Monday, March 29, 2010
Watch for the Full Court Press
Monday, March 29, 2010
We’re hearing a lot today about a so-called “Living Constitution.” Indeed, Barack Obama has in the past bemoaned the fact that prior Supreme Courts, notably the one presided over by Earl Warren in the 1960s, failed to break “free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.” He has also suggested that the U.S. Constitution was basically a “charter of negative liberties,” that falls far short of what is needed these days.
Of course, this is nothing all that new under the sun, it has been noised about before. In fact, many now look back on the days of the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt’s government-by-winging-it as the gold standard of what should be done now. FDR talked much about the Constitution of the United States being a “living” document. He tried to “fundamentally transform” the court in 1937 via a court packing scheme—though this became his political bridge-too-far.
But undeterred even by the fact that his New Deal vision-hallucination created an actual second Great Depression in 1938 and that it took the mobilization efforts of World War II to really end economic hard times, he forged ahead. With fanatical zeal compounded by health challenges that many now believe were messing with his mind and judgment by 1944, Mr. Roosevelt invented a whole new collection of “rights” for the American people—apparently just by saying so. One was “the right to adequate medical care.” Another was “the right of every family to a decent home.” I suppose that now, with the latest developments regarding the health care issue, we should be on the lookout for an eventual Rooseveltian effort to make sure everyone gets a decent home subsidized by “We the people.”
Now that well-honed “community organizer” skills have been applied to Congress, look soon for the rhetoric, not to mention the arm twisting, to muscle-up in efforts to ensure that the Supreme Court falls in line and marches in step. I am convinced that what we are going to see in not-too-distant days to come will be nothing short of a full-court press, one that will make Mr. Obama’s dressing down of the Justices during his recent State of the Union address look like an exercise in ego-enriching affirmation.
Look for language reminiscent of what Franklin Roosevelt used during the 1936 campaign—rhetoric that should have been a red flag to Americans indicating hubris to come. During his acceptance speech before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia that year, he railed against his favorite straw men—“economic royalists”—and by extension their defenders (including those stodgy “conservatives” on the Supreme Court who stood in the way of progress). Having been accused (rightly, in my opinion) of trying to, in effect, “fundamentally transform America” in ways unwarranted by anything in the nation’s political or documentary past, he waxed defensive: “These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution.”
He might as well have included an attack on those who “cling to their guns and religion.” Pardon me, but FDR’s toxic demagoguery notwithstanding, I find myself quite comfortable hiding behind the Constitution and flag, thank you very much.
It is, I suppose, increasingly un-cool these days in some quarters to name-drop using the Founding Fathers of our country, but I think good ole, George Washington nailed it when he said: “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make or alter their Constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at anytime exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."
Yet today, we are on the verge of a period of potential judicial activism unprecedented in the history of the Republic—all in the name of a “Living Constitution.” It will be up to those on the court to resist the zeitgeist inside the Beltway. It will fall to people such as Justice Antonin Scalia, who has noted in the past that, “judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands,” to stand in the gap for the rest of us.
And then there were nine—or, hopefully at least, five.
I am actually optimistic about this, especially in light of some of the efforts on the part of various State governments. Little noticed last fall in the Republican November sweep, was the election in Virginia of Ken Cuccinelli as state Attorney General. Ken was en route to the Federal courthouse in Richmond barely five minutes after President Obama put his pen to the health care measure last Tuesday, legal papers in hand. Other state AG’s are doing similar things across the country, but Cuccinelli’s argument is unique, as noted in coverage by the Washington Post:
“A Virginia law enacted this month that prohibits the government from requiring people to buy health insurance creates an ‘immediate, actual controversy’ between state and federal law that gives the state unique standing on which to sue.
The move was classic Cuccinelli -- bold, defiant and in-your-face, an effort to use any means at his disposal to stop what he sees as a federal government gone wild. That approach has transformed him in just a few months from being a fairly obscure state senator into a national conservative folk hero -- a tea partier with conviction and, more importantly, power.”
Of course, Cuccinelli’s efforts are all in the spirit of another Virginian—a man who once warned about the danger of the Constitution becoming “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”
So said a guy named Thomas Jefferson a while back. Pardon the name-drop.
Posted by Brett at 7:26 PM
The Government Plantation Forever?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Let's do a quick thought experiment.
The price of apples keeps going up. The government decides that every American must buy apples. But some can't afford them.
Government starts controlling how much apple farmers are paid, it mandates that every single American buys apples and subsidizes those under a certain income level so they can.
Will the price of apples go down, stay the same or go up? Or, in economists' language, if you limit the supply of a commodity and increase demand, will the price of that commodity go up or down?
Did you say "up"? You get an A. But if you did say "up," you surely are not a Democrat.
Democrats have just committed multitrillions of our money, and, as a bonus, sold a big chunk of American freedom down the road, betting that everything a college freshman learns in basic economics is not true. Or, that health care doesn't follow the rules of economics. Because our new health-care system is pretty much the apple scenario described above.
Or, maybe they don't care? Maybe it's not about economics, but about ideology and political power. And that the real issue is freedom. They think we've got too much and that politicians should decide what is fair and who should have what.
A revealing moment during the presidential campaign occurred when, during one debate, ABC's Charles Gibson pushed then-Sen. Barack Obama about his stated intent to increase capital gains taxes. Gibson brandished data showing that when you cut this tax, government tax revenues increase, and when you raise it, revenue drops (punishing investment surely produces less).
"So, why raise it?" Gibson asked. Obama responded that maybe it won't happen that way this time. And besides, he said, his motive was "fairness."
After voters in Massachusetts elected a Republican to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, killing the Democrats' filibuster-proof Senate majority, many pundits wrote that President Obama had to move to the political center.
I wrote then that this wouldn't happen because, unlike President Bill Clinton, who did moderate, Obama is a left-wing ideologue. He didn't run for president to be somebody. He did it to do something. He did it to change America.
As polls showed waning public support for what Democrats were pushing on health care, many assumed they would back off. It was still conceivable that they could stand rules on their head and ram the thing through using the so-called reconciliation procedure. But why would they do it when polls suggested they would be punished in November elections?
But Obama understood that when you are selling dreams, numbers don't matter.
So, as in the housing and financial debacle we just went through, you commit taxpayer money to subsidize a product to make it look cheaper than it is, you get people to buy it, and when it all comes crashing down, it doesn't matter. By then you're long gone.
And, another bonus, as more Americans get herded onto the government plantation -- 30 million more with this new bill -- it's easy to keep them there. So the most likely political outcome going forward is higher taxes and income redistribution to pay for it all, entrenching socialism more.
As I have written before, if you want to know where it all leads, look at our inner cities that were long ago taken over by government compassion. This is our future, my fellow Americans.
Oh, back to the apples. Their prices were rocketing up to begin with because government was already controlling and regulating them.
Republicans are mad. But will they be able to entice Americans off the ever-growing government plantation? Will they propose and succeed in selling the bold ideas necessary to turn the basket case we're becoming around?
Posted by Brett at 11:28 AM
Demonizing Everyday Americans
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Ken Klukoswki contributed to this report.
There appears to be a concerted effort among the political Left and many mainstream media people to demonize and marginalize the expanding citizen-based movement known as the tea party movement. This effort flows from both a fear of what these tea parties represent and a contempt for everyday Americans. But those ordinary citizens are poised to be the ones laughing when it’s all over, when democracy takes its course.
There seems to be a consensus now among the liberal elite when it comes to the tea parties. Senior administration officials deride them, as do liberal congressional Democrats. These elitists characterize the tea partiers as extremists, some drawing analogies between these ordinary citizens and right-wing militias, fanatics, and religious zealots. Some members of Congress are even saying that these tea party people are racist, which is pretty much the worst label that can be slapped on you in modern politics.
And many leftist talking heads in the media parrot this message, with their own biting editorial, adding that some in the tea party crowd are dangerous. Some talking heads, including some Hollywood actors and others who don’t seem to have any credentials as policy analysts but are nonetheless given air time, are really playing up the racism angle, and even suggest that some tea party attendees may be domestic terrorists.
Try the decaf, people.
Agents of big government and their boosters in the mainstream media seem determined to throw cold water on this growing grassroots movement that is a reaction to the Obama administration’s power grab of the growth and expansion of this country’s central government.
There’s a great deal of diversity among tea party people. Some just want lower taxes, and some also want less regulation. Still others are pro-life voters or Christian conservatives that also want fiscal responsibility. Many others push for conservative judges, while still others hold up signs calling for a restoration of American sovereignty, or protecting America’s borders, or defeating cap and trade or card check.
