Battles in the Ongoing War

The attempt to reverse our nation’s plunge into moral and fiscal insanity is on. This is a war [pardon my “violent” language] and there are many battles to be fought on multiple fronts. Republicans in Congress are doing their part. Governors such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin are as well.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a number of welcome measures:

  • The Pence Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood, passed 240-185.
  • The King Amendment, defunding Obamacare implementation, was approved 241-187 [three additional anti-Obamacare provisions also succeeded].
  • The Poe Amendment, blocking funding for EPA enforcement of greenhouse gas regulations, was even more popular, passing 249-177.

House Republicans are doing what they were elected to do. The problem, of course, is that these measures now go to the Democrat-controlled Senate. There is hope that some of them will survive, but they will undoubtedly die on the president’s desk.

Yet, as we are told in Scripture, we should not despise the day of small beginnings. It can lead to greater things.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, has virtually walked into a maelstrom. His state is a fiscal basketcase after years of Democrat control. He was elected to change things. He and his majority-Republican Senate were about to do that when the firestorm erupted. What was their crime? They concluded a couple of things: first, collective bargaining for public employees is not a good idea; second, those same employees, to help with the fiscal crisis, ought to contribute more to their pension plans and healthcare. Currently, they don’t give nearly as much to them as their counterparts in the private sector.

The response, particularly from teachers, who decided that protesting was more important than doing their jobs, has been disturbing. The protests are shrill, demanding, and even threatening. Law enforcement has had to work with the Republican legislators to protect them from the ire being directed at them. Some protesters are showing up at legislators’ homes and scaring family members. The signs some protesters are carrying also speak to their state of mind:

By the way, that’s supposed to be Gov. Walker. Cute, huh? Connecting any and all conservatives with Hitler has become standard operating procedure. And just to show that it wasn’t a lone loony, here’s another:

These are teachers. Any real questions about what they’re teaching the children of Wisconsin? Would you trust your children to their care and nurturing?

In case you might think these are simply spontaneous outbursts of patriotic rage, it’s also no real secret that the Democrat party is behind this well-orchestrated mob. Obama’s own group, Organizing for America, is in the thick of organizing this portion of America for their boss who, by the way, described the Republicans’ proposed actions as an “assault” on the unions.

Should public employees even have unions? A new poll says 64% of respondents don’t think so. Even 42% of Democrats don’t agree that this type of union should exist. That 42% is in step with Franklin Roosevelt, who stated categorically that government employees had no right to unionize. That’s pretty remarkable, considering that FDR’s biggest voting bloc was unions.

What of the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature? Well, the fourteen Senate Democrats not only refused to show up for work [keep in mind who pays them to do so], they fled the state, hiding out at a resort in Rockford, Illinois. They did this because there are nineteen Republicans in the Senate and it takes twenty senators to pass a bill.

This is about as outrageous as it gets. All these “fugitives” should be removed from office for dereliction of duty. Their goal is simply to take the legislative process hostage and hope that the pressure of the protests will cause the Republicans to back down.

Thus far, the Republicans are holding firm, and a rally at the Wisconsin capital is scheduled for today to provide moral support for their cause. [Note: supporters of the Republican bill have to rally on weekends because they show up for work on weekdays.] In 1981, President Reagan fired more than 11,000 public-sector employees in one day when they refused to report for work—the air traffic controllers. He showed courage in doing so. That same brand of courage is required now to deal with those who neglect their jobs, be they teachers or legislators. The first can be handled by the state government; the second by the voters.

Making Matters Worse

It’s huge. It’s mind-boggling. It’s the Obama administration’s new budget proposal. A decidedly non-conservative source—the Associated Press—warned,

Not since World War II has the federal budget deficit made up such a big chunk of the U.S. economy. And within two or three years, economists fear the result could be sharply higher interest rates that would slow economic growth.

