Views on the News – 6/16/2012
By: David Coughlin
If the election were held tomorrow, Mitt Romney would be the next President of the United States because many voters are afraid and fearful people usually try to change their circumstances. American voters are not wedged into a voting pattern. The same country that elected the conservative George W. Bush voted for the very liberal Barack Obama the next time around. It is perception that wins national elections. In 2008, the faltering economy had overridden the terror threat, and the slick senator from Illinois promised “Hope and Change,” a return to prosperity and fairness. McCain promised “Country First” whatever that meant? Now, voters are scared that their jobs may disappear. They already see their retirement and educational funds evaporating, and most of us know folks who are desperate for money. So the economic fear is real, not perceived, and President Obama has done little to soothe the angst. Romney must perform well in the debates and convince Americans that the President simply does not understand economics, and that he has the magic capitalistic touch that will rebuild the empire. The election is about five months from now, and many things can happen in that time, but fear is a powerful emotion and not easily diminished so the President should be afraid, very afraid.
(“The Fear Vote” by Bill O’Reilly dated June 9, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/billoreilly/2012/06/09/the_fear_vote )
President Obama has been fabulous for the conservative movement since he spurred the creation of the TEA Party, helped the GOP win the House majority in 2010 and make big gains in the Senate, his ObamaCare helped revive the Commerce Clause and given a boost to conservative jurisprudence, and his refusal to support human rights has caused a bipartisan revulsion and reminded us that foreign policy must be girded by American values. He’s sent independents running into the GOP’s arms. He’s forced conservatives to think hard and express eloquently principles of religious liberty, limited government, free markets and Constitutional democracy. He’s firmly affixed the “tax and spend” label to the Democrat Party after Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government was over. He’s made Clinton into a pitch man for Mitt Romney. His rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has split the Democrat party. His refusal to adopt the Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations has turned Democrats into reactionaries, defending the status quo on entitlements. He’s alienated Jewish voters. He’s re-McGovernized the party, which now stands for appeasing despotic powers, turning on allies and slashing defense spending. The Senate Democrats have failed to even pass a budget: There is no Democrat equivalent of Paul Ryan’s fiscal blueprint, no Democrat plan to swallow hard and raise middle class taxes the way Republicans look poised to swallow hard and overhaul Medicare. Indeed, there’s no liberal agenda to speak of at the moment, beyond a resounding ‘No!’ to whatever conservatism intends to do.” Not even Jimmy Carter did this much, I would suggest, to jerk his party to the left and hobble its electoral prospects. No wonder Clinton is on a rampage. Rather than spin endless excuses and blame it all on money, liberal elites might want to reconsider tying themselves too tightly to Obama’s mast.
(“Obama is Killing the Democratic Party” by Jennifer Rubin dated June 7, 2012 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/obama-is-killing-the-democratic-party/2012/06/06/gJQAGCVlJV_blog.html )
One common theory is that the two parties are so far apart that this election, finally, will provide a mandate for the winner and shock the losing side into cooperating. Conventional wisdom is that elections are arguments about where the country should go next, and the candidate who wins the election wins the argument and the opposition party has little choice but to step aside. Unfortunately the U.S. political system makes winning an election a necessary but very insufficient qualification for governing. You can win an election and quickly find you lack the support to pass major priorities. Elections that produced the kind of Rooseveltian or Reaganite landslides can cow the opposing party into submission. If you consider the mechanics of Presidential mandates, it’s clear why they don’t amount to much since most times elections are decided by narrow margins. It is never clear what policies voters have endorsed when they select a President. When things go well, voters reward the party in charge, but more often, they become majorities by grinding the gears of government to a halt, amping up partisanship and doing all they can to make voters disgusted with Washington. The belief that minority politicians will clap majority colleagues on the back, mutter “good game,” and get out of the way is fantasy. There is one theory of change that works even in an age of intense polarization: having the votes to pass your agenda. Obama learned this when the Senate approved health-care reform with zero Republican votes. Ryan talks about the “moral authority” to enact fundamental reforms, but if his budget passes, it will do so because Republicans gain control of both chambers of Congress, and budgets can’t be filibustered in the Senate. If voters don’t like that state of affairs and they want elections to produce leaders who can govern effectively, then the question, really, is what our theory of change is because simply turning Democrats and Republicans in and out of office doesn’t seem to be working and only an overwhelming majority is required to guarantee mandate support.
