Saturday, January 25, 2014

America Isn't Destined to Be More Liberal ^ | January 24, 2014 | David Harsanyi 

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, left-wing activist Steve Rosenthal sounds a lot like other wishful thinkers arriving at a comfortable partisan conclusion. America, he writes, is only a few years from a full-blown progressive electorate. "A close examination of U.S. attitudes in the past decade-plus," Rosenthal contends, "reveals that the United States is steadily becoming more progressive."
It seems to be widely accepted by the media that demographics, GOP ineptitude and internal division, and a generational shift on social issues place the American voter on an enduring leftward course. Is this inevitable? Well, about as inevitable as Karl Rove's durable Republican majority.
You don't have to be a stickler for academic rigor to appreciate that an 825-word column with a few links to some Gallup polls is not really a "close examination" of anything. But you don't have to be a historian to understand that the electorate, though hardly immune to terrible ideas, is, in the end, stubbornly moderate with little use for philosophical consistency. Which is to say, no one knows what the future will look like.
Voters not only have conflicting ideological views but also change their minds on those issues all the time -- and oftentimes for no good reason at all. We are irrational. We are mercurial. We're irresponsible. And when we're not, events that "change everything" (9/11 and the Great Recession come to mind) tend to blow up these alleged electoral trajectories we're on anyway. And let's not forget voter backlashes, religious awakenings, economic booms and busts, political scandals, charismatic leaders, and technological advances, all of which can disrupt lines on the graph.
That's just broadly speaking, of course. Even if we accepted Rosenthal's facts in the short term, a person could use his piece to make a rather compelling case that the nation is trending more libertarian than it is progressive.
A cultural shift is not always an ideological one -- or at least not always the one you imagine. Our norms are always evolving. Immigration, pot legalization, same-sex marriage and "big business" are the issues that Rosenthal claims portend progressivism's triumph. Yet most of these are only incidentally progressive. Marijuana legalization or support for same-sex marriage is far more likely caused by a growing "live and let live" mindset than it is any burst of leftist idealism. And if the "live and let live" mindset starts bleeding into other areas of American life -- say, education, health care and religious freedom -- the left is in trouble.
In the end, the progressive agenda demands that you trust the state to control economic outcomes -- an idea that is yet to be proved especially popular among Americans. Will it be? Who knows? But right now, what does seem to be growing is skepticism toward government, especially among the young. When Gallup asks about what people "think the most important problem facing this country today is," it doesn't bode well for the left that a plurality of people -- independents, Republicans and Democrats -- say it's government. Fifty-three percent of Americans claim to believe government does "too many things." (Forty percent think its powers should be expanded.) Add to this the fact that according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds as if there's a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition -- though most would never articulate it that way.
And right now, the unpopularity and struggles of Obamacare -- the most notable political accomplishment associated with the progressive left -- make it tough to imagine any electorate signing off on another national technocratic adventure in the foreseeable future. The Obamacare debate has made it nearly impossible to do anything in Washington (a triumph for libertarian governance). Judging from the polls, the voters Rosenthal claims are turning hard left seem to be more amenable to supporting reforms that loosen, rather than expand, federal control over health care. What makes anyone believe a more progressive alternative would be popular?
But like many folks on the left, Rosenthal is forced to make a big leap. He contends that a shift on social issues and the electoral success of (a now-unpopular) Barack Obama prove that the entire progressive buffet is destined for widespread approval. Guess what. It doesn't work that way. Support for gay marriage does not mean support for unions. (Unions, one of the backbones of political progressivism, have never been less popular in practice.) Pot legalization does not mean we're ready to nationalize energy policy. And support for immigration reform doesn't mean people are prepared to "make everything owned by everybody" as a writer in Rolling Stone suggests. And though I certainly don't believe we're about to privatize Social Security, to believe that the philosophy of the electorate is on a fixed leftward arc -- which seems to be conventional wisdom these days -- is premature.

Obama's Deceitful Blame-Shifting Game! ^ | January 24, 2014 | Donald Lambro 

Throughout his economically-troubled presidency, Barack Obama's governing strategy has been one of political distraction: Blaming his failures on others in an attempt to convince enough Americans that he's not at all responsible for an underperforming, jobless economy.
His latest, duplicitous shell game is to raise the issue of income inequality, which he blames on heartless business people and Republican lawmakers who refuse to buy into his dubious, job-killing plan to raise the nation's minimum wage and enact a bundle of new big-spending programs to help the unemployed.
He's trying to shift our attention from the real reasons behind the growing income gap: weak economic growth and the nationwide dearth of full time jobs. These are the issues he campaigned on in 2008. But now he says it is long term, income inequality, not jobs, that is "the defining challenge of our time."
And the liberal news media has bought into his sleight of hand side-show, producing a rash of stories about low-income Americans to prove that his new diagnosis is the right one.
The Washington Post ran a front page story Thursday, with the ominous headline: Climbing economic ladder as hard as ever, study finds." It said a group of academics led by a Harvard economist has discovered the real reasons behind "income inequality."
It found that children growing up in the U.S. today were "just as likely -- no more, no less -- to climb the economic ladder as children born more than a half century ago."
In short, that study concluded that if you are growing up poor today, "you appear to have the same odds of staying poor in adulthood that your grandparents did."
It was the sort of study that the White House must have been cheering, because it fit right into Obama's blame-shifting strategy.
But wiser economists who know better say that poverty and lower incomes are the symptoms of the disease that Obama and the Democrats never talk about: a relentless, sub-par, job-cutting, under-invested, over-taxed economy.
Perhaps no economist has focused more on Obama's failure to lift our economy out of its chronic lethargy than Peter Morici, a University of Maryland School of Business professor who doesn't pull his punches.
In a bluntly-worded analysis this week -- that should be read by network news reporters who swallow Obama's economic clap-trap and then regurgitate it on the nightly news -- Morici lays out what Obama and his administration refuse to acknowledge.
"Inequality is replacing the American dream because the U.S. economy, thanks to Washington's mismanagement, is underperforming," Morici writes in his latest broadside.
In other words, our lackluster, job-starved economy isn't caused by the rich, big business, Wall Street tycoons or by Congress's reluctance to spend ever more money. If $3.5 trillion a year in federal spending hasn't improved the U.S. economy, another trillion more in higher taxes won't do it, either.
On the contrary, higher taxes and more government are not the solution to the high unemployment that plagues our country, they're the problem. The cost of creating jobs is being driven up by harmful tax rates and government regulation, Morici says.
"Simply put, the bureaucratic quagmire created by complex and ineffective business regulations makes it easier to produce in Asia than in America. The highest corporate tax rates among major industrialized countries make the cost of investing here too high," he writes.
In many other ways, Obama's big spending agenda over the last five years has contributed to income inequality, he says. Government subsidized loans have driven up tuition costs. And Obamacare "is making health insurance more expensive for many middle class families and driving up the cost of health care. That makes income disparities worse, not better."
As for Obama's latest attempt to convince the base of his party that businesses like Walmart are the cause of income inequality, Morici replies:
"A slow-growing economy is the cause of increasing inequality. The best way to reverse [this] is to clear a path for investment and entrepreneurs... streamline regulations, simplify and cut taxes, open up offshore energy production... and make exports and jobs America's No. 1 foreign policy priority."
Don't let anyone tell you that lower corporate tax rates -- which are now at 35 percent -- will worsen the deficit.
A full employment economy that is growing at 5 percent and producing its own energy would increase federal tax revenues, he says.
But Obama's record on economic growth is a poor one, and not showing any long term evidence that it will get any better. Yes, the economy grew by 4.1 percent in the third quarter, but the lives of the long term unemployed are not measured in three-month periods, but in years and better incomes.
Obama's depressed economy has been slumbering in the 2 percent range, year over year, far too slowly to lower the unemployment rate to 6 percent anytime soon.
At the midpoint in Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1984, we saw quarterly economic growth rates of 8.5 percent. The monthly number of jobs being created was measured in the hundreds of thousands.
Obama's economy created 74,000 jobs in December, many of them part time, and Gallup reported last week that only one in four Americans said they were "satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. at this time."
Meantime, the president and his advisers are frantically searching for new excuses to convince Americans that the persistently weak, jobless economy is not his fault. And a band of liberal economists are now coming up with studies to help him make his case.
But the American people are not fooled and neither is Peter Morici. Obama's programs and policies are to blame for this dreadful economy that has plunged millions of our fellow citizens into lives of quiet desperation.

Obama Blames Conservative Media, Limbaugh and Fox News For Failures...Again!

Townhall ^ | January 24, 2014 | Katie Pavlich 

Earlier this week in the New Yorker, President Obama suggested his approval ratings are down because America is full of racists (the same racists who elected him, twice). Now, bonus excerpts from the same article by David Remnick show President Obama blaming his failures on Fox News while accusing the network, conservative media and Rush Limbaugh of turning him into a "caricature."
The president also complained that conservative media had created a "caricature" of him divorced from "reality" that made rallying voters from those areas particularly difficult.
"The issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems and is pretty practical, and that, actually, a lot of the things that we’ve put in place worked better than people might think," Obama said.
Barack Obama is a practical person interested in solving problems? Is that why he told Congress last week that he's "got a pen" and executive power he isn't afraid to use it if they don't do what he wants? A reminder:
With his newly announced overhaul of National Security Agency surveillance activities, President Obama has once again hit a nerve with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
The president, as he often does when facing a nettlesome problem, used his executive powers to implement changes.
Obama signaled at a recent Cabinet meeting, though, that more executive actions are likely ahead.
"I've got a pen and I've got a phone -- and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward," Obama said. He suggested he could use his phone to try and bring people together.
New poll numbers released this week by Quinnipiac show the majority of the country views Obama as untrustworthy and dishonest. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and conservative media didn't lie to millions of Americans by telling them they could keep their health insurance plans under Obamacare. In fact, all of these media outlets warned of the opposite years before the Obamacare exchanges were launched on October 1, 2013. Over to you, Neil Cavuto:

Barack Obama's Constant State of Cognitive Dissonance

American Thinker ^ | 1/25/2014 | Jeannie DeAngelis 

Contradicting the faultless, albeit far-fetched image he has of himself, Barack Obama is a man harassed by truth. That's why, judging from his inability to accept personal responsibility, Barack Obama must be living in a constant state of agitated cognitive dissonance.
The late Leon Festinger is the social psychologist who proposed the theory of cognitive dissonance. According to Festinger, until the person suffering with perceptual disharmony can find a way to justify wrong actions and decisions, it's impossible to achieve a calm mental state, especially when those wrong actions and decisions challenge the way the cognitively dissonant individual sees himself.
That's why placing the blame for his mistakes on others and attempting to avoid having to admit he's not the sterling specimen he perceives himself to be is the only way Barack Obama can resolve the disharmony of perceptions and truth raging within his head.
In an interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker, entitled: "The Obama Tapes," instead of owning up to being the radical, rigid ideologue that he is, Obama blames many factors other than himself for Washington DC's gridlock and his powerlessness to "penetrate the Republican base."
Besides standing against Obama's left-wing plans for America, Republicans disposed to work with him have complained that the president seems unwilling "to reach across the aisle" to form coalitions by way of social interaction. That's because he won, he's right, and quite frankly he's proven that he despises anyone who disagrees with him -- just ask federally-indicted Dinesh D'Souza. Therefore, rubbing elbows with anyone besides Beyoncé and Jay-Z probably isn't something Barack Obama feels inclined to do.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The News with Sen. Cruz - January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014

One question is on the mind of all Americans: can we trust the Obama administration to keep its promises, protect individuals’ rights, and uphold the law?
The lack of accountability in Washington is creating a crisis of confidence in this country, and under this President, trust in government is approaching record lows.
President Obama has an opportunity to address people’s concerns in his State of the Union address Tuesday. Please keep reading below for the full list of five questions I am asking the President to address and for an update on the latest in Washington.
All the best,
TC Sig
Ted Cruz
Five Questions: The President Should Hold His Administration Accountable to the American People
This week, Sen. Cruz presented five questions Americans deserve to have answered by President Obama in next week’s State of the Union address.
“Americans all over the nation are asking questions about the economy, Obamacare, the IRS, Benghazi, and the NSA that aren’t being answered. However, as the President prepares his State of the Union address, he has signaled he has no intention of clearing the air,” Sen. Cruz said. “The lack of accountability in Washington is creating a crisis of confidence in this country, and under President Obama, trust in government is approaching record lows. It no longer seems like Washington is protecting America. Washington is protecting Washington. These are the questions I hear when I’m home in Texas, and these are the questions the President should answer in order to restore credibility with the people. The State of the Union will be stronger for it.”
Over the next several days, Sen. Cruz will focus on each of the following questions and the importance of why the President should answer them in his State of the Union address:
1. Will the President allow the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservatives? The President should be eager to prove he has clean hands on this issue. He professed to be angry and outraged by the IRS abuse. Will he pledge to stop new IRS rules that restrict the free speech of non-profit groups? Sen. Cruz wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups.
2. Will the President act to ensure that the privacy of law-abiding citizens is protectedfrom unjustifiable violations by arms of the federal government such as the NSA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Health and Human Services?
3. Will the President recognize that his economic policies have failed to create the millions of jobs that he promised and have, instead, reduced the labor force participation rate to its lowest level in decades? Will he commit to commonsense, job-creating policies such as the immediate authorization of the Keystone Pipeline, a moratorium on new regulations, and fundamental tax reform for every American?
4. Will the President call on Congress to form a Joint Select Committee to finally discover the truth of why four Americans perished in a preventable terrorist attack in Benghazi 16 months ago?
5. Will the President finally recognize that it was a mistake to ram through Obamacare on a party-line vote and that it is -- right now -- hurting millions of Americans? Will he take real responsibility for misleading the American people when he falsely promised “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”? Will he acknowledge that he doesn’t have the power to unilaterally rewrite the health law for powerful favored interests such as big business and Congress? And will he finally work with Congress to repeal Obamacare and start over, adopting instead reforms that will make healthcare more personal, portable, and affordable?
Sen. Cruz Speaks with Mark Davis on the Obama Administration’s Accountability
On Thursday, Sen. Cruz spoke with Mark Davis on keeping Washington accountable and investigating the IRS. Here are a few highlights:
“This week I sent a letter to Eric Holder pointing out that it’s been eight months since the IRS scandal broke…. Eight months later nobody’s been indicted. Eight months later it’s been publicly reported the FBI doesn’t intend to bring any indictments against anybody. Eight months later Louis Learner who was leading the unit that was doing this has gone before Congress and has pleaded the Fifth. And eight months later we have discovered that the investigation at the Department of Justice is being led by a partisan Democrat who’s given over six thousand dollars to President Obama and the Democrats. And at the end of the day, the current state of affairs is unacceptable.
“One of the real pillars upholding rule of law in this country is that we have had fair and impartial enforcement of the law. And when it’s corrupted and turned partisan it undermines it.
“There’s a lot of common ground when it comes to immigration. The two areas with widest agreement among the citizenry are one, we need to get serious on securing our boarders, and we need to solve the problem of illegal immigration. That’s got overwhelming bipartisan agreement outside of Washington. Number two is that we need to improve and streamline legal immigration, make the system work better.”
Roe Anniversary Reminds Us of the Tragic Loss of Over 56 Million Unborn Lives
On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Sen. Cruz released the following statementremembering the fateful day:
“Today, thousands of people march to the Supreme Court with heavy hearts. It is a solemn ritual, one that reminds us of the tragic loss of over 56 million unborn lives.
"Fifty-six million boys and girls who never drew a breath of air. Poets and inventors, doctors and athletes, explorers and musicians, the world is far the poorer for their loss.
"Every human life is a precious gift from God, and our law should protect innocent human life. Yet 41 years ago, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision overturned the Texas law that prohibited abortion on demand.
“As we mourn the loss of millions of souls, we also commemorate the good work that citizens continue to do to fervently defend life. Beyond the thousands of marchers in Washington today, countless individuals are devoted to affirming life, to promoting adoption and to helping provide comfort and aid to new mothers in distress. Their efforts have continued to make significant steps towards valuing the dignity of each human life.
“This past year, we saw the horror of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of deliberately killing babies already born. The tragedy of that case can never be undone, but the fact that he was found guilty by a jury of his peers in Philadelphia is a small step towards basic human decency.
“In time, we can all hope that we can come together and create a culture of life, where every human life is protected, cherished, and respected."
A Few Words of Tribute for Tom Coburn, Who Announced He is Retiring at the End of This Year
Upon hearing of Sen. Coburn’s early retirement, Sen. Cruz expressed his gratitude for his courageous service to the people of Oklahoma and all Americans:
“Tom Coburn changed Washington. Elected to represent the great state of Oklahoma, Dr. Coburn became a voice for millions of Americans inspired by his fearless leadership and "no more business as usual" approach to legislating.
“His tireless efforts to make DC listen to growing consternation over our nation's fiscal crisis forced Washington to acknowledge the problem. His willingness to scrutinize every bill and to decipher a bureaucratic tangle of government programs imposed badly needed accountability.
“Tom Coburn has proven that you do not have to sacrifice principle for results, or civility for conviction—even in Washington. He has demonstrated that unwavering commitment and tireless effort can change even the most entrenched practices. He has proven, with humility, that one member can force the Senate to operate as the 'cooling saucer' the Founders designed.
“Most admirable, 'Dr. No' has fought these hard battles and challenged the most powerful interests in Washington while earning a reputation for character, compassion, reason, candor, honesty, and fairness. Even his most ardent political opponents describe him as a trusted friend.
“Dr. Coburn has made a difference in the lives of many—from the more than 4,000 babies he delivered, to the countless patients he counseled and treated, to his constituents back home, to current and future generations of Americans who owe him a debt of gratitude for his service. He has undoubtedly influenced the future of our Republic, forging a path toward renewed fidelity to the Constitution, fiscal discipline, and economic stability.
“The true impact Dr. Coburn will leave on Congress is immeasurable, and I hope his legacy will permeate this place for generations to come.
“I thank my friend for his selfless service, and I pray God's most abundant blessings on his future. When I ran for the Senate, he was one of my very first supporters. For that, and everything else, I am deeply grateful. I look forward to working with and continuing to learn from him in the coming year.
“Washington has not been the same since Tom Coburn arrived, and it certainly will not be the same when he leaves.”