Archive for the ‘food stamps’ Category

Can Democracy Fail With Obama’s Socialist Help?

March 7, 2009

We heard Mike Huckabee mention French philospher Jean-Francois Revel on TV recently.  Ravel believed that in a democracy, people could vote themselves so many benefits that the nation-state would collapse in debt.

We mention this as President Obama plans to borrow money and create debt to reform health care; bailout all homehowners with difficult mortgages; bailout AIG, Ford, GM, Citi, and a host of others; pay unemplyment insurance; reform our energy industry to eliminate oil, gas and coal, and more….And he has promised 98% of Americans a tax cut while proposing to increase taxes on those that create the most jobs (and wealth).

Whoopi doesn’t like getting taxed out the wazoo.  And neither does anyone else….

Well, maybe Oprah doesn’t mind more taxes for her pal Barack….

Oprah talks about President-elect Barack Obama.
Oprah won but I’m losing hope…

[Commentary]
Martin Kozlowski, WSJ

Ravel:

“… anarchy leads to despotism … despotism leads to anarchy …”

“Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”

“It is unlikely that we will ever be capable of building a world that is qualitatively better than we ourselves are.”

Democracy against Itself

“Strangely, it is always America that is described as degenerate and ‘fascist,’ while it is solely in Europe that actual dictatorships and totalitarian regimes spring up.” From Europe’s Anti-American Obsession. A similar statement can be found in his book Anti-Americanism, Encounter Books, 2004, p. 156 (paperback).

“A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence”

**************

By Albert Mohler

“Democracy may, after all, turn out to have been a historical accident, a brief parenthesis that is closing before our eyes.” With those words, French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel sounded an alarm as the ramparts of democratic conviction were under attack by the political left. Revel, one of the most important conservative thinkers in France, saw European intellectuals and the political left in America undermining the very foundations of democracy.

“Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed to counter them,” explained Revel. “It awakens only when the danger becomes deadly, imminent, evident. By then, either there is too little time left for it to save itself, or the price of survival has become crushingly high.”

To any insightful observer of the European scene in the early 1980s, Revel’s analysis was prophetic. Leftist intellectuals were pointing to the United States as the source of all oppression in the world, while praising the Soviet Union as the liberator of human kind. In How Democracies Perish, Revel aimed his sights at the self-destructive hypocrisies of liberal thought. As he knew, the very intellectuals who should have been supporting the United States were instead hoping for its downfall. “What we end up with in what is conventionally called Western society is a topsy-turvy situation in which those seeking to destroy democracy appear to be fighting for legitimate aims, while its defenders are pictured as repressive reactionaries.”

As Revel lamented, at times the democracies seemed to find strange comfort in calls for their own destruction. As he observed, “Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another is power is working to destroy it.” Were democracies doomed to self-destruct?

Jean-Francois Revel is well known as a shining light of reason in the French academy. Long a columnist, editor, and director of L’Express, Revel is also the author of a multi-volume history of philosophy. He sprang to Western attention with the publication of his controversial book, Without Marx or Jesus. Revel’s later volumes would include The Totalitarian Temptation and Democracy Against Itself.

Throughout his career, Revel has been known as a stalwart defender of democracy. He does not take this matter lightly, for he understands all too well that the basic structure of government determines the achievement or loss of human freedom within a society. In Democracy Against Itself, Revel argued that “every society which has worked more or less well, which achieved any sort of viability, and which produced civilizations men found tolerable, have been–or are–societies that in some sense are democratic.”

Of course, the alarm sounded by Revel in How Democracies Perish was overtaken by history with the fall of the Soviet Union and the remarkable events of 1989 and 1990. As Revel later reflected, the good news revealed in the fall of the Soviet Union was the fact that its internal weaknesses were even greater than the self-hatred of the secular left in Western democracies.

Now, twenty years after How Democracies Perish, Revel looks to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks and asks the fundamental question: Why do so many Europeans hate America?

This is not a question of merely academic interest. Revel senses that something fundamental is revealed in the way the European Left has responded to America’s status as the world’s only super power.

Revel is blunt. The ascendancy of the United States, set over against the relative decline of Europe, has given birth to an intense hatred in some European corridors. Most particularly, Revel locates the root of this poisonous anti-Americanism in France. As he comments, “It is in France that this loss–real or imaginary–of great-power status engenders the most bitterness.”

