Who Would Have Believed?

We are now seventeen months into the Obama presidency. Unfortunately, I have to say it’s gone pretty much the way I anticipated. Of course, I never could have guessed some things, and I’m not making a case for my ability to see years into the future. For instance, a decade ago, who would have believed a lot that has transpired?

However, it wasn’t really that difficult to predict what would happen after Obama’s election. I knew from the start that he wasn’t some new type of politician who would bring genuine hope and change. He was tutored, after all, in the Chicago school of politics, so there’s no surprise that he has used that approach when dealing with other politicians and trying to gain the upper hand. The latest round of primaries makes that clear.

You just have to know what it takes to get a politician to do your bidding. Now that Obama’s approval ratings have plummeted [again, something that could be predicted], he has a new weapon.

With the midterm congressional elections looming, a new concept of hope and change is in the air.

And our incredible shrinking president is finding himself in unfamiliar territory and in company he would rather not keep.

He has big shoes to fill. I’m not really shocked that he can’t fill them.

For Memorial Day

Yes, war is bad. Sometimes, though, not going to war is even worse. Would we really want a Hitler controlling all of Europe? If not for the Cold War, and Reagan putting the pressure on the Soviet Union, more of the world might have come into the Soviet orbit. The lesson is clear:

It would be better if we could all agree on this. That agreement has been somewhat sporadic, however:

We talk a lot about the national debt, but there’s one type of national debt we don’t speak about often enough:

May we always remember.

Time Bomb Is Still Ticking

The scare in Times Square a couple of days ago is simply another indication that the war on terror must continue. This particular bomb didn’t go off, but what about the next one? And the next one? The World Trade Center didn’t collapse in the bombing attempt of 1993, but 2001 was a different scenario.

We know now that the bomb didn’t work as planned. I heard—haven’t read it yet—that the clock that was used as a timer was set incorrectly. Apparently, the mad bomber didn’t know the difference between a.m. and p.m.

Also, the fertilizer he used wasn’t the proper type for the most effective explosion. One account says that even though it wasn’t the optimum ingredient, it still would have caused a damaging fireball.

The alleged suspect [who  eagerly admitted everything when he was captured—which kind of makes a joke of the “alleged” part] is a native Pakistani who became an American citizen just a year ago. His name is Faisal Shahzad.

He was trying to make his escape to the United Arab Emirates when it was discovered he was on the plane that was getting ready to take off. Fortunately, the authorities arrived just in time to nab him. He apparently likes to talk; he’s been doing a lot of it since then. He had recently returned from a five-month terrorist training camp in his native country. Thankfully, he wasn’t the brightest of the budding terrorists.

Yet this is no joke. The next attempt may be carried out by someone far more talented. Are we ready?

I doubt it. The attitude of the Obama administration doesn’t inspire confidence. Our homeland security chief Janet Napolitano is at the bottom of that confidence list in my mind. Shahzad’s name had been added to the no-fly list, but the airline he was taking hadn’t been given the updated list. When asked for comment, all Napolitano would say is that the plane was prevented from taking off. Okay.

Then there’s attorney general Eric Holder who assures us he “was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him.” Right.

While I’m at it, let’s mention New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had previously speculated that the bomber could be someone upset with President Obama’s healthcare bill. We’re tyring so hard not to be accused of racial profiling that we’ve lost our common sense.

Yes, there are some of those homegrown terrorists who are not part of the Islamic jihad. Timothy McVeigh is a prime example. If we ask, though, what percentage of the actual terrorist attacks and the foiled attempts can be attributed to McVeigh types, we come up with about . . . zero.

If we’re serious about saving lives and protecting our country, we need to recover our common sense.

I like what Ronald Reagan said in his farewell speech to the nation back in January 1989:

In all of that time I won a nickname, “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation—from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the “Reagan Revolution.” Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

We could use another great rediscovery about now. Our future depends upon it. The time bomb is still ticking.

Do You Feel Nationally Secure?

I want my understanding of the responsibilities of government to be as Biblically based as possible. Scriptural passages that talk about the role of government seem to concentrate primarily on punishing evildoers and protecting the citizens.

That means we need law enforcement and courts of justice. We also need a military to defend against those who might want to attack us. If we fall down on either of those aspects of protection, we are in danger.

The Soviet Union is no more. We can thank Ronald Reagan and others who worked with him for that. Russia, in its latest incarnation, might become a threat again. It has been particularly unhelpful in our efforts to derail Iran from becoming a nuclear power. A nuclear Iran will attack Israel for sure; it also will be only too happy to sell some of its weapons to terrorists.

We have to be on the alert and vigilant—yet what are we doing? I noted in a previous blog that President Obama has a new nuclear strategy. Many fear it is leading us into dangerous territory by weakening our resolve to defend ourselves.

