Obama, the Great Negotiator

It is not often that I feel compelled to defend President Obama. But in this case I will. The recent nuclear deal with Iran reveals that he is not a poor negotiator but rather an excellent one.

The President has been mocked for his negotiation skills throughout his tenure by the Left and the Right — from people ranging from Paul Krugman to Bob Woodward to Donald Trump. And interestingly the reasons both sides give for their assessment are as similar as they are contrary.

To the Left, Obama is simply too good to be good negotiator. He’s no mere politician, after all. He’s an ideologue! Too filled with idealism, too pure, too above the taint of politics to be talented at negotiation.

The Atlantic for example wrote in its 2011 piece, Why Obama is So Bad at Negotiations that, “The truth is, that while the president’s idealism has made him a very poor negotiator, it is what attracted me and I suspect many others to him in the first place. His lack of cynicism and belief that we could tackle our problems together as one nation was unique, beautiful and stunning in our modern political system.”

Similarly, the Right argues that Obama is a poor negotiator because, again, he is an ideologue. As GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said on a recent appearance on Hannity “[Obama] has spent a lifetime in politics and ideology. That’s it. That’s his life. If you have no experience in negotiating you don’t negotiate very well. If you have no experience in problem-solving you don’t solve problems very well. If you have no experience in compromising you don’t compromise very well. What’s he good at? Giving a speech and sticking to his ideology.”

This perception of Obama as a poor negotiator has been tested by the recently announced Iranian nuclear deal. The Left has begrudgingly given the deal its approval because a) it’s Obama; b) use of force should almost never be on the table; c) the status quo was too hard to maintain; d) we’re not that fond of Israel anyway; and e) it’s Obama.

However, the deal — to the Right, and to many of our allies — is, as Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, an “historic mistake,” and has brought their criticisms of Obama’s negotiation talents to the forefront.

As details of the deal are released, it is easy to understand the Right’s position. Iran was able to extract from our negotiations more than even they could have predicted. Iran not only gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure, it gets to improve upon them, as nuclear research and development programs continue unhindered. It will be receive billions — as much as $300 to $400 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation — in unfrozen assets and additional oil revenue. The arms embargoes against it will be removed after five years and ballistic missile limits will be lifted after eight. In return Iran has to concede nothing — not even its ties and sponsorship of terrorist groups, not its threat to eliminate Israel, not even a single American hostage. One would think for $400 billion dollars Iran could have let at least one American go home to his family, but no.

In short, this deal paves the way for Iran to become history’s greatest Islamic caliphate in perhaps a decade, unmolested by the United States. Assuming this deal stands, only a collapse in world oil prices or a vigorous pursuit of Iran’s regional rivals can alter such an outcome.

But is the Iranian nuclear deal emblematic of Obama’s inability to negotiate a deal favorable to the United States and its position as the world’s superpower? This presumes that it was Obama’s intention, and when has that ever been evident?

Certainly not at the United Nations in April of 2010 when the President complained that the United States remains a dominant military superpower “whether we like it or not.” Nor was it evident when the President complained to the same UN that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation.”

Much of the negative reaction to the Iranian nuclear deal also presumes that Obama had a desire to prevent a Mullah-ruled Iran from ascending. Again, when has this ever been evident?

In 2009, during the time of Iran’s so-called Green Revolution, when much of the West was hoping to seize the opportunity to aid in the overthrow of the Mullahs, our President seized the opportunity to write a secret letter to the Ayatollah Khamenei, calling “for an improvement in relations” between the two nations, and to seek “a resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.”

Furthermore, when had Obama showed any desire to maintain the sanctions against Iran? It was Obama, in fact, who stood in opposition to the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would have imposed new sanctions against Iran, even though two of its sponsors (Menendez and Schumer) are Democrats. It was also the President who defended Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear program around this time. And it was the President, who as a candidate, legitimized the Mullah’s governance over Iran by signaling a willingness to met with them without any preconditions, a move Hillary Clinton at the time falsely characterized as dangerously naive. It wasn’t from naïveté that Obama took this position and the others. It was from a reflection of his very pro-Iranian worldview.

If President Obama was a poor negotiator, how then has he been able to outnegotiate the GOP and Congress at every turn? This Iranian deal is no exception. Obama has already promised to veto any resolution threatening to hinder the deal, and he is in a great position to have such a veto hold, as he has skillfully outmaneuvered Congress, which had sought input into the negotiations with Iran, into passing the Corker-Menendez bill, which limits their ability to do so. As Mark Levin explained, because of Corker-Menendez, “Now we need a supermajority to override the president rather than a supermajority where the president needs approval for a treaty.”

In other words, President Obama does not need 67 votes to uphold the Iran deal. Thanks the Corker-Menendez, he only needs 34.

Poor negotiator, indeed.

