Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 03/02/22

Here’s how the President views the state of our union. The Faith, Media & Culture response follows.

Faith, Media & Culture response

My fellow Americans, President Biden opened his State of the Union address making allusions to how his administration brought us through the COVID pandemic emerging on the other side a more united nation ready to lead an international coalition against Vladimir Putin’s monstrous war of aggression against Ukraine. Would that his version of events were so.

While it is good to see America standing with the Ukrainian people and our European allies against a clear-cut act of evil, leadership is hardly the word to describe the actions and inaction of the Biden Administration – which has yet to sanction Russian oil even as traders avoid buying it. The Biden Administration also continues to elevate its fight against theoretical climate change decades from now above the urgent issues of the here and now by still refusing to open up American oil supplies to avoid disruptions for ourselves and for our allies. Ironic, since the supposed reason for not shutting off Russian oil is concern over inflation. Anyway, rest assured, you can count on the Administration to conveniently blame the inflation his policies have unleashed on our economy through its energy policy and government spending on the Russians.

The President spoke of how Putin miscalculated America’s resolve to defend tyranny against freedom. The blame for everything about this crisis lies at the feet of Putin – but it is all too easy to see the basis for his calculation (whether or not it is a miscalculation we will see). As stated in this space on Monday “From the beginning, Biden has talked tough against Putin while gifting him with policies that couldn’t be more meek – such as severely hindering America’s oil and gas production capabilities while inexplicably removing American opposition to the Nord Stream Pipeline System that has pumped Russian oil to Europe thereby increasing European dependency and, in effect, funding Putin’s military. Add to that the disastrous US bug out from Afghanistan and the Biden Administration’s bizarre unwillingness to defend our own southern border and it’s no wonder that Putin concluded that rolling over Ukraine’s border would be met with minimal American resistance at most. Then there’s his incredibly weak response to violent crime domestically, as well as seeing America tying itself up in knots over divisive distractions like Critical Race Theory and the proper assignment of pronouns. It’s really hard to see how, in virtually every area, Biden’s policies haven’t led America’s adversaries, including to Putin, to see us as a nation that won’t even fight for itself, let alone its allies.”

The hero in the current battle between good and evil is the Ukrainian president, not the feckless American president. All that said, he’s the only president we’ve got right now so let’s encourage him to make the right choices from this moment forward.

As for leading America through the pandemic in a way that made us more united as the economy supposedly boomed, President Biden neglects to mention that that boom followed a shutdown of the economy that was made worse by his policies. Taking a bow for supposedly creating jobs without mentioning the government-imposed shutdowns to fight COVID may just be the new definition of disingenuous. And, while he finally acknowledges inflation as a real and ongoing problem, its analogous to the situation in Ukraine in that his spending policies flooded the market with too much money and thus played a major role in causing the current situation. In short, the economy would have boomed anyway, minus the inflation, with far less politically-motivated government intervention.  Oh, and that income gap between the rich and poor that expanded over decades, actually narrowed under the policies of his predecessor and began widening again since Biden took office.

On the issue of unity, a president who pitted the fully-vaxxed (of which I am one) against the unvaxxed (who in his narrative have been a threat to us all) would seem not to have much to say on the issue. Yet, despite his talk of unity, us-against-them narratives have become the basis for silencing skeptics on issues well beyond vaccines. The list includes – but is not limited to – the supposedly settled science behind prognostications of catastrophic climate change and abortion (about which, ironically, the science clearly favors pro-life arguments) and election security (because if you’re concerned about voter you’re clearly racist). Indeed, just as designed, dubious invocations of science and racism have been all too effective in shutting down the kind of open and respectful debate we need if we are to work our way toward truth and fairness.

About that bipartisan passage of the infrastructure bill, a commitment to revitalizing the physical structures that keep America working is certainly a good thing – as long as that’s where the money goes. The priorities need to be roads, bridges, railways, airports, running water (unbelievably there are Americans who don’t have it), internet access for all and, especially in a time like now, satellite and online security. When there’s so much money involved, the people have a right to know that it’s not going to be frittered away to political cronies via the Trojan Horse of human infrastructure. Enough with the word games. Healthcare, childcare, education, and job training are all  worthy items to discuss but they are separate from what most people would reasonably assume to be included under the infrastructure banner. Let’s debate not obfuscate.

It took President Biden about 16 minutes to bring up China which is probably American’s most powerful adversary. Unfortunately, while other presidents had the wisdom to engage Russia (and before that the Soviet Union) to keep it from aligning with China, Biden’s demonizing rhetoric (that served a bogus Trump-as-Russian-asset narrative), combined with his previously noted weak policies, drove the two unfriendly nations together. Unfortunately, considering his own family’s ties to both Russia and China, the current President has a long way to go to convince Americans that he is the guy to stand up to either country. If he is to do so, he needs to support home-based energy supplies over Russian oil or so-called green energy solutions that favor use of resources controlled (and profitable to) by China. To do otherwise is, in a word, shortsighted and, in another word, dumb. Also on the subject of China, it’s more than past time that we bring the manufacture of American computers and smartphones back to America – or, at the very least, cease having them made by a government that is hostile to both our values and our national security interests.

Incredibly, while maintaining the above-mentioned energy policies, he claims his administration is pursuing a buy-America agenda that supports American business. Those policies may be supporting globalist corporations – particularly in the media and tech sectors – but they’re too often hostile to American manufacturing and especially small businesses. Will those policies improve in the future – or are they talking points now in advance of an election? Let’s hope for the former but I have my doubts.

The President’s election-year call to bring manufacturing home to America was met with chants of “USA! USA! USA!” by the politicians in attendance, suggesting a patriotism that is at odds with previous statements made by himself and many in his party that America today remains systemically racist. After the killing of George Flloyd by police in 2020 – a horrific event that was rightly condemned by virtually everyone – the President failed to call out the unjustified rioting (that unfortunately found cover among the legitimate protests) during his own nominating convention. His vice president even backed a fund that bailed out accused rioters. Too many in his party found it politically advantageous to condemn America without nuance – a position that played heavily into their support of the Defund the Police movement that damaged people in minority communities more than anyone. Now that soaring crime has soured almost everyone on the idea of defunding cops, the President and his party find themselves bitten them in the polls. Suddenly everyone’s pro-police again – until the next time political opportunism changes their game plan again.

Meanwhile, the George Flloyd tragedy could have been a catalyst for needed police reform but the President and his party chose the wedge issue over a solution. Let’s deal strongly with cops that abuse their power but let’s also use the Justice Department to sue state local governments that don’t take the most basic steps to protect their citizens from violent crime.

The President spoke in support of the Innovation Act, a Democrat bill currently before Congress that supporters claim will help encourage innovation by reducing frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits. Opponents say the measure will hurt individual inventor without the capital to fight giant corporations who seize their ideas without just compensation. Finding the right balance in patent litigation may be worthy of discussion but the issue is indicative of how, despite their soundbites, the Democratic Party has subtly and increasingly become a party not of the people but of large corporations.

Individual initiative and innovation is a hallmark of American progress and prosperity which is why this blog supports an Agency for Citizen Empowerment (ACE) that would provide universal basic income to all Americans to be designed in a way to promote individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness while encouraging those who are struggling to get off the public dole. The plan would actually save money because it would drastically cut tax breaks to both the rich and government programs that foster dependency. Give people money – and access to sound financial management advice – and people will spend their own money much more wisely than the government would supposedly on their behalf. The idea would also empower pregnant women without financial resources, including a disproportionately large number of African-American women, to make a choice that doesn’t involving aborting their unborn babies – which is the only option the left is talking about when they talk about choice. Beyond abortion, they’re also certainly not talking about school choice for financially disadvantaged families.

The President is right that that the current tax code isn’t fair but his plan will do nothing to reduce the complicated system that allows the wealthy to manipulate the system in ways not open to individuals who can’t afford teams of tax lawyers. Let’s institute a graduated flat tax that will ensure the well-off pay their fair share in taxes while reducing corruption and simplifying things for everyone.

When it comes to corporate taxes, the Agency for Citizen Empowerment can be a means of moving away from the current Social Security system in which companies are actually taxed for hiring more workers. Not a good idea if your goal is to encourage employment. Instead of taxing companies for employing people, how about we tax them for the robots and machines that put people out of work.

The President also talks of raising the minimum wage which, BTW, will push many companies into employing machines over people – probably raising both unemployment (especially for young people) and inflation in the process. Despite the talking points, not every job is meant to support a family of four. Some jobs are starter jobs that help encourage a work ethic and help teens help themselves and, perhaps, supplement family incomes.

As for government paying for college tuitions and loans, this blog isn’t against college education for people who want it  or need it for a chosen career – but it is against a system that coerces people into systems that not only saddle students (or taxpayers) with mountains of debt but also enables a Higher Indoctrination complex that does the opposite of encouraging critical thinking. An Agency for Citizens Empowerment would provide people the means to a college education or trade school (nothing wrong with working with one’s hands) at a price they can afford. If the government doesn’t foot the bill, the colleges will have to control costs to compete. Let’s also defund the thought police by making it a civil rights violation to require a college degree for a job that doesn’t reasonably need one.

Getting back to the pandemic, let’s apply some lessons learned going forward. Another worse pandemic may come in the future. We need to establish international norms for isolating areas where they are first discovered and minimizing the economic impact to the local area. Also, let’s continue to encourage giving as many people as possible the option to work from home. It’s not only good for the environment, it reduces overall worker stress and gives parents a greater ability to care for kids and monitor their educations and curricula.

Getting back to the unity theme, good words President Biden. A good way to accomplish the worthy goal would be to stop branding those with different perspectives on issues ranging from gun laws to the pandemic to election security to whatever as “neandethals” or  worse. If the President will do more listening, honest debating and less sanctimonious condemning, he may just get more support from across the proverbial aisle.

May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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