The view from the left 0

Hard as it is to believe, this Washington Post column by Fred Hiatt is not satire. He seems seriously to mean what he says.

Gays, immigrants, union leaders, budget hawks, campaign finance reformers, environmentalists, free-traders, human rights activists and civil libertarians all have had cause to wonder whether they were right to trust Obama. The list is familiar, but the explanation remains disputed.

My theory: The culprit is less ideology than Obama’s fidelity to a strategy he can’t, for tactical reasons, publicly acknowledge. Given the hand he was dealt, the evidence suggests he resolved that he had to choose only one domestic and one foreign objective for his first two years in office.

An ambitious set of goals motivated Obama’s candidacy, and early in his presidency the rap was that he was taking on too many. But the legacy of wars abroad and the Great Recession at home threatened his ability to accomplish any of them. Simply managing that bleak inheritance, he realized, might consume his entire term.

To avoid that trap, Obama had to govern with discipline. First, he would have to turn potential negatives into successes. At home, that meant not only engineering a stimulus program to end the recession but also designing financial reform to prevent a recurrence. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it meant charting a path to not just to withdrawal but stable outcomes.

Since both fronts would take enormous energy and political capital, Obama could not afford to squander whatever remained across an array of worthy electives. So over time he subordinated everything to just two: health-insurance reform and blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Anything else, no matter how popular or deserving, had to give way if it interfered with those.

Obama has put enormous energy into repairing relations with Russia, for example, and relatively less into ties with allies such as India, Mexico or Britain because stopping Iran would require Russia’s support of sanctions. Without a new START arms-control treaty, Russia would not play ball on Iran, so Obama worked assiduously to negotiate a new START. The nuclear summit he hosted in Washington this month; playing down trade tensions with China; the relative reticence on North Korea’s nukes; prodding Israel toward peace talks — all of these were crafted with an eye toward Iran.

At home, the mono-focus is more obvious. Obama would like to close the Guantanamo prison, curb traffic of assault weapons crossing the Mexican border, reform immigration laws and reduce carbon emissions. But each would have carried a political cost, to Obama or Democratic allies he needed on health care, so they all had to wait.

I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would go to any lengths to achieve the main objective. He bargained hard on START, for example, insisting that the treaty meet U.S. military needs as well as serve the larger goal.

And it’s not that he has abandoned everything else: Where he could advance other objectives at minimal cost, he has done so, usually by executive action. He wouldn’t fight for labor law reform, but he promulgated regulations that favor unions. He hasn’t replaced No Child Left Behind, but he allowed his education secretary to spur reform by judicious granting and withholding of stimulus funds. There’s no climate change legislation, but the Environmental Protection Agency hiked mileage standards for cars and trucks. And so on.

Obama can’t acknowledge all this. You don’t tell allies, whether gay rights groups or India, that they’ve slipped down your priority list. (That’s especially true now, before an election, as immigration, education and energy advocates jockey to go next.) And the best negotiating strategy to get things you want isn’t always to show how much you want them.

So we may have to wait until Obama writes his memoirs to discover why he elevated these two goals. Was he set on health reform from the start, for instance, or did congressional politics nudge that ahead of, say, coping with climate change?

Abroad, the strategy, with its hope of turning autocracies such as China and Russia into long-term partners, remains at best unproven. At home, it seems to be paying off, with major health reform approved and financial reform in sight. For those at the back of the line — such as the District last week — the opportunity costs are sharply felt. But even at such times, it’s hard not to admire Obama’s focus.

Every statement cries out for exegesis. Some of them – Obama’s “ending of the recession”, his financial reform, his “charting a path to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan” – need at least a paragraph each. But there’s one that clamors for objection above the rest.

“Blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons” has been Obama’s foreign policy priority? Everything else except health care has been subordinated to that goal? He’s focussed on it?

Strange – we haven’t noticed that he’s done a damn thing about it. It seems to us that he’s perfectly willing to let Iran become a nuclear-armed power. A series of  “deadlines” have been allowed to pass without there being any penalty for Iran’s ignoring them. Talk of sanctions has been nothing but talk, and those talked of have been steadily weakened. No military option is “on the table”. Obama has begged Ahmadinejad for his friendship, and the poisonous little dictator has gleefully said no over and over again. How come Mr Hiatt hasn’t noticed all that?

