Political Honesty: Not an Oxymoron

Oxymorons are words that don’t ordinarily go together—they come across as inherently contradictory. The classic is “jumbo shrimp.” I’ve always liked “congressional ethics”; others prefer “military intelligence.” I held an oxymoron contest one year with students. The co-winners were “study lounge” and “intense apathy.”

Why am I pondering oxymorons this morning? It has to do with the recently failed GOP healthcare fix. It wasn’t really a fix because it left the infrastructure of Obamacare largely intact, fixing virtually nothing, thereby qualifying as an oxymoron in practice.

Those within the GOP who stood firmly against this oxymoron are now being castigated by their fellows. Blame is being cast on the Freedom Caucus for undermining the Trump presidency. They are being told they have to back the president on everything he supports regardless of their own personal views on the efficacy of a proposed bill.

Personally, I’m grateful for those who held to principle, seeing that this bill was not better than what we currently have in Obamacare, and that it could actually be worse in that it undermines more than a temporary resident of the White House—it undermines conservative governing policies.

Yes, President Trump took his lumps with this one, but that’s fine. When you push something wrong, you deserve some lumps.

As is his usual practice, he now distances himself from a failure because . . . well, he simply doesn’t fail. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Here’s where the title of today’s blog comes in. We are in dire need of political honesty, a term that shouldn’t be an oxymoron. What I’m seeing now from some Republicans and/or supposed conservatives is an attempt to shift blame rather dishonestly.

Paul Ryan is the culprit, you see, not Donald Trump. He is the RINO who came up with this failed approach to repeal and replace; Trump is blameless.

Well, I certainly agree that Ryan followed a bad path here. Why he was willing to compromise the pledge Republicans made to wipe out Obamacare is discouraging, to say the least. Yet it’s time for political honesty on the part of those who are excusing Trump.

The president was just as much on board with this failure as Ryan was, yet Trump’s most stalwart defenders refuse to acknowledge it. How do they look past his open advocacy for the proposed bill? How do they ignore that his self-appointed proxy, Steve Bannon, went to the Freedom Caucus and told them they had no choice but to vote for this bill?

After the bill went down to inglorious defeat without even a vote, he was all aTwitter, ranting against those who held to principle. Now he’s saying he can get a better deal working with Democrats.

Right. Can you imagine what kind of compromise would come from that?

Donald Trump owns this just as much as Paul Ryan. But don’t tell AlwaysTrumpers that. They have become blind and deaf to his shortcomings.

He’s now trying to change the subject.

He’s the captain, regardless of what his defenders want us to believe. If you are upset at Ryan and see nothing amiss in what Trump did with this phony bill, political honesty is missing. If Ryan is to blame for it, so is Trump.

Please stop the dishonesty. Don’t be a walking oxymoron.

By the way, Democrats are playing this as a win, but let’s keep one thing in mind.

We’re all losers with Obamacare. It’s time for a genuine repeal and a principled plan for replacement.

Healthcare & the Constitution

America is counting down the days remaining in the Obama administration. What more damage can he do in the next two weeks? Well, keep in mind he’s been able to accomplish quite a bit during his tenure and he doesn’t show any signs of letting up. Let’s summarize:

The first target for Republicans will be Obamacare. Obama himself continues to act as if it’s doing just fine. The reality is somewhat different:

Democrats in the Congress are trying to rally the troops to defend the centerpiece of Obama’s vision, but their hope may be illusory:

They are going with the old tried-and-true strategy that they have used on every Republican from Ronald Reagan to the present day:

I remember back in the 1980s when Democrats sought to convince the public that Reagan was going to throw old people out on the streets to die. Not that long ago, Paul Ryan was pictured as pushing an old woman in a wheelchair over a cliff. Perhaps this time the public will tire of that overused and thoroughly dishonest tactic.

So Republicans have the knives out to remove Obamacare from the public life, but there is not unanimity in the ranks over how to do it, whether anything is worth keeping, or how to replace it.

My solution for this is not a popular one. How about going back to the Constitution and reading it one more time? If we do so, we will see that there is no authority in that document for the federal government to legislate on healthcare whatsoever. Why not allow the market to work and then let states deal legislatively with anything that needs correction?

I understand the politics, all the accusations that Republicans would have to face if they followed my advice, but that would be the constitutional thing to do. Unfortunately, constitutionalism won’t even be considered.

The nation has become so dependent on federal outlays and policy from on high that it will take a massive re-educational effort to change that outlook.

Democrats can always play on that and promise the world, while those few Republicans who do take the Constitution seriously seem to have the more difficult task explaining why the government should be kept out of this.

Even though this last election is being portrayed as a rejection of government interference, far too many people have become, in the insightful words of C. S. Lewis, “willing slaves of the welfare state.” They want what is “theirs” from the government.

And Democrats are always on the lookout for creating more government dependence:

Have we really learned our lesson as a nation? Will principles ever make a comeback?

The End Is Near

I’m at the point with this election that I would just like to ignore it the rest of the way. My initial plan was to do so and say that today’s blog would be my final word on it. Tempting as that is, I will . . . reluctantly . . . continue to offer comments until that fateful day when the decision is made. Never in American history have the two major options been so awful.

sorry-candidates

If this election doesn’t deter the next generation from believing that government service can be an honorable profession, I don’t know what will.

negatives

As I’ve said before, I’ve looked forward to the day when I could vote to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. In last night’s debate, she couldn’t have been more clear that she sees the Supreme Court as the enforcer, not of the Constitution, but of the progressive agenda. She also made it clear (in case anyone had any doubt) that she believes in abortion on demand, defending Planned Parenthood’s atrocities with all her breath.

How can I not vote against her?

Many Christians this morning are lauding Donald Trump for what they think was his strong pro-life stance in the debate. I acknowledge that those were the strongest statements he has made yet on the subject, but how heartfelt were they?

I can hear the voices now: just accept him at his word; he’s on our side; he will appoint the right justices to the Court; the country will be saved.

I would like to believe him, but he remains, to me, utterly unbelievable. He’s performing his part to try to win votes. He’s succeeding with many Christians who desperately want Clinton defeated. Yet I still cannot support him.

First, even if he were to nominate a solid person for the Court, that person would have to get past the Senate. It will take 60 votes to allow the vote to go forward. That, in itself, would be slightly on the miraculous side. It also would require that President Trump go all out for such a nominee. I don’t think he would do so. He’s the dealmaker who will put out a good nominee knowing that person won’t make it, then give the Democrats the kind of nominee they will accept.

If you think Donald Trump will save the Court, I think you are being fooled.

It’s not just that. I look at the total package. Trump is a mess. I’ve written often about his personal morality, or lack thereof. Based on his character and his overall history, do you really think that all those women coming forward now to tell their tales of how Trump foisted himself on them are lying?

Trump is a walking massive ego. He thinks he can do whatever he wants, not only with women, but in every area of life. He, like Hillary, thinks he is entitled. When he says those women have to be lying because they aren’t attractive enough to get his attention, what does that say about him? In other words, if they were attractive enough, he would go right ahead and do what they are accusing him of.

He is truly reprehensible. Why any woman would vote for him is beyond me.

who-needs-them

His advisors have come up with plans to “drain the swamp.” Sounds good. Who’s going to drain the Trump Swamp first?

He continually attacks and demeans anyone who isn’t 100% on board his ego. I understand why Paul Ryan encouraged Republicans running for Congress to do whatever they feel is necessary to win their races, even if it means distancing themselves from the top of the ticket.

The only thing that’s going to stop Hillary’s drive to continue Obama’s transformation of America is a Congress that says “no.” It’s essential that Republicans maintain control of both chambers. Trump is a drag on that effort.

down-ballot

If Republicans lose the Congress, I will lay the blame on Trump.

Polls show, at this point, that Trump’s unpopularity has not yet dragged everyone else down with him. Voters appear to be making the distinction between him and other Republicans running for the House and Senate. Will that be the case on election day?

Prediction: Hillary Clinton will be the next president. That won’t be caused by people like me who cannot stomach Trump; it will be caused by the candidate himself. Almost any other Republican who ran in the primary would have trounced a candidate as corrupt as Hillary. Only Trump could possibly have lost to her.