But they all have two things in common: They all want smaller government, and oppose the trampling of the Constitution embodied in these efforts to radically expand the size and scope of government. And as part of that desire, they want this utterly-ludicrous spending binge to end before it bankrupts all of us.
There’s nothing extremist about that agenda, because common sense is never extreme.
Are there some people attending tea party rallies who are intemperate in their remarks? Sure. Whenever you get tens of thousands of regular folks together, you’ll always get a few who makes comments that they should reconsider. Even then, nothing we’ve seen is worse than the truly outrageous statements that we’ve heard from the Left in recent years about President Bush or Republicans.
Having been engaged in many gatherings of the tea party crowd, it’s offensive that many in the mainstream media are engaging in a systematic effort to marginalize American citizens who are simply trying to take a stand for individual liberty—a stand in opposition to big-government expansion. Also one of us speaking as an African-American (Blackwell), it’s especially insulting to suggest that these people’s opposition to President Obama is driven by racism.
America’s history of grassroots activism goes back to the founding of our republic. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people includes as a necessary element those same average, ordinary people being able to gather and speak out. This freedom to assemble was considered so essential to a free nation that our Founders put it in the First Amendment, right alongside the freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Ironically, these rights are set side-by-side with the freedom of the press, as well. The leftists in the media would do well to remember that their liberty to be a free press comes from the same constitutional amendment as the tea party crowd’s liberty to gather together.
And our elected leaders would do well to remember that the First Amendment exists to protect average people from the government, not the other way around.
Blackwell and Klukowski are the authors of the forthcoming book, The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale April 27.
Posted by Brett at 11:27 AM
We've Been Had
Sunday, March 28, 2010
This time last week, Representative Bart Stupak (D – Michigan) was the hero of social conservatives who were anxious to secure binding language banning federal funding of abortion in the health care legislation. Stupak’s resolve in the face of immense party pressure was commendable – a testament to his unwavering commitment to protecting the unborn despite the political risks. We at the Center for a Just Society shared in Rep. Stupak’s disappointment with those in his party who promoted federally-funded abortion as a means of cutting health care costs. Not surprisingly, Rep. Stupak’s 11th-hour change of heart and subsequent vote for the Senate’s health care reform legislation has left many puzzled and angry.
Why, after months of outspoken opposition to the bill, did Mr. Stupak yield? It certainly wasn’t because Nancy Pelosi and her allies finally decided to abandon their career-long commitment to dismantling each and every legal and cultural impediment to abortion-on-demand. As it happens, Rep. Stupak ended up surrendering his opposition in exchange for President Obama’s pledge to prevent federal funding of abortion via Executive Order.
At first hearing, this news might seem heartening to people concerned about protecting unborn children. An executive order sounds pretty important, after all, and the President made this pledge publicly. When pressed to justify this course of action, Rep. Stupak explained that it was the only way to avoid killing health care reform entirely, something he wasn’t prepared to do:
“The only option you had was leave the Senate language or strengthen it to prevent abortions under an executive order – that’s what we did, we stayed true to those principles – or vote no... So you kill the bill and we do not have health care... I’ve always said I want to see health care for the nation.”
There are two glaring problem with Rep. Stupak’s rationale. First, the odds that Mr. Obama – who scored a 100% rating from NARAL three years in a row – will honor a pledge to block federal funds for abortion are slim, and second, even if he allows the Executive Order to remain in place, it is a meaningless measure that does not have the power to prevent tax dollars being used to finance elective abortions.
While the President would like his social conservative constituents to swallow his bland assertion that the question of when life begins is “above his pay grade,” his record and his words reveal a man quite certain in his belief that – alive or not – the unborn do not warrant legal protection from abortion-on-demand. While serving in the Illinois senate, Mr. Obama voted against restrictions on partial birth abortion and opposed the Born Alive Act (on the grounds that recognizing the humanity of an infant that survived abortion would be a slippery slope to affirming the humanity of the unborn, thus threatening the legality of abortion across the board). He was a NO vote on legislation that would prevent underage girls from traveling across state lines to procure an abortion, and a NO vote on legislation that would notify parents if their child seeks or obtains an out-of-state abortion. In his first year in office, he has filled virtually every key position in his administration, particularly in those areas concerned with public health and education, with individuals who embrace and promote abortion.
Even if one ignores the glaring improbability of the President’s sincerity in his promise to Stupak, the fact remains that an executive order cannot override the law. As applied to the health care legislation, the measure is virtually meaningless. Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, explained:
“An executive order is a direction from the President to employees in the Executive Branch of the Government to do something or not to do something. For example, when Bill Clinton was President he ordered that whenever outside vendors are hired by the government they have to be unionized. When George W. Bush was President he ordered that you don’t have to hire unionized people. How could they do that? Because the law itself is silent, and the President has discretion in that area; and a subsequent president, as Bush did with Clinton, as President Obama did with President Bush, can undo a presidential executive order. And this President could undo his own executive order – if he wanted to – the day after he signed it. But the legislation that the House passed last night, which the President will sign tomorrow, uses federal dollars to pay for insurance policies which provide abortion coverage for any reason permissible under the state law of the state in which the abortion is to occur... If Congressman Stupak thinks that the President’s executive order can stop that, he is sadly mistaken, because the performer of the abortion and the payer of the abortion is not the federal government. It’s a doctor employed by an insurance company whose policy has been purchased by the federal government. So the President can’t stop that with an executive order... So what did Congressman Stupak and the other so-called pro-life Democrats get? They got a fig leaf. They got a little political cover.”
Unless Rep. Stupak would have the American people believe that he lacked the intelligence to understand the effect, or lack thereof, of a presidential executive order, then we must assume that he understood the implications of his deal with the President and proceeded anyway.
For the millions of pro-life Americans who pinned their hopes for the protection of unborn life on the principled leadership of Rep. Stupak, one thing is crystal clear: We’ve been had – and so have the unborn.
Posted by Brett at 11:25 AM
Are Democrats Really On Board With The Obama Agenda?
Sunday, March 28, 2010
What happens when left-wing ideologues co-opt the nation’s legislative agenda, and use surreptitious means of forcing that agenda through Congress?
Ask Bart Stupak. He’s the self-described “pro-life Democrat” Congressman from Michigan who appears to have “sold” his vote on Obamacare in exchange for less than a million dollars in airport building funds.
The agenda from the White House and the congressional leadership is horrible, yet Stupak’s response to it has been equally as bad. And now, the name Bart Stupak has become synonymous with the words “Judas” and “betrayal,” in the minds of millions (his distinguished “Defender Of Life” award that he eagerly accepted previously from a prominent pro-life organization was stripped from him this past week), as he faces both a primary election challenge from another Democrat, and multiple Republican challengers in the general election cycle.
You can also pose the “what happens when?” question to Walt Minnick, the lone Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Idaho (the state that was first to sue the U.S. federal government over Obamacare). Congressman Minnick voted “no” on Obamacare twice. He voted “no” on President Obama’s bank-busting “economic stimulus bill.” And by every indication, Minnick hasn’t “sold a vote” or allowed himself to be swayed or manipulated by Barack Obama at all.
Still, Congressman Minnick faces the wrath of constituents in his home state. And this, at least in part, is what happens when left-wing ideologues co-opt the nation’s legislative agenda.
Congressman Minnick joined me on my talk show at Boise, Idaho’s 580 KIDO radio last week, and his remarks were substantive, and sobering. In fact, the remarks made by this “Democrat” in the U.S. House of Representatives make even more sense, if you know some things about the man.
Walt Minnick is a much-loved figure in Idaho. Originally from Walla Walla, Washington, he has owned and operated successful forestry and commercial nursery businesses in Idaho, and has earned a reputation as a “straight shooter” in both business and political matters. A veteran of the Viet Nam war, a graduate of both the Harvard Law School and Business School, and a former staff assistant to President Richard Nixon, Minnick resigned his position at the White House in protest of some of President Nixon’s more corrupt behavior.
A former Republican and “political independent,” Congressman Minnick was, according to reports, encouraged over the years to become a Democrat and to run for office by former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, as well as former Democratic Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. Today, Congressman Minnick is a self-described “Blue Dog” Democrat, and his voting record in Congress certainly earns him the title of “moderate Democrat” by today’s standards.
And herein lies the problem: there is NO ROOM – none whatsoever – for moderation in today’s Democratic Party. Senator and decorated military veteran Bob Kerrey has long sense come and gone, and so have other “moderate Democrats” like him. Today, the Democratic party is characterized by a President who bows to foreign dictators, picks fights with our nations long-standing allies (this is precisely what has happened with Israel), and seeks to control as much as possible of the private lives of American people. The party is also characterized by a Speaker of the House, and a Senate Majority Leader, who passionately help force this President’s agenda by whatever constitutionally questionable means necessary, and (in the case of Senator Harry Reid), willingly do so at their own political peril.
