A highlight of President Obama’s 2008 campaign was his purported drive to end "special interest politics," as he assured American voters that he would not accept contributions from Washington’s vast army of lobbyists. "You need leadership you can trust to work for you, not for the special interests who have had their thumb on the scale," Obama declared at an October 2008 campaign stop in La Crosse, Wisconsin. "And together, we will tell Washington, and their lobbyists, that their days of setting the agenda are over. They have not funded my campaign. You have. They will not run my White House. You'll help me run my White House."
But according to the New York Times, Obama’s pledge to rid the White House of self-indulgent lobbyists has fallen well short, as he has courted prominent allies in the lobbying industry who are raising millions of dollars for his 2012 reelection campaign. At least 15 of Obama’s "bundlers" — large donors who bundle together contributions from multiple parties — hold influential roles in the lobbying industry (though they are not registered), and have raised more than five million dollars so far for the campaign.
These 15 bundlers are a dominant force among Washington’s business and political alliances. Sally Susman, an executive who manages lobbying operations for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, raised more than $500,000 for the Obama campaign and helped promote a $35,800-a-ticket dinner for the President. However, under the labyrinthine tenets of federal lobbying, Susman has avoided registering with the Senate as a lobbyist.
Just as GOP presidential contender Herman Cain was enjoying his jump in the polls to front-runner status, breaking news has erupted that could damage, if not destroy, his campaign. Politico reported Sunday that two women accused Cain of inappropriate behavior during his 1996-99 tenure as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
According to Politico: "Two women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures."
While exiting the CBS building in Washington, D.C. after appearing on the CBS program Face the Nation this weekend, Cain was drawn into a “tense sidewalk encounter,” writes Politico, where he avoided a number of questions regarding the sexual harassment allegations.
“Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?” asked the reporter. According to Politico, Cain “breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds.” The question was repeated by the reporter several times before Cain responded, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”
A group of homosexual activists comprised of both active and retired military personnel is suing the federal government to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman. The group wants the law changed so that homosexual “married” couples can receive the same benefits as traditional married couples serving in the military.
Under DOMA, reported the Associated Press, “the Pentagon is required to ignore same-sex marriages, which are legal in six states and Washington D.C. and were legal for a time in California.” That denial of spousal benefits, “gay” groups argue, is in direct conflict with the lifting last month of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”— the law that barred homosexuals from serving in the armed forces. With full access to military service, homosexuals now want unrestricted freedom to pursue their lifestyle — including full access to all the rights and privileges enjoyed by normal military couples and their families.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a homosexual activist group whose specific focus is the U.S. military, filed the lawsuit on behalf of eight service members and their same-sex partners. The group’s director, Aubrey Sarvis, said that the suit was about “one thing, plain and simple … justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families in our armed forces rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices, and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad.”
The good news is that Americans' distrust of government is at its highest level ever. It's good news because it shows the public recognizes how poorly we're being governed. Not much good comes out of trusting people who shouldn't be trusted — not much good comes out of re-electing them, either.
Only 9 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. That's one point higher than the percentage of Americans who said in a 2002 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll that they believe Elvis could still be alive.
Asked if they approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling job creation, 58 percent disapproved, 35 percent approved, and 7 percent were undecided.
Going back to 1890 on job-creation rates in the United States, Kevin A. Hassett reported in National Review magazine in August that Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama were the only presidents to have negative job creation during their first two and one-half years in office.
In his new book, Sovereignty or Submission, John Fonte identifies globalism as the latest evolutionary iteration of the “multiculturalism-diversity” that once infatuated the American elites.
Just as they once promoted ethnic-racial-gender group consciousness as the antidote for all the ills associated with following the path of freedom and individual rights as set out by our Founding Fathers, the elites now proffer transnationalism and “global citizenship” as the newest cure-all.
Fonte rightly recognizes both movements as antithetical to the core American concepts of republicanism and individual liberty.
By 2009, Fonte writes, the world’s leading political actors were pounding a constant drumbeat of “global problems require global solutions.” Today, there are forces within and without the government of the United States that willingly dance to the globalist tune and genuinely believe that there is greater good in the enforcement of global laws and the establishment of a single world government than in the fostering of the timeless principles of freedom incorporated in the U.S. Constitution.
John Fonte is a senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at Hudson Institute.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “History is a series of agreed-upon myths.” I’m not quite that cynical, but our history books do sometimes seem more like mythology than reality. In fact, in school we don’t even call the subject “history” anymore but “social studies” (socialist studies?). Yes, the victors write the history, and it’s pretty easy to see who has been winning the culture war for the last 100-odd years.
“You’re a fascist!”
It’s an accusation so common that I can only paraphrase Helter Skelter figure Charles Manson’s remarks about being “crazy” and say, there was a time when being a fascist meant something; nowadays everybody’s a fascist. Why, even the Online Etymology Dictionary, a source not generally known for hyperbole or any discernable sense of humor, has the following statement under the entry “fascism”: “1922, originally used in English 1920 in its Italian form (see fascist). Applied to similar groups in Germany from 1923; applied to everyone since the rise of the Internet.” Unfortunately, though, the term’s sloppy application didn’t start with the virtual world. It started with virtual history.
If those commonly known as historians are right, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and Spain’s Francisco Franco all were fascists, despite the fact that their regimes were very different ideologically.
First it was “Yes, we can!” Then it was “Pass this bill!” Now the latest slogan from President Barack Obama is “We can’t wait.”
Expressing his frustration with Congress’s failure to pass his American Jobs Act and other initiatives, Obama told a Nevada audience on October 24: “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”
As The New American’s Raven Clabough reported the next day, Obama’s chosen means of circumventing the legislative process is to issue executive orders and other directives — at least one per week for the remainder of the year, aides said.
Obama’s first orders after announcing his new policy were: (1) to use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enable borrowers who owe more than their houses are worth to refinance at lower interest rates; (2) to reduce the size of student loan payments; and (3) to challenge community health centers to hire veterans. Only the third, an essentially meaningless gesture, is plainly within the President’s purview. The others — particularly the first, which could put taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars in loan guarantees — “would generally be subjected to” congressional approval, Clabough noted.
When Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) released his economic plan, which calls for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, the howls of outrage from the media were predictable. Paul was accused of wanting to end the federal student loan program immediately and, therefore, of being anti-education.
Paul responded to his critics with a cogent op-ed in USA Today in which he explained that he had merely proposed transferring the student loan program to another federal agency and has no intention of repealing the program in the short term. However, he added that, in his opinion, the program ought to be retired in the long term, arguing that “we will assist [students] the most by eventually transitioning student aid away from the inefficient and ineffective federal government and back to local governments and private market-based solutions — which simply work better.”
Is Paul correct that federal student loans are a bad idea? Certainly it doesn’t make good financial sense for students to take on tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt in the present economy. Americans already owe about $1 trillion in student loans, and delinquency and default rates are on the rise. Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh wrote in 2010:
A North Carolina county wants to resume its longtime practice of beginning government meetings with prayer, and is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that bans prayers offered “in Jesus’ name.” As reported by The New American, in July the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ tradition of beginning their meetings with mostly Christian prayers offered by local clergy. Specifically, two area residents sued the county after attending a county board meeting on December 17, 2007, in which a local pastor “thanked God for allowing the birth of His Son to forgive us for our sins and closed by making the prayer in the name of Jesus,” according to an Associated Press report.
Writing for the majority in the Fourth Circuit ruling, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III noted that three-quarters of the prayers offered at the Forsyth County meetings between May 2007 and December 2008 were Christian themed, referring often to “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” and “Savior.” But “in order to survive constitutional scrutiny,” he explained, “invocations must consist of the type of nonsectarian prayers that solemnize the legislative task and seek to unite rather than divide. Sectarian prayers must not serve as the gateway to citizen participation in the affairs of local government. To have them do so runs afoul of the promise of public neutrality among faiths that resides at the heart of the First Amendment’s religion clauses.”
Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry spelled out the details of his “Cut, Balance, and Grow” flat tax plan on October 25, saying that “the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special-interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.” Perry’s plan would offer taxpayers a choice between a new flat rate of 20 percent on incomes over $50,000, or their current income tax rate. The plan would allow them to file their taxes on a postcard, eliminating the enormous current compliance costs in filing their Form 1040s. Various deductions and exemptions would be eliminated, he says, thus improving incentives for entrepreneurs to invest, create, and hire.
In addition, Perry would cap government spending at 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and put a freeze on all federal hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. He would push for the repeal of ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform laws.
Finally, he would allow participants in Social Security to set up their own personal retirement accounts outside of the current system which would protect their contributions from being raided by Congress to be spent for other purposes.