America’s Image Abroad

Benghazi hasn’t been the only foreign policy fiasco for the Obama administration. Presumed Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was a non-entity as secretary of state. Neither she nor other State Department officials, when asked what she accomplished, could come up with anything concrete.

Her successor, John Kerry, is, if possible, even more inept. He and President Obama have displayed an uncommon disdain for Israel and sympathy for those who would like to commit another holocaust against the Jewish people. Last week, Kerry was caught saying that Israel might become an apartheid state. Yet the only nation in the Middle East that includes both Jews and Arabs in government is Israel. It was an offensive statement, divorced from reality. Israeli officials were deeply troubled by the attitude. They have lost confidence in America as an ally, and for good reason:

One Reason

Overall, the Obama approach to world affairs has been to wash our hands of any real leadership. He offers words, and little else. It’s not only Israel that has lost confidence in the nation that has, since WWII, taken on responsibility for combating the evil ideologies of communism and Islamic terrorism. What is America’s role today?

Atlas Shrugged

From returning a bust of Winston Churchill back to Britain, to the silly “reset” button sent to Russia, to the toothless reaction to the imminent takeover of Ukraine, to . . . well, fill in the blank . . . our policies are now being orchestrated by rank amateurs who are still trying to figure out how this all works:

Foreign Policy

So who is going to lead? On what nation or organization can the future of freedom depend? Well, there’s always the United Nations:

Shock Waves

Sure, that should work.

I’m not saying the United States has never stumbled in foreign policy prior to this administration, but there is one glaring difference today: the world no longer looks to us as the best hope for extending liberty and the rule of law. Obama is not too keen on either liberty or the rule of law, at home or abroad.

Stonewalling Benghazi

The Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11, 2012, might get the award for the least covered political scandal of recent times. As I’ve noted before, the ramifications of this event are far greater than anything in Watergate, yet Watergate is a household name, while Benghazi remains clouded in obscurity.

This White House pulled out all the stops from the beginning to mislead the public about the nature of the attack, sending UN ambassador Susan Rice to all the talk shows to blame it on a video. Even now, a former NSC official, Tommy Vietor, being interviewed by Fox’s Brett Baier, said, “Dude, this was two years ago!” As if that should end the story. It was actually another part of the orchestrated attempt to insinuate that this is only a Fox fantasy of some kind:

Talking Points

First of all, is “dude” really a grownup way of talking to a news reporter? But just as juvenile is Jay Carney, who refused even to acknowledge that an e-mail about Benghazi stemming from the White House that shows complicity in conjuring up the false story, isn’t an e-mail about Benghazi at all:

Benghazi E-mails

Yes, that pretty much illustrates the absurdity of the administration’s response to what Charles Krauthammer calls “the smoking gun.” Carney is a one-man stone wall:

Stonewall

Apparently, the hope at the White House is that somehow all of this can continue to be swept under the rug:

Rug

After a while, it becomes rather too difficult to ignore reality. The Obama Media—which should become the standard term for the mainstream news outlets—is horrified by the latest turn of events. They have tried so hard to avoid investigating this story:

Benghazi Coverup

Now, they’ve had to try to act as if they are interested:

Belated Reporting

But a significant segment of the media population seems willing to do almost anything to shield this president:

Coverup

It’s not just one person, though, that they are trying to protect. Another one at the center of this scandal also is in the limelight, and has much to fear from the truth:

Go Away

This is not an “old” story. This is one that cannot go away until all the facts are clearly revealed. House Speaker John Boehner has finally decided this rises to the level of a special investigative committee rather than a scattershot approach to finding the facts. Let’s hope that new committee can perform a valuable service to the American people.

The Benghazi E-mails

Benghazi AttackBenghazi is back. Big time. As it should be. All the facts about the terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans have never been uncovered. Questions remain about a number of issues: Why was that consulate even open in a hostile environment? Why was it not adequately protected? Could our military have gotten there in time to stop the attack? How in the world did an obscure internet video become the scapegoat for the violence? How did politics play into the decision to blame the video?

Benghazi-HillaryThe Obama administration has ducked and weaved to avoid straight answers. It has gone to great lengths to shield both Obama and Hillary Clinton, the latter of whom staged her infamous response to a congressional committee with a fake outrage, yelling, “What difference at this point does it make?” when asked about her role in the tragedy.

Congress sought relevant White House e-mails about the attack last year, only to be stonewalled. It took a Freedom of Information Act request by a private organization, Judicial Watch, and a court order to force the administration to finally release those e-mails. What they reveal is revealing.

One of the e-mails is now the subject of great attention. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, outlined what the official response should be. The summary is simple: blame the internet video for the violence; deflect attention from policy failures; emphasize Obama’s cool and collected leadership. All of this is in the context of the 2012 presidential campaign as the Obama people were more focused on reelection than actually conducting foreign policy and getting to the truth about the Benghazi episode.

Yesterday, White House spokesman Jay Carney tried to assert that this particular e-mail had nothing to do with Benghazi, despite the fact that it is mentioned specifically in the e-mail. His absurd answers to reporters finally doing their job after two years could be called comedic, if not for the horror of the Benghazi event itself.

This is a story that should not go away. It is far worse than Watergate, as is the IRS debacle. Yet it appears that only one network besides Fox took the time to include it in broadcasts yesterday. The New York Times didn’t think it worth the trouble either. These journalists don’t deserve any awards for their work:

Pulitzer Pies

And when the president decides to lecture other nation’s leaders on their behavior, he has no credibility:

Irresponsible Behavior

Benghazi and the IRS are open wounds that need immediate attention. They cannot and should not be ignored. Will the mainstream media do its duty for once? Not unless their feet are held to the fire. It’s time to turn up the heat.

The Shifting Political Climate

I haven’t yet commented on a special election from last week here in my state of Florida. Many are seeing it as a portent for what awaits Democrats this November. In a race to fill a congressional seat in the Tampa area left vacant by the death of a long-time Republican representative, Democrats thought they had a slam dunk with Alex Sink, a woman who barely lost the governor’s race in 2010. In that race, she had won this congressional district, and the district, despite having the Republican congressman, had gone for Obama in both presidential elections.

David JollySink was running against a largely unknown Republican, David Jolly, who had to battle the image of being a lobbyist. Polls all along predicted a Sink victory, only to find the real poll on election night was more accurate. Jolly won the seat, primarily running against Obamacare. All Sink could do about Obamacare was offer some vague promise to “fix” it, whatever than meant.

The result was somewhat of a shock. Immediately, Democrats said the loss had nothing to do with Obamacare, that this was somehow a stolen election because Jolly got so much funding from groups nationwide. Never mind, of course, that Sink outspent him four-to-one; that fact is inconvenient.

Those who didn’t use the “election stolen” line tried the other old tactic: this race is not an indication of what’s coming; it was simply one insignificant special election in a district that already had a Republican congressman and Obamacare had absolutely nothing to do with the loss. Doubling down, one Democrat consultant, Bob Shrum, has now told Democrats to boldly run on Obamacare in the November elections. Shrum, by the way, is primarily known for running losing campaigns at the federal level.

Well, I would like to echo Shrum’s advice: please run on Obamacare.

Dems Sinking

In case Democrats haven’t noticed, the political climate is shifting:

Then-Now

It’s hard to say whether Obama or Obamacare is more unpopular—they’re running neck-and-neck. Democrats’ great hope now is that they can put forward another “historic” figure for the next presidential cycle. They’re counting on the idea that it’s a woman’s turn and that Hillary Clinton will waltz into the White House. I’m sure they’re already busy working on some winning campaign themes:

Barack Who

They’re also counting on collective amnesia:

Best Possible

The only real question remaining is whether Republicans will put up a challenger who has a strong message and can deliver it in a way that will attract voters. I’m not yet prepared to say who I think that person will be. Watch and pray is a Scriptural admonition; it applies in this situation as well.

The Russian-Ukrainian Crisis

I’ve refrained until now from commenting on the situation in Ukraine. I know this is a tough situation with few easy answers. The history of tension between Ukraine and Russia goes back a long ways. One of the worst episodes in twentieth-century history occurred in Ukraine in the winter of 1932-1933 when Josef Stalin was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union. During that winter, Stalin, in an attempt to strangle Ukrainian resistance to his destruction of independent farmers, removed the region’s food supply, thereby starving approximately seven million Ukrainians to death.

