Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Clueless in the Congress

HT to Captain Ed for this. Representative Carol Shea-Porter recently had to field a question from a voter in Manchester, NH on the constitutionality of the health care reform package. You've got to hand it to Captain Ed -- It's time we give a civics test to our elected officials before they're allowed to serve in Congress:

Caller Dennis from Manchester asked Shea-Porter during a broadcast on WGIR radio, “I just wanted to know where it says in the Constitution that the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party for that matter, can pretty much do what they’re trying to do?”

“I would point out to you that in the Constitution it also does not say the government can build roads or should build roads,” Shea-Porter replied. “It also doesn’t say the government should make sure the drugs are safe. It doesn’t say the government should look at airplanes to make sure they are safe to get on. It doesn’t say we should have a police force in Manchester.”

So, the Constitution did not cover everything,” Shea-Porter concluded.

Brilliant Rep. Shea-Porter. Just brilliant.

The Constitution wasn't designed to cover everything, you obtuse twit. Article I, Section 8 enumerates the powers of Congress. And anything that isn't covered there is covered by another aspect of the Constitution that is repeatedly overlooked or outright ignored:

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.

For the record, that's the Tenth Amendment which expressly states that anything not covered by the powers enumerated to the federal government lies in the purview of the States. In other words, where there isn't an explicit power given to the federal government then the federal government needs to keep it's damn nose out of it.

The argument she makes is foolish to begin with. We have had law enforcement in this nation since before the declaration of Independence was written, and long before the Constitution itself was written. We didn't need a Constitution to enable a city or town to establish law enforcement. The same goes for airplanes. (The Commerce Department, established by Congress, originally had this authority until the Department of Transportation was established in 1967, then authority of the FAA was transferred from Commerce to the DoT.) The FDA has had the authority to regulate drugs since the passage of the Food and Drug Act in 1906, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt.

That's the point of the Congress's duties. They pass laws within the purview of their powers. But the constitutionality question was completely avoided by Rep. Shea-Porter. The point of the question can be reflected in the actions taken by Congress since last year, including the bailout of the banks (giving the federal government a stake in those banks), and the auto industry (again giving the federal government a much larger stake in GM and Chrysler to the point of near ownership). Nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government the power to seize or run a private business. Nor is there a provision that allows the federal government to enact this health care legislation which will surely force the private insurers out of business. (And should she argue that point, she's a fool. When confronted by a government-run plan that doesn't have to show a profit, and would be cheaper than most other plans, the private insurers will close their doors.)

It galls the Hell out of both of us when those in Congress can't even comprehend the very document they swore an oath to defend and uphold. This is another example of the disconnect those in Congress have not only with the people of this nation, but with the law itself. Since the inauguration of Barry and the convening of the 111th Congress (where Democrats have unfettered control of the Legislative Branch) the Democrats have run roughshod over the Constitution at nearly every turn; completely disregarding not only its limits on them, but also our freedoms that are guaranteed.

We would love to see those running for office to be compelled to take a civics test before they begin their campaigns. If they fail, they don't get a chance to run. Maybe this way we can begin to restore the proper role of government in this country.

Publius II

The "Lion of the Senate" has passed

We know there's going to be a lot said about the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. No doubt there will be an endless stream of nauseating fawning by the media (and don't be surprised to see the talking point float out today that we should pass health care reform in his honor). And, to be sure, there'll be some amount of nasty snark coming from our side of the aisle as the man wasn't well liked by conservatives. But now is not the time for that. ABC reports:

Sen. Ted Kennedy died shortly before midnight Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77.

The man known as the “liberal lion of the Senate” had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to…

..A hardworking, well-liked politician who became the standard-bearer of his brothers’ liberal causes, his career was clouded by allegations of personal immorality and accusations that his family’s clout helped him avoid the consequences of an accident that left a young woman dead.
But for the younger members of the Kennedy clan, from his own three children to those of his brothers JFK and RFK, Ted Kennedy — once seen as the youngest and least talented in a family of glamorous overachievers — was both a surrogate father and the center of the family.

And certainly it was Ted Kennedy who bore many of the tragedies of the family — the violent deaths of four of his siblings, his son’s battle with cancer, and the death of his nephew John F. Kennedy Jr. in a plane crash.

R.I.P. Senator Kennedy.

Publius II

UPDATE: That didn't take long at all. The Democrats are calling for the immediate passage of the "Senator Edward M. Kennedy Health Care Reform Bill." No, I'm not kidding:

" it’s time to come back after Labor Day with a single coherent Senator Edward M. Kennedy Health Care Reform Bill, and to twist whatever arms, ears, or other parts are necessary to get a good strong comprehensive bill passed and signed, NOW. We owe the memory of a great man no less."

HT to Glenn Reynolds. And there's also news swirling of a possible follow-up to the Wellstone Memorial and campaign rally. HT to JWF for that and this from the New York Times:

While Massachusetts voters would likely vote in another Democratic senator, any delays caused by a special election could hinder efforts by the party to corral the 60 votes needed in the United States Senate to move health care legislation forward.

But the effort to find a quick replacement for Mr. Kennedy may prove complicated. In the week before his death, reaction to his request on Beacon Hill ranged from muted to hostile. The state’s Democrats found themselves in the awkward position of being asked to reverse their own 2004 initiative calling for special elections in such instances.

For the record, the law wasn't changed in time for his death, so welcome to special election central, Democrats. And isn't it sickening that these people can't even take a moment to reflect on the passing of their friend and colleague before putting their agenda first. Despite our dislike of the president, at least Barry didn't focus on his agenda with his statement on the passing of Senator Kennedy early this morning. He stuck to the subject, extended his condolences, and kept the statement brief.

Liberals should take a page from the president, remember their friend, and leave the agenda until tomorrow.

Publius II

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The released CIA documents -- Enhanced interrogation techniques work

Remember back in April when Vice President Cheney specifically asked to have these memos released? Then the Obama administration claimed that to do so would compromise our security, so they had refused. But given the recent stories rolling out of the CIA it looks like they decided to fire back. They have been released now and Barry has nowhere to hide on this because the document do give irrefutable proof that enhanced interrogation techniques did work. From Captain Ed:

The waterboard has been used on three detainees….

Prior to the use of EITs, Abu Zubaydah provided information for [redacted] intelligence reports. Interrogators applied the waterboard to Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times during August 2002. [The report explains that each application of water is counted separately, and most of the 83 applications lasted less than ten seconds.] During the period between the end of the use of the waterboard and 30 April 2003, he provided information for approximately [redacted] intelligence reports. It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah’s increased production, or if another factor, such as the length of detention, was the catalyst. Since the use of the waterboard, however, Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative.