– DK


Posted in Current events/topics, DNC/Democrats, Foreign policy, Government, National Security, Progressivism | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Same-Sex Marriage and the Man in the Sky

What did homosexuals and the Progressives gain from the Supreme Court ruling on marriage?

There are of course some financial benefits of being married – even over civil unions. Consumer Reports spells them out nicely:  pointing out that “no matter where they live or were married, [gay] couples can file their state taxes jointly, file for spousal and survivor benefits through Social Security, and enjoy other financial perks that previously belonged only to heterosexual couples or same-sex couples living in states that recognized their marriages.”

But no one argues that those who fought so long and hard for gay marriage found the often minor financial benefits of marriage to be anything more than a secondary consideration. If gay marriage were primarily motivated by the financial bottom line of gay people in civil unions, there were other routes – probably easier routes – they could have taken.

One route would have been to expand the financial protections for those in civil unions so that they would be more equitable to those in traditional marriages.

Another route that gays could have taken interestingly enough would have been to vote Republican in greater numbers. Most of the  financial penalties of not being married which homosexuals can now happily avoid were created by the very same Progressives now celebrating their right to marry. For example, a homosexual can now inherit his or her partner’s estate if that estate is $2M or higher without paying the federal estate tax. However, Conservatives have long called for the elimination of this “death tax” for all people; homosexual and heterosexual, only to be called “lackeys of the rich” by the Left.

Married homosexuals can now enjoy higher Social Security benefits when his or her spouse dies, the argument goes. But as many Conservatives argue, these benefits are artificially lowered by our inability to utilize Social Security private accounts. Progressives are adamantly against any privatization of Social Security accounts. Some Conservatives would even argue that holders of Social Security private accounts should have the ability to bequeath those account to heirs whomever they choose without the inheritor having to endure an additional tax.

It can also be pointed out that marriage itself can be financially disadvantageous. Many gays will not find themselves inheriting their spouses $2M estates. Rather, many will inherit, or incur, their spouses debts, which he or she will be liable for, depending upon where he or she lives.

There is also the specter of divorce and alimony. The divorce rate for same-sex couples have thus far been lower than that for traditional marriages. But that is in part because of the difficulty same-sex couples had in obtaining divorces. A gay couple married in a state that recognized same-sex marriage, but who decided at some point to live in a state that does not, would have to at some point move back to the original state to be granted a divorce. For example, if Thelma and Louise married in, say, California (which recognized same-sex marriage) and moved to Texas (which did not), they would have to move back to California for as long as a year to qualify for a divorce.  With this in mind, it was not only cheaper to keep her (or him), it was probably a lot less work. But without this burden, it is very probable that the divorce rate for homosexuals to catch up to the divorce rate of heterosexuals.

. . .Rather than being intended to add any benefit to homosexuals, the same-sex battle was waged as an attack against People of Faith. 

Not only do the financial rewards of marriage seem to be an underwhelming motivator for the fight for gay marriage, so does the value of marriage itself. In fact, one of the most perplexing things about the spectacle of so many Progressives celebrating the right of gays to marry is that marriage in our increasingly Progressive society is becoming less common, and less important, as evident by our declining rate of matrimony. According to the Pew Research Center,  the number of married households, which was at 72% in 1960, fell to 50.5% in 2012.  Even couples who become parents together are feeling less compelled to marry. According to the CDC, 40.6% of all births are to unmarried women today.

So, if they were not motivated by money, and the social value of marriage itself is in decline, I ask again, what did homosexuals and the Progressives gain from the Supreme Court ruling on marriage?

Keep in mind that Progressivism and Christian faith are essentially incompatible, which the Left recognizes far more readily than Christians. Christian belief, to the Left, is the Enemy, and those who hold to it must either coerced to abandon their views.

Karl Marx, whose writings much of today’s Progressivism is based upon, certainly knew this, said once “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.” Margaret Sanger also spent much of her career railing “against the Church,” as has Noam Chomsky and a number – perhaps the majority – of influential Progressives. Barack Obama, before he was to become our current president, characterized many Americans as ‘bitterly clinging to religion.’ Hillary Clinton, who may be our next president, has announced that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Both Obama and Clinton claimed to be People of Faith in the past, and both spoke out against gay marriage, but both are enthusiastically celebrating the Court’s pro-gay marriage decision today.

So great is the Progressive hatred of Christianity that the far left Salon ran a story on the day of the Supreme Court ruling titled “Antonin Scalia is unfit to serve: A justice who rejects science and the law for religion is of unsound mind.” The story was subtitled “The justice claims to be an originalist, but his real loyalty is to religion and a phony man in the sky.”

