Views on the News – 2/23/2013
By: David Coughlin
The State of the Union speech confirmed that Barack Obama remains a Marxist caricature, his Presidency vapid by historical standards, and his leadership style exemplar of fecklessness. This recovery is no recovery by any objective measure. Americans are suffering and yet a President whose words belie the effects of his policies, a man who lies about “deficit reduction,” then turns around and puts the pedal down on spending, nonetheless has managed to ride a sycophantic media to popular appeal. The federal budget, as a percentage of the economy, is at historically high levels-nearly 25% of GDP… and yet Obama, with a straight face, continues to ask “the rich” to pay more, as long as the federal government borrows $4 billion per/day, every day, on the path to a sovereign debt crisis. Entitlements in 83 redundant federal programs are designed to redistribute tax dollars to “the least among us,” trapping them in an insidious cycle of dependency. Medicare is a wholly failed government monopoly that pays out 3 dollars for every dollar it takes in. Social Security, which does likewise, is a raided fund full of empty IOUs. The President loves rhetoric and all the trappings of power, the Bully Pulpit and the megaphone, the pomp and the primacy, but none of the responsibility or accountability of the job. The media acts as if he took office yesterday, as if the President, glowingly insular, is supremely occupied with solving problems, with deep, existential questions, when in fact he’s disinterested, lazy, and aloof. He doesn’t govern because that would take leadership and engagement. There is no seriousness in Barack Obama because he’s occupied with politics, wedge issues that deflect blame to Republicans, and expanding bureaucracy. He’s occupied with saying one thing and doing another. He’s profoundly unserious. The new standard among the left, too many hapless moderates, and a jaw-droppingly dumbed-down electorate, is words that “sound good” and reflect non-reality. The American people, meanwhile, suffer Truth Reduction, as the President claims great success and manipulates words from his won Bizarro-world.
(“Empty Rhetoric and Meaningless Lines: The Obama Non-Presidency” by Greg Halvorson dated February 15, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/02/_normal_0_false_false_2.html )
The Democrat party portrays itself as the defender of the little guy, righteously battling corporate America and other powerful villains, but the Democrat party has morphed into a vociferous protector of three entrenched and powerful groups: Big Business, Big Government (specifically, public-employee unions), and the radical Left. The name “Democrat” is no longer accurate; the party is now better described as the Government party. Increasingly uninterested in its own stated ideals, the party has as its main function using the government to perpetuate and expand its own power and that of its three dominant backers. This effort, in large part, is funded by mandatory public-employee-union dues, taxpayer money that is taken from union members’ paychecks and given to the unions, which use these huge sums to support the election of more members of the Government party.
· The Government party is the party of Big Business. Under various guises, “stimulus,” “green initiatives,” and “bailouts,” to name a few, the Obama administration and its allies in Congress have poured tens of billions of dollars into corporate America’s coffers. Aside from receiving direct government subsidies and loan guarantees, corporations are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Government party’s intrusive mandates and regulations. Big business knows how easily the government can craft regulations to hurt defiant companies. If a business is not at the government’s table, it’ll be on the menu.
· Public-employee unions are another major beneficiary of the Government party. As the private economy limps along, unionized public employees have emerged as a gilded class that reaps health-care benefits, job security, and pensions at levels rarely found among the struggling private-sector workers who pay their salaries. Dependent on the unions’ political donations and electioneering, the Government party bitterly resists efforts to scale back union members’ lavish perks, even as these enormous expenses ravage state budgets and force spending cuts in other programs.
· The radical Left is the final component of the Government party’s trinity. Green groups and other left-wing organizations, largely led by rich elites in big cities, back the party in exchange for its support for their agenda and its funneling of taxpayer money to them.
Under Government-party rule, there is a distinct stratum of winners: unionized car makers, banks and other financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” money-losing “clean energy” firms, Government-party leaders, union bosses, radical environmental groups, and politically connected corporations. In the end, nearly everyone will suffer under Government-party rule. The poor may think they’re beholden to the party and its promises of free education, free health care, and myriad free government services, but in reality, the evisceration of the private sector is wiping out their path to prosperity. The government caste may think its pensions and perks are untouchable, but when the diminishing private sector can no longer provide enough tax revenues to cover these costs, simple mathematics dictates that these benefits will be drastically cut, if not eliminated entirely. The American people deserve a government that serves their interests instead of pursuing its own. As the Government party in big cities demands an ever-growing share of a dwindling pool of wealth, it’s up to the rest of us, especially in suburban and rural America, to support lawmakers and policies that allow for the creation of wealth, not its redistribution.
(“The Government Party” by Devin Nunes dated February 15, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/340650/government-party-devin-nunes )
Barack Obama is a terrible president, which is obvious to everyone who isn’t chronically ignorant or incurably liberal: self-centered, emotional, illogical, and void of reason. Unfortunately, in 2012 ignoramuses and liberals represented the majority of those who voted. I’m not worried about offending them with my harsh words. From economic policy to energy policy to environmental policy to foreign affairs to national security to border security to you name it, the President failed the test, but we re-elected him anyway. Obama’s misadventures in the Oval Office are becoming the stuff of legend. Benghazi and Fast and Furious are two of his more high profile blunders, but they aren’t the only ones. The nation as a whole became complicit in the President’s shenanigans because we didn’t demand that he be held accountable. President Obama has done one thing superbly well: he has demonstrated skill par excellence on a national scale as a community organizer. He is second to none when it comes to inciting, agitating, race baiting, stoking fears, and motivating the masses. If you discount voter fraud, more than anything else, those skills got him re-elected. Like a snowball gathering momentum as it rolls down a hill, the forces that he has unleashed will be impossible to stop without pain and suffering. In the United States today, large and growing numbers of people believe that their mere existence is their contribution to society. They think that those of us who have worked hard all of our lives owe them a living, and not just a living, but a very good living. The takers among us are easy pickings for a man with exceptional community organizing skills, and the forces that the President has unleashed will prove to be impossible to control. If they explode, there will be hell to pay. Takers have no misgivings about attaching themselves permanently to the government tit, and they feel no guilt or shame as they scream for more. Obama knows them and their predilections all too well, and he takes advantage of every opportunity to stoke the fires that burn within them. In due course, simple mathematics will dictate that we can’t afford to keep able bodied men and women on the dole. The day is rapidly approaching when no one can ignore our fiscal quagmire because the combination of Medicare, Social Security, and defense spending plus interest on the debt and paying freeloaders threatens to sink this nation. Social Security is different because it involves seniors, a powerful voting block, and it is regarded as a national promise that we must not break. Besides, people actually paid in to Social Security as did their employers so it’s an annuity, and not a very good one at that. A perfect storm is brewing: a chaotic and violent period in this country the likes of which no one alive today has ever witnessed which is realistic and unfortunately inevitable, and the President has set in motion forces that he can’t handle, and all of us are going to suffer the consequences so get ready for a wild ride.
(“President Obama has set in motion forces that he can’t handle” by Neil Snyder dated February 17, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/02/president_obama_has_set_in_motion_forces_that_he_cant_handle.html )
President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House. Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). It’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access. The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. Future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach. The President has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. The President’s day-to-day policy development is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away. One authentically new technique pioneered by the Obama White House is extensive government creation of content (photos of the President, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides), which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media. They often include footage unavailable to the press. The White House has built its own content distribution network. There’s no question that technology has significantly altered the playing field of competitive journalism. Obama’s aides are better at using technology and exploiting the President’s “brand.” They are more disciplined about cracking down on staff that leak, or reporters who write things they don’t like. They are obsessed with taking advantage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and every other social media forums, not just for campaigns, but governing. White House staff is needlessly stingy with information and thin-skinned about any tough coverage. Obama himself sees little upside to wide-ranging interviews with the beat reporters for the big newspapers. The President’s staff often finds Washington reporters whiny, needy and too enamored with trivial matters or their own self-importance. There is no doubt that the Obama administration are master marketeers who manage the brand zealously.
(“Obama, the puppet master” by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen dated February 18, 2013 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/obama-the-puppet-master-87764.html?hp=t1_3 )
Despite average planetary temperatures having not budged in 16 years; hurricanes and strong tornadoes are at or near their lowest ebb in decades; global sea ice is back to normal, while the Antarctic icepack continues to grow; the rate of sea level rise remains what it was in 1900, and yet, President Obama and many politicians, newscasters and alarmist scientists continue to insist that carbon dioxide emissions are changing Earth’s climate, and we need to take immediate action to prevent storms like Hurricane Sandy and avert catastrophes predicted by IPCC computer models and “scientific consensus.” Five-alarm climate claims, skewed polling questions and phony taxes-versus-grandma budget alternatives will almost always ensure support for carbon taxes, especially among Bigger Government and Ban Fossil Fuels constituencies. When confirming the climate change consensus, it turns out that only 36% believe that human activities are causing Earth’s climate to warm. Most rational analysis reveals that dreams of hundred-billion-dollar windfalls from slapping regressive new taxes on job creation and economic growth are nothing more than dangerous tax revenue hallucinations. They would bring intense pain for no climate or economic gain. Carbon taxes would thus increase the likelihood that many breadwinners will end up unemployed, since the tax would raise business energy costs dramatically, force companies to trim hours and/or employees, and result in an aggregate loss of at least 1 million jobs by 2016. That would bring more home foreclosures, greater stress, reduced nutrition, and more strokes and heart attacks, especially for older workers whose odds of finding new employment are increasingly bleak. Hydrocarbons provide over 83% of all the energy that powers America, so a carbon tax would put a hefty surcharge on everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do. It would make the United States increasingly less productive, less competitive globally, less able to provide opportunities for our children. President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has already issued 2,071 new rules and dispensed a regulatory burden of over $353 billion per year. It is now preparing still more rules, the most crushing of which would regulate the same CO2 emissions that some in Congress want to tax, from both moving and stationary sources. Most, if not all of its punitive rules, are based on exaggerated risks, fear mongering, junk science, and illusory health, welfare, “environmental justice” and “sustainability” benefits. Nothing whatsoever suggests that Congress, the President or environmentalists will ease their opposition to issuing leases and drilling and fracking permits for more of our vast onshore and offshore oil and gas deposits, which could generate millions of jobs and billions in royalties and tax revenues. Or that they won’t ultimately enact a punitive cap-and-trade law on top of all of this. Instead of real energy for real jobs and revenues, President Obama wants to redouble spending on “green” energy, extracting billions of dollars from still productive sectors of our economy, and transferring the money to crony corporatists and campaign contributors, whose operations are exempted from endangered species and other laws that are imposed routinely and punitively on oil, mining and other companies. The net result of a carbon tax will not be new federal revenues. It will be more economic strangulation, a more bloated federal bureaucracy, more layoffs, sharply higher unemployment, food stamp and welfare payouts, reduced corporate and personal income tax receipts, and thus reduced federal revenues. The only thing that will happen if carbon taxes are inflicted on the US economy is that American jobs, economic growth, living standards, health, dreams and lives will be sacrificed for nothing. We need to stop basing laws and policies on hallucinations, and start basing them on reality.
(“Carbon Tax Hallucinations” by Paul Driessen dated February 16, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/pauldriessen/2013/02/16/carbon-tax-hallucinations-n1511772 )
We remain a nation at peril, but this President and this administration routinely puts political considerations first thus imperiling this country’s security as a result. In his State of the Union speech, President Obama signaled, yet again, that the war in Afghanistan is effectively over. The presence of American troops will be halved to 34,000 in the coming months, and erased entirely by December 31, 2014. On this arbitrarily chosen date, the President claims, we will “achieve our core objective of defeating the core of al-Qaeda.” This was just rhetorical fluff because the core of al-Qaeda will still be intact, even resurgent. It will simply have moved on to more hospitable climes such as northern Africa, thanks in no small part to a windfall of new arms from Libya, courtesy of Obama’s unprovoked, unauthorized, and strategically disastrous war to topple the Qaddafi regime. Though war is political act, it is also a formal legal reality. Its existence and legitimacy, in our constitutional system, are up to Congress. War is not a matter of rhetoric. Many have objected to the term “War on Terror” exactly because it is rhetoric that ducks identification of an actual enemy. Nor is war an exercise in deductive reasoning. Merely to have enemies is not to be at war. We always have enemies, foreign countries and factions that mean us ill. In the same way, the international jihadist network spearheaded by al-Qaeda was our enemy before September 11, 2001. In fact, prior to that infamous date, al-Qaeda repeatedly declared itself to be at war with us. It even acted on these declarations by, for example, attacking our embassies in east Africa in 1998 and the U.S.S. Cole as it docked in Yemen in 2000. Here, however, is the salient fact: We were not at war with al-Qaeda, regardless of their jihad against us. What changed after 9/11 was what took the nation to war, was the formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) by Congress, that vested the commander-in-chief with authority “to use all necessary and appropriate force.” It was the 2001 AUMF that triggered combat operations in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was then headquartered. The AUMF is what rendered legitimate such wartime tactics as subjecting enemy combatants to drone strikes, indefinite detention, and military commissions. Moreover, because the AUMF spelled out no geographical boundaries, it authorized combat operations anyplace in the world where the enemy could be found. Here, however, is where things get fuzzy because of the vast difference between our war rhetoric and what the AUMF actually says about the enemy. The enemy is not “terror.” Contrary to popular belief, the enemy is not even al-Qaeda. The AUMF does not proclaim an open-ended license to attack anyone affiliated with al-Qaeda defining the enemy as follows: “Those nations, organizations, or persons [that the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” al-Qaeda is the organization that was principally complicit in 9/11, and thus it may be attacked anyplace, anytime. The AUMF also undoubtedly authorizes warfare against the Taliban, al-Qaeda’s former host, even though the president, in his discretion, chooses not to regard the Taliban as an enemy, indeed, our government has not even designated the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist organization, much less declared war against it. In addition, the AUMF would authorize war against Iran. The 9/11 Commission all but expressly implicated the mullahs in the 9/11 plot, despite the disinclination of President Obama, of President Bush before him, or of Congress to connect those dots. The AUMF can be interpreted, but it is not boundless. It clearly requires any use of force to be rooted in 9/11. Only those who plotted and executed the 9/11 attacks, or who harbored those who did so, are legitimate targets. They point out that the AUMF goes on to explain Congress’s desire “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.” We have seen the wages of abiding safe havens for al-Qaeda. In Afghanistan and Sudan, the network set up shop, trained recruits, and convinced many who’d been aggrieved locally to terrorize globally. When al-Qaeda and its affiliates establish these redoubts, as they are now trying to do in northern and eastern Africa, they plot mass-murder attacks against the United States and American targets throughout the world. That is why we must not allow that to happen anyplace. Congressional authorization is not just what our law demands, it is what sound policy dictates. The end of the war in Afghanistan is far from the end of the threat to America. We are resolved, as a nation, not just as a Presidential administration to pursue and defeat our jihadist enemies, wherever they are and however long it takes.
(“Are We Still at War?” by Andrew C. McCarthy dated February 16, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/340819/are-we-still-war-andrew-c-mccarthy )
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).