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.

Overwhelmed by the Magnitude of the Misdeeds

I can understand why many people choose to ignore the multitude of scandals associated with the Obama regime. There is a weariness that can overtake you if you try to keep up with them all. After a while, it’s easy to glaze over and seek relief. Neither do I wish to spend all my time thinking about evil and how it worms its way into every corner of our society. I would like nothing better than to stop writing about it, but if I follow that natural inclination, I will be discarding the responsibility I believe God has placed on my shoulders.

One cartoonist has effectively summarized in one picture why we can get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the misdeeds:

Corruption

As the cartoon suggests, the office of the presidency, as represented by the presidential seal, is besmirched and nearly obliterated. We’re supposed to be able to have respect for this office, but the current occupant is making that difficult.

One of the scandals that the media seems to have put behind it is the use of the IRS to hamper the activities of groups opposed to the Obama agenda. I know it’s been said hundreds of times by a variety of commentators, but I’ll say it once again: if a Republican president had attempted to do this to his opponents, that president would now be going through impeachment proceedings. Not so with this president; the media has determined he is untouchable, and his own party, which controls the Senate, will never face up to the truth and hold him accountable. Real justice would look like this:

Audit

The ongoing scandal, of course, is the constant use of presidential executive orders to get whatever he wants, regardless of laws passed or not passed by Congress. Reports indicate Obama has now made 28 revisions to Obamacare purely by executive fiat. Apart from specific legislation that undermines the republic, this raw exercise of an authority he doesn’t possess is the greatest threat to the future of this nation:

Executive Order

Democrats know their titular leader is no longer very popular; those who are running for reelection this November are running swiftly away from him. Some are simply hoping to hold on until 2016, when they believe he can be replaced by their next “dream” candidate, Hillary Clinton. Well, she actually may be more of a dream candidate for Republicans to run against, considering her history:

Hillary Memoir

Another President Clinton would be a continuation of what we are experiencing now, as well as a sad reminder of the follies and scandals of a previous Clinton presidency. Aren’t we supposed to learn from history?

Obama’s Inconvenient Problems

I know President Obama wants all the problems he and his minions have created just to go away; they’re too inconvenient to his goals. He’s doing his best to act as if they’re inconsequential, but the news doesn’t really get better for him as time passes. Take Obamacare, for instance. This past week, the Congressional Budget Office—always referred to in the news as the nonpartisan CBO—revised its figures of the impact of Obamacare on jobs. It seems it will be instrumental in the loss of about 2.3 million fulltime jobs in the next few years. That’s not what the CBO said when the legislation was pending. Have you noticed how economic and jobs figures are seemingly in constant revision?

Let’s review the myriad disruptions to normal life caused by Obamacare:

Side Effects

But when these side effects are presented to the president, he makes light of them and declares his signature legislation to be a resounding success:

Light Dusting

Then there’s the IRS controversy, the ongoing investigation into the unfair targeting of conservative groups, representatives of whom testified yesterday in Congress as to the strains and pressures they have faced from that federal agency. Obama’s claim that there’s not even a smidgen of corruption connected to the scandal is becoming as infamous as Bill Clinton’s “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” Will this fly with the informed part of the public?

Not Even a Smidgen

The president’s constant fallback when confronted with these issues is to blame others. For years, he has solemnly asserted most of his economic hiccups were caused by George Bush. Now, five years into his presidency, that’s got to be wearing thin with anyone who possesses even a smidgen of brain power. Another favorite scapegoat has been Fox News, which is merely following the evidence on these various scandals and not allowing them to be swept under the rug. Obama’s tendency to blame Fox surfaced again this week in his interview with Bill O’Reilly:

Fox News

And then there’s the always-reliable excuse of racism. Who can ever counter that one? Well, perhaps Martin Luther King, were he still with us today, might have a few choice words about using that excuse:

Content of Character

Amidst all the controversy, though, Obama has one faithful ally that will always do its best to come to his rescue:

Swan

And that’s what makes it so difficult to have an informed public.

Obama Pulling a Clinton?

I’d like to offer a short follow-up to yesterday’s post, in which I commented on Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama. The president denied there was any malfeasance or scandal that should cost anyone his/her job, whether in the Benghazi tragedy, the comedy of Obamacare, or the drama surrounding the IRS targeting of conservative groups. In the case of the IRS, he even went so far as to say there’s wasn’t even a “smidgen” of corruption involved.

Let’s focus on the IRS for a moment. It’s important to keep abreast of what’s happening with that investigation. First, whenever Congress holds a hearing about it, all the committee gets is stonewalling or someone taking the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination. Second, the person charged with spearheading the investigation (as far as anyone can figure out, since no list of investigators has been provided) is a woman who gave thousands to the Obama reelection campaign and who owes her job to her loyalty to the administration. Finally, leaks from the investigation are hinting there will be no criminal prosecutions for this IRS action. Perhaps that’s why Obama can confidently—shall we say “smugly”—assert there is no evidence of corruption.

All of this stalling and assigning of cronies to conduct investigations is a hallmark of Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, and is one very real reason why he has never been put out to pasture; he’s just too irreplaceable for an administration that desires a major coverup job:

No Evidence

Meanwhile, the general public, which has a hard enough time paying attention even when there is no stonewall to drag out the story, continues in willful ignorance, hoping everything is as rosy as they want it to be:

IRS Musical

I think Obama is trying to pull a Bill Clinton here. That president was so beset by scandals that the public became overwhelmed with them, leading to a numbing effect and simply wanting it all to be over. They got tired of the constant drumbeat of scandal and sought peace and quiet. Leave the president alone, they said, in effect. Obama may be seeking to exploit public weariness in the same way. His tactic is to act as if all the accusations are hot air generated by political foes and a news network that is unfair to him personally. He even told O’Reilly to his face that he was unfair.

Perhaps the takeaway from the interview—at least the one Obama wants—is this:

Never Say

If he is outraged enough and condescending enough, maybe all the questions will go away. Let’s hope not. Too much remains to be answered, and too many people need to pay the consequences for what they have done.