Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unhealthy Arrogance - Modern Day Lunacy

Unhealthy Arrogance
Thomas Sowell
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The only thing healthy about Congress' health insurance legislation is the healthy skepticism about it by most of the public, as revealed by polls. What is most unhealthy about this legislation is the raw arrogance in the way it was conceived and passed.

Supporters of government health insurance call its passage "historic." Past attempts to pass such legislation-- going back for decades-- failed repeatedly. But now both houses of Congress have passed government health care legislation and it is just a question of reconciling their respective bills and presenting President Obama with a political "victory."

In short, this is not about improving the health of the American people. It is about passing something-- anything-- to keep the Obama administration from ending up with egg on its face by being unable to pass a bill, after so much hype and hoopla. Politically, looking impotent is a formula for disaster at election time. Far better to pass even bad legislation that will not actually go into effect until after the 2012 presidential election, so that the public will not know whether it makes medical care better or worse until it is too late for the voters to hold the administration accountable.

The utter cynicism of this has been apparent from the outset, in the rush to pass a health care bill in a hurry, in order to meet wholly arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines. First it was supposed to be passed before the August 2009 Congressional recess. Then it was supposed to be passed before Labor Day. When that didn't happen, it was supposed to be rushed to passage before Christmas.

Why-- especially since the legislation would not take effect until years from now?

The only rational explanation for such haste to pass a bill that will be slow to go into effect is to prevent the public from knowing what is in this massive legislation that even members of Congress are unlikely to have read. That is also the only reason that makes sense for postponing the time when Obamacare goes into action after the next presidential election.

What does calling this medical care legislation "historic" mean? It means that previous administrations gave up the idea when it became clear that the voting public did not want government control of medical care. What is "historic" is that this will be the first administration to show that it doesn't care one bit what the public wants or doesn't want.

In short, this is not about the public's health. It is about Obama's ego and his chance to impose his will and leave a legacy.

This is not the only massive legislation to be rushed to passage in Congress and then left to go into effect slowly. The same political formula was used earlier, to pass the "stimulus" bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars that the government doesn't have-- and that may well amount to more than a trillion dollars when the interest on the debt it creates is added, for this and the next generation to pay off.

Legislation is not the only sign of this administration's contempt for the intelligence of the public and for the safeguards of democratic government.

The appointment of White House "czars" to make policy across a wide spectrum of issues-- unknown people who get around the Constitution's requirement of Senate confirmation for Cabinet members-- is yet another sign of the mindset that sees the fundamental laws and values of this country as just something to get around, in order to impose the will of an arrogant elite.

That some of these "czars" have already revealed their own contempt for the values of American society in the things they have said and done only reinforces the point.

In a sense, this administration is only the end result of a long social process that includes raising successive generations with dumbed-down education in schools and colleges that have become indoctrination centers for the visions of the left. Our education system has turned out many people who have never heard any other vision and who can only learn what is wrong with the prevailing vision from bitter experience.

That bitter experience now awaits them, at home and abroad.

Modern Day Lunacy
Walter E. Williams
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Rep. Joe Courtney D-Conn., a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, have introduced the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act, which would eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions in all insurance markets. That's an Obama administration priority. I wonder whether President Obama and his congressional supporters would go a step further and protect not just patients but everyone against pre-existing condition exclusions by insurance companies. Let's look at the benefits of such a law.

A person might save quite a bit of money on fire insurance. He could wait until his home is ablaze and then walk into Nationwide and say, "Sell me a fire insurance policy so I can have my house repaired." The Nationwide salesman says, "That's lunacy!" But the person replies, "Congress says you cannot deny me insurance because of a pre-existing condition." This mandate against insurance company discrimination would not only apply to home insurance but auto insurance and life insurance as well. Instead of a wife wasting money on costly life insurance premiums, she could spend that money on jewelry, cosmetics and massages and then wait until her husband kicked the bucket to buy life insurance on him.

Insurance companies don't stay in business and prosper by being stupid. If Congress were to enact a law eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions, what might be expected? Say I'm a salesman for Nationwide and you demand that I write you an insurance policy for your house that has already gone up in flames. I send an appraiser out to your house to get an estimate how much money it would take to make you whole. Let's say it comes to $400,000. Guess how much I'm going to charge you for the policy? If you said somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000, you'd be pretty close to the right answer. You might say, "Williams, you're right. Forcing fire and auto insurance companies to sell policies for a pre-existing fire or auto accident is bizarre and stupid, but it's different with health insurance." Yes, health insurance is different from fire and auto insurance but the insurance principle remains the same.

If Congress and the president are successful in making the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act the law of the land, their treachery won't stop there. Insurance companies will attempt to charge people with pre-existing health conditions a higher price to compensate for their higher expected cost. Those people will complain to Congress. Then Congress will enact insurance premium price controls. Insurance companies might try to restrict just what treatments they will cover under such restrictions. That means Congress will play a greater role in managing what insurance companies can and cannot do.

The dilemma Congress always faces, when it messes with the economy, was aptly described in a Negro spiritual play by Marcus Cook Connelly titled "Green Pastures." In it, God laments to the angel Gabriel, "Every time Ah passes a miracle, Ah has to pass fo' or five mo' to ketch up wid it," adding, "Even bein God ain't no bed of roses." When Congress creates a miracle for one American, it creates a non-miracle for another. After that, Congress has to create a compensatory miracle. Many years ago, I used to testify before Congress, something I refuse to do now. At several of the hearings, I urged Congress to get out of the miracle business and leave miracle making up to God.

For a president and congressman to shamelessly propose something like the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act demonstrates just how far we've gone down the road to perdition. The most tragic thing is that most Americans have no idea that such an act violates every principle of insurance and it's something that not even yesteryear's lunatics would have thought up.

The Real War Front is At Home

The Real War Front is At Home
Star Parker
Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 and our nation is still at war.

Afghanistan? Iraq?

Yes, of course, brave young Americans are in those far off lands defending our country. God bless them.

But the war's front is here at home. The war we are having with ourselves.

After the horrendous attacks on September 11, 2001, a few Christian pastors stepped up to say that the unprecedented violation of America's homeland was a sign of weakness within our nation.

They weren't talking about how we gather intelligence or how we check travelers at the airport.

The management bestseller from the 1960's, The Peter Principle, points out that one sign of an organization or an individual at their "level of incompetence" is thinking that re-organizing alone solves problems. Drawing new organization charts or moving around furniture is a lot easier than getting to the heart of understanding what is causing failure.

The weakness which led to our vulnerability on that infamous September day, said those pastors, was moral, not technical. For this, they were widely denounced.

President George W. Bush rallied the nation and talked about good and evil. But the evil he talked about was overseas. We deployed our troops and tried to understand what was wrong with "them" and how we could fix it. But little soul searching or introspection was done at home. What might be wrong with us?

As we talked about advancing freedom in other societies, we bloated our own government and violated and abused the principles of freedom -- private property and personal responsibility -- on which our own society was founded and built.

As we advanced into the first decade of the 21st century, we chalked up military victories abroad and collapsed at home.

We may speak with thanks and a sense of accomplishment that there has been no repeat of 9/11. But we might also wonder why those who seek our destruction need to bother when we do their work for them ourselves.

Now we have turned leadership over to those for whom the issue is not inadequate attention to our moral pillars, but to those for whom they don't exist.

After 9/11, we still knew what a terrorist was and we understood that we blew it regarding identifying the ones operating in our own country.

Today, after allowing a terrorist to operate within the ranks of our own military, and, after he did his devastating work at Fort Hood, we refuse to identify him as a terrorist.

We view the maniacs running Iran as negotiating partners while we ignore the Iranian youth who struggle and long to be free.

We sit with silent acceptance as the Israelis, once viewed as friends and allies, are given a choice by Hamas to release 1000 prisoners, many convicted terrorists, in exchange for one Israeli soldier held hostage.

But most inscrutable is that as we end the decade, a decade spent fighting for freedom, our own nation is decidedly less free and as result, weaker. And we have consciously chosen this outcome.

