Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Harry Reid, Steward of Propriety

I had planned to layoff the political commentary momentarily to turn to a diversionary discourse on media, my other favorite topic. But I have to hold off - for a little while at least - because I would like to take a moment to discuss the behavior of the Senate Majority Leader, one third of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi stool.

Harry has been in the news lately because he has intimated that those who disagree with the President are doing so because of his color. This is not the first time that Harry has used race to diminish or criticize his political opponents and he often resorts to fables to batter those with whom he disagrees. His trip to the Senate floor to claim that Mitt Romney had failed to pay income taxes for ten years is perhaps the most memorable. Completely unsubstantiated and factually false. Then, there was the great story Harry told about taking a call from a guy named Tommy (Harry didn't want to give his last name for fear of retribution) who was calling for a "friend" who was an illegal immigrant and din't want to be deported. He refers to the Tea Party as modern day anarchists, echoing uncannily the ridiculous characterization by Chris Matthews of Sen Ted Cruz as a terrorist. And, lastly, Harry was among the most vociferous and ugly critics of George Bush, calling him a liar, inaccurately reporting the number of job gains during his administration as well as his accumulation of debt.

Not only does Harry diminish the position of majority leader, but he really shouldn't be serving in the Senate. He was extremely vulnerable during the last election cycle, but Republicans shot themselves in the foot by running Sharon Engle against him. It's not that her politics were unattractive or that she didn't represent a clear distinction with Harry, but she turned out to be a dreadful candidate who could not ignite sufficient enthusiasm inside and outside the state to defeat an incumbent with unbreakable ties to powerful union interests in Nevada.

It's important, I think, for all but die hard Democrats to really think about this level of leadership that the party has placed atop its ranks: Obama, Reid, Pelosi. Each has little reservation about casting the most personal aspersions against their opponents, but these people are historically committed leftwing zealots. Is it conceivable that a Scoop Jackson, Jack Kennedy or Harry Truman would find a place in today's Democratic Party? Don't think so.

When someone mentions the name "Harry", it is difficult not to think of President Truman. While he had his faults, he was literally the last of a breed. Born into a world with few creature comforts, he commanded an artillery battery in WW1 and had a trying time finding his "place" in the world. Though simple in so many ways, he found himself under the sway of a powerful Democratic political boss in Missouri who shepherded his career. When he succeeded FDR after his death, however, he possessed the fortitude to end WW2 decisively and controversially. Did he make mistakes in Korea? Undeniably. But this "Harry" is separated by our "Harry" by so much more than the distance of time. Reid is a creature of party and exhibits little inclination to depart from party doctrine for the sake of the country. He has little problem participating in a climate crisis conference with his ideological bud, Al Gore, but convene a conference on IRS targeting? Phony! Demand that we get answers on the events of 9/11/12? Nothing to see here!

We can complain endlessly about Obama, Valerie Jarratt, and David Axelrod. But Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are the real legislative enablers of the Obama doctrine, and we must make every effort to neutralize their authority by insuring they are minority rather than majority leaders because it's clear that for whatever reason their constituents are unlikely to replace them.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Grey Lady Shows Her Age

Even in light of the this week's disastrous sale of The Boston Globe for a 93% loss and the fire sale of The Washington Post, The New York Times published an absurd op-ed on the Tea Party's path to irrelevance in which the author, James Traub, essentially calls the group anti-immigration (liberal code language for "racist") because it has the audacity to oppose the Senate's bipartisan "reform plan". This is sheer intellectual pretzel twisting at best and outright dishonesty at worst.

Traub equates the current Tea Party movement to the defunct Federalist movement in Jefferson's era which represented the traditional colonial power base in the East and New England and resisted southerly and westerly expansion because it would have diluted their base of power. Traub claims it was indicative of ignoring demographic realities and thus spelled their doom. The allusion is a painfully obvious one - Traub says the xenophobic Tea Partiers are ignoring today's demographic realities by opposing this reform plan, and they will become as irrelevant as the Federalists.

