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An Assumption of Decency

Daniel Greenfield writes The Guns of Obamerica in his blog The Sultan Knish, 1/20/2013.

Excerpts:

67% of firearm murders took place in the country’s 50 largest metro areas. The 62 cities in those metro areas have a firearm murder rate of 9.7, more than twice the national average. Among teenagers the firearm murder rate is 14.6 or almost three times the national average. Those numbers are from six years ago. They have grown worse since.

Those are the crowded cities of Obamerica. The places with the most restrictive gun control laws and the highest crime rates. These are the places where the family is broken, money comes from the government and immigrants crowd in from some of the most violent parts of the world bringing with them their own organized crime. These are also the places that have [been] run by Democrats and their political machines for almost as long as they have been broken.

Obama won every major city in the election, except for Jacksonville and Salt Lake City. And the higher the death rate, the bigger his victory. He won New Orleans by 80 to 17 where the murder rate is ten times higher than the national average. He won Detroit, where the murder rate of 53 per 100,000 people is the second highest in the country and twice as high as any country in the world, including the Congo and South Africa. He won it 73 to 26. And then he celebrated his victory in Chicago where the murder rate is three times the statewide average.

In 2006, the 54% of the population living in those 50 metro areas was responsible for 67% of armed killings nationwide. Those are disproportionate numbers especially when you consider that for the people living in most of those cities walking into a store and legally buying a gun is all but impossible.

HKO

While I try to avoid overt partisan commentaries, this is a stunning observation.  Our democracy was always predicated on an assumption of civil decency.  Our value of individual rights was tied to individual responsibility   One has to ask if the impact of creating dependency in the guise of fighting a war on poverty has not turned into a war on the very people we pretended to help.

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Getting Distracted

There is a real problem with the border in Arizona.  And there is a real problem with the Mosque near Ground Zero.  But these are distractions from the greater issue of an economy out of control and a government that sees no problem it cannot solve, and no issue it should leave to the citizens themselves to address.

The immigration issue is difficult, but it is attracting the extremist elements. And the Republican suggestion that the 14th amendment should be changed makes it easy to tag the Republicans with the prejudice that was a real problem with the party many years ago.

Realistically the 14th amendment will not be changed, so even suggesting it serves only to paint the GOP with a label it should seek to avoid.  It is a red herring as Jeff Jacoby noted in the Boston Globe,  Born in the USA.

The Cordoba House, the Ground Zero Mosque, is also a losing argument.  While I think they would be wiser to have it elsewhere, the Republicans are unwise to direct more attention to it. President Bush was wise to disassociate the radical from the rest of Islam after 9/11.  The party would be wise to follow his lead.

The Twitter sphere and social networks is pulsing with emotional comments on the mosque. Much of it crosses the line of legitimate debate, and is just hateful.

It matters little that 70% of Americans are against it. True leadership is the following of principles, not polls. It may look convenient to take advantage of the strong sentiment to score political points, but the Republicans would be wiser to take the high road.

The independents are cautious of divisive politics.  Besides, the Republicans already have the Democrats on a broad retreat, on the subject of the economy, jobs, health care, cap and trade, card check, the debt, and many examples of anti business sentiment and intrusion into our private lives.

The Republicans are providing the Democrats with the ammunition to attack the GOP as prejudiced and extreme.   They would be wise to focus on the real issues that concern so many Americans and turn down the noise on the difficult emotional and less important but more divisive issues.

As Dick Army once advised, “ Don’t waste your energy killing your enemy if he is busy committing suicide.”  Sometimes all you have to do to win is shut up and let your opposition destroy themselves.

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The Democrat’s Fragile Advantage

Obama’s campaign was blessed by the financial collapse only a few months before the election. When it struck, few of the voters could absorb or analyze the cause, and with a compliant press it was natural to blame the party in power, although few seemed to realize that for two years that party had been the Democrats.

This is not to take credit away from the Obama campaign’s ability to use modern technology far better than the opposition, their ability to exploit every opening handed to them, their ability to read the voters and to craft and communicate a message that stuck, and their ability to defuse a history of radical ties. And one should not slight the aura of competence Obama projected to a population who clearly felt it was lacking in the previous administration.

