Is America past its prime?
Jeff Jacoby is cautiously optimistic below but on fairly vague grounds. Obama's vast expansion of the Federal bureaucracy is getting the USA into a similar league to Britain, where living standards have been FALLING every year for around the last 5 years.
Britain is going backwards. Its people are getting steadily poorer. And there is no sign of it pulling out of that spiral. All predictions are that it will continue. Britain has passed the tipping point. There are just too many knees under government desks for Britain to prosper.
Thanks to his ability to lie and deceive, Obama is still much more popular than any of the GOP Presidential hopefuls so the USA too could very easily pass the tipping point in the next 5 years
ARE YOU GLUM about the nation's prospects? If so, you've got lots of company.
According to a recent poll for The Hill, a Washington-based daily, 69 percent of American voters say the US is declining, and 83 percent of voters describe themselves as worried (49 percent say very worried) about the country's future. Worldwide, the Pew Research Center finds in a separate poll, "many now see the financially-strapped US as a great power in decline." Among respondents in 18 countries, 47 percent expect China to replace the United States as the world's leading power. Only 36 percent disagree.
"America's best days are yet to come," Ronald Reagan often declared. But in a Rasmussen survey late last month, just 37 percent of likely voters shared that sentiment, while 45 percent thought America's best days were past.
So it's no surprise that when Commentary magazine, for a symposium published in its current issue, asks 41 American thinkers whether they're optimistic or pessimistic about America's future, there is pessimism aplenty among the responses.
Columnist David Brooks, for example, laments the "consumption-oriented" narcissism of American society, and the "fiscal crackup" it's bringing on. Kay Hymowitz, a Manhattan Institute scholar, expresses alarm at the breakdown of family life, including the "sharp rise in divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing among the less-educated middle class." Former Undersecretary of State James K. Glassman is distressed that "America's will to lead seems to be slipping away," and that isolationism is rising on both right and left. Dennis Prager, the radio host and ethicist, sees an assault on the "American Trinity" -- the values proclaimed on every US coin: Liberty, E Pluribus Unum, and In God We Trust.
"Obesity already affects a third of our population, and will likely affect 50 percent of us by 2030," writes novelist Kate Christensen, while Dana Gioia, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, bewails "a vast dumbing-down of our public culture that may already be irreversible."
They and other contributors to Commentary's symposium make it clear that the case for pessimism is compelling and daunting. Anyone seeking evidence that the United States is now a "Republic in twilight," as the essayist Mark Steyn puts it, can find it with depressing ease.
And yet when hasn't America been confronted with dire challenges? From "the starving time" at Plymouth Plantation to the sack of Washington during the War of 1812 to the terror and confusion of 9/11, there have always been reasons to be depressed about the nation's prognosis. And there have always been Americans who refused to be depressed. Writing from Philadelphia in July 1776, John Adams acknowledged the struggle and sacrifice that American independence would require. "Yet through all the gloom," he assured his wife Abigail, "I can see the rays of light and glory."
Several participants in Commentary's symposium likewise see through gloom of the present to American triumphs yet to come. John Podhoretz, the magazine's editor, is buoyed by the fact that even amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, "there are surprisingly few signs of social instability" in the United States. Here -- unlike, say, Greece -- political upheaval has generally been channeled through the voting booth, and voters have "demonstrated a remarkable, almost unprecedented taste for shifting direction" when politicians have let them down.
No less valuable than our national political flexibility is something that R.R. Reno, the editor of the journal First Things, points to: the extraordinary absorptive power of "the American myth" -- the civil religion of freedom and justice that animates American patriotism. That common culture is what "reabsorbed a defeated South after the Civil War" and "waves of immigrants" and "even the children of ex-slaves, whose suffering and humiliation should have made them eternal enemies."
Reno isn't the only Commentary contributor who points to America's ability to assimilate outsiders as a singular advantage in the present, and an ongoing reason for optimism about the future. Yes, remarks Harvard's Joseph Nye, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, "but the United States can draw on a talent pool of 7 billion." From every corner of the globe, dreamers, strivers, and self-starters have been willing to uproot themselves for the chance to make a better life in this astonishing land of opportunity.