With imminent passage of multi-trillion dollar health care "reform" that is pure socialism, we relinquish our personal autonomy and freedom to a point where the task to redeem them will be unprecedented.

Family and traditional values of personal behavior -- once the moral glue holding us together -- are now mere life style options.

We should ponder who has emerged out of this decade the victor and who the vanquished. And the likelihood that those terrorists who attacked that 9/11 understood what the Christian pastors who admonished us after the attack did.

Fortunately, tens upon tens of millions of Americans still know who we are.

And as the proverb says, "The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish."

"Plato O Pomo" - Washington's Gangster Way

"Plato O Pomo" - Washington's Gangster Way
Howard Rich
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

During the 1980’s, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar built a global cocaine cartel of unrivaled power and influence based on a simple philosophy, Plato O Plomo.

Translated literally that means “silver or lead,” but every Colombian knew what it really meant – “money or bullets.” Either you took Escobar’s bribe, or you dealt with Escobar’s wrath.

Today, these thuggish tactics are alive and well in – of all places – Washington, D.C., a city where two decades ago officials were busy hunting down criminals like Escobar. Meanwhile elsewhere in the United States, stealing from Medicaid has replaced cocaine dealing as the most practiced, most profitable form of white collar crime – another reason Barack Obama and his Congressional allies should think long and hard before they expand governmental “control” of this industry.

Yet as another unprecedented Washington power grab takes shape, Plato O Plomo indeed appears to have been adopted by Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate President Harry Reid as theirmodus operandi for passing an un-American socialized medicine proposal that America doesn’t want and cannot afford.

In fact, these so-called “leaders” are perpetrating the ultimate in “white collar” Medicaid fraud – dipping into this taxpayer-funded slush fund to pad the pockets of lawmakers whose votes they need for the larger, $2.5 trillion heist.

Take the proposed $300 million Medicaid payout offered to the state of Louisiana in a (successful) effort to secure the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu. This provision was inserted into the 2,700-page bill as Landrieu was waffling on whether or not to bring the legislation to the floor for debate.

“After a thorough review of the bill, I have decided there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward …” Landrieu said from the Senate floor shortly after accepting this glorified bribe.

And while Landrieu claimed at the time that there was “more work to be done” on the legislation, she has since changed her tune and voted to shut down debate on further amendments.

Next in line was another fence-sitter, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who was offered millions of dollars in Medicaid payments for his home state beginning in 2017 and extending forever.

That’s right – the federal government is offering to pay 100% of Nebraska’s Medicaid cost increases from here to eternity, a deal no other state is getting but one which every other state must finance.

Of course there have been sticks associated with these carrots, too.

At every stage of socialized medicine’s march through the legislative process, these taxpayer-funded bribes have been accompanied by

Sen. Nelson, for example, was reportedly told that Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha would be placed on a base closure list if he didn’t take the deal he was being offered.

That’s vintage Plato O Plomo.

Similarly in the U.S. House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly received more requests for “passes” on the socialized medicine vote from House Democrats than she could handle, which is said to have prompted a massive behind-the-scenes Plato O Plomo campaign in which everything – pork barrel spending, committee chairmanships, electoral support - was placed on the table in an effort to move a sufficient number of votes into the “Yes” column.

Even then, the legislation was just three votes away from being defeated.

Fortunately, these despicable tactics are no longer hidden behind closed doors. The Landrieu and Nelson payoffs in particular have attracted substantial media attention and public outrage, and states which are being forced to pay for these bribes are demanding investigations.

Already leery of this massive government power-grab, Americans are now keenly aware of the Gangland tactics that are being used to drag it kicking and screaming across the finish line.

And that’s the ultimate lesson of Plato O Plomo – the plan falls apart as soon as people realize they can stand up to the gangsters.

Health Care, Barack Obama, and the U.S. Constitution

Health Care, Barack Obama, and the U.S. Constitution
Austin Hill
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who cares about the U.S. Constitution, when Barack Obama’s vision for America is weighing in the balance?

Don’t count on the U.S. Congress to care.

In the aftermath of the Senate’s passage of an Obamacare bill, Attorney’s General from multiple states have begun to announce that they are launching investigations into the legality, and constitutionality of the Senate legislation. Chief among their concerns is the possibility that that the bill places Americans outside the state of Nebraska at a significant disadvantage, financially and otherwise, to residents of the state of Nebraska.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, along with the Attorneys General in the states of Washington, Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Alabama and North Dakota – have joined forces to consider, among other things, if the Obamacare bill in the U.S. Senate violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 10th Amendment stipulates that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by the constitution of the United States , are reserved to the states or the people.

As such, the 10th Amendment may pose constitutional challenges to the Obamacare bill itself. Does the constitution grant to the federal government the “power” to provide healthcare? More curiously, does the constitution grant to the federal government the “power” to mandate that people buy anything - including health insurance (the Senate version of the healthcare reform legislation stipulates both)?

Additionally, state Attorneys General should also be concerned about Obamacare for another reason: it could be in violation of the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Concerns over the Fourteenth Amendment appear to be present (this is based on what we know of the legislation, which, because of Pelosi and Reid’s secretiveness, is not a lot) in the portion of the Obamacare bill that grants special (and expensive) privileges to residents of the state of Nebraska. In the Senate’s Obamacare bill, the state of Nebraska is afforded special financial advantages from the federal government - to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year – for the funding of Medicaid. The reason this provision appears in a Senate healthcare bill, as many readers of this column are aware, is because the bill could not be passed without the vote of Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska .

Obamacare is strongly opposed by roughly two-thirds of American voters. And according to a survey published less than two weeks ago by the Tarrance Group polling firm, sixty-seven percent of Nebraskans oppose Obamacare, while ninety percent of Nebraskans are happy with the heatlhcare they currently receive and don’t want it to change.

Additionally, the Senate Obamacare bill is vague, at best, as to when and where it funds abortion procedures – and Nebraskans overwhelmingly find the aborting of unborn children to be abhorrent. And for all these reasons, Senator Ben Nelson had every reason to vote against the Obamacare bill.

So, given Senator Nelson’s incentives to oppose the Obamacare bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid crafted a special deal to incentivize Nelson to vote in favor of the bill. The “incentives” included special economic incentives for the state of Nebraska , incentivizes that people in the other 49 states don’t receive.

Using the law to single-out certain individuals, or certain groups of individuals, and impart to them either special privileges or penalties that don’t apply to other Americans, is, well – Un-American. And it may very well prove to be un-constitutional in court.

Residents in the other forty-nine states pay taxes according to the same federal taxation structure as do Americans in Nebraska. Furthermore, in as much as we are U.S. citizens, we are all deserving of the same “protections” under the law to which Nebraskans are subject.

But the Senate Obamacare bill sets aside Nebraskans, and makes a special privileged class of them. If this bill becomes law, Nebraskans will be entitled to subsidies from the federal government that those of us who belong in the category called “non-Nebraskans” are not.

This disregard for the U.S. Constitution and matters of “equal protection” do not begin and end with Senator Ben Nelson. Earlier this winter, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) was asked a simple question by reporter Nicholas Ballasy of CNSNews.Com: “What part of the Constitution do you think gives Congress the authority to mandate that individuals have to purchase health insurance?”

In response, Senator Landrieu (who, much like Senator Nelson of Nebraska did, essentially “sold” her vote in the Senate despite opposition to Obamacare in her home state of Louisiana) replied “we’re very lucky as members of the Senate to have constitutional lawyers on our staff, so I’ll let them answer that.”

Yes, of course – “the lawyers clean up all details” as American poet (and “classic rock” star) Don Henley once lamented about his country. The fact is, however, that Senator Landrieu couldn’t answer the question if she tried.

But just like the legal profession itself, our current President and Congress have little regard for the U.S. Constitution, and for the rights of the human individual. Just as it is with the practice of law, the process of “law making” revolves around “leverage” – what can one individual or group force another individual or group to do? What does it take to accomplish what we, the politicians, want to accomplish?

Will any more among the 535 elite Americans in Congress dare to raise any constitutional concerns about this? And how about the Attorneys General of the other 43 states? Does the Constitution matter any more?