This horror was largely unknown to the West, primarily because journalists like the New York Times’s Walter Duranty, who was given lavish gifts by Stalin, refused to tell the truth about the government-enforced famine. Back in 1983, I was hired by a Ukrainian organization to contact media people to get them to publicize the fiftieth anniversary of this atrocity. I discovered, much to my chagrin, that most of the media didn’t really care to bring it up. It was like the 1930s repeated.

This foolish infatuation with the communist vision was encouraged throughout the decades by people who were referred to as “fellow travelers.” Although not members of the communist party, they trod the same path, giving aid and comfort to the cause of the enemies of Western civilization. That same spirit remains today in the form of liberals/progressives who continue to see the United States as the main obstacle to peace in the world. Remember when Barack Obama took office? There was this famous [infamous?] “reset” button that Hillary Clinton took to Russia to show that a new era had dawned in U.S-Russian relations. Well, how has that worked out?

Reset

It was based on a faulty worldview. In the current Ukraine crisis, the perception of the world, it seems, is that the American government is all talk and no action. Our leaders, both Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, are seen as weak and impotent. Who is really afraid of any threat offered by this administration? Besides, the approach is anything but threatening:

Please Be Nice

Do Nothing

Vladimir Putin is seen, in the world’s eyes, as the strong man here. Obama, not so much.

Middle School

One gets the impression our president really doesn’t know what to do when faced with Russian intransigence:

Extend Our Hand

We continue to rely on good intentions, long after it’s obvious that Russian intentions are not good. Maybe there’s one action the president can take that will cause great consternation within the Russian government:

That'll Teach Him

Dream on.

What About Impeachment?

Talk of impeachment is beginning. President Obama’s latest power grab, declaring publicly that he will act without Congress to get done what he considers his priorities, is rankling those who are committed to the delicate separation of powers established by the Constitution. Is this just talk? Are there sufficient grounds for impeachment? Is it even politically feasible?

Impeaching a president is a big step. Two presidents have been formally impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. A third, Richard Nixon, resigned before it could come to a full vote in the House of Representatives. To be impeached simply means to be accused by a majority of the House of actions warranting removal from office. In both cases when the House approved articles of impeachment, neither president was removed from office after a trial in the Senate. The Senate has the final say on articles of impeachment, and in the case of a president, two-thirds of that body must vote for removal.

The vote for Johnson’s removal was very close. It fell just one vote short, so he completed his term, which was less than a year anyway. For Clinton, a Republican-controlled Senate had a majority for removal, but not the two-thirds necessary; not even one Democrat joined the Republicans in favor of turning the White House over to VP Al Gore.

If you study the history of impeachment proceedings, both in Britain and America, you find that causes for removal from office can range from actual violations of law to non-criminal activity that simply brings disgrace and/or dishonor to the office. It’s not essential to find that someone has broken a law; if continuation in office is deemed to be detrimental to the proper functioning of the government, that is sufficient grounds for dismissal.

Because the Clinton impeachment is so near to us historically, that’s what most people will use as their comparison with the current president. What were Clinton’s actions that led to the impeachment? He was formally accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, both violations of law. In the background, of course, were his unseemly sexual inclinations. At the time, accusations of sexual relations with a young woman working in the White House and a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former Arkansas state employee formed the context for his violations. The whole thing was tawdry. I was in favor of his impeachment and removal due to the dishonor he conferred upon the presidency, not just because I disagreed with his political agenda.

ImpeachableAfter the Senate trial ended in his acquittal, I interviewed all the House Managers who argued before the Senate for his removal. It led to a book that gave their side of the story. Nowadays, conventional wisdom says they were wrong and/or foolish to proceed with the impeachment. Even though the Senate had a majority of Republicans, getting the two-thirds vote was considered a real long shot. However, I thought it was worth the fight, if for no other reason than to stand for principle. There was at least a glimmer of hope for success, given that Republicans did control that chamber.

My interviews also revealed to me a group of congressmen who fought this fight for the sake of principle: no man, not even a president, is above the law. Everyone is equal before the law, and all must be held accountable. I continue to honor them today for the stand they took.

So what about President Obama? There are two considerations: has he committed impeachable offenses and is there any realistic hope that impeachment proceedings will result in his removal from office?

On the first consideration, I am of the decided opinion that he has overstepped the lawful boundaries of his authority on many occasions. He is currently attempting to rule by executive orders, a clear violation of the constitutional limitations on a president. With respect to the IRS targeting of his political foes, is there anyone who, deep down, believes this was the result of a few rogue agents who acted without the approval—either directly or with a smile and a nod—of the president? Using a federal agency to undermine political opposition is the very thing Nixon was accused of. Democrats, at that time, didn’t think it was unjust to use that as a reason for impeachment.

Obama Arrogant Look 3Then there’s Benghazi. Regardless of whether the military could have gotten there in time to help the besieged, the massive coverup afterwards is reprehensible. Blaming the attack on some obscure video when it’s obvious now that Obama and everyone else around him knew it was a planned terrorist action, is inexcusable. Throwing the producer of the video in prison was unconscionable. And doing it all during an election season to hide the truth from an electorate deciding whether to keep Obama in office was deception of the highest order.

So, yes, he has committed clearly impeachable offenses. His disregard for the Constitution seems limitless; his desire to do whatever is necessary to remain in power renders him unfit for the office.

But that brings us to the second consideration: is there a realistic hope that the Senate actually would remove him? I don’t think there’s any hope of that at all. Not only is the Senate controlled by his own party, it is more bitterly partisan now than ever. If not even one Democrat senator could bring himself or herself to vote to remove Bill Clinton from office, how is there any reasonable expectation that twenty-two of them would do so today? Any impeachment proceeding against Barack Obama would be futile.

So what can be done?

First, I applaud Sen. Rand Paul’s lawsuit against the president over the misuse of the NSA’s intelligence-gathering. How about some more lawsuits aimed at the president’s unconstitutional power grabs? Not all the courts are corrupt. There are still some judges out there who revere the rule of law.

Second, focus laser-like on the upcoming congressional elections. If Republicans can take back the Senate, and if a few more of those senators can grow the spines they currently lack, legislation can be passed to curtail unconstitutional activities. Yes, the president will veto all such legislation, but this will be a vital educational experience for the general public as they see a president flaunting the law so openly.

Education of the public in the principle of rule of law will provide an opening for a Republican presidential candidate who has the stomach and integrity to stand for what is right. If Republicans can unite behind a bold, principled leader, there remains a hope that the present drift of the nation politically can be turned around.

I realize a lot has to come together to make this happen. I’m not naïve. And at the root of any great reversal of national fortunes must be a spiritual revival that calls people back to foundational truths. Although we need to take the proper steps in the political realm, ultimate success rests with a Biblically grounded people. Will we be such a people?

The Obamacare Follies (cont.)

I might as well continue the Obamacare commentary today, particularly since political cartoonists are having such a wonderful time skewering all the latest follies emanating from it. Their inventiveness in depicting its foibles and the president’s stumbling and unconstitutional efforts to salvage it is impressive.

The most Alice-in-Wonderland defense of the law’s job-destroying features came directly from a White House spokesman, a supposed economist who tried to convince a stunned public that losing all these jobs was actually a good thing for people:

Lucky

Believe it or not, that was even too bizarre for some of the Obama media. Yet there will always be a segment of the population that can be fooled all the time:

Full Speed Ahead

It may dawn on them someday that this is not really a benefit.

The other half of the incredulity that has become the Obama administration was another of the endless “revisions” to the Obamacare law, to the point now that it’s hardly even a law anymore. It’s only whatever the president wants it to be from day to day. Imagine trying to accomplish anything in life if you never can rely on the steadiness of the law. If the Obama approach were to be applied to sports, for instance, no game would ever be played:

Rules

Chess Rules Living Document

It’s even worse when the Constitution is viewed as a so-called “living” document. If it gets in the way, throw it out.

What’s all this really about? Political survival. Getting past the November congressional elections. Letting the next administration take the heat from Obamacare’s consequences by putting off the full results as long as possible.

RX

I’m just hoping that final panel won’t become reality. If it does, our agony will be ongoing.