Let’s remember the Chick-fil-a – a fast food chain so Christian that they close on Sundays – controversy in which the restaurants were boycotted, and told by several mayors that their business was not welcome in their city after its COO said spoke in favor of traditional marriage. Chick-fil-A, hires gays, promotes gays, and treats their gay customers fairly, as far as anyone knows.  But they were targeted by same-sex marriage advocates, smeared as being homophobic, and punished for Christian views.

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Chief Architect of Obamacare, wrote most clearly of the consequences of the same-sex marriage ruling in his dissent: “Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage – when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing to only opposite-sex marriage couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage.”

Justice Clarence Thomas largely agreed with Roberts in his dissent: “Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

My view is, rather than being intended to add any benefit to homosexuals, the same-sex battle was waged as an attack against People of Faith. The result of the Supreme Court decision is significant not so much for what homosexuals gained from it, which in a sense is very little, but rather what People of Faith lost from it; namely, a diminishing of their religious liberty to define marriage, not as a mere ‘contract between adults’, but as the sacred union between a  male and a female, as they are taught to by their faith, and by the Man in the Sky.

– DK

Posted in Activism, Attacks from the Left, Current events/topics, DNC/Democrats, Economy/Fiscal Issues, Marriage, Progressivism, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Marie Stroughter on the Earl Hall Show

On Thursday, June 11, AACONS Co-Founder, Marie Stroughter, was a guest on The Earl Hall Show. Take a listen and tell us what you think:




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Marie Stroughter on the Rod Eccles Show

On Thursday, May 7, 2015, AACONS Co-Founder, Marie Stroughter, was a guest on the Rod Eccles Show. Take a listen and tell us what you think:

Posted in Cultural, Current events/topics, Podcasts | Leave a comment

God Don’t Never Change: Same-Sex Marriage

It does not seem that long ago that I was in a distinct minority in arguing — inspired no doubt by some noted libertarian, though whom I do not recall — that government should avoid being involved in defining what is and who should be married.

My view was, and is, that should anyone who wished to do so should enter a civil union, which would afford them the rights and benefits of marriage, even if that person wished to enter into such an union with a partner of the same sex. I also felt, and feel, that no church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution should be required to recognize such an union as a marriage, if they choose not to do so.

As a Catholic (though a poor one, so far) who is legally divorced, I recognize that my right to remarry in the view of the State is limited only essentially by my ability to find a suitable partner — which is a challenge enough, believe me.

However, to have another marriage recognized by the Church would be much more cumbersome. As I understand it, it would require a Decree of Nullity from a marriage tribunal to free myself from my first marriage, and depending upon how they analyze the circumstances of my divorce, such a Decree might not be forthcoming. The Church makes itself very clear that it does not have the power to separate any persons who were united by God.

Similarly, if I was a homosexual, or wished to be a polygamist, I would not expect Father Anthony to perform my wedding ceremony, as gay and polygamist marriages are against the Church’s teachings. Yet here in NJ I could currently get married in the eyes of the law to a same-sex partner; or eventually, no doubt, to multiple partners.

This is a distinction that made sense to me as a young man, and I find it interesting to recall that my associates at the time, all of whom were liberals, disagreed. Marriage was for straights, they argued, and civil unions were for gays. Separate, but equal.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage,” said Senator Obama in 2008. “I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or considered,” said President Clinton in 1993. “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman” said Senator Hillary Clinton in 2000. These are the three most prominent figures of the Democrat Party, a party that attracts about 75% of the gay vote.

God is both eternal and immutable. So is then His Word. It is not subject to change from political opinion polls, peer pressure, threats of violence; or because of the demands of the State. His Word is a firm foundation on which we can stand.

Now, of course, most of the very same liberals who so doggedly support Obama and the Clintons would call anyone who holds their previously stated views on gay marriage ‘homophobic’, and deserving of bullying, ostracism, and vile conduct. Let us not forget the boycott against Chick-Fil-A after their COO said “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit” — a statement hardly different that what Obama or the Clintons once said. In fact, as I write this, there is a pizza shop in Indiana that is being boycotted and threatened with arson, because an owner said that “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding (?), we would have to say no.”

This calls to mind three quotations. One is Leviticus 20:13, which makes clear that although the Bible states that we should not become judges with evil thoughts, nonetheless “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” The second comes from the first amendment of the US Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I would think that these two quotes, taken in combination, would protect the rights of the Church or of people of faith against legal repercussions for not recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.

But perhaps the key quote comes from bluesman and theologian Blind Willie Johnson, who sang “Yes God, God don’t never change. He’s God. Always will be God.”

Progressives place their faith in Big Government, and argue that from Big Government we should derive our values. Yet how can we anchor ourselves to the values of Big Government when those values ebb and flow like a wave on a windy day?

As the quotes from Obama and the Clintons above indicate, often the values expressed by the men and women who lead Big Government today are very different from the values they expressed ten years ago, and God only knows what values these men and women will hold ten years from today.

