Trump’s First Days

Donald Trump’s first days in office have been filled with controversies—some genuine and created by him, others phony and played up by the usual suspects. Continuing my pledge to be fair and balanced in my comments on how Trump is doing, let’s begin with the phony ones.

Because of his executive order that started the ball rolling on reversing Obamacare, we now hear hysterical rantings about how all the poor will lose their healthcare. Not so. A large portion of Obamacare enrollments, it seems, have swelled the number of people on Medicaid. Obamacare itself has done little to ensure everyone is covered. Its primary achievements have been astronomical deductibles and premium hikes for those forced into it.

If Republicans can unite on how to dismantle this foolishness, everyone will benefit, rich and poor alike.

Trump’s overturning of Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders is one of the most positive and rational things he is doing. May it continue.

The Left is also apoplectic over the immigration EO Trump signed over the weekend. There are things wrong with the way it was implemented, hitting green-card residents and others who were previously approved to be in the country. Particularly painful were the stories that highlighted Christian families being sent back as well as an Iraqi interpreter who has worked on behalf of America for a decade. That misstep has been officially corrected by new DHS head John Kelly, who has come out publicly stating it doesn’t apply to those kinds of people.

Neither did this new EO specifically target Muslims. It only kept in place the Obama policy toward seven of the fifty Muslim-majority nations, the ones most likely to harbor terrorists.

I have a hard time understanding criticism of a policy that simply requires vetting and caution before allowing certain people into the country. Open-borders advocates accuse anyone who is concerned about terrorists using immigration to infiltrate and attack us of being without compassion. I wonder how many of those advocates leave the doors of their homes unlocked at night, welcoming whoever wants to come in for whatever reason?

Yet Trump is being castigated as a racist/bigot/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite cliché. Keep in mind this would have happened with any Republican taking over the presidency. Trump, though, with his penchant for stirring the pot unnecessarily, has lowered the point at which professional leftists boil over.

Another of Trump’s EOs that is excellent is the one that reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy, which bars international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding. I give him praise for that.

Lost in the flurry of hysteria over the immigration edict are others, both good and/or questionable.

I would think that all points along the political spectrum should agree with the ones that apply a five-year ban on lobbying by those currently serving in the administration and a lifetime ban on foreign government lobbying. Let’s applaud those.

The most questionable action, though, is Trump’s decision to shake up the personnel on the National Security Council. He removed the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from attending the meetings. Um . . . how are they not involved with national security?

The coup de grace was then to place Steve Bannon, his chief political strategist, on the NSC instead. Huh? I haven’t heard a good explanation for those moves yet.

Trump also says he will name his nominee for the Supreme Court this week, possibly even today. Rumors had it that Neil Gorsuch was the probable pick, a man who seems to be solid in all areas; some even say he would be better than Scalia in some ways.

Now there are new rumors that Thomas Hardiman may be the top choice. From what I’ve read, Hardiman, while considered conservative, has never been tested on hot-button issues like abortion. After so many evangelicals voted for Trump based on his promise to place someone on the Court who can be trusted on that issue, Hardiman could turn out to be a major disappointment. Trump’s sister, a pro-abortion judge, has spoken out in favor of Hardiman.

Potential problem here? Another David Souter or Anthony Kennedy? We don’t know. Gorsuch or Hardiman? We’ll find out very soon.

The one major positive, however, that all conservatives can point to as the new administration gets underway is this:

For that, I am grateful.

The Obamacare Woes

The Obamacare website failure is probably one of the biggest government fiascos of all time, and that’s saying a lot if you know about the fiascos of the past, primarily on the progressive/liberal side of politics. Those who are on the president’s side, and who never seem to think he should be held accountable for anything, are having a tough time navigating through this current trouble. Maybe you’ve noticed how cranky some of them have become:

Patience

One way around this may be to spin it as a positive:

It's a Feature

That should remind us that the poorly constructed website is only the surface problem. The real problems with Obamacare go much deeper. Those of us who don’t want it ever to see the light of day shouldn’t focus entirely on the technical glitches, but continue to educate the public on how many people are losing their current healthcare plans and how they will be paying far more on those Obamacare exchanges.

Woman Faints

This joke of a website can help by delaying Obamacare’s implementation. Perhaps we should applaud the team that created it:

Website Contractors

As always, the president is not to blame for any of this—just like he has no blame for the moribund economy, the Benghazi coverup, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the selling of guns to Mexican drug lords, the Justice Department’s bugging of reporters, or the massive NSA intelligence-gathering on American citizens.

Buck Stops Here

Obamacare may be on life support. This is one time I would approve pulling the plug:

Losing Him

There still may be hope that this monster will expire.

Retiring the New Order

Barack Obama’s pledge to fundamentally transform America wasn’t an empty promise/threat. While this transformation has been obvious to anyone paying attention over the past 4+ years, sometimes it takes a really foolish act—like closing the WWII Memorial—to highlight his basic break from all of American history and tradition.

Whether you realize it or not, we are now living in a new America under this president. It’s an America we’ve never seen before:

Obamaville

Those who normally would be seen as patriotic citizens are being maligned as dangerous to the New Order:

Target

Politicized bureaucrats have been emboldened to carry out what was already in their hearts. Occasionally, one is called on the carpet for such activities, but even when one is forced to resign—like Lois Lerner, the instigator at the IRS of the investigation of conservative groups—she gets to live with a comfortable pension, paid for by many of those she targeted:

Miss the IRS

The comic strip Dilbert entered the fray recently, showing how one character fought back:

On the Run

I think that’s pretty eloquent humor, and humor remains one of our best weapons against budding tyranny. One thing tyrants can’t stand is to be made fun of. Yet this is also serious business. It’s time to take seriously the threats to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Now where have I heard those words before? Oh, that’s just an old American document that has no relevance in the New Order.

It’s well past the time to retire the New Order.

Snowden & the NSA: My Perspective

The War on Terror is not over. The decision to close U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East and North Africa, while controversial, points to the fact that documented threats exist. They always will. Just look at the number of countries where the embassies will be closed for the entire week:

Embassies Closed

There is bipartisan support for this move, as both Democrats and Republicans have gone on record in favor of taking this precaution. On the conservative side, there are mixed reviews. Some see it as the fruit of failed policy, some think it’s overblown, and some believe it’s a lie to distract from Benghazi and put a good face on stepped-up security measures. Whatever the truth, this does come across to me as a sign of weakness and failure. What is accomplished by keeping embassies closed for one week? Will terrorists be foiled by this move, or will they merely wait until they open again? I doubt this move will achieve anything substantial.

All that said, I’m grateful for our ability to pick up on the “chatter” out there amongst the terrorists. The NSA, which is under fire for its massive data collection on all American citizens, is the agency tasked with locating terrorist threats. Its primary mission is fine; the controversy rests on the overreach:

 NSA Power Vac

Fears abound that we are no longer the land of the free:

Taking Liberty

As a constitutionalist, I recognize and empathize with those fears. It’s far too easy to slip into a high-security society that could eventually crush constitutional liberties. At the same time, I am not of the number who think the threats are unrealistic. I believe it’s necessary to have a superior skill at intercepting what enemies are saying and plotting—to protect our liberties.

A delicate balance must be found. Edward Snowden believed he was doing what was necessary to expose the NSA’s overreach. Many have dubbed him a whistleblower who should receive protection for the valuable service he rendered. Others go to great lengths to portray him as a hero. My view of Snowden is not going to please my libertarian readers, but here it is anyway.

First, a genuine whistleblower, of which there have been many, will go through the proper channels to blow his whistle. If he cannot trust those in authority over him in his agency, he has recourse to Congress. There are conscientious congressmen who will take his story seriously. While there are no guarantees that a whistleblower won’t suffer reprisals, someone who has the good of his country at heart will at least attempt to do it the right way. Snowden chose another path—to Russia, with a possible final resting place in such socialist/Marxist havens as Venezuela. Russia? Venezuela? Why would an American hero seek refuge at either of those places? Sorry, but I can’t see him as a hero.

Hero

I think Vladimir Putin loves what has transpired here. He gets to tweak America, which is something he seems to enjoy. Unfortunately, with Barack Obama calling the shots, he’s getting lots of opportunity to do so.

 Russian Embassy

Why would an American hero find himself comfortable in Russia, which is rapidly returning to its totalitarian ways? Why would he consider finding refuge in a country that routinely practices the very actions he supposedly deplores?

Kill Them

Yes, the NSA must be reined in. Essential constitutional liberties must be protected. But Edward Snowden is no hero. In my opinion, he’s little more than an immature, immoral [check out his personal life sometime], foolish, and naive young man who has a lot to learn. Snowden may get quite an education during his stay in Russia. For his own benefit, I hope he learns those lessons well.

Real Scandals, Legitimate Investigations

Economic SpeechThe Obama administration has found its latest theme. We’re hearing it from spokesperson Jay Carney and the president himself. Carney dismisses all questions about the plethora of scandals plaguing the administration, saying they are “fake” and “phony” scandals generated by the Republicans. President Obama yesterday, in what he billed as a major economic speech, but which most viewed as his typical campaign speech, belittled Republicans for standing in the way of economic progress and wasting the country’s time with all the attention on make-believe scandals. His exact words were “With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.”

Well, first of all, Mr. President, you are Washington. You have been the chief executive for nearly five years; for the first two years of your presidency, you had control of both houses of Congress. What did you do with that advantage? Obamacare, which is a wholesale disaster, and a massive stimulus bill that only stimulated government spending. The American workforce, during your tenure, has lost 7.8 million people (those are the ones who couldn’t find jobs and gave up); new workforce dropouts have outnumbered new employees by 237 to 1. Most of the new jobs added have been part-time, not full-time.

And you blame the Republicans?

About those “phony” scandals: let’s look at the facts.

Benghazi

It’s been nearly a year since that horrible event. Testimony has shown massive incompetence and an equally massive coverup connected with that incident. We now also know that survivors of the attack have been coerced into signing nondisclosure agreements and bullied into not testifying before Congress. What is the administration trying to hide? Calls for a special committee to deal with it exclusively are rising, and justly so.

IRS

Evidence is now overwhelming that the intensive investigation of conservative groups and stalling on their tax-exempt statuses was politically motivated. No longer is there any credibility that this was the work of a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Testimony has established that it was directed from the top of the IRS in Washington, and that a political appointee, William Wilkins, who is chief counsel for the agency, was intimately involved. This same man met with the president on April 23, 2012; his boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, met with administration officials on April 24. The next day, April 25, Wilkins sent out more guidelines for how to handle tax-exempt applications from conservative groups. While this is still not absolute proof of collusion with the Oval Office, it comes awfully close. It’s hardly a “phony” investigation, particularly since it affected the operation of these groups in the 2012 campaign and provided a boost to Obama’s reelection bid.

There’s also the absurd waste of money on parties, etc. It’s a culture of corruption.

This Just In

DOJ

Where to start? Fast and Furious? Failure to prosecute Black Panthers who intimidated voters at a polling place? Confiscation of reporters’ phone records? Accusing James Rosen of Fox of being a criminal co-conspirator for asking questions? Funding protests against George Zimmerman? Overall racial bias in its operations? Eric Holder should be terminated as attorney general.

NSA

This one’s a little more nuanced. We do need, in my opinion, a capability to track terrorists that includes spying on their phone calls. However, what we don’t need is a blanket coverage of all American citizens, even if it’s only storage of records and nobody sees them right now. The potential for tyranny is blatant. This can become a mechanism for unprincipled politicians to get back at those who disagree with them. The NSA’s program must be limited to finding genuine threats against the nation. The House yesterday considered a bill that would have guaranteed those limits; it just barely failed to pass, and may be revisited in the near future. Above all, we must be sure our rights, as enunciated in the Bill of Rights, are not abridged.

Patriotism

So, in summary, these are not “fake” or “phony” scandals pursued for purely partisan purposes. The investigations are legitimate. The administration knows they are legitimate; they are the ones creating the distractions they so piously bemoan. They know where these investigations will lead, and they fear the backlash. As they should.

