Let Us Not Lose Hope

We can be too cynical at times when we see politics at work and how politicians carry out that work. It’s easy to spot the ego-driven characters who are all too often attracted to the limelight and who are only in the political world for their own advancement. This cynicism expresses itself in frustration, particularly directed at Congress. How often have you heard someone say, “Let’s just throw all the bums out and start over”? That’s stereotyping. It doesn’t take into account the many public servants who are doing their jobs for the right reason. I’m happy to say that I have a congressman who fits the description of what a congressman is supposed to be. Dennis Ross, a first-term representative from the Lakeland, Florida, area, was swept into office in the election of 2010 as part of the repudiation of the emerging Obama agenda. It was an honor to have him come speak to the faculty, staff, and students of Southeastern University this past Tuesday.

Ross, whose Christian faith is foundational to his desire to be involved in politics and government, shared his personal story with those who came to interact with him. He spoke of the failures he experienced in his younger years and how those failures were absolutely essential for learning the lessons he needed to learn about life. Failures, he told them, are what lead to future successes. If government attempts to shield people from all failure, we never understand the real meaning of success.

I served as the moderator for the event. After he gave his background, I asked him a series of questions on what might be considered hot-button issues for Christians. How should a Christian view national security issues? Is pacifism the Biblical requirement or can we defend ourselves? Is there such a thing as a just war? What about poverty? How should it be handled—via government or primarily through the church and other voluntary organizations? How can a Christian legislator combine compassion with the necessity for upholding the rule of law when it comes to illegal immigration? Is it moral to have as much debt as we currently do in our nation? How can that debt be reduced? Ross provided solid answers for each of these inquiries.

Then I turned it over to the audience to let them ask whatever questions they might have for the congressman. I have to admit I wondered if there would be enough questions to fill the remainder of the time. I was already formulating some additional questions of my own, just in case. I needn’t have worried. There was an active interest in hearing more from Rep. Ross on a number of issues. The questions just kept coming. When I called a halt to the proceedings, there were still students lined up with more questions. Dennis graciously stayed after the meeting to address those questioners personally.

All in all, this encounter between a congressman and his constituents was a positive experience for everyone, and it showed how politics is supposed to work. I hope those who attended left with a little less cynicism in their hearts and lot more appreciation for the difficult task that awaits anyone who enters the political fray. My heartfelt thanks to Dennis Ross for being what we need to see more of—a role model.

The nice thing for those of us who count Rep. Ross as their congressman is that he is running unopposed for reelection. He will continue to represent the Lakeland area. His devotion to constitutionalism and his Christian faith will be in the Congress for at least another two years; my hope is that he will be there for many more after that.

As we anticipate the election in less than two weeks, we need to pray for principled leaders such as Dennis Ross to come to the forefront. We need to vote for such men and women and not despair. A passage of Scripture comes to mind that applies quite well; it contains a warning but also offers us a promise:

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Head to the polls this year with confidence that no matter what happens, God has some of His people in positions where they can do much good. Even when we don’t see it, God is working in and through those who are committed to Him. Despair needs to be banished from our hearts and replaced with hope.

Tax Cuts & the Fiscal Cliff

Let’s return to fiscal news today. Are you aware that the Bush tax cuts—you know, those awful tax breaks that benefit only the wealthy—are due to end in January? If that happens, we will all find out soon enough that they actually were a benefit for everyone. Democrats play politics with this, seeking to extend them only for the “non-rich.” That posture is intended to portray them as for the middle class. What they don’t tell you is that the “rich” include about 900,000 small businesses who, if these cuts aren’t extended, will have to lay off workers. Now, who is this really going to hurt? Republicans, on the other hand, are calling for the cuts to remain in effect for everyone. Trying to get this through Congress, though, will never happen as long as Harry Reid and his gang control the Senate:

Democrats are attempting to woo the moderate Republicans to their side on this plan, but thus far Republicans are holding firm—for good reason:

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these tax cuts can’t apply to almost half the population. Why?

It’s the producers in society who are being targeted:

And presiding over all this is a man who has expressed hostility toward those producers and has no grasp of how an economy works:

I’ve always enjoyed good oxymorons. Here are some appropriate ones for today:

Obamacare & the Future of a Once-Free Society

Obamacare isn’t necessarily here to stay. Some states, like Texas, are refusing to accept it. Republican governors overall are waiting to see what happens in the election. Done deals are not always done deals. Yet the federal government is in full battle array, planning to take over one-sixth of the American economy. The price tag, according to new estimates, is now triple what we were told at the beginning. On top of all that, the IRS is now in charge of enforcing it since the Supreme Court, in its supreme wisdom, has declared it a tax. This really is a burgeoning monstrosity.

Yet as the Obama administration gears up for the implementation of the program, it might discover some speed bumps:

Many doctors are contemplating retirement if this does go into operation [no pun intended]. No matter how bureaucratic the current healthcare system may be, and despite complaints we all have about how it is managed, we haven’t seen anything yet. If you feel like you’re just a small cog in a big machine now, wait until Obamacare is in full swing:

Republicans in Congress are telling the American people where they stand on it. Even though they knew it wouldn’t pass in the Senate, the House held a vote this past week on repealing the act, and it passed. Democrats consider it a mere political ploy, but I guess that’s because they really don’t believe the other side of the aisle has a deep philosophical disagreement with the whole approach. Of all the Democrats’ objections to repealing the law, the least compelling one might be this:

Yes, politics was a factor in holding the vote, but the political aspect was a statement to the American people of where the GOP stands on the issue. Many Republicans rightly fear that Obamacare tips the balance for the future of the country in a direction that will make us no different than the failing economies and governments of Europe. They fear it will alter the very character of the nation, and those fears are not without foundation:

We’ve taken far too many steps away from constitutionalism and toward unhealthy dependence on government over the years, starting with FDR’s New Deal through LBJ’s Great Society to Obama’s nebulous Hope and Change. To me, the choice is clear: either roll back this infringement on liberty, both civil and religious, or share the fate of other nations that have followed this foolish path.

The Inside Story of the Impeachment of President Clinton

Last week I talked about two of my books that I encouraged you to read. I have one more, then I’ll go on to more current events again, starting tomorrow.

The saga of the Clinton impeachment needed to be told from the inside. That’s why when the impeachment proceedings ended in 1999, I decided to contact the thirteen House Managers who had argued before the Senate for the removal of Bill Clinton from office. They all received me graciously, I interviewed each one, and they gave me their side of the story. Why did they pursue this quest when public opinion polls said they should not? Even Republicans in the Senate tried to discourage them.

Why did they move forward and not heed the voices that were telling them to stop? It can be explained quite simply: they were acting on principle; they believed that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions.

They were pilloried in the press for pursuing this goal; they were called self-righteous and holier-than-thou, yet they persevered. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, but they were not bowed; they knew they had done their duty.

This book allows them to tell their stories. Each manager has a chapter devoted to him. You’ll meet the manager whose sterling reputation with his colleagues was never the same again when he undertook this task. Another manager was from Arkansas, Clinton’s home state; would he suffer politically for taking part in this effort? Still another represented part of Hollywood. How could he survive his role in the impeachment proceedings? In fact, he lost his next election, but he never regretted his actions; he put principle above incumbency.

Mission: Impeachable—The House Managers and the Historic Impeachment of President Clinton was a Main Selection in the Conservative Book Club back in June 2001. C-SPAN taped me talking about the book, and that taping appeared a number of times on C-SPAN2. It also led to a number of radio interviews, including the Janet Parshall program.

Frankly, I’m quite proud [in the proper Christian way] of this book and encourage those of you who want to know more about the impeachment and/or congressmen who understood the importance of standing for principle in politics to read it. There are important lessons for us all.

The book is out of print now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t available. You can go to either Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com and get a used copy; prices and conditions of the copies will vary. It may be out of print, but its thesis is never out of date.

D-Day–The New Version

As I write this, we are less than three hours away from the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. Most of you reading this will already know what was decided. I’ll examine what transpires today and offer some thoughts on it tomorrow. This is probably one of the most anticipated and historic Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime, aside from all the bad decisions on abortion. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, it will go down as the worst decision since Roe v. Wade. A decision to uphold this unconstitutional nightmare will follow in the infamous footsteps of the Dred Scott decision before the Civil War that declared no black person was a citizen and the Plessy v. Ferguson segregation ruling of 1896.

Well, that lets you know where I stand.

