Views on the News – 3/3/2012
By: David Coughlin
The achievements of the Obama administration, if left unchecked, may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent damage is dwindling away. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America may soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democrat coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. This impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama Presidency. The GOP has reason to be scared. The American Enterprise Institute urged conservatives to treat the struggle for economic libertarianism as a “culture war” between capitalism and socialism, in which compromise was impossible and time was running short. The “real core” of Obama’s socialistic supporters was voters under 30, who have exhibited a frightening openness to statism in the age of Obama. Dependent voters will naturally elect even big-government progressives who will continue to smother economic growth and spend America deeper into debt. The struggles over the economic policies of the last few years have taken on the style of a culture war should come as no surprise, since conservatives believe Obama has pulled together an ascendant coalition of voters intent on expropriating their money. Paul Ryan, the House Republican budget chairman, has cast the fight as pitting “makers” against “takers,” with the latter in danger of irrevocably gaining the upper hand. “The tipping point represents two dangers: first, long-term economic decline as the number of makers diminishes [and] the number of takers grows… second, gradual moral-political decline as dependency and passivity weaken the nation’s character.” Republicans in Congress have adopted a strategy of legislative obstruction to thwart further damage, very skillfully grinding the legislative gears to a halt for months on end, weakening or killing large chunks of Obama’s agenda, and nurturing public discontent with Washington that they rode to a sweeping victory in 2010. The party has bet everything on 2012, preferring a Hail Mary strategy to the slow march of legislative progress. That is the basis of the House Republicans’ otherwise inexplicable choice to vote last spring for a sweeping budget plan that would lock in low taxes, slash spending, and transform Medicare into private vouchers. The Republicans are also branding Democrats as the owners of the Great Recession and the elongated recovery, with its high unemployment and anemic economic growth. During the last midterm elections, the strategy succeeded brilliantly. Republicans moved further right and won a gigantic victory. The Republicans have gained the House and stand poised to win control of the Senate. If Republicans can claw out a Presidential win and hold on to Congress, they will have a glorious two-year window to restore the America they knew and loved, to lock in transformational change, or at least to wrench the status quo so far rightward that it will take Democrats a generation to wrench it back.
(“2012 or Never” by Jonathan Chait dated February 26, 2012 published by New York Magazine at http://nymag.com/news/features/gop-primary-chait-2012-3/ )
Democrats would have you believe that “The culture wars are over, and the Republicans lost,” but the real question is how do you define “victory” in a culture war? Let’s look at two examples of the ‘achievements’ wrought by liberalism:
· Fractured families and a soaring out-of-wedlock birth rate - 53% of children born to women under 30 are now born out of wedlock, which is the leading cause of poverty. Other predictable results for children born outside the stable structure of marriage are educational deficits, greater risks of emotional, psychological, and behavioral problems. The problems are not evenly distributed: minorities and women with only a high-school education reflect startlingly high rates of unmarried births: 73% of African-Americans are born to single mothers and only 43% of women whose highest level of education is high school will give birth within marriage. The next generation of children will not only grow up without the stability of marriage, they also will encounter few examples of intact, married families. It’s a situation that’s tragic for the children, destabilizes society, and swells the ranks of folks dependent on government handouts for a steady monthly income.
· Meaningless sex and soaring STD rates - Now practically anything can be viewed on PCs and phones, and most award-winning dramas feature profanity and soft core sex scenes that would have provoked nationwide protests a few decades ago. As a result, children have little protection from adult sexual indulgence. Children exposed to sexual content are more likely to have sex earlier, generating a spiral of negative consequences, even apart from pregnancy and abortion. 40% of sexually active teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease. The tragedy of young human hearts who experience sex merely as animalistic gratification; they never learn the tender connection between sex, commitment, and self-giving love.