Ten New Reasons Why Obamacare Can Still Be Killed
Phyllis Schlafly
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New reasons emerge almost daily as to why Obamacare can and must be defeated.

1. The American people oppose Obamacare by almost two to one in the latest CNN poll. Other polls show lopsided opposition to passing either the Senate or House health care bill.

Public opinion is against the bill because of its obscene costs in higher taxes, burdensome debt, anti-freedom mandates, rationing and reduced care for seniors. The American people have awakened to the fact that Obamacare is transformational legislation that will drag us against popular will into European-style socialism.

2. The Democrats' double-counting of Obamacare's financial benefits has been exposed as a colossal lie. Harry Reid told the Senate that his bill strengthens our future by both "cutting our towering national deficit by as much as $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years" AND "strengthening Medicare and extending its life by nearly a decade."

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) refuted that assertion. CBO said the claim that Obamacare would provide these benefits simultaneously "would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position."

3. Obamacare is unconstitutional because of its mandate that all individuals must carry "approved" health insurance and all businesses must give health insurance to their employees whether or not the company can afford it. "Universal" coverage will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service with power to punish those who don't have such a plan.

Constitutional lawyers point out that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance as a condition of living in our country because personal health insurance is not "commerce." The CBO wrote that "a mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action"; the Supreme Court has never upheld any requirement that an individual must participate in economic activity.

4. Since the Senate bill imposes sharp limits on health-insurance companies' ability to raise fees or exclude coverage, it likely will force many of them out of business. Obamacare is unconstitutional because it violates the Bill of Rights protections against takings without just compensation and deprivation of property without due process of law.

5. Other Obamacare provisions blatantly legislate racial and other forms of discrimination. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent two letters to the president and congressional leaders warning about the obnoxious requirements for racist and sexist quotas.

The Senate bill requires that "priority" for federal grants be given to institutions offering "preferential" admissions to minorities (race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation and religion). Institutions training social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral pediatricians, psychiatric nurses and counselors will be ineligible for federal grants unless they enroll "individuals and groups from different racial, ethnic, cultural, geographic, religious, linguistic and class backgrounds, and different genders and sexual orientations."

6. Obama's claim that "everybody" will now be covered creates few winners but lots of losers. Universal health insurance will be achieved by forcing young people to pay the additional costs (insurance for the youngest third of the population would rise by 35 percent), and by restricting and rationing care for the elderly.

7. According to Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post, the "wild card is immigration." From 1999 to 2008, 60 percent of the increase in the uninsured occurred among Hispanics, and Obama's refusal to close our borders will make this problem more costly every year.

8. Obamacare gives Medicare bureaucrats the power to ration health care by forcing doctors to prescribe cheaper medical devices and drugs. In the recent case of Hays v. Sebelius, the court ruled that Medicare doesn't have the right to make this rule, but Obamacare takes jurisdiction away from the courts to hear any appeal from decisions of the new Medicare Commission.

The "stick" applied to primary-care doctors is imposing financial penalties if they refer too many patients to specialists. The "carrot" is financial rewards to doctors who give up small practices and consolidate into larger medical groups or become salaried employees of hospitals or other large institutions.

9. The Senate bill contains at least a dozen of what can be described as bribes. Sen. Mary Landrieu received a $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for her state (known as the Second Louisiana Purchase), and a $100 million bribe to Sen. Ben Nelson gives Nebraska a permanent exemption from the costs of Medicaid expansion.

10. The Senate bill even has a four-page section artfully written to enable ACORN to get federal health care grants. This section describes grant recipients as "community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups" having "existing relationships ... with uninsured and underinsured consumers."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Interpol Immunity From American Laws!?!?!?

Obama's Latest Executive Order Grants Interpol Immunity From American Laws
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Posted by: Meredith Jessup at 10:50 AM

One of the latest stories buzzing around the blogosphere during this holiday break is one regarding President Obama's December 17 Executive Order, “Amending Executive Order 12425.”

EO12425 was issued by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1983 which granted the international policing agency INTERPOL diplomatic status in the United States to help conduct global investigations more effectively. However, Reagan specifically made two exceptions to INTERPOL's diplomatic immunities. The first had to do with taxation; the second required INTERPOL to operate under the oversight of US law enforcement agencies, be held accountable according to US laws and produce records when demanded by courts.

Obama's "amendment" to Reagan's original Executive Order, however, completely undermines these exceptions and threatens to give international policing agencies immunity from US laws when operating within our own borders. ThreatsWatch reports:

Last Thursday, December 17, 2009, The White House released an Executive Order “Amending Executive Order 12425.” It grants INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) a new level of full diplomatic immunity afforded to foreign embassies and select other “International Organizations” as set forth in the United States International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.

By removing language from President Reagan’s 1983 Executive Order 12425, this international law enforcement body now operates... on American soil beyond the reach of our own top law enforcement arm, the FBI, and is immune from Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

After initial review and discussions between the writers of this analysis, the context was spelled out plainly.

Through EO 12425, President Reagan extended to INTERPOL recognition as an “International Organization.” In short, the privileges and immunities afforded foreign diplomats was extended to INTERPOL. Two sets of important privileges and immunities were withheld: Section 2? and the remaining sections cited (all of which deal with differing taxes).

And then comes December 17, 2009, and President Obama. The exemptions in EO 12425 were removed.

Section 2c of the United States International Organizations Immunities Act is the crucial piece.

Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable. (Emphasis added.)

Inviolable archives means INTERPOL records are beyond US citizens’ Freedom of Information Act requests and from American legal or investigative discovery (“unless such immunity be expressly waived.”)

Property and assets being immune from search and confiscation means precisely that. Wherever they may be in the United States. This could conceivably include human assets – Americans arrested on our soil by INTERPOL officers.

INTERPOL officers would therefore have immunity for any lawbreaking conducted in the US--a policing agency literally "above the law." In addition, Americans arrested by INTERPOL agents in the US will not be guaranteed access to documentation normally accessible during the US legal process.

Andy McCarthy at National Review has some additional questions about this very questionable policy shift:

Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America’s defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?

Gee I wonder who will be in control?

It's Not the Economy, Stupid! It's National Survival!

It's Not the Economy, Stupid! It's National Survival!
David Limbaugh
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Washington Post's Dan Balz thinks that "with new priorities, Obama and Democrats can recover in 2010." Sorry, Dan; it's about more than priorities. It's a matter of their worldview.

Balz dutifully cites "the size of the problems President Obama inherited" and "the battles he chose to take on during his first year" as mitigating factors that may lead to the public's understanding and allow Obama an opportunity to hit "the reset button."

Balz says Obama's advisers believe he can "pivot" in the first few months of 2010 and restore his standing with the American people. Balz offers four "elements" that "might allow that to happen": refocus on the economy; move Congress offstage; get serious about the deficit and spending; and avoid overloading the circuits.

Let's briefly examine Balz's analysis -- an analysis that is doubtlessly typical for Beltway media elites.

First, Obama's free-falling approval ratings are not a result of problems he inherited. How long are he and his liberal media shills going to milk this "blame Bush" mantra like a bunch of reprobate school kids? Balz is onto something, however, in citing "the battles he chose to take on during his first year." But he's wrong that it is a mitigating factor.

Let me throw out something that's a bit counterintuitive. I don't believe the public has lost faith in Obama over the economy. And the public's angst is about more than just its losing faith in him.

The public is scared to death -- not about the ebbs and flows of the economy in the short term, but about the very survival of the country -- because of the reckless spending policies Obama is deliberately pursuing and the other "elements" of his destructive agenda to remake America in his image -- including going soft on terrorism.

What Balz needs to get through his head -- and then share with his impervious colleagues -- is that Obama didn't undertake his radical agenda to turn America into a full-blown socialist state because of "the size of the problems (he) inherited." That was just a convenient excuse.

He has been groomed, mentored and polished for this very task since he was a little boy. He is taking out his grudge against America, an America he views as fundamentally unfair, inequitable, imperialistic and exploitive, but as a powerful resource for change -- if only he can fundamentally transform it.

