2016 Is Not a Replay of 1980

So we now have the notes the FBI took when they interrogated Hillary Clinton about her e-mail server. What have we discovered? She is adept at blaming her staff for everything and protesting that she doesn’t “recall” almost anything having to do with training on how to handle sensitive documents.

This is after having signed forms that testified she knew the specifics of how to handle such documents. What comes across is that she is playing the “I just don’t get all this technology” card in an attempt to escape prosecution (which the Justice Department at the behest of the FBI has allowed her to do).

Don't Understand

And we’re supposed to believe this baloney. It’s about as surreal as it can get. Has there ever been a presidential candidate who has been exposed as this corrupt before?

Self-Inflicted

Yet she may be our next president.

With Donald Trump putting illegal immigration back in the news with his foray into Mexico and his speech on the topic afterwards, one might want to ask Hillary (if anyone is allowed to ask her anything) what her stance is on the subject.

Ready to Assimilate

I’ve read parts of the transcript of Trump’s speech and seen excerpts. While there are points in the speech with which I agree, I still can’t stand his attitude. This is the moderate Trump?

Earlier in the day, he was all sweetness and light with the Mexican president. Later, in the speech, he threw out the red meat to his followers, sounding like the “old” Trump. One thing his followers might have missed, though, is that he didn’t say what he would now do with those currently living here illegally. Wasn’t the big deportation thing one of the main reasons he amassed such rabid support at the start? Now he’s backing down on it (which only makes sense) and very few of his supporters seem to have a problem with his flip-flop on an issue that they considered a cornerstone.

Consistency

He’s been all over the place, trying to come up with something that can be called a genuine policy. He’s done the same with abortion in the past. He’s totally unreliable.

Back in 1980, we were in the throes of the Carter administration. That led to a revival of common sense under Ronald Reagan. Some people are seeing a historical parallel in that we are in dire straits similar to what we experienced under Carter, and that another Reagan is waiting around the corner. Here, though, is where the parallel breaks down.

Doesn't Cheer My Up

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan and 2016 is not a replay of 1980. Sadly.

Adventures in Obamacareland

What might be a better name for Obamacare? Adventures in Wonderland? Theater of the Absurd? The New Twilight Zone?

If you are paying attention at all, you ought to be stunned by the ludicrous nature of this legislation: from its false philosophical basis, to its awful rollout, to the many changes made to it by executive fiat, Obamacare is pretty much a laughingstock. Or at least it would be if not for the dismal fact that millions have been forced off their previous healthcare plans and now experience higher deductibles and premiums, along with loss of doctors and hospitals to treat them. Oh, and all those uninsured this was supposed to help? Of the estimated 30 million, only about 1 million now have insurance. And soon the tentacles of this vast government overreach will begin to hit hard on those who have employer-based plans. The millions currently affected will mushroom into the many millions.

The deadline for signing up in this first round always has been March 31. Well, not anymore. We now have Unilateral Change #29. There no longer is a deadline; anyone can get an extension simply by clicking on a box on the website. How much of an extension? Who knows? Probably an indefinite one. Why? Because the administration can’t get enough people to register to make it financially stable.

Countdown

Those who are staying away in droves are the younger people, without whom this law falls flat on its face. Obama and his people have practically been begging them to join, without success:

More Millennials

Maybe the younger generation isn’t quite as clueless as I feared. The measures to pressure them, though, may become extreme over time:

Halt

Remember all those promises about how great the new healthcare law would be for everyone? We have been told incessantly that once we saw it in action, we would be overwhelmed with gratitude. Apparently, that hasn’t been the case:

Grow on You

Democrats in Congress who are running for reelection are practically living in a state of panic, especially since they were complicit in selling Obamacare all along. Senators like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are particularly vulnerable, no matter how often and how loudly people like Nancy Pelosi tell them it’s a winning strategy to run on Obamacare:

Lovely Necklace

Throughout this ordeal, President Obama can at least be gratified that he’s made one former president quite happy:

Thank You

I have to admit I’m looking forward to November.

Needed: Another Ronald Reagan Moment

The third, and final, presidential debate is tonight, and the topic is foreign policy. Most Americans, apparently, find the topic of lesser interest than domestic policy, yet is has a direct impact not only on pocketbook issues but our very survival as a nation. I guess what I’m saying is that we ought to be intensely interested in what transpires overseas.

America has always been affected by the ideologies and actions of foreign nations. In our first decade, with George Washington as president, our political scene was poisonously divided over the matter of the French Revolution. Founding Fathers who fought side by side in our war for independence accused each other of either wanting to reestablish British control over us or of seeking to set up guillotines on the street corners. It was only Washington’s steady hand and the general esteem in which he was held that got us through the crisis. It does matter who is in charge.

Closer to our day, in 1979, when Iranian radicals invaded the American embassy and took hostages, we didn’t have a strong leader. The Carter presidency shriveled under the stress and the crisis dragged out until 1981. The hostages were released on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Perhaps the Iranians had second thoughts about tangling with someone who exuded greater confidence.

