walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Published on: November 1, 2010
America Spinning Its Wheels
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  • Silence Dogood

    Mr. Mead misunderstands the mood of the country. The entitlements the country despises is NOT directed towards college tuition and mortgage subsidies, which everyone can enjoy. It is against the culture of “protected classes”, which only benefit certain groups, and divides the country against itself. We are sick to death of the constant and incessant claims of DISCRIMINATION. Everywhere you turn, someone is crying DISCRIMINATION.

    This is what the public is revolting against. It is against the type of government interference typified by laws such as Title IX and Title VII. The public does not favor racisim or chauvinism, but it does favor letting the free market and the people themselves deciding what’s best for themselves. We pay billions of dollars to enforce and regulate these frameworks. The army of government lawyers alone, and their support staff and adminstration costs, costs us hundreds of millions. And all they’ve done is hector and harass business, give us more reasons to go overseas, and stifle all desire for growth. The same goes for so much other intrusive legislation. The public is all in favor of (eg) helping the handicpapped, but within reason. Laws like the ADA have proven to be nothing more than a cash cow for plaintiffs lawyers to sure for frivilous claims. Meanwhile, buildings arent being built because the law requires you to build special ramps and elevators for the once in ten years that a handicapped person might come in. The best parking spots sit empty and unused, inconveniencing EVERYONE, because God forbid a protected handicapped person might have to be inconvenienced. These examples could easily be multiplied in many directions.

    Get that through your head, Walter. Your article doesnt discuss a word of this point. And THAT is where the pulse of the country lies. It’s high time – let’s hope it’s not too late – to repeal these misguided laws choking the country.

  • http://www.opinionatedpussycat.com NIkita Cat

    We in the in the Feline Community have been folloing the politics of our Humans quite closely since the 2008 election, and have been quite concerned.

    While some us are Democats, and others, like myself, are Republipussies, there are a small number who Hiss at both parites, and advocate for turning the runing of the nation, in its entirety, to Felines.

    Their reasoning is that we can’t screw things up any worse than the Humans have so what have the electorate to lose?

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the subject, so if you will pardon me, it’s time for my early morning nap.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Nikita Cat

    Proud Pussy Pundit Since 2002!

    Senior Journalist & Correspondent Feline News Network (FNN)

    Offishul Repurrter of The Cat Blogosphere Website

    Professor of the Nikita Institute of Pussydom Studies (NIPS)

    The Most Opinionated Pussycat in America, with Talent on Loan from The Ceiling Cat

    MOTTO: You Giva Me No Trouble – I Giva You No Smack!

  • http://www.martinbermangorvine.com Martin Berman-Gorvine

    Professor Mead loses me on domestic issues. Without getting into a philosophical debate over the desirability (or not) of so-called big government, or the fact that we tried thirty years of massive deregulation of everything and upward redistribution of wealth and ended up in a pit, the good professor is deluding himself if he thinks that Tea Party-affiliated politicos are going to be any better at making tough choices than any other kind of politicians. Watch as the anti-government rhetoric turns out to be just as sincere as the term-limits rhetoric of the GOP Class of ’94.

  • Pava Renat

    It seems to me that what the people are clamoring for is a smaller Washington, and more local control. That is, they want a return to what our *original* Constitution was all about: federalism and individual liberty.

    This is what the Republican platform should be built on, rather than the redistributive Congressional behemoth that the progressives have built, and which past Republican establishments bought into. Both Bushes were wrong on this, and Obama has compounded their errors. Hence, the backlash.

  • John Barker

    “Reforming our dysfunctional educational system is going to be hard.” A lot harder than you can possibly imagine. To get an overview of the problem and possible solutions see Armor, “Maximizing Intelligence” and Flynn. “What is Intelligence?”

  • East Bay Jay

    Your criticism of the Republicans fiscal performance when they had small Congressional majorities isn’t selling with the populace for a simple reason: middle America understands the two parties better than the media would like. Democrats cannot fix the problem because they are genetically coded to spend more, with defense being the only exception. Republicans simply are incapable of doing worse – not because of anything inherent in the party but because the Democrats will always be the ‘one dollar more’ party.

  • http://joetote'sblog joetote

    This is the most important election of my time. As I say below, our country’s very survival depends on the electorate to come to their senses and stop this mad march to soviet style socialism.

    “Finally, I want to once again address the past primaries and the future of our country in general. It is apparent beyond all doubt that the establishment on both sides are deathly afraid of the so called Tea Party (and thus the electorate in general) and they well should be! For those of you who prefer to live in a cave, the Tea Party from my view is not just about returning to conservative principles. The people who are aligning themselves behind this movement are looking for so much more. We are looking for men and women of principle! We want representatives that obey the will of the people, not their leaders or their own power lust! We want a return to the bedrock principles this country was founded on! We sure as hell do not want to be told we are racists, hate mongers or all the other names we are called just because we disagree with the direction this country is being taken. We believe in free speech, not “Obama says you will think and say as I want”.

    The Tea Party movement is many things to many people. To those in power, it is a threat. To those who believe in the hard core Marxist principles being espoused by this administration, it is a threat! For those who believe our country needs to subvert itself to the whims of Islamic Fanatics, or Euro Socialism or whatever else, it is a threat!

    As such, there are way too many people who do not remotely understand what is happening here. Our fighting men and women, our forefathers who gave their blood and lives for this country, they understand! Unfortunately, the folks that have either had everything handed to them or instead have chosen to ride on the back of others instead of being responsible for themselves combined with the elected morons who realize keeping people reliant on government insures their power, they do not understand!

    The Tea Party movement is not a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party! A co-opted media led by a hard core left wing wanna be dictatorship government would want you to believe that it is in fact all about the Republicans. And they would be dead wrong! The Tea Party movement is a fight for the heart and soul of our country! It is a fight to return us to what made us the greatest country in the world! How sad that entrenched politicians on the right along with the garbage on the left cannot or refuse to understand such a basic tenet!

  • SC Mike

    As Scott Rasmussen points out in today’s Wall Street Journal, tomorrow the majority of voters are voting against Democrats, not for Republicans. It will clear the Congress and many state and local elected offices of moderate Democrats, putting Republicans of various stripes into those offices. Certainly many new faces will be the work of Tea-Party activists, fiscal conservatives pining for a return to limited government and smaller budgets. Yet just as many, if not more, will be moderates who may be open to greater compromise with the far-Left Democrats remaining.

    How the dynamics work will be exciting, stomach-churning, likely not for the faint of heart.

    The fact is that the Congress can pass whatever bills it wants, but the president can withhold his signature on any or all of them as the Newtster and his crew found in 1995. Moreover at least two states, Illinois and California, will probably default within the next two years, bringing pressure on the feds for a rescue package. How will Congress and other states react, particularly those like Texas and Indiana that have done a better job of getting their budgets under control?

    Bear in mind too world events that promise powerful challenges. David Broder believes that a nice little war with Iran would boost Obama’s reelection chances. Considering their massive holdings of our greenbacks, wow will China react to the Fed’s move on Wednesday to further debase the dollar? Rising commodity prices are signaling that the dollar is over-valued, inflation is happening; with most of the Europeans making the austerity moves, the US will likely be forced to make some too, probably at a most inconvenient time with little warning.

    And with oil as plentiful as it is, and with China controlling 95% of the supply of rare earth elements, when will the Obami realize that the forced march to alternative energy which relies on rare earths is unwise? As one pundit asks: “Why convert our economy so that we are dependent on a set of commodities over which we have no control?”

    Fasten your seatbelts.

  • Kenny

    Soon it won’t be health to be a parasite on the government dole in the U.S. any more. What will all those former government employees do — take to the streets like the French, work at McDonalds, what?

  • SC Mike

    As Scott Rasmussen points out in today’s Wall Street Journal, tomorrow the majority of voters are voting against Democrats, not for Republicans. It will clear the Congress and many state and local elected offices of moderate Democrats, putting Republicans of various stripes into those offices. Certainly many new faces will be the work of Tea-Party activists, fiscal conservatives pining for a return to limited government and smaller budgets. Yet just as many, if not more, will be moderates who may be open to greater compromise with the far-Left Democrats remaining.

    How the dynamics work will be exciting, stomach-churning, likely not for the faint of heart.

    The fact is that the Congress can pass whatever bills it wants, but the president can withhold his signature on any or all of them as the Newtster and his crew found in 1995. Moreover at least two states, Illinois and California, will probably default within the next two years, bringing pressure on the feds for a rescue package. How will Congress and other states react, particularly those like Texas and Indiana that have done a better job of getting their budgets under control?

    Bear in mind too world events that promise powerful challenges. David Broder believes that a nice little war with Iran would boost Obama’s reelection chances. Considering their massive holdings of our greenbacks, wow will China react to the Fed’s move on Wednesday to further debase the dollar? Rising commodity prices are signaling that the dollar is over-valued, inflation is happening; with most of the Europeans making the austerity moves, the US will likely be forced to make some too, probably at a most inconvenient time with little warning.

    And with oil as plentiful as it is, and with China controlling 95% of the supply of rare earth elements, when will the Obami realize that the forced march to alternative energy which relies on rare earths is unwise? As one pundit asks: “Why convert our economy so that we are dependent on a set of commodities over which we have no control?”

    Fasten your seatbelts.

  • Tom Grey

    Fine article, but you leave out both gorillas in the room.
    1) Gov’t is too big. Because the vast majority of gov’t spending is based on redistribution, rather than increased production, the more gov’t, the smaller the total pie. (At least down to an optimal size, currently unknown, but I estimate at about 10% of national GDP should be federal gov’t at the optimum for sustainable growth).
    2) American workers are overpaid. No party wants to admit this, nor are they likely to get elected saying this. Even tho it is true.

  • Mike

    Reforming our dysfunctional education system will be easy, so easy that most people will be too frightened to try it. Abolish the Dept of Education (is there even a not-so-good reason for its existence?). Stop subsidizing higher education through “low-cost” loans. The value of a college degree has been oversold. Making universities directly accountable to their customers is the best way to increase quality and reduce costs. Just like it is in the grocery business.

  • Walter Sobchak

    “the road to Dallas is a series of disasters waiting to happen. The road to Boston, on the other hand, has been built by intelligent, credentialed technocrats. the road is safe and the ride is smooth.”

    Actually that is quite the reverse of the real word. The roads in Dallas are terrific, but the roads in Boston were built on corruption and thinks fall on drivers heads and kill them.

  • Jimmy J.

    I know exactly what I want. I want a government that is not cowed/controlled by the environmental movement. The Endangered Species Act, while well intentioned, has become a tool to stop all production of resources in this country. We cannot drill for oil and gas, we cannot harvest our timber, we cannot build hydro-electric dams, we cannot build nuclear plants. Our economy floats on a sea of energy, but our energy is becoming more expensive and less secure because of our misguided environmental policies.

    We get rid of the deficit the same way we did after WWII – by growing the size and wealth of our economy. Only a briskly growing economy will create the weath necessary to pay down the debt. The business of America is business. Heavy handed attempts by government to over regulate business creates a situation where companies and jobs leave and go where they are treated better.

    There are answers to the problems of Social Security and Medicare. Congressman Paul Ryan has a rational plan to bring them under control. It will require some element of sacrifice by all involved and most should be on board with that if it solves the problems. I’m on SS and Medicare and am willing to receive smaller increases (COLAs – we haven’t had one for 2 years now and I understand why) and pay more co-pays. Only the indigent should not have to pay co-pays.

    Still, the ultimate solution is to grow the economy. More wealth in everyone’s hands is a great healer for entitlement programs. But more wealth should not become an excuse for governmment to create new programs and entitlements. Less government means more money available for private investment and growth.

  • Louis Wheeler

    Actions have their consequences. Political deeds performed, decades ago, by Progressives and Democrats are bearing fruit. The Progressives are not shy about their intent to destroy the American way of life and the free market economy. They have come very close to utterly transforming us with the help of both political parties. We are seeing the end game of a number of trends; It is the last gasp of a hundred years of Progressive effort. A small coterie of elitists, and their dupes, are reaching toward total control.

    Obama admires the Social Democracy of Europe; he clearly intents to introduce it to the US. He doesn’t care if he does this legally or that 60+% of American voters oppose his actions. He and his friends are using the crises, he provokes, to push toward more governmental control. He is hoping that the leftward momentum of our federal government will be unstoppable because the Progressives have created enough political interest groups. That their hue and cry will prevent any turn back in our leftward lurch.

    If the Congress changes hands soon, that will not matter to Obama. He will use his regulatory powers to bypass Congress and the American Public. If the EPA can get away with reclassifying CO2 as a pollutant, then Obama’s bureaucracy thinks it can do anything. Obama will provoke a Constitutional crisis, if necessary. He seems to think that he can exercise absolute power in a crisis. He will use any excuse to gain more power. He will push us to the brink of tyranny.

    Even if he is stopped, we must ride out the consequences; the damage has already been done. There are no practical means to short circuit our pain and privation. Our markets have not bottomed out yet. It’s going to be tough enough to resist the trends which lead to our destruction.

    The solution is not in what we do. It is in what we discard. If the camel’s back is close to being broken then we don’t want to put on that last straw. To the extent we can reduce the overburden which governmental taxation, interference and regulation places on our economy, the better the economy will perform. But that is not enough. Stagflation is not the goal; freedom is.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats will do everything in their power to prevent a solution because that would roll back a hundred years of federal power grabs. That would end their cushy, phony baloney, jobs.

    Trends don’t end easily; the trends toward dictatorial control in America have been a hundred years in the making. Many of our social institutions must be destroyed; most of our laws and practices reformed. Our most influential groups, in the Bureaucracy, the Media, Hollywood and in Public Education, must be marginalized or publicly repudiated.

    This will not be fast or easy. Nor will it be without great pain. Americans must decide on what their values are. All we know is that going down the current path will destroy America’s society and economy. There are no halfway measures; they have been tried and failed.

    We are at a tipping point; we cannot return to what we were. We will be a reformed America, in ten years. The choice is over what kind of America we will be. Will we be a Limited Constitutional Republic again, a Social Democracy or a Leftist Dictatorship?

    I’m not sure which ideology will win. How this will work out is mystery. Will we have a Second Constitutional Convention or a new American Revolution? It is too soon to say. It depends too much on what Obama does and how the American Public responds.

    Character is destiny; America’s character will be tested harshly in the coming years.

  • Chris Lynch

    “Character is destiny; America’s character will be tested harshly in the coming years.

    Comment by Louis Wheeler – November 2, 2010″

    This comment drives at something awful to contemplate: that in the relentless progressivist march, we are not only providing more material security for ourselves, but that this process inevitably takes a toll on our character, actually weakening us as we imagine ourselves getting “stronger” and “more secure”.

  • http://sites.google.com/site/lukelea2/thesoftpath Luke Lea

    Two years of QE should (will? could?) solve most of Obama’s domestic problems in time for the 2012 elections:

    1. Higher inflation means lower real wages equals higher employment.

    2. Higher inflation means greater government revenues.

    3. Cheaper dollar means more exports and a resurgence of manufacturing.

    4. Inflation relieves the debt overhand of underwater mortgages.

    Not to say there won’t be long-term downsides, but we’re talking short-term politics and, as far as I know, there is nothing Congress can do the stop Bernanke.

  • boqueronman

    “Competent, professional, cool and cerebral doesn’t seem to be creating many jobs.” This kind of stuff is fairly common from a bewilderingly large number of otherwise intelligent people. Perhaps I simply live on another planet, but we are talking about Obama and his no-practical experience, Ivory Tower, academic eggheads, after all. I wish just once someone could make a convincing case for the accuracy of the words competent and professional anywhere in his past history or 2 years of executive “leadership.” Show me some evidence, please! Perhaps cool and cerebral might apply, although words like insular and narrow-minded seem more accurate to me. I suppose these adoring terms are self-evident to anyone who shares the ideological militancy and partisan political perspective that informs everything he has said and done since his “I Won” comment to a group of opposition legislators just days after taking office. But, since I don’t view the world through that lens, those adjectives are just a mystery to me.

  • John Barker

    I hope WRM will write about the election soon. I read Roubini (Dr. Doom) this afternoon and I am not encouraged about the prospects for next two years. I wonder if now is the time for a third party that is honest with people about what lies ahead. More like blood, toil, sweat and tears than hope and change I think.

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  • narciso

    Well you’ve come a long way, since you thought buying Siberia was a solution to our problems, or you precursor to netrootism in Mortal Splendor. To think Obama even had the right question, much less the answer, was a delusion that has cost us precious time and money to discover

    Roubini really thinks another stimulus will do the trick, one rather that the first one, and the TARP have been applied to the toxic asset situation, which the MERS issue has brought back to the surface

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  • http://libcom.org/user/737319 notch filter

    Some truly excellent info , Gladiola I observed this. “The historian must have some conceptions of how men who are not historians behave.” by Edward Morgan Forster.

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