With respect to Al-Nashiri, [redacted] reported two waterboard sessions in November 2002, after which the psychologist/interrogators determined that Al-Nashiri was compliant….Because of the litany of techniques used by different interrogators over a relatively short period of time, it is difficult to identify exactly why Al-Nashiri became more willing to provide information. However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning and [redacted] as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.

On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete. As a means of less active resistance, at the beginning of their interrogation, detainees routinely provide information that they know is already known. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad received 183 applications of the waterboard in March 2003. …

He provided information that helped lead to the arrests of terrorists including Sayfullah Paracha and his son Uzair Paracha, businessmen who Khalid Shaykh Muhammad planned to use to smuggle explosives into the United States; Saleh Almari, a sleeper operative in New York; and Majid Khan, an operative who could enter the United States easily and was tasked to research attacks [redacted]. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad’s information also led to the investigation and prosecution of Iyman Faris, the truck driver arrested in early 2003 in Ohio.

Back in April Ali Soufan, an FBI interrogator, claimed that KSM (Khalid Shaykh Muhammed) didn't need to have the EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) used on him. Soufan said KSM would have cracked under regular techniques. Reread the above on KSM, and the report specifically states that he wasn't cracking, and he wasn't giving interrogators anything relevent. Only after the EITs were used did KSM crack and give up his brothers in arms.

Captain Ed notes that this doesn't address whether EITs constitute torture, and that itself is a non-sequitor. No offense but the EITs utilized aren't illegal or unconstitutional. If people want to make the argument that techniques such as waterboarding is torture, that's their opinion, but it's hardly fact. Marcie and I addressed this issue in one of our more recent columns. Liberals and bleeding hearts tend to confuse waterboarding with water cure which is a torture method. Besides, do we really want to call this technique torture when we use it on our soldiers as a training method?

I know, I know. The bleeding hearts whine that it wasn't needed. To them all we had to do was "emote" with them, and "understand" their gripes. I think not. No gripe entitles these animals to blow up innocent men, women, and children by suicide bombers. Nor does it give them a license to fly planes into buildings, killing 2996 people. I know that some of these bleeding hearts will also point out that we ((GASP)) threatened the families of the terrorists like KSM.

Have these idiots ever heard of theatrics?

We could give a rat's @$$ less what we did or said to these terrorists provided it didn't violate the law. One interrogator was formally reprimanded for using a pistol during an interrogation (the report does not go into specifics how that pistol was used). But these Beltway idiots and their media cronies would have been the first ones screaming for Bush's head on a platter had these techniques not been used to stop an enemy determined to hit us again, and again.

We're in a war folks. We didn't start it. It was delivered to our doorstep in spades. The hyperventilating on the Left needs to stop over what we did. What we did prevented further attacks and saved lives. We'd prefer the bleeding hearts just thank the interrogators for doing their job. Of course that's like asking the Left to sincerely thank our soldiers for doing their job, and that's not happening anytime soon.

Publius II

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Will the Democrats "go it alone" on health care?

That's the gist of the New York Times piece today. Weary from arguing with their constituents, sick of having to deal with their Republican colleagues, the Democrats are poised to ram health care reform through the Congress on their own. And why not? They have the numbers, and have had them since the beginning of this year. But the Democrats wanted to the GOP to own some of this fiasco. The GOP, while we might lose a couple in the House and the Senate, have stood lock-step in opposition to the proposed reforms. Barry's getting impatient that his legacy is stalled, so his minions in the Congress may have to move this through on their own:

Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.

Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.

“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

The Democratic shift may not make producing a final bill much easier. The party must still reconcile the views of moderate and conservative Democrats worried about the cost and scope of the legislation with those of more liberal lawmakers determined to win a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers.

On the other hand, such a change could alter the dynamic of talks surrounding health care legislation, and even change the substance of a final bill. With no need to negotiate with Republicans, Democrats might be better able to move more quickly, relying on their large majorities in both houses.

Democratic senators might feel more empowered, for example, to define the authority of the nonprofit insurance cooperatives that are emerging as an alternative to a public insurance plan.

Republicans have used the Congressional break to dig in hard against the overhaul outline drawn by Democrats. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Jon Kyl of Arizona, is the latest to weigh in strongly, saying Tuesday that the public response lawmakers were seeing over the summer break should persuade Democrats to scrap their approach and start over.

First, Senator Kyl is correct. It would be a better idea to scrap the all of the proposals, and start anew, and this time with REAL bipartisan support. Representative Henry Waxman started compiling the House version that is out and available for people to read, and it included decades-old ideas on how to turn the health care industry over to the government. The people have spoken, and Congress -- along with the president -- would be wise to heed their outcry lest they face the public's wrath at the ballot box next year, and possibly in 2012.

Next, to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the GOP is working to defeat the legislation because they have listened to their constituents and their worries. They are worried about what health care might be like if this reform passes, and it's becoming obvious, as each town hall unfolds, that the people have read more of this bill than those in Congress have. When confronted by the public those from Congress deride their constituents. Or they accuse them of bearing Nazi images, like swastikas. (This is despite the fact that those people have already been outed as left-wing LaRouche kooks and not GOP/conservative, grass-roots activists/concerned citizens.) Or, there are those in Congress accusing colleagues of treason because of their lack of support. In short, it's not the GOP that's derailing the legislation. It's the people, and the Democrats aren't getting a lot of help from their own ranks.

How will the Democrats push through the legislation without no GOP support? It's a congressional rule known as reconciliation. Though the Times piece doesn't mention the term, it's implicit. This has been a threat maintained by Democrats for the last couple of months, most notably by Senator Charles Schumer. The problem with this train of thought for the Democrats is that it's, literally, a train wreck. Reconciliation is used for contentious budget legislation so as to avoid a filibuster. It has never been used for legislation like the health care reform. It wasn't meant to be used in that matter. In fact, a congressional rule known as The Byrd Rule specifically outlines six cases in which reconciliation can be used should a budget bill have extraneous cases.

It should be noted that in any case outside of the six scenarios, a Senator may call a procedural ruling, and unless 60 senators object, the offending provision would be stripped from the bill in contention. But if the Democrats push for reconciliation on health care, the opponents have other procedural remedies to use against the Democrats should the Democrats go for reconciliation. In essence they would grind the Senate to a halt, and demand that each and every bill brought to the floor be read aloud. Any nominees would be stopped immediately, and the Democrats would be powerless to stop it. That, folks, would go on for one year. (Imagine these bills, thousands of pages long, having to be read in their entirety before a vote is granted.)