What led the AP to issue such a dramatic prognosis? The new Obama budget calls for a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. The AP continues,

That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy—the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The deficit is getting to the point where it’s virtually out of control:

Ah, but not to fear, we’re told there are spending cuts contained within:

Here’s another way to illustrate it:

Republicans have rejected the Obama budget outright, saying it’s not really dealing with the problem. Will they have a better approach? Will they have the stomach to do what’s necessary to get this under control, which includes entitlement reform? I remain hopeful. Even if they don’t do everything they should, it ought to be better than what the president has proposed:

Yet the Obama administration refuses to yield on the idea that massive spending is required to pull us out of the recession. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that it would be a mistake to stop “investing” in the economy. Of course, “investing” has been given a brand new definition lately:

This is economic lunacy. Republicans now have to inject a sense of responsibility into the process. Both sides are talking about having an adult conversation on the economy. If this is what Obama calls an adult conversation, it appears the Republicans are going to have to talk to themselves.

The Economy & the Political Will

The budget battle looms. Debate over how to reinvigorate the economy is ongoing. At least now the Republicans have a voice in this debate and can have an effect on the budget. If they make their case well, they can frame it in a way most Americans will grasp. They actually have a lot going for them, considering the president’s track record:

In his State of the Union Address, Obama kept talking about “investing.” He repeated that theme when speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the other day. Some translation, though, is necessary when he uses certain terms:

If he continues to have his way, we’re going to have to revise the charts we use to gauge the deficit:

Or build larger rooms.

And who can forget the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in that room—the one nobody wishes to touch?

Unless we’re willing to tackle the entitlements, all the debate will be for nothing. Bold moves are necessary. Is there enough political will to make those moves?

Repealing Obamacare

Finally. Debate began yesterday in the House of Representatives over a bill that would repeal Obamacare. Republicans ran on this message for the November elections, so they are holding true to their promise. They are doing what their constituents required of them:

The monster has not yet been fully implemented, so now is a perfect time to kill it [oops, I ventured into dangerous dialogue territory—please, don’t anyone take that too seriously. Remember, Sarah Palin is to blame for everything, not me.]

Democrats are declaring that this would be a big mistake because repeal would raise the deficit, while keeping it would reduce the deficit. Proof? Why, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says so. Yes, as long as it is constrained to use the phony numbers given to it by Democrat leaders. There’s a principle at work here:

It is true, though, that Republicans are going to have to be in this struggle for the long haul. Repeal is not going to occur soon:

Harry Reid has already promised that if the House passes the repeal bill, he won’t allow it to come to a vote in the Senate. If only all the Senate seats had been up for that last election instead of just one-third. I do believe in the Founders’ provision to stagger the Senate elections for the sake of stability, but sometimes it would be nice to have wholesale “repeal” of most of these senators:

But at least one thing will change. In light of last week’s call for civility, we can be sure that a new tone will be set in these debates, right? Right?

Sometimes, a public repentance isn’t what it appears to be. We’ll see.

Return of the Constitution

I remember standing in the freezing rain outside the Capitol on inaugural day 2001, watching George W. Bush replace Bill Clinton as president. It’s hard to describe the relief that swept through the crowd once he took the oath of office. Eight years of one of the sleaziest episodes in American presidential history had mercifully come to an end.

I wasn’t present on Wednesday when the Republicans once again took control of the House of Representatives, but something similar to that 2001 feeling returned. At least one step had been taken to redeem the congressional follies of the past four years.

I’m not going to speculate what was going through John Boehner’s mind in this picture as he held the gavel, but for many of us, this political cartoon captures the emotion accurately:

New Speaker Boehner, once Nancy Pelosi finally yielded the floor to him, gave a sober, humble address about taking care of the nation’s business. While Boehner is not a charismatic speaker, he spoke words of truth. Aren’t we tired yet of charismatic speakers who spout little else but platitudes? Wednesday’s transfer of authority will hopefully give us more responsible leadership in the House:

Then yesterday, the new Republican leadership made its first order of business a reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Critics called it a publicity stunt, yet when all members were sworn in, what were they pledging to do? Uphold the Constitution. Why then is the reading of the document they pledge to follow and maintain a stunt? I fear that for some of those representatives, this was the first time they’ve heard some of these provisions.

Yes, I know it won’t change anyone’s mind about what is constitutional. Progressives will mouth the pledge and proceed to undermine the authority of the Constitution. But reading it publicly served a good purpose—it was a reminder to the entire nation that lawmakers are not supposed to flout its authority. The Republicans’ new rule that each piece of legislation must also include a specific constitutional authorization serves that same purpose. Some lawmakers will have to be very creative to provide their constitutional rationales for what they want. At the very least, it opens up a much-needed debate on original intent.

For many years, I have been a voice calling for a return to the governmental limitations found in the Constitution. Please forgive me if I feel a sense of elation at this turn of events. I realize that this is only a beginning, and that the representatives’ resolve will be tested, but I rejoice still to see this day. Will even better days arrive?

Unrenewed Minds

I don’t stun easily anymore. Yet, last Friday, while attending the commencement ceremony at my university, one of my faculty colleagues did stun me with a bit of information. We were talking about the current generation and the influences on their lives. He noted that in his classes, he asks students what they consider their main source for learning about politics and the issues of the day. He reported that the majority answered—Comedy Central.

In other words, this generation looks to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as its fount of knowledge regarding current affairs.

This means that at my evangelical Christian university, students are getting their information from two individuals who have little or no regard for the faith they [the students] claim is the cornerstone of their lives.

It’s revelations such as this that have the power to keep me from going back to sleep in the middle of the night [which is when I’m writing this].

Is this the new Lost Christian Generation? Is this generation going to help shape the culture, or is it the other way around?

Speaking of generational shifts, on Saturday, the Senate passed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The House already had done so. It now goes to the president’s desk where he will rejoice at this blow against “discrimination” as he signs it into law. The vote in the Senate was 65-31.

One of the Republican senators who voted in favor of the repeal was Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr is normally considered a solid conservative vote. When asked why he decided to vote in favor of repeal, his answer was most revealing. He said “this is a policy that generationally is right.” What does that mean? He elaborated:

A majority of Americans have grown up at a time [when] they don’t think exclusion is the right thing for the United States to do. It’s not the accepted practice anywhere else in our society, and it only makes sense.

Look carefully at that explanation. On what basis did Burr make his decision? He voted as he did simply because a new generation now believes differently about homosexuality. He has adopted the new groupthink that those who oppose homosexuality are unjustly excluding a segment of our society from their rightful place at the table, so to speak. He looks around and sees homosexuality becoming increasingly acceptable and determines to go with the flow.

There were 31 Republicans who voted against repeal, but I’m not aware that any of them showed any backbone with respect to the moral issue involved. Their arguments against repeal were primarily tactical/practical. No one apparently wanted to cross that line into a discussion of basic right and wrong. While I still maintain there is a qualitative difference between Republicans and Democrats on philosophy of government and foundational moral values, I do fear that portion of the Republican Party that just wants to go along to get along.

The culture, in general, has made its peace with the sin of homosexuality. Sin? Why do I use such loaded terminology? I do so because I continue to stand by Biblical truth. The book of Romans in the New Testament clearly lays out the case. If you haven’t read it recently, here’s what it says:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them … [and] they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. …

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper … and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This is the passage that President Obama, while running for the office, demeaned as “obscure.” There’s nothing obscure about it. Will the new generation, particularly those who claim to be Christians, stand up for Biblical principles? The future hangs on that generational decision.

Let me close with another admonition from the book of Romans:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This Was Hostage Week

There’s been a lot of hostage talk this week. It started with President Obama and has become the mantra in Democrat talking points. I don’t get to listen to Rush Limbaugh often, but I did hear this week his revealing litany of audio clips of numerous Democrats saying almost the same thing—and always using the word “hostage” in reference to the Republicans and the continuance of the Bush tax cuts. Supposedly, we’re to believe it’s the Republicans who don’t want those tax cuts to remain in effect. Cartoonists have picked up on this “hostage” theme, but not in the way Obama intended:

I think that illustration explains what’s really been taken hostage through the Obama policies. Remember that ditch analogy he likes to use?

Right.

Of course, as I noted in a previous post, there are reasons to be concerned about the new tax deal, such as the highly expensive extension of unemployment benefits.

Are those rotten apples? Unlimited unemployment benefits are certainly rotten for the economy. When will they ever end? There will always be pressure to extend—maybe permanently.

Perhaps we just don’t understand the Obama strategy.

Why didn’t we think of this earlier?