It is so convenient for liberal ideologues to lump every limited government initiative into this "Tea Party" basket because they can then be mocked with easy profanity, but the reality is that this movement is too amorphous and un-political-party-like to be compared to any party of the past. It is not nominating candidates and while some candidates - both successful and failed - have been slapped with that label because of the support that appears to be coming from that constituency, there isn't a single member of Congress or governor with "TP" (man, is that a terrible abbreviation) following their name. Unlike, say, Bernie Sanders, who has now eschewed Socialist for "independent".

The opposition to the Senate's bipartisan "reform plan" derives from the fact that it is poorly crafted
legislation that is loaded with exceptions, loopholes and defiance of current law. If the Senate really
wanted this to receive legitimate bipartisan support, it should have passed the Cornyn Amendment which would have made effective, measurable border security a precursor to any legalization. Arguably, law to better insure a secure border is already on the books, but its enforcement is thwarted by the President and his Attorney General. Why would Democrats oppose such an initiative?

The reform plan also contains the usual amount of pork we are used to see getting stuffed into appropriations bills, like Bernie Sanders' $1.5 billion youth jobs program, the creation of a new federal entity called The Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, special consideration for Alaskan fisheries. People who refer to themselves as identifying with the Tea Party are sick to death of limitless government giveaways, promises to end illegal immigration and commitments to secure the border. This has literally gone on for generations and pledges from Congress are vaporous - say one thing today and do something else entirely tomorrow.

It is disgusting to call this opposition "anti-immigration" because it has nothing whatever to do with opposing regulated, lawful entry of those who wish to live here. Unlike the Federalists, everybody's got strong roots in a wave of immigration that took place in generations past. Stop making this some
racist screed which inaccurately suggests that the Tea Party opposes an influx of Latinos or some other group that "doesn't look like us". We want people to be law abiding. And if the law needs to be
changed, then let it be changed in a way that actually improves the process - by first securing the border, policing the issuance and expiration of visas and determining the most equitable way of legalizing those who wish to remain here to become American citizens and assimilate while celebrating their own cultural heritage.

I fear that The New York Times did not publish this op-ed without tacit approval from the editors of
the editorial page. It reflects accurately the bias of opinion and newswriters on this paper, and it is
nearly impossible to conceive that an op-ed with an opposite view would be published. It is indicative of the fact that like the Globe and the Post, the Times has no idea that it is in the process of being subsumed and, like the Federalists who thought the sun rose and set in the northeast, Traub more
accurately reflects the looming irrelevance of the the Times, not the movement he mischaracterizes in his column.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lines in the Sand

There is much to discuss this early August, perhaps the largest story at the moment being the weeklong shut down of US embassies in the Muslim world. Related is the tentative resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the inauguration of Iman Rouhani as Iran's new President. I'm going to set these foreign policy issues aside for the moment to discuss further developments in the deployment of Obamacare.

Nancy Pelosi, who reminds me of Eric's sister, Nora, in True Blood in the sense that her centuries of age seem to be manifesting themselves through her limitless efforts to deny the natural effects of time, has announced that members of Congress and their staffs will continue to receive substantial taxpayer support for their insurance programs. That move seems to be in violation of the law and a power not enabled by the law. The same could be said about Obama's deciding on a summer Friday afternoon when no one's paying attention that the employer mandate would be suspended for a year. The acting director of the IRS testified before Congress that, like the union which represents Treasury employees, he, too, would prefer his current insurance coverage than to switch to a different program required by Obamacare.