The Face Behind It All

As more facts emerge about the NSA’s program of collecting all the info it can in an effort to stop terrorism, I remain firmly where I was when this revelation occurred: it is important to have access to records that might thwart terrorist activity, yet caution must prevail with regard to how wide the net is cast. Searches must be limited to individuals who have had contact with terrorists or organizations known to have terrorist connections. The Fourth Amendment still exists.

Share Everything Plan

While I’m disturbed by the possibilities of abuse, especially under an administration like the current one, I nevertheless agree that finding out who is wanting to attack you, and being able to stop it, is a legitimate government action. I am not in agreement with the perspective that says we inherently have more to fear from our own government than from those who seek to destroy us through terrorism. That doesn’t mean, though, that the threat from our own government is to be ignored; I write often enough about the threat to religious liberty via Obamacare and other pernicious acts. Yet we’re not Communist China or North Korea. Not yet. Edward Snowden doesn’t seem to understand that distinction. Fleeing to a Chinese-ruled city betrays a certain foolishness and/or lack of understanding on his part:

Count On Us

To me, the scandal that is the most dangerous to American liberty is the IRS’s attempt to stifle conservative groups’ political speech. I don’t watch a lot of news from the usual suspects—CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC—but I’ve followed the analysis of their coverage of this scandal. The bottom line seems to be “what coverage?” After an initial burst of interest, they have gone on to other, more important, things. You know, like the baby born to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Now there’s real news of the highest significance for every American.

In my opinion, the mainstream media doesn’t want to dig deeper; they’re afraid they may find that this scandal goes to the very top:

Use the IRS

In fact, I think they’re concerned that if they do their job well, they may topple an entire regime, one to which they are committed ideologically:

Drip

Perhaps they fear the picture will become increasingly clear:

Obama Face

If that were to happen, they would be forced to admit they’ve been wrong all along:

Shocking Turnaround

The truth can be hard to face, particularly when you place all your hopes on a false political messiah.

Overwhelmed by Scandals?

We’re in danger of having our senses overwhelmed by the sheer number of scandals emanating from the current administration. One might think this would do severe damage, yet, as during the Clinton years, it’s possible the public may become desensitized with the constant flow of information. We may hit the “overload” point. That would be devastating for the future health of the nation. We must stay focused and get to the whole truth.

Another concern is that the newest scandal, that of the NSA data-mining, will dwarf the others for media attention. As troubling as the NSA situation may be, even with some of the complexities that might not make it as bad as it seems, we shouldn’t allow it to shove the other problems to one side.

We’ve heard little about Benghazi lately. Yet four people died as a result of bad decisions, and it was followed by a major misdirection, blaming it all on a YouTube video. That has proven to be a lie. I’m hoping the congressional committees responsible for following up on this won’t let it languish and disappear from the public view. Justice has not been served.

The DOJ interference with the free press, and in particular the attempt to make James Rosen of Fox into a co-conspirator in a crime, deserves our continued attention also. This is a direct threat to freedom of the press.

Even the IRS attack on conservative groups is losing coverage. The only discipline for the government employees involved thus far is the false firing of Steven Miller and the administrative leave for Lois Lerner. I say false firing because Miller was scheduled to step down anyway. As for that administrative leave, well, I suspect a lot of workers wouldn’t mind that:

Administrative Leave

When representatives of conservative groups showed up for a congressional hearing last week to detail the abuses they have suffered under IRS scrutiny, neither ABC nor CNN had even one minute of coverage of that testimony. CBS and NBC weren’t much better—they came in at three minutes each. When you consider that CNN is a twenty-four-hour news channel, that’s particularly appalling. They apparently don’t care when conservatives receive such treatment:

Who Is This

If there’s any way to shift blame from the IRS to conservatives, the mainstream media will concoct it:

IRS Racist

Meanwhile, more video has surfaced of IRS employees enjoying themselves by virtue of the taxpayers. This time they put on a Star Trek skit. We’re paying for this?

The Final Frontier

We’re being so inundated with scandals, the federal government might have to change its phone messages:

Government Helpline

While I’m hopeful some measure of justice will come out of all this, there’s one result that can’t be changed at this point:

Could Be Worse

If only we had a media that would do its job.