How has the START treaty affected Iran? Russia is still not willing to vote for sanctions. And what US military needs have been served by it?  It is plainly to the detriment of the US and the advantage of Russia. Relations with Russia are in no way “repaired”. If changed at all, they’re probably worse. Nor will China vote for sanctions. And Obama’s “reticence” on North Korea’s nukes has resulted in – what?  As for the nuclear summit, Iran wasn’t even mentioned. And “prodding” Israel – that has made the world safe from Iranian bombs? What it has really done is tell Israel that it has “slipped down the priority list”, along with India and Britain and a number of other allies.

Well, we’ve recovered from being flabbergasted by Mr Hiatt’s quaint perspective and now we find it amusing. And it’s gratifying to know that numerous bunches of lefties (but surely “free-traders” and “budget hawks” do not belong among them) feel disappointed by the president of their dreams. From our perspective he has gone fearfully far to satisfy them, with the “executive action” and “regulations” and so on that Mr Hiatt tells us were thrown to them as mere sops or stop-gaps. So apparently he might have gone further and done even worse.

The implication of Mr Hiatt’s apologia for his hero is that when he has succeeded with his two chosen “electives”, he will go further. Now the health care legislation has been forced through, but there still remains the other goal Mr Hiatt believes Obama is focussed on: stopping Iran going nuclear.

If Mr Hiatt is right and the achievement of that goal really stands between Obama and the rest of the far left agenda he’s expected to foist on us, then we can rest easy. Or could, if dread of those bombs wasn’t keeping us awake nights.

But what if Mr Hiatt is wrong? We’ll get the bombs and the radical left agenda.

On the gurney to serfdom 1

Investor’s Business Daily explains how the Democrats are moving steadily towards single-payer total government control of health care:

Are the Democrats who want to place price controls on premiums trying to destroy the health insurance business? If we didn’t know better, we’d say yes. And we do know better — don’t we?

It was just a month ago that the Democrats passed and signed a radical overhaul of the country’s health care sector. But 3,000 pages of new law apparently are not enough for lawmakers who don’t read the bills they vote on.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, says there’s “an enormous loophole” in her party’s reform effort that must be closed. So she’s introduced a bill that would give the secretary of health and human services the authority to review health plan premiums and block “any rate increase found to be unreasonable.”

This, after the public was told many times over that the Democrats’ health care legislation would bring down costs and rein in those troublesome health insurance companies that are making so much money.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to see where the Democrats are going with this. Their regulators will establish price controls, which will drive health plan providers out of business as the restrictions make it impossible or unreasonable for them to make profits.

To deal with the shortage of health plans, Democrats will then complete the government takeover of medicine by placing Washington in the position of being the sole provider of health care.

Posted under Commentary, Health, Progressivism, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 23, 2010

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Arms and The Man 0

Are the Dictator and his collectivists bringing some patriotic Americans to the point of seriously contemplating armed insurrection?

The Washington Post reports:

Daniel Almond, a three-tour veteran of Iraq, is ready to “muster outside D.C.” on Monday [today] with several dozen other self-proclaimed patriots, all of them armed. They intend to make history as the first people to take their guns to a demonstration in a national park, and the Virginia rally is deliberately being held just a few miles from the Capitol and the White House.

Almond plans to have his pistol loaded and openly carried, his rifle unloaded and slung to the rear, a bandoleer of magazines containing ammunition draped over his polo-shirted shoulder. The Atlanta area real estate agent organized the rally because he is upset about health-care reform, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws and what he sees as President Obama’s insistence on and the Democratic Congress’s capitulation to a “totalitarian socialism” that tramples individual rights. …

Others consider it an alarming escalation of paranoia and anger in the age of Obama.

“What I think is important to note is that many of the speakers have really threatened violence, and it’s a real threat to the rule of law,” Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said of the program for the armed rally. “They are calling health care and taxes that have been duly enacted by a democratically elected Congress tyrannical, and they feel they have a right to confront that individually.”

On the lineup are several heroes of the militia movement, including Mike Vanderboegh, who advocated throwing bricks through the windows of Democrats who voted for the health-care bill; Tom Fernandez, who has established a nationwide call tree to mobilize an armed resistance to any government order to seize firearms; and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, who refused to enforce the Brady law and then won a Supreme Court verdict that weakened its background-check provisions. …

The brandishing of weapons is “not just an important symbol” but “a reminder of who we are,” said Almond. “The founders knew that it is the tendency of government to expand itself and embrace its own power, and they knew the citizenry had to be reminded of that.” …

April 19 is the anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the government’s final confrontation in 1993 with the Branch Davidian cult members in Waco, Tex. But Almond said he chose the date to honor the anniversary of the 1775 battles at Lexington and Concord that began the Revolutionary War, “and that is the only reason.”

