Sunday, January 29, 2012

How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama

The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be, says British political journalist Christopher Booker

When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”

I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It was this Act, above all, which let the US housing bubble blow up, far beyond the point where it was obvious that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would be likely to default. Yet, in 2005, no one more actively opposed moves to halt these reckless guarantees than Senator Obama, who received more donations from Fannie Mae than any other US politician (although Senator Hillary Clinton ran him close).

A later passage in Obama’s speech, when he hailed the way his country’s energy future has been transformed by the miracle of shale gas, met with a storm of applause. Not only would this give the US energy security for decades, creating 600,000 jobs, but it could now go all out to exploit its gas and oil reserves (more applause). Yet this was the man who in 2008 couldn’t stop talking about the threat of global warming, and was elected on a pledge to make the US only the second country in the world, after Britain, to commit to cutting its CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 80 per cent within 40 years.

Even more telling than his audience’s response to this, however, was what happened when Obama referred briefly to the need to develop “clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes”. But no mention now of vast numbers of wind turbines – those props beside which he constantly chose to be filmed back in 2008. No harking back to his boast that “renewable energy” would create “four million jobs”. And even to this sole fleeting reminder of what, four years ago, was his flagship policy the response of Congress was a deafening silence.

A few months after Obama entered the White House, I suggested here that the slogan on which he was elected – “Yes we can” – seemed to have changed to “No we can’t”. It was already obvious that, having won election as an ideal Hollywood version of what “the first black President” should look and sound like, he was in reality no more than a vacuum. His speech last week was as weaselly as any politician’s performance could be, not least in its references to the sub-prime scandal.

But on no issue has this been more obvious than political America’s wholesale retreat from the great fantasy of global warming



Generous retirement benefits helping to send cities broke

Why should retired public sector workers get payments in retirement that are way more than what most other Americans get? Dump them all onto social security only!

Bankruptcy is the boogeyman haunting governments across America. It’s not a question of whether more cities will file for bankruptcy, but how many.

The culprit is a decade of over-spending by governments, especially on pension guarantees, and an economic slowdown that refused to flip into a robust recovery. The money just isn’t there. And it’s not going to be there even if local governments raise taxes while cutting employees and services to the bone.

Things are just going to get worse for municipal finance. Most states, counties, cities and school districts have spent their cash reserves down to the legal minimum. And they have not made contingency plans for another 15 percent decline in revenue in the next year. Consequently, there is the potential for thousands of defaults in the 50,000 municipal bond issuers in the United States. Most cities can cut spending, but they cannot cut principal and interest payments without default and bankruptcy.

Unlike many cities facing bankruptcy, San Jose is well-off. It’s part of the prosperous, high-tech Silicon Valley. But San Jose officials have discussed bankruptcy as a possible option to over-spending.

Its prosperity turned out to be its undoing. In the November issue of Vanity Fair magazine, financial writer Michael Lewis wrote, “The city owes so much more money to its employees than it can afford to pay that it could cut its debts in half and still wind up broke.”

One city that did declare bankruptcy was Vallejo, in 2008. Unfortunately, the city missed a grand opportunity to pull itself from fiscal disaster. Government-worker unions made some concessions, such as higher payments by retirees for their health care insurance. However, pension plans for retirees and current city employees, including one that allows police officers to retire at age 50 with as much as 90 percent of their pay, remained untouched.

San Diego still bills itself as “America’s Finest City.” But the city’s pension payments are skyrocketing, from $229 million in 2010 to a projected $318 million in 2015 — 40 percent in just five years. By 2025, the number will be $512 million, a whopping 124 percent increase in 15 years.

No wonder City Councilman Carl DeMaio in September turned in 145,000 signatures to put a pension-reform measure on the ballot this year. Instead of pensions, it would enroll most new city employees in 401(k) programs for retirement. It would save the city $1.2 billion through 2040.

What’s dawning on officials is that there’s no panacea to budget problems. As budget realities have started to hit home, most cities now realize that just making tweaks in pension formulas for future hires won’t solve their problems — the mushrooming retirement obligations are just too large.



Obama Calls It Fairness. The GOP Calls It Class Warfare. Scripture Calls It Envy

Doug Giles

Obama, in his State of the Union address and during his initial five-state, multi-million dollar taxpayer funded re-election jaunt has stated repeatedly that his platform and policies are not about class warfare, which means, of course, that his ticket is all about class warfare—or “fairness,” as he likes to call it … or as the Scripture labels it, envy.

You don’t hear much about envy anymore, do you? We hear a lot about greed being bad, but in Obamaland envy is no longer a rank vice but a right and a virtue. However, historically speaking, envy has always been seen as a high-ranking sin. Envy, matter of fact, is second on the Seven Deadly Sins list as it lags behind pride a wee bit in being the nastiest and most common vice.

Ancient in its poison, envy forms a big chunk of the foul compost heap that stimulates the growth of human stupidity. Envy is an extremely toxic sin that doesn’t get the verbal hailstorm that other sins receive in our current entitlement culture with its totemic view of vice. Someone who has been saddled by the envy monkey will probably not make the evening news like a politician who has been caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman or who keeps his freezer stuffed with cash.

No, envy is not that sexy and doesn’t have the buzz that zings around a greedy Goldman Sachs exec. Because this sin doesn’t get MSNBC’s attention like the more juicy transgressions, we tend to see it as less naughty. But be not deceived, my brethren: This sin is disastrous once it sticks its talons into a person, party, religion, or nation.

Another distinguishing feature of the funk of envy is that it is no fun. All vices sport a momentary spice. All of them, that is, except for envy. Envy is the one sin the sinner will never like or admit. You’ll never see someone who is envious chilling out, laughing his butt off, or relaxing with his friends while this demon rules the roost. The more envy grows, the more it drives its impenitent coddler nuts.

So, what is envy? Well … let’s start with what it is not. It’s not admiring what someone else has and wanting some good stuff also. This desire will make you get off your butt in the morning and get busy. It is good to crave; a man’s appetite will make him work. Where envy differs from admiration/emulation is that envy is “sorrow at another’s good” (said Thomas Aquinas). Someone who is centered can watch another person, party, or nation prosper and not grow hateful because of it.

The whacked, petty, envious dolt, however, sees someone else excel and is slapped in the face with the reality that he just got dogged. So, instead of sucking it up and working harder and smarter, the unwise envious freak allows his pride to fuel his wounded little spirit. This sets the dejected perp down a path of disparagement of the prosperous that eventually morphs into the desire to destroy the person, party or nation that has just trumped this sad little person.

Os Guinness, best-selling author and renowned lecturer, states that the sin of envy has several common characteristics:

1. Envy is the vice of proximity. We are always prone to envy people close to us in temperament, gifts or position.

2. Envy is highly subjective. It is in the eye of the beholder. It is not the objective difference between people that feeds envy, but the subjective perception. As a Russian proverb says, “envy looks at a juniper bush and sees a pine forest.”

3. Envy doesn’t lessen with age. It gets worse as we run into more and more people of happiness and success, offering more fodder for envy.

4. Envy is often petty but always insatiable and all consuming. However small the occasion that gives rise to it, envy becomes central to the envier’s whole being. The envier “stews in his juice.” Envy begins with pride and then plunges the person into hatred.

5. Envy is always self-destructive. What the envier cannot enjoy, no one should enjoy, and thus the envier loses every enjoyment. The envier’s motto is “if not I, then no one.” As an eighth-century Jewish teacher put it, “the one who envies gains nothing for himself and deprives the one he envies of nothing. He only loses thereby.”

Y’know, there are many forces tearing at this land and many nations that would like to level our nation. That said, I believe this envious entitlement funk that’s speedily weaving its way into the fabric of our national life will destroy it faster than al-Qaeda could ever al-Hope to.



Pat Buchanan & the MSNBC Gulag

Pat Buchanan did something dreadful. He said politically incorrect things…incendiary, in fact and faces punishment in a New America where free speech is now applied more to rights to pornography and protections for curse words than to actual ideas.

What exactly did Pat do? He wrote a book, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive until 2025?” He included chapters like “The End of White America” predicting whites will be the minority by 2041. In another, “The Death of Christian America,” he wrote of the assault on Christianity and its values, the loss of a moral compass as exemplified in gay marriage and abortion. He predicted that America is in the “Indian summer of our civilization.”

As a result of these thoughts and ideas, a group founded by self-professed Communist and former Obama Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, called Buchanan’s words “hateful” full of “outdated ideas.” “Color of Change,” is circulating a petition to have Mr. Buchanan fired from MSNBC. Joining their demands have been the largest homosexual activist group in the country, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Anti-Defamation League. “Buchanan continues to show his true colors by espousing hateful, bigoted statements in his new book,” said Abraham Foxman, the national director. He continued, “We…urge MSNBC …to ensure their brand is no longer associated with Buchanan’s history of passing off white supremacy ideology as mainstream political commentary.”

Buchanan hasn’t appeared on air at MSNBC since publication of the book in October. “When Pat was on his book tour, because of the content of the book, I didn’t think it should be part of the national dialogue much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC,” said MSNBC President Phil Griffin.

And with those words, Pat Buchanan faces what many thinking Americans have been facing, the loss of favor, then advancement and sometimes jobs. It’s no surprise groups like Human Rights Campaign who thrive on intimidation of opponents would demand such of Buchanan. He dares to say that homosexual practice and gay marriage are contrary to Christian principles…anathema. Such opposition shall be silenced at all costs.

Leftist Jewish organizations like ADL whose gold standard is “tolerance” are absolutely intolerant of Christ-followers or anyone they perceive don’t embrace the sacred cow of political correctness with regard to race. Buchanan has mentioned race and faith in a way they hate and he must be silenced.

But most of all it is no surprise that a Communist like Van Jones would demand the destruction of free thought. That’s what Communists and Fascists do. Russian Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was one of the great minds of the Soviet Empire, but refused to conform to its madness. He was exiled and silenced in the Siberian Gulag.

Stalin murdered his opponents. So did Mao Zedong, Kim il Sung, Castro and Hitler. It’s what despots do. One has only to visit the S-21 Prison in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, to see how the Khmer Rouge handled people who simply thought differently. Intellectuals were rounded up and imprisoned in what once had been a school. As millions were slaughtered in the “Killing Fields,” these men were rounded up for torture. You can still see the metal-framed beds, photos on the walls of their bodies lying in pools of blood, with actual bloodstains on the floor. Their crime was not violent opposition, but thinking differently…having a different point of view.

It is no small thing that some want to silence Pat Buchanan and that his current network, MSNBC, is actually entertaining the notion. Van Jones knows what he’s demanding. He has embraced Communism. But what of HRC? Is there a limit they would go to silence their opposition? Can they not defend their positions with words of reason or persuasion? Is their commitment to homosexuality so fragile, it cannot be defended in the court of ideas?

Does the ADF want to foster a country like many well remember that arrests and targets and tortures and murders people for having another God and a different set of beliefs?

Does MSNBC want to see the death of the First Amendment in this great country? A cable network cannot handle honest debate…really? The Founders put the guarantee of Free Speech first not tenth on the list of rights because they remembered all too well the punishments of dissent under King George.

Pat Buchanan is an American intellectual who believes America is currently committing suicide. He has a right to say it and to write it. And if we don’t defend the rights of free speech in others, we ARE contributing to that suicide by standing by until the bony fingers of intimidation slowly close around our own necks.




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