No Scandals For Obama Administration? You Can’t Be Serious!

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David Axelrod, former top advisor to President Obama, made a revelatory comment on his book tour this week. In an appearance at the University of Chicago, touting his political autobiography, Axelrod said, “I’m proud of the fact that basically you’ve had an administration that has been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal. I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.”

Perhaps most surprisingly, Axelrod made the statement with a straight face. The only logical explanation for such a statement is that either he’s oblivious to what the administration has done over the past six years, or he’s completely detached from reality. At the very least, he clearly could have a promising future as an actor.

Equally alarming is the context within which Axelrod made the remark. He was responding to a question from an audience member on why Obama broke his promised ban on lobbyists in the White House. Axelrod replied that he didn’t “think that’s true.”

Lobbying scholar Conor McGrath has documented how inaccurate Axelrod’s perception is. In the latest issue of the Journal of Public Affairs, McGrath said, “President Obama’s public rhetoric on contact with lobbyists does not always accord with his private actions.” You’ll recall that on his first day in office, Obama ostentatiously signed an Executive Order banning former lobbyists from working in his administration. That makes it even more difficult to disavow the reality that they hired 119 former lobbyists, including 60 in senior administration posts, according to McGrath.

Since Mr. Axelrod seems to be oblivious to the administration’s failure in regard to hiring lobbyists, he’s certainly left the door open to erroneous perceptions with regard to administration scandals, as well. So let’s take a look at some of the scandals that have not taken place over the past six years, per the former advisor.

Things like the IRS being used as a political enforcement arm of the administration in targeting opposition groups and taxpayers. And how about the three-fer of refusing to provide adequate protection of our ambassador to Libya, blaming his murder on a video that no one in Libya had seen before then, and then covering up everything from the State Department to the Pentagon and the White House to prevent the truth from being revealed.

Axelrod clearly doesn’t think Obamacare’s a scandal, but there are a great number of Americans who believe differently. What else can it be called when a president promises our health insurance would drop by $2,400 and we could all keep the policies that we like, but then prices rise by an average of 78% in four years, and tens of millions of Americans lost that insurance they were promised they could keep? In a normal person’s lexicon, that would be considered scandalous, especially since it was all obviously based on a lie.

And let’s not forget Axelrod’s “non-scandal” of dozens of our veterans losing their lives, and tens of thousands of them being deprived requisite healthcare because of internal politics within the Veteran’s Administration. When policies lead to one unnecessary and innocent death, isn’t that scandalous? So why is it not when it leads to over 40 deaths?

In banana republics, politicians giving money to their political cronies, and vice versa, is considered graft and corruption. This administration has proven one of two things: either the U.S. is now a banana republic, or such graft and corruption is now acceptable in the most powerful republic in the world. How else can we classify the billions of “stimulus” dollars that went to administration friends at Solyndra, NextEra, Ener1, Solar Trust, and dozens of other well-connected companies, which all subsequently went bankrupt?

Typically, when a government illegally (according to its own laws) operates a gun-running operation, putting guns purposefully into the hands of drug cartels and their goons, leading to the deaths of government law enforcement agents, it would be considered a scandal. Perhaps Mr. Axelrod just thinks that the DOJ’s “Fast and Furious” operation was just business as usual.

We could go on and on, including the EPA’s collusion with the green lobby, the 25 documented unconstitutional actions of the administration after taking an oath to uphold it, the massive debt and deficit spending that threatens our economic stability, and the Bowe Bergdahl fiasco of trading five of the most hardened jihadists for an army deserter. And then, in the case of the latter, having the temerity to claim the “Taliban is an armed insurgency; ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”

I’m sure that a major component to Axelrod’s ignorance of administration scandals is the fact that the mainstream media has virtually ignored all of them. To a media that has ignored the myriad of administration scandals, failures, lies, and incompetency, if they don’t report them, the scandals apparently never occurred. Kind of like the old philosophical question of a tree falling in a forest; if there’s no one to hear it, does it make any noise? To the media, if they don’t report it, it didn’t happen; and the administration affirms the nonevent.

Then again, perhaps it’s just a characteristic of sycophancy. If Axelrod denies the scandals occurred, they didn’t. For perception rarely approximates reality in a sycophant’s mind. Such detachment from reality may be laudable in Hollywood, but certainly not in the top echelons of government.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Why Can’t Obama Say “Islamic Extremism?”

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Why is it so hard for this administration to call Islamic extremists what they are? Instead, they parse and mince their appellations in every conceivable way to avoid identifying them as such. For that matter, how can the president maintain any semblance of credibility when he illogically avers that the Islamic State is not Islamic? By refusing to acknowledge, at least publicly, the enemy that has unleashed its destructive tactics against humanity, the administration appears incompetent, indecisive, and impotent against those who have declared jihad against America and the west.