But as Mr. Johnson points out, God is both eternal and immutable. So is then His Word. It is not subject to change from political opinion polls, peer pressure, threats of violence; or because of the demands of the State. His Word is a firm foundation on which we can stand.

– DK


Posted in Attacks from the Left, Current events/topics, Marriage, Religion, Spiritual | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The “Ridiculousness” of Ben Carson

On Wednesday, March 4, Dr. Ben Carson answered a question in such a way that it may have not only effectively ended his presidential campaign, but called into question his intelligence as well.

Asked on CNN whether homosexuality is a choice, Carson responded “Absolutely. Because a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay. So did something happen while they were in there?”

Immediately the media reacted with a vitriol usually reserved for people who say that Obama does not love his country. Jeffrey Kluger wrote at Time.com for example that “If you’re a candidate dreaming of the White House with virtually no chance of actually winding up there, it sometimes helps to say something ridiculous.” Salon.com shared Kluger’s tone by reporting the comment under the headline “Neurosurgeon-turned-GOP presidential hopeful offers further evidence that an MD doesn’t guard against stupidity.” Even Joe Biden simply shook his head and muttered “God. Jesus” to the amusement of his audience in response to Carson’s comment, although it can be noted however that Biden did not publicly invoke the name of the Lord as slang when President Obama spoke about the gay “lifestyle choice” during a YouTube interview.

And it wasn’t just the Left who responded harshly to Dr. Carson’s statement. CATO scholar Walter Olson posted the story on his Facebook page with the heading “Your more-or-less daily reminder that Ben Carson is not and never has been a credible candidate for president.” And Glenn Beck said on his radio show that Carson made “a ridiculous statement.”

Yet as “ridiculous” as Carson’s comment may or may not have been, it is still the view of as many much of great percentage of the American people.

Yet as “ridiculous” as Carson’s comment may or may not have been, it is still the view of as many much of great percentage of the American people. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of respondents believe that being gay is a choice, while 41% believe that gays were born gay.

The American public is so divided over whether homosexuality is a choice in part because the scientists who study this issue are not themselves of one-mind. As Carson said in his apology for his comment on his Facebook page, “Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.”

The American Psychological Association for example writes “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”

Similarly, Sarah Knapton, science editor of Telegraph, reports that “Homosexuality is only partly genetic with sexuality mostly based on environmental and social factors, scientists believe. A study found that, while gay men shared similar genetic make-up, it only accounted for 40 per cent of the chance of a man being homosexual.”

Interestingly, many of those people who believe homosexuality is, or at least can be a choice are themselves gay. Actress Cynthia Nixon famously said “for me, [homosexuality] is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” CNN commentator Sally Kohn wrote “I agree [with Carson], kind of…for me, the idea that people might be able to choose to be gay is a natural extension of eliminating the second-class, lesser-than status of gayness in society.” Author Camille Paglia put it most bluntly of all by writing “No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous.” Imagine if Carson had said that!

There does seem to be some evidence that homosexuals (particularly male homosexuals) are genetically different from heterosexuals, but so far nothing has been discovered that seems indisputable. Science Magazine published a story in its November 2014 issue about a discovery of “a stretch on the X chromosome likely associated with homosexuality”, but the same story was quick to point out that “not everyone finds the results convincing. And the kind of DNA analysis used, known as a genetic linkage study, has largely been superseded by other techniques. Due to the limitations of this approach, the new work also fails to provide what behavioral geneticists really crave: specific genes that might underlie homosexuality.”

If among the scientists who study this question there is no clear consensus on whether gays are born gay or become gay, or whether it’s a bit of both, is why must there be a clear consensus among the rest of us? Why is it “hurtful and divisive” – as Carson’s comment was called – to have one opinion rather than the other?

Much like with the global warming debate, there is an air of “the science is settled” bullying that permeates the attacks upon Carson, and it originates not from the scientific community, but rather the political community. As J. Bryan Lowder wrote in slate.com, “many critics will argue that appealing to biology is the only way to protect against the attacks of the religious right—if God made me this way, surely you can’t hate me.”

So then to the homosexuals and others attacking Dr. Ben, it is not so much that Carson may be wrong – even if he is, people are wrong all the time, after all – or that they disagree with him; but rather that he expressed an opinion they do not think anyone should any longer be allowed to have.

– DK


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Why Obama Doesn’t Love America

The Left hates to have their patriotism questioned, regardless of how much contempt they openly display of it. They can call it “a congenitally racist country,” as The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates did; or say that “We began America with genocide, then built it with slaves”, as Michael Moore did; or “The U.S. is the world’s leading terrorist state,” as Noam Chomsky declared it to be – but if you respond by asking if they love this racist, genocidal, and terrorist state, they inevitably take great offense at the suggestion that they may not.