So-called open-carry rallies have been sprouting across the country. Hundreds gathered in Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio last week, and rallies also are taking place Monday in Arizona.

The left bias of the Washington Post shows in such words as “self-proclaimed”, suggesting bragging vanity; ”upset”, as if were unreasonably emotional to demonstrate opposition; “paranoia”, hinting at mental unbalance. The report implies that “a democratically elected Congress” could not be tyrannical. Slightly sarcastically, it picks out the names of demonstrators who are known to be activists as “heroes of the militia movement”, to imply that the whole demonstration is the result of a somewhat fanatical mind-set. Although it states that the date for the rally was chosen because it is the anniversary of two battles at the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the reporter drags in the information that it is also the anniversary of two deplorable events.

One of them, in Oklahoma City, was the act of mass murderers that these demonstrators have nothing in common with.

The other, at Waco, though it involved ludicrous religious beliefs, was in our opinion a harrowing lesson in the evil of tyrannical government rather than of resistance to it.

Both have unpleasant connotations, and are mentioned, superfluously, only to tarnish the participants in the rally.

Cling to your guns, patriots, and never mind the slander and the sneering!

The cult of victimhood 0

The liberals’ politics of fake compassion bring about, perfectly logically, the cult of fake victimhood. Self-designated victims lay claim to special consideration and special treatment. Often a bizarre rivalry arises between claimants – a “more victimized than thou” competition.

Of course they’d hate to be victims in reality. They’re not in need of help and compensation. They’re after privileges. They milk compassion out of their neighbors. Its a power-drive that is sometimes turned into tyranny: the tyranny of the weak over the strong. It’s also blackmail of a kind: the blackmailing of good people with their own consciences. That it works so well for so many groups in America  – feminists for instance – proves the genuine kindness and generosity of most Americans. Those who give in to the special demands are probably aware they’re being played for suckers by the whimpering “look what you’ve done to me now” complainants, but feel it’s better to risk being exploited than to refuse pity and charity in case it’s really needed.

Fake victimization can bring cash rewards through law suits. And it can bring political advantage, as no doubt Democratic Congressmen Carson, Lewis, and Cleaver were hoping when they claimed recently that they’d been subjected to verbal abuse by protestors against the health-care legislation.

Mark Steyn comments:

On March 20th, something truly extraordinary happened. On the eve of the health care vote, a group of black Democrat Congressmen (eschewing the private tunnels they usually use to cross from their offices to the Capitol) chose to walk en masse through a crowd of protesters, confident that the knuckledragging Tea Party goons they and their media pals have reviled for a year now would respond with racial epithets.

And then, when the crowd didn’t, the black Congressmen made it up anyway. …

But that’s what the Democratic Party has been reduced to – faking hate crimes as pathetically as any lonely, mentally ill college student. Congressmen Carson, Lewis, Cleaver and the rest have turned themselves into the Congressional equivalent of the Duke University stripper. Except that they’re not some penniless loser but a group of important, influential lifetime legislators enjoying all the privileges and perquisites of power, and in all probability acting at the behest of the Democrat leadership.

Isn’t that what societies with functioning media used to call “a story”?

Apparently not. As they did at Duke, the brain-dead press went along with it – and so, predictably enough, did much of the Republican leadership.

Much more to fear than fear itself (2) 2

Our post Much more to fear than fear itself (yesterday, March 25, 2010) aroused enormous interest – nearly 1,000 hits in the first 8 hours. Commenters are asking for the sections of the law that Michael Connelly refers to, to be cited.  Here is his reply to commenters at his own website:

Thanks to everyone for your comments and interest. Even when people disagree with me I appreciate what they have to say if it is done in a respectful manner. This nation was built on the right to disagree.

It is difficult to cite specific sections of HR 3200 for several reasons. First, much of what I refer to as being done by the bill may not be in just one particular section. Instead the preparers attempt to hide their actual intent by spreading things throughout the bill in different sections. Second, any specific section I refer to by number may change as the Congress returns from recess and starts trying to rework the bill to make it seem more reasonable to the American people. In other words, what is contained in Section 1173A that provides for government electronic access to private information may be renumbered and contain something totally different tomorrow.

However, here are some of the most pertinent sections dealing with some of the areas you are asking about. Section 113 gives the government control over all health insurance, private and public. Section 141 authorizes the appointment of the Health Choices Administrator. He or she will answer to no one other than the President. Sections 201 and 203 give this person the power to decide what benefits you can get in your insurance, whether public or private. This opens the door for health care rationing. This is further mandated by Section 225 that gives the administrator complete control over hospitals and doctors. It sets the fees that can be charged and the services that can be provided.

If the Administrator decides you didn’t need to be hospitalized the hospital can be fined for “breaking the government rules.” This also opens the door for the Administrator to force hospitals and physicians to perform abortions. All health procedures will be mandated by the government. There is also no provision for services to be provided only to citizens or legal residents of the United States. This means that since illegal aliens get the services now, they will continue to do so.

Here is a link to the entire bill and you can look up these and other provisions:

http://thomas.loc.gov/

I hope you find this helpful.

He has also posted this:

Many people are asking what they can do to help in the fight now that the health care bill has passed. I am currently working with the U. S. Justice Foundation that is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation. You can go to the foundation’s website at:

http://usjf.net/

to find out more and how you can donate to help the fight. This is a battle we must win.

Much more to fear than fear itself 14

A Constitutional Law instructor, Michael Connelly, has actually read the mammoth new health care law. (He must be one of a very few who have). His opinion of it, sent on to us by email, confirms some of our worst fears:

The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of expertise, that of constitutional law… What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected.

To begin with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying.

The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession.

The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be health care professionals.

Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the government.

However, as scary as all of this is, it just scratches the surface.

In fact, I have concluded that this legislation really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government which has ever occurred, or even been contemplated.

If this law or a similar one is adopted, major portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been destroyed

The first thing to go will be the masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over the lives of the American people, and the businesses they own…

This legislation also provides for access, by the appointees of the Obama administration, of all of your personal healthcare in direct violation of the specific provisions of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, your personal financial information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital…

If you decide not to have healthcare insurance, or if you have private insurance which is not deemed acceptable to the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be a tax imposed on you. It is called a tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment [which concerns] depriving someone of property without the due process of law…

Under the provisions of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were theirs to control…

This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights.

A farewell to freedom 3

It has happened. The CHANGE has been made.

Mark Steyn sums up just what has happened and what it will mean for America and beyond:

Happy Dependence Day!

Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it’s hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage … The governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be “insurers” in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that’s clear we’ll be on the fast track to Obama’s desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It’s a huge transformative event in Americans’ view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. Their bet is that it can’t be undone, and that over time, as I’ve been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people

More prosaically, it’s also unaffordable. That’s why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it’s less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we’ll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America’s enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .

The bureaucracy will be busy. It will come poking into our private lives, because the government now owns us. It now “has a right” to order us to live like this and not like that. What we eat, how much we eat, how warm or cool we may keep our homes, what sort of transport we may use …. it’s hard to think of a daily activity that won’t be regulated, because the government will be paying – with our tax dollars, of course – for our medical treatment, and may provide it if we’ve been “good”, or withhold it if we’ve been “bad”.

You will obey” is the new true motto of once-free America.

Good-bye, freedom!

Far worse to come 1

Obama has offended his far-left base by having to go cautiously in his campaign to turn America into a collectivist state. Now he is explaining to representatives of that base that he fully intends to go all the way, and has easily won over one of them, Dennis Kucinich, who would have liked to see instant transformation but now trusts his leader to take the nation into that brave new condition step by step.

Joseph Klein writes at Front Page:

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who flipped his vote from “no” to “yes” after his ride with President Obama on Air Force One, just admitted on Fox & Friends what we suspected all along. If the current version of Obamacare passes – as it looks increasingly likely that it will – an even more radical Obamacare II lies ahead. Kucinich said that he received an endorsement from Obama of his wish list for more changes, which happens to include a “robust” public option.

This is typical of how the Progressive movement operates, as Glenn Beck has repeatedly pointed out on his show. And it fits in with Obama’s own declared intention to get a foot in the door with phase 1 of universal health care, and then march on toward a single payer solution akin to Canada’s model.

Back during his presidential campaign, Obama said that if he “were designing a system from scratch [he would] probably move more in the direction of a single-payer plan.”

Obama knows that he can’t get to where he wants all in one fell swoop. So his strategy – presumably shared with Kuchinich on Air Force One – is to lead us unenlightened Americans slowly by the hand towards the Progressives’ Nirvanna:

“It is my belief that not just politically but also economically, it’s better for us to start getting a system in place — a universal health care system signed into law by the end of my first term as president and build off that system

Obama didn’t just buy Kucinich’s vote this Sunday with a ride on Air Force One and some eg0stroking. Obama no doubt confirmed in private, perhaps while munching peanuts on Air Force One, what he was intending to do all along. And it matches Kucinich’s own vision of a government-run single-payer health care system.