If this is the way you define victory, you can have it. America literally cannot survive another four years of destruction inflicted by elite Leftists. Faith, family and freedom-loving Americans have always been willing to sacrifice to protect what we hold dear. We don’t have to go to war or risk our lives in this cultural battle, but we do need to understand the issues and be willing to make sacrifices. We must be involved in the political process and be willing to go out of your comfort zone and tell your friends and family the truth. We can no longer take a “wait and see” attitude, or to remain silent in this most critical juncture in recent American history. We can take our country back; we can restore America for our children; we can help restore the family unit and save much pain and suffering, but it won’t happen unless we start working for cultural change and vote out the party of cultural erosion and for a party that respects faith, family, and traditional values.
(“The Left Declares Victory” by Rebecca Hagelin dated February 27, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/rebeccahagelin/2012/02/27/the_left_declares_victory )
The liberal media/Democrat Party cabal will go to any lengths to distract the American people from such nuanced topics as the nation’s disintegrating economy, the malignant expansion of the federal government, its increasing intrusiveness in the lives of the American people, and their consequent loss of freedom. In essence, the daily commentaries from the liberal press must studiously avoid any honest assessment of American life under Barack Obama. Against the backdrop of recent “spiritual” declarations from Barack Obama essentially claiming Jesus to have been a Marxist, his twenty year former involvement with the likes of the “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright and the militant bile of “black liberation theology,” promoted in Wright’s church, it would be extremely difficult to make Santorum look unreasonable. In contrast to the current winds of “moral relativism” blowing across this country and the ravages inflicted on the populace by such errant thinking, a simple and blunt recognition of the age-old contrast between good and evil is actually refreshing. Something sinister operates in our midst, tearing down the institutions of a formerly great nation, from marriage to the family, to the community, and striving to supplant them with the empty promises of a depraved and hyper-regulated “brave new world” that is rightly to be abhorred. Consequently, the people of this nation are keenly aware that the perils facing it, both from within and without, cannot be addressed solely in financial terms. Nor do they expect that such things can be indefinitely skirted by a national leadership that either ignores their existence or is too timid to take a bold stand against them. The deepening squalor of this nation’s inner cities will not be fixed by further infusions of money from without, no matter how vast the sum, as long as the values of the people residing in them continue to degenerate. Likewise, the threats faced by this nation from its enemies throughout the world cannot be placated or otherwise wished out of existence. Any attempts to carry on as if they no longer present a potential for calamity will only increase the likelihood of them someday being again manifested as they were on 9-11. Four years ago as Barack Obama made his way towards the White House, America was subjected to perhaps the most flagrant display of disingenuousness in its history. Voters were ensnared with empty assurances of a miraculous fix to environmental problems that never existed, concurrently with the dawn of social utopia. Not surprisingly, at least to those willing to objectively weigh the evidence, the actual results have been abysmal. On virtually every front the current state of the nation is quantifiably worse than when Barack Obama took office in 2009. No amount of pretending otherwise will improve anything. Barring a genuine and principled change of direction, the American people can only expect more of the same. So for those on the right, only two options exist: they can thoroughly sabotage their entire cause by engaging in vain efforts to mollify their critics, which neither inspires their base nor improves their portrayal by the opposition; or they can ignore the inevitable scorn and ridicule from leftist activists, remain true to their core principles, and rally the country to their cause.
(“’Social Issues’ from a Truly Conservative Perspective” by Christopher Adamo dated February 24, 2012 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2012/02/24/%E2%80%9Csocial-issues-from-a-truly-conservative-perspective/ )
Obama is threatened with the prospect of fewer Americans holding jobs on Election Day in November than were employed on the day he was inaugurated in 2009, and at the moment, he’s roughly one million jobs short, but if you suspect Obama is now inclined to seize the opportunity, cut taxes, and create faster growth and more jobs, you don’t know the President. After three years of the Obama Presidency, the economy is growing, but only slowly (1.7% in 2011). Obama is eager to tax anything the IRS can get its hands on, so long as the revenue is taken from the well-to-do:
· Let the Bush tax cuts expire, raising the top income tax rate for individuals earning more than $200,000 to 39.6% from 35%, and when the new Medicare tax on investment income and the stripping of deductions are added, the top rate would exceed 44%, its highest in a quarter-century.
