Longtime readers know that it’s been a while since I have taken pen to pad and written on the noble subject of politics. I’ve been covered up on getting my column on leadership well-established, and our company has been launching our travel digest. Frankly, though, I’ve not had much stomach for it.
To put it mildly, President Obama’s phoniness is simply too nauseating. I couldn’t even get myself to watch the 2015 State of the Union Address live. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I was taught from a young age by my dear mother, God rest her soul, to stay away from phonies because at the very least you can’t trust them when the chips are down.
And Barack Obama has turned out to be a world-class phony. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have admirable qualities, or for that matter, other imperfections. However, he is certainly not genuine, and I believe he is dishonest and intentionally misleads us.
I’ll explain the second charge first. I believe that President Obama and his administration are dishonest and misleading when they repeatedly use linguistic gymnastics to avoid using the term Islamist extremists in giving the correct title to the enemy with whom we are currently at war. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and press officials at the White House and at the Pentagon, are not dumb, so we must assume that they know how important it is to define your enemy. To simply use the term extremists alone belies the bad faith effort to hide the whole truth. Military leaders of all stripes know how important it is to arm their troops with the actionable information they need to win the battles that lead to victory. Thus, the refusal to call our enemy by the correct name is or should be an impeachable offense by the top military leader in our nation.
I acknowledge that some people claim that the Islamist extremists are not orthodox in their understanding and application of Islam, as a recent AP report explains. Some even prefer to refer to the radicals as Muslims, not Islamists. Really? Precisely how are we to know the difference? Moreover, most if not all sacred books are subject to interpretation. Even people of good will can and do disagree on some interpretations of sacred texts. This is a matter for interreligious dialogue. But when it comes to labeling adherents, no matter how strictly they adhere to what some consider orthodoxy, they are rightly referred to as adherents, particularly if they self-identify as such. In other words, it’s like U.S. citizenship. Even though you may not agree with all of our laws and regulations, or choose to adhere to all of them, you are still considered a U.S. citizen by our federal government. Thus it make good sense to label Islamist terrorists as such. After all, do you expect to find them at Sunday Mass at your local Catholic church?
If this situation wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable. For instance, President Obama and his Democratic party allies aren’t against painting all Republicans with the same broad brush often used by political opposition. Of course, such use of political rhetoric is common on both sides. Also consider this: the President knows that there are many Republicans who have not sided with the party leadership on some pieces of legislation. Nonetheless, the President and his operatives have repeatedly talked about the Republicans who are playing politics and obstructing progress blah, blah, blah… whenever he doesn’t get his way. Of course, what he is referring to are Republican Congressional representatives in either the House or the Senate, or in both chambers. Nevertheless, they are simply Republicans to the President.
Using that line of thinking, then why doesn’t he likewise simply refer to our current national enemies, the Islamist extremists, as Islamists? Never mind the fanciful d.b.a. of choice that Islamist factions are using, including ISIL, ISIS, or simply IS. Everyone who has maintained even a modest amount of currency on international and national news knows that the Islamist extremists routinely invoke the word jihad in their propaganda, and thus they should be rightfully referred to as Islamist extremists or Islamist terrorists.
I realize the ramifications of using the correct label. As a devout Catholic, if relatively small group of Catholics somewhere in the U.S. or elsewhere began committing acts of terrorism under the misguided use of the term “holy war”, I would, as both a journalist and person of integrity, insist that they be labeled Catholic extremists or Catholic terrorists, the choice is up to you. Why? It would help our law enforcement and military better understand who it is that we face as an enemy.
So why will President Obama not label our current enemies Islamist extremists? Unless I’m gravely mistaken, it can only be due acting in bad faith. The chronic instances of deception and dishonesty by him and officials within his administration lead me to this conclusion, and that he is probably acting out of some disordered view on how we should be governed. I hope and pray that members of Congress regardless of political affiliation call him out on this in the most fitting way possible sooner than later; that is, by impeachment hearings.
With regard to the first charge, my belief that President Obama is a world-class phony, please consider this: under his Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the process of nationalizing the internet began this week without anyone outside of five political appointees reviewing the draft regulations before they were approved by the Commission. Not surprisingly, the vote was 3-2 along party lines. You can read the remarks of the dissenting commissioners here and here. They claim this has the fingerprints of the White House all over it. They and other dissenters also claim, I believe rightly so, that while the new regulations may not call for new laws to control and tax the internet, it increases the likelihood of their creation down the road because the government is now trying to lay claim to its oversight. I hope this power grab is checked post haste.
