Challenging the Status Quo

As I write my post this morning, the Senate is poised to pass a budget deal crafted by Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray. It is being hailed in some quarters as a sign of bipartisanship and progress, but is it really? I listened to Ryan explain why this is a good deal—no tax increases;  return of some sequester cuts to the military; deficit reduction down the road. I’ve listened to the critique of the deal—it includes more spending now and those reductions are far down the road, thereby increasing the deficit in the short run; no guarantee that a future Congress will keep this deal when the spending is set to go down; military veterans taking a hit on their pensions, even those who were wounded in action; no one else in the federal government affected in the same way as these veterans because their pensions remain untouched, so this once again penalizes those who lay their lives on the line for us.

When I first heard it explained, I hadn’t yet known about the downside of the bill. I wonder how many of those in the House of Representatives who voted in favor of it—the majority of Republicans included—really understood the ramifications. Were they hearing all the facts ahead of time?

New Budget Deal

Now, I know one overriding reason why many Republicans jumped on board with this, even some who have steadfastly resisted bills like this in the past—they are nearly petrified by the political fallout of another looming battle over the budget for which they will get blamed if we have another government “shutdown,” better described as a “slimdown.” One has to wonder why this deal would look so good to them if not for that fear. Surely, by now, they should realize they can’t trust the Democrats to uphold their side of the bargain:

Deficit Reduction

There are good people on that side of the debate who say that by putting this budget mess aside, we can concentrate on stopping Obamacare by offering an alternative. I hope so. Yet the Republican leadership doesn’t seem to be able to create unity around one solid proposal. It’s time for genuine leadership to emerge. This deal, in my view, does nothing to allay the major concerns going forward:

Budget Compromise

I, and many others out here in the hinterlands, are seeking bold leadership that will challenge the status quo. Yes, I understand political realities, but those realities will never change until courage comes front and center.

As a historian, I try to draw lessons from our past. I recall that Ronald Reagan was despised by the Republican party establishment back in the 1970s. They said he wasn’t realistic, he was too confrontational, too conservative to be elected. He went on to win two smashing victories, revived the economy, and forced the Soviet Union to the bargaining table, which eventually led to the downfall of the Evil Empire. The establishment was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

 

Rhetoric vs. Reality

How closely are you following the Obamacare developments? If you are a low-information citizen/voter [of course, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not of that number], you might have seen the president’s mini-pep rally yesterday and assumed everything—website, plans, etc.—is now working admirably. This is what our president does: he holds pep rallies. That has been the essence of his presidency. He believes rhetoric will trump reality.

The reality, though, is quite stark and hard to ignore. Here are the latest tidbits:

  • For some reason, the administration thinks that a website that can handle perhaps 50,000 hits per day is superb. Never mind that real businesses like Amazon handle millions per hour.
  • The Obama pep rally ignored the fact that more than 5 million people have now lost their health insurance while maybe 100,000 have been able to enroll via the online exchanges. That’s quite a variance.
  • It’s now estimated that perhaps 30% of those who believe they have gone through the hoops and enrolled aren’t enrolled at all due to the glitches. They will be in a for a big surprise the first time they go to the doctor or hospital after January 1.
  • Those who actually did enroll may discover they no longer have their doctor or hospital.
  • The security measures for the Obamacare exchange remain a joke: any information fed into the system may be available to hackers. Untold headaches may ensue.
  • The payment feature of the website barely works, if at all. As a result, the government is simply going to ask insurance companies what they estimate they should be paid by those who enroll, and taxpayer money will flow to the companies regardless of the actual costs. The promise is that eventually it will all be settled out properly—as if any money that comes from the government will be refunded to the taxpayers. If you believe that, welcome to Fantasy Land.

So this is the “better” system, the “fix,” the “update”?

Getting Better

I omitted from that list the sticker shock that most will suffer upon realizing their premiums and/or deductibles will skyrocket. Democrats up for reelection are still in panic mode, as well they should be. Yet I have a hard time feeling sorry for them; they brought this on themselves. They are indissolubly linked to this lame-duck presidency that has three more years to go:

Tech Support

There are two honorable actions President Obama could take: the first would be to admit his mistake and support repeal of the Obamacare monster; the second would be to tender his resignation. After all, any CEO of a company in the private sector would be out of a job after a disaster of this magnitude. I don’t expect he will take either honorable route because only an honorable person would do so.

The National Joke

Obamacare has become “the” national joke. When even late-night comedians who have never brought themselves to make fun of this president put Obamacare in their sights, you know he’s hit an all-time low. Polls show the same, as Obama now is regularly under 40% in his approval rating. All this criticism, though, has obscured Obamacare’s greatest success:

Medical Miracle

Hey, you have to give credit where credit is due. The president’s “fix” for those losing their coverage, however, has been somewhat less successful:

Catch

The Democrat party, on the whole, is beginning a full retreat from its erstwhile leader. Mere politicians [as opposed to statesmen] are nothing if not focused on their reelection chances, and Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are showing the first telltale signs of all-out panic. Do they really want to tie themselves to this debacle? Of course, they are just as culpable for it as Obama, but they’re going to pretend it was all his idea and try to distance themselves from this policy disaster:

Not with Stupid

If Hillary Clinton, widely perceived as the heir-apparent in the party, attempts to paint herself as different somehow on this issue, she’s going to have a hard time convincing a lot of people. Not only did she serve as Obama’s secretary of state, and not only did she fully endorse Obamacare, but does anyone remember Hillarycare back in the 1990s?

Back Up Plan

That one crashed and burned before it ever got off the ground. She has no credibility on this issue. If “We the People” should put her in the presidency, we’ll only be repeating the reign of error we’re experiencing now.

Wake up, America.

The Obama Narrative

I like the new word being used to replace “shutdown” with regard to what’s happening at the federal level; some are now referring to it as the government “slimdown.” That’s really more accurate. Basic necessities continue because tax revenues have not stopped flowing into the federal coffers. So decisions have to be made to cut back on nonessential services. What this shows us is how much of the activity of the government is nonessential. Unfortunately, Vice President Biden is still drawing his salary.

Sorry about that. I’ll get serious now.

WWII MemorialDid you read about or see video of what occurred at the WWII Memorial in DC yesterday? The Obama administration shut it down, so no one was supposed to visit it. If you’ve ever seen that memorial, you realize it’s out in the open on the Mall. It doesn’t require any special service for people to view it. It’s no different than walking past any monument. A group of WWII veterans had been flown to DC to commemorate their service by visiting this memorial. They were barred from entering it. That was one of the dumbest moves by an administration that specializes in dumb moves. The group, with an assist from Congressman Steve King of Iowa and others, removed the barriers and walked through the memorial anyway.

Normally, I want people to respect the rule of law, but this administrative fiat was foolish, and trying to keep this group away from the memorial was asinine. Kudos to those who ignored the makeshift barriers.

As usual, Republicans have been blamed by the media for this “slimdown.” Yet if you watched closely the machinations, you realize both sides have positions to which they wish to hold firm. For Republicans, it’s the desire to stall the disaster known as Obamacare; for Democrats, it’s the insistence that this unpopular law go forward without any reconsideration. The final appeal of House Republicans was to have a conference with Senate Democrats to iron out the differences. Their appeal was refused. Where is the real obstructionism in this case?

Inflexible

I thought negotiation was a normal part of politics. It certainly is in the international realm, so why not here?

Today's Schedule

What Democrats refuse to acknowledge is that the laughably named Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable, and that it is increasingly unpopular, and not only with those on the other end of the political spectrum:

Isn't the Tea Party

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Obamacare exchanges:

O'Care Start

Well, it was supposed to be the beginning, but this bureaucratic nightmare was largely unavailable to anyone who tried to access it online. I guess there are a few “glitches” to be worked out:

Crank to Start

We need a clear understanding of the dangers facing us as a nation. Yet what do we hear from this administration?

Greatest Threat

They even go one step further:

White House Tells You

I just saw the following in an e-mail sent by a friend. I think it captures the worldview of those currently in charge of our federal government:

Cruz-Hasan

When this becomes the narrative, we’re not in a good place. The president and his party need to be called out on this. Will the mainstream media do it? Of course not. That’s why the responsibility for informing the public rests on those of us who have opportunities to get out the truth. That’s why I write every day. If we are faithful to our call to disseminate truth, we can make a difference.

Restoring Independence

How ironic is it that we take this week to celebrate American independence while we’re closer to utter dependence on the government than at any other time in our history? We’ve had other eras where government overreach was achieved—think Wilson, FDR, and LBJ—and the fruit of those years has been with us ever since, yet never have we witnessed such a concerted effort to subjugate the American people as that which has occurred during the reign of Obama. As someone commented recently, we seem to have replaced George III with Barack I. And the most prominent means for establishing this new budding tyranny is the misnamed Affordable Care Act. The facts about Obamacare, which many have warned about throughout this presidency, are now becoming clearer even to those who have voted this man into office:

Then-Now

Don’t just take my word for it. The Congressional Budget Office has a few things to say about it also:

CBO Report

How appropriate to relate it to the wording of the Declaration of Independence.

The silver lining in all this is the utter ineptness of this administration in its attempts to carry out the act. Not only may bureaucratic incompetence spell its doom, but the baneful effects are becoming so obvious that administration officials are beginning to run away from it. The complaints from small businesses have been growing. They aren’t hiring because they will be subject to its provisions if they have more than fifty employees. One way they’ve found to get around it is to reduce the hours of current employees to less than thirty per week, thereby eliminating thousands of fulltime jobs.