· Tax the income of millionaires to be taxed at no less than 30 percent.
· Raise tax revenues from corporate taxes by $250 billion.
· Triple the tax on dividends to 44.8% from 15%.
· Boost the long-term capital gains rate, with the Medicare tax included, to 24% from 15%.
· Tax the profits of hedge-fund operators at the individual rate, not the lower capital gains rate.
· Tax the overseas profits of American companies by an undisclosed amount, though none of our global competitors applies such a tax.
· Implement new taxes accompanying Obamacare, the Medicare tax being the first.
His principle of tax reform is unique and is supposed to erase loopholes and special interest breaks, broaden the base, and slash the rates. Obama embraces two-thirds of this reform formula – he’d eliminate the breaks and widen the base, but then raise the rates. While paying lip service to simplification, Obama would tax different industries at different rates, some higher, some lower, imposing a kind of crony taxation. FDR seems to be Obama’s model on tax policy, despite the negative results that it helped keep unemployment as high as 19% in the late 1930s and prolonged the Depression. Like FDR, Obama would rather punish the investor class than incentivize it. Obama’s tax policies are perverse, stubborn, or simply driven by ideology. He said in a 2008 campaign debate that “fairness” might cause him to increase the capital gains rate even if a lower rate would produce more tax revenue. His budget for 2013 reflects his zeal for increasing taxes. He does not understand why businesses are leery of hiring new workers here. The late Apple chief Steve Jobs explained to Obama how much easier it is to build a factory in China. Jobs said the President’s policies, especially regulatory excess and unnecessary costs, were to blame, and he told Obama, “you’re headed for a one-term presidency,” but Obama has ignored the Jobs lesson at his own electoral risk.
(“Never Met a Tax He Didn’t Like” by Fred Barnes dated March 5, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/never-met-tax-he-didn-t_631913.html )
The bailouts worked, the story goes, because General Motors and Chrysler still exist, but existence is a lousy measure of success, given that the car makers were able to shed billions of dollars of debt and labor obligations in their government-managed and -financed bankruptcies, however their political liabilities continue to multiply and its terms increase the chances that one or more of the Big Three end up in trouble again. By 2007, after decades of deferral, Detroit was making some progress in rationalizing many of its problems, namely the long-term promises it had made to its workers. Management was investing to revamp product lines with better quality and features. Thirty years of fuel-economy rules ensured that Detroit couldn’t specialize in its most profitable models, pickups, minivans, and SUVs, and had to continue making smaller sedans at high-cost UAW-organized factories that it sold at a loss. Congress and President Bush made this uneconomic mandate much worse with the 2007 energy bill that significantly increased mileage standards. Congress bestowed $25 billion in loans in the name of “green retooling” and a shift to hybrid and electric vehicles. Still bleeding cash, and by November 2008 harmed like all businesses by the meltdown, the auto executives continued to wheedle for public aid. A formal bailout failed in the Senate, but the Bush Administration used the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as a honey pot to tide over GM with a $19.4 billion bridge loan and Chrysler with $4 billion. Ford declined help but favored saving its neighbors. Ordinary bankruptcy would have been a trauma, no question. It would have meant pain for laid-off workers and exacerbated the recession, even if the auto makers posed no systemic risk. The taxpayer tab for guaranteed pensions would have been expensive. But the key point is that Chapter 11 would have provided an orderly workout, giving the auto makers the legal protection to clean up balance sheets, modify contracts and restructure under due process. The steel industry reorganized itself through bankruptcy a little over a decade ago, rationalizing its capacity and labor agreements. Detroit and the auto makers claim there was no liquidity for normal bankruptcy to function, but lenders might have come forward if the government backstop wasn’t crowding out private