(“The myth of the presidential mandate” by Ezra Klein dated June 8, 2012 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-myth-of-the-presidential-mandate/2012/06/08/gJQAQMUsOV_story.html )
When our Founding Fathers drafted our system of governance, they decided that a constitutional republic would most benefit the people; that it would suffice to protect us from governmental tyranny via the checks and balances they implemented, and by ensuring that their voices would be heard through their elected representatives, and this has served us well throughout most of our history, our current Democrat politicians seem to no longer listen. Democrats started not listening in 2008, the year America put Obama in the White House:
· In 2008, voters in California approved Proposition 8, in a state dominated by liberals, they ruled that the homosexual lifestyle and marriage have nothing in common. In response, Obama rescinded the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.
· Then in Massachusetts, voters who knew full well that their choice could put ObamaCare in jeopardy, elected Republican Scott Brown to fill the seat of Teddy Kennedy, thus ending the super-majority of Democrats in the Senate. In response, Democrats proceeded to enact the healthcare bill by the most dubious and dishonest methods.
· Later that year came the crushing 2010 midterm elections, where Republicans, riding the Tea Party tide of mistrust of big government and disgust with income redistribution, regained control of the House, wresting control of the Speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi. In response, Obama increased confrontation with an AP headline, “Obama: Bush Tax Cuts For Wealthy Will Not Be Extended, Period.”
· Last month, nearly two thirds of North Carolinians joined voters in thirty other states to amend their constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. In response, Obama “evolved” his position in favor of gay marriage.
· Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the union-backed recall of crusading governor Scott Walker was defeated. That same night, the people of San Diego and San Jose also passed public worker pension reforms, reflecting the desires of more and more citizens to rein in the obesity of state and municipal public sector unions. In response, Obama reaction has been to ask to hire more state and local government employees.
No, Obama and the rest of the Democrats are so wedded to their game plan of greasing the palms of their co-dependent groups that they have little or no inclination to effect a quick change of strategy, and so, while they concentrate the lion’s share of their time and treasure pandering to gays and unions, they have begun to lose ground with the rest of their base. Obama and the Democrat ears seem permanently closed to the pleas of those who love and cherish this country, and their remaining tone-deaf for at least five more months will be their own undoing.
(“Are Democrats Listening?” by Lisa Fabrizio dated June 13, 2012 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2012/06/13/are-democrats-listening )
President Obama has been touted by friends and family as the smartest man ever to sit in the White House, yet he surely is the slowest learner to gain the Presidency and probably the most intellectually inflexible. Obama is not only presiding over the most sluggish economic recovery in 80 years, but the economic future looks even worse. In May, a woefully small number of jobs were created, the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%, and the rate of growth in the first quarter of 2012 was shaved from 2.2% to 1.9%. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office warned that if Obama leaves his economic program in place, a recession in 2013 is all but certain. In fact, one recent poll reported that by a margin of 72 to 24, Americans believe the United States is still in a recession. Obama’s response is let’s do more of the same. Obama is also bristling with plans for “some things we do better together,” his euphemism for jacking up spending on anything he can think of except defense. The President routinely feigns love for free markets, but he believes that government is at the core of what made America “an economic superpower.” Having never been an entrepreneur or risk-taker, he hasn’t a clue about what prompts them to invest their time and money in ways that produce growth and jobs, and Obama’s too ideologically committed to government programs to find out how the private economy works.
(“Slow Learner” by Fred Barnes dated June 8, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/slow-learner_646841.html )
Conservatives should not call Barack Obama a “socialist“ even though he certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy, but that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism. What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time. Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous – something that Obama avoids like the plague. One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left. What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat. The left’s vision is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves, as superior beings pursuing superior ends. The self-flattery of the vision of the left also gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision, which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider, regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the left, and regardless of its disastrous consequences. Only our own awareness of the huge stakes involved can save us from the rampaging presumptions of our “betters,” whether they are called socialists or fascists or progressives.
(“Socialist or Fascist” by Thomas Sowell dated June 12, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/06/12/socialist_or_fascist )
Detroit, once the wealthiest city in the United States by per capita income, is today the second-poorest major U.S. city, and America must learn from Detroit’s experience so we don’t replicate their decline nationally. The Left’s answer to the deficit: raise taxes to protect spending. The Left’s answer to the weak economy: raise taxes to enable new spending. The Left’s answer to the looming sovereign-debt crisis: raise taxes to pay off old spending. For the Left, every deficit is a revenue-side problem, not a spending-side problem, and the solution to every economic problem is more spending, necessitating more taxes. The problem with that way of looking at things is called Detroit, which looks to be running out of money in about one week. Detroit is what liberalism’s end-game looks like. Detroit’s revenues declined by more than $100 million between 2007 and 2011. Income-tax revenue dropped by 18%, utility-tax revenue by 17%, property-tax revenue by 2.3%. Detroit was not reduced to its present wretched circumstances by historical inevitabilities or the impersonal tides of economics. It did not have to end this way, but it did, and understanding why it did is essential if we are to avoid repeating Detroit’s municipal tragedy on a national scale.
