America’s Image Abroad

Benghazi hasn’t been the only foreign policy fiasco for the Obama administration. Presumed Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was a non-entity as secretary of state. Neither she nor other State Department officials, when asked what she accomplished, could come up with anything concrete.

Her successor, John Kerry, is, if possible, even more inept. He and President Obama have displayed an uncommon disdain for Israel and sympathy for those who would like to commit another holocaust against the Jewish people. Last week, Kerry was caught saying that Israel might become an apartheid state. Yet the only nation in the Middle East that includes both Jews and Arabs in government is Israel. It was an offensive statement, divorced from reality. Israeli officials were deeply troubled by the attitude. They have lost confidence in America as an ally, and for good reason:

One Reason

Overall, the Obama approach to world affairs has been to wash our hands of any real leadership. He offers words, and little else. It’s not only Israel that has lost confidence in the nation that has, since WWII, taken on responsibility for combating the evil ideologies of communism and Islamic terrorism. What is America’s role today?

Atlas Shrugged

From returning a bust of Winston Churchill back to Britain, to the silly “reset” button sent to Russia, to the toothless reaction to the imminent takeover of Ukraine, to . . . well, fill in the blank . . . our policies are now being orchestrated by rank amateurs who are still trying to figure out how this all works:

Foreign Policy

So who is going to lead? On what nation or organization can the future of freedom depend? Well, there’s always the United Nations:

Shock Waves

Sure, that should work.

I’m not saying the United States has never stumbled in foreign policy prior to this administration, but there is one glaring difference today: the world no longer looks to us as the best hope for extending liberty and the rule of law. Obama is not too keen on either liberty or the rule of law, at home or abroad.

Whatever Happened to Sin, Guilt, & Shame?

I’m hardly the first or only person to comment on how we seem to have lost a sense of shame. There’s rarely, at least among the political leadership, the news media, and the entertainment segments of our society, any embarrassment over actions that used to bring public disgrace. The opposite now seems to be happening: outrageous, disgusting behavior is either ignored or rewarded.

Yet how can one feel shame if one has no sense of guilt over that behavior? Why has guilt gone the way of shame? Let’s trace it back to the loss of belief in sin and one’s accountability before God for one’s thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We used to be a society that had a set standard of right and wrong based on Biblical morality. While that’s not completely gone, we are now experimenting with what a society might be like if it jettisons Biblical morality entirely. We are seeing the wreckage all around.

One of the more obvious symptoms of a deceived heart is the outward acceptance of—no, make that the active push for—homosexuality. What was once considered deviant behavior is now encouraged. When anyone comes out of some kind of supposed closet, society applauds the “courage” it takes to make that public declaration of deviance. We are in the process of redefining right and wrong. Wrong is now intolerance of previously degenerate behavior. It’s the Christians who continue to hold to the former standard of morality who are now perceived as the real threat to societal harmony.

The most blatant example, of course, is same-sex marriage, an oxymoron of the highest caliber. The sad tale of Brendan Eich, who is now the former CEO of Mozilla simply because he made a contribution to the California effort back in 2008 to maintain the traditional concept of marriage as between one man and one woman, is the latest warning to those of us who are not going to bow before the new gods of immorality.

Mozilla

We used to be concerned about genuine threats to the safety of the nation, such as when underground communists were stealing nuclear secrets and placing their devotees in key positions within the government. That’s passé.

Traditional Marriage

Culture can change without the government’s aid. However, when the government is in on it as well, it provides a greater impetus for that change. The current administration has led the way. It began with the refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and gradually morphed into outright promotion of same-sex marriage, linking it to the civil rights movement. We have an administration that picks and chooses which laws it will support. That puts us on the cusp of utter lawlessness:

The Law

Whether it’s the push for same-sex marriage, the attempt to force businesses to provide abortion services, or the desire to silence political opponents through the agency of the IRS, we are at a precarious place. The rule of law is on the verge of extinction because we have destroyed the Biblical concepts of sin, guilt, and shame. Only by restoring those will we restore what we have lost as a people.

The Romeike Reversal

German Homeschooling FamilyMany of you, I’m sure, have heard that the German homeschooling family seeking asylum in the U.S. has now been told it can stay. In an amazing turnaround, the Department of Homeland Security contacted the Romeikes to inform them they have been granted “indefinite deferred status,” which is bureaucrat-speak for permission to remain as long as they don’t break any laws. I am delighted for them, as are a whole host of others. They never should have been threatened with deportation in the first place.

This decision came less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court refused to review their case. Michael Farris, their lawyer and advocate, ascribes this unexpected reversal to God’s intervention, perhaps helped along by the administration’s concern over negative publicity. After all, what did this family seek other than the right to educate their children according to their faith and to be grateful residents in a country that would allow them that freedom?

While I applaud the DHS decision, I don’t see this as a reason to have increased confidence in the Obama administration’s approach either to parental rights or fidelity to the rule of law. Any administration that promotes abortion on demand—and praises Planned Parenthood for its endeavors—and refuses to follow the law with regard to the definition of marriage cannot be depended upon to make correct decisions in the future.

