Views on the News – 6/1/2013
By: David Coughlin
Somewhere in America, the last “Yes we can” poster is being torn from a bedroom wall and the left’s most strident operatives are trying to diminish the scandals and belittle Republican outrage, but the rest of the President’s faithful are sauntering between denial, despair and crestfallen befuddlement, asking each other where it all went wrong. Never before in history has an American President so clearly and so often chastised the American people. In 2010, he rallied Democrats to “punish” their Republican “enemies” on the radio. Today, not only does the President have his cadre of loyalists, the Obama administration is united under a noble progressive vision. The President, through endless repetition, has certified his administration’s moral high ground. The President, through endless repetition, has identified the problem: unfairness. Through endless repetition, he has also identified the enemy: Republicans who stand in the way of progress. We opposed their radical ideas, which have led directly to a federal government that values the progressive agenda more than individual liberty. The only certainty is that the scandals are going to continue to erupt. They’ll get broader and deeper and more unnerving. The reason that it’s a certainty is because Barack Obama is a disciple of Saul Alinsky, who advocated confrontational, bullying tenets throughout his political career. He taught Alinsky’s tenets at the University of Chicago, and he’s filled the federal government with like-minded bureaucrats. Within his administration, Obama has created an aggressive culture with an activist bent and a radical notion of the “greater good.” In the end, President Obama may be untouched personally because he may have governed at such a distance that there were no incriminating direct orders, but as the abuses continue to tally, the President will be accountable for the abusive, progressive culture he created.
(“Ultimately, Obama to blame for scandals” by Yates Walker dated may 30, 2013 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/30/ultimately-obama-to-blame-for-scandals/ )
As the Obama’s myriad scandals continue to expand in both severity and number, the Nixon comparison has taken root with an embattled White House, enemies lists, a crippled, directionless administration, and a President who seems incapable of repairing the damage done to his already weakened credibility. Obama doesn’t have Nixon’s sense of dignity – so he won’t resign, and he isn’t faced with any legitimate threat of impeachment. Most congressional Republicans seem to view the IRS scandal as a way to target the Obama White House. An Obama-centric approach will fail because it misses the larger point. The IRS scandal isn’t really about Obama – it’s about government. He deserves to be removed from office, or forced to resign in disgrace, but it just isn’t going to happen. Even if it did, the real problem wouldn’t have been solved. There are thousands of statists out there who believe exactly what Obama believes. They despise the Constitution, they hate the concept of a truly limited government, and they will not hesitate to violate the law if it means an expansion of federal power. Conservatives need to force the GOP to refocus. Americans are watching as their government morphs into exactly the kind of tyrannical beast we all know it can become. Yet, the GOP just can’t get past the banal idea that its only recourse is to go after the opposition President. Obama, as his title suggests, presides, so he’s just a temporary issue. The problem he represents will abide long after he’s gone. It’s time to go to war for a fair tax or flat tax, coupled with a massive reduction in IRS scope and power. It’s time to go “pie in the sky” and fight for a repeal of the 16th Amendment. We may not get everything we want but, at some point, we’ve got to start trying. Some conservatives – namely the usual suspects like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee – understand that government is the problem, not just Obama, and it’s time to drag the rest of the party, kicking and screaming if necessary, to the same conclusion.
(“The GOP is missing the boat on the IRS scandal” by Robert Laurie dated May 26, 2013 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/55480 )
Five months into his improvisational second term, a sluggish economy and severe jobless rate seem to have vanished from President Obama’s agenda. The economy is on auto-pilot. The economic growth rate remains critically anemic by historical standards. Over 11.5 million Americans are still searching for a job. Some 4 million people have been jobless for six months or more. Obama continues to ignore the economy. He won re-election when it was barely growing at 0.4% in November, so he figures it can’t hurt him now. The Gallup Poll recently asked Americans which issues should the government be making its top priorities. The two top concerns were “creating more jobs” and “helping the economy grow.” The issues, that Obama has focused in the past several months, gun control and immigration reform, were ninth and tenth, respectively, in Gallup’s list. He’s been responding ad hoc to events or cherry-picking issues that appeal politically to his base, but not leading or shaping them. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, however, the focus has clearly been on the economy, though it gets little attention in the Washington news media. The Republican House has passed more than half a dozen bills in the past year aimed at strengthening job growth, only to see them die in the Democrat Senate. The chairmen of the tax-writing panels, Max Baucus, who runs the Senate Finance Committee, and Dave Camp, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, are working together on a major overhaul of the tax code. It will cleanse hundreds of billions of dollars in special interest loopholes and other tax preferences, while lowering the tax rates. Four years into the Reagan economic recovery, the economy was expanding at a 5.2% annual rate and jobs were plentiful again. In Obama’s recovery, economic growth is expected to be a meek 1% and 2% in the second quarter, and for most of the country, a good paying, full time job is still getting harder to find.
