Views on the News – 1/26/2013
By: David Coughlin
The ongoing debate over understanding Obama as a politician has moved into odd territory over the past few years, the extremes between being cast as a “lightbringer,” healer of the planet, solver of all our racial woes, and on the other as a devious socialist bent on national ruin, but the real key to understanding Obama is the traditional lens of urban Democrat machine politics, an approach bent on bending your foes into caricatures of themselves and organizing your own community into a political blunt instrument to wield at whim. The President is miscast as a wonky technocrat or a leftist true believer, which is more about the dabbling of his formative years than the man he became. His priority is not policy, nor is he interested in the wholesale remaking of American life into a progressive utopia. Obama does believe the mechanisms of government are better, and produce more ethical outcomes, than the competition of the marketplace. Even if he didn’t believe that, Obama would pursue the kinds of stakeholder-focused policies he does, because that is how you wield power in the traditional machine politics environment. Applied nationally, this approach doesn’t heal the land or the hearts of people tired of partisan discord, it doubles down on the divides of class and interest, an approach even the left acknowledges has made for a nation more divided. When this power from on high approach runs into barriers, it sparks skepticism, not of the machine politics strategy, but of democracy itself. Other criticism of a functioning democracy is really expressing the frustration of those confident in their own abilities to re-order society, to fix things and people, and for the utopian dream of humanity to finally be fulfilled under their august rule. Many experts see little need for give and take with their intellectual inferiors, in Congress or elsewhere. This attitude is expressed in the administration’s increasing use of executive orders to promote policy goals such as better gun control, reduced greenhouse emissions or reform of immigration. Whatever one’s views on these issues, that they are increasingly settled outside Congress which represents a troublesome notion. Obama accepted the Presidency as someone for whom the hopes of the nation were to heal the wounds of the Bush era. Today he is revealed as a pedestrian partisan who uses the love and affection of his loyal supporters to crush his opponents and their constituencies, which is the essential broken promise of Obama’s entire career.
(“The Broken Promise of Barack Obama” by Ben Domenech dated January 21, 2013 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/01/21/the_broken_promise_of_barack_obama_116744.html )
The President has made an art form of talking big and acting small; so small that insignificance has become the new normal at the White House. Obama has defined his Presidency as afflicted with Tom Thumb Syndrome; a small man, with little or no imagination, pushing small ideas and trying to pass them off as transformational changes. As a candidate for re-election, President Obama did not run on any big ideas, or advocate massive change. His “investment” proposals consisted of throwing more money at the same cronies he funded during his first term (teachers, unions, “green” technology companies) while baiting the envious and paranoid voter with promises to sock it to the rich. It was a singularly small-minded campaign, unworthy even of a liberal. The President’s “executive actions” on curbing gun violence are so vanilla and pedestrian that the reactions from Republicans, impeachment, arrest for federal agents sent to enforce the regulations, even civil war, smack of hysteria. His ideas to reduce the deficit and address the national debt are similarly timid. The President prefers to imagine he can draw most of his deficit-reduction package by closing loopholes and reforming the tax system, once again, going after the “rich.” It is indicative of the dearth of ideas and lack of recognition of what must be done that have characterized the Obama administration since 2010. After passing ObamaCare and the financial reform legislation, there has been nothing “transformational” emanating from the Obama White House because it has been one minor-league play after another.