I might remind Mr. Balz that Obama's agenda didn't significantly change with the unfolding of the financial crisis that led to TARP. He has had his sights on a single-payer health care system for years. He had plans to "spread the wealth around" long before TARP became an acronym. He and his wife were trashing America as arrogant and dismissive long before this economic crisis fell into their laps just months before the 2008 election.

So, yes, Obama's standing with the American people is related to "the battles he chose to take on during his first year," but not in a positive way. Those battles don't qualify as mitigating factors, Mr. Balz, because they were undertaken not to improve the economy, but to consummate, in substance, a Cold War victory for the communists after they had otherwise been defeated.

The fainthearted among us can blanch at the suggestion that Obama is a Marxist -- and accuse me of name-calling or incivility -- but my intention is not to inflame. It is to communicate the truth in accurate terms to help people understand the magnitude of the threat we face by this assault on our liberties.

Obama didn't impose his Draconian stimulus bill or omnibus spending bills to jump-start the economy. He did it to transfer wealth and establish slush funds for re-election. He didn't push cap and trade to reduce "global warming," but to bring America down to size with the "underdeveloped" nations of the world. He didn't obsessively promote Obamacare to improve the economy, "bend the cost curve" (what a joke!), achieve universal coverage or improve the quality of health care. He did it to amplify the federal government's power over all aspects of our lives.

Mr. Balz, wake up. Obama isn't even trying to "get serious about the deficit and spending." That's a cruel ruse. Look at his projected deficits in the out-years. He is planning on deficits in excess of a trillion dollars from here forward, even after the economy fully recovers.

The country cannot sustain this. The public knows it and is outraged and horrified by it. Our children cannot live in freedom if this insane recklessness is not stopped. It's not about the economy, stupid! It's about the survival of this great nation.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In Other Words...

In Other Words...
Ann Coulter
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Irritated at the bumps on the road to the Democrats' Thousand-Year Reich, liberals are now claiming that Republican Sen. Tom Coburn requested a prayer for the death of Sen. Bob Byrd during the health care debate last Saturday night.

Here is what Coburn actually said: "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."

After reporting Coburn's remark, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank added: "It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)."

Contrary to Milbank's claim, I find it extremely easy to get away from that conclusion. In fact, I'm a regular Houdini when it comes to that conclusion. That conclusion couldn't hold me for a second.

There are a million ways a senator could miss a vote, other than by dying. Ask Patrick Kennedy. At 1 a.m. on a Sunday night in the middle of a historic blizzard in the nation's capital, I don't think the first thing that came to anyone's mind was death. More likely it was: "Last call."

Milbank was employing the MSNBC motto, "In Other Words," which provides the formula for 90 percent of the political commentary on that network. The MSNBC host quotes a Republican, then says "in other words," translates the statement into something that would be stupid to say, and spends the next 10 minutes ridiculing the translated version. Which no one said. Except the host.

Also, by the way, Sen. Coburn did not "go to the Senate floor to propose a prayer," as Milbank reported. He was giving a floor speech in which he used the turn of phrase, "What the American people ought to pray is ..."

Inasmuch as liberals want to talk about anything but their plan to take over one-sixth of the American economy, let's talk about health care!

Democrats tout Medicare as their model for a government-run health care system, bragging about what an extremely popular government program it is.

Medicare is tens of trillions of dollars in the red. It is expected to go bankrupt by 2017. In order to pay for Medicare alone, the government will either have to cut every other federal program in existence, or raise federal income taxes to rates as high as 77 percent.

Medicare is like a $500 hamburger: I assume it's good -- it had better be -- but no one would say, "THAT'S A FANTASTIC SUCCESS!"

Until 10 minutes ago, the liberal argument for national health care was that it wasn't fair that some people -- "the rich" -- have access to better health care than others.

In liberals' ideal world, everyone lives in abject poverty and stands in long lines, but we all live in the same abject poverty and stand in the same long lines -- just like in their beloved Soviet Union of recent memory! (Except the commissars, who get excellent health care, food, housing, maid service and no lines.)

Instead of being honest and telling us that their plan is to make health care worse and more expensive -- but fairer! -- liberals have recently begun claiming that providing universal health care will actually save money. Overnight, they went from wailing about basic human needs being "more important than bombs" to claiming: "Our plan will be cheaper!"

Hmmm, I didn't make any notes to debate the manifestly insane points. But I'm pretty sure that extending full medical benefits to 30 million people who don't currently have them -- 47 million once the federal health commission rules that illegal aliens are covered -- will not be less expensive than the current system.

You can say -- mistakenly -- that the liberals' plan is more compassionate. You can say -- also incorrectly -- that it will be fairer. On no set of facts can you say it will be cheaper.

Democrats keep citing the Congressional Budget Office's "scoring" of their bills as if that means something.

The CBO is required to score a bill based on the assumptions provided by the bill's authors. It's worth about as much as a report card filled out by the student himself.

Democrats could write a bill saying: "Assume we invent a magic pill that will make cars get 1,000 miles per gallon. Now, CBO, would that save money?"

The CBO would have to conclude: Yes, that bill will save money.

Among the tricks the Democrats put into their health care bills for the CBO is that the government will collect taxes for 10 years, but only pay out benefits for the last six years. Will that save money? Yes, the CBO says, this bill is "deficit neutral"!

But what about the next 10 years and the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that? Will the health care plan continually pay benefits only in the last six years of every 10-year period? I think their plan assumes we'll all be dead from global warming in a decade.

Also, I note that the Democrats claim it's urgent that we pass ObamaCare by Christmas, but the bill doesn't get around to paying out any benefits until 2014. Poor uninsured chumps.

In other words ... Democrats are praying for the death of Bob Byrd!

ObamaCare: Freedom on Life Support

ObamaCare: Freedom on Life Support
Larry Elder
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ignore, for the moment, the ludicrous claim that giving 30 million Americans health insurance actually lowers the cost of health care. What happened to freedom, to the opposition to an intrusive federal government?

Ask a liberal what he most dislikes about the "right"? "I resent the attempt to tell me how to live my life," he'll say. He'll mention abortion and say that the decision belongs to a woman and her doctor. He'll mention same-sex marriage and say that government should not prevent two people of the same sex from marrying, especially if one objects based upon religious grounds. He'll argue that a Supreme Court "stacked" with right-wingers threatens his liberty.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives liberals hot flashes. He is religious. He calls the Constitution a "contract," not a "living, breathing" document on which one can discover or project nonexistent rights. He is a "strict constructionist," or an "originalist," who believes that the literal words in the Constitution have meaning. He thinks his job is to figure out what the original Framers meant, not what he would like them to have meant.

Ask a liberal how Scalia and those who share his "conservative" philosophy think the Supreme Court should decide issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and doctor-assisted suicide? He'll say, "Scalia would impose his religiously based worldview on society -- anti-same-sex marriage and anti-abortion -- because the federal government should always preserve life."

No, Scalia would not. In fact, Scalia has publicly said these issues are none of the Court's business. He's said that however he feels personally about these contentious matters, the Constitution gives the Court neither the authority nor the expertise to decide them -- and such matters are ideally left to the states.

This brings us to ObamaCare.

What words in the U.S. Constitution allow the federal government to compel every American to purchase health insurance? Where does the Constitution allow the federal government to take money from some Americans and give it to others so that they may purchase health insurance?

Recall the anger at former President George W. Bush, who, to fight the war on terror, "trashed" and "shredded" the Constitution. The same people who railed against the Patriot Act, the terror surveillance program and "illegal" torture happily unleash the power of the federal government to redistribute wealth for ObamaCare, a socially desirable objective. Never mind the absence of authority in the Constitution.

The left tells us that "health care is a right, not a privilege." Surely the Constitution says so. No, it does not. Article I, Section 8 details the limited power, duties and responsibilities of the federal government. Extracting money from your paycheck and giving it back to you when you retire -- Social Security? Not there. Taxing workers to pay for the health care of seniors -- Medicare? Not there. Mandating that employers pay workers a minimum wage? Not there.