(“Obama Playing at the Improv, Making it Up as He Goes Along” by Donald Lambro dated May 24, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/donaldlambro/2013/05/24/obama-playing-at-the-improv-making-it-up-as-he-goes-along-n1605216 )
For all the complaining the left has done about those shadowy outside political groups subverting the democratic process, we recently learned that no one has the means to undercut freedom of expression quite like an enthusiastic federal government agency. Appropriately, nearly everyone in Washington is professing and/or pretending to be outraged that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups. An uninformed Barack Obama hasn’t shouldered much of the blame for scandal-mania just yet, and he may never be damaged. Even with an adoring public, the chances of Obama’s pushing through any substantive legislation before 2014, or even 2016, were slim at best. The President won’t be running for re-election, but progressivism will. The most vital element of Obama’s agenda, no matter where any of these investigations lead, has already taken a big hit, and that’s the electorate’s trust in government. A recent Pew Research Center poll has found that only 26% of Americans trust government to make the right decisions, with 73% having little confidence in government. A very recent Fox News poll found that about two-thirds of voters feel the government is “out of control and threatening their civil liberties.” The problem is that it has too much control over too many aspects of the political process. The raison d’etre of the Obama era, ultimately, has been to convince you that government is trustworthy, but it isn’t. It is also impossible to compartmentalize government from politics. Democrats have treated limited-government types not as political opponents or mere ideological adversaries but with a deep moral contempt typically reserved for violent enemies of the state. Now, I’m under no misconceptions that America is about to go libertarian. But heightened skepticism toward power is good news. So for those who believe in limited government, this might be the time not only to attack Obama but to argue that abuse of power is the perpetual condition of an activist Washington, not a quirk of the times.
(“Why Liberalism Is in Trouble” by David Harsanyi dated May 23, 2013 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/05/23/obama_may_survive_but_scandals_a_blow_to_left_118520.html )
As jihadists bomb Boston, behead a soldier in London and firebomb police in Sweden, President Obama has decided America’s actions have offended the Islamo-fascists and it’s time to retreat. In arguably the weakest national security speech by a commander in chief, Obama denied that our terrorist enemy is inspired by Islam, while at the same time appeasing Islamic critics by apologizing for drone strikes and agreeing to throttle back on such precision bombings, and close down the terrorist prison at Guantanamo. The President proudly proclaimed that there have been no “large scale” terrorist attacks since Obama has been President, but he neglects to mention the three “small scale” attacks with 17 deaths or any of the 50+ attacks that were thwarted. He vowed to wind down further military actions in the war on terror, arguing he can protect America through law enforcement actions, instead, as if the threat comes from bank robbers or other common criminals. Obama declared “This war, like all wars, must end.” He conveniently forgets that war was declared on us, and ending any war requires our enemies to accept that the war is over and to cease their attacks – who speaks for all of them? Not 48 hours before he uttered those final words, an al-Qaida-inspired jihadist who decapitated a war veteran in the streets of London vowed to keep up the attacks on the West, “We swear by almighty Allah that we will never stop fighting you. You will never be safe,” and if this President has his way, he may be right.
