The Most Dispiriting Presidential Election in My Lifetime

Let me dream, please. In my dream, I see Hillary Clinton so tarnished that the Democrats decide they can’t really offer her up as their nominee. I see a party that finally comes to the realization that a woman who can’t be trusted with official documents should never be president.

Also in my dream, I envision a Republican party that actually looks at the platform it just created and shakes off the spell put on it by the Trump circus, acknowledging that he is no more than a Democrat in Republican clothing. In that dream, the delegates come to their senses and deny him the nomination next week at the convention. They will turn, instead, to someone who really believes in the stated goals of the party.

Now, back to reality.

Donald Trump is doing what he can to head off a delegate revolt by readying his announcement of his VP running mate, supposedly tomorrow. He’s been vetting people, doing things like asking for their tax returns—you know, the very thing Trump himself refuses to release. Of course, if he had his first choice for VP, it would be an unconventional pick:

Vice

In the running, presumably, are Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Mike Pence. Gingrich is smart, but his personal reputation is almost as smarmy as Trump’s. Between them, they would be the first team to “boast” of six marriages, three apiece. Gingrich led the Republicans to victory in the 1990s, then fell from grace and had to resign from Congress. This is a positive choice?

Christie was my next-to-the-last choice during the primaries, second only to Trump. He’s not that different from Trump in personality, and he also wouldn’t be wedded to the platform.

Pence has a solid background as a conservative stalwart and Christian man with principles, but he’s let those principles slip in some startling ways lately, particularly with his rather spineless action in backing off the religious liberty bill in Indiana. Although he endorsed Cruz in the primary, it was a tepid endorsement, again betraying a disturbing trend toward loss of principle. In my view, Pence would be lowering himself to attach himself to Trump. He needs to regain his reputation.

Regardless of whom Trump chooses, that person will have one major job: having to defend Trump’s artless statements and actions the rest of the way, often being put in the position of defending the indefensible:

Shovel-Ready Job

Hillary has recently received the coveted Bernie Sanders endorsement, which isn’t going over too well with those fanatical Sanders supporters:

No Establishment

Whichever candidate wins, the inauguration will be a grand joke on us all:

I Do

Nightmare Inaugural

If you follow the latest developments closely, you know that Trump has now said he wouldn’t mind the Republicans losing control of the Senate—he likes the idea of being a free agent.

He’s also initiated a lawsuit against a former campaign senior consultant, Sam Nunberg, for allegedly outing ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for having an affair with campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks. Nunberg also alleges that Trump set up a fake company for the campaign and misused the funds in that company. Stay tuned for more on that.

This has got to be the most dispiriting presidential election in my lifetime, and that’s saying a lot, considering we’ve suffered under two Obama elections. For the first time, the Republicans are not offering a viable candidate, if indeed Trump escapes the convention intact.

Is this really the best America can offer?

Uncle Sam's Head Bag

Divine intervention is sorely needed. I cannot vote for either of these two people. I have to put my complete trust in God’s mercy.

Summarizing the Scandals–Thus Far

My goal today is to attempt a summary of the three controversies swirling around the presidency right now. I can’t promise to include everything that ought to be included, but I do hope to make sense of it all. If you’ve been too busy to follow all the details, perhaps this can help pull it together. In the spirit of Watergate, I’ve decided to put a “gate” on each one. As far as I’m concerned, they more than deserve that “honor”; each one is far worse than the original.

Benghazigate

  • The killing of four Americans, including our ambassador, on 9/11/12 is the only one of these controversies that cost lives. That, in itself, makes it the worst of the three. There are three stages of this controversy:
    • Prior to the attack: Security measures were far below standards in a country on the verge of chaos and infiltrated with radical Muslim groups. Repeated requests for added security were either ignored or rejected by the State Dept. Some reports also indicate that we may have been using Libya as a center for a gun-running operation to Syrian rebels, many of whom are also radical Islamists.
    • During the attack: On-the-ground communications gave us a blow-by-blow description of what was happening in real time. Those whose lives were in danger asked for help. Two former Navy Seals rushed to the scene and again sought help from the military. There was help available, and as a team was assembled and ready to go their aid, they got a “stand down” order that, according to Gregory Hicks, the top diplomat in Libya still alive, greatly angered the colonel in charge of the troops. Due to that order, no aid came and the Seals were killed after a stalwart defense. Who gave the “stand down” order? No one is claiming responsibility.
    • After the attack: Now we know that the decisionmakers, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, had information right from the start that implicated radical Islamists. They chose to edit all mention of terrorism out of the infamous talking points that UN ambassador Susan Rice used to go on Sunday news programs. They uniformly blamed some obscure anti-Islam video on the Internet for causing this attack. None of the documentation that has been revealed thus far provides any rationale for blaming that video, yet even President Obama, two weeks later, was using it as the cause in a speech to the UN. Despite assurances that those responsible would be dealt with, no one in Libya has ever been charged; yet the man who produced the video was rounded up and jailed, and he remains there to this day.
    • It’s hard not to believe the accusations that this has been a coverup from day one. Added to the despicable nature of this coverup is that it occurred during the campaign as a way of ensuring another Obama term.
    • More whistleblowers may be forthcoming. Not one person who was in Benghazi who survived this attack has ever said a word about what occurred. Are they under a gag order from this administration? Are they being intimidated in some way?

IRS-Gate

  • Last Friday, in anticipation of the release of an inspector general’s report, the IRS official in charge of the Exempt Organization Division, Lois Lerner, issued an apology for how the agency had targeted conservative groups for at least two years, holding them to near-impossible standards before allowing them to be considered tax exempt.