I’m not comforted by that either. There’s a lack of seriousness that emanates from the Oval Office on the issue of national security.

Iran doesn’t seem particularly impressed by the president’s new approach. What is he going to do if Iran gets nuclear weapons? What will his strategy be at that point? We need to hope it’s not this:

That certainly would fit into his worldview; after all, the rich are the real enemies, right? Oh, and of course certain other people:

Yes, he can be strong when he wants to be.

We need a different worldview in the White House. We won’t get an opportunity for that until 2012. A good start, though, would be a massive overhaul of Congress in 2010. It can be done.

The "Stupid" Strategy

Have you noticed the strategy employed by the Democrats over the past three decades? You might have to be as old as I am to see the pattern, but it’s now very obvious. I call it the “stupid” strategy, which is aimed at any Republican who is a threat to actually win the presidency or any other high office.

It all started with Ronald Reagan. When he ran against President Carter in 1980, the whispers began, then rose to a crescendo: he’s a dumb actor; he’s simplistic; he just reads everything from little cards; he needs a nap every afternoon; he’s not smart enough to be president. Democratic functionary Clark Clifford famously referred to Reagan as an “amiable dunce.”

Well, that amiable dunce won the Cold War.

They tried it, to a lesser degree, with George Bush in 1988 when he squared off against Michael Dukakis. How could he possibly match the policy wonkness of the former governor of Massachusetts?

It was his son, though, George W. Bush, who had to weather the stronger attack. He was just a cowboy, out of his league, merely a C student. He wasn’t smart enough to lead the country. What we needed was that super-smart challenger Al Gore. After all, he was on the cutting edge of understanding that we were all going to die unless we ceased emitting carbon. He was the champion of the intellectual elite.

In the Bush reelection year of 2004, John Kerry was the epitome of all that was cosmopolitan, cultured, and oh-so-French. Bush couldn’t even compete with Sen. Kerry’s brain power. Or so we were told.

In 2008, progressives nearly fainted when Sarah Palin was added to the Republican ticket. How could this Caribou Barbie be a serious vice presidential candidate? In fact, they realized she was a serious candidate, so the strategy was employed once again—ridicule her as a lightweight. Ignore her accomplishments as Alaska’s governor and paint her as a joke. The joke now appears to be on them as she is more influential than ever.

But of course she’s influential in circles of low-educated, backward folks who inhabit the great hinterland between the beautiful people who populate the coasts. You know, the area where no one of their social status should ever have to hang out.

That’s right, she’s the darling of those stupid Tea Partiers. Now the progressive elite have an entire class of people to denigrate. Unfortunately for them, a New York Times story recently carried the strange news that those despised Tea Partiers were actually better educated than the general population and they are financially better off than the national average.

That’s disturbing to the powers-that-be. President Obama made fun of them last week. He thinks their ideas are radical and foolish. Does he even know the source of those ideas?

If he finds their ideas ludicrous, he must really be in stitches over the Federalist Papers and the Constitution—because that’s where the ideas come from.

It’s time we wise up to the “stupid” strategy and see it for what it really is: a false portrayal of political opponents that is downright dishonest.

The New Defense Posture

Earlier this week, the Obama administration came out with its Nuclear Posture Review. It included new restrictions on when nuclear weapons would be used and focused on Obama’s desire to rid the world of all nuclear weapons. Some people are saying it is Reaganesque, since that president also sought a nuclear-free world. There are differences, which I’ll come back to later.

National Review asked a number of defense experts to comment on this new policy. Since they know far more about defense than I do, I would like to offer some brief excerpts from their commentary.

James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation notes:

The president lists five priorities in the NPR. Defending the U.S. isn’t one of them.

You’d think it would be job Number One. That’s why we invented nukes. Instead, the Review is largely a political document for trumpeting the president’s “road to zero,” a vision that will leave the U.S. with a smaller, less reliable, less credible nuclear force — making the world a more dangerous place.

Brian Kennedy, President of the Claremont Institute, had this to say:

The Nuclear Posture Review has just been released. Would that it had not. One does not have to read too far into it to see the amazing capacity human beings have for self-deception.

There is much in it that simply re-articulates the American Left’s antipathy to our strategic nuclear arsenal, the weapons system that has checked the aggression of totalitarian states against the free world for six decades. This was to be expected. More striking is the transparent naïveté contained within the president’s “vision” of a world without nuclear weapons and its bold and bizarre assertion that Russia is not our enemy. Much as we would hope otherwise, the Russians continue to build ever more advanced ballistic nuclear missiles, supply Iran with the technology and knowhow to develop such weapons for use against the United States and Israel, and, with the Communist Chinese, seek to marginalize the United States and its allies.

President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Clifford May, is trying to figure out if he heard correctly:

Let me see if I have this straight: Iran is developing nuclear weapons and threatening to use them and/or share them with terrorists. In response, President Obama has renounced the development of any new nuclear weapons by the U.S. and pledged that America will not deploy nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries — not even in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack, assuming, of course, that said attacker is, at the time of said attack, in compliance with its nonproliferation obligations under international treaties.

Well, if that’s not worth a second Nobel Peace Prize, what would be?

I referred earlier to the comparison some have made between the Reagan and Obama approach. It is true that Ronald Reagan dreamed of a world without nuclear weapons. Yet there was one caveat.

When Reagan met with Gorbachev and sought to reduce nuclear weapons, he always quoted an old Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.” He didn’t just take the word of a failing superpower built on a foundation of Marxism-Leninism and devoted to moral relativism. Any reduction had to be verified—we had to be able to inspect Russian facilities to see that they were following through on their promises.

What we have today is an adminstration that doesn’t operate on the same worldview as Reagan. Instead, it believes that our nuclear arsenal is the reason for the problems; therefore we need to show the world how trustworthy we are. Meanwhile, Iran and other rogue states laugh at our simplistic views and continue moving the world closer to nuclear confrontation by their desire to obtain those weapons themselves.

For those who argue that it’s only fair—why should the U.S. have nuclear weapons and not Iran—I would ask, “Are you of sound mind?” We have handled them responsibly for decades. Do you really believe Iran will do the same? There is no moral equivalence here.

If we really want to help bring stability in international relations, one cartoonist has a suggestion as to how that might occur.

What To Do?

Yesterday, President Obama signed the healthcare bill. It was historic. So was Pearl Harbor.

I was asked yesterday if I could catalog all the ills associated with this bill. I really can’t do justice to all the provisions contained within. Instead I would ask those who are interested in all the details to find a site devoted to highlighting them. I’m one person, and my time is limited.

What I can do, though, is talk about the response from those of us who oppose what has happened. Are we to accept this and act as if everything is fine? No way. The key is to find the proper response.

I told someone the other day that the proverbial silver lining in all this is that for the first time in my lifetime, people are understanding the wisdom of the Constitution and the limits it put on governmental authority. To use a cliche that probably needs to be buried someday—this is a teachable moment.

Task #1, in my opinion, is to increase our efforts to educate the American people in constitutionalism. They may finally be open to learning. That is my specific calling, I know.

Those who are in government can add to this. What would it take to repeal this legislation? It would be very difficult, but who says we shouldn’t tackle difficult tasks? The greatest victories are those that appeared impossible at first.

Here’s how hard it will be: not only do opponents need to get the majority in Congress in the next election, but they need a sufficient majority, particularly in the Senate, to be filibuster-proof. Can it happen? Is it impossible to reach that magic 60? Improbable, but not impossible.

Then, even if that is attained, any bill that passes would have to get past Obama’s desk. He holds the veto power, and you can be sure he will use it to stop any attempt to roll back what he has done. Only a 2/3 majority can override the veto.

That’s the political equivalent of conquering Mt. Everest.

The other strategy is already being pursued. Here in Florida, as well as in other states, the attorney general is taking this bill to court. The grounds for challenging it are strong. There is no doubt it is unconstitutional. No authority exists in the Constitution for the federal government to flex its muscles in this way.

So what’s the problem?

The federal bench is filled with judges who have been schooled in case law, which depends on precedent rather than on original intent of the Constitution. And the longer Obama remains in office, the more of them there will be. The challenges need to come before judges who respect the rule of law and who will acknowledge the limited powers of the federal government. We need some providential help with that.

You can be sure whatever decisions are made in the lower courts will eventually end up in the Supreme Court. The sooner the better, before Obama has a chance to replace one of the conservative justices on the Court. Right now the Court is almost evenly divided between those who will judge righteously and those who will disregard the document they have sworn to uphold. Any decision will probably be 5-4, but the direction of that verdict is uncertain.

Things have changed significantly in the past 30 years.

It may take another thirty years to undo what has transpired during this current administration, but the goal is worthy.

I’m reminded of the Separatists in Holland debating whether they should go to the New World. They made a list of all the things that could go wrong and compared it with what could go right. In the end, the majority decided to undertake the voyage. I’m paraphrasing, but their historian, William Bradford, said they concluded that they should do it and expect the blessing of God on their endeavors. Even if they died trying, he commented, at least they were doing what was right in the sight of God.

We now call them the Pilgrims, and we admire their courage.

I’m glad they made that decision. Will we make a similar decision? Will a future generation look back on us and thank us for going forward? Will they call us courageous and be encouraged by us to handle whatever challenges they will face?

The next few years—not weeks or months—will reveal the depth of our commitment.