While France remains in a state of shock over the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, they are also most likely confused and disappointed over President Obama’s declaration that there will be no fundamental change to his current policy and strategy to “now contain and defeat ISIS.”
During his Nov. 12 remarks in Antalya, Turkey, Mr. Obama appeared to be petulant and arrogant when responding to legitimate reporter’s questions, perhaps a “crack” in the carefully constructed veneer that has concealed his true character and now has been exposed.
However, on Nov. 17, The New York Times editorial board quickly came to the rescue by declaring that Mr. Obama “hit the right tone” in his remarks.
But his remarks should leave no doubt that he has a far-reaching strategy. That strategy is embedded in his declaration to fundamentally transform America. Actually, the way we are restricting our operations in the Middle East today has its roots in America’s transformation.
Those who say the administration is incompetent — are wrong. With the complicity of our congressional leadership and the mainstream media, the administration has executed their strategy brilliantly.
In order to understand Mr. Obama’s strategy, you first have to understand the threat that has been deliberately distorted. When President Erdogan of Turkey was prime minister, he said it best — Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers, such as violent extremism.
Democracy is the train we ride to achieve our ultimate objective, Mr. Erdogan implied, which is world domination. It must be understood that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion. The Islamic movement will seize power as soon as it is able.
No matter how many times “progressives” try to rationalize or accommodate perceived Muslim grievances, the fact remains that Islam has been involved in a struggle for world domination for over 1,400 years.
What the world witnessed in Paris, and certainly here in America on Sept. 11, 2001, was a continuing clash of civilizations between Islam and the Judeo-Christian values of the West.
As the noted historian Samuel P. Huntington implied, Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western values and cultures.
There can be no peace or co-existence between Islam and non-Islamic societies or their political institutions. Clearly, there must be a reformation of Islam.
Once the Islamic threat has been exposed and understood, then any thinking American should be able to grasp Mr. Obama’s strategy. It is anti-American; anti-Western; but pro-Islamic; pro-Iranian; and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
This raises the question: Why would an American president with his country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, who professes to be a Christian, embrace Islam? Or for that matter, why would an American president embrace Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, which has been at war with the United States for over 35 years? They have caused the loss of thousands of American civilians and military lives.
Also, why would an American president embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, whose creed is to destroy America from within by our own miserable hands, and replace our Constitution with seventh century Shariah law? They have been able to penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. Consequently, they have had a major impact on our foreign and domestic policies as well as the way our military is restricted on fighting our wars.
It is not possible to list all of President Obama’s executive orders and policies that have imposed undue restraints on our military forces and first responders, but illustrative of those are the following:
The unilateral disarmament of our military forces. This makes no sense when we are being challenged throughout the world.
Compounding the unilateral disarmament issue is the social engineering that has been forced on our military to satisfy an ill-advised domestic agenda. It has adversely impacted the military’s moral fiber, unit cohesiveness, integrity and most importantly the “will to win.”
The purging of all our military training manuals that links Islam with terrorism. Our forces are being denied key information that properly defines the threat.
Emasculation of our military capabilities by imposing highly restricted Rules of Engagement. It makes our military look ineffective.
Curtailment of Christianity and its symbols in our military, e.g., restricting the display of the Bible.
Making our military forces in the Middle East either ignore or submit to the atrocities authorized by Shariah law, tribal customs and traditions, e.g. wife beating, stoning, sodomizing young boys.
Unfettered immigration with open borders, plus seeding Muslim immigrants throughout the country.
Shifting sides in the Global War on Terror by supporting al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias, and facilitating the removal of all vestiges of secular rulers who were in fact our allies in the war on terror.
When President Obama gave his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, the center of Sunni doctrine for over 1,000 years, he stated, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” that said it all.
Again, when he spoke at the U.N. on Sept. 25, 2012, after the Benghazi tragedy and stated that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” — case closed. Andy McCarthy, author and National Review columnist, made a compelling case for Mr. Obama’s impeachment in his book, “Faithless Execution.”
Clearly, the president has exposed where he stands when the issue is Islam versus our Judeo-Christian heritage. Certainly, the case is there to be made for his removal from office for his illegal, unconstitutional and treasonous acts.
James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
Editor’s Note – Once again, Andy McCarthy hits the nail on the head. The Clinton Foundation IS best defined as a RICO operation from all we are now learning. Maybe they can “justify” their actions individually, but when you collect all the parts, it is a racket.
The trouble is, would the Department of Justice consider it RICO? Would Loretta Lynch launch an investigation?
She is about to be voted upon for Attorney General finally and may win approval in the Senate, but would she act just like her predecessor, Eric Holder and avoid yet another investigation of a ‘friend of the family’ unlike Senator Menendez?
Okay, so that’s not quite as catchy as Edward G. Robinson’s immortal line. But it is what a good prosecutor would be asking while pondering the growing cloud around Clinton Foundation.
Among Little Ceasar’s imprints on popular culture is that Robinson’s mobster character, Cesare Enrico Bandello, inspired Congress to name its seminal anti-organized crime legislation “RICO” – the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1971. The mafia was its most infamous target, but far from its only target.
RICO makes it a crime to run an organization through what’s called a “pattern of racketeering activity.” The term racketeering is extensively defined in the statute. It includes acts involving bribery, fraud, and obstruction of justice, to name just a few.
Prosecutors are fond of RICO because it enables them to unite disparate illicit or corrupt transactions into one framework, the enterprise. It need not be a mafia family or traditional criminal organization; it can be an ostensibly legitimate organization – e.g., a foundation, a labor union, a corporation, a guild – that, contrary to the image it projects publicly, commits sundry legal offenses in conducting its affairs.
As a matter of fact, if the pattern of offenses includes fraud and influence peddling, then the enterprise’s portrayal of itself as a caring, altruistic charitable foundation can be very helpful to the case. Juries do not like hypocrisy and shady dealing.
They get turned off by “charitable organizations” that turn out, in the main, to be vehicles for their principals to live lavishly, or covers for selling political influence. And juries know charitable organizations tend not to wipe their servers clean even after congressional investigators have instructed them to preserve evidence.
Plus, it is important to bear in mind that, at the moment, the political dimension of the Clinton Foundation scandal transcends the possibility of criminal or civil legal liability. Right now, the Clinton Foundation provides a stark reminder of the last enterprise these characters ran: the Clinton White House. Remember that one?
Campaign finance irregularities, selling influence (remember the Lincoln bedroom?), awarding pardons to fraudsters and terrorists for the purpose of rewarding donors and courting political constituencies, blatant obstruction of justice, and perjury.
You see the Hillary! 2016 campaign launch, you consider what we’re learning about the Clinton Foundation, and you naturally ask yourself: Do we really want to go through this again?
You consider the Clinton Foundation, you think about the State Department – Benghazi, the courting of the Muslim Brotherhood, the secret, unlawful email system, the foreign money pouring into Clinton coffers while Mrs. Clinton was making key decisions about American foreign policy – and you naturally ask yourself: What has Hillary Clinton ever run that did not turn into a debacle?
Finally, we should also consider the Obama administration’s legal standards. As I’ve recently discussed here at Ordered Liberty, the Justice Department has just filed its indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) on various corruption charges. The prosecution’s theory is that Menendez accepted “things of value” in exchange for using his political influence to benefit a big time donor.
Sen. Menendez counters that he did nothing wrong – i.e., that there is no nexus between, on the one hand, the hefty contributions, private jet rides to ritzy resorts, and other posh gifts he received, and, on the other hand, the use of his office in ways that just happened to favor the donor.
We are still at a very early stage of scrutinizing the Clinton Foundation, but we can already say two things with confidence:
The millions upon millions of dollars the Clinton Foundation has collected from foreign donors and others with significant self-interest in U.S. government policy – during a time when Mrs. Clinton had a key role (and the prospect of an even bigger role) in designing U.S. government policy – makes the gifts to Menendez look like chump change.
To the best of our knowledge, Menendez never withheld his emails from the government or wiped his server clean.
Editor’s Note – So what will our illustrious leader, President Obama, tell us tonight regarding ISIS, Iraq, Syria, and terror threats the day before the second anniversary of Benghazi and the 13th anniversary of 9/11/01?
Are we in for a ‘fireside chat’, or a ‘come to Jesus moment’, maybe this is when Obama becomes an adult, not just a bad actor trying to look Presidential? Only the teleprompter knows! The irony of this moment is palpable – especially when we see the image below of his speech from 2010 declaring the end of our Iraqi combat mission – he looked like an adult then, didn’t he?
Does anyone think he will manage this mess in the Middle East well? Doubtful, the reason things are so bad across the globe now are directly attributable to his inability to manage to begin with. Of course, no matter what actions he chooses to take, we are all supposed to back him as he does. We are supposed to unite behind our “Commander-in-Chief” aren’t we?
The old axiom of leaving politics at our shoreline was crossed off the list by Obama himself beginning with his 2009 Cairo speech and his apology tour, so forgive us if we have no faith in his ability to manage any foreign policy, let alone a war, especially in regard to anything Islamic.
If you have family in the military now, like many of us, be very worried – we do not have to explain why, now do we? Using Obama and the word management in the same sentence is clearly an oxymoron, now isn’t it?
We could go on and on but Andy McCarthy has summed it up so well. Please read below:
A Mismanage-able Problem
Obama’s belief that he can “manage” the Islamic State may collide with reality.
President Obama says he intends to shrink the al-Qaeda-spawned Islamic State into a “manageable problem.” Perhaps we’ll learn more about how when he speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening. Still, the question presses: Is he the manager for the job?
In answering that question, past performance is more a guarantee of future results than is any statement of newfound purpose from a president whose innate dishonesty has turned his signature phrase “Let me be clear” into notorious self-parody.
In late September 2012, Mr. Obama’s administration quietly approved the transfer of 55 jihadist prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As Tom Joscelyn explained at the time, most of the detainees had previously been categorized as “high risk” because they were deemed “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” if released. Almost all of the rest had been assessed “medium risk” — still posing a threat, albeit one less certain than the “high risk” jihadists.
But Obama officials overruled those judgments. Rife with members of the Lawyer Left vanguard who had stampeded to volunteer their services to al-Qaeda detainees during the Bush years, who had smeared Gitmo as a gulag, and who had fought bitterly against the Bush/Cheney paradigm that regarded al-Qaeda’s jihad as a war rather than a crime wave, the administration determined that the anti-American terrorists were fit to be sprung from American custody.
Wait a second . . . two years ago in September . . . what was going on then? Why yes, the Benghazi massacre — whose second anniversary we mark this Thursday.
The Obama administration would like us to forget that bit of old news since “dude, this was like two years ago.” You may nonetheless recall it as an act of war in which al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadistsattacked a sovereign American government compound. The terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya, killed three other Americans, and wounded many more in an eight-hour siege during which President Obama declined to take any meaningful responsive action. Indeed, agents of the U.S. security team in Benghazi say they were prevented from trying to save Ambassador Stevens.
Among those carrying out the attack were operatives of Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the al-Qaeda affiliate with cells in Eastern Libya’s jihadist hotbeds, Benghazi and Derna. Ansar is led by Sufian BenQumu, a former Gitmo detainee who, inexorably, went right back to the jihad.
News of Obama’s approval of the mass transfer of Gitmo detainees came less than two weeks after the Benghazi massacre. Let that sink in: The Obama administration knew that a former Gitmodetainee was complicit in the most humiliating defeat suffered by the United States since the 9/11 attacks that took the nation to war; yet, the president approved the transfer of dozens more Gitmoterrorists. Just as, only a few months ago, he approved the transfer of five top Taliban commanders even as the Taliban was (and is) continuing to conduct terrorist operations against American troops in Afghanistan.
Shocking, yes, but how surprising from Barack Obama? Mind you, this is the president who, though AWOL (and still unaccountable) while terrorists were killing and wounding American personnel in Benghazi, had the temerity not just to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser the very next day but to pick that setting, and that moment, to declare victory: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”
Yes, bin Laden is dead. But the terrorist hordes chanted, “Obama, we’re all Osama!” as they torched our embassies and raised the black flag of jihad — the flag the Islamic State vows to fly over the White House. And just two days after Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” fundraiser, Ansar al-Sharia’s Tunis cell attacked the American embassy there. That al-Qaeda franchise is led by Seifallah benHassine, long-time jihadist confidant of bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some path to defeat.
Of course, the Benghazi massacre would never have happened had Obama not switched sides in Libya, dumping the Qaddafi regime — theretofore an American counterterrorism ally — and partnering with Eastern Libyan jihadists. The president’s strategy ensured that enemies of the United States would acquire much of Qaddafi’s arsenal, empowering jihadist cells throughout North Africa and the Middle East, growing al-Qaeda and what would become the Islamic State. And as we have seen in just the last few weeks, Obama’s “lead the jihad from behind” strategy has resulted in the near complete disintegration of Libya, with Ansar al-Sharia and its allies now controlling much of Tripoli.
Nor is that all. Hours before the Benghazi attack began on September 11, 2012, there had been rioting at the American embassy in Cairo. It was stoked by al-Qaeda leaders — including Zawahiri’sbrother, Mohammed. The latter had called for attacks against the United States to avenge the recent killing of the network’s leader in Libya. The al-Qaeda leaders had also been threatening to besiege the embassy to extort the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, imprisoned in the U.S. on terrorism charges. These jihadists had been enabled in their incitements against America by the Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government — a government the Obama administration had pressured Egypt’s military leaders to make way for.
When the Left says it intends to make the challenge of international terrorism “manageable,” that is usually code for saying it wants to return counterterrorism to the law-enforcement paradigm, in which terrorism is a crime addressed by indictments. Crime — petty theft, graft, racketeering, and the like — is a constant that society manages. National-security threats, on the other hand, cannot be indicted into submission. And they are not “managed” by imagining that if we ignore them they will go away.
President Obama probably does believe the Islamic State could become a manageable problem. Unfortunately, he also believes that when his ideology collides with reality, it is reality that must give. Reality does not see it that way.
Once again, its Andy McCarthy who sums up a “what just happened” moment so clearly. His column below describes best what really was taking place in the whole Ted Cruz/ObamaCare/Shutdown/Debt Ceiling ‘crisis’ and the rancor now in the Republican Party.
Now that the left has won the day, again, and do not think it was not a big win, we see all the hand-wringing from the establishment Republicans, and gloating from the left. Leading that charge is none other than Rep. Peter King of New York – go figure, a “Republican” from the northeast, a “Lawn Guyland” boy from Uber-Blue New York.
If you listen to establishment Republicans like Peter King, you would think Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and the Tea Party Caucus in the House ruined any chance for the resurgence of the Republican Party for ever. Peter King sounds more like a White House staffer than a Republican in interviews today and he has a terrible memory. We Tea Party people gave you a majority in the House back in 2010 and what do you do Mr. King, you castigate the millions who made it happen.
“Washington does not listen”, Peter King is deaf, and the RINOs forget. Remember this Mr. King, if you were not in “our” majority, far more would have been achieved in the ‘fundamental transformation’ Obama called for in 2008 because the Democrats would still have the majority. It would not just be the Senate, but also in the House. That would have allowed them to unilaterally foist more Nancy Pelosi, “we need to pass it so we can see what’s in it” bills.
King does not like the fact that a grassroots movement expressing basic and sound concerns about the fundamental operations of government, but he is cool with supporting the NSA to sweep into possession all forms of American citizen communication – hypocrite.
Instead, we here at SUA salute these people as heroes to emulate, not vilify. Why, because they did what they said they would do when campaigning, and they actually listened to the people of their districts, and they actually did what Peter King and the establishment always forget to do – that is to REPRESENT the people who elected them.
To people like Peter King, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell, doing nothing, for years, is a winning strategy. Earth to Peter King, doing nothing and hoping for miracles does not a good business plan make. In addition, ‘Mr. Kentucky’, Senator Mitch McConnell, is now the poster boy for buyouts, a position once held by the likes of Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson back when ObamaCare was shoved up our… err, I mean, down our throats..
People like the ‘Architect’ Karl Rove did what he does best as well, picking losing strategies, losing candidates, and losing Presidential elections. Rove did engineer the Bush Presidency, by the narrowest of margins, but what has he and the establishment done since but LOSE? During the whole shutdown, their sound bites were treasonous to their own causes and made for wonderful talking points for the left.
The Democrats rarely eat their young, Republicans have made a culinary art form out of it. Cruz and company were trying to do the best they could for America, Rove, McConnell and King are doing their best to win a political game, sad priority that one. Some say politics is the ‘art of the possible’, but true representatives never compromise their principles nor do they only seek political victories – that is why America is in a death spiral.
The Art of the Impossible
The strategy to repeal Obamacare by winning serial elections is not even a Hail Mary pass.
In considering the Republican retreat that ended the partial government shutdown, funded Obamacare, and unconditionally extended more credit on Uncle Sam’s tapped-out credit card, my friend Jonah Goldberg argues that we should be more understanding of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s predicament. Politics, Jonah aptly observes, is the art of the possible, and McConnell had “no good options” when he led the GOP cave-in to all of President Obama’s demands — a decision that, McConnell insists, was not in any way influenced by the tidy $3 billion earmark thrown in for one of his pet Kentucky boondoggles.
I agree that we must be realistic about what was achievable in the Obamacare battle. What I don’t get, though, is why our sympathetic cast of mind must be from the GOP-establishment perspective alone. Aren’t we also obliged to be realistic about the options available to the Republicans who took seriously their campaign promises to do everything within their power — which includes their constitutional power of the purse — to stop Obamacare?
Virtually all congressional Republicans elected or reelected since 2010 ran on that promise. Stopping Obamacare is the cause that most animated the conservative base, without which there would be no Republican majority in the House. If Republicans expected to maintain that support, they had to act on that commitment.
Beyond promises, something also had to be done because Obamacare is a disaster for the productive part of the country. And, more urgently, that something had to be done now. This was not a manufactured crisis. Obamacare was set to commence on October 1. Consequently, Republicans had two options. Option One was the GOP establishment’s “win elections, then repeal” strategy: Do nothing for now; allow Obamacare to be implemented; assume its unpopularity would increase, creating a climate for extended, uninterrupted GOP electoral success, finally leading to a Republican Congress of such substantial majorities that an Obamacare repeal would pass both houses and be signed by a Republican president. As we shall see, core assumptions of “win elections, then repeal” require the suspension of disbelief.
Alternatively, there was Option Two: Because, as a matter of law, Obamacare could not proceed unless both congressional chambers agreed to fund it, and because Republicans control the House, House Republicans could deny it funding. The hope was that Obamacare’s unpopularity and patent unreadiness, coupled with the Democrats’ desire for the rest of government to be funded at today’s exorbitant levels, would pressure the Senate and the president to agree to a delay. Option Two would be tough to pull off, but it was not exclusive of Option One; and, contrary to conventional wisdom, there was the chance that the memory of any government shutdown would fade quickly while raising public consciousness about Obamacare’s downsides would have enduring electoral benefits.
Republicans tried Option Two and lost, at least for now. It is only natural, I suppose, that defeat brings myopic focus on the strategy that has been defeated. Thus, it is fair enough, in the post mortem, to emphasize how uphill a battle the defund/delay strategy faced. Nevertheless, since the point is to be realistic about what all the alternatives were, we must account for what GOP-establishment sympathizers keep glossing over: The utter implausibility of their preferred option.
It is repeatedly said that the crusade to defund Obamacare was delusional, that it never had a chance. That is an overstatement. Hail Mary passes are tried because they occasionally work. A lot of things have to go right, and the success rate is low. But a Hail Mary is a ray of hope when the clock nears zero, when something has to be done, and when you are out of better options.
So, were we out of better options? I think so. To my mind, if the defund plan was delusional, the GOP establishment’s “repeal Obamacare by winning elections” alternative is delusional squared.
Inertia is a powerful non-motivator. It is always extremely tempting to avoid the hard thing that must be done now by rationalizing that we’ll have both the capability and the stomach to do hard things at some indeterminate future time. That is the main appeal of the GOP-establishment strategy: It is outlandish, but unlike defund/delay, it is hard to disprove in the present because its impossible assumptions are conveniently imagined to occur several years from now, in a brighter and shinier future.
To buy it, you first have to believe that the GOP is suddenly going to become an electoral juggernaut. Mind you, we are talking about Republicans who have won the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988; who are rapidly losing the confidence of the conservative base that gave the GOP the historic midterm victory in 2010; and whose current priorities include a mass legalization of (Democrat-leaning) illegal immigrants that would make it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win elections in the future. We are to believe, moreover, that this electoral juggernaut is poised to take off in the cycle right after the GOP lost to Obama and lost congressional seats despite high unemployment and no economic growth.
To repeal Obamacare on the establishment plan, the GOP needs sudden and sustained electoral success — despite the high hurdle of media bias. At least two federal election cycles, and more likely three or more (i.e., at least four years, and probably six or more), will be necessary. Obama, after all, will still be president for three more years and will never sign a repeal bill. Even if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, and even if Republicans by then have held the House and won the Senate, the GOP will not have overwhelming congressional majorities.
Furthermore, unlike Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats are unified and disciplined. Knowing the press is the wind at their backs, they are disposed to use every parliamentary privilege available to a minority to obstruct a repeal of Obamacare. Remember, Democrats unilaterally enacted Obamacare at a time when it was very unpopular and seemed likely to cost them dearly at the ballot box. But they are influenced by movement progressives to a far greater degree than the Tea Party influences Republicans. So important was socialized medicine to the Left that Democrats rammed Obamacare through, regardless of the likely electoral consequences. They are going to fight repeal to the death.
These obstacles alone are enough to make “uphill” an understatement. But that’s not the half of it. To buy the GOP establishment’s “repeal by winning elections” alternative, you also have to believe that Republicans are going to repeal a vast entitlement that has, by then, been on the books, with millions of Americans drawing subsidies, for at least four, and more likely six or more, years.
Remember, Republicans are the guys who gave us a new Medicare prescription-drug entitlement when Medicare was already tens of trillions of dollars in debt. They are the guys who ran in 2012 as the saviors of Medicare — even though they well knew that slamming Obama over taking money out of Medicare would make it much more difficult to address Medicare’s unsustainable costs in the future. They are the guys who accept core premises of Obamacare: Republicans do not make the case that health care is like any other commodity in a free market rather than a corporate asset to be centrally managed. The disagreement between statist Democrats and the GOP establishment is aboutthe degree of government intrusion in health care, not the matter of government intrusion in principle. Republicans are also the guys who want to keep some of Obamacare’s core, anti-free-market elements — e.g., provisions that forbid denial of coverage owing to preexisting conditions and that keep “children” on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
The Democrats, the media, and all the Left will tirelessly portray any proposed repeal of Obamacare as a callous denial — a removal — of coverage from millions of underprivileged Americans, including those struggling with sickness. Moderates and “compassionate conservatives” already lecture us about the need to get real and make our peace with the welfare state; what will they be saying four or six or eight or who knows how many years from now? They will be arguing that Obamacare’s prodigious infrastructure is now part of our social fabric — that repealing it at this point (whenever that point happens) would be radical, the very antithesis of the Burkean conservative disposition. The GOP’s will to fight for repeal — which has never been as strong on action as it is on election-season rhetoric — will dissipate.
I said a few times prior to last summer that I did not believe the Supreme Court would invalidate Obamacare and that Republicans were making a big mistake putting all their hope in the prospect of a judicial repeal. Far greater emphasis should have been put on the need for a political repeal — including nominating a presidential candidate who was in a better position than the architect of Romneycare to make Obamacare a huge 2012 campaign issue. Pessimistic as I was, however, I had far greater confidence in the Supreme Court than I do in the prospect of Republicans repealing Obamacare once it has been up and running for a few years.
I believe there is no chance that will happen. I also believe the Republican establishment, in its heart of hearts, realizes how implausible this prospect is. A few times over the last two weeks — though not nearly as often as it should have happened — Republicans taking pot shots at Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House conservatives were asked what their alternative plan was to stop Obamacare. The usual response was to shuffle feet and mumble about winning elections. It was a meek comeback because even these seasoned politicians were embarrassed to promise a bold repeal in, oh, 2017, 2019 . . .
If you accept, as I do, that something had to be done before October 1, the question is not whether defund/delay was a promising strategy. It is whether it was the most promising — however unlikely — of the available alternatives.
As I have argued before, I think defund/delay had a chance precisely because it was not repeal. The president was not being asked to erase what he sees as his signature achievement. Obamacare would have remained law. But it is a law that was already delayed a few years by design, so pushing for a delay for another year or two was hardly a pie-in-the-sky demand.
Significantly, Democrats were being asked to delay Obamacare under circumstances in which the program is undeniably not ready for implementation. The president could have been made to see that he could look reasonable by delaying and simultaneously mitigate what has been a disastrous rollout — “excruciatingly embarrassing,” as even Robert Gibbs put it.
Democrats were being asked to defund or delay Obamacare under circumstances in which Obama himself had already defunded and delayed major portions of it. The president could have been made to see that he was just being asked to do for everyone what he had already done for corporations, cronies, and Congress.
Contrary to what you’d believe from reading press accounts over the last two weeks, Obama has a history of reversing himself — to take just a few examples: on closing Guantanamo Bay, on a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, on the Bush tax cuts, even on the near-term desirability of single-payer health insurance. It was never delusional to believe Obama and congressional Democrats could be persuaded that political expedience counseled what Obama has famously called “flexibility.” But you could not get there absent intense political pressure.
To create the pressure necessary to give defund/delay a Hail Mary’s chance to work, Republicans had to demonstrate that they were so fearful of Obamacare’s harmful effects on the country that they were firmly resolved not to fund it. If this ended up meaning the government got (very partially) shut down, they had to tee that up in a way that could persuade the public that it was Obama, not the Republicans, who was forcing the shutdown. That could be done only by agreeing to fund all the rest of the government, and sticking together on the single, clear message that Obama could reopen the government anytime he wanted by signing the funding bills the GOP had willingly given him.
Could Democrats have been made fearful that the public would hold Obama responsible for keeping the government shut down solely over Obamacare in spite of the law’s unreadiness and unpopularity? It was a long shot in which three things had to go right: (a) The public had to see that the government shutdown was not as painful in reality as the media had predicted it would be; (b) Obamacare’s deleterious consequences had to begin to emerge such that they were seen as a bigger problem than the shutdown; and (c) the Republicans had to stay united — they had to keep pounding these themes with unwavering conviction.
In the event, things could not have gone better, in the Hail Mary sense, on the first two elements. The shutdown, in which four-fifths of the government continued running, did not have an impact on most Americans — and Obama’s obnoxious contrivances to make the shutdown seem painful only underscored that, in reality, it wasn’t so bad. The Obamacare rollout turned out to be worse than Republicans could have imagined — when not reporting on the system’s massive technological failures, and the tiny number of “exchange” applicants, the press was forced to report on sticker-shock as Americans finally grappled with eye-popping, family-budget-breaking price hikes for coverage.
But then there’s that third element. If Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House conservatives can justly be accused of being delusional, it is in adopting a strategy that banked on Republican unanimity in the face of withering opposition. It never happened; the intramural squabble started even before the shutdown.
Democrats could have pulled this strategy off. Indeed, their media-annealed steel is why we have Obamacare in the first place. But not Republicans. Today’s Republican establishment is the George W. Bush “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move” GOP — with all that portends, as Jonah expertly itemized in this 2004 G-File (i.e., before the GOP Congress and White House larded a few trillion dollars more onto the national debt).
Republicans do not have a unified position on Obamacare, on “entitlements,” or on the relationship between the citizen and the central government. Yes, it is an exaggeration to say there is no meaningful difference between the GOP establishment and Barack Obama — although I do not believe there is much difference between, say, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. But it is not an exaggeration to say the GOP establishment is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the centralized welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty. And it is not an exaggeration to say that Beltway Republicans are more worried about what the media will say about them today than what the Tea Party may do to them every other year.
That is why the GOP establishment’s proclaimed strategy to repeal Obamacare by winning serial elections is not even a Hail Mary pass. It is politics as the art of the impossible.
Editor’s Note – In the Constitution, the power of the purse is the purview of the House of Representatives. Why? Because this is the people’s house, where the purse is controlled by the people, not a reigning monarch at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. nor a despot who has taken over the Senate as a one man wrecking crew.
As usual, Andy McCarthy tells us how it is supposed to work and how the House must act. Remember, the House passed a CR that fully funds the entire government at ‘Sequester’ levels, just no Obama Care funds. If the President continues to negotiate by saying he will not negotiate – then he is solely responsible if the government must shut down – we hope it does! But Harry Reid ADDED funds back into the CR – totally illegal as we see in McCarthy’s clarity of thought on what is constitutional in regard to spending:
“All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”…
The Senate can tinker within the spending limits set by the House, but it must live within those limits. The continuing resolution to fund the government, which is the legislation at issue in the current controversy, is no exception. The Senate is not permitted to originate spending, as Majority Leader Harry Reid did on Friday, with the indulgence of Senate Republicans — who voted against his appropriation of Obamacare funds but did not challenge the validity of it.
In addition, always remember, Congress cannot bind the hands of a future Congress – therefore, Obama Care, labeled as a “mandatory liability” is no such thing, and not funding it is the will of the people! Mr. Obama and team use a lot of rhetoric about the people, but the castigate them none-the-less by disparaging those the people elected.
How to Constitutionally Fund the Government
It’s the House’s prerogative to supply funds, or not, for Obamacare.
Republican leaders are right: There was a flaw in Ted Cruz’s plan to defund Obamacare: He took Republican leaders seriously.
Senator Cruz, along with Senator Mike Lee and House conservatives, devised a strategy to forestall the unpopular socialized-medicine scheme that Democrats unilaterally rammed through Congress in 2010. They would starve it of funds, not unlike the way Democrats and Republicans have slashed funds for fence construction along the Mexican border, even though the fence has been the law of the land for seven years. The Obamacare defunding strategy, though, depended on Republican fidelity to a ballyhooed campaign promise to reform Washington’s wayward legislative process by reimposing constitutional order — an order that gives the House of Representatives primacy over the spending of taxpayer dollars.
In the stretch run of what became the historic 2010 midterm elections, the Republican establishment issued its “Pledge to America.” If you flip past the many pin-up glossies of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy, you occasionally find some text in the Pledge. Text such as this: “We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored.”
Constitutional devotion was fashionable in 2010 — more fashion than substance, some of us suspected at the time. The GOP had been cast into the cold by angry voters in 2006 and 2008. The party had controlled the White House and both congressional chambers through most of the first six Bush years. As self-styled “compassionate conservatives,” Republicans bloated government, nearly doubling the debt the nation had previously taken over two centuries to accumulate. Fed up, conservatives stayed home in droves. The result was the Pelosi/Reid Congress and, later, the Obama administration.
There ensued a nightmare of full-throttle statism, exemplified above all by Obamacare. That, and not anything the Republicans themselves did, is what opened the door to a GOP comeback. The dynamic force in American politics was the Tea Party. Not an actual political party, the Tea Party is a grass-roots reform movement that calls for a return to limited central government on the original constitutional model — a model that promotes liberty by sharply restricting federal authority, and thus federal spending.
So out went the “compassion” garb, replaced by the GOP’s claim to be the “constitutional conservatives” that the Tea Party craved, the antidote to Obama. Republicans did not just expressly pledge to honor the Constitution as originally understood by the Framers. They promised: “We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.”
As Cruz and Lee are learning, it turns out they were kidding.
A little over a week ago, with the October 1 implementation of Obamacare looming, the House voted not to fund the massive and massively unprepared program. This House bill has been scorned by the GOP establishment and its sympathetic scribes. Echoing Beltway oracle Charles Krauthammer, they tut-tut that Republicans only control “one half of one third of the government”; therefore, the refrain goes, they cannot reasonably expect to impose their policy preferences on an electorate that has placed the White House and Senate under Democratic control.
Yet the Constitution that Republicans claim to venerate does not assign power in proportion to the quantum of governmental departments or congressional seats won in elections. All or part of each enumerated power is assigned to specified components of government by subject matter. And significantly, at least if we are truly honoring the Constitution as originally designed, the Framers did not assign authority arbitrarily. Rather, supremacy over a given power was assigned to the component of government best suited to control its exercise in a free republic.
To take a few examples, decisions about military tactics are reserved to the president — regardless of whether Congress is overwhelmingly in the hands of the opposing party. Consent to the president’s appointment of high public officials is reserved to the Senate alone — it makes no difference whether the House or the presidency is controlled by the opposing party. Legal decisions are the province of the judiciary, and can be dictated by five Democratic justices — even if the rest of the Supreme Court and the rest of the government are solidly Republican.
And spending is the prerogative of the House. Not the Congress, the House.
The Constitution expressly provides (in Article I, Section 7): “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” This Origination Clause applies to all spending legislation. As the clause elaborates, when the subject at issue involves spending public money, the Senate “may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills”; but it may not instigate spending. The Senate can tinker within the spending limits set by the House, but it must live within those limits. The continuing resolution to fund the government, which is the legislation at issue in the current controversy, is no exception. The Senate is not permitted to originate spending, as Majority Leader Harry Reid did on Friday, with the indulgence of Senate Republicans — who voted against his appropriation of Obamacare funds but did not challenge the validity of it.
The Republican establishment keeps flashing those “one half of one third” tablets Dr. Krauthammer carried down from Mount Sinai. But Republicans fulfilling a pledge to honor the Framers’ Constitution would do better to take their cues from James Madison. “The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of the government,” he explained in Federalist No. 58 (emphasis added).
One could contend, as “organic Constitution” devotees do, that it makes no difference which congressional chamber initiates spending as long as both must vote to approve it. But besides improperly nullifying an explicit constitutional command, this contention ignores the Framers’ rationale. Putting the House in charge of spending was not an idle choice.