This is not hypothetical. During the Great Depression, the Supreme Court struck down much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal on constitutional grounds. No, said the Court, the federal government cannot use the Constitution's commerce clause to regulate virtually all economic activity. No, said the Court, the federal government cannot use the welfare clause to redistribute wealth, whether or not it accomplishes a socially or economically desirable objective.

The Court asserted that the Constitution meant what it said and said what it meant. This infuriated FDR. He threatened to expand the number of Court justices, adding jurists who saw the Constitution the way he did until he got the kind of decisions he wanted. Intimidated, the Court blinked. Actions by the federal government that the Court once had deemed illegal suddenly became permissible.

A liberal once asked me: "What should society do about the poor? Is your attitude 'just (expletive) them'?" I said: "Allow me to rephrase your question. Because of someone's plight, is he entitled to money from you?" "No," he said, "but it's the right thing to do." Yes, a moral, compassionate society cares for those who cannot care for themselves. This is, however, an entirely different matter from using the power of government to take from someone who has, to give to someone who doesn't. The Constitution does not provide that authority. Nor has it been amended to do so.

What about the poor? Through economic freedom and competition, we make goods and services cheaper, better and more accessible. Health care is less affordable because of well-intentioned rules and regulations. When government officials go beyond passing laws to protect us against force or fraud, they raise costs and hurt the poor.

Finally, what of charity? Americans are the most generous people on earth. The religious and those who believe in limited government are the most generous of all. By design, the federal government plays a limited role. The rest is up to us. Our country was founded in opposition to tyranny by government.

Today we submit to it.

War Is Hell, Not Litigation

War Is Hell, Not Litigation
Emmett Tyrrell
Thursday, December 24, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The editor of the venerable conservative weekly Human Events is causing an admirable ruckus. Jed Babbin, once deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush and now the editor of the oldest conservative periodical in the land, is petitioning Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to dismiss charges against three SEALs for reputedly causing discomfort to one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq during his capture last September. Babbin now has more than 90,000 petitioners. Count me in.

The SEALs -- Julio Huertas, Jonathan Keefe and Matthew McCabe -- are members of SEAL Team 10. Their platoon captured one Ahmed Hashim Abed during a nocturnal raid on or about Sept. 1 in Iraq. Abed is suspected of being the mastermind of the March 2004 ambush in Fallujah of four Blackwater security guards, which by hindsight was not such a good idea on Abed's part. In a wild firefight, his brutes killed the Blackwater contractors, all retired commandos, when they drove into an ambush. Then they desecrated the bodies, dragging them through the streets and hanging two from a bridge for the world to see. That ostentatious display of barbarism caught the attention of the U.S. military, making it, of a sudden, aware that Iraq was becoming dangerously unstable, with violence potentially spiraling out of control. The atrocity was, as military commentator Rowan Scarborough has observed, a wake-up call that did not turn out well for the brutes.

Precisely what happened to Abed that September night is unclear. But he claims one of the SEALs, McCabe, punched him in the stomach, causing him to bleed from the lip -- odd symptoms, no? Presumably, we shall get all the details during the SEALs' court-martial trials, which are scheduled to begin next month. Yet are these trials really necessary? The other two SEALs are charged with participating in a cover-up. I think it is by now pretty well-established that terrorists do not always tell the truth, and they can be unruly when fallen upon in the dark of night in what they had thitherto considered secure hiding places.

Moreover, al-Qaida provides them with a training manual. According to Chapter 18 of a manual released by the Justice Department, al-Qaida's finest are encouraged to complain of torture and lesser acts of mistreatment at the hands of their captors. Possibly they even hire publicists. Thus, we have come to the point that members of one of our most elite special operations forces are going to be court-martialed for causing Abed a bloody lip during his capture.

The travesty could have been averted had the SEALs settled for a lesser charge. That seems to be what the commanding general in charge, Maj. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, expected after conferring with Army lawyers. Yes, Army lawyers are almost as influential in the execution of this war on terror as our finest special ops forces. Yet these SEALs entered military service with the highest ambitions. They want, according to Babbin, to become members of the SEALs' most elite team. If they had settled for the "non-judicial punishment" under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that was dangled before them, their chances of serving our country at a higher level of combat would have ended.

So now these warriors, who regularly faced a barbaric foe to defend our country, will face courts-martial and possible ruin. Gen. Cleveland had it in his power to tell lower-level commanders simply to lecture these soldiers on avoiding bloody lips in the future, but he set a process in motion that is destructive to these men and to the morale of our finest fighters in the war on terror. Secretary Gates can end this abuse of power by simply doing what Cleveland failed to do. Send these men back to their officers to be chewed out.

I hope Gates will follow this course. He is an honorable and intelligent man. I have known him since his boss at the CIA, then-CIA Director Bill Casey, introduced him to me more than two decades ago and told me that with Gates' talent and good sense, he was destined to do great good for our country. These SEALs have done great good, too. Let us get them back to work and get these courts-martial canceled. The guy who should be appearing in the dock is Ahmed Hashim Abed, whose lip has doubtless healed.

Jesus the Socialist

Jesus the Socialist
Cal Thomas
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Apparently not content with his congressional majority that wishes to force Americans on a long march to health care disaster, President Obama has invoked the name of Jesus to broadcast his gospel of spreading the wealth around.

Speaking Monday afternoon to a group of children from the Washington, D.C., Boys and Girls Club, the president delivered a mini sermon on "why we celebrate Christmas." He asked the children if they knew. One piped up and said "The birth of baby Jesus."

One can imagine the reaction of the media and other elites had a Republican president asked such a question. That Republican would have been accused of violating church-state separation and discriminating against those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing. Because the president's Christmas lesson perfectly fit his social goals, there has been no outcry.

The president spoke of what Jesus "symbolizes for people all around the world," which he said, "is the possibility of peace and people treating each other with respect." And then, in the best tradition of a community organizer, the president said Jesus is about "doing something for other people." Even the "three wise men" were invoked to support the president's idea of wealth redistribution: "...these guys ... have all this money, they've got all this wealth and power, and they took a long trip to a manger just to see a little baby."

And what conclusion should be drawn from that journey? The president told the children, " just shows you that because you're powerful or you're wealthy, that's not what's important. What's important is ... the kind of spirit you have."

To the president, this means the spirit of government taking from the productive and giving to the nonproductive. To Him, Jesus is a socialist, or perhaps an early Robin Hood. Any first-year seminarian (if the seminary is a good one) could destroy this flawed exegesis.

Jesus of Nazareth was not a symbol. Neither was He just a good teacher as some who do not fully accept His teachings about Himself like to claim. As Paul the Apostle put it, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst." (1Timothy 1:15)

The call of Scripture is to do for other people, as we would like to have done unto us, but that call is personal, not corporate. That's because only people can be compassionate. A government check too often brings dependence and a sense of entitlement. A personal touch builds relationships horizontally with others and vertically with God.

One upside to the current recession is that it has forced people to reconsider their priorities. To paraphrase one of the better-known lines from the film, "It's a Wonderful Life," the recession has given us a great gift: the ability to see what our lives would look like without stuff.

We still have stuff, too much in fact. Letting go of some of it has not caused people to die in the streets -- despite the ludicrous claim by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that someone dies in America every 10 minutes because they lack health insurance.

Anyone young enough to have living grandparents or great-grandparents should take a few minutes this Christmas to ask them what life was like when they were growing up. How many presents did they receive? Unless they came from wealthy families, they didn't get much by today's standards and they were probably more satisfied than we who have more than we need.

That's the thing about stuff: we know it doesn't satisfy, but we gorge ourselves on it anyway hoping the marketers are right and somehow it will bring satisfaction.

What those "wise men" brought were symbols -- gold, frankincense and myrrh. What they symbolized was the grandeur of the baby who would become a man and who, in the words of John the Baptist, would "take away the sins of the world." (John 1:29)

Ponder that this Christmas and every Christmas.

A Christmas Tale - 1944

A Christmas Tale - 1944
Hans A. von Spakovsky
Thursday, December 24, 2009

This year, many Americans may not be able to have as bountiful a Christmas as they would like. But I know from my family’s journey to prosperity in America that just having your family together and food on the table in this land of liberty is something to be grateful for. As I sit down with my family for Christmas dinner this year, we will give thanks for that as we remember the dark Christmas and uncertain future my grandmother and mother faced at the end of World War II.