The virulent anti-Americanism that erupted on the streets of Europe in the aftermath of America’s military action in Afghanistan and Iraq did not emerge from a vacuum. Revel’s interest in anti-Americanism is rooted in his own experience as an French intellectual who actually visited the United States. When Revel first visited America in 1969, he discovered a land very different from what he expected. Having planned to write a book on the problems of the United States, Revel instead wrote a treatise criticizing the irrational anti-Americanism of the European Left. Now, he has done it again–and this new book may be even more important.

In Anti-Americanism, just released by Encounter Books, Revel considers this toxic pattern of European hatred towards the United States. He identifies one core issue as a sense of European loss. Revel cites Hubert Vedrine, the French minister of foreign affairs, who rejected the word “superpower”, and instead substituted a term of his own invention: “hyperpower.”

As Revel notes, since the Greek prefix “hyper” has exactly the same meaning as the Latin “super,” Mr. Vedrine is merely seeking to score political capital in his own nation and in the larger European neighborhood. As Vedrine stated, “We cannot except a politically unipolar and culturally homogenized world, any more than the unilateralism of the single hyperpower.” Exactly what Mr. Vedrine meant by this, no one seems to know. Nevertheless, it is an example of French hyperventilation posing as foreign policy.

Revel sees the problem as much worse than hyperbole. If America is dominant, Revel asks, then why is this so? He will not allow Europeans off the hook. “Europeans in particular should force themselves to examine how they have contributed to that preponderance. It was they, after all, who made the twenty century the darkest in history; it was they who brought about the two unprecedented cataclysms of the World Wars; and it was they who invented and put into place the two most criminal regimes ever inflicted on the human race–pinnacles of evil and imbecility achieved in a space of less than thirty years.”

The United States is far from perfect, Revel acknowledges. Nevertheless, he suggests that any criticisms should be directed at real problems, and should not take the form of irrational rantings.

According to Revel, the European Left enjoys its fantasy of America as “the worst society that ever was.” According to this cartoon of reality, America is a society that is entirely under the control of money-grubbing plutocrats. Everything is for sale and the entire culture has been commodified. The problem is not just George W. Bush, for the European Left is convinced that every recent American president “has been in the pockets of the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the agricultural lobby or the financial manipulators of Wall Street.” But, in the French view, George W. Bush is just the worst of the lot–at least as yet.

The European Left is also convinced that America is primarily marked by poverty. As Revel describes the Leftist fantasy: “Hordes of famished indigents are everywhere, while luxurious chauffeured limousines with darkened windows glide through the urban wilderness.” These same thinkers are convinced that violence reigns throughout the United States, and that gunshots commonly ring through even the most peaceable neighborhoods. As Revel acknowledges, European rants about America’s lax gun laws would have more credibility if the same weapons were not easily available for purchase through the black market in virtually every European city.

If this picture of America is true, the pattern of immigration from Europe to the United States throughout the twentieth century was absolutely irrational. “If the picture of American society drawn everyday by the European press is accurate, then we must believe that those tens of millions of immigrants from all parts of the world, and especially those who came from Europe between 1850 and 1924, were all deluded fools. Otherwise, why did they insist on staying in the American capitalist jungle with all its evils and not return to the lands of peace, plenty, and liberty they came from? Lost in a hellish cultural wasteland, why at least didn’t they write to their families and relations basking in the paradises of Ukraine, Calabria and Greece warning them not to come to America?” Clearly, Revel does not mince words.

This virulent anti-Americanism is not a matter of mere sociological interest. As Revel understands, this explains why the United Nations Security Council has become so ineffectual and why the United States has been forced to act unilaterally. As he explains, “Europeans’ voluntary blindness with regard to these radical changes renders any American attempts at dialogue fruitless; as a result, America has no other option but to make unilateral decisions. How can you discuss a problem with people who deny its very existence?”

Jean-Francois Revel is a brave man who has lived through some of the most tumultuous decades of human history. Though a realist, he is not without hope. He has sounded the alarm more than once, only to have the Left ignore his cries. Anti-Americanism is Revel’s latest attempt to call the trendsetting intellectuals of Europe back to sanity. Good luck, Professor Revel. This is no easy task.

