2013: a year of forgetable triumphs and memorable failures – 12/25/13

Repost from December 25, 2013


2013 started the year on somber tones – the loss of children in the Sandy Hook shooting was still very fresh in the mind of the nation. Equally as memorable were the lingering questions about what happened at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It was the beginning of the 2nd term of President Obama. The transition promised in 2007 was mere moments away, in the eyes of Liberals and fears of Conservatives.

At the beginning of the year, Congress was at 15% approval. A rating that was well earned due to the gridlock in Washington D.C. It was not only a feature of the 1st Obama Administration, it was a guarantee to continue based on the unchanged chasm that separated the Republican led House of Representatives, the Democrat led Senate, and a President who had many promises but little to show for them.

Thus, the year started with an assault on the 2nd Amendment. For the “good” of the nation, to “protect” our children, the President circumvented Congress and enacted 23 Executive Orders to create gun restriction laws. A use of Executive Orders that a Senator named Barack Obama denounced President G. W. Bush for even considering on 2008. Actions that even VP Biden admitted (though little covered by the major news media)

At the same time, Congress expressed its unwillingness to do its job in regard to fiscal responsibility with the enactment of HR 8. Government spending increased, taxes increased by $41 for a mere $1 of increased spending reductions. The road to fiscal instability was set and confirmed.

All of which meant that while Congress succeeded in avoiding the “fiscal cliff” of 2012 it failed horribly to address the long-term danger that the national debt posses to the nation. That the President succeeded in providing the delusion of safety, while failing to impede the criminal or criminally insane from their actions and yet criminalized law-abiding citizens that never posed a problem in the first place.

If that were all that 2013 did to America it would have been bad enough. But with a steady and increasing pace we learned that it would get far worse. In fact on January 20, 2013 I made a statement that would prove to be the summation of the year

“What is our path?

Fiscal unsustainability, modified by international instability, adjusted for an ever growing centralized Government power on the backs of ever fewer individual freedoms and Rights, wrapped by political gridlock and a pursuit of the best intentions that lead to… well you know the saying.”

But the specter of an immigration reform that rewarded violation of our laws edged closer to reality. A process that would continue, in ebbs and flows, throughout the year. While no final course has been set, the path that we are approaching in 2014 seems to lead to a politics backed law that negates the rule of law and needed reforms.

Separately, North Korea followed by Syria and then Iran, all took their places at the forefront of international politics. Each with the terror of weapons of mass destruction as a critical component of how we reacted. And in order, we effectively ignored North Korea, threatened unilaterally Syria, and capitulated to Iran. Hardly actions of a strong defender of democracy across the globe. Actions that concerned, angered, and distanced our international allies while emboldening our enemies.

In fact it can be well argued, and Israel is making that argument, that our actions have done more to destabilize world peace in the long run than even produce a short-term calm. Chemical weapons are (allegedly) being used by those we supported in Syria, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear arms, and Iran seems destined to become a nuclear power sooner than later (though their promises of a lack of interest in nuclear bombs belies the untruth they have proven to speak in past promises).

On the fringe of all these major headlines (not even to the middle of the year for most of this) there was the terrifying question of what our Government is doing with Drones – aerial unmanned vehicles. We learned early on that our Government sought, and possibly gained approval from the DOJ, to kill U.S. citizens abroad – via drone strikes and without trial or forewarning – for actions they may or may not even be aware of. An issue that was sadly forgotten before the 2nd Quarter even started, as the Drone Caucus (which includes Rep. Richard Hanna) continued to march the nation towards unlimited use of drones domestically [More on that in a bit].

Also on the fringe, there were the early promises of tax reform and infrastructure reform (which every year since 2009 has been called by a new catch phrase – “shovel-ready jobs”, “infrastructure investments”, “fix-it-first”, and so on). There were promises of a bloom of renewable energy jobs and global warming (or climate change as the new phrase) prevention – which were based on a desired outcome even in the face of a reality that confirmed without question that the jobs were not blooming and that climate change was infeasable at best and ineffective regardless of action.

Add to this even more Commissions. To support American manufacturing as of the State of the Union (that went nowhere from that moment on), then on the NSA and the Affordable Care Act as the year waned. But like Bowles-Simpson and the President’s Job Council, the answers that would be provided ensured no real action from Government nor the Congress. While some may hold hope for results in 2014, history has shown that regardless of the determinations made, the Obama Administration and Congress only regard these Commissions as a means to politically ensure re-election and maintaining political powerbases.

All of this and we still have failed to even reach the middle of 2013 overall.