In late 1944 my mother was a teenager living in Breslau, the capital of Silesia in eastern Germany. She had already experienced the trauma of five years of unrelenting war .My grandparents were viewed with suspicion by the authorities because they had a Jewish-sounding name and had refused to join the Nazi Party. My mother had friends and colleagues killed in bombing raids, including a direct hit on the opera house in another city where she had been working as a ballerina. She feared the constant bombings and had quit performing only the month before to return to Breslau to be with her mother and sisters.

As Christmas approached, my mother had no idea whether her father was even alive. Although he was fortunately too old to have been drafted into the Germany army, he had been conscripted into a civilian corps that dug people out of bombed buildings in other cities. There was no longer regular mail or telephone service between Breslau and other cities in Germany, and he had been out of contact for quite some time.

Christmas was a depressing time. There was no tree, no gifts, almost no food, and my mother was overwhelmed with concern over her father and her family’s uncertain future. She remembers it as one of the worst times she ever experienced. And in a city whose civilian population was slowly starving to death as the Russian troops advanced, the Nazis wouldn’t let the civilians leave.

Shortly after Christmas, as my mother came home from her forced job in a factory, her mother told her that all civilians had been ordered out of Breslau. It was one of the bitterest and coldest winters on record. The temperature was only five degrees, and the streets were covered in snow and ice. But my grandmother gathered her elderly parents and her children and tried to get to the train station.

The station and all the streets leading up to it were mobbed. Panic set in as the crowds tried to desperately get onto the last trains leaving Breslau -- trains already packed with refugees from other cities and towns further east. To my grandmother’s consternation, she couldn’t even get close to the main station. It was just as well; the crowd panicked when it became clear there weren’t enough trains to evacuate everyone, and 60 to 70 children were crushed to death.

My grandmother feared what would happen when the Russians arrived (with good reason, as anyone knows of the mass rape, murder and pillaging committed by Russian troops wherever they went). My grandmother was extremely upset that she had been unable to get her family onto a train. Their future seemed even darker than it had at Christmas, and the empty, hungry holiday seemed even more forlorn.

Staying in the city was not the worst thing that could have happened, however, even as the Russian army approached. Many other families who could not evacuate by train tried to walk out of Breslau in the frigid January weather. My grandmother did not because her parents were too frail. Later that spring when the weather thawed, 90,000 corpses of men, women and children who had frozen to death were found in ditches along the roads leading out of Breslau.

Those on the trains weren’t much luckier. Many were evacuated to Dresden, where on Feb. 13, 1945, less than a month later, the city was bombed by British and American planes with incendiaries, starting a firestorm. Thousands of the refugees from Breslau were among the more than 50,000 people killed.

My mother and her family and 140,000 other desperate civilians remained trapped in Breslau during the Russian siege that started in February. The city finally surrendered on May 6, 1945, a week after Hitler committed suicide and four days after Berlin had fallen.

Two thirds of the city was destroyed and 10,000 civilians were killed in the house-to-house fighting. At one point, the children in the city, including my mother and her younger sister, were forced to dig trenches on the outskirts of the city under Russian artillery fire. My mother was even arrested by the Gestapo while she was trying to find her grandparents. Her crime? Being in a part of the city where civilians were prohibited. But she survived and escaped, as did her sisters, and one of the major reasons was because of my grandmother.

Oma was one of the most resourceful and optimistic women I have ever known. She never gave up hope, no matter how desperate the circumstances she found herself in. One of my aunts once told me that when she thought of my grandmother, she always saw her as she had seen her during the war – pacing back and forth in the kitchen thinking about how to save her family from whatever terrible circumstances they faced at the moment. Because of her determination, she and all her children escaped from Breslau to the west after another hard year and another austere Christmas.

My grandmother always enjoyed Christmas -- not because of the gifts, but because her family was together and safe. She had learned to enjoy the time you have with the people you love. She also knew that no matter what the future brings, you can find your way out of almost anything if you don’t give up hope. And she was confident that her grandchildren would never experience in America what her family had endured in Nazi Germany.

My grandmother taught me by her example that determination and optimism can take you almost anywhere, no matter what obstacles you face. Even what appears to be a terrible blow can sometimes turn out for the best. As we celebrate a holiday that is about the birth of hope and salvation, I remember that lesson and am thankful that my family came to America, a nation of new beginnings. It has been a refuge for more than 200 years for immigrants fleeing the tyranny and darkness that pervades so many other places around the world. Merry Christmas!

2009: The Year of Living Fecklessly

2009: The Year of Living Fecklessly
Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 25, 2009

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not just reject President Obama's latest feckless floating nuclear deadline. He spat on it, declaring that Iran "will continue resisting" until the U.S. has gotten rid of its 8,000 nuclear warheads.

So ends 2009, the year of "engagement," of the extended hand, of the gratuitous apology -- and of spinning centrifuges, two-stage rockets and a secret enrichment facility that brought Iran materially closer to becoming a nuclear power.

We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran, it was a year of revolution, beginning with a contested election and culminating this week in huge demonstrations mourning the death of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri -- and demanding no longer a recount of the stolen election but the overthrow of the clerical dictatorship.

Obama responded by distancing himself from this new birth of freedom. First, scandalous silence. Then, a few grudging words. Then relentless engagement with the murderous regime. With offer after offer, gesture after gesture -- to not Iran, but the "Islamic Republic of Iran," as Obama ever so respectfully called these clerical fascists -- the U.S. conferred legitimacy on a regime desperate to regain it.

Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the U.S. repeatedly offering just such affirmation?

Apart from ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters, we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators. This is no trivial matter. When pursued, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, dissidents can easily succumb to feelings of despair and isolation. Natan Sharansky testifies to the electric effect Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech had on lifting spirits in the Gulag. The news was spread cell to cell in code tapped on the walls. They knew they weren't alone, that America was committed to their cause.

Yet so aloof has Obama been that on Hate America Day (Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran), pro-American counter-demonstrators chanted "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," i.e., their oppressors.

Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It's a strategic blunder of the first order.

Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it? Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it's not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.) Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.

What should we do? Pressure from without -- cutting off gasoline supplies, for example -- to complement and reinforce pressure from within. The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime's nuclear policy -- that will never happen -- but at helping change the regime itself.

Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.) But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime's savagery and persecution. In detail -- highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.

Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.

One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at -- or cross -- the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.

Blind to Bias

Blind to Bias
Rich Tucker
Friday, December 25, 2009

Some time ago I found myself explaining the value of a flat tax to a liberal.

“You’d be able to fill out your return on a postcard. Put in the amount you earned for the year, write 10 percent of that in the next box, and you’re finished,” I explained. “That would never work,” he said smugly. “Where would you attach the check?”

There’s some logic for you.

Sure, buddy. Let’s keep our tax system, which is so incomprehensible even those who wrote it cannot seem to comply with it (ask Rep. Charlie Rangel). Let’s keep the stacks of forms, the thousands of bureaucrats, the constant intrusions into American’s privacy. Let’s keep all that, because -- while the average middle-class American can never be certain he’s paid the government what he’s supposed to every year -- at least he gets an envelope out of the deal.

That discussion came to mind while reading a recent Thomas Frank op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Frank boldly opposes one of the most controversial ideas of our time: that newspapers ought to hire a conservative or two. “Ordinarily, such a bad idea would not draw much concern,” he tutts. “But it has now been repeated several times in the great organ of journalistic consensus. Clearly they mean it seriously.”

You think? Actually, it seems more likely that the idea is brought up by newspapermen from time to time specifically because they know it will never go anywhere. Sort of like the balanced budget amendment that lawmakers propose periodically: it’s floated so they can seem serious but never need to actually, you know, balance the budget.

Still, Frank’s opposition is a version of the question about attaching the check. “How is the [Washington] Post supposed to check up on its reporters’ politics?” he wonders. “I’m hoping for loyalty oaths and televised hearings, with stiff penalties for employees who refuse to talk or to name names: It would be the perfect spectacle for the end of the newspaper era.”