Reconciliation is the ultimate nuclear option, and if the Democrats aren't careful they could watch their decision blow up in their faces. Harry Reid might be a little off his rocker, but he's not stupid. He knows that reconciliation is a losing proposition. But are they really threatening it because of Republican opposition? Why would they? They literally control both Houses and don't need the GOP to vote for any of this. I think that the real target of the reconciliation threats are the Blue Dogs; the same Blue Dogs that aren't showing a ton of enthusiasm for any sort of reform package that resembles the ones on the table right now.

We urged people to confront the Blue Dogs during the August recess because they were the ones that could make or break this legislation. It seems as though they've heard from their constituents, and they're seeing the writing on the wall. They see their constituents concerns, and they're hearing the promises from them to end the Blue Dogs' political careers. Should the Blue Dogs hold firm, and stay as a focused bloc in Congress, the Democrats will have no choice but to move for reconciliation to pass the legislation. If they do that, the Blue Dogs will be safe, the GOP will be safe, and the Democrats will have signed their own death certificates when it comes to next year's midterms. Oh, and Maxine Waters was correct -- the Blue Dog problems are the fault of Rahm Emanuel, and his strategy in retaking the Congress. Let this be a lesson about how to keep your dogs on a leash.

Sure, we'll get screwed if this passes, but so will the Democrats. In 2006 liberal activists laughed at the GOP for squandering their majorities in twelve years. Who will be laughing when we point to the Democrats squandering their majorities in four years because they just had to ram through a liberal agenda that the nation flat-out rejected?

Publius II

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Issue Up!!!

Usually, readers see this reminder on the 1st and 16th of the month, but the Chief was out of town, so this is a tad late getting up. Of course that's not really a big deal because the new issue of Common Conservative is up and awaiting your perusal.

The Chief makes an interesting comparison -- Barry to the Pet Rock. Trust us, it's about fads, and it makes a lot of sense.

Larry Simoneaux discusses quality control, or lack thereof, in is latest excursion of fixing his daughter's car.

Marcie and I talk about the "Chicago Way" thuggish nature of the administration in DC.

Kicking of the guest articles is Carolyn Hileman and she's also on the issue of thuggery, only this one revolves around Barry's precious unions and their behavior at the town halls.

J.J. Jackson is focused on Barry's health care plan, and on what it means to senior citizens.

Paul Ibbetson takes a look at the robber barons of today in the global warming crowd, and what their futile and foolish efforts mean for us if they ever win this argument.

Tom Proebsting examines how the US got on this path to socialism.

Juan A. de Hoyos makes an interesting argument on behalf of the birthers. (No, I won't comment further on this subject. I have already, and everyone has a right to express an opinion.)

And Ryan Coates takes a look back on the Roaring Twenties, and reminds people that we conservatives were right back then.

Enjoy reading!!

Publius II

Muslims must unite for the coming of the Mahdi

That ain't our call. That's the "order" from Ali Saeedi the spokesman for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Mahdi, or 12th Imam, talk is generating a bit of buzz over there, and he is telling the Muslim nations in the Middle East to basically link arms, and get ready for his arrival: (HT to Ace at AoSHQ)

The spokesman of Iran's Supreme Leader called on neighboring countries to mobilize their forces in preparation for the coming of the savior of Islam and to unite with the Islamic Republic in paving the way for his arrival, an Iranian news agency reported Sunday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's spokesman, Ali Saeedi, said countries like Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan should gather together all their forces in order to make drastic changes to prepare for the coming of al-Mahdi al-Montazar, Arabic for "the awaited guided one."

"We still have a long way to go in order to achieve this. We have to train honest forces that can stop the obstacles that may hinder the coming of the Mahdi like the United States and Israel," Saeedi said in statement posted by the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA).

Saeedi also said that the supreme leader of Iran is the direct representative of the Mahdi and that obeying him is like obeying the "guided one," who is the prophesized savior of Islam.

"Since the armed forces are commanded by the Supreme Leader, they are thus obeying the orders of the awaited Mahdi," Saeedi said, adding "the Revolutionary Guards and the armed forces in Iran hold religious authority to prepare for the appearance of the Mahdi."

The Mahdi is believed by Muslims to be arriving before Judgment Day to rid the world of injustice. Although present in both major Islamic schools of thought, the Mahdi is more prominent in the Shiite doctrine than the Sunni one.

A couple of thoughts here. It must be great that the Mahdi has his own, personal representative already in place. Christ didn't have that. He had people who spoke of His coming, and what He would bring. But I guess the Iranians think is a better idea. After all, the Mahdi doesn't have to say a thing. Khamenei will speak on his behalf.

Second, notice how the US and Israel seem to be a wrench in their plans? So Iran is calling on all Muslim nations to rally around their flag in anticipation for the Mahdi's arrival. After all, only together can they stop the West's incessant meddling, right? If that's the case then why is it being reported that Iran is sending signals they're ready to talk about their nuke program? I'm aware that according to the Koran Muslims may lie to the infidel to suit their needs. The talks that Iran is supposedly embracing could very well be those lies; a delaying tactic to allow Iran the chance, the time, to finish a nuke.

We warned, in the past, that should Iran get a nuke, they're not going to play chicken with it. Israeli has hundreds at their disposal, and the US has thousands. The nuke, or nukes, that Iran builds will be used to blackmail nations in the region to bow to them. At least until they have a pseudo-Persian alliance to go after Israel. Right now Iran knows we have a weak president running the show over here, and one that has basically resigned the nation, and Israel, to the fact that he can live with a nuclear Iran. Nevermind the fact that the people of this country, and the citizens of the West, really can't afford such a scenario.

What will be interesting to see is how many nations actually rally to the calls from Iran. Notice that two of the nations he mentions are nations which we have liberated. Granted things in Afghanistan aren't looking too favorable right now, and the turmoil in Pakistan gives the JCS many a sleepless night. Turkey isn't likely to join an alliance if Pakistan is involved because they still blame Pakistan for the uptick in violence there. Lebanon would be the only one we could see going along with this, and that's due mostly because of Hezbollah.

While we don't believe in the Mahdi (we are Catholic, not Muslim), the internal debates are interesting. Ahmadinejad is a hardcore believer in the Mahdi. He makes no effort to cover up that belief. He's even alluded to him in his UN speeches. What makes this a dangerous point for the world is that the zealots are getting itchy even after the public protests in Iran over their most recent election. They have no problem cracking skulls to get people to tow the line. And by reminding people that the IRGC and other military factions operate at the behest of the supreme leader, it's a reminder to the public to mind it's manners or face the consequences.

