The Final Two Years

January 29th, 2015

 

President Obama probably hears the clock ticking. He has a little less than two years in the White House. His presidency looks a lot less rosy than when he assumed office. No president since Franklin Roosevelt had such adulation. Democrats controlled the House and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He won the Nobel Peace Prize just for being who he was. He pledged to be a post-partisan and post-racial president.

 

Those heady days are long gone. The luster has definitely faded. So what to do? He clearly has no desire to work with Congress. There is only so much he can do on his own. Foreign policy is a minefield. That makes the idea of great success unlikely.

 

I think he gave us a hint in the State of the Union address. He knows that his proposals are going nowhere. Many analysts have suggested he is setting the stage for 2016. I think he is looking even farther down the road. I believe he wants to set the course for the Democratic Party for decades to come like FDR Reagan did. Given his massive ego, my guess is that he wants to do more than set the agenda. He wants it to be the Party of Obama and outshine everyone else.

 

To achieve his vision, it is vital that Hillary Clinton is not our next president. Otherwise he will just be one of the guys between the glorious First Couple. Obviously he is too smart a politician to do anything noticeable. If we look closely, we will likely see signs of his subtle sabotage. Even if the Republicans won the White House, that would just pave the way for Elizabeth Warren, or someone like her to begin a glorious Obama third term in 2020.

 

Time will tell. However, Hillary Clinton should watch her back.

 

More Government Spying

January 27th, 2015

 

Once again we have another story about the government spying on us. The Department of Justice has created a database that will track where we drive. Sophisticated cameras take pictures that include license plates and images of passengers. Sometimes they will be of sufficient qualities after ordinary Americans driving down the road. The NSA had court approval, albeit from a court that rarely says no. No evidence has been given that the DOJ sought court approval. The NSA is not nearly as partisan as the Eric Holder’s operation.

 

A DOJ spokesman has said that access is tightly controlled and license plate records are deleted after 90 days. If Holder is willing to lie to Congress, I have a hard time believing anything that a spokesman would say. Clearly there is a lot of room for abuse.

 

This really doesn’t make a lot of sense. I can understand a real-time system that could be used to track wanted criminals or help rescue victims of kidnapping. If the information is only stored for 90 days, it will be no use in a trial.

 

This should not be a partisan issue. Liberty loving Americans, regardless of political belief, should condemn this invasion of privacy.

 

Loosening the Straightjacket

January 26th, 2015

 

Sometimes several separate stories provide clues to a bigger story. Two stories that have been in the news recently are the House of Representatives pulling controversial abortion legislation after GOP congresswomen rebelled and the Teamsters Union actively pushing for the Keystone pipeline. I also heard an interview with Alveda King. She is a niece of Martin Luther King. Like her famous uncle, she is a civil rights activist. She is also a conservative pro-lifer.

 

To see where we are today, we need to go back to the 1850’s. The Kansas-Nebraska Act created the most cataclysmic political change in our history. The Republican Party was born while several parties disappeared. The parties were almost exclusively organized on the basis of slavery. Just six years after its formation, its candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the presidency.

 

This organization held for over 100 years. Both parties had liberal and conservative wings. All southern conservatives were Democrats and many eastern liberals were Republicans. Civil rights legislation started the trend toward small tent parties.

 

Two recent events led to the political straitjacket in which unanimous party line votes became quick common. In 2008 the Democrats had 60 Senate seats, exactly the number needed to override a veto. Sometimes they used the carrot, like the infamous “Cornhusker kickback” designed to win the vote of Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. More often it was the whip with threats to support opponents in the next primary. With the birth of the Tea Party and rise of the Right, Republicans faced the same pressure.

 

We are certainly not going back to the bed tent parties of the past but there is strong evidence the days of the straitjacket are coming to an end. Here are some reasons:

 

  1. Practical politics – We have seen many red state Democrats go down to defeat because of their support for Obama. In 2016 many blue state Republicans are vulnerable.

  2. New Liberalism – Economic issues dominated liberalism for over 100 years. Today the environment and social issues hold sway. Despite President Obama’s frequent “tilts” to the economy, other issues are still the primary focus.

  3. Decline of the Right – Just a few years ago Republicans cowered to the power of the Right. Now the moderates and mainstream conservatives are fighting back.

 

In recent years we have seen fierce interparty wars. Those will continue but we will see more intraparty battles.

 

Politics as Usual?

January 23rd, 2015

 

A couple of weeks ago I did a post titled It’s Time to Govern. My argument was that Washington should focus on getting something done rather than the political silliness we have seen. I thought I would take an early look and see how things are going.

 

I have to give good marks to the Senate led by Mitch McConnell. It had been virtually shut down by Harry Reid. Most Republicans realize that, because of the filibuster, they will need Democratic help to accomplish anything. They are focusing on bills that have some bipartisan support. Of course it is a messy process. Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck said “Laws are like sausage, it’s better not to see them made.” Give the Senate a B.

 

The House has done little but throw raw meat to their base. They have been allowed to be irresponsible since little they proposed would pass through the Senate. They still seem to be up to old tricks. They tried to push through a bill banning virtually all abortions past 20 weeks until GOP female representatives rebelled. Give them a C-.

 

President Obama struck a defiant tone in his State of the Union message. He introduced proposals that he knew didn’t stand a chance and threated a veto on a number of occasions. Clearly he cares more about the politics of his issues than actually the people he says he wants to help. He did briefly mention cooperation so I will give him a D.

 

There is some chance that a Republican Congress will get its act together. I’m less optimistic about President Obama.

 

The I Word

January 18th, 2015

 

Some words are deemed to be so offensive that only the first letter is used. One such word is a sexual reference and another is a racial slur.

 

Now it looks like President Obama wants to add Islamic to the list. After the recent attack in Paris he once again refused to refer to the perpetrators as Islamic terrorists. His favorite phrase is violent terrorists. Does that mean other groups are peaceful terrorists?

 

He is the only one who knows the reasons for his aversion to the word Islamic. Perhaps it is political correctness gone mad. Maybe he thinks they will leave us alone if he refuses to use the I word.

 

This is more than a debate on semantics. We need to recognize that these groups are acting in the name of religion and are intent on doing as much harm as they can. Whether or not we use the term “war on terror”, we need to recognize that they pose a huge threat to us and we need to stop them.

 

We also need to recognize that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are not intent on our destruction. The Islamic terrorists no more represent their religion than the KKK represents Christianity. If we fail to make this distinction, we will increase the number of radicals.

 

The President has taken heat for not attending the antiterrorism demonstration in Paris. I can understand the impracticality of arranging a trip on short notice. There was no reason other high ranking officials couldn’t attend. Eric Holder was already there.

 

We are the most powerful nation in the world and should lead the fight against terrorism. It’s time for the President to step up lead the fight.