Views on the News – 1/28/2012
By: David Coughlin
“Are you better off today than you were $4 trillion ago?” is the campaign line of the year because President Obama’s reckless spending has dangerously increased the national debt while leaving unemployment high and the economy stagnant. Concurrently, he has vastly increased the scope and reach of government with new entitlements and oppressive regulation, with higher taxes to come (to offset the unprecedented spending). In 2010, that narrative carried the Republicans to historic electoral success. Through most of 2011, it dominated Washington discourse. The air was filled with debt talk: ceilings, super-committees, Simpson-Bowles. Obama is trying to change the subject from his record and his ideology, from massive debt and overreaching government, to fairness and inequality. Obama rolled out this class-war counter-narrative in his December 6th “Teddy Roosevelt” speech and hasn’t governed a day since. Every action, every proposal, every “we can’t wait” circumvention of the Constitution, such as recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, is designed to fit this re-election narrative. This story is still lagging, suffering in part from its association with an Occupy rabble that had widely worn out its welcome. Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. The Republican House reconvened to reject Obama’s planned $1.2 trillion debt-ceiling increase. The GOP must maneuver the focus of this reelection year back onto Obama failed policies and abysmal record.
(“The GOP’s Suicide March” by Charles Krauthammer dated January 19, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/288604/gop-s-suicide-march-charles-krauthammer )
For the first time in his political career, Obama will be judged on the results of his actions and now wants another four years to deliver more of the same, but so far all he promises are high level rhetoric and platitudes. Obama has many achievements in his first three years: a downgrading of the credit rating, a debt now the size of our entire economy which makes us like Greece, a trillion dollar stimulus bill that did not grow the economy nor create jobs, ObamaCare that was passed despite American hating it, Dodd-Frank that institutionalized Too Big to Fail while fixing none of the root causes, and an explosion of government in every direction. America faces large problems: A soaring national debt, chronic unemployment that may become systemic, government services at the breaking point, a regulatory state that is verging on predatory, a Middle East falling increasingly into the hands of America’s enemies as America’s international peacekeeping becomes ever more unaffordable, and a world economy on the brink of catastrophe. In this moment, America needs a big thinker who can project confidence and inspire and unify the American people, but instead we have President Barack Obama. His State of the Union speech was really a State of the Election speech, focused on Obama making the pitch to keep his job rather than standing as a President of all the people. The speech was full of dreary government-knows-best proposals. By calling for what amounts to legislating profitability for “green” energy companies that haven’t proven they can stand on their own he proposes putting tax dollars toward partisan ends, when the nation is broke and the government has never made the case that it chooses more wisely than the market. By calling for more government intervention in the US economy, he called for more government, and less freedom. He said the US auto industry was “back” while the American people continue to lose money on our forced investment in it. He proposed a new international trade bureaucracy, without detailing the costs. The President claimed that the economy has created 3 million new jobs in 22 months, but left out the fact that many Americans have simply given up looking for work at all. The President who has increased the national debt by 50% in three years wants the authority to spend even more. The President with no private sector experience wants Congress to let him use the tax code to manipulate the private sector even more. The President who seized the entire student loan industry called on Congress to keep student loan interest rates low. There is no problem that he believes that his government cannot solve by passing another set of laws. He mocked old regulations while offering a pile of new ones, which he promises will be better than those old silly ones, just because. The only thing built to last in this speech is the national debt that it will increase. This was the President’s final State of the Union address before facing the voters in November, and hopefully his last.
(“The State of the Election Address” by Bryan Preston dated January 24, 2012 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2012/01/24/the-state-of-the-election-address/ )
Both major political parties want this election to have a clear choice and both parties are trying to frame that choice in a way that favors their strengths. Republicans will frame the choice on their vision for the future and compare it to the current administration record:
· Newt Gingrich wants the choice to be between “American exceptionalism” and “the radicalism of Saul Alinsky.”
· He frames the decision as between a paycheck President and a food stamp President.
· Few at Gingrich’s victory speech knew who Alinsky was, but they could tell from the name that he was surely unsavory and probably un-American.
· Mitt Romney characterizes the choice as between an “Opportunity Society” and a “European-style Entitlement Society.”
· To keep America the “shining city on the hill,” they endorse making the Bush tax cuts permanent and adding further top-end and corporate tax reductions.
· They would repeal financial reform and health-care reform, return to “drill, baby, drill” energy policies, sustain the military budget and make huge cuts to the domestic budget.
· They also identify Iran as a clear and present danger as threatening as Iraq was in the run-up to the invasion.
· The candidates simply blame Obama for the deficits, unemployment, spreading poverty and rising reliance on food stamps.
Democrats would rather make the choice about the ongoing role of government instead of the record of what the government has delivered and not delivered so far.
· Obama defines the choice as between those who would go back to the policies that drove us off the cliff and those who would build a new foundation for the economy.
· The administration has made it clear that it plans to warn against the unsustainable inequality that is corrupting our democracy and has crippled our economy.
· His case is based on the premise that the wealthiest Americans captured essentially all of the rewards of growth over the decade before the collapse.
· Obama accuses them of using their resources to rig the rules — deregulating finance, demanding lower taxes, defending subsidies and privileges, trampling on worker rights.
· Wall Street speculators went on a wilding that eventually blew out the economy.
· The entitlement of the rich is undermining the opportunity of the many.
The President should be pleased that his Republican challengers are making the race into a choice rather than just a referendum on the economy. Americans are fearful about their economic future and seeking tangible solutions. It will now be up to the American public to choose the President based on their vision for the country and trust in the candidate’s ability to deliver what they promised.
(“Why this election is a choice, not a referendum” by Katrina vanden Heuvel dated January 24, 2012 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-this-election-is-a-choice-not-a-referendum/2012/01/23/gIQAyVfeNQ_story.html )
Conservatives are very frustrated, and rightfully so, since the Republican Party has abandoned them and the Democrat Party attacks them at every turn, yet they represent the biggest voting block in the nation. Their feeling is that they play by the rules – they work hard, pay their taxes, raise their kids right – but what do they get for it? Their values are mocked on television and the movies, the media castigates them as a bunch of extremists, they pay taxes while half of the country does not, and the Obama administration took to demagoguing them virtually from day one of his tenure. Enter Newt Gingrich, the person on the debate stage who finally speaks truth to power and chastises the media directly to their face for their bias and partisanship. Never mind the fact that he is expressing indignation at liberals while sometimes offering not-so-conservative policies, or using it as a form of misdirection to turn attention away from his own questionable deeds. Conservatives everywhere love to hear somebody finally stick it to the elites. This explains why they are excited about the prospect of an Obama-Gingrich debate. There are three major candidates in the race: Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum – all of them profess to be conservatives. Romney and Santorum make credible claims that they can sell conservatism to the middle, but they do not stir the hearts of the faithful nearly as much. Gingrich stirs the faithful, for sure, but moderates have been expressing discontent with him since virtually the first moment he stepped on to the stage in the early 1990s. No doubt conservatives are frustrated, but this may not be enough to defeat Obama in 10 months – only voting will change the direction of this country back from the brink of socialist implosion returning to free market capitalism and economic growth again.
(“Newt Gingrich and the Politics of Frustration” by Jay Cost dated January 22, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-newt-gingrich-and-politics-frustration_617472.html )
So long as the Washington establishment continues to underestimate, and even misunderstand, the TEA Party, insiders will continue to be pummeled by the grass-roots giant that no longer sleeps. Democrats dismissed the TEA Party in 2010 and took a historic shellacking, so Republicans would be wise to learn from their mistake. First, let’s remind ourselves, the TEA Party is not a formal political party or even an advocacy group, but rather a state of mind. If you believe in constitutional fidelity, limited government and the free market, then you don’t need your name on some official roster or even to have attended a rally to be part of the TEA Party movement. You simply need to use your vote and your effort to demand that our leaders embrace these principles as well. The TEA Party has been far more loyal to the GOP than the GOP has been to the TEA Party. While the establishment abandoned and even openly sabotaged TEA Party Senate candidates such as Nevada’s Sharron Angle, the TEA Party still delivered a historic victory to Republicans that captured the House. In return, the GOP establishment reneged on its campaign pledge to cut $100 billion in spending, capitulated on yet another debt-ceiling increase and then promptly blamed the TEA Party for obstructionism. Undeterred, the happy warriors of the TEA Party are playing the long game. The conservative movement, after all, is just that – a movement. This is not to say that Newt Gingrich is the “wrong” person – far from it. While he has frustrated conservatives at times, his contributions to the movement have been monumental: the Contract With America; a balanced budget; welfare reform; and a Republican takeover of Congress. No serious discussion of the conservative movement of the 20th century is complete without acknowledging Gingrich’s enormous contributions to it. It is within this framework that Gingrich’s rise and the TEA Party’s embrace of him should be viewed. The conservative movement deserves an unapologetic, full-throated Great Communicator once again. Few can articulate conservatism as effectively as the former Speaker. Plus, Gingrich wisely recognizes that the mainstream media are complicit with Democrats in general and with President Obama in particular. He openly refers to them as his “secondary opponent,” and he refuses to fall prey to their duplicity. The Washington GOP establishment fears Gingrich. To the TEA Party, that’s a feature, not a bug. We remember that they feared Ronald Reagan, too. Remember this: Mitt Romney’s path to the nomination largely ignores the TEA Party while Newt Gingrich embraces it. If Gingrich is to win the nomination and the White House, it will be because the TEA Party made it possible.
(“Tea Party rising for Newt Gingrich” by Milton R. Wolf dated January 23, 2012 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/23/titans-grapple-for-southern-advantage/ )
For the past forty years the mainstream media has become increasingly liberal and more overt in promoting the policies of the Democrat Party reaching its zenith in 2008 when the media were instrumental in Barack Obama being elected President. Many journalists dropped any pretense of objectivity and became not only cheerleaders but active de facto members of the campaign. Their actions had consequences: During the past two decades no other sector of the economy has experienced such overwhelming financial and employment devastation. Yet the vast majority of the media do not understand why theirs is a declining and failing business model. They are still in denial and cannot accept the reality of the marketplace, as their actions have prompted the American public to lose all confidence in their objectivity and integrity. The 2012 election season has begun and this same media finds itself in the position of having to defend and reinforce the man they chose to sleep with. They have willingly opted to do exactly that. The media is systematically pulling out all the stops to destroy all viable Republican challengers in an undeclared but understood alliance with the Obama re-election machine. Rather than objectively analyze the folly of the Obama class warfare strategy and its potential to undermine and destroy societal cohesion, the mainstream media has trumpeted and encouraged this divisive and dangerous strategy. The Occupy Wall Street movement, conceived by Friends of Obama and encouraged by the White House, as well as blessed by many in the media, was intended to further reinforce the war against the rich and redirect the anger and blame for all of America’s woes away from the statist policies of the Obama regime. This loyalty to progressive group-think and the Democrat Party has resulted in utter devastation:
· Since 2001 American newsrooms have lost more than 25% of their full time journalists resulting in a level of employment not seen since the mid-1970′s.
· The New York Times Company has reduced its labor force by 47% (6,600 jobs) since 2000. The average daily circulation for the Times has dropped by over 21% (234,000 readers) during the same period.
· The Washington Post has seen its average daily circulation drop by 33% (263,000 readers) since 2000. More devastating has been the plummet in print advertising revenue which has dropped by over 60% since 2000.
· The McClatchy Company has experienced a similar downturn with its average daily circulation decline from 2.84 million readers to 2.05 (drop by 28%). Many of the individual papers within the group have also resorted to massive layoffs.
· The Gannet family of newspapers has lost over 2 million in paid circulation since 2000 (28%) while their ad revenue has dropped by 48%.
· Since 2000 total U.S. newspaper circulation has fallen by nearly 11 million readers with no end to this freefall in sight.
· The traditional news magazines (Time, Newsweek and US News & World Report) have experienced have declined by over 3.6 million (40%) since 2000. Advertising revenue has dropped by nearly 70%.
· The three network evening news broadcasts have suffered a similar fate. Since 1991 they have lost 12.6 million viewers (34%).
· In an attempt to offset the drastic decline in their core businesses all the various media companies have made a late foray into the internet; however the revenue generated by that sector does not begin to make up for the ongoing financial hemorrhaging.
The mainstream media is a business and like any business it must generate revenue, pay its bills and make a profit for its shareholders. To produce income it must attract customers (advertisers and subscribers) to buy its product (the news as well as viewers or readers). Based on the results over the past ten years it is obvious that the product the mainstream media is promoting is not selling. However many in the media are still caught up in the old paradigm of good versus evil wherein conservatives are evil and liberals are good. Yet like so many on the Left, a majority of the members of the media are incapable of recognizing their error in blindly supporting the liberal/socialist agenda over the years. Regardless of the evidence at hand, either historic or contemporary, their egos and narcissism so dominate their psyche that admitting a mistake is tantamount to the apocalypse. The MSM appears willing to sacrifice their own future by actively campaigning for Obama’s re-election rather than honestly report on the lies and machinations of this regime, and the only outcome the media has guaranteed is the continued decline and degradation of their own profession.
(“The Self-Destruction of the Mainstream Media” by Steve McCann dated January 23, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/the_self-destruction_of_the_mainstream_media.html )
It is the crime of the century that America, home to some of the world’s greatest reserves of coal, natural gas and oil, is being deliberately destroyed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior as they do everything in their power to restrict access and drive energy producers out of business. This isn’t an “energy policy;” it’s a “no-energy policy” and it is a guarantee of economic disaster. In early January, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, announced a new 20-year, million-acre ban on uranium mining for federal lands in Arizona, despite the fact that these lands hold the highest-grade of known uranium deposits in the United States. At the same time we are learning of enormous natural gas discoveries that can reduce our energy bills and turn sleeping little towns into boomtowns, environmental organizations have launched a vast propaganda campaign against “fracking”, a technology that has been safely used for more than fifty years. Need it be said that the Environmental Protection Agency has turned its eyes on fracking and is producing a report later this year that will likely call for harsh crackdowns on its use and more regulations to throttle the expansion of natural gas extraction? The EPA released a report of those power plants that top the list of its regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. There is no basis in science to justify the reduction of CO2. These regulations are based on the global warming hoax that blamed CO2 for warming the earth, which is utterly false. Coal-fired power plants account for 50% of all the electricity generated in the United States, but the EPA is determined to shut down many of them, without taking into account the billions that energy producers have spent to upgrade their technology to reduce emissions. The Obama administration fuel economy agenda, a call for 54.5 miles per gallon ignores simple physics. There is a finite amount of energy a gallon of gas can generate. If you dilute it with ethanol as is currently required, you get even less mileage. The President’s Keystone XL pipeline decision is yet another in a long train of efforts that the left has inflicted on the American economy. How many alternative energy “investments” in bankrupt companies, such as Beacon, Evergreen Solar, Eastern Energy, SpectraWatt, and Solyndra, must fail before the American public wakes up to find Obama crony capitalism revealed as rewards for political contributions and not viable technological solutions? Americans and the nation’s future are being victimized by Obama administration policies which are sabotaging the energy industry and deliberately trying to murder our once proud superpower.
(“Destroying America by Denying Access to Energy” by Alan Caruba dated January 22, 2012 published by Canada Free Press at http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44082 )
David Coughlin is a political pundit, editor of the policy action planning web site “Return to Common Sense,” and an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He retired from IBM after a short career in the U.S. Army. He currently resides with his wife of 40 years in Hawthorne, NY. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976).