The Campaign Begins

No primaries have taken place yet, but everyone knows the 2016 campaign has begun. Over the weekend in Iowa, where the first test will occur about this time next year, a parade of Republican presidential hopefuls took to the stage at the Freedom Summit to share their vision for what America should be and how they would handle the transition away from the Age of Obama.

Scott Walker Freedom SummitAccording to the reports I’ve read, the two standouts from the event, which was largely attended by the most conservative of the Republican electorate, were Texas senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Everyone expected Cruz to go over well with the crowd; they didn’t know what to predict about Walker. Yet the courageous governor, who has made reform after reform in a state that isn’t known for its conservative politics, and who survived a recall election as well as winning re-election, surprised many. He was both forceful and personable.

Some who were calling Walker the Dark Horse of this campaign are thinking he may be in the top tier after all. This is all very early, of course, so all prognostications are tentative. Everyone realizes that just one misstep can spell disaster for any candidate. Ask former Texas governor Rick Perry about that.

Two notable no-shows for the event were Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. You can judge whether that was smart or not.

On the Democrat side, however, there is no race whatsoever. Yes, Joe Biden makes noises occasionally; Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts with virtually no government experience, is the darling of the radical radicals (I use that term because it’s really rather difficult to distinguish anymore the difference on the Left), but I don’t see that happening. Do you think the rest of the country might also hesitate to put another inexperienced person at the helm after what we’ve seen the last 8 years?

So, barring a physical problem (and some have speculated there may be one), Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat candidate.

Old Maid

One could say she’s experienced, to be sure. But how successful has she been? Her chief claim to fame, while not necessarily a claim to competence, is that she was First Lady during her husband’s reign. But what did she really accomplish in that role? It’s hard not to acknowledge the only reason she has the press she does is because of who she is married to.

As a senator, no one can point to any landmark legislation she championed, and again, the reason she even won that seat was due to Bill Clinton’s coattails among Democrats.

Then there was her stint as secretary of state, with the infamous “reset” button with Russia and the whole Benghazi fiasco, blaming it on an internet video and sending the poor man who made it to prison. What a sterling resumé.

King of Hill

Then there’s her laughable comment that she and Bill were broke when they left the White House. She’s also expressed deep concern for income inequality while simultaneously raking in huge amounts herself for paltry speeches.

Hillary Income Inequality

If universities complaining about costs want to pay her those princely sums, that’s their call, but it’s pretty foolish.

Already the polls show she is far ahead of any Republican challenger in a general election. That, though, is primarily a name-recognition factor. She’s shown in the past she can be a terrible campaigner. If Republicans choose, for once, a strong, articulate candidate who stands on principle, that fluffy lead can vanish. And if the electorate doesn’t lose its mind again, there is hope.

President Hillary Clinton (you don’t know hard that was to write) is not inevitable.

Needed: A Republican Spine

The new legislative session is underway. President Obama, even before any piece of legislation was introduced, already indicated his staunch position of using the veto for nearly everything a Republican Congress wants to pass. Should that be considered a preemptive strike?

The president doesn’t like the idea that Congress can have a say in things. That pesky Constitution just keeps getting in his way. His “Reagan Moment” is slightly different than the original:

Tear Down This Wall

The Republicans, meanwhile, had their own little scrape within: an attempt to deny John Boehner the Speaker’s chair. It didn’t succeed, and I knew it wouldn’t. Many on the Right are so disgruntled with Boehner that they almost can’t stand the idea of his continuance in that position.

Personally, I would like a different congressional leader as well—in a perfect world. However, the opposition to Boehner was disorganized and doomed from the start. It takes more than being a conservative firebrand to be put in charge. One also needs the organizational skills and the ability to project a vision and create unity. None of the challengers had those qualities, apparently. What’s even more interesting is that Boehner’s voting record is more conservative than some of those challengers.

Speaker Boehner, though, seems to have gotten the message, both by the election results and the abortive attempt to remove him. He allowed conservatives to shape the legislation to overturn Obama’s executive amnesty. It passed the House and is now before the Senate. The House also passed, with significant Democrat support, the Keystone pipeline bill. Both bills will probably be subject to a presidential veto, and it will be difficult to override the vetoes. What that does, however, is put Obama on the record as opposing measures that many Americans want to see made law.

Will Republicans in Congress continue to chip away at the Obama legacy? It will take real leadership based on principle:

Human Spine

Then, over the last weekend, we got the news that Mitt Romney might be running again. I made it clear last time around that he was not my choice, but that I had no real option but to support his candidacy—it was the only possible way to remove Obama from office.

Although I think Romney is a nice person, I’ve never trusted him to be consistently principled in a conservative philosophy of government. I still have a hard time believing he got the nomination after being the face of Romneycare in Massachusetts, which was the model upon which Obamacare was based. The now-infamous Jonathan Gruber was the architect for both.

If Republicans go for the squishy middle once again in 2016, I predict failure once again. This will be Romney’s third attempt for the presidency. If he falls short this time, does that mean he’ll finally stop trying?

Romney 2036

After a while, one tends to become a joke.

Whom should the Republicans nominate in 2016? Well, my thoughts on that will have to wait. We’re not close enough yet to know for sure who’s really serious about running. But when we get to that point, I promise I won’t stay silent.

Let the Battles Begin

Gas prices are falling. The unemployment rate is slowly dropping. If you don’t see the underlying problems that are ongoing, you might think things are turning a corner. Yet when an unemployment rate falls, is it because the economy is robust, or have people taken themselves out of the job market? Hint: it’s the latter. Our workforce is at its lowest ebb in decades. When you lose hope finding a job, you fall back on the government, which is exactly where this administration wants you.

But if you’re counting on always being part of the safety net, don’t get too comfortable:

My Plan

About those wonderful new numbers at the gas pump, ask yourself just what the president has done to achieve this. Has he opened up new oil exploration? Remember, this is the man who refuses to go forward with the Keystone Pipeline. What we have to realize is that even when the government does its best to impede recovery, there are times when market forces create a better situation anyway. Yet that won’t stop Obama from taking credit, despite the evidence to the contrary:

Policies Working

The new Congress meets today to get set up and running. Both houses are now controlled by Republicans. I’m withholding judgment on their performance until I actually can evaluate their performance. They need to remember their primary task:

Dusting Off

It’s time to start observing this document again, and by observing I mean following it. That’s going to be the yardstick by which I do my evaluation.

Obama is going to double down on executive actions, and he threatens to use the veto for anything that comes across his desk that he doesn’t like. Will Republicans pass decent bills and then get enough Democrat support to override his vetoes? The battles have only begun. Let them come, I say–let them come.

Happy New Year? Will Government Help or Hurt?

The last two days I’ve looked at the role of Christians and the moral/cultural climate as we peer into 2015. I’ve said that the key to this being a happier year is whether real Christians take their task as salt and light seriously. Then I dissected the trend of the culture morally, showing the immense job we have ahead of us.

Today, let’s consider government’s role, and what it does, either to help reverse current trends or push us further along a wrong path.

Good & EvilUnlike some conservatives/libertarians, I don’t think that government is a necessary evil. Rather, it is established by God to bring order to society. According to Romans 13, it is to be a servant of God to protect those who do good and punish those who do wrong.

I can see why many chafe under civil government when it does the opposite of what it is intended by God to accomplish. I feel the same way. When I survey what our government has done in the past (and being a historian, I’ve done a lot of surveying), I can point to many times when it has deviated from God’s directive. Yet, in America, regardless of the failures, we’ve done better than almost any other nation on the globe, both currently and in the past.

Obama Arrogant LookI regard the ascension of Barack Obama into the presidency as a watershed in American history. His vision to fundamentally transform the country was not just rhetoric. He is the first president who, in the deepest part of his being, doesn’t really like and appreciate the nation he is presiding over. He doesn’t like its history, the way the government was set up in the Constitution, nor the free-market approach to prosperity.

In short, he is the antithesis of everything America was designed to be.

His election was supposed to heal the racial divide, but his words and actions have only widened that divide. He has put the federal government in charge of as much as possible, from student loans to the healthcare system. His outright support for homosexuality and same-sex marriage has encouraged our retreat from Biblical morality, and he is the first president ever to address Planned Parenthood—the foremost provider of abortions—and ask God’s blessing on their efforts.