But let’s skip to the middle of the year. Scandals and Government overreach, with a Congress that was locked in gridlock with representatives that were either unwilling or too calculating to take positions until the political math of the situation was clear.

Take your pick. There was the continuing inconsistent answers on Benghazi – with a complete lack of accountability for anyone that was publicly even tangentially connected to the fiasco. There were the revelations of the abuses by the NSA, domestically and internationally, that drew public outrage while some politicians flip-flopped and obfuscated their position (I specifically will point out Rep. Richard Hanna). There was the rush to unilaterally engage in essentially an act of war against Syria – instigated by the President, over the objection of the public and for once most of the Congress (at least those that took a position).

The Benghazi attack is now being brushed aside as a false distraction while legitimate questions remain. The NSA continues to wield power that at least one Court believes is unconstitutional, even as the findings of a Commission is being evaluated without even a hint of promise a single recommendation will be enacted. Syria remains embroiled in a war, with both sides having chemical weapons, neither side pleased with America, and our nation embarrassingly dragged into an agreement that lessened our stature and international standing.

Plus there are the revelations that The FBI, DEA, and other Agencies of the Government have been using drones domestically – without a shred or clarity on how they have been used, if abuse has occurred, or any impact of the legality of their use – since 2006. Sadly, there is also the delusion lifting reality that mass shootings continue to exist unabated – just as VP Biden promised, even as freedoms were restricted.

Which leaves only the Government shutdown and Obamacare.

The fiscal ineptitude of Congress manifested itself in a attempt to remove Obamacare – based on the fear of its inability to achieve the goals that it promised, and the freedoms it sacrificed. This was not a universal move – it was pushed by Republicans that had voted repeatedly to remove Obamacare (well those that did not abandon the votes they had made – again I specifically point out Rep. Hanna). It resulted in a limited shutdown, that was emphasized by drastic measures meant to create an emotional backlash and result in a political win for Democrats (much like the Sequester, but this time done effectively).

The result was a Congressional approval rate of 8%, a political loss for Republicans, and ultimately a budget deal that increases deficit spending, grows the national debt, expands the size of Government, all for a promise of a future reduction in future increased spending. The reality is that the addiction of Government to spending taxpayer money they have yet to earn remains the only constant regardless of political party.

As for Obamacare, well, the description of failure is a compliment. Perhaps the quote of President Obama – labeled as the Lie of the Year – puts it into context

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”

No, millions cannot. The President, and Democrats in general according to Sen. Gillibrand of NY, knew it years ago. In addition we learned the President, knew that the Healthcare.gov website would fail the moment it was unveiled. That many of the fears of Conservatives were absolutely true and correct. That for the hundreds of millions of dollars in over-budget spending that was allocated and spent, untold tens (maybe hundreds) of millions more would need to be spent to even be moderately functional.

At the end of the day, and year, with deadlines made and passed by, the website that is the hub of all that Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act – the name changes with the popularity of the program) was promised to be continues to fail to be 100% operational. Essential targets of young and health Americans signing up for the program have failed to be met (by enormous proportions). Attempts to appease the public have resulted in attempts to usurp power from Congress (President Obama “allowing” plans that legally cannot exist to continue).

All of this while an Obama Administration struggles to prop up dubious and insignificant facts (numbers of visitors to the website), rewords clearly stated and recorded facts (see the Lie of the Year), and shrugs off detailed and absolute calculations of requirements (numbers signed by specific dates), and claim success where abject unmitigated undeniable failure is apparent even in the eyes of the most Left and unwavering of supporters (like Jon Stewart).

The result of 2013 has been the equivalent of a boil on the arse of the nation.

At every turn the public has been failed. From the Executive Branch and the Legislative. From politicians at various levels. From mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility. From abuse and overreach of powers. From limits and restrictions of freedom.

For all of this, 2013 has been a year where the only memories that Government has provided are of ineptitude and uncompromising failure. Each claim of success has been met with an ever greater misstep and decline.

The only thing that is a positive is the hope that in 2014 the nation cannot fall as far as it already has. That with the mid-term elections of Congress and various State and local races, there might be some hope of regaining accountability, responsibility, fiscal austerity, and protection of freedoms that are essential to the continuation of the nation.

2014 could be a year of great upheaval in Congress, which would mean great change in Government – whether the political parties like it or not. It could be a year where Government regains its limitations, improves its confidence with the American public, and rises from the mire of its current international standing. 2014 could be all of this…

But that will be a different summation, for a different day.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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