Revel’s prescient warning to the European Left should also serve to educate thoughtful Americans about the challenge we face in Europe, which may be as daunting a challenge as that posed by Islamic terrorism. Something sick lies at the heart of Western civilization. The democracies that will surely perish will be those who cannot tell the difference between good and evil, survival and ruin, freedom and tyranny. Or, perhaps more to the point, the greatest danger faced by democracy are those who deny that there is any real difference after all.

Ravel from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-
Fran%C3%A7ois_Revel

Ravel’s book:
“How Democracies Perish”
http://www.amazon.com/How-Democracies-
Perish-Jean-Francois-Revel/dp/0060970111

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That brings us to the first weeks of the Obama administration, set against the background of a scary and steadily deepening global economic crisis. Last month, in his first address to Congress, Obama warned the country that fixing the huge problems in the financial markets and housing and auto industries would require a historic effort. “None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy,” he said. “But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.”

Minutes later, Obama spelled out what he proposes this to mean for 98 percent of Americans: “You will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut . . . and these checks are on the way.”

So much for summoning the country to sacrifice. Obama has been no more willing to ask average Americans to pitch in, even once the recession is over, than Bush.

See:
George W. Obama?

Related:
 Venezuela’s Chavez Urges Obama, U.S. Down Socialist Path

Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Stock Market

NYT: After March 6 Economic News, “2009 is Probably a Lost Cause”

Obama’s First Weeks: Economic Disaster, Socialist Agenda, Congressional Pork, Limbaugh Attacked, and “We Won”

Michelle:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/0
3/06/the-going-galt-phenom-spreads/

Oprah’s Literary Liars Club: Who Is Responsible?

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/330
01_Chavez_to_Obama-_Ally_With_Us_on
_the_Path_to_Socialism

NYT: After March 6 Economic News, “2009 is Probably a Lost Cause”

March 6, 2009

Another 651,000 jobs disappeared from the American economy in February, the government reported Friday, as the unemployment rate soared to 8.1 percent — its highest level since 1983.

By Peter Goodman and Jack Healy
The New York Times

The latest grim scorecard of contraction in the American workplace largely destroyed what hopes remained for an economic recovery in the first half of this year, and added to a growing sense that 2009 is probably a lost cause.

Most economists now assume that the American fortunes will not improve before near the end of the year, as the Obama administration’s $787 billion emergency spending program begins to wash through the economy.

“The current pace of decline is breathtaking,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at the research and trading firm ITG. “We are now falling at a near record rate in the postwar period and there’s been no change in the violent downward trajectory.”

Indeed, the monthly snapshot of the national employment picture worsened an already abysmal picture….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/b
usiness/economy/07jobs.html?_r=1&hp

 

Related:
Obama’s First Weeks: Economic Disaster, Socialist Agenda, Congressional Pork, Limbaugh Attacked, and “We Won”

Still Work Needed on “Stimulus;” House, Senate Miles Apart

February 8, 2009

While usually a “conference committee” between the House and the Senate on a spending bill irons out differences btween the two chambers on the measure; nothing has been usual about the “emergency relief” or stimulus bill so it may follow that the rules and norms of the confernce will not be norms at all.

The Senate cut out some favorite spending programs of the House — primarily tens of billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments, tax provisions, and education, health and renewable energy programs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already vowed to put the money back in — and Republican Senator Susan Collins, who supported the senate version of the stimulus says she has “no obligation to support the bill that come out of the conference committee.”

The competing bills now reflect substantially different approaches. The House puts greater emphasis on helping states and localities avoid wide-scale cuts in services and layoffs of public employees. The Senate cut $40 billion of that aid from its bill, which is expected to be approved Tuesday.

The Senate plan also focuses somewhat more heavily on tax cuts, provides far less generous health care subsidies for the unemployed and lowers a proposed increase in food stamps.

Pelosi and many in the House don’t like those tax cuts and are expected to work to restore items like the health care and food stamp money.

The Senate plan also creates new tax incentives to encourage Americans to buy homes and cars within the next year.

Pelosi called the emerging Senate cuts to the stimulus program “very damaging” and said she was “very much opposed to them.”

In the Senate there are several Republicans waving a Congressional Budget Report that says in the long term the stimulus will slow investment and add to the debt.
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“If you knew a bill in the U.S. Senate would cause a recession in 10 years, would you support it?” asked Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona. “That’s what the Congressional Budget Office, the bipartisan office that supports our efforts in the Congress, says about this legislation. … There will be negative [gross domestic product] in this decade as a result of this legislation.”

And there are those like John McCain and Lindsey Graham wondering why there is no defense sepending in the bill.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed Sunday, Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt of  the American Enterprise Institute advocate defense spending in the stimulus saying:

“During the transition, the Obama team advanced three principles about stimulus spending: It should be timely (putting dollars into economic circulation rapidly), targeted (of clear value to the nation) and temporary (not a new and permanent entitlement or long-term program that would make the government’s finances even more problematic).

Defense programs more than meet these criteria, as many mainstream economists have pointed out. Compared with infrastructure programs that require lengthy planning, design and approval processes, extending efficient, already running defense procurements would have brief, as the military says, “flash-to-bang” times. And a dollar invested in such programs would not only circulate rapidly but would also have a multiplying effect, sustaining jobs not only among prime contractors but also among their suppliers.”

Plus the pressure will not subside on the lawmakers: from the White House, voters, talking heads, news media and even bloggers.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Whatever its flaws, the stimulus package could create or save as many as 4 million jobs by the end of next year, helping to offset the 3.6 million jobs lost since the nation slid into recession in December 2007, according to an analysis by Allen Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics.

“This is a seismic shift in the role of government in our society,” said  Sinai. “Those who believe the government can be an effective, positive instrument for good will have another chance to try it,” said Sinai, a political independent.

Pelosi responds on bipartisanship
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/
2009/feb/07/pelosi-chides-republican-at
tacks-stimulus-bill/

The L.A. Times on the Stimulus:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo
rld/nation/la-na-stimulus8-2009feb08,
0,659034.story

In Defense of Defense in the Stimulus
Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn
/content/article/2009/02/06/AR20090
20603513.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Economists on the Stimulus: The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte
nt/article/2009/02/07/AR2009020702159.ht
ml?hpid=topnews

Oliver North: Stimulate Defense
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
9/feb/08/stimulate-defense/

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITIC
S/02/07/stimulus/index.html

This Stimulus Probably Won’t Create Jobs; But Will Make For More Debt

Senate Votes On Economic Stimulus Package 
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Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, from left, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, and Republican Sens. Arlen Specter and Susan Collins arrive to talk to reporters about a deal being arranged on the economic stimulus bill. The compromise, negotiated behind the scenes, would slice some $110 billion from the bill, which had grown to $930 billion as amended on the Senate floor.  Photo: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

Stimulus plan mixes short, long-term job goals

January 31, 2009

No matter the color of your work shirt, this recession is sparing few. From blue collar construction workers to white collar financial sector employees, the economic crisis has dragged a growing swath of American workers into joblessness.

Economic downturns predominantly used to hit blue-collar and young workers. But in this recession, layoffs and business closings are affecting bankers, middle managers, even scientists and journalists.

White collar unemployment jumped 1.6 percentage points — to 4.6 percent — from December of 2007 to December of 2008. But blue-collar workers are still bearing the largest brunt of unemployment, at 11.3 percent.

The shared pain helps explain the varied priorities in the $800 billion-plus rescue package put together by President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. The $50 billion for building roads, bridges and schools addressed the hardest hit of the unemployed first — hardhat workers.

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

But there are also piles of wage-producing money for college-educated workers: $62 billion in the House version for health information and renewable energy technology, improving the nation’s power grid and scientific research. Getting it all to them will take longer.

Policymakers are also counting on greater public acceptance for social spending — on the likes of food stamps, unemployment and health insurance — because the victims of the collapse in housing and credit markets cross socio-economic levels.

“The intensity of where we are right now creates a much larger scale of interest by the public,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “You need many more sectors to recover and broad-based policies for that are a new challenge.”

Republicans complain that too much is being directed to expanding the safety net for assisting victims and argue that tax cuts, particularly those addressed at businesses, will produce more sustainable jobs over the long term.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009013
1/ap_on_go_pr_wh/stimulus_jobs