Ted Cruz & His Detractors

Ted CruzThe lines are drawn, and they aren’t strictly Republican vs. Democrat, at least not when it comes to tactics. While most Republicans want to get rid of Obamacare, they disagree on how to do so. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has become the leader of the “defund Obamacare now” approach. He has been criticized for this because Republicans control only the House, and that this tactic will not succeed. Further, all it can do, the critics say, is lead to a government shutdown for which Republicans will be blamed.

I have been one of those critics, not because I disapprove of measures to get rid of Obamacare—it has to go—but because I want to be sure such measures don’t make things worse politically for Republicans. The problem is the uninformed, ignorant public that will follow the lead of the media and unscrupulous Democrats in casting aspersions on those seek to overturn this disastrous law.

House Republicans took the step of passing a continuing resolution to fund all government operations except Obamacare. That’s hardly a shutdown of the government. But will the public understand that? If the Senate refuses to go along with that bill—and it most assuredly will not due to Democrat control of that chamber—how can the Republicans be blamed for any so-called shutdown? Wouldn’t this simply be an impasse with both sides having a different idea on just exactly what should be funded?

By the way, it’s misleading to even use the term “shutdown.” The government will go on operating. All essential services will be offered, despite the dire threats emanating from the Capitol and the White House. The scenario being painted is somewhat phony.

I wish the general public would pay more attention to the tone of the two parties. Republicans are focusing on the real issues, whereby individuals and families are being removed from their current healthcare insurance or are being informed that premiums are rising astronomically due to the Obamacare requirements. One family’s story, told on Fox last evening, showed a spike in monthly premiums from about $330 to nearly $1000. Companies are either dropping coverage or reducing the hours of their employees to part-time. Forcing people into the ephemeral exchanges will also force them into higher healthcare costs than they have currently.

REIDYet what do we hear from Democrats like Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate? He accuses Ted Cruz and others of being “anarchists.” Let’s define that term. An anarchist is someone who wants to throw off all government. Anarchists seek to get rid of all restraint on personal actions so they can do whatever they wish, even if to the detriment of all others. Is that really what Cruz and his allies are bent on doing? Or are they merely trying to reverse a devastating law that will help sink the entire economy?

As Obamacare goes, so goes the American economy, since it affects directly about 1/6 of that economy. But that’s only the direct effect. The indirect damage is incalculable.

Treading Water

Yet President Obama acts like this is some kind of civil war brought on by Republicans:

Civil War

He’s always ready to negotiate with foreign leaders over anything, but when it comes to working with Republicans, his attitude is rather different:

No Negotiating

While I haven’t been won over to the defund tactic, my heart certainly is sympathetic to the aims of that tactic. And I’m more disturbed by the potshots being taken at Cruz and others by erstwhile Republicans. When Cruz appeared on Fox News Sunday this past week, the host, Chris Wallace, let it be known that he received damaging background info on Cruz, not from Democrats, but from fellow Republicans. That’s outrageous. Even if you disagree with a tactic, you don’t try to destroy someone who is working to achieve the same goal you say you are also seeking.

Listening to Cruz, I don’t see a fanatical firebrand who doesn’t understand consequences. What I see is a leader who is hoping to ignite the troops in the general populace. He wants to alert them to the dangers and get them to inundate their representatives with their concerns, thereby forestalling the unfortunate future that awaits us under Obamacare. He’s principled. Unlike the supposed leaders of his party, he’s actually demonstrating leadership. While I’m still unsure as to whether this was the best tactic to achieve the overall goal, I do admire him for putting himself on the line on an issue that others are apparently too timid to tackle.

Syria: Making Another Foolish Mistake?

For more than a year, President Obama has been issuing warnings to Syria that the United States will not stand by idly while thousands are being slaughtered in the civil war taking place there. He has repeatedly spoken of a “red line” that cannot be crossed—the use of chemical weapons by the government against those who are attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad. Although that line was crossed quite a while ago, the administration has now gotten around to admitting it. But does the Syrian government really care? Is it quaking over threats from a so-called superpower that is all words and no action on many fronts?

Read Lines

The use of chemical weapons might have been the publicly stated reason for taking action, but one suspects there are other issues that disturb the president more:

Gone Too Far

I have great sympathy for the innocents caught in the literal crossfire of the Syrian debacle, but we must always consider the wisdom of any attempt to involve the United States in the multitude of wars and semi-wars that are ongoing daily. We must consider first whether there is any direct threat to our country. Then we must think about what would happen if the Syrian regime actually is toppled. Who would take over? Al Qaeda is prominent in the uprising. It’s not the only group, but history shows that the most radical element usually takes control eventually. Assad is a monster who uses chemical weapons. [By the way, where did he get those? Anyone else thinking of Iraq under Saddam, and how he might have transferred his over to Syria prior to our ousting of him back in 2003?] But who’s to say Assad’s replacement would be better? Do we really want to have a hand in turning that country over to Al Qaeda? Does anyone really see that as less of a threat to the United States?

The other concern here is that Obama seems poised now to act unilaterally without the approval of Congress. He has no authority to do so in this situation. Attack is not imminent. Any decision on the use of the American military must first be the subject of congressional debate. The problem is that Obama is quite accustomed to acting alone; he often makes statements about doing what needs to be done—as he perceives our “needs”—without waiting for Congress. Bottom line: he is untrustworthy. Congress must take its responsibility seriously and contain the Obama ego.

Stop Worrying

Syria is not the only place where we have sounded an uncertain trumpet or have waded into a conflict without proper deliberation. In fact, when one analyzes the Obama approach to the entire tinderbox known as the Middle East, one comes to a rather dismal conclusion:

Middle East Policy

Let’s avoid another foolish mistake. If only the grownups were in charge.

Obamacare & the Rule of Law

The Obamacare machine lurches forward—if indeed “forward” is the right word. This thing is so full of troubles, some Republicans are hoping it self-destructs, allowing them to just watch it fall without much effort. While it’s tempting to hope for this outcome, it would be folly to depend on it. No matter how inefficient and problematic its rollout becomes, once subsidies begin flowing, it will be nearly impossible to stop it. I know the tactic being used by senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio to defund it has its detractors—the main objection being Republicans will get the blame if this ends up shutting down some of government’s services—but I believe the effort is worth the risk. Frankly, if all Republicans, along with a few Democrats who know this is a train wreck, would unite, it could be stopped now. It’s always difficult to find backbones at the proper time.

The latest ludicrous development was the realization by members of Congress that the bill they passed will apply to themselves and their staffs. Perhaps if they had read the bill before they passed it? Anyway, the outcry was huge because they were afraid staff people couldn’t afford it. Wait a minute; wasn’t the name of this law the Affordable Care Act? Right.

So they argued there had to be a loophole or something before staffers decided to leave their jobs. Perhaps the funniest part of the panic was the fear that this would be a “brain drain” from Congress:

Brain Drain

I’m trying not to laugh. Really. With respect to a couple hundred of those congressmen, I don’t think we’d notice any drain at all. Their resignations, and the resignations of staffers who tell them how to vote, might actually raise the intellectual level of our premier lawmaking body.

The outcry was heard in the White House, where President Obama soothed their fears by giving them and their staffs taxpayer subsidies to cover the extra costs. They are, consequently, getting a benefit most other people won’t receive. I think that’s called special treatment. It’s reserved for supporters of the current regime.

Lifeboats

The rest of us, meanwhile, remain on the Titanic.

There’s an even more ominous aspect to this:

I Write the Laws

It’s another example of how Obama simply “declares” something to be law, even though he has no authority to do so. He did the same as an end-run around immigration laws, just declaring that they didn’t apply to those of a certain age under specified circumstances. This is a president who has no regard at all for what is traditionally called the rule of law. If the president wants it, the president gets it. Congress is inconsequential. The Constitution is not a factor.