(“The ‘Tom Thumb’ Presidency” by Rick Moran dated January 19, 2013 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-tom-thumb-presidency/ )
Progressives assert that they are the standard bearers of leading society into the next evolutionary development; that their “high minded ideals will bring about a utopia of peace and prosperity. If this were true, wouldn’t we as a nation be freer, more prosperous and have more opportunity than we did 100 years ago when they took the political helm? Instead we seem to be “progressing” back to the same oppressive ideas that inspired our forefathers and kicked off the American Revolution in 1776. To become gradually better or more advanced as a society, the direction we should be progressing towards is more freedom and less government. To go in any other direction would simply be moving backwards towards the failures of the unevolved man of the past. To make man subject to his government rather than the government to be subject to man is a return to a feudalistic construct rejected by philosophers, intellectuals, ethicists, and theologians alike. The Democratic Republic of America with the Free Market system operating under the constitution is the dream of great thinkers throughout history. Those aspired ideas have not failed – what is failed is when equality of results is forced through legislation and regulation which in the end only favors the cronies of the legislature; thereby creating a crony corporatist culture that favors the privileged and elite, shuts off any competition, retards the market and currency and has to keep legislating special interest laws to placate the growing special interest groups. The only thing that will fix this nation will be to return to the construct that made this nation great and implement the fully unrestrained dream that all the philosophers, intellectuals, ethicists, and theologians as well as founding fathers shared. Progressives promote increased dependency, governmental supremacy and collective control and uniformity. Dissenting ideas are not embraced and explored for understanding, they are demonized, dismissed and silenced at every level. The definition is no longer “progressives,” instead should start labeling them “digressives” or “regressives,” as they seek to digress the highest dream of the great philosophers, intellectuals, ethicists, theologians and our founding fathers of freedom, individuality, unity in diversity, and creativity and desire to regress us to a devolved societal state where an privileged elite rule the masses.
(“Progressives should be called ‘digressives’ or ‘regressives’” by Michael Weaver dated January 22, 2013 published by Patriot Action at http://patriotaction.net/profiles/blogs/progressives-should-be-called-digressives-or-regressives )
A key aspect of the liberal psych is the wish to eschew responsibility for their actions which leads them to make things, not people, guilty for everything. Liberals, like anyone who does something wrong because the near term “rewards” overcome concerns about long term consequences, work desperately to avoid the responsibility for, and the consequences of, their actions. A key aspect of modern American liberalism is the rejection of the traditional Judeo-Christian moral code. Liberals believe in casual sex, government rather than personal charity, and the right of individuals to live off of society rather than carry their own weight among other things which violate the laws laid down by God. Sadly the invention of the pill and the ability of antibiotics to cure most STDs allowed people living in the 1960′s to delude themselves into thinking they could sleep around without consequences. However contraception does not end the “risk” of pregnancy in any sexual act. The truth is that the Pill is not 100% effective, and condoms are far less effective. Similarly STDs, after a short period in the 1960s, became far more common and far less treatable culminating with AIDS in the 1980s. They made abortion legal so that they could be sure they could engage in casual sex without having to worry about pregnancy. They directed disproportionate amounts of medical research dollars into dealing with STDs, an approach they’d never condone for other behavior-related diseases such as lung cancer. Most of all, they plugged their ears and declared that everything was all right so that they didn’t have to take responsibility for the consequence of their actions. It didn’t faze liberals that 1.4 million unborn babies had to be killed each year so that they could enjoy sex without consequences. It didn’t bother them that they were often spreading incurable STDs, such as genital herpes and AIDS, because they declared, in direct contradiction to evidence, that condoms were a failsafe way to avoid infection. All that mattered to liberals is that they did not have to take responsibility for their actions. We see the same thing when looking at the liberal attitude towards helping the poor. When confronted with incontrovertible evidence of the ill effects the modern liberal welfare state on blacks, modern liberals simply pushed for more of the same. Instead of accepting personal responsibility and joining conservatives who worked in the trenches to help the truly needy, liberals continued to deny their personal responsibility and instead said that daddy… the government should take care of the poor. All liberals had to do was make sure the “rich” gave the government enough money. We all know that liberals don’t believe that they should be held responsible for what they say. From Clinton lying under oath to being comfortable with people publicly calling for the assassination of President Bush, liberals demonstrate that they do not feel they have a personal responsibility to either speak the truth or to avoid inciting violence. The real core of the liberal response to Newtown is the instinctive liberal denial of personal responsibility. To acknowledge that it was the shooter rather than the gun that was responsible for the mass murder of children at Newtown would undermine the entire edifice of modern liberal self justification. Even though liberals do not condone the shooting of children, they have to find some way to shift blame from the individual to some thing; otherwise they’d have to confront the emptiness at the core of so many of their beliefs. If a man is responsible when he fires a gun why isn’t he responsible when he spreads an STD or gets a woman pregnant? When good people delude themselves as to the nature of their actions, it is insanely hard for them to face the truth and acknowledge their real responsibilities.
