequality, even when unlovely to some, is unjust only when it arises from unjust social arrangements. So, the degree to which inequality is morally troubling depends on the degree to which the process that allocates wealth does so according to political influence and rent-seeking rather than merit and self-reliance. Society should prevent extreme privation, no matter how far the top earners are from those near the bottom. But who is to decide, and how are they to decide, the ideal spread between the top and the bottom of income distribution? The argument for progressive taxation must demonstrate this: Such taxation does not do more harm by slowing economic growth than faster economic growth would do good by its distributive effects. Although the argument for progressive taxation usually begins with a moral judgment about social conditions, it usually becomes a moral assertion about equitable sacrifices. It asserts that money has declining marginal utility: that $1,000 subtracted from a wealthy person’s income diminishes that person’s happiness, or society’s sum of happiness, less than would $1,000 subtracted from the income of a person with a modest income. This ostensibly scientific, meaning empirical, generalization about how people value money often conceals moral judgments about how people ought to value money, or about the “social value” of expenditures by the wealthy and the non-wealthy. When these moral judgments are codified in tax policy, they conflict with this idea: “It is one of the virtues of a free society that, within the widest limits, men are free to maximize their satisfactions according to their own hierarchy of preferences.” Proportionate taxation always is what progressive taxation never is: simple. What justifies progressive taxation, and characterizes progressivism, is confidence that at any moment in society’s endless evolution, what is equitable can be known and society can be fine-tuned to achieve it, which is how we got our baroque tax code. It is the nature of reality that burdens imposed on the wealthy minority can injure the majority by impairing economic incentives, thereby suppressing growth. Progressive taxation reduces the rewards of investments and the real rate of return on savings, thereby encouraging consumption over saving and hence over capital formation. When progressive taxation slows economic growth, it makes inequalities of wealth more durable by retarding the accumulation of new fortunes. By encouraging constant tinkering with the tax code to perfect equity, progressive taxation gives a patina of altruism to rent-seeking by economic factions, whereby government enriches those sophisticated at manipulating it. Each individual’s achievement, like each individual, is derivative of society, which is entitled to socialize whatever portion of each individual’s acquisition that society calculates is its rightful share. Because collective choices (provision of education, infrastructure and other public goods) facilitate individuals’ strivings, the collectivity, represented by government, can take as much of created wealth as it decides it made possible. Being judge and jury in its own case, government will generously estimate its contributions and entitlements. The arguments for progressive taxation range from the feeble to the sinister, so the case for it is not uneasy; it is nonexistent.
(“The non-existent case for progressive taxation” by George F. Will dated December 4, 2015 published by The Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-nonexistent-case-for-progressive-taxation/2015/12/04/4ef17830-99e6-11e5-8917-653b65c809eb_story.html )
Barack Obama is the most rigidly ideological President, a man who has a nearly blind adherent to a particular ideology (progressivism). It has been clear from the start of his presidency that Obama has decided that Islam is wholly separate from Islamic terrorism, which explains his refusal to use the words (or variations of the words) radical or militant Islam. It also explains why his administration has used absurd euphemisms like “man-caused disaster” and “workplace violence” to describe Islam-inspired attacks. The president, in an effort to protect Islam, invokes the Crusades at a National Prayer Breakfast, despite the fact that the Crusades happened roughly a thousand years ago. We have a president who is eager to put a racial frame around incidents in which white cops kills blacks, even if, as in the case of Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, the shooting was justified and there was no evidence that it was racially motivated. No matter; the incidents fit into Obama’s worldview, and off to the races he went. In the case of jihadism, when the killers themselves are invoking the Koran and the Islamic faith to justify their malevolence, when the caliphate established in the heart of the Middle East is called the Islamic State, the President refuses to confront it. He goes into contortions to downplay or ignore the connection to Islam. He has a narrative to advance, and he will do it even if he has to run roughshod over reality to do it. We should expect the President to understand the nature of the enemy we’re facing. It would also be refreshing if the President did not live in a world hermetically sealed off from facts that are inconvenient to his worldview. Barack Obama has a self-conceit: He sees himself as pragmatic, empirical, a man driven by reason rather than emotion, truth rather than dogma. His self-conception is a self-delusion; he is blind to how closed his mind is and how much he distorts reality in the cause of his meta-narratives. This happens on issue after issue, his intellectual distortions are not contained to a single topic, but it may be most pronounced in his utter inability to see the struggle within Islam that is unfolding before his very eyes. He doesn’t want it to be true, and so he won’t allow it to be true. There is an independent reality apart from what Obama thinks. He can ignore the truth, but he cannot wish it out of existence. By ignoring the reality of things, he makes everything worse. Obama is lost and confused, inhabiting a world of his own making. That would be bad enough if he was a community organizer; it is disastrous for a man who is President. America and the world are paying a terrible price because of the closing of Barack Obama’s mind.