Obama’s background is a deadly mix of anti-colonial resentment, Marxist ideology, and black liberation theology. All three fuel his drive to remake America in his own image.

During his tenure, we have seen one scandal after another—the IRS, the NSA, the VA, Benghazi, etc. In each case, he has swept the dirt under the rug, and the media has obliged by ignoring the potentially devastating nature of the infractions and the blithe dismissal of solutions.

Stymied by Congress, he has now decided to operate as a lone wolf—first by executive orders for which he has no authority; lately, by mere executive memos that even fall short of an official order. His word is all that is necessary to make law.

This is, in summary, the beginnings of a tyranny.

The Obama vision was rejected soundly in the 2014 congressional and state elections. As I’ve noted in previous posts, Republicans now control 70 of the 99 state legislative bodies and both houses of the Congress. Based on that, one might expect a genuine attempt at reversal. But will we see it?

Boehner-McConnellAlready, many suspect that Republican leaders, spurred on by the Chamber of Commerce, are in league with the president on the immigration amnesty. Will they do anything at all to counteract it? The next two months will reveal the truth.

Are Republicans truly committed to repealing Obamacare, step by step? Yes, they still have the hurdle of a presidential veto of anything they pass, but will they take a principled stand, at least? Again, we’ll see.

The Supreme Court may do their job for them on that issue: a case is going to be decided that could kill Obamacare for good. There is hope.

There are two opposite things that Christians must never do: we cannot believe that the government is our savior; neither can we withdraw from the political scene and just let things play out. We must have a realistic view of what government can and cannot accomplish, but then we have an obligation to actively work for the good it can accomplish.

Christians & PoliticsIt still comes back to what I said two days ago: the key for a happier New Year lies with those who are devoted followers of Jesus Christ. They are the only ones with the ultimate Truth to share, and they should be the ones who have the wisdom to apply that Truth properly to society.

Will we be wise? I wish I could be more certain of that, but that goal remains at the top of my prayers.

About Those Election Results

I was going to move on from the election results today. I really was. But I just can’t. I blame the political cartoonists; they’re doing some of their best work right now, and I would hate to let it go to waste. Let’s see how they’re handling this GOP victory and corresponding Democrat defeat.

What makes the victory even more compelling is that the media remained solid in support of the president and his minions. Yet the people pushed aside that heavy influence in their favor and voted against them anyway. It appears the strategy didn’t work:

Low Information

Democrats are fond of calling conservatives “deniers” when it comes to issues such as global warming [which isn’t exactly happening, so I guess I’m a “denier”], but they are becoming experts at real denial themselves:

Upset with Republicans

As for the president, he’s acting as if this whole election thing is no big deal:

Cavalier

He’s also claiming that he “hears” those who didn’t vote, implying they are all on his side. That’s an amazing trick:

Hearing Voices

Ocean of People

Obama is unbowed by the results. His approach is as in-your-face as ever:

Give & Take

Toast

And after accusing Republicans of every kind of evil and stalling all legislation in the Senate for years, we’re suppose to believe this election is a call for Republicans to be more conciliatory toward Democrats and be bipartisan [translation: you do what we want even though you won and we lost]?

Work Together

Let me be clear—to quote nearly all politicians—I believe in reconciliation and in principled compromises that advance good policies, and Republicans shouldn’t have a chip on their shoulders and refuse to work with Democrats. But keep in mind that goes both ways.

Acquiescence to intransigence on the Democrat side—insistence to continue their failed policies—would be to repudiate the results of this election, and Republicans must not go there. They must be principled and lead accordingly.

Their ideas may continue to be rejected by President Obama, and he may veto everything they try to do, but if he does, the American public will receive an overdue education that should lead to another Republican victory in 2016.

Lighting the Way

The good news continues. The Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee has pulled back from many of the ads they were going to run on behalf of Mary Landrieu in Louisiana for the runoff election. Apparently, they think it’s not worth the cost. She will undoubtedly be leaving her Senate seat and returning to the private sector.

Also, an update on what I reported yesterday. I had written that the GOP now controls 2/3 of the state legislative bodies. That number is now 70%. So, if you stop and think about the political trend of the country, it is encouraging. Republicans now have the majority in Congress, 2/3 of governors, and 70% of state legislative chambers. If that’s not a wave, what is it?

There’s only one roadblock for a complete turnaround, and it resides in the White House, where the president has infamously said he has a phone and a pen, and he will act unilaterally—something he pretty much repeated in his press conference on Wednesday. Yet most of the voters on Tuesday repudiated that message:

Pen & Ballot

This penchant for acting like he is the government must end. The government established by the Constitution did not authorize the president to be a king, let alone behave as if he has some kind of divine right to do as he wishes, regardless of the other branches of the government and the desires of those for whom the government operates—the people. The message should be clear to him:

New Paperweight

The issue is whether he is listening or even cares to listen. One commentator opined last night that it might be that Obama doesn’t truly grasp what took place on Tuesday, and may not get the full message until he is forced to deal with a Republican Congress beginning in January. I’m not sure that’s the case; I’m more inclined to think he knows what has happened, but just stubbornly refuses to submit to it.

Word is out that he resents having been put on the back burner by his party during the campaign. Little good it did them; the voters still knew who is responsible for our current mess:

Thank You Cards

But one election is not our salvation politically. The nation remains in critical condition spiritually. Government isn’t, and never will be, our savior. Unless we turn things around spiritually, we’re still going the wrong direction:

Handbasket

I pray Republicans will accomplish what they can within the limits of what government is ordained by God to do, and within the constraints of constitutional authority. That by itself, though, will not be enough. The root of our problems has never changed: the sinfulness of man. We must address that with the Gospel if we ever hope to move the nation in a new direction.

Ultimately, it won’t be government that turns things around; it will be the Christians in society. We need to remember that Jesus called us the salt and the light. We need to be vigilant to preserve the good in our society and to provide light on the path toward righteousness and true Biblical justice.

America’s Nero?

So now we’re sending humanitarian aid—finally—to those displaced in Iraq by the bloodthirsty ISIS terrorist organization. And we’re dropping a few bombs on ISIS positions. I wonder how many Americans have been fooled into thinking this somehow represents decisive action? I don’t recall which military spokesman it was, but someone in the last day or two clearly stated that our pinprick policy of bombing wasn’t going to put any real dent in the ISIS forward movement.

Back when President Obama was being questioned about this rising threat to Iraq’s stability, he dismissed ISIS as the “junior varsity” compared to Al Qaeda. Well, it appears he was somewhat shortsighted in his dismissal.

Life's a Beach

While he’s “busy” vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, reports now indicate ISIS is far more threatening than Al Qaeda at its peak. It’s better funded, better organized, and has set up what it calls an Islamic State in what was a section of Iraq. Our leader never saw this coming:

Islamic State

For Obama, of course, the most important thing is never to get America involved again in Iraq. Circumstances, though, may foil his plans:

Dragged

No matter where one looks with respect to the Obama foreign policy, one sees American retreat from leadership and the looming threat of more terrorist attacks here at home. With the congressional elections coming up soon, Democrats are scrambling to disassociate themselves from the presumed head of their party:

Run

Even Hillary Clinton, already transparently running for the top job, is attempting to put some distance between herself and her former boss:

What Difference

That’s going to be a hard sell. After all, she was his secretary of state, responsible for enacting all aspects of his foreign policy. She can’t legitimately claim to be separate from his policies. Her best hope is the collective amnesia of the average American voter.

Obama has demonstrated such a high level of incompetence that, coupled with his unconstitutional power grabs and the use of government agencies to attack political opponents, it’s no wonder the “I” word is being bandied about. Republican leaders are aware that Democrats seek to use that to gain sympathy for Obama and reverse the electoral tide this November. That’s why Republicans, on the whole, are not falling for a strategy that has no hope of success in the Democrat-controlled Senate, no matter how eager Democrats are for them to take the bait:

The I Word

So, in a perverse sort of way, it’s Democrats who are pushing the impeachment talk. Even Obama himself wants to use it for his advantage:

To Get Impeached

Right. As if that’s ever going to happen.

Meanwhile, our own Nero continues to play his figurative fiddle while all around us burns.