The New Clarion

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The Shape of Things to Come

January 9th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 3 Comments · Politics

We got two ominous signs of the shape of the Obama Presidency this week in the President-Elect’s speech on economic policy, “American Recovery and Reinvestment,” and less important, in his appointment of Leon Panetta to head the CIA. In domestic policy Obama wants to take the state further into the economy and our lives than it has ever been; in foreign policy, Obama hopes to return to the days before 9/11, when we ignored the Islamist threat and stumbled from day to day in unthinking pragmatism.

Obama is a product of our time. He is a creature of big government, New Leftist pieties and the Democrat Party. Quite the conformist, he has accepted the ideas of the welfare state establishment we hear throughout our 12 years of “public education.” He champions without question the conventional morality of altruism that underlies the welfare state.

Most people, I’m afraid, will read his speech without finding anything objectionable because, as usual, he speaks in banal generalities without making specific proposals. Obama has mastered the art of rhetoric in a welfare state: promote the altruist-collectivist bromides and leave the details for the bureaucrats and lawmakers to deal with behind closed doors. He stays so vague in this speech that he does not even put a number on the cost. Why say anything that can be analyzed and criticized? Like most welfare state politicians, Obama is not a profile in courage.

For all his caution, such is the perilous state of our culture that Obama can, albeit vaguely, propose a massive intervention in the economy without political risk. His speech proposes increased government spending and regulation. Though the number is unspecified, Nancy Pelosi is talking about a stimulus package of $1 trillion.

The speech is a con job. The first lie is in the title, “American Recovery and Reinvestment.” Government does not invest or reinvest, it spends money it takes from individuals who produce wealth. Those individuals are the only ones who could invest the money or save it for the future. When the government spends money, it’s gone. Since government inevitably uses money less efficiently than individuals pursuing a profit, wealth is destroyed in the process of government taking money and spending.

In order to justify his massive intervention in the economy, Obama argues that we are “in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime,” but he fails to find the fundamental cause of the crisis:

This crisis did not happen solely by some accident of history or normal turn of the business cycle, and we won’t get out of it by simply waiting for a better day to come, or relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past. We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington, DC. For years, too many Wall Street executives made imprudent and dangerous decisions, seeking profits with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. Banks made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them, and some borrowers took advantage of cheap credit to take on debt they couldn’t afford. Politicians spent taxpayer money without wisdom or discipline, and too often focused on scoring political points instead of the problems they were sent here to solve. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government.

The best he can do is blame the “profound irresponsibility” of businessmen and politicians. There is no mention of the mixed economy that distorts economic calculations. No mention of the federal reserve, FDIC, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations, or the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. He evades the fact that government caused the crisis because he is proposing more government to solve the crisis. He is a doctor prescribing more of the poison that made a patient sick in the first place.

Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy – where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit.

Obama really believes the Keynesian idea that government spending is the only solution to our bad economy. Here is his most specific proposal:

To get people spending again, 95% of working families will receive a $1,000 tax cut – the first stage of a middle-class tax cut that I promised during the campaign and will include in our next budget.

This is more playing with words. All lower income workers who pay less than $1,000 in taxes will receive redistributed wealth — a welfare handout. But since Obama is not cutting spending, the entire tax cut will actually be a redistributed tax that will likely be paid by inflating the currency.

Though the speech is vague in specifics, it is revolutionary in tone. Here is some of the language about big changes:

Throughout America’s history, there have been some years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare. Then there are the years that come along once in a generation – the kind that mark a clean break from a troubled past, and set a new course for our nation.

This is one of those years….

I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible….

It’s a plan that represents not just new policy, but a whole new approach to meeting our most urgent challenges. For if we hope to end this crisis, we must end the culture of anything goes that helped create it – and this change must begin in Washington. It is time to trade old habits for a new spirit of responsibility. It is time to finally change the ways of Washington so that we can set a new and better course for America….

…we need to act boldly and act now…

It is time to set a new course for this economy, and that change must begin now….

I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning….

Obama is preparing us for a massive intervention in the economy, not just in spending but in regulatory loss of freedom:

…it means reforming a weak and outdated regulatory system so that we can better withstand financial shocks and better protect consumers, investors, and businesses from the reckless greed and risk-taking that must never endanger our prosperity again.

No longer can we allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks.

As always the regulations come because of “reckless greed.” People cannot be left alone to pursue their self-interest. For the good of the collective, the state must dictate what individuals do.

I don’t think Obama has the slightest idea what he is doing. His plan is the product of ignorance, inexperience and leftist ideology. America cannot afford a president who learns economics on the job.


In selecting Democrat Party loyalist Leon Panetta to direct the CIA, Obama shows that he does not take the war on Islamist terrorism seriously. Leftists always suspect the CIA of more evil than anything our enemies could do. Obama wants a CIA director who will be under total control of the Democrat Party. He’s not taking any chances with an agency he surely regards as guilty until proven innocent.

Ralph Peters writes:

WOULD you ask your accountant to perform brain surgery on your child? That’s the closest analogy I can find to the choice of Democratic Party hack Leon Panetta to head the CIA.

Earth to President-elect Obama: Intelligence is serious. And infernally complicated. When we politicize it – as we have for 16 years – we get 9/11. Or, yes, Iraq.

The extreme left, to which Panetta’s nomination panders, howled that Bush and Cheney corrupted the intelligence system. Well, I worked in the intel world in the mid 1990s and saw how the Clinton team undermined the system’s integrity.

Al Qaeda a serious threat? The Clinton White House didn’t want to hear it. Clinton was the pioneer in corrupting intelligence. Bush was just a follow-on homesteader.

Clinton saw terrorism as law enforcement, not war — a matter of pursuing individual terrorists rather than attacking their state sponsors. Kerry expressed the same belief in the 2004 election, and Obama seems to agree.

The outline of the coming presidency is coming into focus. In domestic policy Obama believes the opposite of Reagan’s famous line: that government is not the problem, but the solution to all problems. In foreign policy he does not take the Islamist threat seriously.

It looks like the Obama presidency will be about reality slapping a naive man in the face — unless he is an ideological leftist who intends to use crises for further power grabs. We still don’t know just how bad he might be.

3 Comments so far ↓

  • Stacey Derbinshire

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • Chuck

    “He is a doctor prescribing more of the poison that made a patient sick in the first place.”

    Obama is like Mary Poppins, who administered medicine with “a spoonful of suger” to help it go down. Only, Obama has dispensed with the medicine, and is only prescribing sugar.

  • L-C

    He and his followers remind me of a scorned divorcee engaging their offspring in parental alienation. The “children” are a blank slate, a whiteboard on which the only pen in sight is vigorously crafting its fancies.