(“The Liberal War on Responsibility” by Tom Trinko dated January 19, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/the_liberal_war_on_responsibility.html )
A balanced budget amendment approved by the states would eliminate the debt ceiling discussion permanently. Without a taboo against deficits, deficit spending tends to become habitual. It is politically corrosive, because no constituency expects to be the one to have to sacrifice when the limits of borrowing have been reached. No constitutional amendment will work perfectly. However, constitutional prohibitions against deficits make governments more fiscally responsible than they would be otherwise. Nearly all U.S. states are prohibited from running deficits. Many U.S. states evade the spirit of constitutional budget requirements through use of accounting gimmicks, such as rosy assumptions about pension fund returns. Even so, the restraints basically work. The main argument against a balanced budget amendment is that it would tie the hands of Congress in dealing with economic downturns. Keynesian orthodoxy says that deficits are appropriate in a recession, but they are wrong:
· There are many instances in which fiscal expansions did not produce economic expansions and in which fiscal contractions did not produce economic contractions.
· The macro-econometric models that are trotted out to support Keynesian policies are highly suspect.
· The Keynesian rationale for deficits would imply that when the economy is not in recession, a balanced budget or surplus is in order, but the U.S. has run deficits nearly every year since the Keynesian framework was adopted in the 1960s.
· The CBO projects increasing deficits starting in about 10 years, as the full force of Baby Boom retirements hits the budget, and then ever-widening deficits in perpetuity.
· According to the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, the Obama recession ended in June 2009, so in theory, the rationale for deficit spending ended on that date as well.
In short, giving governments the discretion to run deficits does not work out well. In theory, government is supposed to fight recessions with deficits, which should then be replaced during normal times by balanced budgets and surpluses. In practice, deficits do not necessarily have the expansionary effects predicted, nor does deficit reduction necessarily exhibit contractionary effects. Moreover deficit spending tends to become permanent, not temporary. All of the major countries that have used the Keynesian rationale to justify deficit spending are now on unsustainable fiscal paths. Legislators are like drug addicts and the political pain of withdrawal (returning to budget balance) is too high. After 50 years of Keynesian economics, all we have to show for it is that we are deeper in debt.
(“16 tons of Keynesian Economics” by Arnold Kling dated January 22, 2013 published by The American Magazine at http://www.american.com/archive/2013/january/16-tons-of-keynesian-economics )
With the courts failing us and Mitt Romney having lost the Presidency, we are doomed to be saddled with ObamaCare for at least four to six years. Like Romneycare, the affordable health care act will do nothing to lower the costs for average Americans. Another result of ObamaCare will be further workforce cuts by restaurants and other businesses in order to avoid the expensive new requirements for full-time employees. The security of one good job will be replaced with having multiple part-time gigs. Candidate Obama promised to cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, both the deficit and debt have ballooned out of control. Many of us fiscal conservatives thought President George W. Bush was a spendaholic by growing the debt by $5 trillion during his eight years in office. However, he looks frugal compared to Obama, who has added $6 trillion in only four years. At this trajectory of growth, the national debt will be a minimum of $22 trillion in 2016, with every taxpayer roughly owing $200,000 to pay it down. Consumers will be facing two forms of inflation. One will be the result of excessive government spending and the corresponding interest payments for borrowing the money. The second will be ObamaCare surcharges. In order to abide by the new law, businesses will pass along the costs to the consumers. While the movie industry will keep getting corporate welfare, oil companies will continue to be demonized. The President will aggressively push to tax oil companies on their gross profit instead of the net. This new revenue will be ultimately derived from consumers, but it will help pay for the next Solyndra. Lastly, the number of people on welfare will continue to grow because of the higher cost of living and lack of job opportunities.