This is especially true of President Obama. His allies in politics and in the press reacted to Rudy Giuliani questioning his love of country as if the Mayor had commented blasphemy against the Lord Himself (which, I suspect, in many of their eyes, is precisely what Giuliani had done).

“Thou Shalt Not Question Another’s Patriotism” is then a new commandment. Such questioning is “racist,” according to a number of observers. It was a “ghoulish, repulsive, race-baiting assertion,” said US News & World Report. He has fallen from his role as America’s Mayor, laments CNN. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he felt sorry for Giuliani, “It’s sad to see when somebody who’s attained a certain level of public stature and even admiration tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly.”

Of course this commandment is a very specific one. It only applies to Democrats whose patriotism is challenged by Republicans. How else can one explain the lack of outrage elicited from Senator Harry Reid calling the Koch Brothers “un-American,” or Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez accusing Tea Partiers of being “unpatriotic,” or Bill Nye “The Science Guy” calling those who don’t accept his views on climate change as gospel “unpatriotic?”

Senator Obama called President Bush’s deficit spending “unpatriotic.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called both President Bush’s and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s actions regarding the Iraqi War “unpatriotic.” Yet, neither has been called “racist” for their opinions. Josh Earnest isn’t weeping over their tarnished legacies, as far as I can tell.

Yet more than just calling out Giuliani’s critics for their hypocrisy, it is also important to acknowledge the accuracy — even the ordinariness — of his remarks.

To speculate that anyone with mentors like terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorhn, communist Frank Marshall Davis, or firebrand Jeremiah Wright; or has a wife who was not “really proud” of her country until she was in her mid-40s, is not patriotic hardly qualifies as a leap of reasoning. Obama was, after all, the Presidential candidate, who, in 2008, initially refused even such perfunctory displays of patriotism such as wearing a flag pin, or placing hand over heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. But, what provides best evidence to support Giuliani’s remark is not so much Obama’s associations, but rather who he is.

Who he is is a Progressive. Progressivism is an anti-Western philosophy. The United States is a Western nation. It only follows that Obama would not love America.

America’s political philosophy is marked by a belief in a government limited by federalism, the separation of powers, a constitution, and a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. It is a belief in free markets and the right to private property. Perhaps most of all America’s Western view is rooted in the belief in the natural and God-given rights of the individual.

America’s political philosophy is marked by a belief in a government limited by federalism, the separation of powers, a constitution, and a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. It is a belief in free markets and the right to private property. Perhaps most of all America’s Western view is rooted in the belief in the natural and God-given rights of the individual.

This has been so since the publication of a number of enormously influential works, especially that from St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Sowell, Edward Coke, Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Frederick Douglass, Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and many others. It was these men and women who helped shape Western civilization – from the writing of the Magna Carta to the formation of the U.S. Constitution to even the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.

Progressivism is a rejection of these views. Instead of this Western tradition, Progressives favor the more Eastern approach to government, which is – though this may be an oversimplification – that of a political and economic collectivism under the guidance of a Benevolent Dictator.

Rather than a central government with limited powers, Benevolent Dictatorships takes power from the individual, the states, and the legislative and judicial branch as well, all for (and they never seem to feel they’ve emphasized this point heavily enough) the greater good. As President 0bama says, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation to in order to make sure that we are providing Americans with the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”

We see America’s shift towards Benevolent Dictatorship exhibited in a myriad of forms almost daily; including Obamacare, Common Core, Net Neutrality, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and minimum wage laws. All of these concentrate power in the hands of the executive. But we see it particularly in the rise of what is often called ‘the fourth branch of government’. These are the government agencies such as the EPA and the FCC that have been increasing in strength since the Franklin Roosevelt administration which now seem unaccountable to anyone except for the will of the President.

As law professor Jonathan Turley argued, “the rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding. We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.” (A good discussion on administrative law can be found here).

Progressivism also largely rejects religion, especially Western religion. Although Obama himself is Islamophilic, rejection of Western religious values – such as the sacredness of the life of the unborn – is commonplace among the Left.

In fact, according to Gallup faith in God is significantly lower among Liberals than Conservatives. Jews, one of America’s most reliable Progressive voting blocs, is — again according to Gallup — the least theistic of all religious groups, with 54% of Jews describing themselves as non-religious.

Western faith is an object of scorn to most of the intelligentsia of the Progressive movement. Saul Alinsky, for example, who is yet another of Obama’s mentors, was an agnostic who described the Catholic Inquisitions as one of ‘the greatest crimes in history perpetrated by religious fanatics.’ Socialist Noam Chomsky describes “the God of the Bible” as a genocidal “creature” who was “ready to destroy every living creature on Earth because some humans irritated Him.” Frank Marshall Davis, according to his biographer Paul Kengor, disdained both God and Christianity.

So it is no surprise to hear President Obama display such open contempt for Christianity, the primary faith of the West, as he did when he compared the Crusades to Islamic terrorism, while he promotes the ‘religion of peace,’ Islamism, – the faith of the East.

Biblical faith is antithetical to Progressivism because the Benevolent Dictatorship cannot tolerate fealty to anything other to itself. If “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God,” as President Kennedy argued in 1961, what role is left for the Benevolent Dictator? He becomes the mere protector of those rights, rather than the benefactor of them.

More than his educational background, it is Obama’s Progressivism that made Giuliani’s comment resonate so loudly. Many Progressives do love an America – but they love the America they are fundamentally transforming America into rather than the America of Western values that presently exists.
– DK

Posted in Current events/topics, DNC/Democrats, Healthcare, Progressivism, Quotes, Race/Racism/Race Relations, racism, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Rise of Anti-Semitism in the West

On Sunday, February 15, 2015, almost immediately after a Jew was murdered outside of a synagogue in Copenhagen, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a Facebook message that amazed much of the world:

“Radical Islamic terror struck again in Europe, this time in Denmark. We send our condolences to the Danish people and the Jewish community in Denmark. Again in Europe Jews were murdered just because they are Jews in a wave of attacks that is expected to continue, including also murderous anti-Semitic attacks.

“The Jews are entitled to protection in each country and state, but we say to our brothers and sisters to Jews: Israel is your home. We are calling for the integration of immigrants from Europe. I would like to say to all European Jews, and Jews everywhere: Israel is the home of every Jew.”

This offended a number of Europeans leaders and several have come forward to say so, but few will fail to see the reasoning behind Netanyahu’s comment – not when even French President Hollande is standing in front of a cemetery with over 250 desecrated Jewish graves and asking “Must we put soldiers in front of cemeteries?”

Nor can many argue Netanyahu’s point while a viral video has emerged of an Israeli journalist, Zvika Klein, walking the streets of Paris wearing his yarmulke and being put upon with insults, spitting, and threats.

Statistical measurements of anti-Semitism are a bit fuzzy, as different countries measure anti-Semitic incidents differently (and I also suspect that many incidents such as the ones Klein encountered are too commonplace to report) but it is clear anti-Semitism is at a dangerously high level in the West. And I contend that this high level of anti-Semitism is linked to the West’s increasing Progressivism.

Today’s anti-Semitism is not quite the anti-Semitism of old. Today’s Jew-haters are not predominately people who think Jews killed Christ or Jews control the world economy. Nor are today’s anti-Semites all Islamists. Today’s anti-Semites in Western countries are primarily Progressives who in fact hate the West. And to much of the world Israel is a Western state as much as it is a Jewish one.

As activist Natan Sharansky of the Jewish Agency for Israel states, “There is a strengthening of the Islamist community and a growing hatred of Israel from the direction of the liberal community. The two things together make Europe a very uncomfortable place for Jews.”

It wasn’t always this way. Through much of Israel’s early decades, the Left embraced Israel. But as Joshua Maravchik wrote in his book “Making David Into Goliath: How The World Turned Against Israel” Israel displayed such power in defeating the combined might of the Arab world during the 1967 Six-Day War that Israel would never again be seen as a sympathetic sort of retirement home for Holocaust survivors. Israel instead was seen as it was, and is – a major force for Western values. From there it was easy for those who consider the United States an imperial super-powered oppressor of the world’s poor to start seeing Israel in this same light. And the world’s poor (the Davids) became the people who called themselves Palestinians.

This anti-Israeli sentiment by the Left is evident in America as well. We see it in books by Jimmy Carter, at Democratic National Conventions where recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is booed, and in the Obama White House, which is organizing a boycott of the Netanyahu speech to Congress.

But it is most evident where we are most Progressive,on our college campuses, and it takes the form of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.

Professor William Jacobson of LegalInsurrection.com explains the BDS movement here:

“[BDS] is mostly radical leftwing faculty who hate Western civilization, who hate Israel, and who are willing to tolerate just about anything to get at Israel. … They have taken what started as an anti-Jewish call at the Durban conference. It was based on Jew hatred. It goes back at least to the 1920s in what was then the British mandate of Palestine, and now they are pushing it forward.

They don’t boycott Syria. They don’t boycott Iran. They don’t boycott China. You can take any of the excuses they use for boycotting Israel and you can apply them to a dozen or two dozen or three dozen countries. But they don’t. They only do it to Israel, and that’s where I have the problem.

You have Islamists who outwardly hate Jews and Leftists who say they don’t but are willing to align themselves with the Islamists in order to get at Israel. And so it really is a clarifying moment of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the radical Left that have taken over our universities.

If there was just one black country in the world, and it were treated differently, and it was singled out for standards applied to no one else, and if it were punished based on standards applied to no one else, you would say its racism.

So why is it when they apply it to the only Jewish country in the world it’s not anti-Semitism? ”

One can, of course, be pro-Jewish and anti-Israel, or even anti-Jewish and pro-Israel. Facebook has no shortage of these sort of “Jews Against Zionism” pages. But Israel and the Jewish people are entwined, especially in the eyes of the Progressives who hate Israel. As Dr. Martin Luther King is quoted as saying, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

– DK

Posted in Current events/topics, Progressivism, Race/Racism/Race Relations, racism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Will a $400 Billion Deficit Be Considered Bad News?

Déficit-300x225One of the economic facts that President Obama touted in his 2015 State of the Union address to demonstrate that his “middle class economics” policies are working, is that “our deficits [have been] cut by two-thirds.” This has been a source of great pride for the Obama administration, and for the media for some time now, as this recent White House tweet, which essentially makes the same point, demonstrates:

screenshot-twitter com 2015-02-12 13-21-14

Of course, the media, especially the especially progressive media, have picked up and amplified Obama’s message. Many of the most popular memes that left-wing sites circulate amongst themselves — variations of a picture of a cool-looking President Obama (maybe wearing sunglasses and smiling), a list of Obama’s accomplishments, and a message of “Thank You, Mr. President” — list prominently how the deficit was less than 3% of the GDP in 2014.

Even in Forbes one can find almost verbatim summations of the President’s talking points on this issue. Columnist Stan Collender writes “If you’re a troll, you refuse to celebrate the extraordinary reduction in the federal deficit that has happened in such a short time. The only comparable period in U.S. history was immediately after World War II when the budget went from a 29 percent of GDP deficit in 1943 to small surpluses in 1947-49.”

I do in fact celebrate this “extraordinary reduction,” and not merely to avoid Mr. Collender’s name-calling. The 2014 budget deficit of $469 billion does not even make the Top Ten of Budget Deficit lists (adjusted for inflation) since 1940, and is nearly a trillion dollars lower than the $1413 billion deficit of 2009.

In fact, again in inflation adjusted dollars, the deficit has been reduced an impressive average of 19.50% a year since Obama has been president. Gee, if we can just keep lowering the federal deficit every year by about 19.50% from 2014 on, then we can have a practically balanced budget by around 2040, and we would have only have added about … $700 billion to the deficit! Yay!

Unfortunately this recent deficit trend is not expected to continue. In fact, it is expected to reverse. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “annual budget shortfalls are projected to rise substantially—from a low of $469 billion in 2015 to about $1 trillion from 2022 through 2024.”

And that whole “deficit as a percentage of the GDP” stat Obama and the Progressives are crowing about turns out to be no big deal – deficits are expected to stay around 3% of the GDP. It’s just that we will owe about $7 trillion more then than we do now.

The 2014 budget deficit of $469 billion does not even make the Top Ten of Budget Deficit lists (adjusted for inflation) since 1940, and is nearly a trillion dollars lower than the $1413 billion deficit of 2009.

Of course, these are just projections, but given that President Obama has just presented a budget to Congress that will increase the deficit by 20%, it is easy to be pessimistic at the CBO’s optimism.

It is interesting how subjectively empirical data can be reported. Recently, for example, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that 2014 GDP was 2.4%, it was lauded by Lawrence Summers (one of the media’s favorite economic minds, probably behind only Warren Buffett and Paul Krugman, now that Jonathan Gruber has been demoted) as “vindication of Obama’s policies,” despite it being about 25% lower than the average GDP between 1950 and 2014, and an astounding 54.1% lower than the GDP growth we saw at this point in the Reagan Recovery.

Similarly, one wonders when a deficit of over $400 billion will no longer be seen as good news. In 1983 the US saw a deficit of $207 billion ($493 billion in today’s dollars) and this was bad, but the debt was $1.3 trillion (about $3.3 trillion in today’s dollars). But in 2015, with a debt already at $18 trillion, six times as large as 1983’s debt, and that has probably increased by about $10 million in the time it took me to type ‘$18 trillion’. I’m not saying we are at the point of it being the straw that broke the camel’s back, but another $400 billion deficit, with a debt of $18 trillion, feels a little scary.

One would think the context of certain numbers would mean more than it does. If Mike, of TV’s  Mike and Molly fame, went to one of his Overeater’s Anonymous meetings saying he only gained 5 pounds last week, I doubt if his group would be very impressed, even if he were to say, “but the week before I gained 8 pounds!” or “5 pounds is less than 2% of my body weight!”

Too bad our media and our academics aren’t as honest as Overeaters Anonymous.

– DK

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The Forgotten Man

Forgotten ManThe Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes’ famous history of the Great Depression, actually takes its title from another book, which was written by libertarian philosopher, William Graham Sumner, and titled What Social Classes Owe To Each Other.