Disaster looms, and Obama’s people know it. That’s why it was announced this past week that the employer mandate has been postponed from January 2014 to January 2015. The president himself avoided making that pronouncement; it was shoved off to an assistant secretary of the treasury at a time that most people weren’t paying attention. They tried to cover it up as much as possible; it would be rather embarrassing to come clean about the unworkability of the entire plan.

Later

Another twist is that the administration simply declared it could initiate this delay, despite the fact that the law says it goes into effect this coming January. While I don’t ever want it to go into effect, and therefore am relieved by this postponement, how can the executive branch of the government decide not to carry out the law as written? If you’ve been following closely the past five years, this is nothing new for President Obama. Adhering to the concept of the rule of law is not one of his priorities.

The other angle is that they know if the population feels the full effects of Obamacare prior to the 2014 congressional elections, the Democrats will be in real trouble. They are already poised to lose control of the Senate; a fully enacted Obamacare might seal the deal. Why not put it off until after those elections?

Midterms

 

What? Am I intimating that this administration is playing politics? No, I’m not intimating. I’m openly accusing.

My fondest hope is that Obamacare will ultimately self-destruct. That would help restore independence once again.

Political Disillusionment & the Christian Calling

I understand why people are turned off by politics. It seems to attract more than its fair share of charlatans and those who are in it primarily for their own personal gain. Anywhere power and authority exist, there will be those who take advantage of it. Sometimes, the allure manifests itself in grandiose misstatements of facts for purely political purposes. We had a rather obvious example last week on the Democrat side when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, commenting on the loss of seven Marines in an accident in his home state of Nevada, sought to somehow connect the tragedy to the now-infamous sequester. The implication was clear: Republicans were to blame. While he was careful not to phrase it too blatantly, everyone knew what he was doing:

It was a disgusting display, which, again, speaks to the disdain many feel toward politics. For some politicians, there are no boundaries:

No wonder there’s the perception that basic morality doesn’t apply in the political realm:

Then there are the problems on the other side of the aisle. Right now, they’re of a different stripe as Republicans try to find their way in a wilderness of their own making. I commented last week on the RNC report that tossed aside steadfastness in principle for a path of expediency, pandering to society’s cultural trends. The siren song of “change” has an allure of its own, particularly after a stunning loss:

What the party should be doing instead is reevaluating the prevailing wisdom of its mainstream consultant class. The counsel the party has been receiving may be its undoing:

Somehow, these wizards of political genius have never figured out that the media is the enemy, and a clear strategy for dealing with the media arm of the Democrat party [which consists of most of the media] is nonexistent. They try to play nice with the media, believing they will receive fair treatment—but they are always disappointed.

So on the one side we have dishonesty and political gain without any principle; on the other, foolishness and wavering principles. Yes, I understand why there is widespread disillusionment with politics, but Christians have to remain steadfast in their commitment to bringing Biblical principles into all areas of society, politics included. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of standing aside; we are called to the fray, no matter how difficult.

We are reminded in the book of Galatians, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” We must be obedient to the call.

Losing Our Minds–Part III

Common sense and a knowledge of history both favor allowing “new blood” into a society, particularly those who will work hard, obey the laws, increase productivity, and increase the moral fiber of that society. Immigration has been good for the United States. All of us currently living here—including the Native Americans—are descendants of immigrants. Never in the history of the world has a country been so inviting of new people, and from diverse backgrounds.

I have to say all that first because there is a false narrative floating around that those who are concerned about illegal immigration are somehow anti-immigrant. While there has always been a streak of nativism in American society, compared to most countries, we are remarkably receptive to newcomers. Concerns are not based on racism, or any other “ism” you may wish to impose upon one’s motives. What we have experienced over the past few decades is a deliberate flaunting of reasonable laws for entry into a nation. Of course, there is an incentive for many who are not of the hard-working variety:

Other nations are far more restrictive when it comes to immigration and the bestowal of citizenship. If you want to become a Swiss citizen, good luck. If you enter illegally into Mexico, you will suffer harsh penalties; it is a felony in that country. Yet those who push for ignoring our immigration laws spend all their energy attacking the United States as uncaring and tyrannical. Pure bunkum.

For me, the common sense rationale for some type of immigration rules focuses first and foremost on national security. We need to know who is crossing the border. A porous border allows terrorists free access; a porous border permits a flood of drug dealers and other criminals to invade. How many deaths and other violent crimes are the result of our lax security?

Yet many politicians, primarily of the Democrat stripe, show almost no concern for these threats. The politics of it is easy to understand: they hope to convert immigrants into citizens quickly, seeking to increase their voters. How do they know those immigrants will vote for them? Refer back to the previous cartoon.

In Obamaworld, border security is not a priority:

How’s this for a workable compromise?

Right.

I’m not opposed to immigration reform, but it must be based on securing the borders first. Anything less than that is irresponsible. Anything less than that is another example of losing our minds.