"I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means" -- John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
"Optimism, by nearly all accounts, has been an integral part of our national DNA," writes James Ceaser, a scholar of American politics at the University of Virginia. The crises of the moment -- a limping economy, soaring government debt, a stifling bureaucracy -- are undoubtedly serious. But they are far from insoluble, and they certainly aren't grounds for terminal pessimism.
The nation that transformed an undeveloped wilderness into history's freest, most prosperous superpower; that overcame the cancer of slavery; that trounced totalitarianism; that still inspires the persecuted and downtrodden -- that nation isn't about to fade to gray. We have licked worse problems than those we face now.
Optimistic or pessimistic about America's future? The Gipper had it right: Our best days are yet to come. This nation has had a remarkable run, but you ain't seen nothin' yet.
America's drift into Fascism continues
An Oklahoma woman named Kaye Beach refused a REAL ID-compliant drivers license, primarily on religious grounds. Even though she has no criminal record, her inability to use a state-issued ID means she is now denied . . .
* prescription medications
* hotel rooms
* use of a debit card
* and a PO box
She is suing the state for its refusal to accommodate her religious beliefs, protected under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act.
She is also suing the state for violating her right to keep her personal and unique biometric measurements and identification private, per Article II, Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which is VERY similar to the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.
I support her, and believe Congress should as well by repealing the REAL ID Act.
Unfortunately, some in Congress are taking the opposite position. Rep. Sensenbrenner, for instance, wants to PUNISH citizens of non-complying states by denying them the right to fly or enter federal buildings. He is actually PROUD of this. (http://tinyurl.com/bwahclp)
Sensenbrenner's position is at odds with the Constitution, conscience, and even common sense . . .
* The Constitution neither requires the states to issue ID's, nor does it authorize Congress to regulate them
* There are many persons, like Kaye Beach, who believe that this identity scheme was spoken of in Biblical prophecy, and that taking it condemns them
* Forcibly enrolling innocent citizens in a federal criminal database makes us MORE vulnerable to identity theft and is a warrantless invasion of privacy
* Terrorists won't be inconvenienced by getting a REAL ID, but ordinary citizens such as the elderly or people who have changed their names may encounter great difficulty
Are now living in a totalitarian State in which people must "show their papers" (or ID) in order to travel or make purchases? Aren't we becoming the kind of nation we condemned during the Cold War?
Obama's Half-Billion-Dollar Crony Drug Deal
Since smallpox has been eradicated worldwide this is very strange indeed. As far as we know the only remaining samples of it are in two high security labs in the USA and Russia. Russia could conceivably release it at great risk to itself but it is one of the remotest threats that America faces
What do you get when you mix Democratic fat-cat donations, Big Labor favors, pharmaceutical lobbying and Beltway business as usual? Answer: another toxic half-billion-dollar Barack Obama-approved crony deal. Move over, Solyndra. Here comes Siga-Gate.
This latest Chicago-style payoff on your dime involves a dubious smallpox drug backed by a liberal billionaire investor, along with a former union boss who was one of the White House's most frequent visitors. They're the "1 percent" with 100 percent immunity from the selectively outraged Occupier mobs that purport to oppose partisan government bailouts and handouts to privileged corporations.
Ronald Perelman is the New York City-based leveraged buyout wheeler-dealer who controls Siga Technologies. He has donated nearly $130,000 mostly to Democrats over the past two election cycles alone, and he forked over $50,000 to pay for the president's lavish inaugural parties. A Siga affiliate pitched in nearly half a million more in contributions -- 65 percent of which went to Democrats -- and the firms have spent millions on lobbying.
Perelman's pharma company makes an experimental antiviral pill used by smallpox patients who received diagnoses too late to be treated with the existing smallpox vaccine. Smallpox experts cast doubt on the need for the drug given ample vaccine stockpiles, the remoteness of a mass attack and questions about its efficacy. But over the objections of federal contract negotiators, competitors and scientists, the Obama administration approved a lucrative $433 million no-bid deal for Siga in May. No other manufacturers were able to compete for the "sole source" procurement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The special arrangement was made after a competitor objected to the administration's violating small-business rules during a first call for bids. That's right: It's yet another rigged giveaway from a Hope-and-Change champion who vowed on the 2008 campaign trail to "end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all."
Intensifying the culture-of-corruption stench: the critical role of Andy Stern. He's the profligate, corruption-coddling former head of the powerful Service Employees International Union -- the 2.2 million-member public-employee union powerhouse that he left in April 2010 with a mountain of debt and eroding rank-and-file pensions.
After pouring some $60 million of workers' dues into Democratic coffers, Stern was rewarded by Obama with a cozy spot on the White House deficit panel and dozens of visits to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- including at least seven with the president, one with Vice President Joe Biden, and meetings with Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain, OMB Director Peter Orszag, health czar aide Jennifer Cannistra and Valerie Jarrett's former high-powered aide and Chicago fundraiser Tina Tchen.
In a classic access-buying maneuver, Siga placed Stern on its board of directors in June 2010. Four months later, Siga nabbed an estimated $3 billion contract. By January of this year, Siga's stock had skyrocketed. The House GOP has been investigating the deal for months, which comes amid separate allegations of insider trading and political profiteering by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer.
Stern and Perelman have been scratching each other's backs for years. In the fall of 2006, the SEIU backed off organizing protests against AlliedBarton, a security guard firm in Philadelphia owned by a Perelman interest -- and then remained quiet when the firm was bought out by a longtime SEIU nemesis, the Blackstone Group.
According to the L.A. Times, which exposed the scandal over the weekend, Obama's top biodefense bureaucrat Nicole Lurie railroaded a key dissenter at the Department of Health and Human Services who ridiculed Siga's inflated projected profit margins. Lurie soothingly reassured a whiny Siga executive that the "most senior procurement official" would take over and mollified him in a letter: "I trust this will be satisfactory to you."
Lurie falsely told the newspaper that she had never made contact with the official regarding the contract and deemed any such contact improper. When caught with documentation, her department spun the communication with Siga as a "national security" matter. Lurie, it should be noted, is a former Clintonite and Howard Dean health care consultant who was most recently in the headlines for pushing anthrax vaccine testing for children. According to the Labor Union Report, there have been market murmurs of a merger between Siga and the anthrax vaccine manufacturer, PharmAthene. Hard to trust Lurie's public health moral authority with the taint of pay-for-play wafting over the Siga deal.
As always, venture socialism backed by Big Labor muscle and White House wealth redistribution is hazardous to taxpayers' health.
Local politics are also the most corrupt: "Local politics is not only the most intense, local politics is not only the most blatant, local politics is also the most vicious and corrupt in its pettiness."
Supreme Court should require warrants for GPS tracking: "As technology advances -- and law enforcement adapts these advancements to police work -- courts will be asked to apply the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in new and varied situations. The Supreme Court should ensure that courts maintain oversight of Information Age policing."
Big government is bad for democracy: "The federal bureaucracy is largely a creature of the executive branch. The president is elected, but the executive's political appointees are not, though some of them are subject to congressional approval. Anyway, most of the personnel of the state is permanent, and varies only slightly as partisan governments come in and out of power. The actual exercise of power in the various bureaucracies is subject to democratic oversight in only the most tenuous sense."
Why legalizing organ sales would help to save lives, end violence: "Many will protest that an organ market will lead to exploitation and unfair advantages for the rich and powerful. But these are the characteristics of the current illicit organ trade. Moreover, as with drug prohibition today and alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, pushing a market underground is the way to make it rife with violence and criminality."
Cannabis’s impact on health justifies its legalization, not its criminal prohibition: "Despite the U.S. government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids. Remarkably, nearly one-third of these were published within the last three years."
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