One of Reagan’s signal achievements was the part he played in the demise of the Soviet Union. The pressure he put on that country via aid to Afghans who sought to remove Soviet troops from their homeland, and the announcement of his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to counter Soviet missiles aimed at the U.S. pushed the Soviets to the brink of economic extinction. When he then sat down with Gorbachev, he did so from a position of strength. The Cold War, which loomed over us for four long decades, ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Today, there are monuments to Ronald Reagan throughout the old Soviet-dominated Eastern European countries.

Yes, foreign policy matters, and it also matters who is in charge of it.

The Obama campaign had hoped to capitalize on the death of Osama bin Laden and their predetermined theme that Al Qaeda was diminished and on the run. The Libya debacle capsized that strategy. If they were to admit it was terrorism, and terrorism associated with Al Qaeda, it would seriously damage their credibility in the handling of a war on terror they never liked from the beginning. Remember how they changed the wording to “overseas contingency operations”? They’ve been adept at wordsmithing all along the way. When the gunman at the Ft. Hood massacre made it evident he carried out his act because of his radical Islamic ideology, the Obama administration swept that under the rug by calling it “workplace violence,” as if Islamic terrorism had nothing to do with it. I’m surprised they haven’t yet employed that terminology to the Libyan situation.

I wonder if that’s what we will hear tonight? At the very least, Obama is going to have to explain why he and his people took so long to call the attack on the consulate and the murder of our ambassador simply a demonstration against a movie trailer hardly anyone has seen. If he tries to deny that was the case, he has history against him:

The key to this debate will be whether Romney is up to the challenge of clearly exposing this hypocrisy. There are other issues as well—our relationship with Israel, the misnamed Arab Spring, violence in the Middle East in general, the failure of the “reset” button with Russia—that also should come up.

Foreign policy is vitally important, and it’s just as important who is leading America on the world stage. We are suffering through another Jimmy Carter Moment. Will another Ronald Reagan Moment follow?

Shades of the Carter Years

I remember it well. It was during the final years of the Carter administration—the rise of militant Islam. The birthplace was Iran under the severe rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini. He had chased the Shah out of the country and taken over, along with his fanatical followers. Khomeini determined that the United States was the Great Satan. Therefore, it made no difference to him that the U.S. embassy was officially American soil; his hordes stormed the embassy and took more than fifty hostages. The news showed them taken out into the streets, blindfolded and humiliated.

But, in fact, it wasn’t the hostages themselves who were humiliated; it was the nation they represented. And weakness trickled down from the top in the person of an ineffective president who was out of his league trying to deal with the situation.

Sound familiar?

Jimmy Carter didn’t know quite what to do. At one point, he finally decided on a rescue mission, but it had to be scrubbed when a helicopter went down in the Iranian desert. Another wonderful photo op for the militants. Another humiliation for America. Yet Carter won renomination in 1980 and went into the general election against Ronald Reagan. Polls showed that, despite his troubles and general ineffectiveness, not only in foreign affairs but on the economy—the economists had to invent a new term called stagflation to describe just how bad things were—he held a lead over Reagan right up to the week before the election.

Sound familiar again?

But common sense prevailed in 1980, and Reagan won in a blowout, which confounded most experts. Wouldn’t it be nice to have history repeat itself this year?

At the same time that the presidential campaign was in full swing, Americans were transfixed by a miniseries on TV called Shogun, a drama about a European castaway in Japan who has to learn how to survive in a foreign land. He eventually works his way up in the society to a prized position known as a shogun. One particularly brilliant cartoonist saw a linkage with the current administration:

Although this was a pre-internet age, this political cartoon went viral. It showcased the incompetence of the Carter administration, and it hit a nerve. Even Carter’s reelection team posted it in their cubicles as a reminder of how their candidate was perceived.

The past few days have evoked memories of the Carter years. Iran remains the biggest threat in the Middle East, developing a nuclear capability and threatening to annihilate Israel. America still earns the eternal hatred of this Islamic empire. It has spawned even more radicals who now are taking over many Islamic countries, with the mobs, murders, and threats we’ve witnessed in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. The world has become even more dangerous.

And whom do we have in charge at such a crucial moment?

This does not inspire confidence.

A Hierarchy of Courage vs. a Partisan Political Ploy

President Obama seems to have stepped in it again. He has taken an event that should have been a uniting feature of the War on Terror—the killing of Osama bin Laden one year ago—and turned it into a partisan political ploy. A new ad has Bill Clinton—Bill Clinton, mind you—praising the courage and leadership of Obama as he made the decision to proceed with the raid that led to bin Laden’s death.

