Archives for Barack Obama

Lessons from the Obama Backlash

nopeNow that Election Day is behind us (unless you live in Louisiana), a few lessons and observations from the Obama backlash…

Obama Was the Issue

At the risk of demonstrating a keen grasp of the obvious, Obama was THE issue in this campaign. Republican campaigns were like the gun store with the “Salesman of the Year” poster of Obama over the counter. And he was making the cash register ring.

Liberals tried to suggest that 2014 was an “election about nothing”, but that’s because it was all about their guy, his agenda and the big government that comes along with it. Obama was such an issue that many Democrat candidates wouldn’t admit to voting for him, or even that they supported him and his policies – to which Obama quickly reminded everyone that, yes they did.

Leave it to a narcissist to confirm that it was all about him.

The results speak for themselves. Democrats even lost in deep blue states like Maryland and Illinois…a few of the places where Obama actually dared to campaign. In a happy bit or irony, half of the Senate Democrats who voted for Obamacare are now gone.

If you accept (as Democrats suggested) that Obama had a mandate for “Hope and Change” after the 2008 election, you have to admit that it’s as gone as a goose in winter now.

Republicans Still Need to Define an Agenda

In 1994 Republicans successfully nationalized the off-year elections around an issues based agenda. It worked spectacularly. Then in 2010 and now they succeeded simply by “not being Obama”, which tells you something about how popular Obama is with voters.

But that won’t be enough in the next election. Democrats will continue to run away from Obama like scalded dogs because his ineptness has given the big government their agenda needs such a bad name that they will eventually need to throw him under the bus. That goes double for the next Democrat presidential nominee.

Remember, for liberals, government is never the problem. It is always that someone is just “not doing it right”, or it just needs a little more of your money. The success of their agenda always takes priority, even if that means violating politically correct “ethics” and blaming a guy who happens to be the first black president.

The best way to put forward a national governing vision is to start legislating now, not simply sit back and leave defining an agenda up to the next Republican presidential nominee.

2015 offers the GOP the perfect opportunity to use Obama as a foil to define what they are, and what Democrats are by way of their opposition. They need to demonstrate just who the problem is by piling bill after bill on Obama’s desk – including a repeal of Obamacare – and make him have to keep switching veto pens because they run out of ink.

Gridlockamageddon is Coming!

You think you’ve seen gridlock? You ain’t seen nothing yet baby. You can almost hear it now, the copious wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media and the DC political class about more gridlock and obstruction now that Republicans run both the US House and the Senate.

Even in defeat, Harry Reid set the table with his “congratulatory” statement, saying, “The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together”. Really? If voters wanted a Congress that would “work with Obama”, they must need glasses or they would have voted to put Democrats in control. Instead they voted for Republicans who made it quite clear that they opposed Obama, Obamacare and Obamanomics, and would work to rein him in.

In other words, they voted for what the media will call obstruction and gridlock.

Have you ever noticed that “gridlock” or “obstruction” is usually defined as Republicans not giving Democrats what they want? But if it was gridlock for House Republicans not to work with Senate Democrats and a Democrat President, will it be gridlock for a Democrat President not to work with a Republican House and a Republican Senate? Don’t hold your breath.

The gridlock apocalypse is upon us!

Good Candidates Matter

Much has been made by political establishment types over suggesting that Republicans did well because they kept too many kooky conservatives from being nominated this year. They say the lesson is that when they pick the candidates, Republicans will prevail.

But the fact is that good candidates usually do well (or at least better) regardless of the political environment or what they believe. Being a good candidate who can effectively communicate is divorced from “what” is being communicated, (see: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton).

Republicans fielded high-quality candidates in most races this year, and it clearly made a difference. But don’t let anyone suggest that conservatives don’t make good candidates. Just look at Joanie Ernst in Iowa, and Ben Sasse in Nebraska, both supported by Tea Party conservatives. (See also: Scott Walker, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, etc.)