In short, the Democratic Party is presently all about Barack Obama, and what Barack Obama “needs” to do to America. It has essentially nothing to do with what is good for individual Americans.
For this reason, I asked Congressman Minnick what he thought of the process that led to Obamacare. It was a process, I noted to him, that involved legislation being crafted in the dark of night, negotiations behind closed doors away from the C-Span cameras, “special deals” and exemptions for large corporations and labor union members, and agendas being voted out of committee on Christmas Eve.
“We all would have been better off, in fact I think we would have had a real reform bill, had it been open and bi-partisan” Minnick told me during his appearance on my talk show. “It could have been a mainstream, sensible bill with good input from both parties.”
But what Barack Obama is doing to America is inherently NOT “mainstream,” and is most certainly not “sensible,” not for the majority of us who still believe that our country is good and worthy of preserving. For those who believe that America is inherently evil and needs to be weakened, Obama is your guy. But if you believe otherwise, then the Obama agenda is antithetical to your beliefs. There really isn’t any middle ground on this matter.
Members of Congress from both parties are awakening to these harsh realities, and the Democratic Party has enabled Barack Obama to supercede both the will of the American people, and the U.S. Constitution itself.
The entire American electorate must now come to terms with these realities as well.
Posted by Brett at 11:24 AM
Friday, March 26, 2010
3-25-10 So What’s Wrong With ObamaCare?
Recently I was talking to one of my liberal-minded co-workers who asked me this question. I said well many things, but just to name a few (the short version)…
Redistribution of Income = Welfare = ObamaCare
Obama likes to talk about maldistribution or redistribution of income amongst us peoples just to make things more equitable (except for the elite – like himself). He likes to talk about common sense ‘middle-of-the-road’ solutions. Isn’t this what socialism is all about? I guess that’s why ObamaCare is called ‘socialized medicine’. This maldistribution applies to the rich and poor, the young and old, and the healthy and sick. ObamaCare includes an exemption for preexisting conditions. If you take away the insurance industry’s right to decline a potential customer due to a particular risk then it’s no longer ‘insurance’, but welfare. ObamaCare will be the largest welfare entitlement program ever in the history of our country, the cost of which nobody can possibly predict. It’s a joke and an insult anytime someone tries to do so because nobody has ever succeeded at predicting the cost of such a huge entitlement program.
So let’s ask the question the left never asks: how is it possible for a private insurance company to pay for these giant medical bills? What makes it possible is a whole set of statistical calculations. For every person who needs open-heart surgery or chemotherapy, there have to be a certain number of other people who are paying their premiums but haven’t gotten seriously ill. If the insurance company has gotten its calculations right, the expenses for any one person’s catastrophic care are balanced out by the premiums other people pay “just in case.”
You can see how Obama’s demands undermine this whole system. To ask insurance companies to cover a patient after the tumor is diagnosed is to ask them to take on a known expense. Combine that with another Obama demand: that insurance companies can’t charge higher rates for those who are at higher risk of getting sick. So if insurance companies have to take on a known expense and can’t charge a higher rate for it, how are they going to pay for it? By raising everyone else’s rates, redistributing their wealth to the new freeloaders.
Just to use an analogy – would it be fair for a driver with clean driving record to pay the same insurance premium as someone who drives the same make, model, and year vehicle, but has 4 DUI arrests and several prior accidents? Is it fair that someone who drives up the costs of insurance should shift this burden to good drivers? Is there a typically common theme of not having to be responsible for the consequences of your actions here?
ObamaCare needs a mandate to force everyone to carry insurance, not only to cover the costs of emergency care for the uninsured, but to squeeze premiums out of people (healthy young people, mostly) who probably won’t need care at all. And what if that’s not enough of a corrective to the “maldistribution”? Well, then you add some taxes and squeeze a little more revenue that way. This mandate is essential because otherwise people would just wait to purchase insurance until they actually need it – when they become sick or injured. The problem with this particular mandate is that it’s unconstitutional for Congress to force us to purchase insurance. This is why several states are suing and passing legislation to be excluded from ObamaCare.
Also Obama keeps on telling us that if we like our current health insurance we can keep it – another of his many lies. ObamaCare will put so many mandates and restrictions on private insurance companies that it will be impossible for them to compete with government insurance (public option). Once all of the private insurance companies are gone then we will have single-payer (our government), which was the democrats’ plan all along.
Now as an additional bonus – we get to pay for abortions! So not only do we get to be slaves but also involuntary accessories to murder!
So welcome to the machine! Once our government has this much control over our lives why shouldn’t they keep going until they have total control? If we are stupid enough to let it happen then we don’t deserve to be free. We are letting a group of people who are not even smart enough to run a profitable lemonade stand run our whole health care industry – unbelievable!
Essentially my co-worker’s replies parroted BHO’s tired talking points that we have all heard repeatedly. I could’ve closed my eyes and it would’ve been like Obama was standing right there.
Posted by Brett at 11:54 AM
Why Revenge Is Necessary
By Quin Hillyer on 3.25.10 @ 6:08AM
Every member of Congress who is not a liberal ideologue or from a wildly leftist district who voted for Obamacare on Sunday should be haunted and hounded by and for their vote for as long as they draw breath upon this good Earth. And the same is true for every liberal ideologue who actively crafted and pushed the corrupt and unrepublican (small "r") procedures and flagrant lies that were used to cram Obamacare up our gullets from the nether end of our common polity.
Before we consider the proper shape and degree of the hounding and haunting, let us be reminded of why this legislation is an atrocity of epic proportions.
Let us start with all the lies that Barack Obama told or the promises that he broke, each one of which will damage our way of life as the falsehood is made manifest in law.
This president, this sinister creature of Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alinsky, of Indonesian sojourns and Columbia University radical salons, campaigned vociferously against Hillary Clinton's call for an individual mandate for health insurance. Now the individual mandate is the centerpiece of Obamacare.
Obama promised that he would never, ever raise taxes on individuals making under $200,000 or couples under $250,000. This legislation breaks that promise.
Obama said the bill would not provide public funding of abortions. It does provide such funding.
He said it would cause average premiums to drop by $2,500 annually. Premiums instead will rise. He said he would not tax health-care benefits. This bill does tax them. He said his plan wouldn't lead to rationing. It actually does far worse than mere rationing: It provides for death panels by proxy.
Obama said that "budget reconciliation" was improper for passing Obamacare. He is using reconciliation. He said that a 51-vote simple majority in the Senate should not suffice for major legislation. He is using a simple majority. He said during the judicial wars that the filibuster should be sacrosanct, but he is trampling over the filibuster. He said he would cut out sweetheart deals, but instead he engaged in a host of such deals. He said he would do all negotiations in the open, and without corrupt lobbyist influence, but instead he cut secret deals (secret at first) with a whoring PhRMA and with other moneyed interests. He said he would air the negotiations on C-Span, but he didn't. He said he wouldn't support a "public option," but he told the lefties in Congress that this would be merely a first step towards a public option. He said he would incorporate Republican ideas, but the final legislation was devoid of all but one minor GOP suggestion. He said Republicans would be welcome at the table, but they instead were almost entirely shut out (except for some early negotiations with Montana's Sen. Max Baucus) of actual legislative drafting. Instead, they belatedly were afforded only a dog-and-pony show at Blair House where Obama was peevish, where he personally jawboned the GOP (not to mention what he let other Democrats do) for more minutes than the GOP collectively talked, and where he never actually responded to the substance of most Republicans complaints and ideas.
He repeatedly advertised that his bill would give all Americans the same system that Congress enjoys; instead, it actually exempts top lawmakers and staffs from the bill's requirements. And he promised that he would post any bill on the Internet for five whole days, after congressional passage, before he signed it. But he signed this bill after just 36 hours.
And that's just a sample of the dishonesty of The One.
Meanwhile, it is hard to blame, on substance, the ideological lefties who really believe in this stuff, or to blame those who represent far-left districts and feel obliged to represent their constituents' wills. But for every other congressman who voted for Obamacare -- all those on the fence on substance, and whose districts are not strongly in favor of it (and indeed usually strongly against it) -- what they have done is an affront to the republic and to human decency. And what the congressional leadership did to the lawmaking process is an affront to our system of government.
The mandate to buy health insurance is an abomination. The very thought of a government forcing individuals to buy something the individuals don't want is anathema. It is abject tyranny. It is manifestly unconstitutional. It is despotic. It is so antithetical to the American tradition as to be unacceptable and invalid. For those reasons, it may well lead to non-violent civil disobedience on a massive scale.
It is worse still that lawmakers would refuse to put themselves or their staffs under the same system it puts the 300-million-strong rest of the hoi polloi. It is worse still that Obamacare's system of incentives is such that the CBO estimates that four million people will lose their employer-based plans and thus be put in the position of being subject to the unconstitutional mandate. (This, by the way, gives the lie to yet another Obama claim, namely that nobody would lose their insurance if they want to keep it.)
The bill is a job-killer. It puts a mandate on businesses that employ at least 50 workers -- which means that thousands upon thousands of firms will cut their official payrolls to 49. It is a taxing atrocity, imposing $569.2 billion in tax hikes. It will especially hurt medical device companies through new taxes and "fees," putting some out of business and hurting the patients who rely on them for life-saving or life-improving aid. And, to collect all its taxes, it will -- it already has begun, in terms of planning -- lead to the literally frightening spectacle of the hiring of some 16,500 new IRS agents, making the IRS an enforcement army, with imprisoning authority, on par with the worst of the commissars of the most autocratic czars.
Put this scary influx of IRS commissars together with the 175,000 new members of AmeriCorps now organized officially into "cadres," and all of a sudden we're getting within hailing distance of Obama's threatened "a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the regular military.
It will add trillions more to total government spending, and hundreds of billions (absent budgetary gimmicks) to deficits and debt that will unconscionably burden future generations. It will push individual states closer to bankruptcy by adding an unfunded mandate for expanded Medicaid coverage.
And it was all accomplished by methods so foul as to be a permanent stain upon Congress and the White House. Backroom deals. Railroaded rules. Limited debate. Abuse of reconciliation. Baits and switches. Promises of "deem and pass" in order to gain commitments that otherwise would never come (but that could not be withdrawn once deem-and-pass was abandoned). Threats and intimidation. Union thug tactics. Louisiana Purchases and Cornhusker Kickbacks. Bismarck earmarks and Connecticut con jobs. And funding for three "airports for no reason" in order to purchase the vote of putatively pro-life weasel Bart Stupak.
Meanwhile, passage of Obamacare makes a mockery of the idea that this is government of and by the people. For lawmakers to jam down our throats this monstrosity after elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia argued against it, after town hall meetings and Tea Parties and letters and faxes and emails and phone calls by the millions upon millions upon millions, after overwhelming polling opposition that grew and grew and grew, is for them to show that they no longer serve the people but instead aspire to rule them, with an iron fist if necessary. This is a subversion of republican (again, small "r") ideals so profound as to be Aaron Burr-like. It was made worse by the Democrats changing the rules midstream to appoint a replacement for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Hereditary Dynasty, without which they never would have reached the 60-vote Senate majority to pass the original Senate bill in the first place. And this followed all sorts of legerdemain to finagle the "election" of Al Franken to the Senate from Minnesota, and to secure Arlen Specter's party switch, and to benefit from an unfair prosecution of Alaska's Ted Stevens (not the most admirable of characters, but apparently not really a criminal after all).
This whole country was founded on the belief that ends do not justify means, but instead that a careful meshing of constitutional procedures would be the best safeguard against dangerous ends. But the Obama-Pelosi Democrats made their ends, their lust for pure power, overcome every previously acceptable requirement for reasonable, fair, and constitutionally and traditionally approved means. This was an abuse of the democratic process so flagrant as to be Putin-esque. These tactics are quite literally a threat to the republic, and they must be condemned, reversed, and punished.
As to what form that punishment should take, another column will be needed to tackle that issue. Rest assured, though, that the raving atrocity of Obamacare makes punishment of its perpetrators, punishment of the right and legal kind, a moral imperative.
Quin Hillyer is a senior editorial writer at the Washington Times and senior editor of The American Spectator.
Posted by Brett at 11:50 AM
Lies, Damned Lies and Health Care
Thursday, March 25, 2010
President Obama has finally passed his massive health-care bill, although the staggering cost to the American people has yet to be determined; the attendant increase in taxes and misery, as well as a corresponding decline in quality and standards will most likely remain unquantifiable for many years to come.
Several Republican legislators dutifully reported disturbing elements of the health-care bill, even as the reigning Democrats in the House of Representatives played bait-and-switch with the final bill’s contents. But no one confronted the President about his bold lies concerning the current state of health insurance in the United States. Those lies were legion.
During his year-long pitch for his so-called “health insurance reform,” President Obama repeatedly exaggerated problems, obfuscated facts, and manufactured lies about America’s insurance companies. It was all part of a conscious and calculated effort to sow fear among the populace; if not exactly the “politics as usual” that he derides at every opportunity, then certainly something even far more sinister.
In a speech at George Mason University last Friday, President Obama told a captive crowd that health-care reform will henceforth mean insurance companies can’t cancel an insured’s coverage when they have a claim. "This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. Those practices will end,” he declared.
Pretty bold stuff. Also, an outright lie. According to attorney Richard Giller, a leading expert on insurance coverage, it is currently illegal in all fifty American states to cancel an insured’s coverage for getting sick. In fact, this column spoke with an actuary for a state insurance commission. Requesting anonymity, the government actuary stated unequivocally that Obama’s claim was completely untrue. “These policies cannot be cancelled, they are guaranteed renewable and have been for over twenty years.” “Guaranteed renewable” means the insurance company can’t cancel the coverage for anything except nonpayment of premiums.
President Obama wove his Americans-are-pathetic-victims narrative with abandon: “They will continue to jack up premiums 40% or 50% or 60%, as they have in the last few weeks without any accountability whatsoever.”
Mr. Giller also informs this column that in more than half the states, insurance companies are strictly accountable to the government of the state in which they operate, forbidden from raising rates without specific approval. Furthermore, insurance companies are bared from raising one person’s health insurance policy premium without first raising the premium for the entire underwriting category to which that person belongs. Additionally, “most states review all rate increases according to the loss ratio standards,” (which means that the state not only reviews to make sure the rate is not too high, but also to ensure that the rate is high enough to pay the expected claims), confirms this government actuary.
"Because if this vote fails, the insurance industry will continue to run wild in America,” said Mr. Obama. But the reality is that the insurance industry is among the most regulated business sectors in America. The only species “running wild” in this country currently is the Democrats in Washington, so intoxicated with power, so consumed with their own importance, so recklessly devoted to their far left agenda that they believe they are accountable to no one. And so far, they haven’t been held accountable; very few in the press corps have been willing to request supportive evidence of their outlandish claims.
Obama also accused insurance companies of doing what he, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid have been doing all along – engaging in fear mongering. “That’s why their lobbyists are stalking the halls of Congress as we speak. That’s why they’re pouring millions of dollars into negative ads. That’s why they’re doing everything they can to kill this bill." No, they weren’t. This health-care bill is forcing millions to buy health insurance from the very companies Obama says don’t want the bill.
Among the other outrageous claims by Obama is that there is half a trillion dollars lost in “waste, fraud and abuse” of Medicare. But if there really is half a trillion dollars of waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, then why didn’t Obama find it last year and use those funds instead of the piles of taxpayer cash that were consumed by his failed stimulus bill?
Obama’s health-care bill includes funding for over sixteen thousand new Internal Revenue Service agents to make sure everyone is covered. Think about that for a moment. Seem a little strange to you? If Americans really needed his brand of “health-care reform,” why does Obama think he would need the IRS to enforce it?
Now that it has passed, Obama is prepared to spend millions more in taxpayer dollars touring the country to convince us just how lucky we are that he got his bill through Congress.
Stay tuned for more great policy initiatives; Obama has now turned his attention to his Cap and Trade tax bill, which will attack the energy industry on the basis of saving us from global warming. By design, it will make energy a vastly more expensive commodity for all Americans. And really, in this recession, who could ask for anything more?
If anyone believes Obama’s willingness to tell any lie – no matter how outrageous or divorced from fact – will be restrained by the mounting evidence that global warming as a man-made issue is a hoax, need look no further than his just concluded successful campaign to distort a debate as black and white as insurance law.
Posted by Brett at 11:49 AM
The Kiss of Death
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) gave Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) a kiss on the cheek on Sunday, just before Stupak stunned pro-lifers by leading his group of previous holdouts in voting for the largest expansion of abortion-on-demand since Roe v. Wade. That’s what the just-signed ObamaCare bill means.