Publius II

RIP, Robert Novak

Robert Novak was a political giant akin to William F. Buckley without the easily recognizable voice. Nicknamed "The Prince of Darkness," a term he used for the title of his memoirs, (Fantastic book, BTW) by his foes that he crossed swords with, Mr. Novak left his mark on the political map for decades to come. This morning The Prince of Darkness passed away:

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, one of the nation’s most influential journalists, who relished his “Prince of Darkness” public persona, died at home here early Tuesday morning after a battle with brain cancer.

“He was someone who loved being a journalist, loved journalism and loved his country and loved his family," Novak’s wife, Geraldine, told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

Novak’s remarkable and long-running career made him a powerful presence in newspaper columns, newsletters, books and on television.

On May 15, 1963, Novak teamed up with the late Rowland Evans Jr. to create the “Inside Report” political column, which became the must-read syndicated column. Evans tapped Novak, then a 31-year old correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, to help with the workload of a six-days-a-week column.

Evans and Novak were the odd couple: Evans a Philadelphia blueblood and Yale graduate; Novak from Joliet, Ill., who attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Novak handled the column solo after Evans retired in 1993. The Chicago Sun-Times has been Novak’s home paper since 1966.

Robert David Sanders Novak, 78, was born and raised in Joliet. His first newspaper jobs were with the Joliet Herald-News and, while a student at the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana Courier. Novak maintained a lifelong tie to the University of Illinois, with the school creating the Robert D. Novak chair of Western Civilization and Culture in 2001.

Mrs. Novak said that her husband diedat 4:30 a.m. He'd returned home after being hospitalized between July 10 and July 24. Novak’s malignant brain tumor was discovered on July 27, 2008.

Lynn Sweet pens a nice obituary for Mr. Novak but Ken Tomlinson, a former colleague of his, pens a perfect eulogy in honor of his friend. (HT to Captain Ed for the link.)

The Evans-Novak column ran under the title “the Sonnenfeldt Doctrine.” When I finished reading the column that early spring day in 1976, I remember thinking, this is quintessential Bob Novak.

State Department Counselor Helmut Sonnenfeldt had told a London gathering of American ambassadors that Soviet domination of Eastern Europe was actually necessary for world peace. In fact, Poland was a good example of the benefits of Soviet control because that had enabled the Poles to overcome their “romantic” political instincts which had led to so many “disasters in their past.”

This column had almost everything. Those words were contained in an official State Department cable slipped to Novak by a highly placed source. Henry Kissinger’s right-hand man was confirming that détente was code for Communist victory over freedom. Within days, candidate Ronald Reagan who was challenging President Ford in Republican primaries, declared the Sonnenfeldt Doctrine meant “slaves should accept their fate.”

For Novak, about the only one of his political obsessions that’s missing were Republican green-eyeshades defending 70% tax rates as the only means to get a balanced budget.

Ford survived the conservative eruption over Sonnenfeldt’s words only to have the column indirectly revived in his presidential debate with Jimmy Carter. A New York Times reporter asked the President about Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and, still defensive over the Sonnenfeldt Doctrine, the hapless Ford stubbornly insisted that the Polish people were free. The election was over.

For those who believed the Cold War should be won, Novak’s Sonnenfeldt Doctrine column was a gift that kept on giving. Eight years later I was director of the Reagan Administration’s Voice of America when top State Department official Lawrence Eagleburger summoned me to his office. He was enraged by tough VOA editorials damning Polish strongman Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski as being “Soviet imposed” on the people of Poland.

At one point, an aide interrupted Eagleburger’s harangue. “Tomlinson is a close friend of Bob Novak,” he explained. “Before he leaves we better have an agreement that he will not tell Novak of this meeting.” Suddenly Eagleburger’s demeanor changed. There were no more complaints about our anti-Soviet Polish broadcasts.

Throughout my life, I followed Bob Novak journalism like I followed the careers of my favorite sports figures. Later, as editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, I would become one of Novak’s nominal bosses, though the fact was that every time I worked with him or was associated with him in any way, it was I who felt privileged. Few journalists have ever affected this country like Bob Novak.

It's a superb eulogy, and well worth the full read. I recall Mr. Novak on CNN's "Crossfire" when it was still a decent show. Mr. Tomlinson goes over this aspect of Mr. Novak's career, and unabashedly admits that Mr. Novak didn't shed a tear when "Capitol Gang" and "Crossfire" ended. As he puts it, Mr. Novak knew that CNN was finished the moment Ted Turner lefty, and Time, Inc. took over. (And those who watch the ratings can gain a sense of glee in knowing that Mr. Novak was quite right in that assessment.)

At the beginning I compared him to William F. Buckley. The reason for this is that both men were the punditry giants in my life. No one else I know of could compare to those men. In my humble opinion, those two were men playing the political game with boys. We both miss Mr. Buckley, and we'll mourn the passing of Mr. Novak. RIP, sir. You have earned it.

Publius II

Captain Gaffe-tastic to the rescue on health care

Brace yourselves, folks. The White House has decided that Joe Biden needs to help them lead the charge on the health care plan that is bleeding like a stuck pig, thanks to the outrage of the American populace at the town halls that the Democrats thought would help their case. It's not helping their case much because they're spinning lies on a bill -- HR3200 -- that people have read, are reading, and they're not pleased with what they've discovered. The LA Times has the skinny:

Reporting from Washington - The gaffes keep piling up: the untimely comments stoking fears of swine flu, dismissals of Russia that seem straight out of the Cold War.

But in defiance of the normal rules of American politics, Vice President Joe Biden appears to be solidifying his relationship with his boss and accumulating more assignments central to the administration's agenda.

Having lined up support in the Senate to assure passage of the $787-billion economic stimulus plan, Biden was recently tapped by President Obama to play a bigger role in the healthcare debate that is now dominating the congressional agenda. He is at the table on major foreign policy issues and has been asked to oversee the stimulus spending effort.

"For the president to give him the single largest initiative to date [the stimulus] with all the potential risks and pitfalls attached, speaks to a level of trust that's quite real," said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.

Steadily, Biden has tried to prove his value to the administration as a well-connected insider and a trusted advisor who won't reveal confidences.

When the White House was working to pass the stimulus bill, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel handed Biden a list of six Republican senators to call. Biden has sought to keep old Senate friendships intact, inviting members to his residence and hanging on to his locker at the Senate gym.

Biden met with the six and called them repeatedly. In the end, "we got three -- which wound up being the difference," said Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff.

Still, the transition to the No. 2 job has been rough for Biden. His habit in the Senate was to expend torrents of words in a bid to stand out. What's different now is that every word counts -- and foreign leaders are paying attention.

The exuberance and indiscipline at the root of Biden's well-publicized gaffes can have serious consequences. In April, amid fears of a swine flu pandemic, he told a TV audience that he had advised his own family not to travel in confined planes or trains.