financing, or perhaps the industry would be more attractive to private capital if every business decision wasn’t a political decision too. All this would have been done under the supervision of a neutral bankruptcy judge or receiver. The White House proceeded to orchestrate an out-of-court prepackaged bankruptcy. Bond holders would have taken a severe haircut no matter what, but Obama’s force majeure subordinated their rights to the UAW’s. Thus the bailout become a tool for less discipline, not more, when Chrysler entered bankruptcy with $8.1 billion in government financing and GM with $30.1 billion. The government became the majority shareholder in the latter and the UAW in the former. Taxpayers still own 26% of GM, and shares will need to rise to $53 from their current $26 to recoup the Bush-Obama investment. The bailouts signaled that major companies with union labor are too politically big to fail and undermined confidence in the rule of law. More troubling, the conversion of Detroit from an indirect to transparent Washington client continues to distort the auto market. Last November, Obama’s enviroteers tightened fuel economy regulations again, jacking them up to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, well beyond the standards Congress set in 2007. The auto makers agreed despite their misgivings because as wards of the state they had no political choice. So Chrysler, GM and Ford will still be forced to make cars that dealers struggle to sell profitably, only many more of them. These companies make small cars profitably overseas and are among the biggest-selling brands in China and Latin America. In the U.S. by contrast, cars are a minority of the top 20 models, while Ford and Chevy pickups are among the top three sellers year after year. If American consumers don’t want to sacrifice horsepower and size for fuel efficiency, Washington won’t take no for an answer. The auto bailout isn’t an example of enlightened government revitalizing an industry after a market failure, it is a bailout in the wake of failed government policies and bad management that may keep going and going as Washington does whatever it takes to make sure Detroit keeps doing its political bidding.
(“Halftime in Detroit” dated February 25, 2012 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204909104577235241393891490.html )
President Obama believes that government “investment” is a reasonable and effective way to advance technology and to outperform market actors in finding and bringing cool new things to fruition, but the government has a horrible record picking winners and losers. The conventional wisdom that while government has a legitimate and valuable role in basic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research, it is a lousy venture capitalist and is largely incapable of picking winning technologies in the market. Critics of the government’s claim of credit argue, in essence, that the government pulled a “Ferris Bueller:” They saw a parade in progress, hopped up on a float, and started singing loudly and gesturing broadly, claiming credit for the entire parade. This is a fairly common practice for President Obama claiming credit for increased oil and gas production in the United States, despite it being blatantly obvious that the increases came from state and private, not federal, lands. As Obama’s own economic adviser Larry Summers pointed out, the government is a bad venture capitalist. It has no greater ability to pick winners than does any private individual, but it can be far more reckless in its “investments” because there is no penalty for wasting money, and because it can use state force to favor cronies and rig outcomes. The government invested in hydraulic fracturing, but these investments were not the key to its success, but rather an example of the government simply claiming credit for an accidental situation where something went right. Government, like a really bad surgeon, sings the praises of patients it heals and buries those it mangles, quietly when it can, and loudly blaming others when it can’t. Fans of industrial policy are keen to point out the seen, and never countenance the unseen waste and opportunity costs. Basic research in STEM fields suggests that government investment is a valid, important, and often beneficial governmental activity, but consensus disappears when they start endorsing industrial policy and having bureaucrats pick winners and losers in the market.