(“4 more years will cost us dearly” by Holly Robichaud dated January 21, 2013 published by Boston Herald at http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/columnists/holly_robichaud/2013/01/4_more_years_will_cost_us_dearly
Most things that we read in the popular media about radical Islam are fantasies that are promulgated in the mistaken belief that such dogmas will appease terrorists, or at least direct their ire elsewhere. Given the recent news, murders in Algeria, war in Mali, the Syrian mess, and Libyan chaos, let us reexamine some of these more common heresies:
· Contact with the West Moderates Radical Muslims – Exposure to the advantages of free markets, constitutional government, and legally protected freedoms have not enlightened Islamic visitors because they despise what wealth and affluence do to the citizenry or try to dream up conspiracy theories to explain why their adopted home is better off than the native one that they abandoned.
· The West Must Atone for Its Past Behavior – Radical Islam hate us because of the age-old wages of insecurity, envy, and a sense of inferiority, and the hunch that such gripes win apologies, attention, and sometimes money.
· Israel Is the Source of Muslim Rage – The current mass killing in the Muslim world, in Afghanistan, Algeria, Libya, Mali, Syria, and Yemen, since 1) it has nothing to do with Israel, and 2) the Muslim world is largely silent about the carnage that dwarfs the toll of an Israeli response to missiles from Gaza.
· The U.S. Can Solve the Muslim World’s Problems – Iraq is more stable than Syria or Libya largely because a U.S. presence baby-sat democratic change, and to the degree that Iraq will revert to the usual Arab paradigm is probably contingent on the fact that the U.S. refused to leave even a small garrison and simply pulled out lock, stock, and barrel.
· We Are Largely Safe from Islamic Upheavals – September 11th taught us that pre-modern killers can still reach postmodern Westerners. Oil revenues will give Iran not just the bomb, but in ten years the ability to rocket it to Europe and perhaps the U.S. Over forty terrorist plots have been uncovered in the U.S. since 9/11.
In short, we must continue our anti-terrorism vigilance, maintain our military strength, speak honestly to the public, and seek alliances with sympathetic nations who share our views about radical Islam. More importantly, it is time to reassess our posture in the Muslim world. Giving billions of dollars in aid to Morsi’s Egypt is unsustainable, logically and morally. We should quietly chart a five-year plan to reach zero aid, a cut-off that could be reassessed should Morsi prove a reformer. Ditto diminishing aid to Pakistan, and the Palestinians. The key is not loud lecturing, but just a quiet yet steady twist of the spigot in the off direction. If anti-Americanism earns U.S. money (Pakistan and Palestine just polled the most anti-American of all nations), then perhaps no U.S. money might earn a little pro-Americanism. Our immigration policy in general is wrecked, so we should radically reassess granting visas to those from non-democratic countries in the Middle East. This hiatus need not be permanent, but again can send a quiet message that there are wages to anti-Americanism. Oil and natural gas self-sufficiency are now possible in a way undreamed of just four years ago. In other words, there are now real answers to our age-old worries: a stop to predicating our national security on the Persian Gulf; an end to the Arab League holding our foreign policy hostage; a stop to berating Israel and courting Hamas; a curtailing of our disastrous imbalance of payments caused by importing over-priced oil as well as the possibility of exchanging coal for clean-burning natural gas, creating millions of new jobs at home, and earning revenues to help pay down the deficit. Not developing new wells on public lands and cancelling the Keystone pipeline are not just mistaken, but mistaken to the degree of lunacy. Since the administration quietly kept in place most of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols after deriding them during the campaign, and his own new initiatives were either shelved or faced a storm of opposition in Congress, we have been kept safe for four years, but if we believe any of the five radical Islam heresies, we jeopardize our own security.
(“Our Old Grand Fantasies About Radical Islam” by Victor Davis Hanson dated January 21, 2013 published by PJ Media t http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/fantasies-about-radical-islam/ )
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).