(“Obama Surrenders Just as Islamic Jihad Intensifies” dated may 24, 2013 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/052413-657752-obama-shows-enemy-weakness-in-war-retreat.htm )
The greatest challenge to our military is not from a foreign enemy, it is the widening gap between the American people and their armed forces. Three developments in recent decades have created this chasm. First and most basic was the decision in 1973, at the end of combat operations in Vietnam, to depart from the tradition of the citizen-soldier by ending conscription and establishing a large, professional, all-volunteer force to maintain the global commitments we have assumed since World War II. Less than 0.5% of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12% during World War II. In 1975, 70% of members of Congress had some military service; today, just 20% do, and only a handful of their children are in uniform. In sharp contrast, so many officers have sons and daughters serving that they speak, with pride and anxiety, about war as a “family business.” Here are the makings of a self-perpetuating military caste, sharply segregated from the larger society and with its enlisted ranks disproportionately recruited from the disadvantaged. Second, technology has helped insulate civilians from the military. In recent decades, information and navigation technologies have vastly amplified the individual warrior’s firepower, allowing for a much more compact and less costly military. Reliance on drones economizes on both manpower and money, but is fraught with moral and legal complexities, as Obama acknowledged, in shifting responsibility for the drone program to the military from the C.I.A. Third, and perhaps most troubling, the military’s role has expanded far beyond the traditional battlefield. In Iraq and Afghanistan, commanders orchestrated, alongside their combat missions, “nation-building” initiatives like infrastructure projects and promotion of the rule of law and of women’s rights. The potential for conflict in cyberspace, where military and civilian collaboration is essential, makes a further blurring of missions likely. Together, these developments present a disturbingly novel spectacle: a maximally powerful force operating with a minimum of citizen engagement and comprehension. The media offer us images of drone pilots, thousands of miles from the fray, coolly and safely dispatching enemies in their electronic cross hairs. The Congressional Research Service has documented 144 military deployments in the 40 years since adoption of the all-voluntary force in 1973, compared with 19 in the 27-year period of the Selective Service draft following World War II, an increase in reliance on military force traceable in no small part to the distance that has come to separate the civil and military sectors. Meanwhile, Americans are happy to thank the volunteer soldiers who make it possible for them not to serve, and deem it is somehow unpatriotic to call their armed forces to task when things go awry. The civilian-military divide erodes the sense of duty that is critical to the health of our democratic republic, where the most important office is that of the citizen, while the armed forces retool for the future, citizens cannot be mere spectators.
(“Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart” by Karl M. Eikenberry and David M. Kennedy dated May 26, 2013 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/opinion/americans-and-their-military-drifting-apart.html?hpw )
Elite U.S. troops were completely capable of saving Ambassador Chris Stevens during the Benghazi Consulate attacks on September 11, 2012. Elements of the highly specialized Combatant Commanders In-Extremis (CIF) units are always on alert, on forward deployment, ready to respond. Their job description is to hit the ground in 3 to 5 hours. CIF elements are ready to engage in active combat anywhere in their region, 3 to 5 hours after the call. Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense at the time, either misled Congress or was incompetent. Although rotating out of the United States, some CIF elements are always forward-deployed within each military command region, always on stand-by. Their training includes expertise within each local region. Some of each region’s unit is always ready. They don’t need to pack. Being ready to go immediately is their job description. It’s the reason they exist. The U.S. military has developed a range of capabilities, from CIF teams to the Navy SEALs, to Rangers, to Green Berets, but now many in the special forces/special operators community feel betrayed. Commanders in Extremis units are so highly trained and expert that even elite Green Berets wash out of the highly demanding CIF training in large numbers. Standard military doctrine is to activate all such resources immediately, even if they are ultimately not used. Military’s plans require getting such teams in the air and on the way, not waiting to see if they will be needed. CIF units answer directly to the general for each regional command to eliminate delay. Therefore, if AFRICOM, the U.S. military’s regional command for matters involving Africa, had actually wanted to rescue Ambassador Stevens, and the classified secrets in the Consulate, the AFRICOM general would have communicated directly with the CIF team on forward deployment in the region. It is reported that CIF elements assigned to AFRICOM were already mobilizing and preparing to respond in Southern Europe, but they were ordered to stand down. Fighter jets from Sigonella, Italy could have been above Benghazi in 20 minutes from takeoff at the F-16′s maximum speed of 1,500 miles per hour. Transports and gunships could have reached the Consulate in 90 minutes from take-off. Meanwhile, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and its battle group were within range to assist the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette was relieved of command and flown back to the States on undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment. It is widely believed within the U.S. military that Admiral Gaouette was mobilizing a response to come to the aid of Ambassador Stevens but was ordered to stand down. The allegation of “inappropriate judgment” was that Admiral Gaoutte insisted on mounting a rescue, leading to sharp words being exchanged. Even liberal columnist Maureen Dowd commented: “The defense secretary at the time, Leon Panetta, insisted, ‘We quickly responded,’ but they responded that they would not respond.” Dowd sums it up: “All the factions wove their own mythologies at the expense of our deepest national mythology: that if there is anything, no matter how unlikely or difficult, that we can do to try to save the lives of Americans who have volunteered for dangerous assignments, we must do it.”
(“U.S. Military: We Could Have Saved Ambassador Stevens” by Jonathon Moseley dated May 25, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/05/us_military_we_could_have_saved_ambassador_stevens.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).