(“The Closing of Barack Obama’s Mind” by Peter Wehner dated December 4, 2015 published by Commentary at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/american-society/the-closing-of-barack-obamas-mind/ )
History will not be kind to President Obama's effectiveness in fighting terrorism, because his record is terrible. The California Christmas Party Massacre is the only the latest in a string of major U.S. attacks during his tenure. In May 2009, Obama vowed to defeat terrorism using "all elements of our power." "My single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe," he said. "It's the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It's the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night." The next month, Obama traveled to Cairo to apologize to the world's Muslims for the War on Terror. Then he canceled it, along with enhanced interrogations used to obtain information about plots against the homeland from captured terrorists. Next, he set out to release as many terrorists as he could from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also ordered the FBI and Homeland Security to delete "jihad" from counterterrorism manuals and fire all trainers who linked terrorism to Islam. Obama wasn't done keeping us safe. He also stopped a major investigation of terror supporting Muslim Brotherhood front groups and mosques after U.S. attorneys successfully prosecuted Brotherhood charities. He opened the floodgates to Muslim immigrants, importing more than 400,000 of them, many from terrorist hot spots Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Not coincidentally, America has endured seven major Islamic terrorist attacks on its soil on Obama's watch. The nation has averaged one big hit a year, over the past seven years.
· June 2009: Al-Qaida-trained Abdulhakim Muhammad opened fire on a U.S. military recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., killing one and wounding another.
· November 2009: Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire in an attack at Ford Hood in Killeen, Texas, killing 13 and wounding more than 30.
· September 2012: Terrorists with al-Qaida in the Maghreb attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador and three others.
· April 2013: Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev exploded two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding more than 260.
· May 2015: ISIS-directed Muslims Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson opened fire on the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, shooting a security guard before police killed them.
· July 2015: Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked a military recruiting center and U.S. Navy Reserve in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing four U.S. Marines and a sailor.
· December 2015: The ISIS-inspired San Bernardino attack was the deadliest since 9/11.
Attack after attack, Obama has maintained that global warming is a bigger threat than global terrorism. Even before the Christmas Party Massacre, polls showed that Obama is viewed as soft on Islamic terrorists. According to Quinnipiac University, over 60% of American voters say Obama isn't doing enough to prevent terrorism and is losing the fight against ISIS.
(“Obama: 7 Years, 7 Major Islamic Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil” dated December 4, 2015 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/120415-783959-over-his-7-years-in-office-obama-has-had-7-major-islamic-terrorist-attacks.htm )
Political correctness is more deadly than ISIS. If the PC movement went away, America would have a much easier time fighting terrorism, because political correctness will be our undoing, despite the best efforts of intelligence, law enforcement, and the military. Within hours it was fairly clear what the San Bernardino shooting was about: Islamic terrorism. But in the world of political correctness, this is “the cause which must not be named” for fear of offending Muslims. We know the female San Bernardino shooter pledged support to ISIS, so it would be fair to call her an Islamic terrorist. President Obama did say the shooters were, “embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam.” Only 70% of U.S. Muslims have a very unfavorable view of al Qaeda, meaning that close to a third may actually accept this “perverted interpretation.” Major Nidal Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he opened fire killing 13 people at Fort Hood, but President Obama called this “workplace violence” for six years! A neighbor of the San Bernardino killers didn’t report suspicious activity “for fear of being called racist.” George Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watchman, reported the suspicious activities of Trayvon Martin, and after an altercation where Martin was fatally shot, Zimmerman was branded a racist and faced a criminal trial. Department of Homeland Security has the “If you see something, say something” program. The purpose is to raise public awareness about terrorism and encourage reporting suspicious to law enforcement. The San Bernardino neighbor may have wanted to report seeing several Middle Eastern visitors to the apartment bring packages at odd hours of the night, but decided that seeing something and saying nothing was the safer course of action. This is the result of political correctness; shutting up to avoid offending and being ostracized for trying to do the right thing. If citizens are vigilant, many terror plots will be noticed and disrupted. Residents must feel free to speak up, even if their suspicions turn out to be wrong. Even if they are wrong more than right, lives will be saved and we will have a chance at stopping San Bernardino-like plots. If citizens are afraid to speak up due to political correctness, we all lose as law enforcement can’t do it alone. Two weeks ago the best judgment of intelligence and law enforcement was there were no credible threats against the U.S. The neighbor, cowed by political correctness, was afraid to speak up, and the result is 14 people dead. When the PC culture silences the next warning, many more will die!