As Madison elaborated, the purpose of the Origination Clause is to put the “power of the purse” firmly in the hands of “the immediate representatives of the people.” Government has no resources of its own; it has only what it confiscates from the citizenry. In a free republic, liberty hinges on the ability of citizens to constrain the demands government can make. The Framers prudently concluded that the best means of constraint was to give the definitive word on taxing and spending to the House: The only legislators directly elected by the people at the time the Constitution was adopted (senators were chosen by their state legislatures until 1913); and, to this day, the only representatives who must face the voters every two years.
As noted above, the legislation at issue in the present controversy is not Obamacare specifically. It is a continuing resolution for funding the entire government. Under the Constitution, any funding in the continuing resolution must not only be approved by the House, it must originate in the House.
The House has declined to provide funding for Obamacare. Critics of Senator Cruz — and some of the most vicious imprecations come from his fellow Republicans — mock the defunding strategy as a divisive delusion. Cruz, they say, well knew that once the House defunding measure got to the Senate, Democrats would simply exploit their majority to provide the Obamacare mega-billions. That, indeed, explains the seeming anomaly that Cruz encouraged the House to pass defunding but tried to block the Senate from voting on it. Under Senate procedure, it is when debate ends and voting is about to commence that amendments are allowed, enabling Senator Reid to tack on the funding restoration.
In a properly functioning constitutional process, however, Reid’s maneuver would have failed. Not only Republicans but senators of both parties, in fidelity to the Constitution, would concede that, while the Senate may ask the House to fund Obamacare as part of the continuing resolution, it is the House’s call.
Positing one of the theories that have the country careening toward economic suicide, old Washington hands counter that the House may not cut off Obamacare funding because it is “mandatory” spending. That is, they argue that under decades-old federal budget legislation — somehow invoked without embarrassment by elected officials who go years without honoring the legislation’s mandate to pass a budget — Congress has no discretion to withhold entitlement spending (such as Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare). The spending, they say, is required by the authorizing legislation itself; it does not require any separate appropriation and can be reversed only by a separate, repealing act of Congress — passed by both houses and signed by the president. In essence, they claim that by passing Obamacare three years ago, the House has already originated the funding in today’s continuing resolution.
This contention fails for several reasons. To begin with, it should be obvious enough that the so-called “Affordable” Care Act that authorized Obamacare is not self-executing. Washington can call it “mandatory,” but if new spending approval were unnecessary, we would not be at a stalemate now. As the Heritage Foundation points out, supposedly mandatory spending is routinely withheld in the appropriations process, and key elements of Obamacare (such as the insurance exchanges, as Hans von Spakovsky explains) are not even deemed mandatory. More to the point, as I have argued and as Heritage documents, President Obama himself has defunded purportedly “mandatory” elements of Obamacare — in the absence of any legislative authority whatsoever. In the Beltway’s upside-down world, the House of Representatives is apparently the only part of government prohibited from cutting spending.
There are, moreover, higher principles involved here — particularly if Republicans are in favor of restoring constitutional order, as they proclaim. There is nothing in the Constitution about “mandatory” spending — a progressive contrivance to insulate the welfare state from adult decisions about living within one’s means. As argued here before, social-welfare policy is a matter for the states. Its management is among what Madison described as “the powers reserved to the several States [that] extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” Health-care regulation is plainly not among the “external objects,” such as foreign relations and national defense, that the federal government was created to manage. Furthermore, federal entitlement programs are rationalized by a contorted construction of the Constitution’s General Welfare Clause — one the Framers would not have recognized.
Nevertheless, in the current controversy, conservatives are not calling for the dismantling of the welfare state or even the repeal of Obamacare. Everyone recognizes that the latter would require an act of Congress. We are talking about the narrow Republican commitment to restore originalist constitutional principles to the legislative process. The legislation at issue is a continuing resolution for funding the government, not expunging Obamacare. Refusing to include Obamacare in that funding would not remove Obamacare’s statutory validity. It is black-letter law that a prior Congress cannot bind the present Congress, and a statute cannot supersede the Constitution. Prior law’s designation of Obamacare spending as “mandatory” cannot compel the current Congress to fund it as part of continuing-resolution legislation, nor does it alter the Constitution’s command that all spending in that continuing resolution must originate in the House.
Many will say this is a quaint way of looking at things, that in modern practice it is commonplace for the Senate to gut House bills, replace them wholesale with different Senate spending priorities (or even spending provisions helpfully drafted by the executive branch), and then send them back to the House for approval — or hammer differences out in a conference committee. True, but it is precisely because legislative practices and proposals violate the Constitution with notorious regularity that the Republican establishment — back when it was pleading for conservative votes — pledged (oh, let’s quote them again) “to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored.”
The American people do not want Obamacare, and the representatives closest to them have voted not to spend the people’s money on it. According to the Constitution, that should be the end of the matter.