Stupak, of course, was the author of the Stupak Amendment that passed the House in November with 240 votes, 64 of them coming from pro-life Democrats like Stupak himself. Weiner is one of the most liberal—and most pro-abortion—members of a militantly pro-abortion congressional majority. Weiner had good reason to give Stupak that kiss of death.
Stupak, a nine-term, pro-labor congressman from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, had come to prominence only last November. That was the dramatic moment when he offered his amendment to the House version of health care reform. As Stupak himself explained hundreds of times, only his language could really erect a firewall between the U.S. Treasury and Planned Parenthood’s killing machine.
Only with the protections of the Stupak Amendment, every pro-lifer understood, would the deeply held convictions of tens of millions of Americans be honored. Nearly 70% of Americans oppose being forced to pay for the slaughter of innocents with their tax dollars.
It is most likely that health care would never have passed the House the first time without the Stupak Amendment. But the Senate version of the Stupak Amendment went down to defeat, 45-55.
Scott Brown’s amazing election in Massachusetts made sure that the only the version of health care reform that could be taken up by the House of Representatives would be the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, before Brown’s special election. That Senate-passed bill, everyone knew, contained no protections against the funding of abortion.
In the heat of legislative battle, Stupak came under tremendous pressures. From the Speaker, from the White House, from his fellow Democrats, from the Left generally, from the liberal media. He described the death threats and vile emails and phone calls his office was receiving in January and February as “a living hell.”
Bart Stupak already knows about living hell. He lost a teenage son, Bart Jr., to suicide ten years ago. Anyone who has ever had such a loss in his family knows the deep wound that only time and God’s grace can heal. Bart Stupak’s dignity and humanity at that terrible time won him a host of admirers.
When the heat became most intense on Sunday, Bart Stupak locked the doors of his congressional offices and didn’t answer phone calls. He emerged with the promise of an Executive Order from President Obama, that he claimed would prevent federal funding of abortion.
Congressman Stupak had to know that promise was worthless. Planned Parenthood—whose boss Cecile Richards proclaimed the passage of ObamaCare a “victory!”—surely knows that promise is worthless. She attended the signing ceremony in the White House for ObamaCare. She is “celebrating” this cash windfall.
An Executive Order surely cannot override a legislative enactment. Numerous courts have already spoken on this point. Unless a congressional enactment specifically bans abortion, it will be funded. That was the whole point of the Hyde Amendment. It was, we all knew, the whole point of the Stupak Amendment.
Stupak based his vote for ObamaCare on a “pro-life” Executive Order from a President who has never signed anything truly pro-life. Every act of his new administration has been pro-abortion. Every appointee named and confirmed has been pro-abortion. The only pro-life person ever tapped by President Obama was Rick Warren—and he was gone by 1 pm on Inauguration Day. Every other statement of this administration has been pro-abortion.
How unspeakably tragic for Bart Stupak! He will be known for this and only for this. Nothing he has ever done will change this. As the Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker memorably said: “When all the power of the moment was in his frail human hands, he dropped the baby.”
The best response to Stupak’s fall might come from John Greenleaf Whittier. The New England poet wrote in anguish when his hero Daniel Webster voted to permit slave-catchers to stalk the streets of Boston:
Revile him not, the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!
There will be no signing ceremony for that worthless Executive Order. No photographs. No celebrations. No souvenir signing pens. It is not so only a dead letter; it is a death letter. Bart Stupak’s betrayal has earned him nothing but sorrow and pitying tears.
Posted by Brett at 11:47 AM
Worst Book of the Year Award
Thursday, March 25, 2010
WASHINGTON -- 'Tis the time of award giving in the great republic. Soon the Pulitzer Prizes will be awarded, always at the risk of raising to eminence a plagiarist or literary fabricator. The Oscars already have been awarded, in their case at the risk of raising to eminence an arrant fool or likely felon. Now it again falls to me to announce the recommendation of the highly secretive J. Gordon Coogler Award for the Worst Book of the Year. This year, the Coogler Committee has recommended "True Compass," the autobiography of Edward M. Kennedy, which is for me problematic. Sen. Kennedy passed away Aug. 25, 2009.
I always enjoy indulging in a bit of raillery at the expense of the year's Coogler laureate (you will forgive me). In the case of the recently deceased, raillery would not be in good taste. One does not make fun of the dead. In the case of Sen. Kennedy, I am, at least, assured that one of the long-standing traditions of the J. Gordon Coogler Award will remain intact. As in years gone by, this year's Coogler laureate will not make an appearance at the award ceremony. Actually, I considered asking the Coogler Committee to recommend another author so that I might have a few laughs at our laureate's expense. However, after reading "True Compass," I decided that it deserved recognition, though not on the usual grounds. Neither philistine nor stupid, "True Compass" is actually a charmingly written book, which is in keeping with the Kennedy family's tradition of employing fine ghostwriters. JFK did it with "Profiles in Courage" and, come to think of it, won a Pulitzer for Ted Sorensen's work.
At any rate, this book is, indeed, charming and conveys the sense that "Teddy," as he is called, lived a hearty and happy life. Moreover, he expresses a semblance of regret for the misery he caused some who crossed his path. What I have decided earns him his Coogler is that this book showcases at least two of the evils haunting American politics today, the poisonous partisanship that marks the Supreme Court nomination process and the commonplace acceptance of arrant lies about conservatives, particularly about Ronald Reagan.
For instance, Kennedy passes on the lie that Reagan and presumably all conservatives are racial bigots because of what Kennedy calls Reagan's "complacency and even insensitivity regarding civil rights." The evidence marshaled is Kennedy's misleading claim that Reagan "opposed the principles of the Voting Rights Act." There were actually two civil rights acts at the time, one in 1964 and the one Kennedy refers to of 1965. There were perfectly legitimate constitutional grounds for opposing them and another very practical and even prudent reason cited by both liberal and conservative believers in integration and civil rights, namely, the looming use of quotas and affirmative action.
Both became divisive issues, damaging race relations almost immediately after passage of the 1965 act. No less a liberal than Sen. Hubert Humphrey saw it all coming during the debate on the 1964 act, when he expressed his opposition to quotas, explaining: "Do you want a society that is nothing but an endless power struggle among organized groups? Do you want a society where there is no place for the individual? I don't." Predictably, the rancor has gone on for decades, delaying the arrival of the Rev. Martin Luther King's colorblind society. In fact, for more than four decades, liberals have treated this policy disagreement as a manifestation of racial bigotry among conservatives. In so doing, they have kept racial enmity alive and, as Kennedy manifests in his book, exploited it.
Actually, the liberals' contempt for conservatives is more intense today than it was during the debates over the civil rights acts. Kennedy goes so far as to accuse Reagan of beginning his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., because, in Kennedy's eyes, it was "the site of one of the most heinous racial crimes of the twentieth century." In 1964, three civil rights workers were murdered there, one of the many barbarities committed against such brave activists throughout the long struggle for civil rights. No historian has found any evidence that Reagan campaigned there out of racially invidious motives, and one, Steven Hayward, has discovered that Reagan was furious upon discovering the town's dark past. To allege that Reagan would exploit murder is shameless but an indication of liberal contempt for conservatives.
Equally shameless and contemptuous was Kennedy's treatment of former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in a speech that Kennedy proudly quotes, despite the obvious fact that it marks the beginning of the savagery we now see at Senate Supreme Court hearings, particularly when a conservative is being grilled. "Robert Bork's America," our Coogler laureate intoned, beginning a perfect concatenation of lies, "is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens." Enough!
Return to his line about evolution. From the evidence of Sen. Kennedy's book, it appears that he experienced no evolution whatsoever throughout his entire public life. In fact, it appears that emotionally, he experienced no evolution from the era of the caveman.
Posted by Brett at 11:46 AM
Let me get this straight......we just passed a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president that also hasn't read it and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.
What the hell could possibly go wrong???
Posted by Brett at 11:36 AM
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
To Democrats, It's Monopoly Money
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It is America's misfortune that at a moment in history that required sober, grown-up stewardship and a realistic appraisal of our fiscal trajectory, we elected (by large margins) the party of supplicants and whiners. How appropriate that one of the selling points of Obamacare was the guarantee that children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents' insurance plans -- because the Democrats' whole program is about extending adolescence.
Like teenagers, the Democrats are weak on long-term consequences, saving for the future, and planning for (entirely foreseeable) contingencies. They excel at demanding their allowance, but not so much at earning it. They are the "me" party. Health care, pronounced Nancy Pelosi, is a "right" to be financed by others, not a privilege.
A serious party would grapple with our mounting unfunded obligations. Each year the trustees of the Medicare and Social Security programs issue a report analyzing the costs of those programs. Last year's report put the total unfunded liability of the two programs at $107 trillion in 2009 dollars. The two programs now consume about 14 percent of tax receipts. By 2030, even without the new Obamacare entitlement, they will chew up half of all federal outlays. By 2060, they would swallow 75 percent. They are, to use the favorite Washington expression, "unsustainable."
Particularly at a time when the battered economy is taking its first tentative steps toward recovery, a responsible government would seek to reduce debt, ease the burdens on businesses, and refrain from introducing more instability and unpredictable new burdens on taxpayers.
Instead, the Democrats have charged ahead with their social/democratic vision of a Europeanized America. The past several months have removed all doubt that the Democrats are willing to risk national bankruptcy in pursuit of their great white whale -- nationalized health care. They may yet compound the error by adding cap and trade to the ledger.
Consider the brief nod to fiscal responsibility they offered in February. Excoriating "a decade of profligacy," President Obama signed "Paygo" -- a measure to require that new spending be balanced by cuts or tax increases so as not to increase the deficit. "It's easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits," declared the president. "What's hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that's what we must do."
Or not. Paygo exempted some 50 federal programs, including (you guessed it) Social Security, the Medicare "doc fix," and anything the leadership chose to label "emergency" spending. When the Democrats appropriated $10 billion for extension of unemployment insurance and COBRA insurance plans without any offsetting cuts in other areas or tax increases, Sen. Jim Bunning protested and became a pinata for his trouble. Bunning unmasked the truth: To the Democrats, it's all Monopoly money. That's why they can rack up deficits in the trillions without batting an eye.
And they have the gall to claim that passing this 2,700-page monstrosity proves that "they can govern."
This is a clarifying moment. By driving their agenda so relentlessly and to such extremes, the Democrats have redrawn the political map. No longer will it easily be said that there is no relevant distinction between the parties. No longer will conservatives easily disdain the Republican Party. Yes, under President Bush, the U.S. accumulated $3.3 trillion in deficits. But based purely on his policies in his first year, Obama is projected to run deficits of $7.6 trillion over eight years -- and that may be a low-ball estimate. Republicans now have a clear message to convey to voters: We will undo the damage. It seems likely now that all of the energy represented by the Tea Party movement will flow into Republican, not third-party channels.
The Republicans acquitted themselves well throughout this long struggle. Articulate, well-prepared members like Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Tom Coburn, Rep. Mike Pence, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. John Kyl, and others made the case for sensible, market-oriented reform of the health care system and against the reckless, corrupt, heavy-handed, bankrupting, choice-limiting scheme of the majority party.
When President Obama tilted his chin toward the sky at his inauguration and declared that "change is coming to America," this is what he had in mind -- an irreversible turn toward a European welfare state and away from the free-market model. The turn has begun. The voters will decide whether it is irreversible.
Posted by Brett at 8:18 PM
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Since arriving in Canada I've been accused of thought crimes, threatened with criminal prosecution for speeches I hadn't yet given, and denounced on the floor of the Parliament (which was nice because that one was on my "bucket list").
Posters advertising my speech have been officially banned, while posters denouncing me are plastered all over the University of Ottawa campus. Elected officials have been prohibited from attending my speeches. Also, the local clothing stores are fresh out of brown shirts.
Welcome to Canada!
The provost of the University of Ottawa, average student IQ: 0, wrote to me -- widely disseminating his letter to at least a half-dozen intermediaries before it reached me -- in advance of my visit in order to recommend that I familiarize myself with Canada's criminal laws regarding hate speech.
This marks the first time I've ever gotten hate mail for something I might do in the future.
Apparently Canadian law forbids "promoting hatred against any identifiable group," which the provost, Francois A. Houle advised me, "would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."
I was given no specific examples of what words and phrases I couldn't use, but I take it I'm not supposed to say, "F--- you, Francois."
While it was a relief to know that it is still permissible in Canada to promote hatred against unidentifiable groups, upon reading Francois' letter, I suddenly realized that I had just been the victim of a hate crime! And it was committed by Francois A. Houle (French for "Frank A. Hole").
What other speakers get a warning not to promote hatred? Did Francois A. Houle send a similarly worded letter to Israel-hater Omar Barghouti before he spoke last year at U of Ottawa? ("Ottawa": Indian for "Land of the Bed-Wetters.")
How about Angela Davis, Communist Party member and former Black Panther who spoke at the University of Zero just last month?
Or do only conservatives get letters admonishing them to be civil? Or -- my suspicion -- is it only conservative women who fuel Francois' rage?
How about sending a letter to all Muslim speakers advising them to please bathe once a week while in Canada? Would that constitute a hate crime?
I'm sure Canada's Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of Francois' strange warning to me, inasmuch as I will be filing a complaint with that august body, so I expect they will be reviewing every letter the university has sent to other speakers prior to their speeches to see if any of them were threatened with criminal prosecution.
Both writer Mark Steyn and editor Ezra Levant have been investigated by the Human Rights Commission for promoting hatred toward Muslims.
Levant's alleged crime was to reprint the cartoons of Mohammed originally published in a Danish newspaper, leading practitioners of the Religion of Peace to engage in murderous violence across the globe. Steyn's alleged crime was to publish an excerpt of his book, "America Alone" in Maclean's magazine, in which he jauntily described Muslims as "hot for jihad."
Both of them also flew jet airliners full of passengers into skyscrapers in lower Manhattan, resulting in thousands of deaths. No, wait -- that was somebody else.
Curiously, however, there was no evidence that either the cartoons or the column did, in fact, incite hatred toward Muslims -- nor was there the remotest possibility that they would.
By contrast, conservative speakers are regularly subjected to violent attacks on college campuses. Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, David Horowitz and I have all been the targets of infamous campus attacks.
That's why the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute (a sponsor of my Canada speeches) and the Young America's Foundation (a sponsor of many of my college speeches) don't send conservatives to college campuses without a bodyguard.
You'd have to be a real A-Houle not to anticipate that accusing a conservative of "promoting hatred" prior to her arrival on a college campus would in actuality -- not in liberal fantasies of terrified Muslims cowering in terror of Mark Steyn readers -- incite real-world violence toward the conservative.
The university itself acknowledged that Francois' letter was likely to provoke violence against me by demanding -- long after my speech was scheduled, but immediately after Francois disseminated his letter -- that my sponsors pony up more than $1,200 for extra security.
Also following Francois' letter, the Ottawa University Student Federation met for 7 1/2 hours to hammer out a series of resolutions denouncing me. The resolutions included:
"Whereas Ann Coulter is a hateful woman;
"Whereas she has made hateful comments against GLBTQ, Muslims, Jews and women;
"Whereas she violates an unwritten code of 'positive-space';
"Be it resolved that the SFUO express its disapproval of having Ann Coulter speak at the University of Ottawa."
At least the students didn't waste 7 1/2 hours on something silly, like their studies.
At the risk of violating anyone's positive space, what happened to Canada? How did the country that gave us Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd and Catherine O'Hara suddenly become a bunch of whining crybabies?
After Tuesday night, the hatred incited by Francois' letter is no longer theoretical. The police called off my speech when the auditorium was surrounded by thousands of rioting liberals -- screaming, blocking the entrance, throwing tables, demanding that my books be burned, and finally setting off the fire alarm.
Sadly, I missed the book burning because I never made it to the building.
But, reportedly, a Canadian crowd hasn't been this excited since they opened a new Tim Hortons. Local reporters couldn't make out what the crowd was chanting, but it was something about "Molson" and a "sled dog."
I've given more than 100 college speeches, and not once has one of my speeches been shut down at any point. Even the pie-throwing incident at the University of Arizona didn't break up the event. I said "Get them!", the college Republicans got them, and then I continued with my rambling, hate-filled diatribe -- I mean, my speech.
So we've run this experiment more than 100 times.
Only one college speech was ever met with so much mob violence that the police were forced to cancel it: The one that was preceded by a letter from the university provost accusing me of hate speech.
(To add insult to injury, Francois didn't even plan to attend my speech because Tuesday is his bikini wax night.)
If a university official's letter accusing a speaker of having a proclivity to commit speech crimes before she's given the speech -- which then leads to Facebook postings demanding that Ann Coulter be hurt, a massive riot and a police-ordered cancellation of the speech -- is not hate speech, then there is no such thing as hate speech.
Either Francois goes to jail or the Human Rights Commission is a hoax and a fraud.
To read an article about Ann Coulter's health care plan, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:22 PM
The Reality of Obamacare
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
First: Congratulations to President Obama and the Democratic leadership. You won dirty against bipartisan opposition from both Congress and the majority of Americans. You've definitely polarized the country even more, and quite possibly bankrupted us, too. But hey, you won. Bubbly for everyone.
Simply, you have nationalized health care by proxy. Insurance companies are now heavily regulated government contractors. Way to get big business out of Washington and our lives! These giant corporations will clear a small, government-approved profit on top of their government-approved fees. Then, when health care costs rise -- and they will -- Democrats will insist, yet again, that the profit motive is to blame, and out from this ObamaCare Trojan horse will pour another army of liberals demanding a more honest version of single-payer.
The Obama administration has turned the insurance industry into the Blackwater of socialized medicine.
That's always what Obama had in mind. During the now-legendary health care summit, Obama, who loves to talk about "risk pools," "competition," "consumer choice" and the like, let it slip that he actually doesn't believe in insurance as commonly understood. The notion that Americans should buy the health care "equivalent of Acme Insurance that I had for my car" seemed preposterous to him. "I'm buying that to protect me from some catastrophic situation," he explained. "Otherwise, I'm just paying out of pocket. I don't go to the doctor. I don't get preventive care. There are a whole bunch of things I just do without. But if I get hit by a truck, maybe I don't go bankrupt." Apparently, people are just too stupid to go to the doctor -- or maintain their homes -- if they have to pay much of anything out of pocket.
The endgame was to get the young and healthy to buy more expensive insurance than they need or want. "Expanding the risk pool" and "spreading out the risk" by mandating -- i.e., forcing -- young people to buy insurance is just market-based spin for socialist ends. A risk pool is an actuarial device where a lot of people pay a small sum to cover themselves against a "rainy day" problem that will affect only a few people. Such "peace of mind" health insurance is gone. What we have now is health assurance. With health assurance, there are no "risk pools" really, only payment plans.
Under the new law, all the exits from the system are blocked. You can't opt out or buy cheap, high-deductible Acme Car-type insurance, even if that's what you need. Ultimately, even that coercion won't be enough to make the whole thing work because the "cost curve" will not be bending.
Profit-hungry insurance companies were never the problem. (According to American Enterprise Institute economist Andrew Biggs, industry profit margins are around 3 percent, and the entire industry recorded profits of just $13 billion last year, close to a rounding error in Medicare fraud estimates.) Rather, health care costs have been skyrocketing because consumers treat health insurance like an expense account. Putting almost everyone into one "risk pool" doesn't change that dynamic; it universalizes it. And eventually, the only way to cut costs will be to ration care.
In September, Obama got into a semantic argument with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who noted that requiring all Americans to pay premiums for a government-guaranteed service sounds an awful lot like a tax. "No. That's not true, George," Obama said. "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it's saying is ... that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you."
Stephanopoulos invoked a dictionary definition of a tax: "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes." Obama laughed off the idea that a dictionary might outrank him as the final arbiter of a word's meaning: "George, the fact that you looked up ... the definition of tax increase indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition."
OK, put aside your dictionaries. The legislation allocates $10 billion to pay for 16,500 IRS agents who will collect and enforce mandatory "premiums." Does that sound like the private sector at work to you?
Posted by Brett at 4:20 PM
It's a Civil War: What We Do Now
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A terrible thing happened to America on Sunday, March 21, 2010.
The country took its biggest step ever down a road diametrically opposed to its original intent of keeping the state small so that the individual can be free and great.
Therefore, in this unprecedented crisis of values, this is what needs to be done:
1. Know and teach America's core values.
We got to this point solely because over the past few generations, Americans have forgotten the values that have made America distinctive and great. Even the "Greatest Generation" failed to communicate them.
In a nutshell, they are what I call the American Trinity: "In God we trust," "Liberty" and "E Pluribus Unum." The left has successfully made war on all three -- substituting secularism for God and religion in as much of American life as possible; substituting equality (of result) for liberty; and multiculturalism is the opposite of "E Pluribus Unum."
People who do not understand American ideals -- especially small government -- now dominate our schools, our entertainment media and our news media.
(My own contribution here is a video titled, "The American Trinity" at prageru.com. Please view it and forward it.)
2. Recognize that we are fighting the left, not liberals.
Conservatives and centrists are no longer fighting liberals. We are fighting the left.
Liberalism believed in American exceptionalism; the left not only does not believe in it, the left opposes it. President Obama, when asked if he believes in American exceptionalism, replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
Liberalism believed in creating wealth; the left is interested in redistributing it.
Liberalism believed in a strong defense. The left believes in cutting defense and a strong United Nations.
3. Democrats should be referred to as Social Democrats. This is not meant to be cute, let alone as a slur. But calling Democrats Social Democrats is an effective way of reminding Americans that there is no longer any difference between what is now known as the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic parties of Europe. When the Democratic Party returns to its roots as a liberal, not a left-wing, party, we will happily resume calling the party by its original name. However, since no Democrat can cite a significant difference between the Democratic Party and the SD parties, there is no good reason not to use the more accurate nomenclature.
4. Work tirelessly to repeal the bill.
We must single-mindedly work to repeal the government health plan. We all know that it is difficult to repeal entitlements because they are like drugs and it is very difficult to wean people off drugs. But it is not impossible. We need to warn our fellow Americans that entitlements will do to America what drugs eventually do to addicts.
All Republicans must run for office on the "repeal" issue. Even when they lose, the difference between right and left, between Republicans and Social Democrats will have been made clear; and clarity is our best friend.
5. Our motto: "The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen."
I used this phrase in addressing the Republican members of Congress. It has become widely used, including by Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., on the House floor during the Congressional debate on Sunday. It encapsulates this epic battle of American values versus leftist values. Every movement needs a motto. I nominate this.
6. Do not let other matters distract.
Neither Republicans nor conservatives are united on every issue facing America. Immigration is one example. But we are united on the big government vs. free individual issue, which, more than anything else, has defined America. If we allow any other domestic issue to divide us, we will lose.
And here's why: If Americans forget what America stands for, it won't help us if there is not one illegal immigrant here. And if we do remember what it means to be American, we can handle anything.
7. Acknowledge that we are in a non-violent civil war.
I write the words "civil war" with an ache in my heart. But we are in one.
Thank God this civil war is non-violent. But the fact is that the left and the rest of the country share almost no values. The American value system and the leftist value system are irreconcilable. If the left wins, America's values lose. If American values prevail, the left loses.
After Sunday's vote, for the first time in American history, one could no longer confidently believe that the American system will prevail. And if we don't fight for it, we don't deserve it.
Obamacare Versus Freedom
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi spent the weekend telling Democrats to hurry up and get the job done -- i.e., end the legislative agony by passing Obamacare (even though polls show that a solid majority of the American people oppose it). Obama argued, "This is why I got into politics."
But the congressional votes to pass Obamacare will not make the issue go away. It will stick around to plague the Democrats not only through the 2010 elections but for the rest of Obama's administration.
The American people have figured out that the issue is not health care, it's freedom. It's whether Obama will succeed in "fundamentally transforming" the American nation, the first leg of which is to put complete control over every individual's health into the hands of government bureaucrats and their appointed "experts."
Opposition to this Obamanation is manifesting itself not only in Tea Parties, Town Hall Meetings, a tsunami of phone calls to the U.S. Capitol and spontaneous demonstrations in unprecedented numbers. The revolt against Obamacare is also resonating in state capitols all over the country.
Virginia was the first state legislature to pass a Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act to protect Virginians' right to make their own health care and health insurance choices, to pay directly for medical care and to prohibit any individual or employer from being penalized for not buying government-defined health insurance. When Virginia's House of Delegates voted 80 to 17, 21 Democrats sided with the GOP.
Idaho had the first state governor sign a Freedom of Choice in Health Care law. The Arizona Legislature has placed the Health Care Freedom Act as a proposed constitutional amendment on Arizona's 2010 election ballot.
Three states have passed a Freedom of Choice bill in one House. Similar measures are under consideration in more than 35 states.
Oklahoma passed a law to allow its citizens to opt out of Obamacare. Utah passed three resolutions, one of which asserts the "inviolable sovereignty of the State of Utah under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution."
Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, South Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster and Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum are gearing up to sue the federal government. They say the bill is unconstitutional because it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance.
McMaster said, "It's essentially a direct tax on the people. ... There's no authority in the Constitution that allows the Congress to do that."
The New York Times reluctantly admitted that these state laws and constitutional amendments are "on a roll." The Times is worried -- it's not sure whether they constitute a movement or a backlash or just political theater.
Many people look upon Massachusetts as the model for Obamacare. That state imposed individual and employer mandates in 2006, and it's time to look at the results.
By 2010, one-third of the uninsured still don't have coverage, and it's become harder to see a doctor. Health insurance is 40 percent more expensive than in the rest of the country, and Massachusetts is expecting a $2 billion to $4 billion shortfall over the next decade.
Obama says repeatedly that under his plan you can keep your present health insurance. But Massachusetts told 20 percent of its already insured citizens they had to buy more expensive health insurance because their existing coverage wasn't "good enough."
Remember, if the government can force us to buy health insurance, it can define what that insurance must cover. It's estimated that a federal mandate would force 100 million Americans to drop their existing plans and buy more expensive health insurance to meet Obamacare requirements.
Now that state legislatures are flexing their state sovereignty muscles, some are tackling other issues, too. Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Tennessee and Utah enacted laws declaring that federal regulation of guns is invalid if a weapon is made and used only within the state. Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin passed bills to reaffirm their state's authority over the National Guard.
Opponents of these state sovereignty laws claim they are unconstitutional because the Constitution's Article VI states that federal law prevails over state law. Supporters of state sovereignty laws respond by asserting the Tenth Amendment.
Texas opted out of Obama's pot of $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" (a.k.a. Race to the Takeover) grants to states that accept federal control of public school curriculum and standards, and Rick Perry just won an unexpected landslide in a gubernatorial primary by warning Washington, "Don't mess with Texas!"
Obamacare is a major weapon to carry out Obama's plan to transform America into a country of incredible debt, government control of industries, redistribution of taxpayers' earnings and savings to non-taxpayers, and massive authority exercised by weirdo czars. The American people -- and the various states -- are not going to accept Obama's transformation.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Pork is the preferred metaphor in Washington for misspending. But last weekend, pork took a backseat to baloney, which was present in abundance as President Obama and House Democrats tried to convince the public -- and themselves -- that their takeover of one-sixth of the economy is going to improve health insurance and the availability of medical treatment.
The biggest laugher was the promise to save $500 billion (the current annual cost of the Medicare program) over the next 10 years by cutting waste, fraud and abuse. Democrats used to accuse Republicans of wanting to bump off seniors when they proposed Medicare reforms. Now that they claim to be doing it, they declare themselves righteous.
As Lloyd Brown writes for the Web site "American Thinker": "Medicare cost $3 billion in 1966. In what it called a conservative estimate, the House Ways and Means Committee that year projected Medicare would cost $12 billion after inflation by 1990. The actual cost in 1990: $107 billion."
Medicare costs doubled every four years between 1966 and 1980 because the population grew older and politicians added more promises. Politicians want us to believe that their inability to control spending and add-ons is over and that they'll go on the spending wagon while still protecting the elderly. Puh-leeze!
In remarks to the House Democratic caucus, President Obama claimed the bill would reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion. He must know that isn't true because the money "saved" from Medicare cuts will go to pay for new spending. Only in Orwellian Washington can money be saved and spent simultaneously.
Addressing critics of the bill, President Obama said no one is "going to pull the plug on grandma." They won't have to. The opposition believes that Grandma will be denied treatment because she's too much of a financial burden on government. It's called rationing. Is that why the president emphasizes sick children? Will children be the only ones to get the most -- and best -- treatment? Rahm Emanuel's brother, Ezekiel, has said government has a right to decide how many health-care dollars you are worth. And if children with a lifelong taxpaying potential are worth more than grandma who is taking more from the tax pot than she is contributing, too bad for grandma.
The president also said the bill will save money by requiring only one test by the doctor "not five tests." But what if the first test doesn't reveal the nature of an illness? Suppose a cancer is hiding in one organ and the test is for cancer in another organ? A second (or fifth) test might reveal the location of the disease, but under Obamacare, a government bureaucrat will allow just one test.
The president promised again "you can keep your doctor." But the doctor might retire because he or she can't afford to accept reduced fees mandated by government while paying ever-increasing premiums for malpractice insurance to protect him or her from lawsuits, which, by the way, is another reason so many tests are ordered.
Government-run health care has been tried in Massachusetts ... and it's a disaster. According to Peter Suderman, associate editor at Reason magazine, "since 2006, the cost of the state's insurance program has ballooned by 42 percent, or almost $600 million. According to an analysis by the Rand Corporation, 'in the absence of policy change, health-care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8 percent faster than the state's gross domestic product.'"
Insurance costs in Massachusetts are the highest in the nation and double-digit rate increases are expected again this year. Yet, President Obama claimed Saturday that under the Democrats' plan, rates would go DOWN. How is this possible? The only reason Massachusetts hasn't become insolvent is because of large transfusions of cash from Washington, which perpetuates the illusion the program works.
As for Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak's deal with President Obama for an executive order banning federal funds for abortions, laws trump executive orders. Stupak caved; so much for standing on principle.
President Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said he was "bound to be true" and suggested that he, too, was bound to be true. This legislation is so full of budget gimmicks, tricks and lies that the only thing true is that it will make health care in America worse, not better.
Posted by Brett at 12:27 PM
A Tyrannical Act
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The day after the House approved the health care bill, a reporter asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about the lawsuits some states were threatening against the legislation on the grounds that the provision forcing all Americans to buy health insurance was unconstitutional.
"I think there's pretty longstanding precedent on the constitutionality of this," Gibbs said, without offering any substantive explanation.
Later in the briefing, another reporter pressed Gibbs on the question. "You say there's established law, established precedent," said the reporter. "On what? What is it? What is the established precedent?"
"On the regulation of interstate commerce," said Gibbs.
The reporter then asked how the mandate in question was part of interstate commerce. "Well, that's -- I think, again -- look, I'm not a lawyer, right," said Gibbs.
"And neither am I," said the reporter.
"Right," said Gibbs, "so we're both in a pool where we can't either see or touch the bottom."
Gibbs, of course, has every right to profess ignorance of the Constitution. Who knows, in this instance, he might be telling the truth. But he has no right to denigrate the ability of other Americans to understand the Constitution, and it is fatuous for him to suggest only lawyers can.
George Washington, who presided over the constitutional convention, was no lawyer. He was a farmer and a soldier. Ben Franklin, a delegate to the constitutional convention, was no lawyer. He was a printer and a writer. Most Americans who have fought and died to preserve our way of life were not lawyers. Did these patriots not understand the Constitution?
What part of "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation" does it take a law degree to understand?
Surely, a teacher, a doctor, a mechanic, a network news anchor and perhaps even a member of Congress can understand the words of the 10th Amendment as well as any lawyer can. It says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
If the Constitution has not delegated to the federal government the power to force Americans to buy health insurance, then Congress and the president do not have that power. Period.
The Commerce Clause that Robert Gibbs says President Obama will use to claim that the federal government does have this power is no more difficult to understand than the words that protect our private property. It says: "The Congress shall have power ... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."
If you live in California and engage in a transaction with someone in Mexico, you are engaging in "commerce with foreign nations," and the federal government can regulate that transaction. It cannot force you to buy breakfast in a restaurant on Tuesdays. But if a restaurant you freely patronize buys grapefruits in Mexico, it can regulate that grapefruit transaction.
Similarly, if you live in Ohio and engage in a transaction with someone in Florida, you are engaging in commerce "among the several states." The federal government cannot force you to buy oranges once a week, but if a grocer you freely shop with buys oranges from a farmer in Florida, it can regulate that orange transaction.
Finally, if you engage in commerce "with the Indian tribes," the federal government can regulate that, too.
Over the years, liberals seeking to increase government control over our lives have tried to expand the meaning of commerce "among the several states" far beyond what the Framers understood it to mean. The most far-flung interpretation came in the 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn. Here, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could use its power to regulate commerce "among the several states" to regulate the amount of wheat an Ohio farmer grew on his own land even though he never sold or traded that wheat but used it only for his own consumption on his own property.
It did take a whole team of lawyers to come up with this notion. But those lawyers -- serving as Supreme Court justices -- were not trying to understand the Constitution, they were trying to change it without going through the amendment process prescribed by the Constitution itself.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, until President Obama signed this health care bill, the federal government had never before ordered Americans to buy any good or service. The reason was simple: Until now, no president or Congress dared to exceed their constitutional authority in this way.
In November, I asked Sen. Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, about the constitutionality of the health care bill's individual mandate. "If that is held constitutional -- for them to be able to tell us we have to purchase health insurance -- then there is literally nothing that the federal government can't force us to do," he said. "Nothing."
Hatch is not given to hyperbole. He spoke truth. Forcing Americans to buy a product they do not want is a tyrannical act beyond the constitutional authority of the president and Congress. It must be repealed.
To read another article by Terry Jeffrey, click here.
Posted by Brett at 11:52 AM