(“Political Correctness More Deadly than ISIS” by Brian Joondeph dated December 8, 2015 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/12/political_correctness_more_deadly_than_isis.html )
About 1.3 million Iraqi Christians have been displaced, murdered or taken prisoner since 2003. A centuries-old civilization now faces permanent extinction while the rest of the world, including the U.S. government, looks on. As Christians across the world begin to celebrate Christmas, the 300,000 remaining Christians displaced in Iraq and Syria are preparing for a harsh winter that will almost certainly dwindle their numbers further. ISIS has been assaulting Christianity in the Middle East for well over a year and a half, and now the few remaining will be forced to brave the elements in the face of a genocide. The Iraqi Christian minority, aka Assyrian Christians, has a history in the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq going back 6,700 years. Assyrians were one of the first major groups in the region to convert to Christianity and are one of the last groups to speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Assyrians numbered 1.6 million in Iraq, but with the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq and the Iraqi insurgency, their numbers began to dwindle to less than 500,000 in 2014. In just over a year since its rise, ISIS has slaughtered and displaced the Assyrian Christians with brutal efficiency, cutting their numbers nearly in half to 300,000. Many Assyrians have been successfully resettled in Europe and the United States, however they lack the financial capacity to save their friends and family from the hands of ISIS. There is of course a moral dilemma when Assyrians pay off ISIS to save their culture: the same ransom money used to save some inevitably fuels the ISIS war machine, allowing the terrorist group to potentially continue its eradication of Christianity in the region. Assyrian Christianity is facing “a form of soft genocide” in addition to eradication. Even the groups fighting ISIS, like the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi military, are loathe to aid the Christians. When the first ISIS onslaught hit the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014, the U.S.-backed Iraqi army wilted before the onslaught. Continued abuse of Christians results when the Kurdish Peshmerga and various Iraqi militias retake towns from ISIS. Despite witnessing the eradication of Assyrians for over a year, the United States has brought in few of them. Before the ISIS uprising, 45-50% of Iraqi refugees coming into the U.S. were Christian, today that number is a remarkable 6%, with 89.6% of the remaining total being Muslim. Those who are fortunate enough to be saved face difficult challenges when resettling. Assyrian culture is melting, due in large part to the poor resettlement policies of Western countries, including the United States. Most Assyrians coming to the United States are spread throughout the country, making it particularly difficult to retain traditional Assyrian customs and their ancient language. The solution to the Assyrian problem is two-fold: in the short term, better settlement policies will be needed so that Assyrians in the diaspora can continue their traditions and culture abroad; and in the long term, the solution is a province dedicated to the Assyrian Christians somewhere in the Nineveh Plains. This proposal already has the support of notable Middle Eastern leader King Abdullah of Jordan. No matter what happens in the future, it is clear that if current policy does not change, Christianity in the Middle East could soon be lost to history.
(“Christianity in the Middle East: On the Verge of Extinction” by Russ Read dated December 8, 2015 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/08/christianity-in-the-middle-east-on-the-verge-of-extinction/ )
There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following sections: