Monday, May 30, 2011

Why are liberals so rude?

This month,  Charlie and I took a vacation cruising from Barcelona to Dover, England, and then on to London. We usually ate our meals alone, but one morning we were seated with two other couples for breakfast.  The conversation invariably turned to the couples’ previous cruises and places of interest they had visited in the past.  I have found that cruises, while lovely and relaxing, are not conducive to lively conversation.  Couples are almost always of retirement age, and the conversations are usually confined to three topics:  previous cruises, shopping, and a person’s health—all topics, I must say, bore me to tears.   During the course of that morning’s conversation, however, the man to my left indicated he was a retired high school American history teacher.  Sensing a chance to talk about something other than the usual three topics,  I said that I was reading Don Rumsfeld’s book, which I opined was an interesting look back at the last fifty years of American history.  The man said, “That’s his version.”  Fair enough.  I agreed with him. Several minutes later, however, the man said,  “I was thinking the other day that Don Rumsfeld was a lot like Robert MacNamara.”   I asked why, he said they both “lied”.  I asked him what Rumsfeld  lied about, and he did not answer.  He just said that 4000 people died because of Rumsfeld’s lies, and got up and left the table. . 

I grew up in a working class family,  but I learned as a child that it is the height of rudeness to slander someone a dinner companion has just indicated she admires.  However, this happens all the time---at dinner parties, legal seminars, court chambers.  I have heard dozens of lawyers, judges, law professors, and seminar speakers take cheap shots at conservatives and Republicans even  when politics is not the topic of conversation.  Of course, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin are favorite subjects of cheap shots.  During a case managers’ conference at court, the opposing attorney, knowing I admire President Bush,  said that George W. Bush was the “worst president in American history.”  ---and we were discussing child support.  A judge who is now elevated to the federal bench joked about Harriet Miers in chambers—and we were talking about scheduling a family court matter.  A lawyer made a disgusting remark about the U.S.  military at a Christmas dinner party—and we were all engaged in small talk. A non lawyer speaker talking about school issues made a snide remark about President Bush not following the constitution. Another non lawyer seminar speaker discussing knowing your audience made a joke about how stupid President Bush was.

 I thought the cheap shots that I have heard over the last decade were because 90% of the professional class in Vermont is liberal, and they therefore all assume that the world agrees with their point of view.   But our vacation revealed that that is not the case.  For the breakfast incident was not the only one we encountered.  A day or two later, we were waiting to get into the ship's auditorium for a talk on disembarking the ship.  We were waiting because there was a seminar winding up in the auditorium for a group which was on board ship sponsored by The Weekly Standard, a conservative weekly magazine.  People were not happy at having to wait. A woman sat at a table with a survey to be filled out by the Weekly Standard group after their seminar was over.  Some of the people waiting picked up the survey.  The woman with the survey was brusque, even rude, as she said to the waiting crowd that the survey was not for them, and she snatched a survey from a person waiting to get in. One of our breakfast companions was there—not the high school teacher, but another man.  He started ranting in a loud voice at the woman, telling her how rude she was, and saying that this was not the Weekly Standard, but it was “substandard”.  It was an embarrassing spectacle.  Our breakfast companion was silent when the high school teacher was rude to me, but he did not hesitate to tear into the Weekly Standard woman whom he concluded was rude.

Then, in London, we went on a bus tour.  It was lovely, and the tour guide was informative.  However, we came to an outdoor clock, which the guide called the “two faced” clock.  Then he said it was like “Bush and Blair”.  The guide was talking to a group of strangers.  Bush and Blair have been out of office for over 2 ½ years.  The guide could have said the clock was  like Prime Minister Cameron and President  Barack Obama,  but instead he chose two former politicians to slander. 

There is not a similar pattern with conservatives.  Conservatives and Republicans do not take cheap shots at liberals or Democrats at social functions where there is mixed company. 

Why the rudeness?  Liberals are nice people, generous friends and loving companions.  They are no different than conservatives.  Yet when it comes to opinions about politics and culture, they are rude. 

Here is my theory:  Liberalism has   become the cultural and political religion of the Establishment.  People tend to enjoy feeling superior to others and feeling part of a group.  Liberalism fits those needs to a “T”.    And when others in your group enjoy the same generous, tolerant, scientific, intellectual views, then you feel exceedingly comfortable. –even smug.  

On the other hand, when that comfort is threatened, then anger, even rage, sets in.  Liberal’s rage against George W. Bush borders on the psychotic. Liberals say they hate President George W. Bush because he “lied” about WMD.  Of course, that is not true.  If Pres. Bush lied, then so did all the Democrats who saw the same intelligence the President saw.  Liberals say Bush “tortured” terrorists.  Again, not true.  But if enhanced interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding, neither of which inflicted any long term psychological or physical harm to the detainees, is the cause for such hatred, then what about the ultimate torture:  killing men, women and children, by drone strikes—without any due process?  What about shooting in the head  an unarmed man in his bedroom in front of his wife and children?  I am sure Osama Bin Laden and his family, if given the choice, would have preferred waterboarding.   Yet liberals give President Obama a pass on such cruelty while continuing to call President Bush a war criminal.    

The rage against  President Bush is because the President is a traitor to the Establishment.  He didn’t like Yale or Harvard.  He instead is nostalgic for---horrors—Midland Texas. 

And Sarah Palin sticks her thumb in the eye of the Establishment--hence the unprecedented savaging of Palin and her family.  Yesterday, at the Rolling Thunder rally in Washington D.C. Palin said she loved the smell of motorcycle exhaust.  That will set the folks in the Manhattan and D.C. cocktail circuits tittering.  (Hint to my liberal friends:  Sarah says such things to get the Establishment tittering.) 

 So here is a request to Liberals:  since you are tolerant, generous and intellectual, it is beneath you to take cheap shots in polite company.  Please confine your remarks to  non political issues; or, if you want to discuss politics, then do it in an appropriate setting where there is an opportunity for give and take.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We're back! And ready to Blog!

Starting May 10, Charlie and I took a cruise from Barcelona to London, and just returned last Thursday.  Unfortunately,  my blogging plans were disrupted, as I caught a virus, and was pretty sick for awhile.  Not fun, but that's life... I did enjoy the trip at least part of the time; and saw some beautiful cities. Barcelona was lovely---wide sidewalks and thirty foot tall shade trees (they looked like they had all been planted at the same time).  Everyone seems to walk in Barcelona, including school children, of which there were many.   It was nice to see so many young children walking around the city.  The cross walks all have uniform walk signals that go on on a regular basis, so that it is easy to cross the street, and the wide sidewalks make it pleasant to walk.  We saw the Sagrada Familia cathedral, a must see on your bucket list.  It was started in 1895, and is not complete.   I am attaching a picture which gives you an idea of the iconoclastic nature of the cathedral.  (The building to the right is a school built by the architect for the children of the workers.)

We then saw Gibraltar, still a British territory, and a very British town.  We saw St. Michael's cave, a huge cavern so large concerts are given inside.  Stalagmites and stalactites were sawed off to make room for a hospital in World War II, and you can see after 60 years, tiny 1/4" long stalagmites starting to form again.  In other areas where the stalags were not cut off, they are enormous--up to fifty feet long;  so the insignificance of our time on earth was brought home.

Cadiz was a lovely little city with purple flowered trees smelling like rhododendrons, a lovely beach area, narrow streets and ancient buildings.  It seemed like a good place where you could forget the rest of the world, and just relax and enjoy the quiet life.

Lisbon was also beautiful,  but it had a lot of graffiti.  We ate Belem pastries--justifiably world famous.  It is a tart shaped crispy crust, with a luscious vanilla custard inside.

A few days abed, and I felt well enough to enjoy London.  The weather was perfect, and the flowers, particularly the roses, were all in bloom.  Inner London was immaculate, no graffiti, spanking clean red buses and no trash.  People were enjoying the parks; they were crowded with people of all ages.  Dogs were allowed unleashed in the parks with their owners , and the dogs were all extremely well behaved.   I asked the taxi driver if there was no graffiti because of the royal wedding, and he said, no; there is never any graffiti.  He thought it was because of so many cameras in the city.  He said there were more cameras in London than in Moscow or Beijing.  He said if you put the wrong trash out,  you have the police knocking on your door.   Is that the price to pay for cleanliness?  I am not so sure. 

A couple of general observations:  25 years ago when I first went to Europe,  I could tell the Americans from the natives.  Now, everyone dresses alike, except that Europeans still wear different shoes--thinner soles, and pointier.  No clogs, and few running shoes.  Europeans also dress somewhat more modestly and neatly than Americans:  when I got back to Logan,  I realized that American girls are wearing much tighter jeans, and they all looked sloppier.  I also rarely saw anyone in Europe who was even modestly overweight.  I think the walking has a lot to do with it.  Americans need to exercise more.

I have several pent up blog posts, which I will post in the days to come. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Libya and Iraq - A Lesson in Mainstream Media Hypocrisy

Nato is stepping up its involvement in Libya. "To what end?", one might ask. What is the goal in Libya? Are we nation building? Are we looking for weapons of mass destruction? (Qaddafi got rid of those after we captured Saddam Hussein) Are we protecting our national security? Are we protecting our oil supply? Are we engaging in regime change? What's the purpose? Has any of this been defined, spelled out, argued in favor of? What defines victory? How many civilians are being killed? What about Congressional approval? What about UN approval?

Have we heard anything from Cindy Sheehan? What about Code Pink? Anything on the nightly news about the horrors of bombing civilians or of not getting involved in the internal affairs of a country? Is there anyone on the left opposing the war in Libya? I did find two: First, Dennis Kucinich, Congressman from Ohio. Remember him? Remember that he was opposed to the invasion of Iraq? Remember we heard quite a bit about him during the Iraq war - he was on the nightly news quite a bit - Sunday news shows and such. I bet you didn't know that he is opposed to the Libyan invasion. I bet you didn't know that he is saying President Obama has violated the UN Resolution and the US Constitution and that it might be an impeachable offense. I also found that Cindy Sheehan is opposed to the Libyan invasion. Remember her camping out at Bush's Texas ranch? We saw quite a bit about her in the news back during the Iraq war - not so much now.

What a contrast!

Bush gave Saddam Hussein two years of warning - telling him that he had to abide by the UN resolutions that he had been violating for more than ten years. When Saddam refused, Bush obtained Congressional approval and approval from the UN before a coalition of forces led by the U.S. invaded Iraq. He also set forth the purpose of invasion in a statement to Americans. He had a goal to remove the threat and to give the government of Iraq back to its people. He had clear military objective.

Nevertheless, Bush faced daily negative news stories about the war. People like Dennis Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan appeared on all of the news stations and on the Sunday news shows. Bush faced daily protests. He was hung in effigy. He was accused of being Hitler. His life was threatened. When searching for Denis Kucinich and Libya I found that some political blogs brought up his opposition back in March, but the only television news organization that has reported this recently is Fox News.

What's the difference? Obama is a Democrat and Bush is a Republican. Obama can get away with an itchy trigger finger and not clearly defining goals or purpose when invading another country. Bush can spend two years making a case for an invasion of Iraq and get all the requisite approvals and still be ripped to shreds by the media and the progressives.

Will we hear similar opposition on our nightly news about Obama? No, we will not. The mainstream media does not want to undermine President Obama during the upcoming election. They may want you to think they are objective, but comparing their coverage of Bush and Obama show their bias. That is why Americans need to look at all different sources for their news - not just ABC, NBC, CBS, AP. Get a well rounded version of events from other organizations and sources and then decide.

Next blog: Libya and Iraq - A Lesson in Obama's Hypocrisy

Monday, May 9, 2011

NPR's everyday bias

NPR interviews Cokie Roberts every Monday morning on the news of the week.   Although she is touted as an unbiased observer, every Monday she tilts her views in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.  Today was no exception.  For example, she indicated that George W. Bush, unlike Obama, had a reputation for "shooting from the hip".  Of course, there is zero evidence to support that contention.  It is the kind of cheap shot that NPR and other liberal media love to repeat, even 2 1/2 years after Pres. Bush has left office.   Then she said that the Republicans are in trouble because when they went home their constituents expressed unhappiness at their proposed budget.  Not true, but another liberal talking point.  For example, Paul Ryan's town halls were hugely successful despite the occasional efforts by Wisconsin unions to disrupt them.  Of course the liberal press highlighted the union disruptions, and Cokie apparently did not investigate further than reading the New York Times.

And finally, President Obama was quoted as saying anyone who questioned whether Bin Laden "deserved what he got needs to have his head examined".  Wow.  George Bush had said he wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive", and we never heard the end of that quote as proof that Pres Bush was a cowboy.   But neither Cokie nor the interviewer commented on Obama's comment.   Obama's incredible arrogance is never commented on by NPR.

The next story was a deferential  interview with  (we heard twice) a "Nobel Prize winning" economist Joseph Stiglitz.  Stiglitz made all the liberal talking points:  he called people who want to reduce government spending  "mindless" three times;  and he said they were driven by "ideology".  His position on the deficit---he thinks we need to spend much more---was "intelligent".  And he said those who want to reduce government spending don't want to "tax billionaires a little more"--a cheap political shot at those who believe raising taxes will hurt our economy.  He also took yet another cheap shot at Pres. Bush, saying that an example of spending for infrastructure that should have been done was the levees in New Orleans.  Never mind that Pres. Bush had nothing to do with the fact the levees had not been sufficiently reinforced, and there was plenty of infrastructure spending during the Bush administration.   It is part of the liberal mantra that is repeated over and over.   The interviewer concluded his interview by saying Stiglitz sounded like he believed the people who wanted to reduce the deficit  were "short sighted rich people", and the Stiglitz  agreed.  The NPR interviewer never asked one hard question of Stiglitz because Stiglitz's views are the same as the world view of NPR:  conservatives are stupid and driven by ideology.  Never mind that Paul Ryan's budget is an thoughtful intelligent, courageous proposal.  One may disagree with Ryan's approach, but it is certainly not "mindless".  Moreover, Stiglitz is the ideologue.  Stiglitz said the role of government is to make society more "equal", a radical ideology that will reduce our standard of living and curb  our freedom.  Yet the NPR interviewer never commented on such radicalism, or questioned any of Stiglitz' overtly partisan comments. 

This morning is typical of  NPR's everyday bias.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Senator Patrick McCarthy by Deborah T. Bucknam May 2009

Author's Note:  I wrote this in May 2009 when Sen. Leahy called for investigation of Justice Department Lawyers who issued legal memos stating that enhanced interrogation techniques are not torture.  It is relevant now because enhanced interrogation techniques helped to find Osama Bin Laden, according to Leon Panetta, the present director of the CIA.  Despite that fact,  Attorney General Holder's Justice Department is pursuing criminal investigations of CIA officials who conducted enhanced interrogation.  The article is also  relevant because The liberal Establishment continues to call those techniques "torture" Since the liberal Establishments calls the techniques "torture", no one questions the name calling and dutifully repeats the mantra over and over.  This is another example of the monolithic Establishment culture in America.  The fact is that the techniques used by the CIA were not torture as defined by the statute, as indicated below.  But facts don't seem to matter to the Establishment which wants to demonize its opponents and criminalize its opponent's conduct.

Not just content to win elections, the Left is trying to destroy its political opponents by calling for criminal prosecution of Bush administration officials for political and legal decisions the Left does not like. 

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is leading this banana republic style campaign to criminalize policy decisions made by a duly elected previous administration.

Leahy began his attack by repeatedly calling for a “Truth Commission” to investigate “abuses” of the Bush administration.  His pronouncements have been bereft of specifics, and the compliant media has yet to ask Leahy for particulars. He had the authority, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to investigate abuse of the executive branch while the Bush administration was still in place.  But Sen. Leahy was not interested.  After President Bush left office, Leahy has stepped up calls for an extra-legal “commission” to go after those who are no longer in power.  It is so much easier than exercising his constitutional oversight authority.

Recently Leahy has started after specific targets, and he has picked the easiest scapegoats first: former Bush Justice Department lawyers who have no campaign war chests and no political constituencies.   Leahy has already gone in front of the cameras demanding that Judge Jay Bybee, a former Bush administration assistant attorney general, resign from the federal bench.

It is a pattern Americans have seen before.  Senator Joseph McCarthy furthered his career by destroying public servants in order to satisfy a portion of the American population frightened by Communist infiltration in the U.S. government.  McCarthy targeted the most vulnerable public servants first.

Sen. Leahy similarly is making a name for himself and gearing up for his re-election in 2010 by attempting to destroy public servants who were acting in good faith.   He claims that Bush Justice Department lawyers condoned “torture” and they should be liable for their conduct.

Leahy’s accusations, like Sen. McCarthy’s fifty years ago, are dispossessed of any facts.   McCarthy used terms like “traitor” and “Communist” against his political opponents.  Leahy uses comparably highly charged terms like “abuse” and “torture”.  Neither McCarthy nor Leahy felt the need to support their accusations with actual information.  Making the accusations was enough to satisfy their angry and frightened base. 

Vermonters historically have not succumbed to the howling mob.  Vermonters are too independent and fair-minded.  This time, unfortunately, Vermont’s own Senator is leading the Left’s calls for revenge.  Vermonters of all political persuasions must call a halt to Sen. Leahy’s campaign.  We can start by examining the facts and not just relying on Leahy press releases. 

 On September 11, 2001, over 3000 innocent Americans died at the hands of Islamic terrorists in a surprise attack on the United States.  All Americans believed at the time that the assault was just the first of a series of attacks on our country, but no one knew where the next one would come from.  Our intelligence community, hamstrung by legalistic interpretations of the law, bureaucratic turf battles, and an over reliance on technology, was blind to our enemies’ plans of attack.  President Bush went swiftly to work, ordering an invasion of Taliban-run Afghanistan just a few weeks after the attack on 9/11, and a number of terrorists were captured there and elsewhere. The CIA wanted human intelligence from these captured terrorists.  The Agency was justly concerned about the  danger to Americans, and they desperately needed information.  But the CIA interrogators would not use torture on the terrorists even if they believed torture would yield valuable information that would save American lives.  They intended to act within the law, and they needed to know how U.S. law defined torture. 

18 U.S. Code Section 2340-2340A (“anti-torture statute”) defines what constitutes torture of subjects outside United States jurisdiction.  As with nearly every law, the definitions in Section 2340-2340A are subject to interpretation.  It is a lawyer’s job to interpret the statute according to rules of statutory construction.  In 2002, lawyers at the Bush Justice Department were given the task of interpreting the statute so those CIA interrogators would remain within the law when trying to obtain information from terrorists.

This task was a difficult one. First, the statute itself is vague.  It defines torture as follows:

“An act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.”

“Severe” is a word which requires what lawyers term “fact specific” analysis; i.e. whether the conduct is considered severe depends on  the facts presented to the  lawyer.  Therefore,  to a great degree interpretation is dependent on a lawyer’s or a court’s judgment.

Second, courts have not generally interpreted the anti-torture statute, unlike most other statutes.  It is standard practice for lawyers engaged in statutory construction to research case law to determine whether terms have been interpreted by courts, and to weigh the significance of those interpretations when analyzing a particular statute. For a statute requiring fact specific analysis, the absence of case law makes interpretation particularly difficult.

Finally, Justice Department lawyers were told by the CIA that these detainees had been subjected to other forms of interrogations that did not work; that the CIA believed these detainees had valuable information about “imminent” attacks on American citizens; and that the CIA believed enhanced interrogation techniques would yield valuable information which would save American lives. 

Thus Bush Justice Department lawyers were not only examining an uncertain area of the law, but they were asked to give an opinion, which, if they got it wrong, might result in the deaths of  hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans.  Rarely have lawyers faced such a difficult task. 

Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee wrote an 18 page single spaced memo in August 2002, carefully outlining the facts in the first eight pages.  Attorney Bybee reported the history of the use of enhanced techniques, including waterboarding, on thousands of American servicemen and women over a period of ten years. He outlined the detainee’s psychological profile.  Finally, he gave a detailed description of how each of the methods was to be used, before he came to any legal conclusions.

Later memos by other Justice Department lawyers, totaling an additional 105 pages of single spaced type, outlined in greater detail the legal issues involved in the enhanced interrogation techniques, and recommended certain restraints on some conduct.

These opinions cannot, in a viable democracy, be the basis for criminal prosecution, no matter how fervently one disagrees with the lawyers’ conclusions.  Democracy requires that the antidotes for policy errors are elections, not criminal prosecutions.

At one of Sen. McCarthy’s Senate hearings, Boston Attorney Joseph Welch was the first to confront the Senator and his totalitarian tactics.   He said to McCarthy in front of the cameras,  “Have you no sense of decency, Sir?”   It was the beginning of the end for Sen. McCarthy. 

Vermonters need to ask the same question of Sen. Leahy.  Vermonters must also insist that Sen. Leahy cease his assault on decent public servants.  If he does not, then Vermonters ought to give Leahy a lesson in democracy by voting him out of office in 2010. 

Liberalism is so yesterday

Facebook postings over the last several years have been revelatory:  whenever there is a political post, the comment threads degenerate into name calling by so-called liberals.  The most common themes:  conservatives are racist, greedy and stupid.  In the last couple of days, for example, one post said "red state" people are racist.  Another post said that people who voted for President Bush are stupid.   I have repeatedly pleaded with Facebook friends to talk about policy, but to no avail.  The conclusion:  liberals' philosophy is so old and tired, that adherents cannot cogently talk about issues but must attack opponents personally.  It is a symptom of a sclerotic, dying political philosophy.  Liberalism's demise has been accelerated by the fact that it is the philosophy of the Establishment, and Establishment folks only talk to each other, reinforcing their views and not condoning dissent.

I was reminded of the racism charge last night when I listened to the Republican debate in South Carolina.  Fox News had Frank Luntz, a pollster, set up a focus group to listen to the debate.  The group consisted of  white South Carolina Republicans.  After the debate, the vast majority of the people in the group said that they were most impressed by Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, and would vote for him for President.  Cain won the debate hands down.  Only one person supported Cain before the debate.  But Cain's performance was so impressive that the voters were swayed in his favor.

 Cain is a black man--not half white, like our President,  if one wants to note such silly and irrelevant distinctions. 

There was not one mention of race;  the voters talked about Cain's candor, straight forward answers, and his experience.  For white South Carolina Republicans, race was not a factor, as it seems to be in old hat liberal circles.

Here is my prediction:  unfortunately, the Left will now go after Herman Cain, like they did Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice and Colin Powell.   To the Left, these people are members of  a "victim" class who are supposed to think in lockstep with liberals-- a genuine racist view.

So, to my liberal friends:  stop the silly racism and stupidity charges.  They are so yesterday.  Lets assume that everyone of us has a good faith desire for what is best for America and American citizens--and that we are intelligent enough to grasp the issues.  Once we agree on these basic premises, we can discuss our divergent views on how to reach the same goal, and as Herman Cain said last night:  become "problem solvers".   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Higher Education

This morning I listened to Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge podcast. He interviewed Andrew Ferguson, editor of the Weekly Standard and author of the book Crazy U. During the interview Ferguson talks about what he has learned about the state of college education in America as his son went through the application and matriculation process.

At one point Robinson asked Ferguson why colleges charge so much for their product. Ferguson said that when he went to Occidental College in the 1970s the tuition was $16,000 per year in today's dollars, and today the tuition is over $40,000. How can they do that when the United States has what is supposed to be a free market economy?

Ferguson said that he asked an expert this question, and the expert said that colleges keep raising their prices because they can. Parents have bought the idea that their children must attend the best possible name-brand school to be successful in life, and therefore they are willing to pay any price. He mentioned the fact that the government subsidizes education through grants and loans, but only in passing.

I found this answer less than satisfying. Ferguson has underestimated the effect of the federal government handing each student a blank check to use to pay the school. Colleges can raise the tuition because the federal government will loan the student and his parents an arbitrary amount to pay for school. Of course, it's not just a blank check. There are strings attached, and 22 year olds regularly graduate (or worse, fail to graduate) with student loan debt that exceeds the size of a mortgage on one's first home.

The first step toward a free market in higher education is to end the federal subsidy of the student loan programs. With less money chasing the existing supply of college education, prices will fall because of the interplay between supply and demand. Furthermore, the federal government needs to cut spending anyway because it is spending far more than it takes in through taxes. Ending federal student loans will therefore address two pressing problems facing Americans -- the soaring cost of college and overspending on the part of the federal government.

Obama’s Economic Policies are Hurting the Middle Class

President Obama and other liberal politicians including Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy often talk about the declining middle class in our country.

When President Obama took office, the average price of gas in the U.S. was $1.83 per gallon.  It is more than double that today.  The increase has the same effect as a regressive tax hitting the middle class particularly hard.

When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was just under 7.00%.  Today it is 8.9% and likely to move higher.  Even though the recession ended nearly two years ago in June, 2009, our economy is growing at a rate of only 1.8%.  (Growth should be at least 3.5% if we are to reduce the unemployment rate.) There are now over 15 million people unemployed in the U.S., many of whom have not had a job in over 2 years.  Most of the unemployed are (or were) middle class.  

Most middle class families accumulate wealth by building equity in their homes.  Under the Obama administration, this has not been possible because home values have declined as much as 50% in some states with few signs of recovery.

The profligate spending under the Obama administration has done little to stimulate our economy, but it has stimulated inflation.  After nearly a decade of little or no inflation, we are now facing a significant rise in the rate of inflation showing up in food prices and other staples creating a particularly heavy burden for the middle class.

The purchasing power of the dollar has declined steadily under the Obama administration.  It has declined 17.3% just since June of 2010.  A weak dollar means that any products that we import including oil and foreign made cars will cost more…another “tax” on the middle class.

Obama policies call for advancing alternative energy, but because alternative energy is not economically viable it must be supported with tax subsidies and rate premiums to entice people to convert.  The tax subsidies benefit only those higher income people who can afford these expensive alternatives, and the rate premiums paid by power companies for “net generation” are passed on to all rate payers hitting the middle class particularly hard.

Obama’s policy calling for the expansion of alternative fuels like ethanol require tax subsidies and to the extent that it creates artificial demand for corn, food prices for all corn-based food items are increased.  This is a direct cost of living increase for the middle class.

Obama and other liberal politicians repeatedly lament the decline of the middle class, yet they pursue policies that are creating financial burdens that are reducing the standard of living of every member of the middle class.