Bombs Away? A Reagan-Trump Comparison

President Trump has stirred the criticism pot with his military actions: striking an air base in Syria and using the largest bomb in the US arsenal to destroy terrorists’ caves in Afghanistan. It has led some to question exactly what authority a president has to use the military without first consulting Congress.

That’s an important question because the Constitution gives Congress the authority to declare war, not any president unilaterally. Of course, Congress hasn’t passed an actual war declaration since WWII. All of our actions militarily since then have either been in conjunction with the UN (Korea, Persian Gulf War) or with tacit approval of Congress to defend American lives (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq). The latter were with congressional resolutions that fall short of true declarations.

Yet are there times when a president cannot wait for Congress to debate a matter because surprise is essential? Can the use of the military for one specific action be taken by presidential authority without a full declaration of war?

Let’s look at the Reagan years for a couple of examples.

In 1983, a militant pro-Castro faction overthrew the government of Maurice Bishop, a moderate Marxist, on the island of Grenada. Reagan immediately understood the implications of the coup: if the new government survived, a third Cuba (Marxist Nicaragua was viewed as the second Cuba in Reagan’s mind) would have come into existence during his watch. Grenada would become another Soviet client-state in the Western hemisphere.

The new Grenadian administration brought in 600 Cubans to construct an airstrip that could accommodate large military planes. This worried not only the US but other island-nations in the region. Prime Minister Eugenia Charles of Dominica came to the White House to share her concerns with Reagan and ask for help.

Another factor Reagan had to take under consideration was several hundred Americans who were attending a medical school on the island. He wanted to ensure their safety, but knew that if word got out that action was being contemplated, those Americans could easily become hostages. The threat of another Iranian-type hostage situation loomed.

So, for national security reasons and fear for the safety of American lives, Reagan chose to act swiftly and as quietly as possible. He did bring in congressional leadership, both Republican and Democrat, before taking action, informing them of the situation. He got the go-ahead from them to proceed.

On October 25, Reagan sent 10,000 U.S. marines and army airborne troops to invade the island. All resistance was eliminated after three days of fighting. At first, some members of Congress were outraged, but public support for the invasion soared as TV coverage featured interviews with the grateful American students.

Then there was Libya in 1986.

This radical Islamic state ruled by strongman Muammar Qaddafi had used its oil revenues to bankroll terrorists in Europe and the Middle East. On April 15, 1986, having concluded that Libya had supported and financed the bombing of a nightclub in Berlin frequented by American military personnel, Reagan ordered the bombing of five targets in Libya, including the presidential palace.

Reagan wanted to send a message to Qaddafi that he needed to back off his financial support for terrorism, and that he should think twice before aiding and abetting attacks that might kill and injure US soldiers.

Again, Reagan felt that giving advance warning for this punitive action would allow Libya to prepare for it and minimize the damage. He had already publicly proclaimed the US perspective on Libya and other nations directly involved with terrorism when he said in a speech that Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Libya were “outlaw states run by the strangest collection of misfits, loony-tunes and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich.” Of Qaddafi, he said, “He’s not only a barbarian, he’s flaky.”

In both of these instances, Reagan took into consideration national security and saving the lives of American citizens. Both actions were short-term, not full-fledged wars, and required secrecy for their success.

Trump’s decisions have to be evaluated in that same light. I have no problem with the Afghanistan bombing, as it is part of an ongoing effort to eliminate terrorism aimed at America. It would be nice, though, for Congress to go the whole way for a declaration of war and make it more constitutional. Yet I realize that it is difficult in this situation because terrorism is not confined to one nation; it is a continuing problem that pops up everywhere.

As for Syria, I have mixed feelings. Trump apparently decided to go ahead with that bombing because of the use of chemical weapons on Syrian citizens. He saw pictures of the results and was horrified. Who wouldn’t be?

But was there a direct danger to American citizens over Syria’s use of chemical weapons? Was our national security threatened by this terrible action? We are a compassionate people who want to stop atrocities, but can we do that everywhere in the world? Aren’t atrocities occurring in many nations? Where do we strike and where do we not?

Decisions need to be made on the basis of national security and saving American lives first and foremost. Other reasons may enter in as well, but there needs to be a compelling need to act; we can’t merely make emotional decisions.

My concern is that Trump often makes decisions based on emotion. He has little understanding of constitutional authority and limitations; neither does he care to learn.

While I can inwardly cheer that the bombing in Syria sends a message, I can wonder about the wisdom of that decision and whether it really accomplished its purposes.

My concerns about how Trump makes decisions and whether he has any bedrock principles have never gone away. I’m also concerned that too many Americans don’t care about those principles. Yet without a proper understanding of the rule of law, we are in trouble.

Obamacare Repeal?

The disaster known as Obamacare is still with us. Mind you, it’s more like a corpse than a living thing, with insurance companies abandoning it on a regular basis. But it’s still here and must be dealt with. Democrats may defend it, but that’s only because it’s their own creation. It’s more than the typical train wreck; it’s more like . . .

So the disaster is now in Republican laps to figure out what to do, although Democrats will issue warning after warning about trying to do anything to change it or replace it.

Obamacare defenders are out in force at townhall meetings, trying to shout down any attempt to repeal and replace. Much of it seems to be an organized and well-funded effort to intimidate. Republican congressmen and senators have to be prepared for that intimidation:

Making promises in a campaign has always been easy; attempting to fulfill them isn’t quite as simple sometimes. Obamacare is a prime example:

Republicans have this habit of making a sweeping promise, then can’t agree on how to carry it out. That seems to be what’s happening again. I do understand the complexity they are dealing with, but I also understand how those who have elected Republicans to do their job can get frustrated with them.

While we need to be patient to ensure that the Obamacare dismantling is handled properly, it definitely must be dismantled. Any backtracking on that basic belief by elected officials will be an outright betrayal of the voters.

Don’t Do Stupid Stuff

The new Congress is now seated and ready for business. Already the Republicans have moved forward with repealing Obamacare. They put that provision inside a budget bill that doesn’t allow a filibuster. Maybe they are finally learning how to govern.

The Democrats find themselves in an unusual situation after this past election:

Democrat leadership is at a historic low, and prospects for the future are not the greatest:

With electoral devastation all around him, President Obama seems oblivious to the carnage:

He’s giving indications he will not go away quietly. He plans to live in Washington and speak out whenever he thinks the country needs his “wisdom.” It could make for an interesting next four years:

My concerns about a Trump presidency remain. He has made some good choices for his cabinet, seems poised to approve the repeal-and-replace strategy on Obamacare, and I’m grateful for his solidarity with Israel.

The big question for me will always be his character. One never knows what to expect from him. We could be in for a surreal ride:

Yet haven’t the past eight years been a sort of Twilight Zone as well? If Trump follows through and reverses Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders and actually puts a good person on the Supreme Court to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat, some of my concerns will be lessened.

Now, if only he will see that Vladimir Putin is not really a man to be admired . . .

That’s very good advice. Will he take it?

The Election: Positives & Negatives

We avoided one national disaster last night, but we may have created another one. Yes, I know that will sound like sour grapes to some of you, but while I am glad for one result, please forgive me for not being elated with the other. Let me explain.

The Positives

Positive #1

clintonsThe long national nightmare known as the Clintons may now have ended for good. No one who puts Biblical principles and constitutional government at the foundation of life in America can be unhappy about that.

Having endured eight years of Bill, another eight with Hillary at the helm would have been practically unendurable. Everything I hold dear would have been attacked from the highest office in the land, so seeing her come crashing down is extremely gratifying.

The only thing that would make this picture complete is to now see an indictment for all she has done to undermine national security. If that should ever appear imminent, though, as long as Barack Obama is in office, she will probably receive a preemptive pardon. You see, he would be implicated as well.

So, yes, I am relieved that we can now dismiss that artificial family from national politics.

Positive #2

obama-arrogant-lookThe result was a repudiation of the Obama years. Americans fed up with his goal of “transforming” the nation into his own image said a loud “stop!”

The damage of the last eight years will not be undone easily. The culture continues to decline overall. Only a fresh infusion of a vibrant Christian witness can make the difference and reverse some of what has transpired. It remains to be seen if the Christian community any longer has that vibrancy or whether it has sold out to politics.

Positive #3

senate-chamberRepublicans maintained control of both houses of Congress. While this doesn’t guarantee that Obamacare is doomed or that the Supreme Court will now be in the hands of constitutionalists, it at least offers a reprieve from progressive activism—if they know how to use their majority. That’s always the big question.

Having a numerical majority is one thing; using it wisely is another entirely. The track record is decidedly mixed. The one excuse they won’t have anymore is that they don’t have the White House.

Positive #4

Republicans continued to dominate in the state-level elections. From what I’ve learned thus far, they increased their control in a number of states. This, and the control of Congress, was what I was hoping for. We still have a federal system, so not everything is supposed to emanate from Washington, DC. Republican control in a majority of the states offers hope.

The Negatives

Negative #1

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganDonald Trump is now the president-elect. Winning the election last night doesn’t change who he is. I voted third-party and don’t repent of that vote. I continue to believe that he is unfit for the office that he now will occupy.

My concerns won’t go away. He is the supreme egotist who can’t handle any perceived insult. Will he now conduct a purge of anyone who wasn’t solidly in his camp?

He is blatantly immoral. Christians who think he has changed are going to be disappointed. All this talk about his being a “baby Christian” who only needs to grow in the faith is naive. In order to grow in the faith, one must have the faith first. There is no indication that he does.

constitutional-marriageAs I’ve said countless times, don’t depend on him to advance any agenda that puts pro-life or traditional marriage as a priority. He won’t fight for Supreme Court nominees of that ilk and he already has a propensity for letting everyone decide what they want to do with sex/gender issues.

Put not your trust in his promises.

His knowledge of issues is narrow and superficial. We need to hope that those who surround him have a better grasp of reality than he does.

Trump’s vision (such as it is) of America is not at all grounded in an understanding of constitutional limitations on the executive power. Will he decide to use his own executive orders to accomplish what he wants?

He is no conservative. He has no real understanding of the intellectual basis of conservatism and why it is essential for how governing should proceed.

I still consider him to be borderline emotionally unstable; who knows how that will manifest itself in his administration? Anyone who promotes crazy conspiracy theories, as he has done countless times, is not to be trusted.

Negative #2

Many who voted for Trump did so out of anger and frustration. It’s interesting that many who voted for him don’t really like him. Exit polls reveal that. They just couldn’t stand the prospect of a Hillary presidency. He enters the presidency as one of the most unliked and/or despised winners in American history.

While there is a proper place for anger and frustration, neither makes for a positive vision of the future. The national mood is dark, the culture is still on a downward spiral, and Donald Trump is not the solution.

Negative #3

christians-politicsMany sincere Christians have so thrown their lot in with Trump that it will be hard to disentangle themselves from him when he goes off the reservation. I continue to be deeply concerned that the Christian witness has suffered and will suffer more by our connection with him. Only time will tell how great that damage may be.

Too many Christians have followed the siren song of self-appointed prophets who have declared Trump to be God’s anointed. Be careful. While I do believe God can use the Nebuchadnezzars of this world for His purposes, I’m not going to rush into some silly confidence that Trump’s election is God-ordained.

People made this choice, not God. He may use the choice, and I pray He will, but don’t saddle Him with whatever Trump may do; that will only stain God’s reputation in the eyes of an unbelieving world when he disappoints—as surely he will.

So where does that leave me? Relieved that Hillary Clinton won’t be the president. Concerned that Donald Trump will be. We must remain vigilant and not go off into some fantasyland about how wonderful things will be from now on.

The battle is ongoing.

The End Is Near

I’m at the point with this election that I would just like to ignore it the rest of the way. My initial plan was to do so and say that today’s blog would be my final word on it. Tempting as that is, I will . . . reluctantly . . . continue to offer comments until that fateful day when the decision is made. Never in American history have the two major options been so awful.

sorry-candidates

If this election doesn’t deter the next generation from believing that government service can be an honorable profession, I don’t know what will.

negatives

As I’ve said before, I’ve looked forward to the day when I could vote to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. In last night’s debate, she couldn’t have been more clear that she sees the Supreme Court as the enforcer, not of the Constitution, but of the progressive agenda. She also made it clear (in case anyone had any doubt) that she believes in abortion on demand, defending Planned Parenthood’s atrocities with all her breath.

How can I not vote against her?

Many Christians this morning are lauding Donald Trump for what they think was his strong pro-life stance in the debate. I acknowledge that those were the strongest statements he has made yet on the subject, but how heartfelt were they?

I can hear the voices now: just accept him at his word; he’s on our side; he will appoint the right justices to the Court; the country will be saved.

I would like to believe him, but he remains, to me, utterly unbelievable. He’s performing his part to try to win votes. He’s succeeding with many Christians who desperately want Clinton defeated. Yet I still cannot support him.

First, even if he were to nominate a solid person for the Court, that person would have to get past the Senate. It will take 60 votes to allow the vote to go forward. That, in itself, would be slightly on the miraculous side. It also would require that President Trump go all out for such a nominee. I don’t think he would do so. He’s the dealmaker who will put out a good nominee knowing that person won’t make it, then give the Democrats the kind of nominee they will accept.

If you think Donald Trump will save the Court, I think you are being fooled.

It’s not just that. I look at the total package. Trump is a mess. I’ve written often about his personal morality, or lack thereof. Based on his character and his overall history, do you really think that all those women coming forward now to tell their tales of how Trump foisted himself on them are lying?

Trump is a walking massive ego. He thinks he can do whatever he wants, not only with women, but in every area of life. He, like Hillary, thinks he is entitled. When he says those women have to be lying because they aren’t attractive enough to get his attention, what does that say about him? In other words, if they were attractive enough, he would go right ahead and do what they are accusing him of.

He is truly reprehensible. Why any woman would vote for him is beyond me.

who-needs-them

His advisors have come up with plans to “drain the swamp.” Sounds good. Who’s going to drain the Trump Swamp first?

He continually attacks and demeans anyone who isn’t 100% on board his ego. I understand why Paul Ryan encouraged Republicans running for Congress to do whatever they feel is necessary to win their races, even if it means distancing themselves from the top of the ticket.

The only thing that’s going to stop Hillary’s drive to continue Obama’s transformation of America is a Congress that says “no.” It’s essential that Republicans maintain control of both chambers. Trump is a drag on that effort.

down-ballot

If Republicans lose the Congress, I will lay the blame on Trump.

Polls show, at this point, that Trump’s unpopularity has not yet dragged everyone else down with him. Voters appear to be making the distinction between him and other Republicans running for the House and Senate. Will that be the case on election day?

Prediction: Hillary Clinton will be the next president. That won’t be caused by people like me who cannot stomach Trump; it will be caused by the candidate himself. Almost any other Republican who ran in the primary would have trounced a candidate as corrupt as Hillary. Only Trump could possibly have lost to her.

I won’t vote for Donald Trump. I will, however, vote for every other Republican on my Florida ballot. President Clinton (oh, how I never wanted to hear those words again) needs to be challenged on every policy on every level.

end-is-near

Let’s just hope it’s not the end in the wrong sense. The end of this election season would be gratifying; the end of the nation not so much.

A 2016 Election Best-Case Scenario?

This has to be the dreariest election season I’ve ever experienced. Republicans have flirted with political suicide in their choice of Donald Trump. Democrats have decided that a woman with no real accomplishments other than being a former First Lady and who ought to be indicted for criminal activities should be their standard-bearer.

Could it be any worse?

After an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox, in which Hillary declared that FBI director Comey concluded she never lied about her private server and e-mails, the whole world was laughing. That led to her attempting to provide an excuse of sorts: they were talking “past” each other; she just “short-circuited.” Yes, there is definitely a short circuit occurring in her brain:

Short-Circuited

Just imagine how this excuse can be used in other circumstances:

Hillary Defense

As for Trump, well, I can’t keep up with his latest gaffes. By the time I’ve finished writing this blog, he may have committed another one, so why try to say a certain misstep is the “latest” when it already may be surpassed by another.

Never have polls indicated such an absolute disgust with both major candidates. Neither is considered trustworthy or truthful.

Negative Numbers

May I tell you what would be the best-case scenario for this election, in my opinion?

First, I would like to see the Republicans hold the House and the Senate. With Trump at the top of the ticket, many are saying that is in jeopardy. Yet voters need to grasp this essential fact: the presidency is not everything; Congress is the branch delegated by the Constitution to write and pass laws. Disgust with Trump should not stop anti-Trump Republicans/conservatives from voting for good congressmen and senators.

Second, I would like to see a record number voting for the presidential nominees, but in a different sense: I would like that number to be the lowest in presidential election history as a percentage of the eligible voters. That would make it clear that the majority of voters have expressed their disdain for the choices given them. Such a record-low turnout might send a strong message to both of the parties: we’re not happy with rules that effectively rig elections.

It’s obvious now that the Democrats, with their super-delegates and the Clinton Machine in full swing, chose Hillary over Sanders well before the primaries even began. He never had a chance.

On the other side, Trump was able to take advantage of the rules established by the Republican party to outlast his opponents. How about some changes, such as a nominee having a history of being a Republican? Or how about only allowing Republicans to choose their nominee in the primaries? I know, that’s too much common sense to be seriously considered.

Electing a president should be a serious matter, not a choice between two equally unqualified, and possibly criminal, nominees.

Big Chair

The best-case scenario is simply this: that a Republican Congress can keep either Hillary or Trump under control. Wish I could offer something better, but we have to think long-term now. The next four years will be a nightmare regardless of who “wins” this election.

Common Sense on Refugees

America has always been the most accepting of nations with respect to immigrants. The doors have almost always been open wide. In the early years, there were no immigration restrictions at all. The real restrictions only applied to citizenship. Immigrants could come over, but if they wanted the privileges of citizenship, they had to meet certain requirements.

The period from approximately 1890-1917 was unprecedented in history as those teeming masses descended upon a country that held greater promise than what the immigrants could expect in their homelands.

After WWI, some restrictions were placed, but only in the manner of percentages from certain countries as concerns about the changing demographics came to the forefront, but compared to the rest of the world, we remained the “golden door” of opportunity.

So I have great sympathy for those who wish to flee persecution and find a safe place here. Yet wisdom must accompany that sympathy. This is, in a sense, a new world we are now confronting. Some of our leaders, though, don’t see it that way:

Huddled Masses

Most of those seeking to enter America are most assuredly not terrorists, but, as we now know in the Paris attacks, some of those involved with those attacks smuggled themselves in disguised as genuine refugees. Concern over the nature of this new immigration is sensible:

Refugee Roulette

A bipartisan bill has recently passed the House and is going to the Senate. It is not a drastic, xenophobic bill at all, but merely an attempt to tighten the vetting process. President Obama now finds himself fighting not only Republicans but many in his own party:

Where'd Everybody Go

Harry Reid already has threatened to filibuster this bill in the Senate. That’s to be expected from Harry Reid. Will enough Democrats abandon his sinking ship and come to their senses, allowing this bill to be sent to Obama’s desk? He will certainly veto it, yet there is a good chance his veto will be overridden this time.

Common sense needs to prevail here. “Common sense” and “Democrats” are not terms that automatically go together. May they be reunited in this case.