Now, I’m not going to detract from the significance of making that decision. It was the right call. But then the ad goes on to imply that the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, might not have had the backbone to do the same. This is the Obama team at its partisan worst. When we all should be glad that a master terrorist reaped the consequences of his evil actions, we are treated instead to a glorified image of the current president interwoven into his reelection campaign:

What, in fact, did he do that anyone else in his position would not have done? As Romney quipped, even Jimmy Carter would have made the same call. There’s also no credit being given to all the groundwork that was laid by the Bush administration that led to the raid. In particular, Obama and his allies have decried the enhanced interrogation techniques that effectively provided the information necessary to make the “takeout” possible. Then there’s the SEAL Team itself, which is largely forgotten in the reelection bid. No, this is all about Obama. What’s devastating is that SEAL members are speaking out, miffed over the grandiose role being promoted for the president. One cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, has displayed his feelings about Obama’s role rather blatantly:

Obama made the right decision, but his decision was not the most courageous on that day. He was simply doing what was necessary after all the spadework had been done for him. It was the soldiers who put their lives on the line to accomplish the mission. There was a hierarchy of courage in the events that transpired one year ago today.

Reagan, Santorum, & the Nervous Nellies

Listening to the panic within the GOP establishment about the possibility of Rick Santorum being the Republican presidential nominee reminds me of 1976 and 1980. The criticisms I hear today of Santorum by GOP insiders are similar to the ones leveled against the “outsider” back in those earlier presidential campaigns. The outsider at that time was a guy named Ronald Reagan.

I remember clearly how adamant his Republican critics were that it would be an embarrassment to have Reagan at the head of the ticket: he was a grade-B movie actor, we were told; he had a tendency to say foolish things; he was too focused on the problems and didn’t have a “sunny” enough disposition. Can you believe that last one, now that everyone points to Reagan’s optimism? But back in the day, he was the one who came across to some as too hardline—he would turn off the moderate voters.

As today, we were gravely informed that disaster would befall the GOP if Reagan were the candidate. So, in 1976, the GOP establishment lined up behind Gerald Ford. Of course, he was the sitting president, so much of that was to be expected. But the venom directed at Reagan was unceasing. In particular, we were assured that a prolonged primary season, one that lasted right up to the convention itself, would destroy any chance Ford would have against Carter. It did go to the convention, and Reagan only barely lost the nomination. While it’s true that Ford lost to Carter, blaming Reagan for that would be to omit how badly Ford performed as the candidate. It also would dismiss the effects of Watergate and Ford’s pardon of Nixon. No, Reagan’s challenge was not the reason Ford lost; he accomplished that all by himself.

Again, in 1980, the Nervous Nellies of the squishy middle wanted someone else besides Reagan, whether it was Bob Dole, Howard Baker, or George H. W. Bush. We were gravely informed once again that a Reagan candidacy would be a disaster because he couldn’t draw in the independent voters. The economy at the time was eerily similar to what it is today. There was a weak incumbent—Carter—just like there is today with Obama. Yet the polls still predicted a Carter victory right up to the week before the election. Imagine all the “I told you so’s” being whispered among the Republican moderates. Well, that election was a blowout for Reagan. The rest is history.

That’s why I’m not swayed by our current crop of Nervous Nellies. They’ve been wrong before; they can be wrong again. What we need is someone who stands for genuine Biblical principles in government—no, that’s not a theocracy—and who’s willing to take on the incumbent philosophically as well as on specific policy issues. We need someone who can explain “why” we need to change our perception of government, not merely tell us “what” he’s going to do. Reagan was good at the “why” as well as the “what.” Santorum deals with foundational thinking, whereas Romney doesn’t seem to have a foundation.

By the way, do you recall that Romney won Michigan this week? Well, you recalled incorrectly. It turns out that the delegates are split 50/50 between Romney and Santorum. In most worlds, that’s called a tie. This isn’t over yet.

Another Carter? Or Worse?

I’m seeing a lot of comments comparing Barack Obama with Jimmy Carter, but you probably have to be over 40 to really remember the Carter years. Consequently, a large part of our population may not realize the aptness of the comparison. What are the similarities?

First, Carter was an outsider who promised a new way of doing things in DC. Sound familiar? He said he would get the economy out of the doldrums, yet by the time his reelection effort came along, we were mired in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Sound familiar again? It was so bad economists had to coin a new term—stagflation—a combination of stagnation and inflation, something they said couldn’t happen simultaneously. Yet President Carter was able to achieve it.

He further blamed the bad economy on anything but his policies. If that sounds familiar as well, there’s a good reason. While Obama continues to blame Bush, the Japanese earthquake, turmoil in the Middle East, and the ongoing travails of the Chicago Cubs [I just threw in that last one for fun, but don’t be surprised if it shows up in his rhetoric at some point], Carter basically blamed the American people who, he said, had lost confidence. Even though he didn’t use the word “malaise” in a nationally broadcast speech, historians have referred to it as the “Malaise Speech.”

His speech was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The economic downturn deepened. Today, President Obama gives speech after speech, always saying the same things: he’s got a plan for jobs, we need to “invest” more in our infrastructure, etc. Yet things remain the same. He’s all talk and no action. Well, let me modify that; the actions he has taken, such as Obamacare, have only made our financial future less secure.

So is this, as some are touting, the second term of Jimmy Carter?

Actually, as bad as Carter was as president, what we are currently experiencing is demonstrably worse because the current occupant of the White House has a grander plan to fundamentally change the nature of America and its system of government. Carter was a novice compared to Obama.