· One lesson to learn is that investing unions with coercive powers does not ensure future private-sector employment or the preservation of private-sector wages, nor do protectionist measures strengthen the long-term prospects of domestic firms competing in highly integrated global markets.
· The second important lesson to be learned is that there are hard limits on real tax increases, a fact that will be of more immediate significance in the national debate as our deficit and debt problems reach crisis stage. Every tax is an incentive for the taxpayer to relocate to a friendlier jurisdiction.
· The third lesson is moral: Detroit’s institutions have long been marked by corruption, venality, and self-serving. Healthy societies have high levels of trust.
What is true of Detroit is true of the country. Our national public sector not only is bloated and parasitic, it is less effective, less responsible, and less honest than that of many other developed countries, including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Germany. The city fathers of Detroit inherited one of the richest and most productive cities in the world, and they ruined it in a generation, and now the gentlemen in Washington have been entrusted with the richest and most productive nation in the history of the world, and the big government trendline does not look good.
(“Detroit: The Moral of the Story” by Kevin D. Williamson dated June 8, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/302257/detroit-moral-story )
The decline of the American family is the hidden issue in our election and sadly, neither Presidential candidate is talking about our family structure or traditional values in any positive or constructive way. This problem requires affirmative policies that strengthen the nuclear family, enhance traditional values and develop inclusive social and economic policies. We cannot achieve our national goals, much less reach a broad-based national sense of purpose, without addressing the issue of the family and the related challenges that flow from it. It is just not the Democrats and Republicans who have ignored the issue — our cultural institutions, the media and, in large measure, our elites have failed to address this problem, as well. This family crisis requires immediate attention:
· Only one in five U.S. households consists of a married mother, father and at least one child, according to the 2010 census. In 1950, 43% of households fit the traditional mold.
· Marriage rates are down, divorce rates are up and more babies are being born out of wedlock. The proportion of married U.S. adults dropped from 57% in 2000 to 52% in 2009, the lowest percentage the Census Bureau has ever recorded. Meanwhile, U.S. divorce rates are between 40% and 50%.
· 41% of U.S. babies are born out of wedlock, and more than half of all births to women younger than 30 are to single mothers. Out-of-wedlock childbearing varies by race, with 72% of black babies born out of wedlock, and this number exceeds 80% among low-income, inner-city blacks. For Latinos, 53% of births are out of wedlock; while among whites, 29% of births are outside marriage.
· Census data show a high correlation of single parent homes to social, health and economic instability. Marriage rates have declined most steeply among young adults ages 25 to 34 whose education does not exceed a high school diploma. Approximately 45% of children raised by divorced mothers, and 69% of children raised by never-married mothers lived at or near the poverty line, with few prospects of economic success.
· Growing up in a single-parent family can greatly affect children as they become teenagers and young adults. More than 50% of all youths put in jail for criminal behavior grew up in one-parent families. 75% of teenage pregnancies are to adolescents from single-parent homes.
President Barack Obama has used his Presidency only to be a governmental and political leader and he has failed to offer moral leadership, much less address the issue of the American family. The President has been virtually silent about the wide range of issues concerning family structure, education and job training, as well as youth unemployment. He has certainly not mentioned the high rate of black teenage unemployment. Romney has not presented any comprehensive social and economic policies that could enhance family structure and benefit all Americans. Romney’s support for traditional family values has been driven more by his attack on gay marriage and support for anti-abortion rights than any acknowledgement of the challenges facing families today. He has offered no new policies to strengthen and help families. Both parties’ apparent willingness to ignore this major issue is disheartening. No one is discussing the fact that divorce, in large measure, is driven by the challenges families face trying to support themselves, their children and their aging parents. Neither party has acknowledged the challenges created by the disintegration of both black and white families, nor have they offered a pro-family agenda to strengthen and rebuild those families. We need clear policies that emphasize the primacy of the nuclear family and encourage families to stay together and we also need policies that encourage young people to become responsible adults and successful employees by improving the overall quality of education and job training.
(“Romney, Obama must address crisis of U.S. families” by Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen dated June 12, 2012 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77338.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).