The White House quickly issued an apology, and the travel industry put out a statement cautioning that politicians shouldn't pose as medical experts.

Puzzling over his comments on foreign policy, other countries are wondering if Biden speaks for the administration and if not, who does?

Biden stirred a tempest in the Kremlin last month when he told the Wall Street Journal that Russia would be forced to bow to U.S. wishes because of its "withering" economy, shrinking population and backward-looking leadership.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton felt obliged to correct the record the next day, saying that the administration viewed Russia as a "great power."

The Russian elite generally interpreted the comment as a sign that the administration's professed interest in a "reset" of relations with Moscow -- announced by Biden himself -- was insincere.

Andranik Migranyan, a former advisor to Boris Yeltsin, said that "the urgency of the correction by Clinton and the White House shows Russian leaders that Biden isn't taken seriously even by the Obama administration itself."

"I don't want to be rude, but if he continues these kinds of comments, he will be perceived as a clown, and no one will take him seriously," said Migranyan, who now heads the New York office of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank funded by the Russian government.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama, said in an interview that Biden's verbal missteps are forgivable: "We all have to have our words clarified at times. That's part of what makes the vice president so endearing. Everyone says, 'Oh, my gosh. I could have said that.' And the press tends to overblow it. We wouldn't change him one bit."

Ms. Jarrett we wouldn't change him either. After Barry's tenure in office, we can look back and laugh at the asininity of Joe Biden as vice president. This guy was supposed to be sharp on foreign policy, and he makes mistake after mistake in that realm. He was supposed to shore up the Senate, and he can only peel away moderate RINOs to ump on board his boss's crazy ideas.

Usually when the patient is bleeding to death, a doctor works to stop the bleeding. Putting the scalpel in Captain Gaffe-tastic's is a lot like being on the Titanic before it hits the iceberg, running to the bridge to warn the captain, and you find out Daffy Duck is at the helm. This isn't a move that seems smart at all, and in the end if health care doesn't pass or can't get formulated, the blame will lie at the president's feet for trusting good ol' Joe.

Publius II

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Andrew Malcolm hits the nail on the head on the health care fight.

HT to Captain Ed

Andrew Malcolm writes for the LA Times, and he has an excellent piece on the plight of the health care reform House members are trying to convince their constituents is a good thing. He picks up on the Achilles Heel the Democrats have on this issue:

At the moment, Obama, as eloquent as he can be, appears to be playing PR defense, trying to prove that what most people have and think they like now in health insurance could possibly maybe not be there someday because of costs they don't now see and don't think they pay.

And as a result, they should jump over to his ill-defined new plan that even dozens of congressional Democrats have doubts over and Republicans and simply anti-Obamites are feeding fears about.

The White House's strategic problem is that the more many Americans learn about the incomplete reforms the less they understand them and, thus, the more they fear them. Which briefcase do you want, the imperfect but familiar one in your hand or another one around the corner that we can't show you right now? Trust us.

While Obama's poll popularity has slipped somewhat, the popularity of his keystone
programs has slid dramatically. Now, we fully understand why the president set that early August deadline for a completed bill. His internal polls predicted the kind of coalescing opposition we've seen recently in congressional town halls around the country.

Yes, many are no doubt orchestrated. But no more so than the president's somnolent town halls with campaign volunteers asking questions and instructions e-mailed to millions of supporters with directions on where to go and what to say to members of Congress this month.

Event orchestration is a bipartisan activity that all political outfits attempt; even
Hillary Clinton's team planted questions back in Iowa that helped her surge to third place there.

Besides falling tears, TV cameras cannot resist an incoherent demonstrator being hustled out of an arena. Or a red-faced man or woman shouting at some member of Congress who used to live in the home district and now visits during regular recesses to represent Washington back there, rather than the other way around as originally envisioned.

The protesters may well be about disruptive stagecraft. But they wouldn't get so much attention, wouldn't ring true to many, if they also weren't tapping into an invisible and widespread vein of worry and fear, even anger, abroad in the land. Who doesn't know someone just like them suddenly blindsided into hopeless unemployment? Is that a time that families willingly countenance bold change? Or a time to hunker down with the known?

Last winter Obama's urgent haste to sign an expensive economic stimulation package seemed to make sense if further fiscal shrinkage was to be avoided. Ironically, his ongoing cascade of reform programs, all allegedly urgently needed -- and expensive -- seem to add to uncertainty and fears.

And why the rush? Two-hundred-thirty-three years into nationhood and 16 years after Clinton's flopped healthcare plan, what was so crucial about getting one by early August

Why? A couple of thoughts on that ...

First, we have been watching things unfold, and if some cohesion from his own party doesn't start to emerge, this bill is deader than Davy Jones. Too much is already out in the open for people to see, and Andrew's right -- they're afraid of what they've read. What they know, and their representative's disinterest or obfuscation is what's fueling this backlash.

Second, Democrats know that, traditionally, the president will suffer in his midterm elections. If they can rush this through, the media will provide them with the cover they need when they stand on their record of passing "comprehensive reform for all Americans." Nevermind the fact that just down the road, John and Jane Q. Public are going to be knocked right on their butts when the tax bill comes,

Third, people who have read through the bill recognize what it is. It is single payer, universal coverage just like the president wanted back in 2003 and 2007. (You can view the video here.) That system is exactly the sort they have in Canada and the UK, and it's nothing more than rationing on a wide scale.

It's becoming more and more apparent that the health care plan is in serious trouble. And remember that this bill will have to be reconciled with the other plans being worked on in Congress. This is far from over, but if we continue the pressure on Congress we have a chance of stopping this, or forcing the Democrats to pass it by dirty means, i.e. reconciliation. If they do that, they can kiss 2010 goodbye.

Publius II

10 reasons why the health care plan is wrong for America

We've been hammering the Congress and the president on this issue for a couple of weeks. We've laid out what we know, linked to those who have more information, and urged people to read the bill. We know, it's a long bill, but it has to be read, and those opposing the bill in these town halls have clearly read it. They're not the only ones. Human Events, with the help of the Heritage Foundation has compiled ten reasons why this plan is a disaster for America, via the NRO staff at the Corner:

1. Millions Will Lose Their Current Insurance: President Obama wants Americans to believe they can keep their insurance if they like. Proposed economic incentives, plus a government-run health plan would cause 88.1 million people to see their current employer-sponsored health plan disappear.

2. Your Health Care Coverage Will Probably Change Anyway: Even if you keep your private insurance, eventually most remaining plans will have to conform to new federal benefit standards. Moreover, the necessary plan “upgrades” will undoubtedly cost you more in premiums.

3. The Umpire Is Also the First Baseman: The main argument for a “public option” is that it would increase competition. However, if the federal government creates a healthcare plan that it controls and also sets the rules for the private plans, there is little doubt that Washington would put its private sector “competitors” out of business sooner or later.

4. The Fed Picks Your Treatment: President Obama said: “They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier. ... If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half for the thing that’s going to make you well.” Does that sound like a government that will stay out of your healthcare decisions?

5. Individual Mandate Means Less Liberty and More Taxes: President Obama is open to the imposition of an individual mandate that would require all Americans to have federally approved health insurance. This unprecedented federal directive not only takes away your individual freedom but could cost you as well. Lawmakers are considering a penalty or tax for those who don’t buy government-approved health plans.

6. Higher Taxes Than Europe Hurt Small Businesses: A proposed surtax on the wealthy will actually hit hundreds of thousands of small business owners who are dealing with a recession. If it is enacted, America’s top earners and job creators will carry a larger overall tax burden than in France, Italy, Germany, Japan, etc., with a total average tax rate greater than 52%. Is that the right recipe for jobs and wage growth?

7. Who Makes Medical Decisions? While the House and Senate language is vague, amendments offered in House and Senate committees to block government rationing of care were routinely defeated. Cost or a federal health board could be the deciding factor. President Obama himself admitted this when he said, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller,” when asked about an elderly woman who needed a pacemaker.

8. Taxpayer-Funded Abortions? Nineteen Democrats recently asked the President to not sign any bill that doesn’t explicitly exclude “abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan” or any bill that allows a federal health board to “recommend abortion services be included under covered benefits or as part of a benefits package.” Currently, these provisions do not exist.

9. It’s Not Paid For: The CBO says the current House plan would increase the deficit by $239 billion over 10 years. And that amount will likely continue to rise over the long term.

10. Rushing It, Not Reading It: We’ve been down this road before — with the failed stimulus package. Back then, we also heard that we were in a crisis and that we needed to pass a 1,000-plus-page bill in a few hours — without reading it — or we would have 8% unemployment. Deception is the only reason to rush through a bill nobody truly understands.

Again, it looks like we seem to know more about this bill than Congress does. Each point made is well-founded by a group of individuals that have poured over the bill with a fine-tooth comb. They know what's in it. They know it will create more problems than solve them. But Congress doesn't seem to care. They want us to follow the president's advice to "get out of the way" and shut up.

That's what we got with all the other bills passed by Congress -- from the stimulus, to the $400 billion omnibus bill from March, to the bank bailouts, to the auto bailouts. They were passed without really being read and understood. And now they want to do the same to health care. It's time this bill, and the other three working their way through the House and Senate, were scrapped, and a real reform package was put together that doesn't include the government getting their dirty hands on the most important industry in America.

Publius II

There is no coincidence in Barry's world

Michelle Malkin has an excellent post today called "The Illustrated Guide to Obamacare Human Props." It's enlightening to see the people the Left has trotted out in favor of Barry's destructive health plan, and painting them like they're average people who are turning out over concern with this debate. They're not. They're plants. And speaking of plants Ms. Malkin has the scoop on the 11-year-old girl who asked the stupid question yesterday about the "mean signs" outside the New Hampshire forum. (The forum, BTW, was a total sham.) The Boston Globe has the skinny on the girl. Actually they have the story on her mom, who is the focus on the story:

A girl from Malden asked President Obama a question at Tuesday’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire about the signs outside “saying mean things” about his health care proposal.

Eleven-year-old Julia Hall asked: “How do kids know what is true, and why do people want a new system that can — that help more of us?”

The question opened the door for the president to respond to what he called an “underlying fear” among the public “that people somehow won’t get the care they need.”

The girl later told the Globe that picking the president’s brain was “incredible.”

“It was like a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.

Julia’s mother was an early Obama supporter in Massachusetts during the presidential election, so she had previously met First Lady Michelle Obama, the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia, and Vice President Joe Biden.

“This was my first time meeting Barack Obama, and he’s a very nice man,” Julia said. “I’m glad I voted for him.”

She said Obama won a mock presidential election at the Cheverus School in 2008. And on Tuesday, he approached her after the town meeting.

“He said ‘great question,’” Julia said. “I shook his hand and got his picture.”

Kathleen Manning Hall, Julia’s mother, was shocked when her daughter said she wanted to ask a question. They wrote it down beforehand, and Julia didn’t miss a beat when Obama called on her.
“It was surreal,” said Manning Hall, a coordinator of Massachusetts Women for Obama during the election.

How connected is mom? Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has the goods on mom. Of course, you're probably saying "But Thomas, you encourage people to get involved so why are you going after the little girl and her mom?" I'm not going after them. I'm making the point that there is no such thing as coincidence in Barry's world, and Jim Hoft has more on this via HotAirPundit. You know those supporters at his rally yesterday? All the ones applauding and shouting "Yes We Can" at the end of the rally?

They were bussed in, folks.

Remember the comment by Barry yesterday? "I don't want people thinking I just have a bunch of plants in here." Well, guess what? There were plants there. A ton of them. Local affiliate WMUR even caught them in their video report of the rally.

That rally was a sham; a veritable dog and pony show. Michelle refers to it as Obama Kabuki Theater and she's right. Everything about this president is phony. And we have those in Congress accusing the opponents of the health plan of basically being "right-wing rented mobs." Funny, it looks as though the only mobs being "rented" out there are the ones being hired by the president and his cronies, or members of the SEIU.

The opposition to this isn't an organized effort. The Republican party couldn't organize a lemonade stand. This is a grass-roots movement because we're not getting the truth out of Congress. They don't want the truth to get out because if it did we'd see opposition rise in numbers Congress hasn't seen since 2006.

Folks, I had a feeling the Democrats would pull a stunt like this. Call it a gut instinct. I learned a long time ago to never go against my gut because it is my operational antenna. When the recess started we both knew the Democrats would try something to make the public believe there was overwhelming support for this crap sandwich. Problem is the sandwich isn't what the doctor ordered, and no amount of rent-a-mobs bussed into these town halls are going to change anyone's mind.

Publius II

New polls show a narrowing on approval/disapproval; on issue, Barry's cratering

The media can spin their love of this man anyway they want, and they're projecting that love to include the people of the nation. Rasmusson throws cold water on the incestuous relationship between the president and the press:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 31% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-six percent (36%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5.

So far in August, the President’s Approval Index rating has ranged from -4 to -9. That’s an improvement from the last week in July when his ratings ranged from -8 to -12. ...

Overall, 48% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That matches the lowest level of total approval yet recorded. Fifty-two percent (52%) now disapprove.