Eric Holder’s DOJ has been particularly remiss in upholding the rule of law. He refused to prosecute Black Panthers who intimidated voters in Philadelphia. He said the DOJ would not be supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, despite it being a federal law passed by Congress and signed by none other than Bill Clinton. He now has informed state attorneys general that they don’t have to carry out any state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Add to this the reprehensible conduct of his IRS toward conservatives and his lackadaisical attitude toward investigating those abuses, and we have an attorney general, responsible for ensuring the law is followed, doing just the opposite. He only follows laws he likes:

Enforce Me Not

So, while I rejoice for the Romeikes, theirs is a victory for one family. It’s not a guarantee that all of America’s families can breathe a sigh of relief. We must remain vigilant.

What About Impeachment?

Talk of impeachment is beginning. President Obama’s latest power grab, declaring publicly that he will act without Congress to get done what he considers his priorities, is rankling those who are committed to the delicate separation of powers established by the Constitution. Is this just talk? Are there sufficient grounds for impeachment? Is it even politically feasible?

Impeaching a president is a big step. Two presidents have been formally impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. A third, Richard Nixon, resigned before it could come to a full vote in the House of Representatives. To be impeached simply means to be accused by a majority of the House of actions warranting removal from office. In both cases when the House approved articles of impeachment, neither president was removed from office after a trial in the Senate. The Senate has the final say on articles of impeachment, and in the case of a president, two-thirds of that body must vote for removal.

The vote for Johnson’s removal was very close. It fell just one vote short, so he completed his term, which was less than a year anyway. For Clinton, a Republican-controlled Senate had a majority for removal, but not the two-thirds necessary; not even one Democrat joined the Republicans in favor of turning the White House over to VP Al Gore.

If you study the history of impeachment proceedings, both in Britain and America, you find that causes for removal from office can range from actual violations of law to non-criminal activity that simply brings disgrace and/or dishonor to the office. It’s not essential to find that someone has broken a law; if continuation in office is deemed to be detrimental to the proper functioning of the government, that is sufficient grounds for dismissal.

Because the Clinton impeachment is so near to us historically, that’s what most people will use as their comparison with the current president. What were Clinton’s actions that led to the impeachment? He was formally accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, both violations of law. In the background, of course, were his unseemly sexual inclinations. At the time, accusations of sexual relations with a young woman working in the White House and a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former Arkansas state employee formed the context for his violations. The whole thing was tawdry. I was in favor of his impeachment and removal due to the dishonor he conferred upon the presidency, not just because I disagreed with his political agenda.

ImpeachableAfter the Senate trial ended in his acquittal, I interviewed all the House Managers who argued before the Senate for his removal. It led to a book that gave their side of the story. Nowadays, conventional wisdom says they were wrong and/or foolish to proceed with the impeachment. Even though the Senate had a majority of Republicans, getting the two-thirds vote was considered a real long shot. However, I thought it was worth the fight, if for no other reason than to stand for principle. There was at least a glimmer of hope for success, given that Republicans did control that chamber.

My interviews also revealed to me a group of congressmen who fought this fight for the sake of principle: no man, not even a president, is above the law. Everyone is equal before the law, and all must be held accountable. I continue to honor them today for the stand they took.

So what about President Obama? There are two considerations: has he committed impeachable offenses and is there any realistic hope that impeachment proceedings will result in his removal from office?

On the first consideration, I am of the decided opinion that he has overstepped the lawful boundaries of his authority on many occasions. He is currently attempting to rule by executive orders, a clear violation of the constitutional limitations on a president. With respect to the IRS targeting of his political foes, is there anyone who, deep down, believes this was the result of a few rogue agents who acted without the approval—either directly or with a smile and a nod—of the president? Using a federal agency to undermine political opposition is the very thing Nixon was accused of. Democrats, at that time, didn’t think it was unjust to use that as a reason for impeachment.

Obama Arrogant Look 3Then there’s Benghazi. Regardless of whether the military could have gotten there in time to help the besieged, the massive coverup afterwards is reprehensible. Blaming the attack on some obscure video when it’s obvious now that Obama and everyone else around him knew it was a planned terrorist action, is inexcusable. Throwing the producer of the video in prison was unconscionable. And doing it all during an election season to hide the truth from an electorate deciding whether to keep Obama in office was deception of the highest order.

So, yes, he has committed clearly impeachable offenses. His disregard for the Constitution seems limitless; his desire to do whatever is necessary to remain in power renders him unfit for the office.

But that brings us to the second consideration: is there a realistic hope that the Senate actually would remove him? I don’t think there’s any hope of that at all. Not only is the Senate controlled by his own party, it is more bitterly partisan now than ever. If not even one Democrat senator could bring himself or herself to vote to remove Bill Clinton from office, how is there any reasonable expectation that twenty-two of them would do so today? Any impeachment proceeding against Barack Obama would be futile.

So what can be done?

First, I applaud Sen. Rand Paul’s lawsuit against the president over the misuse of the NSA’s intelligence-gathering. How about some more lawsuits aimed at the president’s unconstitutional power grabs? Not all the courts are corrupt. There are still some judges out there who revere the rule of law.

Second, focus laser-like on the upcoming congressional elections. If Republicans can take back the Senate, and if a few more of those senators can grow the spines they currently lack, legislation can be passed to curtail unconstitutional activities. Yes, the president will veto all such legislation, but this will be a vital educational experience for the general public as they see a president flaunting the law so openly.

Education of the public in the principle of rule of law will provide an opening for a Republican presidential candidate who has the stomach and integrity to stand for what is right. If Republicans can unite behind a bold, principled leader, there remains a hope that the present drift of the nation politically can be turned around.

I realize a lot has to come together to make this happen. I’m not naïve. And at the root of any great reversal of national fortunes must be a spiritual revival that calls people back to foundational truths. Although we need to take the proper steps in the political realm, ultimate success rests with a Biblically grounded people. Will we be such a people?

Another Royal Decree

While it would be nice to turn to a different subject, Obamacare made news again yesterday. The president, apparently from his royal seat in the White House Throne Room, declared that the employer mandate for companies between 50 and 100 employees would now be delayed through 2015. I’ve lost count of the number of alterations to this “law” that Obama has made simply by royal fiat. As much as I’m opposed to the law, I’m equally opposed to the capricious, unlawful manner in which any law can be set aside. Using the same approach, what would stop a future Republican president from deciding to postpone this law until . . . oh, how about the year 3000?

First, just the fact that the president feels the need to continue to revise key aspects of Obamacare, should be a slap-in-the-face wake-up call to those who somehow keep the faith with this man and his “vision” for the country. If something is this flawed to begin with, how flawed is the philosophy behind it and the man who promotes the philosophy? What does it take for people to realize how truly awful and unworkable this is?

Disappointing Result

And of course this comes right on the heels of the CBO report I wrote about yesterday that predicts Obamacare will add to its string of victims by encouraging the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs.

Return the Favor

If enough voters come to that conclusion, we eventually may get a reprieve from this foolishness and outright destruction of not only our healthcare system, but our economy as well.

Three Branches, Not One

Most political commentators, whether liberal or conservative, have formed a consensus about the latest State of the Union Address: it was too long and it is not going to go down in history as memorable. What we heard is what I anticipated—the same old thing we’ve heard for five years, topped off with a hubris that leaves one shaking one’s head over how anyone can come across as that arrogant.

Amidst all the foolish and/or dangerous comments and ideas in the address, none is more pernicious than the reaffirmation that this president will do whatever it takes to advance his agenda. He won’t let little things like the Constitution or the rule of law stand in his way. If Congress won’t act, he boldly declares, he will do all within his power to act unilaterally. Actually, he has no “power” to do so; he has no authority to act on his own without the legislative branch. No matter how low an opinion anyone may have of Congress, it’s important to respect the fact that Congress, not the president, is the branch that makes the laws. President Obama doesn’t like that fact:

Eliminating Legislative

The third branch of government, the judicial, is also rather unwieldy; one never knows if it will back his agenda or not. Ideally, he would like to ignore it as well:

Firewood

The Founders had a word for this; they called it tyranny. Obama can’t do everything he seeks to do, but the overall damage can be pretty devastating. My prayer is that this nation will survive the next three years.

Obamacare: All Is Well?

All is well with the Obamacare website, according to the administration. Never mind that it still crashes regularly; don’t mention that no more than 50,000 users can be on the site at one time; forget about whether you can actually complete an enrollment and pay for it; hey, at least you can get on it—sometimes, if you are lucky. I don’t know when I’ve ever witnessed an administration that could lie so blatantly and think they can get away with it.

Oh, wait, there was Bill Clinton.

Regardless, even if that website were to work perfectly, it wouldn’t solve the deeper issues: higher premiums than promised, unbelievably high deductibles, loss of doctors and hospitals where you can get treatment. So what if you can get on the site? Maybe you don’t really want to:

Bad News

President Obama, in an interview a few days ago, said his approval ratings had nowhere to go but up. Well, that might be a nice line in an attempt to appear humble, but I have news for him—there’s an employer mandate looming that may throw untold millions off their current health insurance plans. If he thinks he’s weathering a chaotic storm now, wait until the earthquake hits:

Nowhere to Go

This has Democrats up for reelection in 2014 extremely nervous. What can Obama possibly tell them to assuage their fears?

You Can Keep It

No, I don’t think that’s going to do it.

Amidst all this confusion and constant consternation, we must not neglect another constitutional issue: this president’s penchant for ruling by administrative fiat. He thinks he can simply change laws duly passed by Congress by just declaring that certain parts of the laws no longer are in effect. He thinks he can continue to tinker with Obamacare by exempting certain groups and delaying what were considered mandatory deadlines and actions—all for political reasons, seeking to avoid a Republican tsunami in the next election cycle. A president is supposed to execute the laws, but that means to carry them out, not to kill them by arbitrary decree:

Laws Executed

As much as I want to see Obamacare dead and buried, this is not the way. It sets an awful precedent for the future. We’re supposed to be a nation of laws, and the rule of law should not be set aside. If it is, it will lead to tyranny.