More than anything else, this attitude is the greatest threat to our future as a nation.

Who’s Paying Attention?

If you don’t watch Fox News or depend on other alternative media sources, you might think the IRS scandal is passé because you haven’t heard much about it lately. That appears to be a deliberate choice of the other networks and newspaper outlets. Yet there is a lot going on. Well, let me rephrase that: there is a lot of avoidance of finding the facts going on. It’s not due to a lack of diligence by the Congress; Republicans in the House are demanding answers but are getting none.

The newly appointed IRS commissioner, Daniel Werfel, who was recently one of the president’s advisers in the White House, came out with a report earlier this week that was at first hailed by Democrats and other assorted liberals, progressives, and radicals. It led us to believe that there was no specific targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. Why, they even investigated organizations that had words like “progressive” in their names, we were told. The report basically said, “Hey, no one here did anything really wrong.”

Daniel Werfel

In other words, this former Obama insider—the fox who was put in charge of the hen house—found nothing of major concern in his investigation. Liberal groups rejoiced over this news, but their rejoicing was short-lived. Apparently, an honest person in the government—and no, that is not an oxymoron—came forward to correct this perception.

J. Russell GeorgeJ. Russell George, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, and the one who first identified the targeting problem, has given the facts: 292 conservative groups underwent extensive harassment by the IRS without ever getting their tax-exempt status, compared to 6 progressive organizations that were simply put on a list but never had to undergo any genuine scrutiny. The evidence of bias is overwhelming. True government servants like George deserve our gratitude.

As a result of George’s willingness to expose the lies, Werfel had a rather awkward and uncomfortable session before a House committee yesterday. May he have more. How can anyone have confidence in this new director after the events of this week?

What was even funnier, if that’s the right word, is that Werfel told the committee that his agency needed more funding. Why? For more conferences?

Audit Experience

The IRS comi-tragedy will continue, and the House will attempt to drag more information from those responsible for this fiasco. Of course, there are many other fiascoes underway concurrently, none of which seems to get the attention of the presumed leader of the Free World:

Somebody Audit Her

Never has a president been so absent from the pressing issues of his administration. Even Richard Nixon kept commenting when Watergate was unfolding. This president just tries to change the subject whenever he deigns to do anything at all:

 Save the Planet

Yes, he has time to make speeches about climate change being the premier problem of our age—despite evidence to the contrary—but no time to speak to China or Russia about Edward Snowden or to be honest and forthcoming about what happened on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi. How does he think he can get away with this? Is it because he has a good understanding of the attention span and interests of the American public?

 Full Brain

Unfortunately, that may be the case.

Immigration & Honest Deliberation

I’ve held back on writing about the immigration debate going on right now in Congress. There are a number of reasons why I’ve been reluctant to engage the topic until now, but it really comes down to the desire to hear as much as possible from both sides before saying anything publicly. Once a comment is made, it’s hard to pull it back; I strive to never have to regret what I write in these blogs.

The need for some kind of immigration reform is pretty much acknowledged on both ends of this polarizing debate. The fact that we have more than 11 million illegals living in the country has to be dealt with somehow. I understand the desire of so many to escape their situations where they came from, and that the US seems to be a beacon to them, holding the promise of something better. That’s why America has been an immigrant magnet throughout much of its history.

I kept hoping this debate would be illuminating; it’s turned out to be anything but that. Frankly, I’m distressed by the rhetoric on both sides. Those in favor of the current comprehensive bill before the Senate have accused those who oppose it of being anti-immigrant or even racist. That last charge is always the last resort of the demagogue. Well, for some, it’s the first resort; they wrongly presume it never gets old.

Those who line up against the proposed bill say it simply repeats the mistake of the 1986 act that promised real border security but never delivered. They then accuse the proponents on the Republican side of kowtowing to the Hispanic vote. Senators like Lindsey Graham have provided fodder for that accusation with his comments on how Republicans will become a permanent minority if they don’t support this bill. Political pandering is as old as politics itself, but statements such as those make this appear to be wholly political rather than for the good of the nation. Opponents also warn that there are other voters out there as well:

Voter Never Forgets

What I desire is a solution that ensures the border is not a sieve while simultaneously treating immigrants with compassion. Does compassion, though, mean those who crossed over illegally should have a promise of citizenship? Why do those who favor the bill hold out citizenship as the endgame? Why are illegal immigrants, in effect, being rewarded for breaking the law in the first place? I’m not saying we should deport them; what I’m saying is there should not be what has been termed “a path to citizenship” for those who showed no respect for the law. No one is owed citizenship. It’s not a natural right.

Let’s go back to what the Founders had to say about immigration. What we find is actually rather surprising. They said little about it, comparatively. For most of the first century of American government under the Constitution, there were no immigration laws. Why not? Because all the emphasis was on citizenship, which is where the Founders put their emphasis. Immigrants were welcome, but the road to becoming a citizen had rules. One had to follow those rules and show respect for the laws to be part of this society. And the nature of those immigrants was such that they sought to fit into the already-existing culture. Oh, and they didn’t get any government benefits: no free healthcare; no free education; no welfare of any kind. They were on their own to fail or succeed based on their personal character.

We have since introduced monetary incentives to cross the border illegally. A veritable treasure house awaits. We also now have the threat of international/Muslim terrorism, which can take advantage of a leaky border:

 One Reason

We’re told by those in favor of the current bill that it effectively secures the border. Opponents disagree; they say it is amnesty first, with a promise of border security eventually—that the bill is all rhetoric and no action—that we’ve been down this road before. From what I’ve been reading, I would have to say their point is well taken.

What’s wrong with securing our borders first? Why not have a “results-oriented” bill that documents a 90% effectiveness in sealing that border before dealing with the rest of the problem? Without a secure border, the problem continues and grows larger. Why try to do everything in one monstrous bill? Why not break this into stages?

What we are witnessing this week is Obamacare revisited. Remember when Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass Obamacare to find out what’s in it? This huge immigration reform bill, along with a supposed border security amendment, is almost the same size as Obamacare. Harry Reid is attempting to rush it through the Senate this week, not allowing senators to fully digest it first. Real debate over the particulars—which includes a lot of pork, apparently—is not allowed. Vote first, find out what you voted for afterwards.

Even if I could support this current bill, I could never support the way in which it is being rammed through. It’s unconscionable.

No bill becomes a law without the consent of both houses of Congress. Once the Senate circus is over, the House will have its chance to show the country that honest deliberation is not dead.

The Worst-Case Scenario

Yesterday I laid out four election-night scenarios, from worst-case to best-case. I didn’t really believe the worst-case would come to pass, but it has. We will now have four more years of a president who seeks to, in his words, transform America. For the next two years, he will still have a Senate on his side. Only the House stands between us and his plans. At the very least, Obamacare in all its ugliness will now be implemented, along with the inherent threat it poses to religious liberty. We will continue our march toward that fiscal cliff so many have warned about. Our culture will drift even further from a Biblical basis unless we can turn it around.

Tonight I’m slated to offer an analysis of the election at a local Republican club. I need to take today to figure out just exactly what needs to be said. Rather than try to lay out in this blog today a full response to last night’s dismal results, I’m going to hold off until tomorrow. I need time to process what has occurred and offer the best diagnosis and prognosis I can.

My intent is to go beyond mere number-crunching and an examination of strategies, both successful and failed. I want to hear from the Lord today about the future of this nation and what part He wants His people to play. If you’re interested in my ponderings, come back to this blog tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ll just leave you with this from the book of Isaiah, a verse I have used many times but which is even more apropos the morning after:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil. Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

The Election Scenarios: Which One Will Become Reality Today?

By the end of this day—barring any legal challenges or chicanery—we should know the political landscape for the next two to four years. No one expects the House to revert to the Democrats, so that much is set even before the counting begins. But the Senate, and of course the presidency, are the real questions. Let’s examine the possible scenarios, from worst-case to best-case.

Scenario #1

Barack Obama retains the presidency and Democrats continue to control the Senate. What will this mean? We will be in the same state we are currently. The House will try to pass legislation to correct the debt Armageddon and Obamacare, but the Senate will not act on anything the House does. It will remain adamant in opposition to the Republican agenda. The Congress, in this scenario, will be as it is now—worthless. This will lead to Obama doing what he has already begun to do, which is to rule by executive orders. No amount of protest that his actions are unconstitutional will avail. With a Justice Department firmly in his control, he will be free to do whatever he wishes, thereby foisting even more government control over the lives of individuals and trampling religious liberty through Obamacare. That “signature” piece of legislation will go forward without anything to stop it. By the end of his term, the United States will be pretty much like the European states that have given themselves over to full-scale socialism. We will also be on the verge of total bankruptcy. Oh, and since Supreme Court justices have to be confirmed by the Senate, he will get to replace perhaps three of the nine currently on the bench with ideological soulmates.

Scenario #2

Barack Obama stays in as president and the Senate changes hands to the Republicans. Under this scenario, with both houses of Congress controlled by the Republicans, certain pieces of legislation aimed at undoing the Obama agenda will pass both chambers and be sent to the White House for Obama’s approval. He will approve nothing coming from a Republican Congress. The veto will become his favorite weapon. On occasion, Congress may be able to muster a 2/3 vote to override a veto, but unless enough Democrats are willing to join with Republicans against the titular leader of their party, most of the proposed legislation will go down to defeat. Then Obama will do as noted above in scenario #1: he will rule by executive orders. The only saving grace is that he might not get the justices on the Supreme Court he wants, but that’s no guarantee. Senate Republicans, on the whole, have never been known for their backbones.

Scenario #3

Mitt Romney wins the presidency, but the Senate does not turn Republican. Under the continued “leadership” of Harry Reid, stonewalling will be the rule. Romney will do whatever he can within the powers of the presidency to remedy the damage that has been created by Obama. He says he will give waivers from Obamacare to every state. That will be a step in the right direction. However, getting any genuine reform legislation through Congress will be tough, nearly impossible, with Reid as Senate Majority Leader. Romney also will have hard sledding replacing Supreme Court justices with anyone worthwhile since the Senate has to approve them. Without a Republican Senate, Romney’s achievements will be minimal.

Scenario #4

Mitt Romney sweeps into the presidency by a significant margin, thereby helping Republicans take the Senate as well. Coattails do exist. This is obviously the rosiest scenario. The real question is whether Republicans will follow through and do what’s necessary to reverse course on the last four years and will learn their lesson about squandering a majority the way they did during the Bush presidency. Conservatives have always been wary of Romney’s foundational beliefs; they will have to hold his feet to the fire, but they will have some victories to cheer whether they get everything they desire or not. Obamacare should be shelved; the national debt should be brought under control; justices who believe in the original wording and intent of the Constitution should be put on the Court; Biblical morality should be upheld. This is not necessarily guaranteed, but this is the only scenario that holds such promise.

Which scenario do I think will play out today? My analysis of the current state of the race tells me it should be either #3 or #4. I see #3 as more likely, but you never know what can happen when people pray and work for what they believe in. And a lot of people have been doing both. May the Lord give us another opportunity to correct the mistakes we have made. A little divine intervention would be very nice.

The Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah these words:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Yes, I know that was a word for ancient Israel, but it is a principle—a general truth—that can apply to us today. May it be so.