Views on the News – 10/6/2012
By: David Coughlin
We are the victims of a media coup d’état by the liberals in the media elite and are currently living under it. You will see that clearly in evidence during the debates, each one moderated by a member of the liberal media nomenklatura. It is under the guidance of this liberalism, under their own version of sharia that the debates will be conducted and Mitt Romney judged. We have long lived under this assumed reign of liberalism, in our media, in our schools, and through our entertainment. Barack Obama is a product of this coup d’état by the New Media Class. It is the media that rules us then, not politicians. Politicians come and go; journalists, pundits, commentators – in print, on television, and now on the Internet – last forever as they pass the baton to the next generation without a semblance of an ideological blip. They are the ones who tell our story to us. They are our mirrors and they are indeed a new class, as resistant to change as any entrenched group of the rich and powerful. This class determined that Barack Obama should be President and they consequently will work more assiduously than any to assure his reelection, because a failure in that would be a serious, perhaps fatal, attack on their hegemony. The coup would then be in danger of a counter-coup. That can’t be allowed to happen. This coup started further back than we all realized. It began with the illusion that media could be even-handed. Journalism could be an occupation like cardiology, subject to verification and highly professional. But it never was. Nevertheless, there was a plot to make us think we were hearing the truth. Then, in 1972, Watergate happened and became a turning point this new class was waiting for. Journalists became heroes played by movie stars. They overcame Presidents and were more powerful than kings. Suddenly their way was the way. Competing visions were swept aside or relegated to also-ran status like a token conservative on the op-ed pages of the Times. A certain bias became the bias became “the truth.” Schools adopted this truth and taught it to children as early as kindergarten and as late as graduate school. It became the sub-text or the uber-text of many movies and TV shows. It was a slow-motion coup and for a while we didn’t know it was happening. But soon enough it was all around us. This monopoly is so powerful that this year the Republican Party allowed the coup plotters to control the debates, even though it guaranteed a built-in bias.
(“We Live Under a Media Coup d’Etat” by Roger L. Simon dated October 1, 2012 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2012/10/01/media-coup-detat/ )
People are discouraged, and many don’t believe we are in a recovery because the GDP is above its pre-recession high and we hear about how many jobs have been created over the past couple of years, but people also see that fewer are working today than who were working in 2007. People think that we are in a recession because they are poorer than they were prior to the recession. The average American’s wealth is down $39,000 or about 16% from its pre-recession high in 2005 dollars. Not only are Americans poorer than they were at the beginning of the recession, their income is down too. Americans are poorer than they were, and their income is lower, and they are out of work or they know someone who is out of work. Of course they don’t believe we are in a recovery. This recession has hit sectors like construction and manufacturing disproportionally hard, and people who work in these sectors are not well represented in the chattering class. Small businesses have also been badly hurt, but the media doesn’t talk about them. Education, healthcare, government, and professional services have each faced challenges, but these sectors’ job losses have been small compared to the most hard-hit sectors. One result of the different patterns of job losses across sectors is that we’ve seen an increase in income inequality. Even worse, the increased inequality may be accompanied by declining upward mobility. Income inequality without upward mobility is prescription for social trouble and slower economic growth. Huge numbers of young people have failed to find jobs. Unemployed and disillusioned young people are another prescription for social trouble. Our leaders don’t seem to be doing anything. Congress is gridlocked and the President is campaigning. Government spending is the problem. Government at all levels is now about 37% of the economy. This is higher than it was during World War Two. It needs to become smaller as a percentage of the economy, but not by cutting. Until we fix the underlying economic problems, the public sector will suck the life out of our recovery and people will never return to work.
(“Here’s Why People Don’t Think We’re in a Recovery” by Bill Watkins dated September 27, 2012 published by New Geography at http://www.newgeography.com/content/003105-heres-why-people-dont-think-were-a-recovery )
Everybody knows that this election is supposed to be all about the economy, but both Democrats and Republicans seem to want to have a debate about the individual, society, and government in American life. Employment, income, growth, and America’s credit rating are too low, while spending, borrowing, deficits, poverty, and gas prices are too high, and voters must decide whether President Obama is responsible for all of that or whether Mitt Romney could do better. Polls certainly suggest that these questions are highest on voters’ minds. Each party is pulled into this debate by what it sees as the deeply misguided views of the other. Democrats listen to Republicans and hear a simpleminded and selfish radical individualism. They hear people who think that being successful and rich means you’re smarter than everyone else or work harder than everyone else, and who therefore have no regard for those in our society who are in no position to start a business or get a loan. Republicans listen to Democrats, meanwhile, and hear a simpleminded and dangerous radical collectivism. They hear people who think that no success is earned and no accomplishment can be attributed to those who took the risks to make it happen. They hear people who think there is no value in personal drive and initiative, and who would like to extend the web of federal benefits as far and wide as possible to shield Americans from the private economy and make them dependent on government beneficence and on the liberal politicians who bestow it. Republicans accuse Democrats of ignoring individual achievement and overvaluing government achievements; Democrats accuse Republicans of ignoring government achievements and overvaluing individual achievement. Simply put, to see our fundamental political divisions as a tug of war between the government and the individual is to accept the progressive premise that individuals and the state are all there is to society. The real debate forced upon us by the Obama years is about the nature of that intermediate space, and of the mediating institutions that occupy it: the family, civil society, and the private economy. Progressives in America have always viewed those institutions with suspicion, seeing them as instruments of division, prejudice, and selfishness and seeking to empower the government to rationalize the life of our society by clearing away those vestiges of backwardness and putting in their place public programs and policies motivated by a single, cohesive understanding of the public interest. Progressive social policy has sought to make the family less essential by providing for basic material needs, particularly for lower-income women with children. It has sought to make civil society less essential by assigning to the state many of the roles formerly played by religious congregations, civic associations, fraternal groups, and charities, especially in providing help to the poor. And progressive economic policy has sought to turn the private economy into an arm of government policy, consolidating key sectors and protecting from competition large corporations that are willing to act as public utilities or to advance policymakers’ priorities. Conservatives have always resisted such a gross rationalization of society and insisted that local knowledge channeled by evolving social institutions will make for better material outcomes and a better common life. The life of a society consists of more than moving resources around, and what happens in that space between the individual and the government is vital, at least as much a matter of character formation as of material provision and wealth creation. Moral individualism mixed with economic collectivism only feels like freedom because it liberates people from responsibility in both arenas, but real freedom is only possible with real responsibility. And real responsibility is only possible when you depend upon, and are depended upon by, people you know. What happens in that space generally happens face-to-face, between parents and children, neighbors and friends, buyers and sellers. It answers to immediately felt needs, and is tailored to the characters and sentiments of the people involved. This is both good and bad, to be sure. All of this, of course, forms citizens, too, and gives shape to our political life. There is no question that America’s government is one of those sources, and a very important one. Government could never be a substitute for the mediating institutions of our society, but those institutions could not exist without the environment created and sustained by our system of government. While the progressive view of government has long involved the effort to shrink and clear the space between the individual and the state, the conservative view of government has long seen the purpose of the state as the creation, protection, and reinforcement of just that space. This means that government is crucially important, but it also means that limits on government are crucially important. Without those limits, the state can gravely threaten the space for private life that it is charged with protecting. It can do so by invading that space and attempting to fill it, and by collapsing that space under the weight of government’s sheer size, scope, and cost. Both dangers have grown grave and alarming in our time, the first as an explicit goal of federal policymakers, the second as an unavoidable consequence of their actions, and the space between the individual and the state seems now to be in very real peril. It has become increasingly apparent in recent decades that the trajectory of our welfare state is not consistent with the survival of this way of life. Left on its current course, the federal government will take up a greater and greater portion of our economic output (increasingly starving other social institutions and burdening future generations with debt) and will become less and less able to perform its own crucial tasks (as the costs of benefit payments to individuals overwhelm all other functions). Meanwhile, the character of some of those programs of benefit payment threatens to undermine the character of our citizens. Conservatives must take a broader and deeper view of what they are defending and why. They stand not so much for the individual against the state, but for a vision of American life that consists of more than individuals and the state. Conservatives stand for American society, citizens, families, communities, civil society, a free-market economy, and a constitutional government. Conservatives stand for a way of life now increasingly endangered, and well worth preserving and modernizing, a way of life that is decidedly not better off than it was four years ago.
(“The Real Debate” by Yuval Levin dated October 8, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/real-debate_653224.html )
Americans may think they know what President Obama would do if he wins four more years, but, in reality, they have no idea just how radical and far-reaching his agenda would be. Obama himself has been clear about using another term to “reform” our financial sector and ensure the implementation of ObamaCare. The President also has said he would attempt progressive-style immigration reform, with the presumption of amnesty for illegal aliens. Many figure Obama would continue his relentless expansion of federal government power; increasing even further his crushing, multitrillion-dollar intergenerational debt; and pursue a weak foreign policy coupled with the evisceration of America’s military. Obama’s first-term strategy did not materialize out of thin air. The President’s signature policies, including the “stimulus,” defense initiatives and even ObamaCare, were crafted over years by key progressive think tanks and activists, usually first promoted in extensive research and policy papers. Some first-term plans were even recycled and modified from older legislative attempts that had previously been pushed by progressive Democrats. Many of these same progressive groups and activists have been hard at work planning Obama’s second-term strategy: jobs, wages, health care, immigration, defense, even electoral reform. Here are some of the second-term plans:
· The re-creation of a 21st-century version of FDR’s Works Progress Administration program within the Department of Labor that would oversee a massive new bureaucracy and millions of new federal jobs;
· An additional government-funded jobs program that provides “good jobs” capable of supporting a family with a “decent standard of living.”
· A new government mandate to force businesses to provide twelve weeks of paid benefits to employees who need time off to care for a new child, a sick family member, or their own illness.
· A higher, required minimum wage that would raise the floor for all employees.
· An expansive, de facto amnesty program for illegal aliens via both executive order and interagency directives linked with a reduction in the capabilities of the U.S. Border Patrol.
· Plans to bring in untold numbers of new immigrants with the removal of caps on H-1B visas and green cards.
· Government-funded, neighborhood-based programs to better integrate the newly amnestied immigrants into society, including education centers and health care centers. A “federal solution” to ensure that the amnestied immigrants are treated “equitably” across the United States.
· A National Infrastructure Bank that would evaluate and finance infrastructure projects of substantial regional and national importance” and would finance “transportation infrastructure, housing, energy, telecommunications, drinking water, wastewater, and other infrastructures.”
· The wresting of control of the military budget from Congress by placing an ”independent panel” in charge of military spending and slashing the defense budget in shocking ways.
· Spreading the vastly reduced resources of the U.S. Armed Forces even thinner by using them to combat “global warming,” fight global poverty, remedy “injustice,” bolster the United Nations and step up use of “peacekeeping” deployments;
· A new “green” stimulus program and the founding of a federal “green” bank or “Energy Independence Trust,” which would borrow from the federal treasury to provide low-cost financing to private-sector investments in “clean energy. “
· A “green Manufacturing” revolving loan fund to create 680,000 manufacturing jobs and 1,972,000 additional jobs over five years
· Detailed plans to enact single-payer health care legislation controlled by the federal government.
It was Bush who must be credited with dusting off an old American saw that well applies to his White House successor: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” and the question is whether the American people will allow ourselves to be fooled again?
(“Obama’s second-term agenda will prove devastating to U.S.” by Aaron Klein dated July 27, 2012 published by Fox News at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/07/27/obama-second-term-agenda-will-prove-devastating-to-us/ )
The Islamic jihad against modern society reflects the inability to participate in the global society, because we know that, albeit reluctantly, we are at war with Islam as represented by its radicals. Islam and Islamists have grown into dominant topics. One reason is the nuclearization of the creed. Prophets with guns are dangerous: with nukes, they are a peril. The expression “modern world”, Jihad’s target, needs attention. Many would say “West”. That would wrongly indicate that a phenomenon limited to a geographic area causes the outrage. True, Western Europe has been the birthplace of the resented modern world. Nevertheless, the significance of that product is not limited to the place or its ways. The West surpassed its contemporaries. Europe developed dynamism and growth with an ideal that pursued a better tomorrow instead of being content with a stable present and the conservation of existing achievements. In doing so, having lost its fear of change, Europe managed to widen the gap to its competitors. This process provided superior means of power that enabled it to impose its rule globally. The West invented “progress” as an ideal and not as a feared foe as did the stagnant traditional civilizations. Thereby the west of Europe’s tentacles penetrated the world. In time progress became the goal of non-western cultures including Eastern Europe. Those societies whose cultures facilitated “learning from the enemy” fared well. By emulating, they could become modern without being of the “West.” This process of assimilation continues in the present. Its participants are converging causing global trends, lifestyles, businesses, products and aspirations. Even more important is that the developmental gap, the variance between the pioneers and the late starters, is narrowing. The opportunity to absorb the defining elements of a successful model has not been universally exploited. Islam’s world ailed from an inability to accept the preconditions of the access to modernization and its values. Islam defined success in terms of power. Its encounters with other cultures have tended to be collisions. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire (along with the Habsburgs, the Hohenzollern and the Romanovs) forced the rethinking of the Muslim world. In its way stood the Caliphate that tied the state and Islam together. Islam is a value system that had prevented modernization in the past and would do so in the future. The failure of decolonized Muslim states to close the “developmental gap is at the root of Muslim hostility toward modernity. The inability to cope through participation is caused by the fear of losing its soul and identity. Islamism is a radical response to a pre-programmed failure that would be impossible without it. The antidote of wanting something that is feared, misunderstood and rejected, is to articulate two pretentions. One is that the conspiracy of the unbelievers is the cause of all perceived deficiencies. The other asserts that Islam, as a religion, a culture and a way of life is, regardless of its material backwardness, morally superior to other models. This primacy is tied to the correct application of the faith. The result leads to a fanaticism that precludes the selective adaptation of any new and alien ways. Dogmatically, only the enemies of God can doubt the “final victory.” The proper response to backwardness and collective weakness is not development but the destruction of the satanic structure of the unbelievers. The ultimate success of destroying what cannot be participated in implies a new Islamic global order, according to Allah’s command, which is the only path to unity and equality of mankind.
(“Modernization: Rage and Refusal” by George Handlery dated September 28, 2012 published by Intellectual Conservatism at http://intellectualconservative.com/index.php/duly-noted-modernization-rage-and )
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).