Published in 1883, Sumner used the term “The Forgotten Man” to distinguish the men who are the creators of government’s massive social welfare programs, and those who chiefly benefited from them, from the forgotten, or the men and women who with their taxes and labor bore the price of these programs.

As Sumner writes, “The State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man.”

Today Sumner would see that the Forgotten Man may not be the same man he was in the 19th century, but he has not disappeared, nor have the demands placed upon him been made any less cumbersome.  As our progressive state continues to demand sacrifice for an increasing stream of social policies and programs that will not benefit him, he continues to be the one who must bear the weight.

He is the inner city teenager who searches, perhaps, for a fast-food job to supplement his family’s income, but finds many of those jobs being given to illegals.

He is the worker who is seeking a high paying energy job, only to find politicians — in the name of the deception that these jobs will cause kitchen faucets to become flame throwers — have prevented their creation, though he will still find that he must pay his share of the three billion dollar tab left from heavily taxpayer subsidized “green companies” going bankrupt.

He is the senior who wants to supplement his retirement income by working at a retail job but finds that because employers must reduce hiring to avoid Obamacare penalties and to offset a higher minimum wage, those jobs have become increasingly scarce.

He is the taxpayer who must pay $50,000 per Obamacare enrollee, according to the Congressional Budget Office and his own premiums increasing.

Or he is the STEM worker whose wages have remained frozen for decades, but is grateful for the opportunity to work in his field as the government and Big Business interests continue to lobby to have him replaced with less expensive foreign workers with H1-B visas

Clearly Obama, despite his State of the Union shout-out to his political operative Rebecca, has put in place that have made it harder for these men. But unfortunately, their problems can not be blamed solely on the Left.  Numerous Republicans, such as Senator Bob Corker, who ran for office with tax pledges to lower taxes, now line up to impose a gas tax that will not only be massive but regressive as well. Another 10 cents a gallon will be very little to the man who is getting a $7500 tax rebate for buying a new $130,000 Tesla, but it means a great deal to the Forgotten Man.

Furthermore, examine the argument put forth by Bryan Caplan, noted libertarian economist and open border advocate. In his paper Why Should We Restrict Immigration? Professor Caplan actually concedes that “Under open borders, low-skilled wages are indeed likely to fall.”  However, this is fine, because as Caplan adds “most Americans are not low-skilled.” Open borders will not affect the salary Caplan makes as a professor, nor will it affect the salary of his friends and neighbors.  But it will affect the salary of the forgotten.

The Forgotten Man, as I am defining him, is the man who finds his taxes higher, and his employment opportunities limited, by the State. Often he is the man who can not find employment at all.

As economic professor (and AACON guest) Peter Morici wrote “The [December 2014] unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, but that may only be because so many working age Americans quit looking for work and are no longer counted in the official jobless tally. If the same percentage of adults were in the labor force today as when Presidents Obama took office, the jobless rate would be about 9.9%.”

As The New York Times put it: “Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list.”

He is made more expendable by technology. Companies like Amazon are building robots which can eliminate the need for thousands of warehouse workers at companies, and the computer screens will eventually replace cashiers at McDonald’s the way ATMS have replaced bank tellers. Financial Advisor quotes a study that claims 47 percent of workers could be put out of work by robotics. “If you have self-driving automobiles, will you need cab drivers, truck drivers, auto insurers and chiropractors?”

However, the consequences of such a large segment of society not working has not yet been fully seen, although we have seen glimpses of what that would portend. The Heritage Foundation, in their most recent Index of Dependence on Government, writes “America is increasingly moving away from a nation of self-reliant individuals, where civil society flourishes, toward a nation of individuals less inclined to practicing self-reliance and personal responsibility. Government programs not only crowd out civil society, but too frequently trap individuals and families in long-term dependence, leaving them incapable of escaping their condition for generations to come. Rebuilding civil society can rescue these individuals from the government dependence trap.”

Perhaps it will be more than increased government dependency. At the economic summit in Davos, the experts bemoaned the youth unemployment in nations like Italy of more than 50%, and reminded that high unemployment rate in Greece were partially responsible for their 2008 riots. In the US, there are counties in which the non-employment of men ages 25-54 is as high at 74%.  And many of the counties with high employment are so because of drilling jobs which are disappearing now that oil is selling for less than $45 a barrel.

Liberal economists and politicians are fond of obsessing over the income gap, but ironically they continue to favor the Quantitative Easing and low-interest rates remedies that have exasperated the gap. Perhaps their proclamations of social unrest caused by the income gap are not as sincere as they pretend. If they were, they would warn less about the societal effect of having a working class of CEOs who can earn more in a day than his employees can earn in a year, and more on the societal effect of having a working class that is no longer working.


Posted in Current events/topics, Economy/Fiscal Issues, Energy, Government, Healthcare, Immigration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment