The Witless, Gutless GOP

If you keep up with the political scene, you know that in the wake of the political massacre the Dem/socialists suffered in this year’s mid-term elections Obama has vowed to take unilateral action on Obama dictatorseveral issues, most notably illegal immigration, by granting illegal aliens de facto amnesty through Executive Order.

In spite of the fact that such an action is clearly illegal and exceeds a President’s constitutional authority – as noted by no less an authority than Professor Jonathan Turley, noted legal scholar and self-proclaimed “social liberal” (Newsmax article) – Obama seems determined to again ignore and bypass Congress on this (and several other) issues.

As I’ve discussed previously,  impeachment – though warranted – is impractical at this point. Obama’s in his last two years of office; it would be politically counter-productive in the extreme; and the net result, even if successful, would be at best a Pyrrhic victory, leaving Crazy Uncle Joe Biden in the Oval Office. It makes no sense to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

However, as a result of the mid-terms the GOP has taken control of the Senate, securing two of the three levers (House, Senate, President) of legislative control. Now that Harry Reid has been removed from the equation as the Despot Of The Senate, they can easily pass a budget that prevents Obama from spending any funds whatsoever to advance his unilateral actions. They completely control the power of the purse strings.

So, in light of this undeniable mandate given to them by the American people, what’s been their response, along with their bobble-head sycophants in the Establishment GOP?

scared childIt reminds me of a little kid scared of the Bogeyman and other monsters hiding under his bed.

Both Mitch McConnell, the new Senate Majority Leader, and John Boehner, the incumbent House Speaker, have already stated that they won’t allow a government shutdown in a budget war with Obama.

I hope that the next time I’m in the market for a new car my salesman has the negotiating skills of Boehner car dealershipand McConnell. I’ll end up owning the dealership.

They’re scared that any government “shutdown” will be blamed on them, and they’ll suffer politically in the next election. Well, first of all, we just HAD an election about Obama’s policies – as he himself stated – and it turned out GREAT for the GOP.

Secondly, who even worries about any such “shutdown”? Did anyone even notice the last time it happened? Thirdly, it takes two to tango, and any such impasse in negotiations is just as much – if not more so – Obama’s fault as it is the GOP’s… which after all, and again, controls two of the three levers of legislative power. Can’t the GOP find ANYONE who can clearly state that simple fact (other than me, and I’m not even a Republican)?

On top of everything else, we just had an election on these issues; it’s TWO YEARS until the next one; and no one’s even going to remember a “shutdown” that happens now when that time rolls around.

If these gutless GOPers aren’t going to stand up for what they were elected to do, what’s the point in even ever voting for them? How can they ever claim any justification for their very existence, if all they’re ever going to do is play patty-cake with Obama, and let him control the agenda and negotiations on his own terms?

After all, as Obama himself stated, “elections have consequences”.

Someone should alert the GOP to that, and send them a memo.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2014

Obamacare Strikes Again!

Over 23 times between 2008 and 2010 Obama promised that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan”. In September 2010 he said, “If you’re happy with what you’ve got, nobody’s changing it”. (News article)

Then he kept kicking the political can down the road, delaying enactment over and over again in order to try to avoid the electoral consequences. But that could only happen so many times, and as I’ve pointed out several times in various forums, the health insurance open enrollment period occurs every other year just before election time. At SOME point, the piper was going to demand payment.

Well, guess what? THIS is that year.

HMO0001 copyA few days ago I received notification from my health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, that the Medicare Advantage PPO plan I’d been a member of for many years is no longer going to be offered. Further, as I researched my options on Medicare’s website, it turns out that NO PPOs are authorized anywhere in Los Angeles County. The only options I have are for HMO plans.

In June of 2009 Obama also promised that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” (Wall Street Journal article). This turns out to be another big, fat lie. In 1998 I had a heart attack, and since then my cardiologist has been my “primary physician”. He was part of my PPO network, which is no longer available to me (as I said), but he’s NOT a member of any HMO group, nor does he intend to join one.

That means that in order to “keep my doctor” I’m now going to have to pay for that myself, without benefit of my health insurance plan. Granted, I can negotiate a “cash price” with his office, which I have in fact done (a saving of 20% of the “normal” billing fee), and fortunately I’m in a position to be able to afford to do that.

But what about people who aren’t so fortunate?

I have no doubt this same scenario is playing out across the country, just in time for the mid-term election in about three short weeks. It’s time for the Dem/socialists who single-handedly foisted this mess on the American people to pay the price for their arrogance. I hope they suffer a solid thumping at the polls in November.

 

©Brian Baker 2014

 

Obama Caesar: The Runaway Presidency

ripcon 4

 

In my last essay I discussed the arrogance and lawlessness of the Obama administration and its bureaucrats, practiced on a scale unprecedented in American history. Now I’d like to address the ramifications, and what they might mean for the country.

Speaker of the House John Boehner is spearheading an effort by that chamber of Congress to sue Obama in federal court for exceeding his constitutional authority as President. Some – notably Sarah Palin – are calling for Obama’s impeachment. I think both approaches are doomed to failure at this point in time.

Both approaches require lengthy legal processes, and we’re less than four months away from the mid-term elections. As such, I believe they’re distractions that are red meat for parts of the “base”, but will prove ultimately futile, and may even be politically counterproductive in the GOP’s efforts to secure a majority in the Senate.

Any impeachment process that starts now would go nowhere, as when the current 113th Congress is replaced by the 114th in January, if Obama hasn’t already been convicted by the Senate – an impossibility as the Senate is currently controlled by loyal Democrats – the process wouldn’t carry over to the new Congress, and would have to start all over again.

A similar problem attaches to any lawsuit, in addition to which the courts are very leery of getting involved in matters of separation of powers jurisdictional issues. Further, the House may have a major problem establishing “standing”, or defining an actual tort damage, as they retain the power to address Obama’s excesses through their exclusive constitutional power of the governmental purse strings, whether or not they want to use it.

Let’s assume for this discussion that the GOP retains the House and takes control of the Senate. Then what?

At that point Obama would be the lamest of ducks, and there would be nothing at all to restrain him from indulging his imperial proclivities to their fullest extent; Obama Caesar.Obama Caesar If he’s ignored the Congress and the Constitution up to this point – and he has, blatantly – there would be no reason for him to hold back at all anymore.

Impeachment then does become a distinct possibility. But we should never forget about Obama’s anti-impeachment insurance policy: Joe Biden. Can you imagine HIM as President? Talk about hopping from the frying pan into the fire!

But there are also other avenues to explore. Attorney-General Holder is still under a contempt citation; he should be impeached. Lois Lerner of IRS scandal fame can and should be prosecuted. The Benghazi scandal should be aggressively pursued. Heads should roll over the scandalous and corrupt actions that have taken place within the Veterans Administration resulting in the deaths of vets. A GOP-controlled Congress can use the power of the purse strings to defund the EPA’s excesses (and they should).

Obama should be so mired in his scandals that his already dismal approval ratings plummet even further. Public opinion is the one sure way, at least at this point in history, to hobble a runaway presidency and will have the added benefit of tarring the Dem/socialist candidate hoping to succeed him in the 2016 presidential election.

A GOP-controlled Senate will also then have the power to prevent Obama from appointing activist leftist judges to the federal court system, maybe one of the most important reasons for the GOP to take the Senate in November.

What happens if the Dem/socialists retain a Senate majority, you ask?

Buckle up, because we’re looking at a potential catastrophe for the next two years as that lamest of ducks will have no restraints at all to keep him from indulging himself to the fullest extent, free from worrying about suffering any real repercussions at all, because his Dem/socialist abettors and enablers in the Senate will continue to insulate him from the consequences of his actions, just as they’ve already been doing for years.

I’m not overstating when I say that I’m not sure the country can survive that eventuality. I hope we don’t have to find out.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2014

 

(This column was also published in my local newspaper today. http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/124472/)

Arrogance, Personified

Take a look at this man’s face.

koskinen

Is this Monte Burns from “The Simpsons”?

 

This is John Koskinen, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), arguably the most powerful and feared bureaucracy in the Federal Government.

Who does he remind you of? Doesn’t he bring to mind the character of Mr. Burns in the long-running TV series The Simpsons? Sure does to me. And like that character, he has the ability to destroy people’s lives through the wanton exercise of raw, sheer power, in his case via his agency’s ability to direct the force of government against individuals and organizations.

The only check against such naked power is the Congress.

We all know about the scandal surrounding the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative organizations for harassment, and the efforts by the House of Representatives to get to the bottom of that mess. And those acts took place before Koskinen’s assumption of the reins of that agency.

But when he took over the agency six months ago he vowed to be proactive “in restoring public trust” to that institution (businessweek.com/news/2014-01-07).

So… how’s he doing?

I think the latest development sums it up pretty well. It seems the IRS has “lost” several years’ worth of emails that Lois Lerner – the miscreant at the center of this whole fiasco – sent out to her minions, emails that anyone with half a brain realizes could prove to be very incriminating, not only to her but to others farther up the political food chain. Quite possibly as high as the Oval Office itself.

Bear in mind, this is the exact same agency that won’t accept YOUR excuse that you lost your receipts for some tax deduction you claimed.

And how has Koskinen reacted when asked about these “lost” emails by Darryl Issa’s House committee members?

With absolutely smug sanctimony, contempt, arrogance, and a rigid refusal to even offer any kind of apology for the malfeasance of his agency. Way to go in “restoring public trust” in the IRS, John-Boy!

This, my friends, is what the face of arrogance looks like.

When Nixon was President the Watergate scandal took center stage. Members of the House from both parties set aside partisanship to ensure the rule of law prevailed. Nixon resigned, and several members of his staff – including Attorney-General John Mitchell – went to prison for acts that were utterly benign compared to the level of outright corruption we’re seeing from this administration.

The ongoing IRS mess; Operation Fast & Furious; the Benghazi affair; the NSA spying on civilians; the illegal “rewriting” of laws, such as all the Obamacare extensions and exceptions; the imperial imposition of “rules”, such as through the EPA, that far exceed presidential authority; the failure of the Justice Department and the FBI to pursue action based on political considerations; the outright refusal to enforce immigration law and border security; the Veterans’ Administration letting vets die on secret “waiting lists”; the list goes on and on and on. This President and his minions have absolutely no regard for the rule of law that I can see. The level of corruption in this administration is simply staggering and unprecedented.

Koskinen’s is only the latest face in a Rogue’s Gallery of arrogance, personified.

Further, this corruption of our system is being willfully abetted by the Democrat members of Congress who are facilitating the destruction by not only standing idle, but actively supporting the administration’s efforts. I’m talking about people like Harry Reid, Elijah Cummings, Nancy Pelosi, and far too many others to name.

Jonathan Turley is a well-known professor of law at George Washington University Law School with a self-described “socially liberal agenda”, often seen on various news shows as a commentator and expert analyst, and has had many of his works published. On his own blog he’s written a couple of essays that are well on point. In one, “How Nixon Won Watergate”, which was also published in USA Today (how-nixon-won-Watergate) he states, “…the painful fact is that Barack Obama is the president that Nixon always wanted to be”. He expands on that topic in his essay “A Question of Power: The Imperial Presidency”, which was also published last month in American Legion Magazine (the imperial presidency), in which he writes, “The shift of power to the presidency certainly did not start with President Barack Obama. To the contrary, this trend has been gaining ground for decades. But it has accelerated under Obama, who has succeeded to a degree that would have made Richard Nixon blush.”

If Nixon would be blushing, Obama and his acolytes have exceeded all bounds. The scandals pile up so fast you need wings to stay above them. It’s absolutely dizzying.

 

©Brian Baker 2014

 

(6/30/2014: My local newspaper published an edited version of this essay today:  http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/122832/)

 

Truth Will Out

For decades, the debate over gun control has raged through the body politic of this country. Gun rights organizations have consistently fought efforts by the gun-control/ban lobby to impose registration of gun ownership, citing a concern that lists of owners could potentially be used in the future as the basis for confiscation of privately-owned firearms.