The other big event of the day will be the House vote on the contempt of Congress charges against Eric Holder. There’s not nearly the suspense for that one. Even some Democrats are going to vote for those charges, especially those who represent Republican-leaning districts in the upcoming election. So much is at stake in this as well: immigration policy, border security enforcement, states’ rights, possible misuse of executive privilege. If these charges pass, will the courts then do their job and force the attorney general to do his? I wish I had more confidence in the public’s grasp of the importance of the issues in this case. Well, at least some of the cartoonists have a good handle on it:

For me, seeing cartoons like this on a daily basis provides hope that rational thought and common sense may yet prevail. November will tell if my hope is illusory or if we still have a future as a nation.

The Real Problems with the Change in Immigration Policy

Forget for just a moment the substance of the new illegal immigration policy President Obama announced on Friday. I’m not going to deal with that today. Instead, let’s concentrate on the constitutional and political angles. Last September, speaking to a Latino audience that wanted to know why he hadn’t done anything on the illegal immigration issue, Obama accurately noted that as president, he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally change immigration policy. He correctly stated that any policy change had to come from Congress. This was a remarkable statement from a man who normally couldn’t care less about the limits imposed on his office by the Constitution. But in this case, he was right.

Speed ahead to June 2012 and we now have a different story. Without any legislation, without any constitutional authority at all, the president has signed an executive order to alter how illegal immigration is handled. This move was a one-man show. It manifested blatant disregard for any constitutional restraint. He bypassed Congress entirely and simply announced that the policy was going to be different.

Frankly, this is how tyrants operate, outside the rule of law.

Not that there’s anything new about this. Consider one of Obama’s heroes, FDR. In the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt decided that every person in the country had to turn in all gold and currency backed by gold to the government. Just like Obama’s pronouncement last week, FDR simply signed an executive order—actually, a number of them—infamously ignoring the role of Congress in legislating, and forced everyone to turn over their gold. It all became government property. In exchange, citizens got federal reserve notes. FDR didn’t have to worry about congressional reaction; he owned Congress at that point. He set himself up as a petty dictator.

What will the current Congress do about Obama’s power play? We’ll have to wait and see if backbone still exists.

Why did he choose to do this at this time? That’s the political angle. Seeing how he is dropping in the polls, he saw this move as a way to shore up his Hispanic vote. In other words, he chose to shred the Constitution for his own political gain. I predict this is only the beginning of his pandering. He will offer goodies to other segments of the population in the coming weeks in an attempt to regain their support.

The real tragedy of this episode is that most Americans won’t even think about the unconstitutional nature of his action, and those groups he seeks to reward will gladly take the bribes without any regard to the rule of law or moral propriety. They will want what they consider to be “theirs.” As this dependent mentality spreads, we become less and less a nation with a moral foundation.

Can this descent into self-centered moral turpitude be arrested? Only if those of us who believe in moral foundations take a stand and continue to speak out and work for a reversal of the spiritual decline that has fed this destructive fever. Now is the time to show we still have spines.

The Royal Executive

I would like to continue yesterday’s theme: the unconscionable power grab by the president as he dismissed the Constitution outright by appointing Richard Cordray to the new consumer protection bureau [so-called, but hardly accurate] without Senate confirmation. You just can’t do that when the Congress has not recessed. And what is meant by a genuine recess anyway? If we go back to the time of the writing of the Constitution, the Founders never conceived of a Congress that rarely went home. They even inserted a provision that required Congress to meet at least once each year because they were concerned about the president trying to rule by himself.

Well, their fears were well founded.

For the Founders, a recess undoubtedly meant the many long months in between congressional sessions. Nowadays, Congress only leaves for a week or two here and there; they’ve turned their jobs into fulltime endeavors. Taking advantage of a recess of a few weeks to insert an appointee that the Senate may reject is not in the spirit of the Founders, whether done by Republican or Democrat. Obama has simply taken it to a new level, ignoring the need for a recess before making an appointment. He concluded, apparently by his royal prerogative, that since Congress wasn’t doing much right now, he could declare it in recess.

He has little use for that old, outdated document called the Constitution. I mean, why bother with that when you can just declare yourself the ultimate authority?

But don’t worry, he’s doing it for the people:

It’s the refrain used by all dictators.

So will the media watchdogs call him on this? Aren’t they seekers of truth? What about the general public? Don’t they want truth and fidelity to the rule of law to be the hallmark of our republic?

Or are they satisfied with something less . . .  and far more selfish?