It’s just a fact of life that there is large group of people in politics who just want to win, and they and their money gravitate towards quality candidates who look like they can. If conservatives start spending real time focusing on identifying the best candidates to run up and down the ballot in 2016 and start coalescing around them, odds are more of those fence sitters will come along for the ride.


Enjoy the win…but start getting ready for the next fight.

Celebrating Independence and Separation of Powers

King ObamaAs Americans gather to celebrate Independence Day, it is a good time to take a moment and reflect on the importance of what that independence bought us – that being the freedom to create a government structure that separates power.

No matter what your side of the political divide, the fact is that the fortunes of politics will ebb and flow, but in the end it is in everyone’s best interests that political power be divided. More to the point, the very reason that our Constitution separates power is to prevent its arbitrary use. Specifically, executive power, since it resides in one individual.

It’s a pretty important thing. We fought a war over it.

But lately the news is regularly filled with the latest blustery statements from Obama about how “if Congress doesn’t act”, he will, along with edicts that fail to show any clear constitutional or congressional authority.

Obama repeatedly says that he only takes unilateral executive action because “Congress chooses to do nothing”. But choosing to “do nothing” is itself a choice. It means that a large enough group of people wanting to do “something” does not yet exist. In other words, the real problem is that they don’t want to do what Obama wants to do. Therein lies the problem.

If a president can re-interpret laws or apply them as he chooses, then what’s the purpose of having laws? What’s the purpose of a pretense of the separation of powers and having a legislative branch to make law? The reality is that lawmaking in a representative republic involves compromise and trade-offs among various factions of society to get a majority to eventually agree on a final product. Otherwise, people see the laws as lacking legitimacy because society has no “buy-in”.

Of course the boundaries between executive and legislative power are always in tension, but Obama has come to find the boundaries inconvenient, so he simply ignores them. He wants to take shortcuts. Someone should remind him that he resigned his “law-making” gig several years ago in order to run for his current “faithfully executing the laws” job.

The Supreme Court has sent him a few hints, thirteen unanimous ones since 2012 to be exact, the most recent regarding his abuse of presidential recess appointments and his claim that he gets to decide when the US Senate is actually in session. By the way, “unanimous” includes both of the Justices that were appointed by Obama.

But there are actually people among us not named Obama who believe that the presidency should be stronger.

Believe it or not, the New York Times’ ersatz conservative David Brooks actually suggested that we needed to “make the executive branch more powerful” in order to make the federal government more effective. He claimed that, because our political leaders can’t reach conclusions, we should give more power to the executive branch, since bureaucrats “are more sheltered from the interest groups than congressional officials”; have “more specialized knowledge”; are “removed from excessive partisanship” and would have more latitude to “respond to their own screw-ups”.

Oh, really? Anyone even remotely familiar with any news related to the IRS, Obamacare, Solyndra, the Veterans Administration, or any number of other executive branch scandals would know that this is just so much piffle.

The problem is not that the President doesn’t have enough power, but that Washington has far too much power – and covets even more.

Among the key elements of our political system are stability and predictability. People can have relative certainty about tomorrow being free from capricious radical changes because some bureaucrat woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or decided that he needed to do a favor for a political patron, or create some new political advantage for his president via-a-vi the opposition.

But that level of confidence is eroding. The more powerful the presidency becomes – no matter who is president – the higher the stakes will be in every election, along with matching levels of vitriol and odds of radical change and instability.

There’s a name for such places. They’re called “banana republics”.

Those who want to strengthen the presidency are really just people who are tired of not getting their way through the regular political process. But the fact is that, in order to protect liberty, our political system was intentionally designed to move slow and require broad support to get anything done. It’s a feature, not a bug.

Don’t like it? There are plenty of countries with an autocratic El Presidente who will be happy to accommodate.

We don’t need to become one of them.

A quick guide to Obama’s scandalrama

If you feel like you need a program to keep up with the rash of scandals coming out of Washington, you’re not alone.  There’s stifling of political opposition, lying to Congress, intimidation of whistle blowers, lying to the public and a healthy dose of general incompetence.

Suffice it to say that Obama has found his legacy.  He has set the new presidential speed record for achieving lame-duck status, going from inauguration to irrelevance in just four months.  With three major scandals all coming to a boil at the same time, Democrats will be distancing themselves in droves before the dust settles.

The IRS Hokey-Pokey

All of America just found out what many conservative groups have known all along – that the IRS has spent years targeting them in order to minimize how effective they can be.

New information confirms that over a course of three years the IRS singled out groups for abuse if their names or descriptions included certain keywords like “tea party”, “9-12”, “patriot”, “constitution”, “voter fraud”, “government spending”, “limited government” or “Bill of Rights”.

The IRS demanded that such groups turn over more information about their activities, their donors, their websites and social media accounts, even asking questions about the political beliefs of personnel.  Worse, at least one liberal group has admitted that the IRS sent them confidential copies of applications and other documents from thirty-one conservative groups.

Despite initial White House claims that the problem was just a bunch of low-level bureaucrats, we now know that top IRS appointees in Washington knew all about it – including IRS commissioners and chief counsels.

In the end, the abuse affected almost five-hundred conservative groups, with none receiving tax-exempt status for over twenty-seven straight months – time enough to reduce their impact on the 2012 elections.  Meanwhile, liberal groups with words like “progressive” in their titles zipped right through the approval process.

There even seems to be evidence that such government abuse extended to other agencies.  One group that was founded to fight against voter fraud found itself the target of an alphabet soup of government agencies, including a series of FBI inquiries about the group and its founders, ATF demands to see the family’s firearms, surprise audits of the founder’s gun dealership, and an OSHA audit of a family manufacturing business.

There are already calls from Congress for a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation, and once such a process gets started it can lead pretty much anywhere.  Just ask Bill Clinton.

The Benghazi Shuffle

Despite months of disinterest by the press, the Obama administration is facing serious questions and a probable congressional select committee over how it dealt with the September 11th attacks on our consulate in Benghazi.

There are three key elements to the scandal:

First, why did our State Department ignore repeated requests for more security from our diplomatic personnel in a place that intelligence agencies had reported as being frequented by terrorists?

Second, when our people were under attack, why didn’t our government begin moving Heaven and earth to help them?  The White House claims there wasn’t time, as it would have taken too long to respond.  But since they didn’t know “when” it would be over, why weren’t assets put in motion and kept in motion until it was?

Third, in the immediate aftermath why did the administration insist that this was just a violent movie review instead of a terrorist attack?  Who whitewashed the official story of any references to terrorists, and why?  (OK, you probably know the answer to that one, but they’ll never admit it.)

The biggest loser in this one is going to be Hillary.  The odds that she will now actually have to fight for the 2016 nomination are increasing by the day.

The Telephone (records) Blues

This is the most recent and, for the press, the most creepy of the scandals.

The Justice Department admitted this week that it grabbed two months worth of phone records for over twenty phone lines used by the Associated Press in the Capitol Building, in addition to the personal phone records of at least five reporters in the process of investigating who leaked a story about a potential terrorist attack back in 2011.

Of course subpoenaing phone records is nothing new, but there are rules and procedures to follow which were ignored, plus two months worth is a rather wide net to cast.  What future sources and whistle blowers are going to be confident that their anonymity will be protected now?  Will they have to return to the days of trench coats and dark parking garages in order to avoid the prying eyes of Big Brother?

This scandal probably has shorter legs than the others, but it has burned a lot of goodwill in what has otherwise been Obama’s steno pool.  Goodwill he will probably need when it comes to how they cover the other scandals.


The danger for Democrats is that Americans will note that these abuses of government power come courtesy of the same people who keep asking us to trust bigger and bigger government with more and more influence over our lives.