Cute, but beside the point.

Newspapers wouldn’t have to test for ideological purity, (although if they did, they might find their staffs are made up completely of liberals). Just having one or two people on hand who think the federal government is too large and intrusive could make all the difference in how a potential story is covered.

For example, day after day the Post carries stories saying the proposed health reform bill would cost (to choose one example at random): “$848 billion over the next decade to extend coverage to more than 30 million additional people.” (“Senate health bill gets a boost,” Lori Montgomery, December 1, 2009).

Does anyone at the paper ever point out that this price tag assumes future Congresses will cut hundreds of billions in Medicare spending? Those cuts will never be made, of course, so the actual tab will be well over a trillion dollars. Somehow that never makes it to the front page.

In some ways, this isn’t even a liberal vs. conservative discussion, though. Frank’s interest in this is rooted in the ACORN scandal. Several months ago The Washington Post’s ombudsman wondered if his paper’s failure to cover that story proved it didn’t “pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints.”

And indeed, newspapers including the Post and the New York Times basically ignored the story. But it’s astounding that nobody in those newsrooms pointed out that this was a juicy story, likely to interest people and sell newspapers. And isn’t that the point? If photos of Hannah Giles can’t move newspapers, nothing will.

The same thing is true for other ignored stories such as Climategate. readers are certainly up on that one, but those who rely on the self-proclaimed newspaper of record, The New York Times, haven’t seen much coverage of the scandal that shook Copenhagen. Without conservatives in their newsrooms, mainstream media outlets will go right on missing story after story, month after month. You think they’d be tired of that.

In his column, Frank sets up a straw man, yet still fails to knock him down. “Anyone setting out to appease bias-spotters on the right should know that the conservative movement feels that it is plagued by impostors and fakers, and it won’t be satisfied until these RINOs, too, are chased from the newsrooms of the nation,” he writes.

Try us, MSM. I dare you.

Taxpayer Robbery Gate

Taxpayer Robbery Gate
Paul Driessen
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aside from ideologues, hydrocarbon haters, Gaia worshipers, profiteers and power-grabbing politicians, most of the sentient world now realizes that the hysteria over global warming disasters is based on dubious to fraudulent temperature data, analyses, models, reports and peer reviews.

Climate Research Unit emails, HARRY_READ_ME.txt computer memos, and blatant tampering with Australian, Russian, UK and US temperature data make the scandal impossible to ignore or explain away. They certainly helped Copenhagen descend into an expensive, carbon-emitting gabfest, and cause China and India to reject any deal that would force them to curtail their energy generation, economic growth and poverty reduction programs.

Senator Barbara Boxer is an exception. Not only does she ignore the obvious. She is doing her best to divert attention from the scandal, circle the alarmist wagons, cover up the fraud, obstruct justice – and ram through yet another legislative power grab.

“This isn’t Climategate,” the California Democrat insists. “It’s email theft gate.” The problem isn’t the fraud; it’s that a hacker or whistleblower revealed the fraud.

Wrong, Senator. It’s not theft gate. It’s Taxpayer Robbery Gate.

We, the taxpayers, We the people – paid for this “research.” We paid billions of dollars for it – and providing the data, computer codes and analytical methods is a condition of the employment and research grants for these scientists. The work belongs to us. We own it.

We the People, our elected representatives and our climate realist scientists have a right to examine this supposed evidence of planetary disaster, to ensure that it’s driven by science, and not ideology. That it’s complete, accurate – and honest. That it backs up the alarmist scientists’ call for draconian, life-altering restrictions on energy use. That the CRU Cabal did not alter, lose, ignore, toss or destroy “inconvenient” data and evidence that might get in the way of their agendas and predetermined results.

Not only were we stonewalled for years, while these UK and US scientists refused to divulge their data, computer codes and methodologies. Not only did the scientists who wrote these emails and did this bogus research refuse to let taxpayers, other scientists and even members of Congress (and Parliament) see their raw data and analyses. Not only did they prevent debate and replace peer review with a perverted system that allowed only a small network of like-minded colleagues to examine – and applaud – their work. They also excluded, denounced and vilified anyone who asked hard questions or challenged their actions.

In short, we were robbed! They took our money, and defrauded us.

Even worse, the Taxpayer Robbery Gate scientists are working hand-in-glove to pressure the United States, Great Britain and world into spending trillions of dollars fighting “catastrophic manmade climate change” … slashing our energy use, living standards and employment base … enacting unaccountable global government … redistributing wealth and technology … restricting our liberties and civil rights … and keeping millions of families deprived of energy and in permanent destitution.

This is the same California Senator who berated an Air Force general for calling her Ma’am. Who treated scientist, physician and author Michael Crichton like a child molester, for daring to disagree with her on global warming and suggest that double-blind climate studies would guard against errors and fraud. Who displays an un-American intolerance for any witnesses before her committee who question her views.

The Boxer-White House effort makes the Watergate cover-up and obstruction of justice look like a juvenile offense. It’s paving the way for cap-tax-and-trade laws that would nationalize the entire US economy – by the same divisive, dictatorial elements that are nationalizing our banking and healthcare systems. They understand, even if the general populace still does not, that by controlling carbon they will control our lives. And if they need fraudulent science and Nixon-era tactics to achieve their goal, so be it.

Just imagine the Boxer, White House and media outcry and denunciations if these emails and fraudulent actions had involved oil companies and climate disaster “deniers.” But of course, if Boxer & Co. didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards

“We’re honest. We have nothing to hide,” the accused scientists keep saying. That’s wonderful. We’re glad to hear that.

But then why don’t they just come clean. Stop hiding everything. Open all their emails. Cooperate with investigators. Honor FOIA requests. Share their data and computer codes. Stop attacking scientists who disagree with them. Put all climate studies, for and against manmade global warming disaster claims, in professional journals – subject to real peer review. Debate their critics.

In short, help clean up the mess they created. Or suffer the consequences.

This bogus science and cover-up operation is behind every US, EU and UN proposal to restrict and control our energy, economy, living standards and most fundamental liberties – in the name of preventing alleged global warming disasters.

We need to get to the bottom of this mess. We need a full and complete investigation, by an independent, incorruptible team of knowledgeable scientists, modelers, lawyers and statisticians. We need to start over on the global warming science and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – with honest scientists who do everything in the open.

We need to bring honesty, transparency, robust debate and accountability back to the legislative and public policy process.

Nanny State Gone Wild: Defining Dependency Up

Nanny State Gone Wild: Defining Dependency Up
Michelle Malkin
Friday, December 25, 2009

The greatest gifts you can give your children can't be boxed and bowed. Consider the timeless gift of self-sufficiency -- a stubborn thirst to leave the nest, make it on your own and live as a free-willed adult. It's a concept that Big Nanny Democrats are sabotaging at every legislative turn.

Several times during the sneaky debate on the government health care takeover bill this past Sunday, Democrats hailed a provision requiring insurance plans that cover dependents to provide benefits to children up to age 26. Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Tom Harkin both specifically championed the unfunded mandate in their floor statements.

This manifestation of the Nanny State is especially galling given the massive levels of generational theft the Democratic majority has presided over this past year. If they truly cared about the physical and financial well-being of young Americans, they'd stop piling on expensive regulations that simply put affordable health insurance out of their reach.

I propose a new symbol for the Democrats. Out: donkey. In: a giant adult pacifier.

I can tell you what most fiscally responsible parents are thinking when they hear the feds "taking care" of everyone else's adult "children" by confiscating their tax dollars and forcing private companies to comply: You've got to be kidding me. Yes, Virginia, there are still some of us left who believe our children shouldn't depend on a government-manufactured umbilical cord as they approach their third decade on earth.

Nonetheless, there are now an estimated 20 states that have already passed legislation requiring insurers to cover adult children. The slacker mandates cover "kids" ranging in age from 24 to 31. And it's these government health care mandates that are driving up the cost of insurance.

Health policy researcher Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation reported that in New Jersey, Nanny State peddlers claimed the adult kiddie protection law would help 100,000 uninsured young adults. "Yet in two years, only 6 percent of that estimate has been realized. The primary reason -- health insurance is still too expensive."