It’s critical to make a distinction between the faith of Islam and Islamic extremism. Islam, as a religion, is faith-based, while the sectarian-defined extremism of the Wahhabist movement, or Salafi, is more of an Islamo-Fascist political movement. Even though it has its theological roots in Islam the religion, they are more of a politically ideological sect within Islam that goes far beyond what is reasonable in their interpretations of key scriptures in the Koran and the Hadith or sayings of Mohammed.

Abdallah Al Obeid, the former dean of the Islamic University of Medina and member of the Saudi Consultative Council, confirms that this is politically ideological, rather than sectarian. He calls this extremism a “political trend” within Islam that “has been adopted for power-sharing purposes.” He says it cannot be called a sect because “It has no special practices, nor special rites, and no special interpretation of religion that differ from the main body of Sunni Islam.”

Lt. General Thomas McInerney, who serves on the Iran Policy Committee, said a few years ago in an interview, “Islamic extremism is an ideology just like Fascism and Communism, and it must be fought in much the same way. The West has not acknowledged this and consequently we have not educated our population that it is an ideology rather than a religion. This is confusing people because of our tolerance for the diversity of religion.”

The rest of the world seems to have divested itself of the ineffable “Islamic extremism” label. After the horrendous murders of a dozen employees of the Charlie Hebdo paper in Paris last month, more than a million people, including 40 presidents and prime ministers, showed up for a solidarity rally against Islamic extremism. It was, as the New York Times reported, “the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism since the Sept. 11 attacks.”

No one from the Obama administration attended, even though Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder was in Paris at the time. The New York Daily News ran a Front Page headline, sending President Obama a message in type large enough he could have seen it 220 miles away in Washington, “You let the world down.” The (UK) Daily Mail headline read, “America snubs historic Paris rally.”

Isn’t it interesting that the AG that has called us a “nation of cowards” for not having a discussion on race would capitulate to the political correctness of not having a discussion (or demonstration) against Islamic extremism? It appears downright cowardly. But it is his Dept. of Justice that still classifies the 2009 Fort Hood shooting as “workplace violence,” even though the shooter, Nidal Hasan, describes himself as a “Soldier of Allah” and has petitioned to be classified as a citizen of the Islamic State. But Holder was undoubtedly just following the directives of his boss, who declared a couple years ago at the United Nations that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet.”

Even in denouncing the Islamic State burning to death a Jordanian pilot this past week, the president revealed the great lengths he will go to maintain ambiguity in identifying our enemies. In a taped comment in the White House, Obama said, “It also indicates the degree to which whatever ideology they are operating off of, it’s bankrupt.” Really, Mr. President? “Whatever ideology they are operating off of?” Are you the only one on the planet who doesn’t know where the jihadist ideology originates?

The matter became only more convoluted by White House press secretaries this past week. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz what the distinction was between terrorists and the Taliban. Karl asked, “You say the United States government does not give in to demands [and] does not pay ransom. But how is what the Jordanians are talking about doing any different than what the United States did to get the release of [Bowe] Bergdahl — the releasing prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban, which is clearly a terrorist organization?”

Shultz stammered in his obfuscating response, “As you know, this was highly discussed at the time. And prisoner swaps are a traditional, end-of-conflict interaction that happens. As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do…I’d also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency; ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”

So the Taliban is an “armed insurgency” and not a terrorist group. What a relief it is to finally learn that the organization that harbored and protected Osama bin Ladin was not a terrorist group! I really thought they were, especially after their massacre of 130 school children in Pakistan last month! Maybe they’re just not “JV” enough to be considered outright “terrorists.”

I’m not sure that we could expect anything different from a cadre of ideological academics who had no real-world experience prior to running the sole remaining world superpower. For as Dr. Lyle Rossiter explained in his book “The Liberal Mind,” the single greatest symptom of the liberal mindset is detachment from reality. And the proof that this administration is severely afflicted with it is most clearly exemplified by their inability to identify our enemies as Islamic extremists.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

That Was No SOTU – It Was A Populist Campaign Speech

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It is regrettable that we no longer have a true “State of the Union” (SOTU) speech. Rather than hearing a recapitulation of the condition of the nation and where it’s headed, we get what appears to be little more than another campaign speech replete with a veritable Christmas-list of populist proposals and recommendations. Predictably, there were errors, omissions, and outright prevarications, and very little mention of the problems that have been exacerbated over the past several years, in the president’s speech last week.

