Category Archives: National Media

Distracting From The National Debt

The accumulated U.S. debt recently breached the $20 trillion mark.  Those who have remained concerned over the debt have viewed that coming milestone with alarm over the past many months.  Now that it has been reached, there’s nary a mention of it from the national media.

Once upon a time, the national media recognized the dangers involved in the U.S. accumulating too much debt.  I can recall major magazine articles and network nightly news broadcasts addressing the growing debt and deficits as early as the 1970’s.  At the end of the 70’s, the U.S. accumulated debt had not yet surpassed $900 billion.  We crossed the $1 trillion threshold in late 1981.  It took about 14 years to get to $5 trillion in the mid-90’s.  After another 13 years we reached $10 trillion in 2008.  It only took another 4 years or so to reach $15 trillion in early 2012.  Now here we are, a mere 5 years later sitting at $20 trillion.

As a percentage of our gross national product (GDP), the accumulated debt maintained in the 30% to 40% range through the 1970’s and to about 1985.  Since then, it hasn’t gone straight up, but the trend has been unmistakable.  It crossed the 100% mark in late 2012.  Since then it has ranged between 99% and 106%.

The national media has largely lost interest in the accumulated debt over the course of at least the past decade or so.  It’s bad enough that it is failing to fulfill its roll in alerting the public to such an important public problem but there are many examples of the media actively working to dissuade the populace from any immediate concern over the debt.  Many acknowledge that excessive debt can ultimately be a problem but argue or imply that there is a lengthy road ahead, down which the debt ‘can’ may be kicked for years or even decades before it becomes necessary to address in a serious fashion.  This article suggest we have up to three decades before there will be a significant problem.  This column in the NY Times suggests that the debt should be even larger than it is.  Forbes ran this column in 2012 in which the author plays word games by arguing that there can be no ‘debt crisis’ in the U.S. because we can always print as many dollars as we need to pay our bills.  He didn’t bother explaining what we should do about the ‘crashing dollar’ crisis and the economic catastrophe that will ensue if the ‘powers that be’ ever resort to overtly monetizing the debt in the manner he suggests.

This column, published just today, applauds the notion of a permanent removal of the debt ceiling because it would “wrench the job of raising the debt ceiling from the hands of Congress”.  Why would that be a good thing? Because “(Raising the debt limit) should be a lawmaker’s duty, not a concession.  Letting the United States go into default for any reason would destabilize the global economy, with disastrous results…”

A better example of a non sequitur can’t be found.  The inference (that the U.S. will default on its obligations) does not flow from the premises (that Congress might choose not to raise the debt ceiling).  This fallacy has been so widely used and oft repeated by politicians and the media it is unfortunately widely accepted.  But in fact there is nothing about refraining from increasing the debt limit which necessitates a default on any government obligation.  What it would necessitate is that the government make choices – that it decide how to spend its (now) limited funds.  It could choose to default on obligations.  But it could also choose to raise taxes or cut spending in order to come into balance.  In no sense is a default inevitable or necessary in the event the government stops borrowing.

The broader public’s lack of interest or understanding regarding the debt is a problem which must be overcome if the debt is ever to be addressed.  It empowers do-nothing politicians to continue borrowing as a tool to enhance their power and status and it discourages those politicians who might otherwise be willing to pick up the banner of fiscal responsibility and lead us out of the madness that will cripple future generations – generations who will rightfully look with disdain upon those who left them such a painful legacy.  The media has an amplified voice capable of influencing society’s perspective and understanding with respect to the debt crisis.  It should be using its megaphone as a force for good, inducing good citizenship and stewardship of our national fisc.  Instead it is too often disinterested or worse, complicit in justifying our generational theft of our children’s future.

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Why Do I Like Trump?

As an advocate of individual liberty and constitutionalism, I find a lot to dislike, or at least distrust, about Donald Trump’s coming presidency.  Though he and his closest advisors pay lip service to a smaller Federal government, there aren’t many indications that he’ll really do much in that regard.  Obamacare is an atrocity and should be repealed outright, but Trump’s repeated insistence on replacing it at the Federal level doesn’t instill confidence in his understanding of the constitutional limits on the Federal government’s power.  Further, using the bully pulpit to coerce businesses to do that which they don’t deem to be in their best economic interest isn’t the hallmark of one who genuinely believes in economic liberty or the benefits free markets render to society at large.

I hear the oft repeated mantra’s…‘he’ll be far better than Hillary’ and, ‘it’s all about the Supreme Court’.  I get it.  But I’ve long recognized that the U.S. has, since at least the 1930’s, always taken at least two steps toward statism for every opposite step towards a return to constitutionally limited government.  If one were to construct a graph with the horizontal axis representing time from 1936 to the present and the vertical axis representing the relative degree of statism, the graph would reflect a clear trend to greater degrees of statism.  Sure, you would see momentary diversions representing brief respites, but they’d all be followed by a return to the trend line which has consistently led to bigger and more intrusive government and less individual liberty.  Nothing I’ve heard from Donald Trump suggests to me that he’s going to do anything to change that trend line.  In order to change it, the American people must be persuaded to the societal benefits of liberty and dissuaded from the false promises of supposedly well intended coercion founded only on the immoral premise of democracy.  Donald Trump is not the President who will lead that effort; not because he isn’t capable, but because he doesn’t believe in it.  I’m happy that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected.  And I’m glad at the prospect that Trump’s judicial appointments will likely be better by comparison.  But these will be among the many respites; comforting, but fleeting. Ultimately, a return to the trend line awaits.

So why have I enjoyed the Trump pre-presidency so much?  This question has perplexed me.  The very substantial degree to which I’ve enjoyed Donald Trump’s post-election period as president elect isn’t warranted by my assessment of his ultimate effect on our ever rising trajectory into greater degrees of statism.  So what’s going on?  What is it that I like about Trump?

I’ve come up with two primary factors.  The first is obviously important and a credit to Trump – he is a constant and vocal opponent of global government and we need leadership on that point right as never before.  Though nationalism has understandably earned a bad connotation in many contexts, it has taken on a crucial legitimacy as a response to governmental globalism.  When ‘nationalism’ means respecting the Constitution and American statutory and common law as the only legitimate law of the country and rejecting efforts of globalist to allow treaties or United Nations pronouncements to effectuate even the subtlest of influences on our unalienable rights, nationalism is a very good thing indeed.  Preserving the United States as a nation state, sovereign and unyielding in the face of any global efforts to infiltrate our substantive law is critical.

Though important, Trump’s anti-global government stance isn’t enough to explain the pleasure I’ve had in witnessing his pre-presidency.  It’s the second factor I’ve identified which appeals to my base human impulses and thus better explains my enthusiasm. Better yet, on reflection, it may actually provide some hope for a future different than I would have supposed just a few months ago.

In short, I like how he’s sticking it to the worst elements of the left.  Those watching the media and the public reaction to it over the past decade may reasonably have concluded that too many of the American people have stopped thinking for themselves.  The left leaning national media seemed to have an almost magical ability to define the issues worthy of public attention and then set the narrative as to those issues.  Similarly, leftist academic speech police and self-appointed enforcers of political correctness seemed to have acquired the ability to thwart the free exchange of ideas whenever their personal sensibilities were offended or the legitimacy of their perspectives were threatened.

Trump has demonstrated that the national media doesn’t necessarily control the narrative and that perhaps the ‘thought police’ are all bark and no bite.  Just maybe there aren’t quite so many stupefied citizens who blindly follow the prompts of the national media and leftist elite.  Maybe good people just needed a champion to give them a voice.   I understand the concerns over his sometimes heavy handedness but I have to wonder whether he would be so successful in foiling the leftist machinery without the entertainment factor.  Let’s face it, people like it when bad actors get called out and exposed.  Trump’s brashness may be a necessary ingredient in his recipe for success.

The important question for the future is this: has Trump set a workable example for how others might successfully neuter the national media and leftist elites?  If we ever manage to elect a President who will work to persuade people to the societal benefits of liberty and constitutionalism, can he or she learn from Trump’s example in order to deny the left the power to control messaging and impose sanctions on those with whom they disagree?  If so, that may ultimately be the prevailing legacy of his presidency, and a worthy legacy that would be.  If the Trump experience permanently exposes the fallacy of the leftist elite’s ‘authority’, if he enables the American public and those in positions of power and influence to not only see, but comfortably declare, that the emperor’s new clothes are imaginary and the leftist elites are naked of the power which they have presumed for themselves and in which too many have acquiesced for too long, then he will have provided at least one great and lasting service to his country.

In the meantime, I hope to continue to enjoy watching the leftist elites flounder as they employ their old playbook over and over again to no avail while I wait with fingers crossed to see what Trump’s presidency actually brings.

 

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Trump’s Muslim Border Policy And The Echo-Chamber

Only a small fraction of the news coverage and hand wringing over Donald Trump’s suggestion that non-citizen Muslims be temporarily barred from entry into the United States has addressed the policy’s merits. The question of whether it is necessary or helpful to temporarily bar non-citizen Muslims from entry in order to protect the homeland from terrorism has been largely overlooked. Instead, the focus has been on whether such a policy, if implemented, is a betrayal of American values, or worse, indicative of racism or a step toward ushering in fascism.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the focus has been on the subject of our American values rather than the efficacy of the suggested policy. Focusing on the values question enables media and politicians the opportunity to demonize disfavored candidates while shoring up their own ‘political correctness’ bona fides. There’s more opportunity for widely broadcast soundbites and for political mileage to be gotten out of debating the moral qualifications of a disfavored candidate than debating whether his policy is simply wrong or unnecessary. Moreover, by now we should all be accustomed to the fact that politicians and the national media live inside of the elite media echo-chamber where every word written or uttered is examined through a prism of political correctness. Washington elites almost instinctively pounce upon anything that smacks of political incorrectness. Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” in response to Trump’s call for such a policy. Because politically correct positions are seldom challenged, there was no need for Graham to explain why Trump’s position on this border policy is sufficient to conclude he is a bigot.

Which brings me to the question I wish to address — assuming that one has made an honest assessment and determined that temporarily closing the borders to all non-citizen Muslims is necessary or helpful to ensuring the safety of the homeland against terrorism, does suggesting the implementation of a policy in accord with that assessment constitute race-baiting, xenophobia or bigotry? Is the implementation of such a policy ‘un-American’? Does suggesting such a policy indicate a lack of appreciation for American values? I’ve concluded the answer to each of these questions is ‘no’.

The United States of America, exists for the benefit of its citizens. The U.S. government has no higher obligation than the safeguarding of American citizens within our borders from external threats. No non-citizen has a right to cross our borders. We should permit non-citizens to enter only when it is in the interest of our citizens to do so.

We can objectively recognize that the vast majority of the terrorism with which we have been threatened and to which we’ve been subjected has been threatened or perpetrated by persons who identify themselves as Muslim and claim that their actions are perpetrated in the name of that religion. At a time when we have heightened concerns over terrorism from abroad, if the information available as to whether persons seeking to cross our borders intend us harm is insufficient for us to make a determination, excluding the larger set (Muslims) from which the smaller subset (terrorists) comes, may be a necessary and intelligent policy reaction.

Under those circumstances, the implementation of the policy is not racist or bigoted, because it is not motivated by hatred or unfounded bias. Rather, it is motivated by the objective facts. That the United States has not implemented such a policy in the past should demonstrate that it has no ill-regard toward Muslims. It may be proper to implement such a policy now, not because we have developed an unfounded bias against Muslims, but because it has become necessary to our security. Excluding those Muslims who cannot be vetted from entry does not make us bad or evil. It does not mean that we’re deviating from our values. We can fully recognize the dignity and decency of the vast majority of Muslims who might wish to cross our borders while implementing the policy as a necessary reaction to the unfortunate circumstances we face — we cannot identify which of those seeking entry are terrorists. The implementation of such a policy is not intended to offend Muslims; nor should it, given the objective fact that terrorists almost exclusively come from their ranks.   Under such circumstances, a policy excluding from entry all non-citizen Muslims who cannot be properly vetted simply reflects the reality that we have no other way to ensure the security of Americans at home. Those who wish to portray the suggestion of such a policy as necessarily based on racism or a broad disdain for Muslims are either ignorant or trying to spin a political agenda.

Many have expressed surprise that Donald Trump’s support among the citizenry does not appear to have eroded as a result of this policy suggestion. I suspect that surprise is born of the echo-chamber, where punishment for violations of the code of political correctness are swift and harsh. Forgotten is the fact that the electorate does not live in the echo-chamber and is therefore untainted by its perverse effects. Individuals know the content of their own hearts. They understand their own desires and motivations. They are acutely aware whether they harbor a nefarious, unfounded disdain for a people unlike them or whether they are merely making a rational judgment concerning the events taking place around them. As a result, no amount of slick marketing or amplified and oft repeated politically correct dogma can convince the American people that a policy suggestion which makes common sense to them is actually an expression of racism or bigotry. Because the American people are not racists or bigots, because they do not harbor hatred or disdain for Muslims in their hearts, they are able to accept Trump’s policy suggestion for what he represents it to be — an unfortunate, but potentially necessary, common sense approach to safeguard American citizens.

 

 

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Civility, Lying And Ted Cruz

Much has been made of Ted Cruz’s comments from the floor of the Senate this past Friday.  In summation, the Export-Import Bank’s authorization expired on June 30, 2015.  Cruz, a critic of the Bank, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured him in May that McConnell had no “deal” with a group of senators who wanted to revive the bank in exchange for their votes on a trade bill.  On Friday, McConnell took steps to revive the bank, leading to Cruz’s comments from the floor.  “What we saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over again was a simple lie.

What has followed since is nothing less than a circling of the wagons around McConnell, but few seem to be noticing it.  While so called “main stream”, corporatist republicans have taken to criticizing Cruz for his lack of decorum, the main stream media has focused entirely on the fact of Cruz’s comments rather than their merit.  Whether what Cruz said was appropriate is the question, not whether it was accurate and, if so, whether McConnell’s conduct should be scrutinized.  Cruz’s fellow republicans and the national media have made Cruz the focus of attention for his comments and have completely ignored the substance of the comments; McConnell’s conniving to revive the Bank.

At best, the Export-Import Bank is government meddling in free markets.  At worst, it is a conduit for corporate cronyism and the pre-selection of winners and losers by someone other than free market consumers.  That McConnell is playing fast and loose with the truth in his back room dealings in order to manipulate an effort to save the Bank illustrates the pull the likes of the Chamber of Commerce has with McConnell.

As for Cruz and the corporatist republican effort to discredit him, perhaps that wing of the party doesn’t understand that Senator Cruz has his own constituency and it does not consist of corporations who stand ready to make big campaign contributions in exchange for even bigger patronage and favoritism.  Senator Cruz’s constituency consists of individual citizens and he understands that their lives are always made better when the free market is left alone, unaffected and unmolested by special interests syphoning off patronage in the name of “promoting exports”.

Senator Orin Hatch’s comments are illustrative of the effort main stream republicans have made to discredit him.  “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated on the campaign trail, but not in here.  We are not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions. We are here because the people of the United States have entrusted us with the solemn responsibility to act on their behalf.  It is a sacred trust in which pettiness or grandstanding should have no part.

Talk about sanctimony!  One wonders whether Senator Hatch and the rest of Cruz’s detractors ever really consider their “sacred trust”.  Does Hatch think that honoring that trust requires a Senator to just keep quite when others scheme, connive and lie?  Perhaps Senator Hatch excuses such conduct so long as it occurs somewhere other than the Senate floor.  After all, that Cruz made his comments there rather than on the campaign trail seems to be the primary cause for Hatch’s concern.

This saga reflects so much of where we are as a society at large.  “Form over substance” is too often the rule; “reason” too often the exception.  Good intentions matter more than actions and results.  Pandering to the politically correct trumps objective reality.

  • A murder becomes a “hate crime” because of what motivated the perpetrator to violence.  The wrongfulness of the act of intentionally killing another human being is thereby made relative to the motivation of the perpetrator.  One who slays for money, or even to satisfy a twisted pleasure, is thereby judged by society as less culpable than one who slays in response to a twisted hatred.
  • Of course, “all lives matter”; but be careful where you say so, or else be prepared to apologize.
  • “He” must now be referred to as “she”, even though “he” is still objectively a male.
  • We must not profile for terrorists or criminals on the basis of race, gender, religion or anything else, even when we know as a matter of objective fact that members of a certain race, gender, religion, or anything else are the most likely perpetrators.

I suspect that what rankles so many about Ted Cruz is that he is decidedly not a “form over substance” guy and he won’t act as though he is.  He believes that actions and results matter more than good intentions and he won’t pretend otherwise to assuage anybody.  Objective reality greatly outweighs political correctness because he is a man of reason who values objective reality greatly and political correctness not at all.  Cruz is a man of principle, not expediency; and he is unwilling to compromise the first for the latter.

Perhaps Ted Cruz has calculated that many Americans value substance over form, results over intentions, and a demonstrable grasp of reality over a quivering deference to someone else’s notion of correct behavior and commentary.  Perhaps he believes that he and they together, might persuade still more American’s to those values.  Or perhaps he simply knows what he stands for.  In either case, he’s not likely to be silenced by adversaries pleading a loss of decorum when he judges so much more than decorum to be at stake.

As a subset of the same media that is ignoring the question of McConnell’s veracity and methods, the political pundits are unsurprisingly focusing on Cruz rather than McConnell, but their focus is obscured by virtue of looking through dual prisms. The first is the prism of the presidential election. They seem incapable of scrutinizing Cruz’s comments from any perspective other than considering his motives as they might relate to his candidacy for the presidency. The second is the prism of their own cynical echo chamber. Excepting only their consideration of leftist, statist politicians who promise “hope and change” or “the fundamental transformation of America”, it seems that once a journalist joins a national press corps, he is doomed to be blinded to any possibility that principles, rather than political expediency, might motivate the conduct of a politician. The national press, including the so called “conservative press” is missing the entire point of Ted Cruz as an elected official. He is standing for no less than a return to the original Constitution. For him, the principles of constitutionalism and real respect for popular sovereignty, like the principles of reason and objective reality, are not negotiable – not even in a run for the presidency. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s to a thousand more like him.

 

 

 

 

 

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