I won’t vote for Donald Trump. I will, however, vote for every other Republican on my Florida ballot. President Clinton (oh, how I never wanted to hear those words again) needs to be challenged on every policy on every level.

end-is-near

Let’s just hope it’s not the end in the wrong sense. The end of this election season would be gratifying; the end of the nation not so much.

Unity?

Unity. That’s what it’s all about, right? All of us who are sickened at the thought of a Hillary presidency have to board the Trump train for the sake of unity. And if people like me, who oppose Trump for president, don’t hop on board, we are the problem and will be blamed for a Trump loss in November.

As I’ve said countless times, and will repeat again, any Trump loss in November will be due to Donald Trump himself and those who mindlessly followed him into his own personal fever swamp.

Evidence? It abounds.

Let’s look at what has occurred since the Republican convention.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganFirst, Trump refuses to let go of any comment by anyone that is the least bit critical of him, and continues to fire back regardless of the consequences. In politics, you take the heat and go on. Trump will not do so; instead, he creates bigger issues because he is so thin-skinned.

He continues to criticize Ted Cruz and won’t back off on the stupid accusation that Cruz’s father is somehow implicated in the JFK assassination.

He takes umbrage at a Muslim father speaking at the Democrat convention criticizing him. Keep in mind this was the Democrat convention. Of course they will line up speakers to criticize him.

In this case, though, the parents lost their son in Iraq. Now, whatever the truth is about the father—even if he should happen to be someone who ultimately favors Sharia law, or whatever—Trump’s reaction was again supremely stupid. You simply don’t rant against parents who lost their son in service to the country. From what I’ve read, the son lost his life when he ordered his fellow soldiers to stay back while he investigated; he died doing so, putting his fellows first.

That kind of decision needs to be respected, no matter who the parents are. Trump turning it into a “cause” only cheapens Trump. He somehow can’t see that.

A whole slew of stupidity manifested itself yesterday. Trump tells a woman to remove her crying baby from his rally after first trying to say he loves babies. I’ve watched the video without any editing. He came across as a fool and someone who really, despite what he claims, doesn’t like babies.

A veteran gave Trump his Purple Heart. Trump jokes that he always wanted one but didn’t expect to receive it this way. Just a joke, right? Watch the video, please. He again comes across as “this is all about me, not thee.” He doesn’t honor the man who gave it to him; he turns the focus on himself—as always—because in Trump World, all that matters is Donald Trump.

Then, because Paul Ryan and John McCain criticize him for his comments over the Muslim parents’ dead son, he now says he doesn’t endorse them for reelection.

Some of my readers may respond with joy over that because of dislike of both Ryan and McCain. But regardless of what you think of those men, isn’t Trump supposed to be unifying the party now? What does he do instead? He creates greater division. This is so bad that even Reince Priebus is upset. It takes a lot to get him upset with Trump.

Mike Pence has had to do more damage control than any VP candidate in history. I would feel sorry for him except for the fact that he signed up for this voluntarily. Did he understand what he was getting himself into?

Fireman Pence

How bad is it getting? I watched Fox News’s The Five last night, a show that reflexively defends Trump no matter what. Except for last night. Only Eric Bolling was willing to find an excuse for Trump’s antics. The others, especially Dana Perino, were critical. Perino practically said Trump was stupid and she seemed to be fed up with trying to defend him. She says she can offer no more advice on what he should do because he obviously won’t listen to anyone. Her disgust with Trump was all over her face.

Reports coming from inside the Trump campaign paint a picture of an organization almost in chaos, with people beside themselves trying to rein him in unsuccessfully.

I am more and more convinced that Trump’s supersized ego—one that has been allowed to grow throughout his life without any serious barriers—has made him a very disturbed man, both mentally and emotionally.

Beyond that, I’m not even sure he has the brain power to think clearly and rationally. He is stuck in his middle school vocabulary, with constant repetition of words and phrases (great, terrific, terrible, nasty, loser, etc., etc.) and has the emotional stability that goes along with boys at that level of maturation.

Trump's Brain

Am I aghast at the thought of a Hillary Clinton reign of error and terror? Absolutely. The trouble is that I’m equally aghast at the thought of a Trump ascendancy.

I’m in the minority in conservative circles right now. I’m apparently in the minority in evangelical circles also. That’s okay. I’ve been in this position before. My goal remains the same: speak the truth as God gives me the light to see the truth; emerge from this fiasco with my integrity intact.

Pray for our nation.

Challenging the Status Quo

As I write my post this morning, the Senate is poised to pass a budget deal crafted by Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray. It is being hailed in some quarters as a sign of bipartisanship and progress, but is it really? I listened to Ryan explain why this is a good deal—no tax increases;  return of some sequester cuts to the military; deficit reduction down the road. I’ve listened to the critique of the deal—it includes more spending now and those reductions are far down the road, thereby increasing the deficit in the short run; no guarantee that a future Congress will keep this deal when the spending is set to go down; military veterans taking a hit on their pensions, even those who were wounded in action; no one else in the federal government affected in the same way as these veterans because their pensions remain untouched, so this once again penalizes those who lay their lives on the line for us.

When I first heard it explained, I hadn’t yet known about the downside of the bill. I wonder how many of those in the House of Representatives who voted in favor of it—the majority of Republicans included—really understood the ramifications. Were they hearing all the facts ahead of time?

New Budget Deal

Now, I know one overriding reason why many Republicans jumped on board with this, even some who have steadfastly resisted bills like this in the past—they are nearly petrified by the political fallout of another looming battle over the budget for which they will get blamed if we have another government “shutdown,” better described as a “slimdown.” One has to wonder why this deal would look so good to them if not for that fear. Surely, by now, they should realize they can’t trust the Democrats to uphold their side of the bargain:

Deficit Reduction

There are good people on that side of the debate who say that by putting this budget mess aside, we can concentrate on stopping Obamacare by offering an alternative. I hope so. Yet the Republican leadership doesn’t seem to be able to create unity around one solid proposal. It’s time for genuine leadership to emerge. This deal, in my view, does nothing to allay the major concerns going forward:

Budget Compromise

I, and many others out here in the hinterlands, are seeking bold leadership that will challenge the status quo. Yes, I understand political realities, but those realities will never change until courage comes front and center.

As a historian, I try to draw lessons from our past. I recall that Ronald Reagan was despised by the Republican party establishment back in the 1970s. They said he wasn’t realistic, he was too confrontational, too conservative to be elected. He went on to win two smashing victories, revived the economy, and forced the Soviet Union to the bargaining table, which eventually led to the downfall of the Evil Empire. The establishment was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

 

Competing Budgets

In the past few days, we’ve seen a contrast in budget proposals. Paul Ryan, on the Republican side, has come up with a plan that will repeal Obamacare—which insurance companies are informing us will lead to a possible doubling of premiums by next year—and put the country on the path to a balanced budget in ten years. The Senate Democrats have an entirely different plan, one that comports with President Obama’s vision. John Hinderaker, at the Power Line blog, explains,

After four years, Congressional Democrats have finally produced a budget. The process has proved revealing: the Democrats’ budget never balances, increases spending by 62% over ten years, and adds $7 trillion to the national debt despite raising taxes by $1.5 trillion. So Senate Democrats must agree with President Obama that the nation does not face a debt crisis. . . .

We know from the budgets he has submitted for the last four years that Obama doesn’t care about the debt, immediately or otherwise, and has no intention of addressing it, ever. His budgets contemplate nothing but huge deficits as far as the eye can see, and would add trillions to the national debt through ever-increasing spending.

House Republicans have tried repeatedly to send bills to the Senate that would help solve our financial crisis. Each time, the Senate has refused even to allow a vote—all at the behest of the White House.

As the nation slides inexorably into a massive debt that might never be stopped, the president and the Democrat leaders in the Senate are ideologically blind to the disaster that looms:

For those who choose to believe Obama’s rosy picture of financial stability, there is a surprise coming:

A pleasant surprise, it is not.

VP Debate: The Cartoon Aftermath

I normally take a blogging break on Saturdays, but I thought I might be performing a public service if I at least drew attention to the spate of political cartoons depicting the essence of the VP debate on Thursday evening. Therefore, without further comment, I present the following for your edification and enjoyment.