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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Party of Grievances

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." — Thomas Jefferson.

In retrospect when looking back at the Democratic National Convention one theme transcends all others — grievances. While women’s rights, abortion, class-warfare, share the wealth, and anti-God were all prevalent they were all wrapped in a ribbon of gripes and complaints.

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post:

“The wild, outlandish claims that America is corrupt, Republicans are super-villains and Obama is a super-hero were made by every speaker over three raucous nights. A president, a first lady, a former president, a sitting vice president, top members of Congress, labor leaders, celebrities, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, blacks, whites, Latinos — all stayed on the scorched-earth message softened only by homilies to Obama.

Something shocking is happening to the Democratic Party. Its committed adherents are whipping themselves into a frenzy of grievance that justifies seeing their fellow Americans as both evil and a free-cash machine.

Obama did not singlehandedly create this mad orgy, but he lit the match and shows the way. On this, he is a true leader, a transformative one. His invocation of FDR is not unwarranted, even as his channeling of Lincoln’s pain smacked of cheesy self-reverence.

When he says voters “will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation,” he understates the fact. The two paths are a twain that shall never meet.

His rhetorical skills, uncompromising ambition and 1,000-watt smile were on full display last night, unfortunately in service to a vision that would surely bankrupt America.”

Speaker after speaker had grievances to spout. They had gripes about the rich no paying their fair share and the government not paying for abortions. They complained about women not getting equal pay and how conservatives were rally racists for not supporting Obama’s policies. They complained about outsourcing while General Motors, a company the government owns, is building 7 out of 10 vehicles offshore.

For the past 4 years the Democrats and the Obama administration have gotten about everything they wanted and they still complained that the system was unfair and rigged. Painful as it may be, please take two minutes out of your life to peruse the following list of "accomplishments" touted by an Obama campaign website making its case for his re-election.

The huge voter surge in 2008 elected Barack Obama, the first African American president. In the face of non-stop opposition, he pushed through:

  • Affordable Health Care Act extends coverage to 35 million uninsured people, outlaws denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and extends until age 26 coverage of children under their parents’ plans.
  • Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for equal pay for women.
  • Stabilized the economy with $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that saved or created 3 million jobs. Invested billions in clean energy jobs, saved the auto industry.
  • Unemployment benefits for millions of workers despite Republican threats to shut down the government. Obama was forced to yield on Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that he wanted to terminate.
  • Appointed two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the first Latina woman, who support the rights of working people.
  • Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess-appointment to name the director over Republican opposition.
  • Created a new food safety agency to protect people from food-borne illness.
  • Ended profit-grab by private banks on students [sic] loans, reestablishing Federal control on these loans and used the savings to extend loans to more students.
  • Doubled the funding for Pell Grants to $32 billion, increasing size of the grant $819 to a maximum of $5,500.
  • Ended the war in Iraq and moved toward ending the war in Afghanistan

Dull, isn't it? It's dull because you have heard it all before. The Democratic National Convention resounded with these talking points all week long. Obama and his surrogates have recited them all for months, years.

Four lasting impressions remain from the Democratic Convention in Charlotte:

  1. Delegates raucously booing the chairman's phony ruling accepting the amendment which put God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel back into the official Democrat platform,
  2. An obsessive focus on "reproductive freedom" -- contraception and abortion,
  3. A disproportionate emphasis on "women's equality" in the face of a U.S. economy that is in crisis, and
  4. Rhetoric permeated with desperation, distortions, and demagoguery.

Not since the tear gas and mass arrests of Chicago 1968 have the Democrats put on a convention that better demonstrated to the American people the sorry state of the left's values and ideals. From the opening refrains that echoed the macabre yet unifying obsession amongst Democrats in Charlotte to promote the killing of unborn children to the culminating moment of President Barack Obama telling us why we need more of him in our lives to survive, the Democrat National Convention revealed just how deplorable things have become in that party.

Peter Heck writes in American Thinker:

“Truth be told, most casual observers could see the train wreck coming a mile away. Once the speaker line-up for the convention's opening day had been released, the ensuing circus was completely predictable. First, the Democrats would give the floor to a communist from the SEIU, followed by the most rabid abortion fanatic in the country. Then, Harry Reid would take to the stage, presumably to tell everyone of a secret phone call he had just received informing him that Mitt Romney had once molested a pack of wild penguins. He wouldn't have proof, because it's Romney's job to prove that it didn't happen.

And just in case the mentally unstable Senate majority leader wasn't embarrassing enough, corrupt Mayor Rahm Emanuel was invited to take a break from his busy schedule of presiding over Chicago's descent into the third layer of Hell to come lecture on good government. Not that Emanuel's speech was necessary to depict exactly what Democrats see as an effective administration. The stirring video tribute to the disastrous Carter years, as well as the keynote address from a man with the appropriate last name of Castro, pretty much said it all.

When Michelle Obama finally approached the microphone, she was following a procession of idiocy and buffoonery that no conservative commentator could even hope to parody. And keep in mind that that was just the first day.

But lest you were tempted to think that the Democrats are incapable of equaling such incoherence, day two should have laid those fears to rest. For that was the moment when the podium was handed over to a thirty-year-old woman whose life mission appears to be getting you to pay for her birth control. Perhaps nothing better defines or encapsulates the left's view of government's appropriate role than having it function as a prophylactic Pez Dispenser. And what does it say about the extent of liberal visionaries when a prime speaking role is given to an individual who is significant only because a popular radio host called her a nasty name?

Yet amazingly, Sandra Fluke wasn't the real spectacle of the evening. Nor was the keynote speaker, former President Bill Clinton, who spent his time reminding Americans how he balanced the budget and created jobs. Apparently, we were all supposed to just ignore the inconvenient reality that such success was predicated upon Clinton following the pro-business, free market policies enacted by a Republican Congress. Absent from Clinton's speech, of course, were the multiple criticisms he has made in recent years of President Obama's decision to abandon that pro-growth approach in favor of economy-crushing, high-tax, big-government regulation.

But the pinnacle of the week came in two key moments. The first occurred in an opening DNC video that included the jaw-dropping line "Government is the only thing that we all belong to." Who exactly wrote the script for this video? Chairman Mao? As Mitt Romney appropriately tweeted in response, in America, "[w]e don't belong to the government. Government belongs to us." That Democrats see this foundational reality completely backwards is extraordinarily instructive.

Couple that revelation with the Democrats' decision to drop the one reference to God from their platform. Now, in some ways this was a mere formality -- codifying what their public policy agenda has embraced for some time. After all, when the leader of your party and president of the United States shakes his fist at the sky and tells God that His definition of marriage is bigoted, removing His name from the platform shouldn't really be a surprise.

And yes, after public outrage, the Democrats reinserted God -- to much consternation, boos, and hisses from the raucous crowd. But the larger point comes in the context of a convention dedicated to the proposition that government is the new god. It cares for us, provides for us, nurtures us, teaches us, corrects us, props us up, and wipes the tears from our eyes. Without it, we can do nothing -- we are nothing. We are a people of, by, and for the government.

So while we didn't witness SWAT teams and riot gear this time around, we were left to consider this pathetic reality: in 1968, most mainstream Democrats were embarrassed by what happened in Chicago. In 2012, they are thumping their chests with pride over the spectacle in Charlotte.”

The nation has now endured 43 months of unemployment officially above 8 percent. The details paint an even bleaker picture. No doubt many of the media outlets determined to get this president re-elected will tout the fact that the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, even as they bury the reason why: 368,000 Americans simply gave up looking for work. That exodus dropped the labor force participation rate to 63.5 percent, a 31-year low. For perspective's sake, if the number of people in labor force had remained the same as last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4 percent. If the labor force were as large as it was when Obama took office in 2009, the unemployment rate would be a staggering 11.2 percent. Yet it gets even worse. The previous two month's jobs totals were 'revised.' 41,000 jobs were lopped off the totals for June and July, as reality caught up with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) overly optimistic 'guesstimates.' And when one gets past the 'official' unemployment rate and examines the BLS's U-6 number — representing Americans who have been out of work for six months, along with those who are involuntarily part-time workers, due to cutbacks in their days or hours -- the under-employment rate has held steady for months at around 15 percent of the workforce. Add those who have given up looking for work and that number jumps to 19 percent." —columnist

Now to that 46.7 million number. That's the number of Americans who are now depending on food stamps to feed their families. quotes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as saying: 'Too many middle-class families who have fallen on hard times are still struggling. Our goal is to get these families the temporary assistance they need so they are able to get through these tough times and back on their feet as soon as possible.' Whoa! Check Please! Too many middle-class families have fallen on hard times? The same middle class families Obama has been focused on for each and every one of the past 1,325 days since his Inaugural (not counting fund-raisers and golf outings)? No one — with the possible exception of graduate students — thinks that qualifying for Food Stamps is a good thing. The failure to help middle class families lies directly at the feet of Barack Obama. This astonishing 46.7 million number has nothing to do with Republicans wanting to change the tax code. The tax code has been exactly the same during Obama's entire term. Under Obama's guidance about 1.5 million additional middle class families' incomes have slipped to the point that they need Food Stamp assistance. And that's not since January 2009. That's just in the past year. Fewer Americans working. More Americans on food stamps. Is it why Obama thinks he deserves to be re-elected?

Four years ago, Barack Obama was America’s Rorschach test, upon whom voters could project their disparate yearnings. To govern, however, is to choose, and now his choices have clarified him. He is a conviction politician determined to complete the progressive project of emancipating government from the Founders’ constraining premises, a project Woodrow Wilson embarked on 100 Novembers ago.

George Will writes in the Washington Post that Obama is the real radical:

“As such, Obama has earned what he now receives, the tribute of a serious intellectual exegesis by a distinguished political philosopher. In “I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism,” Charles Kesler of Claremont McKenna College rightly says Obama is “playing a long, high-stakes game.” Concerning the stakes, Obama practices prudent reticence, not specifying America’s displeasing features that are fundamental. Shortly before the 2008 election, he said only: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming” America. Tonight, consider Obama’s acceptance speech in the context that Kesler gives it in the American political tradition.

Progress, as progressives understand it, means advancing away from, up from, something. But from what?

From the Constitution’s constricting anachronisms. In 1912, Wilson said, “The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of governmental power.” But as Kesler notes, Wilson never said the future of liberty consisted of such limitation.”

“Government is a relation of give and take.” The “rulers” — FDR’s word — take power from the people, who in turn are given “certain rights.”

This, says Kesler, is “the First Law of Big Government: the more power we give the government, the more rights it will give us.” It also is the ultimate American radicalism, striking at the roots of the American regime, the doctrine of natural rights. Remember this when next — perhaps tonight — Obama discourses on the radicalism of Paul Ryan.

As Kesler says, the logic of progressivism is: “Since our rights are dependent on government, why shouldn’t we be?” This is the real meaning of Obama’s most characteristic rhetorical trope, his incessant warning that Americans should be terrified of being “on your own.”

Obama, the fourth transformative progressive, had a chief of staff who said “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” More than a century before that, a man who would become the first such progressive said that a crisis is a terrible thing not to create. Crises, said Wilson, are periods of “unusual opportunity” for gaining “a controlling and guiding influence.” So, he said, leaders should maintain a crisis atmosphere “at all times.”

Campaigning in 1964, Lyndon Johnson, the third consequential progressive, exclaimed through a bull horn: “I just want to tell you this — we’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.” He learned this progressive vernacular from his patron, FDR, who envisioned “an unlimited civilization capable of infinite progress.” Poet Archibald Mac­Leish, FDR’s choice for librarian of Congress, exemplified progressives’ autointoxication: America has “the abundant means” to create “whatever world we have the courage to desire” and the ability to “take this country down” and “build it again as we please,” to “take our cities apart and put them together,” to lead our “rivers where we please to lead them,” etc.

In 2012, Americans want from government not such flights of fancy but sobriety; not ecstatic evocations of dreamlike tomorrows but a tolerably functioning today; not fantasies about a world without scarcities and therefore without choices among our desires and appetites but a mature understanding of the limits to government’s proper scope and actual competence. Tonight’s speech is Obama’s last chance to take a first step toward accommodation with a country increasingly concerned about his unmasked determination to “transform” what the Founders considered “fundamentals.”

George Washington twice voluntarily surrendered power to return to a peaceful life on his Mount Vernon estate. The ruler he helped vanquish, King George III, called him “the greatest character of the age.” The capital city he gave his name to is renowned as the defender of freedom and opportunity. As John Adams put it, Washington's example “will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read.” More than a century after Washington died, Woodrow Wilson attempted to refound the United States on progressive principles. His experiment is still going on today. That explains why Washington remains so crucial: His guiding principles came from the written Constitution and Declaration of Independence, not some unwritten, 'living' constitution. Let us learn the first President's lessons and move toward a more Washingtonian governance.

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