Putting aside the notion that it remains baffling that public employees are permitted to unionize, could it be any more ironic that those charged with policing the enforcement of Obamacare do not wish to participate in it themselves? Further, how can Pelosi and her colleagues rationalize a continuing, inordinate level of premium support for those in government? She claims it's an appropriate way of "thanking" staff for their tireless work in support of the American people's agenda, blah, blah, blah. It has come to pass as many suspected it might when this bill was proposed: there is a program for "us" and a program for "them". While socialists through history have preached income and outcome equality, it has never applied to the elite class that charges itself with administering that equality.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, many "Republican" pundits are slamming those who argue in favor of defunding Obamacare, claiming that it would be a disaster for Republicans when Obama refuses to approve any continuing resolution and the government shuts down. Chris Matthews, perhaps the looniest leftwinger on TV(oh, wait, there's Al Sharpton and Martin Bashir and Piers Morgan - never mind), calls Ted Cruz a "terrorist" who's aim is to bring down the US government.The media will calls us terrorists and racists no matter what happens with the continuing resolution. Obamacare has been wholly illegitimate since its inception - I do not buy this "it's the law of the land" business. It was crafted in secret, its passage gerrymandered by budget reconciliation, its constitutionality defended on the back of an argument even the government's solicitor general would not make.

I don't want this "line in the sand" to be as ill defined as the one Obama allegedly drew on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrians. This horribly unpopular legislation must be opposed and defunded. Congress has the power of the purse and that power ought to exercised. Let the administration bring legal action to try to compel the Congress to provide funding. In the meantime, Congress should approve a continuing resolution (in the continuing absence of a budget) to be sure the government meets its financial obligations despite any objections from Obama. If the Republicans simply cave silently on this matter, the law will become impossible to undo. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Promising Developments

It appears that there are some promising developments in several subjects about which I've been writing since this blog post began. Specifically, in the areas of Benghazi, the IRS, and the looming fight over the continuing resolution to fund the government, major advances to move these stories forward have taken place.

First, CNN has conducted a 2 hour interview with the leader of Ansar al Sharia in Libya who admits to having been on the embassy property in Benghazi, but, naturally, does not implicate himself in the attack itself. He claims to have not been interviewed by the Libyan government or the FBI. This is nothing short of astounding. Several months ago, after the initial wave of whistleblowers testified before Congress and the Obama administration came under renewed scrutiny, the FBI released photos of three suspects obviously taken from surveillance videos (which we still have not seen) and claimed they were "most wanted" for questioning into the attacks. We have heard nothing since then. Until this interview appeared on CNN.

The IRS phony scandal continues to get more serious. It appears that information from the IRS has been leaked to other governmental agencies, the President's appointed general counsel has been implicated and the Treasury employees' union has openly objected to being forced into Obamacare coverage.

Finally, some momentum seems to be building behind Sen. Mike Lee's push to exclude the funding of Obamacare from the continuing resolution to fund the government at the end of September. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have announced their support, and it is clear that this schism in the Republican Party will pit the progressive arm of the party against those more conservative. Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer (much to my chagrin) argue against, Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin for.

These three issues bear some similarity because they each reflect the mendacity that has become a hallmark of the Obama term. There has been no obvious, effective effort to bring those who perpetrated the murders in Benghazi to justice; to the contrary, there has been no obvious effort to even report the truth about what happened that horrible day. Eyewitnesses have been hidden and nearly a year after the event are unidentified. Arguably, the IRS controversy is as damaging a political scandal as has occurred in the last fifty years. Articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included a charge that he contemplated using the IRS against his political enemies. The Obama group did far more than just contemplate this act; they singled out political opponents for the purpose of abridging their First Amendment rights. And, lastly, we must remember that the reason Obamacare became law in the first place was because of legislative chicanery. Then the administration offered waiver after waiver, and then quietly delayed the employer mandate. If the law were that desirable, would there have been so many waiver requests? We know the law is unpopular, was driven down the throats of the American people by democrats and must continue to be opposed by constitutionalists. Lee, Cruz, Paul and now Rubio do not seek a government shutdown nor a default on the country's obligations. They want to defund Obamacare which would never have passed without an abrogation of the Senate rules.

Let us hope for the sake of the families of those who died in Benghazi that the truth is ultimately revealed. Let us hope that those who wish to silence the voices of opposition by abusing the power of government are exposed and brought to justice. And let us hope that enough Republicans can find the sense of conviction to defund a law that they purportedly opposed from the outset to clearly distinguish themselves from the progressives who continually obfuscate.