Hugo Chavez: Not Resting in Peace

I’m still playing catch-up after my week away. When I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a week ago Tuesday, I heard the news that Hugo Chavez, self-anointed dictator of Venezuela, had finally succumbed to the cancer he had been fighting for some time. He had availed himself of the Cuban healthcare system for treatment, putting his future in the hands of ideological soulmates, believing to the end, I suppose, that the socialist paradise would be his temporal salvation. He was wrong.

Chavez sought to do for Venezuela what Castro did for Cuba, what the family of looney leaders have concocted for North Korea, and what other assorted socialist-communist visionaries have attempted in various parts of the world. He hated the United States, particularly when George Bush was president, calling Bush at one point “the devil.” I think he was a little confused about the identity of the devil; that confusion probably has lifted now:

This motif occurred to more than one cartoonist:

Chavez was also one of the darlings of the radical Occupy Movement. This has certainly been a downer for them:

The cult of personality Chavez promoted in Venezuela was no different than that of Mao’s in China or Castro’s in Cuba. And like both of them, he did his best to bully his opposition by shutting down all media outlets that wouldn’t bow down to his socialist policies. Freedom was becoming a rare commodity in that nation.

While I can feel sorrow for a lost soul, I cannot be unhappy that his reign of terror and error has come to an abrupt end. Perhaps for the people of Venezuela who still understand the principles of liberty, there is hope now for their future.

Forward into the Abyss

I feel like being “light” today after all the seriousness of last week. However, even in lightness, serious points can be made. I’ve always found the best way to do this is to rely on those who make it their livelihood—the political cartoonists. As you can imagine, the election gave rise to a flurry of new cartoons. Here are some of the best that have surfaced since last Tuesday, beginning with those that use the Obama slogan as their centerpiece:

In case you have trouble reading that sign in the distance, let me help you: it says “Dead End.” But wasn’t Obama’s reelection supposed to be part of the ongoing “success” of his first term? Isn’t the world supposed to be a better place just because he is in it?

If the pain of the last four years hasn’t been sufficient to educate some people, what is it going to take? Is Obama going to continue to blame George Bush for the next four years as well? I predict, if he gets his way, we’ll be in even worse shape by 2016. Both he and his adherents need to awaken to reality and start taking responsibility for the economic, social, and foreign policy disasters we are facing:

So Obama has his chance to make good this time. But what assurance do we have that he will do his homework and fully engage?

He’s already, less than a week after his reelection, shutting down even more public land to energy drilling. How is this helping?

Yet with the media constantly on his side, will his faithful followers ever figure out that he’s an ideological radical, and incompetent to boot? Not if the media keeps doing its outstanding job of distracting the people from his follies and failures:

Will his ineptitude and radicalism catch up with him eventually? Will the American electorate awaken from its stupor? Our job is to work and pray for that enlightenment. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive the next four years intact as a country.

Averting a Nightmare

Tomorrow is D-Day. The decision will be made, after a marathon campaign season. I will be speaking at a local Republican Club on Wednesday evening, giving my analysis of the election results. I hope it will be a joyous analysis.

If you have been watching any of the final campaign events, you should have no trouble spotting the difference between the candidates at this juncture. Obama sounds pugnacious, angry, even a little resentful. He resorted to the word “revenge” when calling upon his followers to vote. Revenge? For what? Romney is not in power. He hasn’t done anything for which one should seek revenge. That comment showcased a petty incumbent who seems offended that anyone would even dare to knock him off his perch.

Romney, on the other hand, has been quite winsome in his speaking, exuding optimism for the future and a quiet confidence that he will be able to get the job done. His crowds, unlike Obama’s, have been huge and enthusiastic. He’s now even foraying into formerly forbidden territory, making stops in Pennsylvania. Polls show he has pulled even in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. He’s slightly ahead in Wisconsin and making it a tight race in Minnesota, of all places. It may be somewhat clichéd to talk of momentum, but it is clearly visible on the Romney side.

Obama has so much to answer for—from a terrible economy to a government takeover of healthcare that threatens religious liberty, from a futile stimulus that spread its money to his cronies in the unions and green industries to a foreign policy that is unraveling. Libya is not going away, no matter how he tries to ignore it. Even with all the help he’s received from an obedient media, the word is getting out that his sympathies for Muslim extremists led to inadequate security and death. The word is getting out that he failed to protect our diplomats. The mainstream media no longer holds a monopoly on the news:

Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the slain ex-Navy seals who gave his life to save others, has spoken out frankly about how the president’s inaction is responsible for his son’s death. Does anyone remember when Cindy Sheehan tried to make life miserable for George Bush when her son was killed in action? Recall how she became a media celebrity? Not so Charles Woods.

Evangelicals, despite Romney’s Mormonism, have rallied to his side because of Obama’s war on Biblical morality, from abortion on demand to same-sex marriage to trying to force Christian organizations to violate their deeply held beliefs with an Obamacare mandate. Obama has tried hard to accuse Republicans of a war on women. Nothing could be more hypocritical:

This may be the most important presidential election in American history because we’ve never before had a president so eager to transform America into a socialist utopia. If he succeeds in holding on to his office, the next four years will be nightmarish for those of us who want righteousness to prevail. The nightmare needs to be averted. I believe it can be. I pray it can be.

Why the Electoral College?

“Do away with the electoral college!” That’s the cry that emanated from some Democrats after the 2000 election when Al Gore won the popular vote but George Bush won the electoral vote and the presidency. Some, including Hillary Clinton, called for a change in the Constitution to a simply majority vote nationwide to determine the winner. I believe that would be shortsighted and a detriment to our political system. Why? Let me offer a short history of why the Founders chose this method.

  • Are you aware that the Constitution says nothing about the people as a whole voting for the president?
  • Did you know that there was no popular vote for presidential candidates in the first elections, and that it only became widespread in the 1820s?
  • Further, do you realize that the controversial 2000 election could have been decided constitutionally without counting even one vote in Florida? A riot might have ensued, but it could have been done without violating the rule of law.

The Constitution never uses the term “electoral college,” but that’s how we describe the method set up there for choosing a president. The choice rests, not with a popular vote, but with electors selected by state legislatures. The Founders gave the people a vote for their representatives in the House, but senators were sent to the nation’s capital by state legislatures [another whole blog post would be needed to cover that] and those same legislatures were tasked with picking the official slate of electors who would cast a state’s vote for president. Why was this?

The reasoning behind it was that legislatures would choose the most trusted, wisest people in the state to decide among the various candidates. That part of the electoral college system hasn’t worked as intended. They apparently didn’t foresee the country dividing into a rigid party system. Today, when the legislatures pick their electors, they follow the popular vote total for the state and send the slate of electors for the winning party. So, in practice, all the legislatures are doing is rubber-stamping what the people have decided. That’s one reason some say the method should be discarded: it doesn’t accomplish the purpose for which it was established.

However, there is another aspect of the electoral college system that works quite well, and the main reason why I want to keep it intact—it provides for a proportional vote for the presidency, allowing every state to have some say in who that next president should be. Let me illustrate with that famous map that was circulating on the internet shortly after Bush was declared the winner in 2000. Look at it carefully:

What you see are all the counties in the nation. Every county in red was one Bush took; the blue counties were won by Gore. There is a pattern in the voting. Gore wins most of the big cities/heavily populated areas [plus Indian reservations], while Bush is victorious in the overwhelming number of those counties. In fact, you could travel from the east coast to the west and never cross a county that went for Gore.

Why is this significant?

If we went to a simple majority vote for the presidency, no candidate would ever find his way to many of the states. The entire mid-section of the nation would never see a presidential contender during a campaign. They would spend all their time in the heavy population areas because that’s where they would win the most votes. Gore won the popular vote by taking big majorities from places like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. That means candidates would have to woo urban voters who have their own priorities and policy preferences. Meanwhile, other segments of the population—rural, small town people—who might have different priorities and views of what the government should be doing, would be ignored. No one would ever visit Oklahoma, for instance, or Wyoming, or North Dakota. It wouldn’t be worth the time.

At least with the current system, every state has some proportional weight in determining the winner. Candidates cannot dismiss the interests of the vast middle section of the country. The three electoral votes of Wyoming might sometime play a pivotal role in deciding the victor. No one can be ignored completely.

While no electoral system is perfect, I believe allowing states some proportional say is a vast improvement on a simplistic nationwide majority vote. Why should the desires of New York City and a few select other urban areas overwhelm the wishes of other sectors of the nation? Don’t worry, New York; you still have a greater proportional vote in the selection. But the current method is far more representative of all the interests of our nation.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Foreign Policy

This is my fourth posting this week laying out the reasons why President Obama does not deserve reelection. I began with an evaluation of his worldview, moved to his character traits, and then showed how those applied to his domestic policies. If you missed those, I urge you to go back and read them. Today’s goal is to illuminate his foreign policy and—surprise—it once again reflects his worldview and character.

Surely you recall the 2008 campaign when hope and change included the tantalizing promise that the election of Obama would make all things right with the world. He would rectify all the ill humor and bad vibes emanating from the rest of the world because of George Bush’s policies. With the incidents surrounding September 11, 2012, this is more of a joke than ever:

During the 2008 campaign, Obama staged a massive rally/speech in Germany. The adoring throngs gathered to see the political messiah who would bring peace and brotherhood to humanity. I’m not exaggerating; that was the expectation of many. The fantasy even found its way into the heady atmosphere of the Nobel committee that preemptively awarded the new president the Nobel Peace Prize simply for the “promise” he brought. He had accomplished nothing, but they were in full-swoon mode. Characteristically for him, he accepted the award, even though it was richly undeserved.

Upon taking office, he sent Secretary of State Clinton to Russia with a prop—a silly “reset” button, signifying the changing of the guard in D.C. The button didn’t work.

When Iranian dissidents rose up against the regime that is rapidly gaining access to nuclear weapons and is boasting it will wipe Israel off the map, what was the Obama administration’s response? Virtual silence. The dissidents were suppressed. When the misnamed Arab Spring burst from the underbelly of radical jihadism, we found the President of the United States as its prime cheerleader. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood now seems to be in command of that revolution. Yet we hear no genuine warnings from this administration about the dangers of Muslim radicalism.

Then came our new September 11. Embassies attacked, an ambassador murdered, crowds chanting “Death to America.” The Obama response was to blame it all on a YouTube video of a trailer for a film depicting Mohammed in a bad light. Despite the ever-mounting evidence that this was no spontaneous uprising, and that it was a carefully orchestrated terror attack, administration spokespersons—all the way from press secretary Jay Carney to Susan Rice, our UN ambassador—deny that it had anything to do with American policy. The State Department even refuses to take any more questions on the issue. Americans are nervous, perhaps recalling our history with radical Islam, even prior to 9/11/2001:

But keep in mind, his defenders say, that he successfully carried out the killing of Osama bin Laden, and our drone attacks in Pakistan continue to take down Al Qaeda leaders. True, but I would hope any president would have followed up on the intelligence that located bin Laden, and would have taken the same action. He owes a great debt to President Bush for the policies that ultimately led to tracking down key terrorists. It also needs to be noted that Obama draws a line between Al Qaeda and what he considers legitimate “liberation” groups in the Muslim world. They are no better than Al Qaeda, yet he seems blind to that fact.

And then there’s the whole question of American support for Israel, our only real ally in the Middle East. From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has cold-shouldered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Never has an American president treated an Israeli leader with such disrespect. The latest example is Netanyahu’s request for a meeting with Obama to discuss the latest acts of terrorism and the looming threat of a nuclear Iran. The response? Our president’s schedule is too full; there’s no time for a face-to-face meeting. And just what is filling his schedule? Fundraisers with celebrities. Appearances on the Letterman show and other “soft” media outlets that will never ask him the tough questions. The prime minister of Israel? What does he have to offer?

Another salient fact that has emerged this past week is that President Obama has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings. That shows a decided lack of intelligence. Further, just when the American military needs to be at peak proficiency, he and his team are cutting back on military preparedness. If there is one duty the federal government most emphatically has, it is to protect its citizens from enemies who are developing the capability to destroy them. I believe he is failing in carrying out that vital responsibility.

The Obama foreign policy is a direct outgrowth of his anti-colonial, anti-Western-civilization worldview. He has far more in common with the radicals who seek to attack us than he does with America’s heritage. That should give any voter pause. Tomorrow, I’ll summarize the week’s posts and offer a challenge to the American electorate as we face perhaps the most pivotal election in our history.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Character

Yesterday I examined Obama’s roots and the worldview he received from others. Just as important in an evaluation of the man is the character he has developed over the years. Each of us is exposed to many influences that help in shaping our character, but it’s always important to recognize that they are influences only—our path is not determined; how we respond to those influences is the key. Therefore, we cannot blame anyone else for whom we have become.

I say that because in Obama’s case it would be easy to blame his father, who didn’t stay with the family. Just as easy to blame would be his mother, who pushed him away from Western values, Christianity in particular. And then there were his grandparents who introduced him to his communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. Obama’s formative years were filled with what I would call pernicious influences. I’m sorry he had such an upbringing, but he is still accountable for how he responded to all those influences.

Abandoned by his father, raised by a white mother and grandparents, he can be excused perhaps for feeling out of place and in need of an identity. That’s probably why he created a fantasy image of his natural father. So in one sense he had a deep need for affirmation as a person. Yet, simultaneously, he was really quite the child of privilege. He never lacked for anything materially. He went to a private high school in Hawaii, then on to Columbia and Harvard later. Those are hardly the credentials of someone who is a hardship case. He even became editor of the Harvard Law Review despite no real writing accomplishments of his own. Many have raised the question of just who paid for all this education, but he has not been forthcoming with that information, and his college records have remained sealed.

By his own admission, he was an active drug user in his youth. There’s also no indication he ever had to work hard at any job to help pay for his expenses. All the privileges he received, along with an active imagination about a heroic father, compensated for his loss of identity. He determined to be part of black America even though he lived primarily in a white family and society. This apparently gave his life meaning.

As I noted yesterday, he became a convinced Marxist by the time he went to college, and also latched on to his father’s anti-colonialism, which made him anti-establishment, anti-Western civilization, and even anti-American since it was part of that civilization.

Because everything seemed to be handed to him on the proverbial silver platter, he became self-righteous and arrogant, traits that made it easy for him to slide into the role of political messiah in 2008. He never really discouraged his adoring followers to consider him as simply another flawed human being. After all, as he stated, his election would be the starting point for the lowering of the oceans and the healing of the planet. No lack of self-confidence there. He also proclaimed that we [kind of a royal “we”] were the ones “we” had been waiting for. As if all of history revolved around the coming of the new messiah. The media should have showcased this arrogance, but instead has become his chief enabler, ignoring the fact that the emperor has no clothes and inventing “scandals” for anyone who dares offer a critique of the One.

Since he has been in office, other traits have come to the surface. Even those around him comment that he is aloof. He doesn’t form relationships with anyone outside his own little circle of confidants, all of whom seem to bow to his every whim. He doesn’t even develop solid relationships with congressional Democrats. It’s almost as if they are beneath him and not worth the time. And as for Republicans . . . well, that’s a non-starter. He will talk about compromise, but never do it, and then blame the Republicans for being obstructionists.

Many have commented on his thin skin; he bristles at any hint of disrespect. Often, he is petty, and lets it show publicly. Two examples. First, when he was making overtures to Republicans about budget compromises, he decided to make a speech and invite Paul Ryan to be there. So there was Ryan, sitting in the front row, I believe, and Obama then turned his rhetorical guns on the Ryan plan for getting the nation out of our deficit mess. Ryan, to his credit, took the verbal assault calmly.

But the more famous example was during one of his State of the Union addresses, when he criticized a recent Supreme Court decision as the justices were sitting right in front of him. It was an attempt to humiliate them in the national spotlight. No president has ever used this important address to berate the court while they were honoring him with their presence. The term “mean-spirited” is not too strong for his actions in both of these cases.

I firmly believe Obama is a classic narcissist. He lives to please himself and won’t take any responsibility for anything that goes wrong. The economy? Nearly four years after George Bush has left the office, Obama continues to blame him for the current problems. And his penchant for not paying sufficient attention to his day job—president of the most powerful nation on earth—is becoming painful to watch. He spends an inordinate amount of time playing golf, attending fundraisers, and partying with celebrities. But he seems to get away with it since we are a nation apparently hooked on the celebrity culture. It seems to be hard to get his attention lately:

The most baffling aspect of all this, to me, is that polls show people find him likeable. Reagan was likeable, as even his detractors admitted; Obama is not. He’s the epitome of the anti-Reagan. His arrogance, aloofness, and narcissism are deadly in a leader. And where is he leading us? That will be the subject of the next two posts.

Bring Back the Teleprompter?

Some commentators have jokingly recommended that President Obama go back to using his teleprompter more often. In the past few weeks, whenever he’s been unscripted, what he really believes has come out. First, he made the memorable statement that small business is doing just fine, despite the economic reality we are facing. That made some observers wonder what world he’s living in.

Another comment, not as widely reported, occurred when he tried to contrast the Republican and Democrat approach to reviving the economy. He talked about the prosperity of the Clinton era and compared it to what he called the disaster of the Bush tenure. Then he claimed the Clinton prosperity for himself, saying of the Democrat approach, “It worked.” There are a few problems with his history.

First, the Clinton prosperity did not result from raising taxes. Most of that occurred after 1994 when a Republican Congress introduced welfare reform and curbed the Clinton propensity to get government more involved. Remember, Clinton himself was forced to acknowledge that the era of big government was over. If only.

Second, the Bush years, coupled with tax cuts, were just fine until the subprime mortgage meltdown, much of which was due to a Democrat Congress that took over in 2006. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd deserve more blame than George Bush for what happened then.

Third, Obama’s policies have only worsened the situation. We are on the precipice of fiscal disaster.

It was his third pronouncement that rallied the opposition the most, however—his now infamous line that successful business people didn’t really build their businesses; others did that for them. In an earlier era, a foolish statement like that could have been relegated to collective amnesia by a media that favored the president. Now, all the alternative media will be sure to provide balance. Of course, that doesn’t mean the mainstream media will roll over and accept its decline in information dominance. It’s still working hard to offer the only “right” perspective:

Obama seems to realize the excuse-making hasn’t worked very well:

Cartoonists have had fun projecting his comment into history. Here’s one example:

Others who may not have artistic skills have found ways to use the new media to make similar points:

In an age of spiritual, moral, economic, and governmental decline, it’s nice to see innovative ways to communicate truth are still alive.