Those fears have consistently been scoffed at by the gun-banners as being “paranoid fantasies”, despite the historical fact that such lists have been used to do just that in countries such as pre-WW2 Germany, Cuba, China, Russia, Australia, Laos, the United Kingdom, and many others.

The gun-banners response? “It can’t happen here.”

The problem is, it already has happened here, and things are positioned for it to happen again on a massive scale.

confiscationDuring the Hurricane Katrina disaster, New Orleans police went to the homes of registered gun owners and illegally (as later determined in the courts) confiscated legally owned and registered guns from their owners.

And now, we have Connecticut. A few months ago, the state enacted a Draconian semi-auto gun ban and limits on ammunition magazine capacity. Residents were given a limited time frame to register those guns and magazines they currently owned. No new guns or magazines would be allowed to be owned in the state. Per the law, anyone who owns any such unregistered device after the deadline is guilty of a felony.

The problem for the state is that the deadline has passed, and as of now, only about 50,000 people have complied with the law, with the number of people failing – or refusing – to comply being estimated at being as high as 300,000.

Apparently, most of the gun owners in Connecticut are tired of silly laws that don’t do anything to actually reduce crime (as they won’t, because crime is a function of behavior, not tools).

So now the state has sent out threatening letters to those gun owners – begging the question of why, if the state already knows who they are, the registration is even necessary – informing them that if they don’t dispose of the guns out of state they’ll be subject to criminal prosecution.

First of all, the state is going to flood its courts with hundreds of thousands of criminal cases based on this law? And let’s not forget that conviction requires a unanimous jury verdict, while exoneration requires only one “Not Guilty” vote. So, lots of luck on getting convictions.

Further, this idiotic law has achieved only one thing: turning formerly law-abiding citizens into unindicted felons. On top of all of that, they’re being deprived of their private property without “just compensation” as required by the Fifth Amendment (a sure-fire cause for appeal of any criminal convictions).

But most importantly, it clearly puts the lie to the gun-banners’ historic claim that their ultimate goal is anything Lies 2short of the elimination of private gun ownership, and illustrates their willingness to use confiscation as their means, in spite of their repeated denials.

Remember: the state already knew who these people were through records of gun purchases. This registration scheme did nothing other than to provide them an excuse to initiate confiscation actions and criminal prosecutions.

And the gun haters wonder why we gun owners don’t believe a single thing they say…

©Brian Baker 2014

Electronic Cigarettes On The Firing Line

The Health Nazis Are At It Again

Well, the Health Nazis are at it again. According to a story in the LA Times on February 25th (LA Times article):

smoke-nazi“A Los Angeles City Council panel on Monday endorsed an array of restrictions on e-cigarettes that would prohibit the vapor-emitting devices from being used in most workplaces and a number of public spaces.

“The proposed ordinance, now heading to the full City Council, would treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes, outlawing their use in parks, on city beaches, in restaurant outdoor dining areas and at city-sponsored farmers markets.

“… (L)awmakers acted after Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said e-cigarettes threaten to make smoking socially acceptable after years of advocacy to discourage the habit. Young people who get hooked on the nicotine in e-cigarettes may then turn to tobacco use, he said.

“Monday’s vote came as a larger debate plays out over e-cigarettes and whether they are a gateway to tobacco…”

This was utterly predictable, and clearly illustrates the mendacity of the elitist nabobs who want to control every aspect of how people live their own lives.

Regular cigarettes, the kind with tobacco in them, have been demonized for the last couple of decades, and their use severely restricted based on now-discredited pseudo-science that attributed all kinds of evils to the chimera of “second-hand smoke”.

Of course, the natural result of that was the free market development of an alternative product that has none of the e-cigsupposedly deleterious ingredients of real cigarettes, the electronic cigarette – or “e-cig” – which merely vaporizes a harmless liquid that may (or may not, depending on the user’s preference) contain nicotine. Some e-cigs are merely flavored, containing no nicotine at all.

If one keeps in mind that the original rationalization for attacking regular cigarettes was their alleged negative effect on “bystanders”, what possible justification can there be for banning a product that has no such effect?

vapingWell, read the quoted material: there’s a danger that they may make some form of smoking “socially acceptable” – oh, horror! – and that they may be a “gateway” to regular cigarettes.

Are these the same type of people that have scoffed and ridiculed the idea that marijuana might be a “gateway” to stronger drugs? Why, yes they are! And they can make these claims without a shred of irony or self-awareness of their own hypocrisy.

And the real bottom line? “Social acceptability”. How awful. A lifestyle choice these elitist control freaks don’t approve of. We simply can’t have that!

E-cigs are a product that is completely harmless to “bystanders” – they don’t even have an aroma, unless one buys a scented/flavored type – as well as to the user, as far as has been determined, yet the very idea that someone might be able to emit from their mouths something that merely looks like smoke is enough to send the Health Nazis into a hissy-fit.

asthma inhalerWhat’s next? Are they also planning on banning asthma inhalers? If not, why not? There’s no difference that I can see.

These control freaks must lose sleep at night worrying that someone somewhere is enjoying themselves doing something free of government regulation.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2014

 

 

The “Climate Change” Zealots Are At It Again

That must mean there’s 4 more weeks of winter coming…

Just like Punxsutawney Phil’s annual Groundhog Day appearance to “predict” whether or not it’s going to be a long winter, it’s that time of year again when all the global-warming nuts make their appearance to pester the rest of us with their wild-eyed hysteria about the coming end of the world due to mankind’s driving too many non-electric cars, or something.

The “global warming” scam is just fodder for the socialist Kool-Aid gulpers. The fact of the matter is that the planet is a bit over 4 billion years old, and in that time the climate has always been “changing.”

Always has, always will.

And thank God for it.

pack ice

San Francisco Bay Area, August 30, 8000 BC

Ten thousand years ago — a mere blink of the eye in geological time — half the Northern Hemisphere was completely covered with pack ice over a thousand feet thick, extending all the way down to what is now central California.

What happened? Those woolly mammoths drive too many SUVs? Those Stone Age people keep their thermostats set too high?

A couple of decades ago, Al Gore was babbling about how, right about now, New York City would be submerged.

Even though I find a lot of appeal in that idea, I have yet to see news video of people swimming down Park Avenue.

Meantime, the polar caps on Mars were shrinking, last I read about it. Is the Mars Rover belching out too many hydrocarbons? Those Martians irresponsibly using too many spray cans of hair gel, or what?

Back in the ‘70s, the big “coming disaster” was “global cooling.” We even got to be treated to periodic Hollywood post-apocalyptic disaster movies about it, too.

Watch them now; they’re laughable beyond belief.

Of course, “cooling” is now no longer de rigueur. And since the “climate” hasn’t actually warmed in almost 20 years, the socialists are now using the more all-encompassing term “climate change.”

And since the climate is always changing, that’s a pretty clever catch-all. No matter what … “The sky is falling!”

yawnThis entire “climate change” scam is so ludicrous that no one with half a brain falls for it anymore. Which is why polling data places it w-a-a-a-y down the list of people’s priorities.

Time for the socialists to get a new script. That one’s definitely in turn-around.

The planet’s climate is an incredibly complex dynamic system, driven by solar forces, planetary, geophysical, meteorological, geological, oceanic, astronomic, and cyclical influences, among many, many others.

Football is a much simpler dynamic, not nearly as complex. How come, at the start of the season, the “experts” can’t tell us which teams are going to be in the Super Bowl, which one’s going to win, and what the point spread will be?

Once they can do THAT, maybe I’ll have some confidence in these Chicken Little “climate predictions”, and their lame attempts to blame mankind for what is in reality a natural phenomenon.

© Brian Baker 2014

John Roberts: Poster Boy For “Moderation”

Now that the reality of Obamacare is setting in, we can all be mindful of the fact that we can thank Chief Judas John Roberts for the pain. To refresh memories, it was Roberts who cast the deciding vote when the law was facing its thCARLM0V0challenge at the Supreme Court, and who single-handedly imposed it on us by deciding that contrary to what even its proponents stated, the IRS penalty for non-compliance wasn’t, in fact, a “penalty” but a “tax”, and therefore constitutional.

Reportedly, he did so with his judicial legacy in mind, concerned that his Court would be treated by history as being too “ideological” or too “conservative”. Therefore, he found a way to throw the decision to the liberals.

In other words, he showed “moderation”.

And what was the result of that “moderation”? Well, the Left still hates him… but now the Right does, too.

What’s my point in revisiting this history? To underscore the magnitude of the mistake the Establishment GOP is making right now in pursuing the same “logic” in their approach to politics as Roberts did in his approach to his legacy.

I first started The Island in 2006, and in the lead-up to the 2008 elections I was vocal and vehement about my refusal to support any candidates who would knuckle under on certain fundamental principles. I don’t consider myself an “extremist” or “fringe wacko bird”. I’m a traditional conservative.

Now here we are, in 2013, with the Establishment GOP essentially at war with conservatives, castigating and denigrating the Tea Party and others who refuse to go along with their eternal “compromising” and “moderation”, even to the extent that Karl Rove and others are forming PACs specifically tasked with targeting and defeating conservative opponents in electoral primaries.

Who are they going to replace those votes with? They’re putting themselves in the position of relying on the same votes the Dems already have locked up. This is a strategic error of the first order.

Nowhere was this better illustrated than in last week’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, pitting uber-leftist Terry McAuliffe against conservative Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite. The Democrat Party poured a tsunami of money into the race, while the GOP refused to give Cuccinelli anything more than token support. The result was a squeaker win by McAuliffe who managed to eke out a 2% margin of victory in a race Cuccinelli could have easily won, thereby assuring that the GOP was once again able to successfully snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Let me emphasize the point of that story:  THE ESTABLISHMENT GOP WOULD RATHER SEE A SOCIALIST WIN THAN SUPPORT A CONSERVATIVE.

th[2]Instead of busily “compromising” with the Dem/socialists, you’d think they’d be trying to find some common ground with conservatives. Instead, they’re setting fire to their own ship while they’re in the middle of the ocean.

Really, really stupid.

© Brian Baker 2013

Feeling The Pain Yet?

There’s been a lot of press coverage and commentary lately about the absurdly disastrous Keystone Cops rollout of Obamacare. Its proponents keep trying to assure us that it’s all a “glitch” keystone cops– a $630,000,000 “glitch”! – and once it’s operational we’ll all love it. And never forget: according to Obama, “if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep it” anyway.

Well… are you ready for sticker shock?

Over the last 2 years – since the enactment of Obamacare and during its phasing in – my Medicare Advantage plan premium has increased from $0/month to $28/month (this year) to $85/month next year, in addition to $105/month for basic Medicare (which has gone up from about $80/month). That’s a 230% increase in two short years.

sticker shockMeanwhile, my Social Security COLA increase for next year will be about $30/month, so I’m going backwards about $70/month.

My max out-of-pocket has gone from $3500/year to $6700/year, my office visit charge has gone from $30 to $50, my co-pay has gone from 15% to 20%, and many previously covered services have been severely limited or terminated.

Fortunately, I do now have pregnancy and pre-natal care. Of course, since I’m a guy in my mid-60s, this isn’t very useful.

So, Obama’s right. I DID get to keep my health insurance. Unfortunately, like Cinderella’s carriage, it turned into a pumpkin.

A VERY expensive and ugly pumpkin, at that.Ugly pumpkin

One other thing. Often when I discuss this issue, there’s some Dem/socialist who cleverly points out that I’m a hypocrite for criticizing government interference in healthcare when I’m a recipient of government “benefits” myself.

I’d like to point out that I am, indeed, a recipient of those benefits. But not by any choice of my own. I was forced, at the figurative point of a government gun, to participate in these programs, and had “contributions” withheld from my paycheck for almost half a century. I’m simply getting back what I already bought and paid for.

But I have a standing offer to the government: reimburse me for all my involuntary “contributions” into Social Security and Medicare, including monetary inflation and all the interest I would have earned had I been able to keep and invest that money myself, and I’ll sign a waiver releasing any and all claims to any such benefits.

I figure that check should be well north of a million bucks. Easily.

© Brian Baker 2013