Again, I want to be clear. As the co-founder and president of an internet business, I appreciate the concern of those who believe that some big companies appear to be throttling or otherwise limiting the use of the internet and bandwidth speed for reasons that are not in the public’s interest. Indeed, there may be antitrust issues involved, which would and should be a matter presented to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not that they have been stalwarts in antitrust action over the last fifty years or so.
Some would call the present situation a “crisis” based on the likelihood that problems with bandwidth will be exacerbated as more people begin to use video and music streaming services. I agree that it has the potential to become a crisis, but I believe the proper authorities to review this is the FTC, not the FCC, not to mention Congress and the free market.
However, recall that President Obama realizes full well that politics is the art and science of influencing people, and you can get their attention better if you talk in terms of something reaching the crisis point. Of course, if like our President, your overall goal is to fundamentally transform America, then there may be no better way to do this than to present your pet projects (nationalized healthcare, so-called economic stimulus, nationalized student loans, and now a nationalized internet) as being in a state of crisis.
Enters the FCC, who up until the present Administration, has steered a neutral course on the Internet. Recently, however, the big government types who never see a proposed government initiative they don’t like, appear to be looking at the FCC as a channel to grow the federal government, no pun intended. As NPR reported, this past Thursday the FCC adopted so-called “net neutrality rules” for an “open internet.” Funny thing, the FCC now wants an internet that is not “neutral” with regard to government oversight and control and their idea of “open” does not include sending out their draft regulations before they are subject to a vote. For those of us with the unpleasant memory seared into our brains of the enactment of Obamacare, this incident hearkens back to another low point in the Obama presidency.
Recall that when the final version of his signature legislation, Obamacare, was completed, there was barely any time for the public, much less Congress, to review it before he and his Democratically controlled Congress under then Speaker of the House Nancy (“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.”) Pelosi shoved it down America’s throat.
Ironically, the pro-big government American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) apparently sees no hypocrisy in the FCC withholding proposed regulations from public review until they are adopted. Rather, one of its attorney’s had this to say about the FCC’s “net neutrality” regulations: “This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the Internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them.” He must have taken his cue from the FCC chair who proclaimed, “The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet.”
I guess the crisis is over?
Again, to be clear, I like the goal of keeping the internet free of undue influence by larger internet companies. Who doesn’t? A healthy free enterprise system is good for everyone concerned. But when the FCC Chair said on Thursday, “Today is a red-letter day,” he probably didn’t realize that his reference to that color brought to mind one of the favorite colors of socialists and communists.
Then there’s the growing threat of even further expansion of the big-government, big business, big-labor complex through these regulations. With due respect to the presumably honest reactions by proponents of the FCC regulations, if history is our guide they will not prevent the takeover of the internet by increasingly bigger internet companies. We have oligopolies that have been allowed by the FTC and which now dominate the phone, cell phone, cable, regional power, public water, and other industries. I’m sorry to say, but unless the still unseen regulations turn out to be far better than others of its ilk, the likelihood is that it will only be the big companies who gain from it, the same ones who can easily absorb the complexity and costs associated with burdensome legislation and regulation (Legs & Regs) For instance, if the new internet regulations turn out to be ineffective, it is likely that in turn they will give rise to legislative and more regulatory “fixes” that all too often prove to be more of a hindrance than a help to small and medium-size businesses and organizations.
If the Obama administration was really serious about doing the work of the people, instead of the so-called town halls and summits held on various issues by this administration, he could call for real change. Rather than political theater under the guise of these shows, major legislative and regulatory initiatives should always be preceded by lengthy regional public meetings with representatives of all the stakeholders participating and who should be given an opportunity first to air their concerns and suggestions, and later to review and comment on the drafts of any resulting legislation or regulations. Congress would then have a virtual army of legislative assistants to advise them on the wisest course of action.
As you can probably tell, its times like these, and political leaders like President Obama and most recently his FCC Chair, who make it very difficult for me to maintain my otherwise buoyant and optimistic outlook. They have a way of provoking the cynic lurking in most people. Next thing you know, he’ll take a page out of the Russian playbook and nationalize the news media in such a way where he can still claim to a be a champion of free speech, and yet control the tone and tempo of bad news coming out of or related to his regime.
Yet I remain hopeful that a heretofore largely impotent Republican-controlled Congress will pull in the reigns of the FCC and reverse course on the nationalization of the internet. Otherwise, if you like today’s internet plans and prices, you can kiss them goodbye, unless of course, you believe Obamacare has lived up to its namesake’s promises.
The way I see it, the Convention of States can’t come soon enough. I urge you to throw your support behind it simply because it may be our best chance to regain control over our government.