A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

This President Is No Holiday

By 2.17.14

On this first occasion of addressing Congress since, by the choice of my constituents, I have entered on a second term of administration, I embrace the opportunity to give this public assurance that I will exert my best endeavors to administer faithfully the executive department, and will zealously cooperate with you in every measure which may tend to secure the liberty, property, and personal safety of our fellow-citizens, and to consolidate the republican forms and principles of our Government.
— President Thomas Jefferson, Fifth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1805

That’s the good thing as a President; I can do whatever I want.
— President Barack Obama speaking to French President François Hollande on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, February 10, 2014

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A Further Perspective

GOP to Cut Budget — in 2017

By 2.13.14

The Republican leadership is determined to cut spending-in 2017 it seems. Senator Mitch McConnell led several other GOP senators to vote for raising a “clean” debt ceiling today. This comes on top of House Speaker John Boehner joining a very small group of Republicans to tip the balance in his chamber and do the same.

This latter vote in the House was accomplished by a solid Democratic front supplemented by a few members of the GOP leadership and budget chairs. Quelle surprise. So much for the “Boehner Rule.”

Harry Reid describes this as Republicans “regaining their grip on sanity,” which is damning with faint praise.

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Reagan on Religious Tolerance

By 2.10.14

Every conservative by now should have noticed that February has become Ronald Reagan Month for Republicans. The man’s birthday was last week, February 6, the forerunner to Lincoln’s birthday (February 12), Washington’s birthday (February 22), and President’s Day (February 17). Throughout the nation, county and statewide Republican groups have been changing their longtime annual Lincoln Day dinners into Reagan Day dinners. I’m speaking on Reagan multiple times this month, including at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, where we’re releasing (pardon the plug) my new book that endeavors to answer the question “What is a Reagan conservative?

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Inequality Myopia

By 2.6.14

President Obama says that growing inequality is “the defining issue of our time.” Several Democrats have said that inequality will be their primary campaign theme for the 2014 election season.

If the president is correct, and if the inequality strategy spells success for Democrats, it will be because of a total distortion and over simplification of the meaning of inequality.

At least in their rhetoric, Democrats have made equality their number one priority. It has become more an obsession than a policy objective. Mother Jones contributor Kevin Drum writes, “The heart and soul of liberalism is economic egalitarianism.” According to Jon N. Hall, “For progressives, equality is an end in itself, and a higher value than freedom, happiness, or prosperity.”

Furthermore, liberals have a one-dimensional vision of equality. Virtually the only kind of inequality they ever address is income inequality. The human experience, however, is multi-faceted.

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Bill O’Reilly Can’t Escape the Spin Zone on Benghazi

By 2.5.14

No doubt Bill O’Reilly came away from his Super Bowl Sunday interview with Barack Obama feeling pleased with himself for setting a combative tone. In fact, the interview was a big missed opportunity. O’Reilly let several obvious inaccuracies on the president’s part slide by him. And he failed to ask one big question about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that has gone unanswered for 16 months.

Where was the commander-in-chief on the night of Sept. 11, 2012? Why did he go AWOL after learning that an all-out attack had been launched on the compound with the apparent objective of capturing or killing J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and a number of other Americans who were there with him?

To recall the sequence of events on this long and terror-filled night:

With a time difference of six hours between the two places, the attack on the consulate began at 9:42 p.m. in Benghazi, which was 3:42 p.m. in Washington, D.C. At 5 p.m., or a little more than an hour later, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey met with Obama at the White House and told him that the consulate was under fire.

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Republicans to the Rescue?

By 2.4.14

Some supporters of President Obama may be worried about how he and the Democrats are going to fare politically, as the problems of ObamaCare continue to escalate, and it looks like the Republicans have a chance to win a majority in the Senate.

But Democrats may not need to worry so much. Republicans may once again come to the rescue of the Democrats, by discrediting themselves and snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory.

The latest bright idea among Republicans inside the Beltway is a new version of amnesty that is virtually certain to lose votes among the Republican base and is unlikely to gain many votes among the Hispanics that the Republican leadership is courting.

One of the enduring political mysteries is how the Republicans can be so successful in winning governorships and control of state legislatures, while failing to make much headway in Washington. Maybe there are just too many clever GOP consultants inside the Beltway.

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Obama’s Slumber — Putin’s Swindle

By 2.3.14

The “reset.”

It was silly from the start. Now it’s just sad.

America has most certainly been ‘‘overcharged.’’

This past week, if they didn’t already know, our NATO partners learned that Russia is in fundamental breach of its 1987 INF missile treaty obligations.

Unsurprisingly, Putin disagrees with that finding. Instead, he’s declared the case closed.

And the White House has reacted in true form.

As the New York Times notes, ‘‘Obama administration officials are not yet ready to formally declare the tests of the missile, which has not been deployed, to be a violation of the 1987 treaty.’’

We should have known. Red lines… For this Administration, reality is subjective.

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Syria’s Forgotten Refugees

By 1.30.14

As diplomats exchange barbs to little effect in Geneva — with America averring “Assad must go” and Syria contending that it is fighting terrorists — it is worthwhile to briefly reflect upon an ancient truth: to tear down and destroy is easy; to preserve, create, and build is another matter entirely. Though it may surprise the elites of American foreign policy, there are ways to help the vulnerable that do not include dropping bombs and making threats. In this, America can learn from Sweden.

Responding to the horrific August 21, 2013 chemical attack that killed hundreds of Syrian women and children, President Obama in September of 2013 argued that America should bomb Syrian government forces in order to protect the innocent. The President pleaded: “I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.”

Today, President Obama—and indeed, the American people—should earnestly reflect back on this statement. In the face of suffering, resolutions and statements are not enough.

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So Full of Himself

By 1.29.14

The leaks before the President’s 2014 State of the Union Speech (SOTU) threatened that Mr. Obama would take “pen and phone” to bypass Congress; instead the president gave a softer speech than was expected. The harsh partisan undertones were softened by well-polled language and tried-and-true rhetorical techniques. Income inequality was addressed in terms of providing “opportunity.” Environmental issues were presented, typically, as something we do “for children” — to give them a “safer, more stable world.” Immigration reform was couched in terms of “fulfilling dreams” and “creating jobs for everyone.” Even so, there was no softening the inevitable polarization caused by a blame-shifting President who demonizes his opponents.

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At Sixty

By 1.28.14

“Accept modestly; surrender gracefully”—Marcus Aurelius

I celebrated my 60th birthday the other day, and find this fact amazing, appalling, and strangely life affirming. Cheerfulness is the first sign of wisdom, and to quote Hubert Humphrey: “I’m as pleased as punch” to still be here.

This last is no idle notion. Thanks to social media and googling the obituary pages of the local newspapers back east where I grew up, I’m discovering that I’m outliving increasing numbers of familiar contemporaries. I’ve counted a half dozen in just the last year. Sic transit gloria mundi. This is sad and weirdly refreshing at the same time.

Sixty is the borderland of old, but it’s strange that as one ages the general feeling of the same old self is always present. Despite the aches and pains, we are still the people that we were fifty years ago. As we approach the gate of the grave, we are likely to still possess the same cognitive awe of life (though seared by experience, skepticism, and cynicism) that we felt in childhood.

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