    • Ever since that admission, there have been daily reports of how these organizations were subjected to harassment. Any group seeking tax exemption that included “Tea Party,” “patriot,” limited government,” or any similar wording in their names became a target. This was a scorched-earth attempt to defund these organizations and to limit their effectiveness as the 2012 presidential election neared.
    • It also has come to light that donors to Republicans, particularly donors to Mitt Romney, were singled out for audits. This went beyond donors to other tax-exempt organizations that exhibited support for Romney. The most egregious example was the auditing of the Billy Graham Association after Rev. Graham vocally supported a defense-of-marriage law in North Carolina and then had favorable things to say about candidate Romney.

    • President Obama claims he knew nothing about this until he read the news accounts. Right. As if the president of the United States relies on the media for his information. Then he asked for the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, who, it turns out, was planning on retiring in a couple of months anyway. He further says the IRS is an independent agency over which he has no direct control. Really? It is under the Treasury Department, which is run by Obama’s secretary of the treasury. He has direct oversight. Any claim to the contrary is invalid.
    • In a particularly strange and tone-deaf move, Sarah Hall Ingram, who served as commissioner of the office overseeing tax-exempt organizations, has now been tabbed to lead the IRS enforcement of Obamacare. What could possibly go wrong?
    • Then, yesterday, Obama announced his appointment of Daniel Werfel to take over the IRS. Who is Werfel? A current White House budget official. In other words, let’s hire the fox to guard the hen house.

AP-Gate

  • The Justice Department secretly got access to two months’ worth of telephone conversations between reporters for the AP and whomever they might have contacted for their stories. Ostensibly, this was done for national security reasons—that the AP endangered national security by releasing a story about a successful effort to thwart a terrorist attack in Yemen.

    • Now we know that there was no longer a threat by the time the AP released its story. It had worked with the administration to sit on it for five days prior to release. Reports now indicate that the offense, if that be the right word, was in releasing it before the administration had the opportunity to boast about its successful operation. There was no national security threat at all at the time AP made the decision.
    • This is a clear First Amendment issue (as is the IRS controversy), and the media, which has always sided with Obama, is showing signs of alienation from him for the first time in five years.
    • Both Obama and Attorney General Holder say they have no knowledge of what occurred. Obama says, rather implausibly, that the White House doesn’t know what its own Justice Department is doing; Holder says he earlier recused himself from the operation, although he doesn’t recall just when he did so and has nothing in writing to prove it.

In every case, Obama has tried to have it both ways: he knew nothing, yet don’t worry, he’s fully in charge and everything’s going to be fine.

Let’s just say I’m not all that assured. When George Bush was president, you may have disagreed with some of his decisions, but at least you knew what he had decided and that he took responsibility for his actions. The Obama presidency has been a study in opposites:

These controversies have only begun. They have not played out, and won’t very soon in spite of the administration’s desire to put them to rest. Don’t be surprised, either, if a few more get added on to these three. The arrogance of this president and his minions practically guarantees it.

Benghazi Is Not Watergate–It’s Worse

“That’s old news.” “What difference does it make now?” “It’s time to move on.” Those kinds of disdainful phrases worked for Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. Will they work again? Subject: Benghazi.

It’s not the new Watergate; it’s worse. As many commentators have reminded us, no one died in Watergate. Was the government’s response to the 9/11/12 attack on U.S. grounds in Libya a case of incompetence, false ideology, or political calculation? Perhaps all three? The official review board set up to investigate didn’t even interview the secretary of state. And when Hillary Clinton finally, begrudgingly, appeared before a congressional committee, she used her husband’s old tactics, hoping the incident would go away. For a while, it looked like it might, but those who were on the ground and responsible have now come forward to tell their story. They are whistleblowers, and the story they tell is not pretty.

Will this story get enough coverage to ensure the public is well informed? It all depends on the media. CBS finally found its voice, but it took eight months:

Yesterday’s hearing in the House was pretty dramatic. I saw and/or listened to much of it. The accusations against this administration were staggering, with most of the testimony pointing to direct orders not to come to the aid of those under attack. Republicans on the committee were well versed and organized with their questions. Democrats decried the whole thing as merely political, as they went into full circle-the-wagons mode to protect their next presumptive nominee for president:

The unasked question yesterday, but sure to come up as this investigation proceeds, is “where was the president during this crisis?” He seems to have been conspicuously absent, more focused on getting to his next big fundraiser in Las Vegas. Does he have reason to worry where this might lead?

After yesterday’s intensely personal and painful testimonies, there’s really only one inescapable conclusion:

One of the whistleblowers, Gregory Hicks, who was the number two man in Libya and who took over when the ambassador was murdered, was asked what role the anti-Muhammed video played in the terrorist attack. Remember, according to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, this video was the instigation for a “protest” and the resulting violence. Hicks’s response was short and to the point: “The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya.” In fact, testimony from all the whistleblowers yesterday made it clear that everyone involved from day one—except those at the top, apparently—called this what it really was, a terrorist attack emanating from radical Islamists.

In his press conference late last week, when asked about government employees being threatened and intimidated into silence, Obama feigned ignorance. He acted like he was completely unaware of any potential whistleblowers:

If there is any connection to the Watergate scandal, it might be the this:

If someone should ask me if what Obama is doing is comparable to what Nixon did, I would have to say no. It’s worse. Four people died.