We think this goes to two things about Barry. First, he's overexposing himself. People are sick of seeing him on TV all the time. For the media, it's all Barry all the time, 24/7, and they're not picking up on the fact that people are sick and tired of seeing him on the boob tube. He seems to love the media attention -- classic narcissist -- and he believes that he needs to be out there, acting like a doting father to all of his children. Problem is most of us are adults, and we don't need him in our lives all the time.

The second thing contributing to his disapproval numbers are the Democrats. No, he's not in Congress anymore, but the Democrats are in charge, and it's reflecting on his numbers. People are sick of the Democrats running rough-shod over the Republicans, over the people, and over the Constitution. They're having a difficult time explaining themselves to the people of this nation on the Pork-A-Palooza, the seizure of GM and Chrysler, Crap and Tax, and the health care plan. They can't explain why this was needed as quickly as it was, and they also can't explain why things like the Pork-A-Palooza haven't worked as they said it would.

This is why, we believe, his numbers took another hit. And if you check out the numbers per issue, as polled by Rasmusson show that the nation doesn't have a lot of confidence in what he's doing. Check out all the tables there. There's even one for job approval on Pelosi and Reid. Pelosi's unfavorable numbers are at 57%; Reid's are at 48%.

I know a lot of people blow off polling because they don't trust them. That's true of media-driven polls and of Zogby, but Rasmusson is usually spot-on with it's findings. They don't overweight the people polled.

These numbers show that the nation now knows they were hoodwinked by the Democrats. The hope and change they voted for wasn't the hope and change the Democrats had in mind for the nation. They've got a forty-year wish list of what they want to do to this nation, and they're running it by the numbers and ramming it down our throats.

The people of this nation aren't stupid. Yeah, sure, a few were dumb enough to fall for this song and dance, but overall the majority isn't stupid. They know the health care plan won't bring reform to the industry. The reform that's needed can be accomplished through tort reform and in creating health savings accounts that are paid for by tax credits given to taxpayers. But Congress doesn't want that. They want to nationalize the industry. That will cause further damage to the economy, create a mass exodus of health care professionals, and result in rationed care akin to the Canadian and British systems.

That's not reform. That's a disaster. And the poll numbers show that people are now seeing this president as the face of disaster. He doesn't know what he's doing, and he's such a big-government advocate that he can't see the forest through the trees. Government isn't the solution, it's part of the problem. Instead of us getting out of the way and shutting up, maybe Barry and Company should take his advice, and get out of the way.

Publius II

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two sides of the same coin

The health care debate has heated up in the last week, or so, since the August recess kicked in, and Democrats started up their town halls to convince the nation that they're right and opponents are, well, "angry" "right-wing" "astroturfers." What doesn't fly with that image is the fact that those opposed to this so-called reform aren't GOP only.

Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the opposition stretches across the aisle, and all across the nation. Democrats do themselves no favors in painting with a broad brush here.

DrewM at AoSHQ "borrowed" Charles Krauthammer's take on the opponents to the reform at the town halls from NRO's The Corner:

The Democrats are pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and the Republicans (or conservatives) are handing the Democrats the rabbit. The Democrats have no argument. They have no facts. They don't even really have a bill.

And if people were just to stand up and quietly and civilly raise questions — "the money doesn't add up," "the CBO has said that you say it is going to control costs, but it increases it by $1 trillion," all of this stuff, it's really out there — they would be winning this debate as they were before the town halls.

What's happening is this is causing a backlash. It's completely unnecessary. It is shooting yourself in the foot. If you want to demonstrate, you want to shout, you do it outside carrying signs. When you walk inside [the town hall meeting], you ask questions.

This is going to have two effects. Public opinion will make people, if anything, rather unsympathetic to those who oppose the bills.

And secondly, it's going to give a great excuse for the Democrats, when Congress returns, to push a partisan bill with no Republican support and say it's because the opposition is not — is simply oppositionist without any arguments and is acting in an irresponsible way.

Dr. Krauthammer, a good majority of the people at the town halls do stand up and ask direct questions in a civil manner. It only turns a tad surly when the people in the audience are lied to, and they know they're being lied to. Who likes being lied to, directly, by their elected representatives, especially on such a heavy topic. No offense, but the government is trying to seize one-sixth of the US economy in this stupid reform. And people aren't getting straight answers from these representatives. Anyone can read this bill, and many who are challenging our reps at these events are hitting them with questions about the bill, and they're taking those questions from what the bill says.

The president still maintains that if you like your health care or doctor, you can keep them. That's not true at all, which shows either he's lying, or he doesn't know what's in the bill. There are several provisions in the bill that specifically state that if something changes in your health care contract -- copays, deductibles, etc. -- your employer will have to dump you in a qualified, government plan. Even after it becomes law, your employer will have a five year grace period before being forced to dump you into the government's plan. If you provide your own insurance, that you pay for it, you'll have less time before being forced into a government plan.

Pages 167-168 of the House bill states that when you file your taxes if you can't prove to the IRS you're in a qualified, government plan, you'll be fined a ton of money; thousands of dollars equal if not surpassing the cost of a current health care plan. And after you pay the fine, you'll be RANDOMLY enrolled in a qualified plan.

Now, can Dr. Krauthammer claim that we still don't have a right to be a tad ticked at the people lying to us about their plan. I might add that if they've read the bill they're knowingly and willfully lying in an attempt to deceive the American public into supporting a bill that is neither reform for the health care industry, nor will it cut costs. So when we do walk into the meetings, we're not there to pick a fight. We're there to call these people on the carpet, and our "imperial" congressmen and congresswomen are acting as though our questions are an affront to their regal authority.

And as for his last point about what it'll enable the Democrats to do, I don't see that at all. What I see happening is as word spreads that people are being attacked by union thugs, slandered by member of Congress, and to inform on one another if they disagree with the House's bill the opposition will grow to proportions not seen since 2006 when the Senate tried to ram through an immigration reform package that was short on reform and long on amnesty.

We like Dr. Krauthammer. He's a brilliant man, like Thomas Sowell. But he's a Beltway guy, and has spent too much time covering Beltway politics from the inside. Like all Beltway types, he needs to take a step back, and look at what's going on across the country. See the ire of the people as they're lied to, repeatedly, by people they put their trust in. Try reading the bill and see exactly what Congress has planned for the country. When you don't pull off the blinders and quit looking at the nation through a prism tarnished by Beltway politics, you'll never see just what the people are trying to do.

They're not being violent. They're not being rude. Frustration generally leads to raised voices. And that frustration continues to boil over when the person from Congress that is there lashes out at his/her opponents because their meeting isn't going the way they planned. It also doesn't help the issue when they start turning an open forum into a closed forum, or hiding from their constituents by conducting telephone town halls.

The other side of the coin comes from Michael Barone:

The Democrats’ health care bills have stirred widespread and deeply felt opposition. While some of the protests are organized, the turnout and strong feeling expressed indicate that we are watching something that is largely spontaneous. Try organizing such a protest when almost no one cares much about your issue: no one will show up. It’s the supporters of the Democrats’ health care bills, not their opponents, who are astroturfing—and spending plenty of moolah on television ads and the like.

The Democrats are spoiled because they are used to a mainstream media who spin things their way and a general public whose only expressions of spontaneous enthusiasm in 2006-08 were opposition to (if not hatred of) George W. Bush and support of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates. Now the spontaneous enthusiasm is all on the other side, with the Democratic astroturf efforts producing pathetic turnouts and largely spontaneous opposition to the Democratic health care plans producing large turnouts.

That's the point Dr. Krauthammer doesn't get. For the most part the opposition to health care isn't organized. It's American citizens who have read this piece of crap bill, they're not happy with what they read, and they want to confront their members of Congress on it. BTW, for Dr. Krauthammer's benefit, the Barone piece has a picture accompanying it of two protesters standing OUTSIDE of a town hall, holding signs against the reform. Videos we've watched don't have people holding a bunch of signs in the town halls. (One video we saw -- the Sebelius/Specter town hall, I believe -- has three signs visible in the background.)

The people calling these fools on the carpet are doing just that. The shouting and yelling only occurs after the person holding the town hall directly lies to a questioner, or attacks them. Arlen Specter got snooty earlier today in Lebanon, PA, and it lead to a few people shouting that he worked and answered to them, not the other way around. That's the other thing we believe Dr. Krauthammer is missing. The Democrats are acting like imperial snobs on this issue. They act haughty, and bristle when they're questioned. When that happens they basically put off a physical, if not verbal, message of "How dare you question me."

For Dr. Krauthammer and the Democrats -- the Beltway, in general -- it is our duty to question things that the government does. It's inherent in the First Amendment. Maybe they should go back and study up on that, and instead of just reading the words, read what the Framers said about our rights, and how we, the people, are the last check, the last line of defense, when the government decides to overstep it's boundaries.

Publius II

Monday, August 10, 2009

If you disagree with the powers that be, you're un-American

Democrats have doubled down on the health care debate in ways that should concern most people, and in ways that would positively shock the Founding Fathers. Not only are they trying to ram through a bad piece of legislation that few, if any, in the House have read. But they've urged their union thugs to harass people attending these town halls, and now Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are declaring those in opposition to the health care plan are "un-American":

However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted “Just say no!” drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

Health care is complex. It touches every American life. It drives our economy. People must be allowed to learn the facts.

Let me start with that last point. It appears that the people know more about this bill than House members do. It's apparent we know more than the president, who keeps offering up the meme that if you like your health care now, or your doctor, you can keep both. that's not true. The House bill that was pushed through before the recess specifically states that if any change in your contract with a health care provider changes, like the amount of co-pays, your employer will be forced to dump you into a qualified government plan (Page 16-17 of HR 3200). And there's the matter of the death panels the elderly will have to deal with. (No, they won't kill them directly. But their failure to treat will result in the elderly dying a slow, painful death, in many cases.)

As to the part that we're un-American, I recall a screed form 2003 by Hillary Clinton where she argued that we have a right to debate and disagree with an administration. Michelle Malkin has the video at the link, but let's recall what she said:

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

She's right, but for one reason more important that simple, partisan politics (which that screed was directed). The First Amendment guarantees us the right to speak our minds, and to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These aren't just rights, folks. It's our duty as citizens to execute these rights to keep the government in check. We, the people, are the ultimate check against a government that some may say has become tyrannical in nature.

(No, we're not accusing this administration of being a tyranny, but it's actions have many concerned. What actions, you ask? Oh, I don't know, maybe an Internet Snitch Brigade that is being encouraged to report people, anonymously, to the White House who opposes this so-called reform.)

We have a job, as citizens, to perform. When the Congress refuses to acknowledge the facts of a piece of legislation, and demands we shut up and take this it falls to us to stand in opposition. And we are backed up not only by precedent, but by the Constitution itself. Of course given the reaction that we're witnessing from the Congress and the administration, it's pretty clear legislation isn't the only thing they haven't read. The Constitution seems to be another document they just don't have the time to read.

Publius II

Friday, August 7, 2009

Job numbers in; unemployment down to 9.4%; BLS "fudging" numbers

You know the White House will be crowing about this. It does appear that our prediction of unemployment hitting 10% today was a bit off. Don't worry. We will hit that number soon enough. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released it's report today, and the numbers show that the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4%:

The U.S. unemployment rate fell in July for the first time in 15 months as employers cut far fewer jobs than expected, providing the clearest sign yet that the economy was turning around.

Employers shed 247,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday, the least in any one month since last August, taking the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent, down from 9.5 percent in June.

"It suggests the recession will be ending before the end of the year. There isn't any part of the economy that hasn't shown some slowing in deterioration," said Joe Davis, chief economist at Vanguard in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Recent data ranging from home sales to manufacturing have pointed to an economy starting to dig itself out of one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The fall in the jobless rate will be good news for President Barack Obama, who has seen his standing in public opinion polls slip as Americans fret about the weak economy and high unemployment.

The White House warned it would be "quite some time" before the economy saw sustained job growth, adding it still believed the jobless rate would hit 10 percent this year.

The White House is fooling itself if they think we're even close to the end of this recession. We have a long way to go, and 10% unemployment is right around the corner. But the BLS seems to have only told part of the story. The percentage of working age individuals continued to drop, and Captain Ed notes that the BLS is sort of fudging it's numbers, or so Geraghty the Indispensable discovered:

In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the civilian labor force was 154,926,000 people.

In July, 796,000 of those were taken out of their definition of the workforce, and thus their unemployment calculations for this month, because they have stopped looking for work “because they believe no jobs are available for them.” Ten percent of the June workforce would be 15.4 million, 1 percent would be 1.5 million, and so 796,000 is roughly one half of one percent.

In other words, BLS took .5 percent of what you and I would consider unemployed and took them out of their total. And with that, unemployment went down one tenth of one percent.

So, the 796,000 are removed because they're the ones BLS believes have stopped looking for a job therefore they're not included in the statistics. That makes zero sense as these people are still quite unemployed. The BLS seems to have tinkered with the numbers, and most likely due to the president needing to have some sort of silver lining as his numbers continue to drop and support for health care continues to crater.

There is no silver lining in his economic policy. He has spent trillions of dollars on an experiment that has always proven to be a failure. No nation has ever spent it's way out of a recession. We will not be the exception to the rule.

Publius II