(“Government Is a Lousy Venture Capitalist” by Kenneth P. Green dated February 24, 2012 published by The American Magazine at http://www.american.com/archive/2012/february/government-is-a-lousy-venture-capitalist )
The Civil Rights movement went from trying to reverse legal inequality embedded in law to trying to enforce an equality of outcome in every sphere from the commercial to the educational to the social by depriving others of their rights, succeeding movements have borrowed the narrative of inequality and the tactics of achieving equal outcomes, even when such outcomes are physically impossible. Today slavery goes on in the name of civil rights, as do many other evils. The term itself no longer has any meaning as its only application is to a government overseen caste system which awards certain privileges on a percent basis. The right to vote, to own property and to own arms has given way to a place on a diversity ladder where privileges are granted in exchange for the endorsement of legal inequality. The latest affirmative action case to come before the Supreme Court once again revisits the perversion of civil rights to mean a system of color based quotas. The Court’s own rejection of any such system for whites should have innately disqualified such a system as applied to any race or combination of races. Instead we are still having the same old debates over whether discrimination can ever be justified, with the civil rights movement coming out on the side of discrimination. We have done an excellent job of creating a society where people can be judged on the color of their skin, not on the content of their character. This has not led to the great prize of integration, rather it has deepened the balkanization that the Democratic political machine has always set as its objective, from the days when their thugs were storming black orphanages to when their pet banks oversaw the ghettoization and later the destruction of neighborhoods along racial lines. Power has always trumped justice. Power is not about race, it is about the exploitation of human beings. It is about playing divide and conquer at every level of society, creating and enforcing permanent divisions, even and especially when they are being carried under the guise of an integration program. A justice based civil rights program was always unsustainable because it offered too few rewards. Instead the status quo was transformed into a mandate for absolute power, there was to be a permanent crisis of race that could never be resolved, but which always had to receive top priority and which could justify any violation of civil rights.
(“Uncivil Rights” by Daniel Greenfield dated February 26, 2012 published by Canada Free Press at http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44861 )
America’s once-exalted position as the unquestioned leader of the free world has been greatly and deliberately eroded, accomplishing much of what they set out to do, the transformation of American society and an end to the pre-eminent status of the United States. They have had a singleness of purpose and allegiance first and foremost to a confused and muddled ideology and not country. Obama wavers between acceptance of crony capitalism and European-style socialism rather than rigid socialist/Marxist theory. It reflects a firm rejection of the principles of individual liberty and freedom as outlined by the nation’s founders. Barack Obama is a leader without a core, enabling him to rationalize the need to say or do anything as long as the end justifies the means. He therefore cannot be nor is he trusted by other leaders on the world stage, as he is devoid of character and integrity. Coupled with his nonexistent executive experience and lack of accountability over his lifetime, he has placed the United States in a most precarious position in world affairs. In a young century that has already been beset with economic turmoil, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, unprecedented terrorist activity, and a rapidly changing world order thanks to enormous advances in communication and information, the American people could not have chosen a worse leader. This servile mindset by Barack Obama has projected an image of weakness which begets chaos, and chaos is what the international scene has become, be it in the Middle East, Asia, Russia, or Latin America. Barack Obama, determined to become the Muslim world’s best friend, has instead unleashed the dogs of war in the Middle East. In his Cairo speech in 2009, Obama shamelessly blamed the West for all the current and historical conflicts with Islam and never once used the words “terrorism,” “terrorist,” or “war on terror.” Earlier in the same year he met secretly with the Muslim Brotherhood, the progenitor of Hamas and al-Qaeda, thus legitimizing them with a wink and a nod. In an eerie replay of history, the Middle East has become the Balkans of 1912-14, wherein any inadvertent action or misunderstanding will trigger not only a regional, but also a global conflict. Beyond the Middle East, Russia and China are more emboldened than ever, openly mocking the United States and its leadership. China has begun acting as if it were already the pre-eminent power in the Pacific basin, which is not surprising, considering the deference shown by President Obama to the Chinese leadership while begging them to continue buying American debt created by the incomprehensible fiscal policies of his administration. The other nations of the region are modifying their policies to deal with the reality of a vacuum created by American uncertainty. With his self-serving allegiance to those who worship the false god of environmentalism, Barack Obama has further aggravated the nation’s precarious economic and security circumstances by refusing to develop the energy resources of the United States. Today American foreign and domestic policy is adrift on a sea of uncertainty, as there is a dishonest occupant of the White House who has no coherence in his personal beliefs and convictions except that American exceptionalism is a myth and that the nation must be transformed into another failed Euro-socialist state.
(“Obama and the End of American Exceptionalism” by Steve McCann dated March 1, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/03/obama_and_the_end_of_american_exceptionalism.html )
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).