“No minister, anywhere, should ever have to submit a sermon to a government censor.” – Senator Rand Paul
Only minutes ago, Senator Rand Paul spoke up for the Houston pastors who have become the latest target in what religious leaders say is the city government’s ongoing war against its own churches. Messaging on Twitter, Senator Paul declared, “The First Amendment doesn’t exist to keep religion out of government. It exists to keep government out of religion.” Said Paul, “I stand with the pastors and churches in Houston against government interference and harassment.”
Houston city attorneys, under the direction of Mayor Annise Parker, have now subpoenaed sermons preached by selected pastors whom they believe are opposed to the city’s new agenda.
Here is a quick review of the unfolding drama in Houston.
Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly Lesbian mayor of a major city, promoted an ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination in the public and government subsidized venues. So far so good. But a controversial part of the ordnance allowed transgender citizens to file discrimination lawsuits if prohibited from a restroom. Was this a problem? Where there signs up saying, “No transgenders allowed?” Some Christian leaders now caught in the middle of the controversy contend that this was an angry politician, purposely poking the bear.
There were all kinds of discussions in the community. Who was to determine who was transgender and who was not? A doctor? A psychiatrist? Could a man suddenly declare himself a woman and enter a woman’s restroom? With under age children?
As the proponents of the ordinance hoped, the churches reacted with confusion and panic. There was a recall effort launched to get the ordinance on the ballot. The churches gathered more than 50,000 signatures. It was well over the 17,269 needed. And then the city poked again. The Houston city attorney declared that there were insufficient signatures.
The churches sued.
The city attorneys issued subpoenas for their sermons. And not sermons from the churches who filed the lawsuit. No, they wanted sermons from other pastors whom critics suspect were specifically targeted because they posed the biggest threat to the city’s agenda. The subpoena called for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by delivered by, revised by or approved by you or in your possession.”
Concerned Christian leaders insist that this is not a comedy of errors, that it is not a mistake but it is a systematic, purposeful attempt to silence and frighten the churches into changing their doctrines and suborning free speech. The city attorney’s will use taxpayer’s money to bankrupt the churches and silence their political voices. Thus the decision to go after the selected churches who were not even involved in the lawsuit with the city. It was much the same tactic that allowed the gay and lesbian takeover of the Episcopal Church, taking some congregations and using their resources to take over others. Only this time it is acted out in the public square with public money which will now be used to destroy the churches and silence their voices.
The city has deep pockets. In fact, the churchgoers, paying their taxes, will ironically finance the city of Houston in its war to destroy their own culture.
The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and other Liberal groups expressed alarm at the city’s overreach. Meanwhile, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission expressed sadness at the events and astonishment at the “audacity” of the Houston City government’s attack on its own pastors and congregations.
Coincidentally, the day before the Houston subpoenas, Moore held a private meeting with Senator Rand Paul at the Senator’s office in Washington, D.C. Part of the conversation was about the war on Christianity unfolding in places around the world. Who would know what the next volley would be fired by the city government of Houston, Texas?
President Barack Obama’s shameless fundraising tours in the midst of a world in chaos have brought immediate comparisons to Ronald Reagan. Led by his erstwhile advisers, such as Michael Deaver, who understood imagery, Reagan would have been back in the Oval Office, looking presidential and sounding like the statesman he was. Reagan would likely have brought his government together, State Department, NSA, Pentegon, CIA and taken an assessment of how it could all impact on American economy and lives. He would likely have given a national address, reassuring the nation and signalling the world how we expect civilized people to act.
On the surface, Obama’s actions are incomprehensible. There is no explanation. Obama appears transcendent, not responsible for his own administration and uncaring about the world around him.
It has been the Obama style from the beginning. The economic crisis was the fault of the previous administration. When his own stimulus program could not produce one of the one million jobs he promised, it was replaced with more of the same and blame on congress for failing to immediately enact more of what wasn’t working.
The president declared that he had no responsibility for the IRS which was blatantly being used for political purposes, he had nothing to do with the failed Healthcare website and nothing to do with the Veteran’s Administration which was corrupt on his watch. Whatever happened to Harry Truman and his Oval Office motto, “the buck stops here?”
It was not just that the president was not in charge of anything, or seemed to know anything, or should be blamed for anything, it was also when we found out differently he didn’t apologize. When we learned, for example, that the $678 million , no bid, Healthcare website was awarded to Michelle Obama’s buddy from Princeton, the White House ignored it all. When a news agency asked about it they were charged with racism. When the president’s hand picked political lieutenant at the IRS claimed she had lost her emails the president defended her.
Sometimes, these juxtapositions can get downright comical. Recently, General Motors was fined millions of dollars by the Justice Department for faulty ignition issues when, in fact, at that time, the company was owned and being run by the U.S. government. Should the Justice Department fine itself? When Obama ran for re-election he bragged about saving the auto industry? But he has no responsibility for the company he bought. The President is too big to fail.
On closer examination, Obama’s recent actions make sense. He is angling for his post presidential role. He will either be the Secretary General of the United Nations or else he will be some NGO equivalent. Thus, he spent the week campaigning for the Democrat Party and ultimately Hillary Clinton whom he will need as an ally if he is to realize his ambition. Nor would he want to poke the Russians more than necessary.
And the Federal Aviation Administration’s sudden cancellation of all flights to Tel Aviv? At a cost to Israel of millions of dollars? At first we were told that the president didn’t get involved in such things. And given the fact that the president isn’t responsible for the economy, the IRS, his own Healthcare namesake and the Veterans Administration, to name a few departments, then one could almost believe it. What does he do with all that free time? But if he is now on track for his post presidency then it makes perfect sense. The U.N. votes solidly against Israel, with only American on her side. Obama will need to have some more of these anti-Israel moments to shore up his support from the African and Arab nations who dominate the the U.N. and will dictate the reach of any international role.
There was an awkward scene on CNN last week. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg snapped at Wolf Blitzer. The CNN reporter had asked if the FAA decision represented policy. Given Obama’s anti Israel record it was a reasonable question. And it had just been raised by a U.S. Senator. A testy Bloomberg was outraged at Wolf Blitzer for daring to ask such a thing. It was another shameful moment. Bloomberg has taken a lot of heat for his slavish support of Obama, in spite of his record toward Israel.
The irony was that Bloomberg’s very appearance was proof of the politics of the policy. If Tel Aviv was safe, and Bloomberg could fly there, then why was it ordered closed to all American airlines? And if it wasn’t safe, why was it opened up again after the American people reacted to the FAA’ decision with outrage?
Oh, by the way, as someone who once worked in the White House, I can tell you that no one at the FAA would make such an unprecedented and politically charged decision without the okay of the president of the United States. Sorry.
It all points to this very likely scenario. We will have Barrack Obama on the world stage for a very, very long time to come.
Below was a controversial “what would Reagan do” moment during the Egyptian crisis and the Arab spring. On this segment, several years ago, I voiced a lonely position that turned out to be prophetic.
Get ready, we may indeed see another Clinton – Bush election. This time, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former Secretary of State pitted against Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. It’s like being Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day. Ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?
Both candidates have something to prove. Clinton wants to scrub her husband’s impeachment off the books and this would do it. In a hundred years when some ten year old boy scans through the list and sees that Bill Clinton was impeached but his wife was elected president shortly thereafter he will make the ready conclusion, “The impeachment must have been political or else the country would never have turned so quickly to his wife.” And Jeb Bush is running to prove, well, that not all Bushes should be judged by the last one.
How did it come to this? There are three dynamics at work.
1.) Political dynasties are active in both parties simultaneously.
Normally, one can count on the opposition to raise a fuss. If there was a Democrat dynasty the Republicans would howl. If there was a Republican dynasty the Democrats would be outraged. But now two have appeared at the same time. No Democrat will raise the issue of corruption and attack the idea of the Bush family dynasty and risk alienating the powerful Clinton’s. And no Republican will attack the Clinton’s and risk alienating the Bushes? Even if the latter prove weak and Jeb Bush fails to show well in the primaries, the GOP nominee will have to have that powerful, fundraising machine supportive in the general election.
Now, in a very rare moment of history, the two dynasties have cancelled each other out. As a result? There are dynasties gone wild. The electric fence is down and the cows are roaming all over. The Cuomo’s, the Paul’s, the Kennedy’s, the Carter’s don’t get me started.
2.) Journalism is dead.
Normally, one can count on a vigorous Fourth Estate. No less than Joseph Pulitzer railed against the idea of Robert Todd Lincoln running for president. Throughout American history the media has been vigilant. Attempts at family dynasties were always shot down. This was America, not a monarchy. After the Revolutionary War, when George Washington was presented a massive family genealogy by the English government he rejected it, pointing out that in these United States success or failure was determined by the choices of the individual not the bloodline.
This is not the Philippines. This is not Indonesia. This is not Panama, where fifteen families rule the country.
But in case you haven’t noticed, journalism is dead. If a reporter can’t even pronounce Sevastopol what hope do we have that they are telling us anything accurate about Russia and the Ukraine? We now live behind our own iron curtain. News has become entertainment and the Clinton’s, Bushes, Kennedy’s all sell well. Don’t expect any help from the media.
3.) Obama has failed.
Finally there is Barack Obama. His election has been a great historic milestone but by just about any measure, including his own, his presidency is ending in disaster. For example, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer at a rate that would make an Eastern establishment Republican blush. The Nixon administration spied on its enemies but the Obama administration spies on its friends too and on its own political allies in the U.S. Senate. Having tried an “outsider” like Obama, the American electorate is now more likely to turn to an “insider,” a Bush or a Clinton. Better to have someone who doesn’t have to learn on the job.
While a Clinton – Bush rematch might just happen, almost any historian will warn that the idea of multiple presidencies in the same family is a recipe for abuse and disaster. Having been in power and then spending time out of power, a family can muse about what might have been. Who was loyal and who was not? What should be done if given another chance? How could the office have been better monetized? Who should have been an Ambassador? Whose corporate jet would be better appreciated and useful, added to the fleet of corporate jets loaned out to a former president? What government contracts could legitimately go to whom and why? How can the next family power contender be groomed?
America, already beginning to experience the corruption of a Third World nation, doesn’t need to grease the skids to fall any deeper into the abyss. Clinton – Bush? It may happen. But if it does, expect America’s post constitutional drift to gain full sail. The abuses won’t be pretty.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky may be the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.
(Clip from 2012, when Rand Paul was stopped by the TSA.)
Short answer? Nobody knows at this stage. Not even former Governor Mike Huckabee. Well, maybe he knows at some unconscious level.
Yes, he is going through the motions. He is visiting with supporters in Iowa, where he leads the field in the latest poll. And he has made trips to South Carolina. He will be back to both places for events again this Spring. He has mended fences with Paul Pressler and the conservative crowd of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention. Their support of Fred Tompson in South Carolina, arguably, cost Huckabee the GOP nomination in 2008. Yes, he has been connecting with evangelical leaders for the last six years, leaders he ignored last time around. But that is all work he has to do to keep the option open. It doesn’t mean he will run.
Republicans are famous for sending “the next man in,” that is, selecting the candidate who has earned his turn. Nixon,
Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, McCain all benefited from that imagination deprived process. And many would say that Huckabee is the next man on the list. But the world “it is a changin.” Not many see Hukabee beating Hillary Clinton and the national media in a 2016 fall election showdown.
In the race for the GOP nomination, Huckabee will have FOX NEWS as a friend. They may not fall all over him like they did Giuliani and Christie but at least they won’t actively try to destroy him. Some at FOX will probably now tilt to Paul Ryan but Huckabee will get his moments in the sun.
Huckabee’s problem has always been money. Organically, the former governor of Arkansas will be able to raise more money on the stump this time, because he is a television celebrity. He won’t need Chuck Norris to tag along. People will pluck down $1,000 for a picture with just him alone, the FOX NEWS star.
But there will still be a gap. Evangelicals give to World Vision, Convoy of Hope, their local church and not much is left over for political candidates. Specifically he needs a big donor, someone who will chuck in a few million to a Huckabee super pak. Without it he is dead in the water. Rand Paul will have it. So will Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. To look at it another way, Governor Huckabee is only ONE person away from making a strong run at the GOP nomination. He just needs one. But that one must be a multi-millionaire.
It may be a temptation for someone to take. History is full of things that turned out differently. Hillary Clinton is not guaranteed the White House. Just ask President Dewey, or President Muskie, or President Hart. Anything can happen. And Huckabee would be there to pick up the pieces and his billionaire would be at the pinnacle with him, like Raymond Tusk.
He needs for Sarah Palin to stay out of the race. She might get to thinking that a run would be a good career move. Like Rick Perry, she may want to get into the debates to win back some intellectual respect. Her involvement would suck a lot of air out of a Huckabee presidential campaign.
Then there is Karl Rove. He and his powerful pak will be watching. Ready to take out Huckabee if he gets too close.
Perhaps the best evidence of Huckabee’s chances are two numbers. The presidential preference polls, which have him as the GOP leader. And the bathroom scales.
If the numbers continue to climb in the GOP polls he will have to run. It is a case of “good stewardship.” A Southerner, raised with the Protestant work ethic cannot let such a moment pass without taking action.
But if the numbers continue to climb on the bathroom scale his subconscious may be saying, “Don’t do this to me Mike. You are rich and famous already and you won’t win.”
This latter process can be easy for all of us to track. Just keep Googling for the latest pictures. If the Governor starts getting trim in spite of all that good food and the difficulty in exercising when you are living on the road, well, his subconscious might be saying, “Get with it Mike. We’re going to do this things with or without you.”
Mike Huckabee can run but he can’t hide.