But given the recoil from an incredibly unpopular war, an uninspiring campaign from McCain, and most of all the disastrous credit collapse on the eve of the election, I am still struck by how close the election was. The spread was 7.2% of the popular vote;- 52.9 to 45.7%; more substantial than recent elections, but still modest considering the conditions. A change of only 3.5% of the voters would have changed the outcome.

It is not uncommon for a new president to see his poll numbers drop after inauguration and Obama is no exception. But given the radical reordering of our economy and society, I would expect a tremendous pushback and a hardening of the opposition. I think many independents and moderates who supported Obama, frustrated with the Bush Administration for any number of reasons, are having great remorse.

The Democrats seem galvanized at the moment because the Republicans seemed so fragmented and neutered. They seem to recycle old faces. Personally I think their savior has yet to arise. They need a leader with populist appeal AND enough intellectual heft to get beyond dogma, and understand the complexities of global policies and American politics. A successful leader must dominate the unaffiliated center.
We used to observe that candidates ran to the left or the right and governed to the center. This described Bill Clinton. But Obama got the independents to believe he was a centrist, yet has governed far to the left. Some blue dog democrats are already feeling the heat from their voters. The Democrats are pushing their toughest programs recklessly through now, hoping the economy will be in recovery and the changes will be forgotten during the 2010 Congressional elections.

Just as the Republicans got drunk with power when they took Congress under Clinton, the Democrats are abusing their majority power now and underestimating how fragile their majority is. Obama may be a formidable leader and may have the magic that people will support him even when they disagree with many of his policies. I do not believe that the Democrats in Congress have that advantage.

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A Death of a Thousand Cuts

The question that belies the new administration’s infinite number of programs is whether each additional initiative adds followers or deletes them.

Will the gain of union support for the attempt at the card check legislation be more than offset by the loss of business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs? Will the quasi nationalization of the major auto companies gain or lose support? Will his stand on the Middle East gain or lose followers? Will his huge deficits attract or detract supporters?

Obama won with 52.9 % of the vote, and that was running against a very unpopular party tied to a very unpopular war with a disastrous economic collapse just months before the election. Many supported the new president, hoping he would govern more to the center than he ran.

There are liberals who are disappointed that he has not been as aggressive in winding down the war as they hoped, that he has not fully endorsed gay marriage as much as they wished. And there are independents whose support dwindles with each new program.

The danger of so many and such ambitious programs is that each one will erode a little support and the total will turn his support upside down.

Yet even this erosion may be moot if the Republicans cannot articulate a clear alternative and present a leader that can effectively deliver the message. Recycling Newt and Sarah will not work.

While the Republicans still seem lost in the wilderness, every new program Obama announces may be costing him support. With such an ambitious agenda he may sow the seeds of his demise- one cut at a time.

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The Great Compression and Its Aftermath

Paul Krugman referred to the period between 1930 and 1980 as the Great Compression, referring to a flattening of the incomes from the very rich and the very poor of the Gilded Age and the growing income inequality from the Reagan era onward.

In “the Conscience of a Liberal” he credits this compression to FDR’ New Deal and its higher taxes on the wealthy and on the rise of unions in the American workplace.
He further notes that the higher wages and benefits had no negative consequence for the auto and steel industries. While that seems foolish in light of GM and Chrysler being bankrupts wards of the government it is correct for the period between 1930 and 1980.

But that economic environment was also very different. The stock market crash like our recent collapse brought the rich down much faster and further than the poor. And while the unions were able to bargain better conditions and wages they were bolstered by the wartime demand stimulation and more so because all of American industry’s overseas competition was destroyed by the war.

The growth of global completion changed everything as we tended to import low wage jobs and export high wage jobs, increasing the wage spread. The growth of the technology sector added to the spread.

Like the Crash of 1929 we are seeing a replay of a flattening of incomes but it should not be compared to a period stimulated by war and protected by the destruction of its trading partners.

There has been outrageous bonuses and pay on the high end, but the market will likely correct it without government interference.

Higher taxes and union pressure should not be expected to yield the same result as it did in very different time. Without the protections enjoyed during the Great Compression it would have just been call a longer Greater Depression.