First, however, a confession of sorts is in order. I didn’t watch the speech. When I was in college, I loved being lectured to by my ISU professors who were knowledgeable, competent, and capable. After all, that’s what I paid them for. Likewise, we pay our governmental leaders to be knowledgeable, competent, and capable and to keep their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. When all they do proves their incompetence, and they obviously lied when they took the oath, I’m not going to subject myself to their self-aggrandizing propaganda. After all, I’m not a masochist; and I find it increasingly difficult to resist the impulse to throw things at my TV in response to superfluous rhetoric, grandstanding, self-congratulations, and mendacity. So I read his speeches, instead.

Much of Obama’s lecture Tuesday night was dedicated to his inexorable class warfare theme, pitting the middle class (who have been most adversely affected by the policies of the past six years) against the wealthy (who have done better than anyone during this administration). In advance of the delivery, the media had hyped this iteration of the SOTU as his “Robin Hood” speech. The metaphor hardly seems appropriate since Robin Hood stole from the Sheriff of Nottingham (not the rich from whom the sheriff had extorted the funds). As the head of the government, the President is essentially the Sheriff of Nottingham, who’s doing the extorting.

The President said, “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” It would be wonderful for the nation if his policies had been conducive to our economic recovery and accelerated job growth. However, as we’ve documented before, these are occurring in spite of his policies, not because of them. It’s amazing what capitalistic economies can do when new obstacles are no longer being hurled in the way to thwart and stymy them!

“We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. … Today, America is number one in oil and gas. … And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump,” Obama declared. Again, this is with no help from his administration. The massive growth in domestic oil production has been primarily on state and private lands, while his administration has done everything possible to curtail it on federal ground and waterways. And it’s been primarily with technology opposed by his party and his administration. And there’s the power of capitalism again – simple supply and demand benefiting the consumer with increased competition.

Enigmatically, the President queried, “Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another? Or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward? … A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other.” It’s pretty difficult to take this counsel from one who has spent the past six years polarizing and dividing, based on income, party affiliation, ideology, and color.

“In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan,” he said. This is encouraging. If he comes through on the promise, it will be the first time he’s offered anything to Congress in six years that isn’t partisan. We won’t hold our breath.

“In the past year alone about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.” This reminded me of an email I received from a friend last year that summarized the 2700 page ObamaCare legislation in four simple sentences: “A. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured. B. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured. C. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured. And D. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, free of charge to them.” That explains a great deal of the President’s “10 million” figure.

“I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.” I’m always amazed at the liberal mind that struggles with economic realities. The cost doesn’t go away; it’s just redistributed, or paid by someone else. And to the liberal politician, it’s always the taxpayer! Never mind that the cost is a scant $60 billion. What is that to a politician who can make a grandiose promise – and make someone else pay for it?

It really would have been nice to hear an actual analysis of the State of the Union. But alas, we just got another populist campaign speech. And even as such, it wasn’t much different than the hand-dryer in the lavatory that had a sticker attached which declared, “Press button for a speech from the president.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Enjoy The Spirit Of Christmas – Don’t Be Offended By It

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“I’m offended every time I hear a Christmas Carol, or see a nativity scene, or see a cross, especially if it’s all lit up. Even the Santa Claus and decorations bug me because I know that it all has to do with Christmas.” Such was the comment made on a California radio talk show a few years ago, by a fellow who chose to take offense at the season, rather than look for the good.

It really is disconcerting that there are some who suffer great angst over a national holiday that is intended to acknowledge not just the birth of Jesus Christ, but our humanity and commonality.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” When explicated in those terms it’s hard to imagine anyone taking umbrage at the celebration of Christmas.

Some are quick to take offense at various elements of our culture, and at this time of year such relapses seem to increase significantly. Confucius is credited with saying, “He who takes offense when none is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a bigger fool.”

That seems appropriate consideration for any who take offense at what is not intended to offend. Some, like the aforementioned caller, take offense from displays like nativity scenes or menorahs, appellations like “Christmas Trees,” or greetings like “Merry Christmas,” and even music that may make reference to He whose birthday we celebrate as a national holiday. No offense is intended, but a free and open expression of anything with a hint at religiosity creates an anxiety for some even as our celebration of Christmas continues to morph into more of a secular celebration.

Each of us determines for ourselves whether we will be offended. And it’s not just about Christmas or religious expression; it’s about everything in life. When we are offended, we’re making a conscious decision to grant someone else control over our attitude. If we allow others to offend us, whether intentional or otherwise, we sacrifice control of our attitudes to someone else.