Wisconsin has experienced similar results. "Whenever you insure somebody whom you didn't insure before there's some additional risk," insurance expert James Mueller told the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. Mueller points to the premium increases that have followed coverage mandates on employer-sponsored plans. "The problem with all these good ideas is there's funding necessary," Mueller said. In Wisconsin, not only are adult children covered, but also the children of those "children" if they live in single-parent homes.

As he rammed through this mandate and the mountain of other government regulations buried in Demcare, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised on Sunday: "We are reshaping the nation. That's what we want to do."

Indeed, this defining dependency up phenomenon is part of the larger push for single-payer-by-proxy. The other universal health care Trojan horse signed into law this year -- the expansion of SCHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program) -- welcomed more non-"children" into the government insurance fold.

Both political parties have advocated federal waivers to use SCHIP funds for adults, including parents of Medicaid/SCHIP children, caretaker relatives, legal guardians and childless adults. According to the General Accounting Office, SCHIP-funded expenditures on adults nationwide "totaled about $674 million in 2006." J.P. Wieske of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance notes that the bennies provide an incentive for parents to drop their private coverage in order to take advantage of free or discounted health insurance for their children. "It has become a program for the middle class at the expense of the poor."

This is the engine that will power the Demcare architects' most naked, radical ambitions: "Health care as an inalienable right," as Sen. Harkin put it. How? By breeding a massive permanent culture of dependency and bottomless debt in the name of the "children" from birth through quarter-life -- and beyond.
Passage By Pork Rather Than Good Public Policy
Michael Reagan
Thursday, December 24, 2009

As families across our nation prepare to celebrate Christmas together, Democrats in the United States Senate and their ringleader, Harry Reid, have been deviously busy once again. They're working hard to fill taxpayers' stockings with large lumps of coal in the form of health care reform legislation that will likely decrease the quality of care for Americans, create a flurry of new taxes, and exponentially increase America's deficit. How is that for holiday cheer?

While Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska appeared to be holding out as the Democrats' 60th vote because of his moral concerns over taxpayer-funded abortions, he suddenly "found the light" when offered an additional $100 million in assistance for Nebraska's state Medicaid program.

This new provision, negotiated by Harry Reid and Sen. Nelson, will make Nebraska one of only three states to have their Medicaid expansion fully funded, leaving the rest of the country to pick up the tab. This compromising carrot is made all the more disturbing by the cost to the American taxpayer -- the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new information on Sunday saying that this amendment alone will end up costing $1.2 billion over 10 years, hardly chump change.

And in a less obvious bribe, Sen. Nelson also cut a deal to get tax and free breaks for Nebraska's insurance companies. (Not surprisingly, the Center for Responsible Politics reports that Nelson has been given nearly $650,000 from insurance companies over the past five years -- more than any other industry has contributed.) These negotiated breaks are significant, saving companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield up to $20 million. In other words, even as more tax money will be flowing into Nebraska, considerably less will be flowing out. For all the other states, a bad bill just got that much worse.

But as I wrote just a few weeks ago, a cause for concern in this debate is not only the "what" of the actual legislation itself: it is the "how" we got here. When this debate headed to the Senate after the left wing-led House pushed through its own version of reform, Harry Reid faced an uphill battle in finding the necessary 60 votes. But rather than relying on the actual merits of the legislation, if any such merits actually exist, the Senate's fearless leader opened the troughs for a pork feeding frenzy.recognizing that his only chance at passage required buying off key Senators.

Now, I am not naïve in this criticism, fully recognizing that when placed in a similar position of power, Republicans in Congress have been guilty of similar activities. Today in Washington, it seems that bribery by tax dollar has become the norm when it comes to moving bills along. But for us taxpayers, that is simply not acceptable.

Senators Reid, Nelson, Landrieu and other Democrats are simply trading their votes, trading their principles, so they can create a cycle of political gain rather than demanding good legislation. Their despicable behavior is meant to secure national "victories" for Democrats while also trying to pacify the growing chorus of opposition to the latest offered health care reform proposal within their own state by masking it with pork, plain and simple.

Today, a lobbyist can face criminal charges for taking an elected representative to lunch or offering small gifts in exchange for votes or attention. President Obama has frequently boasted about his "ground-breaking" efforts to crack down on these types of negotiations. In the Senate, however, it is openly acceptable for intra-congress bribery costing billions of dollars in our tax dollars to take place. Landrieu and Nelson have both gloated over their respective high price tags.

Where's the honor here? The transparency, good governance, and integrity we were promised? Senate Democrats and President Obama should be ashamed they that have let petty bribes and penny-pinching politics triumph over sense and judgment. How's that for the true meaning of Christmas?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night before Christmas (Senate Version)

The Night before Christmas (Senate Version)
Posted by: Staff at 8:00 AM

...from a Townhall reader, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Senate

The liberals were stirring, even Sen. Bennett (D. CO);

Our freedoms were being hung out by Harry,

In hopes that his health bill would not be buried;

The liberals were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of takeovers danced in their heads;

Doctors in lab coats and I with my spouse,

Settled down for our Christmas at our house,

When up in DC there arose such a clatter,

I sprang to the web to see what was the matter.

Away to my laptop I flew like a flash,

Turned on the screen in less than a dash.

The news all over Townhall and Redstate

Gave a lustre of horror to looming health-gate,

When, what to my Googling eyes should appear,

But a new amendment, eight politicos so near,

With their Nevada Leader, so mean and leary,

I knew right away must be dingy Harry.

Like Cash for Cloture his floor pawns they came,

He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Carper! Now, Dorgan! Now, Schumer and Durbin!

On, Boxer! On Feingold! On, Murray and Nelson!

To the top of the agenda! To the Chamber on the Mall!

Now pass it all! Pass it all! Pass through it all!"

As politicians ‘fore elections fly,

Meet an unpopular mandate, and lie, lie, lie,

So up to the floor the Leader’s pawns flew,

For a bill full of payoffs, and Harry Reid too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on Fox News

The prancing and bragging of Senators’ views.

And as we tried to enjoy our peaceful Christmas,

Harry went to the floor and gave such a hiss.

Dressed all in bribes, from his head to his foot,

His demeanor was tarnished all with corrupt soot;

A bundle of tax dollars was flung on his back,

He looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they narrowed! His ambition nefarious!

His cheek was unlimited, his manner acrimonious!

Harry’s mean mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the gleam in his eyes was as bright as the snow;

The Senate’s old rules he held tight in his fist,

And as he twisted them Mitch grew more piss’d;

His character and tactics were downright smelly,

He smirked and laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was dried up and corrupt, a right nasty old elf,

And I shuddered to see him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Gave me to know I’d everything to dread;

His words stumbled like O’s but he went straight to work,

And filled the wallets of Senators wanting perks,

Then laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, from the floor he rose;

Sprang to his podium, gave his team a whistle,

And the bill flew through like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he ruined our night,

"Here’s a lump of coal for all, and for all a Christmas fright."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Refute Global Warming with Two Simple Statements

Refute Global Warming with Two Simple Statements
Posted by Todd on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:40:20 PM

No matter how well versed the man-made global warming advocate, there are two simple statements born on common sense that prove man-made global warming is merely a myth. Never mind the manipulated scientific data, never mind the exaggerated truth of Al Gore, never mind the science fiction believed as fact, these statements will effectively cease all debate leaving the advocate speechless.

Statement One: The Earth has been heating and cooling on its own for eons without man’s involvement. Temperature change is natural. This is a universally undisputed fact reflected in geological and fossil records. Man has had no involvement with global temperature changes. Hubris alone accounts for his belief that he can affect the outcome.

Statement Two: There is no optimum temperature of the Earth. What global temperature should we settle on since we believe we can change it? Clearly this needs to be answered since the ramifications of the temperature we choose to use will effect every plant, animal, and weather pattern the world over. Answered as the average global temperature we happened to be born into reflects very small thinking and a narrow perspective. There is no possible response to this statement simply because it is larger than we are.