Contrast those who are so quick to take offense at the drop of a “Merry Christmas” with an atheist philosophy professor I had an ongoing discussion with on a blog a couple years ago. After commending him for wishing readers “Merry Christmas,” he responded back, “By the way, if there’s a ‘war on Christmas,’ I’m not part of it. It’s fine with me if people want to put a manger scene in front of City Hall. Being an atheist doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy holidays and traditions.” What a healthy, mature, and tolerant attitude! He obviously has learned the great lesson of life that he can choose to be offended or not, it’s strictly voluntary, and that going through life with a chip on his shoulder, just waiting for someone to knock it off, is no way to live.

I appreciate Coolidge’s perspective on Christmas, for certainly there is an increase in sensitivity to others at this time of year in spite of the often-hectic schedules we maintain as we shop for just the right gift for each of our loved ones. But the foundational motivations for finding that gift are love and gratitude. That principle of love can and should be shared by all people, not just this time of year, but throughout the year. If there were a way of packaging this spirit of love and sharing that as our gift to everyone, think how much better the world would be. Surely, most of the world’s problems could be solved.

Charles Dickens, in 1843, penned the now immortal “A Christmas Carol” that played a significant role in making our Christmas observance the overt celebration that it is today. But it was also instrumental in transforming a holiday from one disavowed by many Christian sects because of its communal hedonistic excess to one of personal goodwill and compassion. If one man can, through his creativity and power of communication, do so much to transform Western holiday observance, how can we deny the potential of each of us, within our spheres of influence, to create such a transformation of our Christmas observance?

Surely we can each be “Dickens” in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities, by redoubling our focus on the charity that is at the heart of our observance. Surely we can, through our individual acts of kindness, and increase in sensitivity, mollify the malcontents, touch the lives of those who may think they are forgotten or unappreciated in our society, and somehow ameliorate the temporal conditions of those who may have less than we.

Said Dickens of Ebenezer Scrooge, “…he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us.” A fitting end for his tome, and a noble goal for each of us.

Regardless of your theological beliefs, may the spirit of Christmas fill your home, so you can find joy in extending charity, service, and heart-felt comfort in reaching out to the lonely and the needy. Even the secularists amongst us would be hard pressed to criticize our observance of Christmas if it translated to such universal, humanistic altruism, which is what He whose birthday we celebrate would desire of us. To each of you, Merry Christmas, in the full, inclusive context of all the good that Christmas represents.

 

Photo Credit: Michael Quick (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Oligarchy In America-Tyranny Of The Federal Judiciary

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Two key decisions rendered by the Federal Judiciary this week severely challenge not only the foundational institutions of our society, but the fundamental operation of our republic.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it opted to not hear appeals by five states regarding their traditional marriage laws. Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma all had laws on the books defining marriage as a contractual institution including a man and a woman that had been appealed to the Supreme Court from lower courts. The net effect is that judicial decisions at lower levels against those state laws will now stand, opening the way for same-sex marriages in those states.

The Supreme Court’s rationale to not hear the cases may well have been portended by Justice Antonin Scalia last month in Bozeman, MT, when he said, “It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections that are not subject to the usual rule that you have to get the majority to agree with it.”

Even more disconcerting is the decision by three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Idaho and Nevada’s laws supporting traditional marriage. A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit, consisting of Judges Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee from Los Angeles, Ronald M Gould, a Clinton appointee from Seattle, and Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee from San Francisco, struck down state laws reaffirming marriage between a man and a woman. Since the Supreme Court will not hear states’ appeals on the issue, same-sex marriage is a fait accompli, not only for Idaho and Nevada, but inevitably in all 50 states.

Our federal judiciary has become, arguably and disturbingly, an oligarchy. When they rule on the “constitutionality” of an issue, it is assumed to be the final say in whether a vote of Congress or the vote of the people via referendum or initiative is legitimized or annulled. This is not how the Supreme Court and its substrata of appellate courts were intended to operate, nor is it de facto the way it should be.

The federal judiciary, as it has evolved, has unchecked and unlimited power over the nation by either of the other branches–the executive or the legislative–or even the people. Its members are not accountable to the citizenry, since most of their appointments are for life, and they cannot be removed from the bench by a vote of the people they purportedly serve. Their ruminations and the results of their decisions are insular, and they often trump the will of the people with regard to key social issues. Their decisions are presumed to be final, even though they may be at odds with the democratic majority of our citizens.

Herein lies the fundamental problem about the present construct of our federal judiciary as it has evolved since the founding. If, as stated in the 10th Amendment, all “rights and powers” not specifically itemized in the Constitution are held by the people collectively or by the states, what right does a court have to negate the will of the people? As it relates especially to key cultural issues like abortion, public religious displays, and definitions of marriage, should not the final court be the court of public opinion, rather than an oligarchy of judges insulated from, and not accountable to, the citizenry? In most of these cases, state courts have ruled, and appeals are then made to the federal judiciary.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom