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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Commentary Snippets #1

Sponsored by Rep. Boehner (R-OH), the House’s Defund Acorn Bill would prohibit funding for not only ACORN but any organization which has “filed fraudulent paperwork with the government or violated campaign finance laws”. This is precisely the language which Project on Government Oversight (POGO) had been hoping for. According to POGO, about 62 contractors inclusive of universities, defense and health companies would be affected. Attached as an amendment to a student aid bill, it passed in the House 345-75, with all opposing votes coming from the Democratic side. (Tactically absent was ACORN apologist Barney Frank.) On the Senate side (Amendment #2355 of S 3288), it passed 83-7, again with all opposing votes coming from Democrats. Neither the House nor Senate versions will take effect until the bills to which they were attached have been signed by the Community Organizer-in-Chief.

Israeli Strike Expected Spring 2010.Though US Jews currently support a US military strike against Iran 56%-36%, a unilateral military strike by Israel is supported 66%-28%. Foreseeing no resolution of the Iranian nuclear threat by year’s end, Yaakov Katz of the Jerusalem Post predicts that Israel will strike in the Spring of 2010. The London Times reported in July that Saudi Arabia granted IAF overflights of their kingdom during any strike on Iran. Also, Amb. Bolton confirmed that during his tour of Middle East capitals this summer Arab leaders quietly indicated they “would acquiesce in [Israeli] overflights” so long as Israel doesn’t trumpet the arrangement. (Note: the Israeli, German and French intelligence services all disagree with the US 2007 Nat’l Intelligence Estimate which claimed Iran had halted their work on a nuclear bomb. So, appears their intelligence is less politicized and more objective than our own, and Israel has long been preparing for the inevitable strike.)

The Heritage Foundation reports that if a public option is ever made law 103.4 million Americans would end up on the public plan, 88.1 million of whom would first lose their existing private coverage. Even without a public option, the Foundation reports that everyone would be required to have health insurance by 2013. Those who fail to comply would be forced to pay an annual tax of $750-$3,800/yr. Noncompliance would be a punishable offense which I dealt with in a previous post. Also, to avoid penalties, employers of more than 50 not offering health coverage would simply reduce their work force. More unemployment, of course. (Note: More than a dozen states are moving to pass state constitutional amendments that would outlaw Obamacare’s individual mandate. In the final analysis, perhaps that is the only thing which will persuade the libs from foolishly adopting a public option. Who would have guessed Obama would have been so divisive, tearing at the very heart of Americans' constitutional sensibilities.)

GOP Incompetence. Larry Elder, an Afro-American of keen intellect, solid conservative cred and a renowned talk radio host, was asked by the NRSC not to run against the insufferably screechy Barbara Boxer in 2010. And their… reasoning? Already committed to one Carly Fiorina who, with a string of embarrassing missteps and revelations under her belt already, is, according to Rasmussen, a sure loser, NRSC advised Elder that though Fiorina will lose, she will, at least, “tie up Democratic resources in the meantime”. Duh! Boxer couldn’t be more vulnerable right now, and Elder could easily whip her. But, nope, the squirrels at NRSC have decided to all but assure Boxer’s win in 2010. Insane! It is said that Elder is frustrated and fuming still. Let’s hope he runs as an Independent and circumvents GOP incompetence. Republicans are their own worst enemies. The Dems are pushovers if we'd only stop aping them.

Obama’s sophomoric eagerness to assuage our opponents since his inauguration brings America to a critical crossroads with Iran and Afghanistan. Ahmadinejad must surely perceive Obama as weak. Similarly, Kabul must surely be very concerned about what they perceive as Obama’s dithering over Gen. McChrystal’s recommendation regarding troop strength in Afghanistan. Despite Obama’s “apology tour”, our enemies perceive America as weak which, I believe, has caused a decline in America’s credibility in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. In turn, and if history is our guide, this will further increase the likelihood of dangerous miscalculations and confrontations. Right now, Obama's making no significant decision on either front is extremely foolhardy. With regard to the growing threat of Iran, my bet is that by our inaction and the hollowness of further sanctions Israel will feel compelled to strike Iran. And to protect shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz, we will inevitably be dragged in to the fight. Fine by me. Let’s get it done and let’s hasten regime change in Teheran. As for Afghanistan, send the additional troops, demand rigid Afghan cooperation and clear benchmarks for success, i.e. Afghan military self-sufficiency and a serious reduction in corruption. After two years, or less, if insufficient progress has been made, pull out our regular troops, but maintain an advisory capability and aggressive special forces component so long as they are not exposed to unreasonable risk. But, my God, step off the dime, Barack, and get a crash course in history under your belt while you're at it. Perhaps then the Presidency won't be so far above your pay grade.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recap of Some Notable Developments This Week

  • Valiant Georgia, The Mouse that Keeps on Roaring: In what could be a desperate attempt on the part of Georgia, a chastened ally of the US, to draw America's attention to the tenuousness of Georgian security, in August the Georgian navy seized a Turkish tanker delivering fuel to Georgia's breakaway republic, Abkhazia. Moscow quickly warned Tbilisi that the Russian coastguard would guarantee the unencumbered flow of commerce to its client state in the future. Undeterred, Georgian President Saakashvili boldly declared a blockade of Abkhazia which is still in effect. Of course, in view Washington's detente with Moscow and an increasingly hollow NATO military capability, credible NATO or American backing of Georgia is unlikely should another Russian-Georgian clash occur. While Georgia's gamble to strengthen ties with the West to ensure its survival as an independent state is most likely doomed, in an extraordinarily intrepid act of solidarity with Georgia, the Ukraine, also a former republic of the now defunct USSR, has threatened to both blockade the Russian Black Sea fleet at Savastopol and to bar the return of Russian ships to that base if Moscow takes any military action against Georgia. A country of 47 million and a key transit point for lucrative Russian gas supplies to Europe, Ukraine wouldn't be a cakewalk for the Russians should a confrontation occur. So, though bereft of American and NATO support, lilliputian Georgia, with Ukraine's resolute backing, may yet be able to avert its being swallowed up by an emboldened and adventurist Russian bear.
  • Obama Eligibility: Obama's legal Team, Perkins Coie, has, to date, been paid by Obama's "Organizing for America" lobbyists $1,352,378.50 to block from public scrutiny BHO's birth certificate in Hawaii. Despite the Obama team's criticizing concerned citizens for harboring misgivings about his presidential eligibility by virtue of lingering constitutional questions about his natural born citizenship status, one must still logically ask why Obama has felt the burning need to spend so much money to impede public access to his original birth certificate. Inescapably, one can only rationally suspect that the Community Organizer-in-Chief remains determined to hide the truth about his birth and his eligibility.
  • Healthcare Reform's "Individual Mandate" Provision For Real. Though clearly unconstitutional as explained in my previous post entitled "Federal Healthcare Reform Poses Serious Constitutional Questions", it has been confirmed that those uninsured citizens unwilling to purchase healthcare coverage will be subject to a $1,300 - $1,900 fine! Refusal to pay the fine would result in a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a $25,000 fine. So much for the rule of law. Adoption in the final bill of this invasive provision would manifestly illustrate that the once venerable Constitution is, indeed, dead in Washington. Another march on Washington anyone? But this time with pitch forks or something perhaps more...persuasive?
  • Doctor Shortage Looms: A recent survey by Investor's Business Daily indicates that if any single-payer semblance of Obamacare passes 45% of all doctors will likely "consider retiring or closing their practice". The resulting scarcity in medical services would quickly render meaningless Obama's oft-repeated assurances of quality care, no rationing and no waiting lines. It's amazing how dismissive of "we the people" our so-called representatives have become.
  • A recent Zogby poll of 4,420 Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare voters indicates that a majority are opposed to a single-payer system. Perhaps they know something the politicians don't know or are deliberately ignoring?
  • Healthcare Transparency a la Obama? The Heritage Foundation reported that Rep. Bunning (R-KY) offered an amendment that would have required "the actual text" and "the CBO estimate of costs" of any bill be posted for 72 hours on the Senate Finance Committee website for public review before the Committee could vote on its final passage. Obviously, a rational and responsible amendment, no? Sadly, with the exception of Sen. Lincoln (D-KY), the amendment was defeated along party lines. Can anyone any longer be truly surprised by what has become a shameless litany of liberal heavy-handedness and obfuscation?
  • Coverage for Illegals Still Possible: Despite indignant denials to the contrary, Human Events reports that provisions among various Obamacare bills still floating around on Capitol Hill these days would entitle upwards of 6.6 million ILLEGAL ALIENS to free health care at gov't-run clinics. Cost to American taxpayers: $31 billion/year. Though still elusive, proper vetting and adequate enforcement of ID requirements is essential if we are to prevent this costly travesty.
  • Israel Poised to Attack: With respect to the disclosure of a secret nuclear facility in Iran this week, during an interview with FOX's Bill Hemmer on Thursday, Israel's former Ambassador to the US ominously asserted that "the game is over". When queried about Israel's possible military response, and parroting Obama's campaign sloganeering, the Ambassador affirmed "yes we can, and yes we will". So, it looks like the jig is up for the mendacious Mullahs in Tehran and the weak-kneed appeasers in the West. And judging from the uncharacteristically bellicose posturing of Obama, Brown and Sarkozy this week, it appears the US, Great Britain and France are finally beginning to rationally deal with the near-certainty of an Israeli pre-emptive stike if Iran "lies again". If and when the attack comes, given that Americans remain shackled by an infuriatingly shortsighted Administration energy policy which effectively impedes domestic drilling and the achievement of energy independence, it looks like we will all soon face painful spikes in fuel prices in the coming months. But, on balance, this temporary economic hardship is but a small price to pay to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dutiful Indiana Doctor Exposes Dems' Healthcare Treachery

Below is a well-researched letter sent to Senator Bayh (D-IN) by one Dr. Stephen Fraser. Though much has developed since Dr. Fraser wrote his July 23rd letter, it bears repeating if for no other reason than to expose the perfidy of our Democratic overseers in Washington.

The odious July 2009 healthcare bill which Dr. Fraser discusses below is the same bill which the White House and its cronies on the Hill unsuccessfully tried to steamroll thru Congress before the August recess.

Citing page by page passages of the bill, Dr. Fraser's letter exposes the attempted treachery of our political leaders for all to see. Such a cynical and self-serving betrayal of the American people on the part of our "representatives" should never be forgiven nor forgotten.

Fortunately, a few persuasive tea party marches and townhall meetings later, Americans are no longer unwitting and disengaged pawns. We have pushed back with a vengeance, and we have made a difference. Nonetheless, for those who continue to apologize and defend this Adminstration, this letter is well-worth the read. And it is well-worth remembering how close we came to a gov't-imposed healthcare disaster.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Fraser and other patriots and professionals like him for their vigilance and civic-mindedness. Folks like him helped turn the socialist tide. Now, for the letter:

July 23, 2009

Senator Bayh,

As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the healthcare bill before Congress.

I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government's proposed involvement in the patient physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a healthcare system that works for all. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our healthcare system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed.

I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens.

Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self insure!!Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.
Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!
Page 42 of HC Bill:The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. You have no choice!
Page 50 Section 152 in HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise
Page 58 HC Bill: Govt will have real-time access to individuals finances & a National ID Healthcard will be issued!
Page 59 HC Bill lines 21-24: Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer.
Page 65 Sec 164: is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community organizations: (ACORN).
Page 84 Sec 203 HC bill: Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange.
Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!
Page 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill: Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation: illegal aliens.
Page 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18: The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan.
Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans. AARP members - your Health care WILL be rationed.
Page 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill: Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice.
Page 124 lines 24-25 HC: No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly.
Page 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill: Doctors/ American Medical Association - The Govt will tell YOU what you can make! (salary)
Page 145 Line 15-17: An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. NO CHOICE!
Page 126 Lines 22-25: Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families.
Page 149 Lines 16-24: ANY Employer with payroll 401k &above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.
Page 150 Lines 9-13: Business's with payroll btw 251k &401k who doesn't provide public option pays 2-6% tax on all payroll.
Page 167 Lines 18-23: ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.
Page 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill: Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay)
Page 195 HC Bill: Officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans' finances /personal records.
Page 203 Line 14-15 HC: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" Yes, it says that!
Page 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill: Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid Seniors, low income and poor are affected.
Page 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill: Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same!
Page 253 Line 10-18: Govt sets value of Doctor's time, profession, judgment etc. Literally value of humans.
Page 265 Sec 1131: Govt mandates &controls productivity for private HC industries.
Page 268 Sec 1141: Federal Govt regulates rental &purchase of power driven wheelchairs.
Page 272 SEC. 1145: TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!
Page 280 Sec 1151: The Govt will penalize hospitals for whatever Govt deems preventable re-admissions.
Page 298 Lines 9-11: Doctors, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission -Govt will penalize you.
Page 317 L 13-20: PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Doctors what/how much they can own!
Page 317-318 lines 21-25, 1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand.
Page 321 2-13: Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input is required. Can you say ACORN?!!
Page 335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339: Govt mandates establishment of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing.
Page 341 Lines 3-9: Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advance Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing people into Govt plan.
Page 354 Sec 1177: Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people! Unbelievable!
Page 379 Sec 1191: Govt creates more bureaucracy - Tele-health Advisory Comittee. Can you say HC by phone?
Page 425 Lines 4-12: Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life patients.
Page 425 Lines 17-19: Govt will instruct &consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. Mandatory!
Page 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: Govt provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death. (assisted suicide)
Page 427 Lines 15-24: Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Govt has a say in how your life ends.
Page 429 Lines 1-9: An "advanced care planning consultant" will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates.
Page 429 Lines 10-12: "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOVT!
Page 429 Lines 13-25: The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.
Page 430 Lines 11-15: The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life!Page 469: Community Based Home Medical Services = Non profit organizations. Hello, ACORN Medical Services here!!?
Page 472 Lines 14-17: PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORIGINATION. 1 monthly payment 2 a community-based organization. Like ACORN?
Page 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover Marriage &Family therapy. Which means they will insert Govt into your marriage.
Page 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services.

Senator, I guarantee that I personally will do everything possible to inform patients and my fellow physicians about the dangers of the proposed bills you and your colleagues are debating. Furthermore, If you vote for a bill that enforces socialized medicine on the country and destroys the doctor/patient relationship, I will do everything in my power to make sure you lose your job in the next election.

Stephen E Fraser MD

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jimmy Carter: A Disgrace to All Americans

Former President Jimmy Carter's scurrilously labeling as rascists those of us who honestly disagree with Obama's extreme leftist agenda is deeply offensive and deliberately provocative.

Bereft of any semblance of class, a common sense of decency and good judgement, this tragic political figure has morphed into an unmitigated embarrassment to decent Americans of all colors and political persuasions everywhere.

I would expect such odious and disgraceful behavior from the likes of Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters, to name but a few charlatans on the left, but not from a former President of the United States.

Please do your countrymen a favor, Mr. Carter, and return to pounding Habitat nails. Spare us your addlepated commentary and loathsome race-baiting. Perhaps you can then begin restoring some luster to your now deeply tarnished legacy.

("The accusation of rascism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Samuel Johnson)

Obama Missile Retreat: Our Security In Israel's Hands

For a few years now, I have intrepidly sported a "Don't Worry America, Israel is Behind You" T-shirt. Obama's latest foreign policy flights of fancy render those words more prophetic and meaninful than ever.

Given the Prez's feckless abandonment of the Czech Republic and Poland, the subsequent plummeting of European confidence in Obama's unconvincing professions of solidarity with them, and recent expert assessments that Iran could well possess a deliverable nuclear warhead capability within a few short years (and a bomb in less than one), it is now academic that an Israeli pre-emptive strike--perhaps even nuclear--on Iran in the months ahead is a certainty.

Though OBH may be foolishly deriving much personal satisfaction from his fanciful and sophomoric leftist conviction that appeasing Russia will beget Moscow's cooperation vis-a-vis the imposition of tougher Russian sanctions on Iran, recent history clearly teaches that Russia has been a consistently unreliable--indeed, obstructionist--partner on nearly every issue of importance to the United States and its allies. Since the dissolution of the USSR two decades ago, Moscow's goal has remained that of reasserting its hegemony in the Baltic and Eastern European states, their historical sphere of influence, a process which has now been accelerated by Obama's retreat in Eastern Europe. Of course, this serves only to increase--not diminish--chances of Russo-American miscalculations and confrontation in the years ahead.

Very worrisome is the high probability that Obama's recent unilateral capitulation to Russian demands for cancellation of a "third site"ground based missile defense system in E. Europe will accomplish little more than to 1) tempt Russian regional adventurism, 2) encourage European appeasement of Moscow, 3) fast-track nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, 4) further embolden an increasingly defiant and menacing Iran and N. Korea, 5) encourage Japanese and Taiwanese nuclearization, and 6) seriously increase the likelihood of an Israeli pre-emptive attack on Iran. Obviously this volatile mix of probabilities serves neither the security and economic interests of the United States nor of its friends and allies anywhere in the world. Obama's retreat exponentially heightens prospects for further miscalculations and conflict in the future.

Of course, on the remote chance that American appeasement actually results in effective Russian and Chinese sanctions against Iran--a long shot in the extreme--then Iranian nuclear ambitions will have been halted without bloodshed and worldwide economic turmoil will have been averted. However, since vacuous wishful thinking, the realm of the idealist and foolhardy, is a terrible substitute for rational analysis, I believe that in the end only Israeli military intervention can successfully deal with the mounting Iranian threat to us all.

Despite himself, however, perhaps Obama's narcissistic belief in his messianic powers of persuasion and his characteristic retreat in Eastern Europe might not prove to be as catastrophic as I fear it will eventually be. For while the worldwide economic impact of an Israeli attack on Iran would be acutely painful in the short term, Iranian nuclear development will, at the very least, have been effectively crippled for a few more years. By the time Iran is able to resume nuclear development--if it then even dares to--grown-ups will, hopefully, have returned to Washington, and a resurgent American-Israeli alliance will then be able to exert the pressure needed to ensure a nuclear-free Middle East with the added effect of blunting the growing N. Korean nuclear proliferation threat as well.

So, donning my T-shirt once again, I am necessarily looking to our bold Israeli friends to defend us and our spinelss so-called European allies from Obama's myopia and feebleness.

In truth, when it comes to my homeland's security these days, I now have much more faith in Tel Aviv than I do in Washington.

("How many wars have been averted by patience and goodwill." Wintons Churchill, Prime Minister)

("Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table." George Shultz, Secretary of State)

On Leftists: ("They are the most disagreeable of people...Their insincerity? Can you not feel a sense of disgust at the arrogant presumption of superiority of these people? Superiority of intellect! Then, when it comes to practice, down they fall with a wallop not only to the level of ordinary human beings but to a level which is even far below the average." Winston Churchill)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Van Jones Ouster a Good First Step

Lamely claiming victimization by a right-wing “smear campaign”, and, notably, without an apology, Van Jones, “Green Jobs Czar” and self-avowed Communist, mercifully resigned over the weekend.

The indomitable Howard Dean described the resignation of Van Jones as “a great loss to the country.” Acid, anyone? But, most level-headed Americans of all political stripes would, I’m sure, appropriately characterize the ouster as a good beginning.

At issue here is not that Van Jones wasn’t vetted by the White House. The more distressing issue is that he, like many of his fellow radical and unaccountable appointees, was vetted by the White House. And that should give us all serious pause.

Let us never forget that five days before inauguration, the President, in his own words, pledged that he would “fundamentally transform the United States”. And judging from his many radical leftist appointments, he is obviously taking that pledge very, very seriously.

In truth, the departure of Van Jones is but the first step in a much-needed housecleaning. Most Americans would agree that for the internal security and stability of our country, all other Marxists, Communists and other radical extremists currently infesting this Administration should also be ousted.

Fortunately, Rep. Mike Pence has called for a halt to any further czar appointments as well as a thorough review of the consititutionality of such appointments. Good for him. Better late than never.

I can't help but wonder how heavy a sledgehammer is needed for us ALL to finally understand that the greatest experiment in governance, the United States of America, is now imperiled as never before—not by enemies from without, but by enemies from within. For me, any desperate hope that Barack Obama is anything but a Marxist/Socialist sympathizer has now been irretrievably shattered.

Grassroots Americans must finally understand that the once venerable Democratic Party, of which I was once a proud member, long ago abandoned its lofty Democratic liberal principles. The party has been effectively hijacked by all manner of radical leftist vermin who care not a wit for America, Americans or for our principles and way of life. Theirs is a craven appetite for power over others and nothing loftier than that. The New Democratic Party is a matrix of radical, self-aggrandizing leftist organizations whose principles are inimical to all that is American. Today, it is no longer a battle between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. It is now a seminal struggle between Socialism/Marxism and Americanism.

I'm afraid that our own complicit apathy, ideological shortsightedness, wishful thinking, disengagement and attraction to all that glitters have conspired to cultivate a welcoming breeding ground for socialism. And, unfortunately, the makeover is moving at an alarming pace.

Like bullies, radicals will ruthlessly push the envelope to achieve their elitist goals. When challenged, they’ll quickly pull back and, under the cover of night, strike again when no one’s looking. So, don’t let your guard down for a moment. It’s still a long, hard slog before we can fully restore our constitutional republic.

Objectively then, our democratic republic is, unquestionably, threatened as never before—not by enemies from without, but by cunning, calculating, carefully choreographed, and scrubbed-clean enemies from within. And we continue to blissfully ignore or tolerate this perfidious subversion at our own peril.

What can best be done to stem this Marxist-Socialist tide and infestation? Aggressive political engagement? Civil disobedience? Secession? Revolution? For the moment, I opt for aggressive political suasion, failing which all other options should definitely be on the table. We owe that to our children, our neighbors, and to our heroes who have fallen in defense of this great nation and all that it represents.

Finally, as Thomas Jefferson cautioned, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty; the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

Right now, we all have just cause to fear our government. And that’s just not the way it should be. And if we all push back as unyieldingly as the enemy pushes forward, America will once again gain the upperhand. I pray that is so.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Federal Healthcare Reform Poses Serious Constitutional Questions

When asked during his townhall meeting in Victor whether or not healthcare was a right, Rep. Massa paused, then, without elaboration, his chin firmly positioned against his chest, he meekly responded "It's a right".

What he didn't explain was whether he felt it was simply a "moral right" or a "constitutional right". I assumed he was ducking the distinction to preclude being challenged by a rather querulous audience.

Nonetheless, since exploring this question nicely dovetails with my earlier post entitled "Mangled General Welfare Clause Interpretation Imperils Constitutional Governance", for my own enlightenment I opted to briefly examine some of the constitutionality issues surrounding national healthcare. You'll note that I have more questions than answers, since I feel the latter are best left to those more thoroughly schooled in the area of constitutional development and law. But, be that as it may, nothing should prevent any of us voicing our educated opinions.

That said, while the healthcare reform debate has raged at the policy level, little, if any, meaningful or readily accessible discussion has been seen by me regarding the constitutionality of the sort of federal healthcare reform which is currently being promoted by universal healthcare advocates both in and out of government. And in this Progressive-dominated era, the burning question is whether or not Congress will substantively broach the subject of constitutionality at all when shaping or enacting healthcare or any other Progressive legislation. Only with rare exceptions, I fear, am I confident that such an important discussion will, at some point, take place. But, always the optimist, I will hold out hope.

For instance, does congressional authority over interstate commerce properly extend to government's right to require all individuals to purchase coverage or pay a percentage of their income as a fine? Proponents of the public option would likely expansively argue that any individual action which can in some way influence interstate commerce can be largely regulated. However, such a superfluous interpretation of the commerce clause was decidedly repudiated by the Supreme Court in US vs Lopez (1998) and US vs Morrison (2000). Also, and very importantly, in Gonzales vs Raich (2005) the court emphasized that interstate regulation may be justified only on "quintessentially economic" grounds. For the casual inquirer then, mandating individual conduct certainly falls far short of "quintessentially economic".

Nonetheless, it occurs to me that if government cannot compel you to accept healthcare, how can it compel you to carry healthcare insurance? Even among certain religious groups, receiving healthcare is a violation of their religious beliefs. Can these same persons who refuse treatment on religious grounds be coerced to purchase health insurance? And what of those who abhor abortion on religious or moral grounds? Can they be forced to purchase insurance which either directly or indirectly finances such a practice?

Thus, probably the overarching constitutional concern is the "individual mandate" which, either in a coop or public option construction, would require all individuals to purchase insurance. To wit, the Senate version of the bill would penalize those who failed to comply with this mandate. The House versions would simply mandate universal compliance. The choice, then, for the individual would be to contribute to either a healthcare cartel heavily influenced by political overseers in DC, or to the federal public option plan itself. Clearly, no meaningful individual freedom of choice here at all.

Then, of course, there's the broader question of federal authority in such matters (outside the confines of the District of Columbia and federal territories) by the "general welfare clause".
Said James Madison on the floor of the House in 1794, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article in the Constitution which grants a right to Congress expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." He went on to say that "the government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specific objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is not part of the legislative duty of the government." But, good grief, what does Madison know? He's only the "father of the Constitution".

Thus, as a policy matter, is not healthcare better left for shaping and enactment at the state level? As wisely envisioned by the framers, wouldn't the encouragement of state-level healthcare experimentation shield the nation from possible failed federal experimentation which would needlessly, adversely and limitlessly affect every person in the country? Conversely, why should Massachusetts and Oregon healthcare fiascos be imposed upon the rest of the country? So, again, why not consign heathcare reform to the laboratory of state experimentation. What works will be quickly replicated. What is flawed will die a well-deserved death without tainting the remainder of the union.

As a practical matter, however, most states have long ago yielded their 10th Amendment authority to a federal government intent upon bribing states with federal largesse. So, while sober constitutional arguments against the imposition of a federal healthcare program may be intellectually overwhelming, from a practical standpoint such carefully crafted argumentation may be for naught.

Very interestingly, HR 3200 does not cite the commerce clause or any other enumerated power to warrant its authority. In fact, the only reference to the Constitution in HR 3200 is a severability clause which is intended to spare the remainder of the bill's provisions if a part is declared unconstitutional. Maybe the drafters really do understand the constitutional ramifications afterall and are trying to cut their possible losses.

Though I'm not taking the time to exhaustively explore each of them, the Independence Institute succinctly and clearly cites these specific constitutional problems with HR 3200:

1. Outside DC and the federal territories, the feds do not have the constitutional authority to control healthcare.
2. As can be seen in current healthcare proposals, Congress cannot delegate any of its authority to the Executive Branch.
3. The federal intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship violates the "substantive due process" principle. (Note: simply put, "substantive due process" holds that the 5th and 14th Amendments' "due process clauses" must protect not only procedural rights but also "substantive" rights which are thsoe more fundamental rights of freedom to do certain things the government may not desrie the individual to do. It holds that due process cannot be completely just if it is applied to unjustly deprive a person of his basic human liberties.)
4. Citing the 10th Amendment, the Supreme Court holds that Congress may not "commandeer" state decision-making in the service of federal goals.
5. While Congress may condition grants to states, if those conditions are "coercive" then the mandates contained in HR 32000 violate that prohibition against coercion.

Even liberal Justice Souter has cautioned that imposing national healthcare has serious "constitutional dimensions".

For me, it seems embarrassingly simple: there is no clear-cut Constitutional right to government healthcare, and most certainly not for mandated individual participation. If a public option healthcare reform is rammed through with individual mandates and penalities as the essential centerpiece, the GOP congressional resurgence in 2010 will surely nullify or effectively stymie implementation--but only if "we the people" and solidly conscientious legislators like Rep. Shadegg, Senator DeMint, Rep. Pence and Rep. Ryan, among other notable patriots, keep the pressure on.

Finally, does not this latest example of seemingly unbridled federal overreaching necessitate the enactment of the Enumerated Powers Act (HR 450) which is currently buried in the Democratic-dominated House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights & Civil Liberties. Gee, doesn't all that zealous congressional patriotism and rigid allegiance to our Constitutional principles warm the cockles of your heart?

("The genius of our system is that, no matter how convinced our elected officials may be that certain measures are in the public interest, their goals can be accomplished only in accord with the powers and processes the Constitution mandates, processes that inevitably make them accountable to the American people." D. Rivkin & L. Casey, Baker Hostetler LLP)

(I'm not sure much meaningful individual freedom will remain after the government claims the right to mandate how and when products must be purchased and from whom." Jason Arvak, Poligazette)

("One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it." Ronald Reagan, 1961)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mangled "General Welfare" Interpretation Imperils Constitutional Governance

For a long time now, the Constitution which our leaders and representatives have sworn to uphold and defend has been routinely violated. As the years go by, the pace and breadth of violations has accelerated and expanded.

Understanding that Congressional overreach has resulted in our country’s being saddled with nearly $100 Trillion in Medicare and Social Security unfunded liabilities alone, there is little doubt that unrestrained federal encroachment and its signature “bread and circuses” profligacy is fast leading this country to insolvency and political dissolution.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates 18 specific powers granted to Congress. (Note: the original document enumerated 17 powers.) National healthcare, cap and trade, card check, bailouts, pork barrel expenditures and a litany of other legislative initiatives are most certainly not among those legislative powers.

All other powers not specifically granted to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 or in subsequent amendments are, according to the 10th Amendment, reserved solely to the States and to the People.

Clearly, these fundamental elements of the Constitution have been patently ignored or so liberally reinterpreted as to obliterate the original meaning and intent of the framers. It’s become painfully obvious that the Progressive stream of legislative abuses which has resulted from the dramatically expansive interpretation of Article 1, Section 8 is leading us to an ideological transformation which is inimical to our founding principles and way of life.

To get us all back onto solid Constitutional footing, the Enumerated Powers Act (HR 450) was introduced by Rep. Shadegg of Arizona and is currently co-sponsored by 48 House members. (The counterpart Senate Bill 1319 has 21 co-sponsors.) Very simply, if passed, HR 450/S 1319 would require Congress to cite the Constitutional authority for each law it passes. No constitutional authority, the bill can’t pass. With constitutional authority, the bill can pass. To me, this is a perfectly sensible and responsible way to keep Congress truer to their pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution and, yes, to prevent further and avoidable erosion of our Constitution. Frankly, it is inconceivable to me why any conscientious Congressperson would object to its passage.

But, on what basis has so much federal overreaching been justified? Further, with passage of HR 450, would we, in fact, once again find ourselves on solid constitutional footing? With these questions in mind, let’s ever so very briefly trace the evolution of the meaning and application of the “general welfare and taxation clause”.

As alluded to above, the Tenth Amendment provides that “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.” Thus, one would think there should be, therefore, a reasonably clear and inviolable delineation between federal and State powers. But, apparently, not so, as we shall see. In fact, state powers are being rapidly eclipsed by the feds.

The Article 1, Section 8 preamble/clause reads as follows; “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” This is followed by 17 original enumerated powers.

James Madison, the “father of our Constitution”, warned that “if Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money [to] promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” Accordingly, Madison believed that “promoting the…general welfare” authorized Congress to spend money, but ONLY to carry out the 17 powers and duties specifically and originally enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. (Note again that in the original text, the "welfare clause" was considered by Madison as but a qualifier, a preamble to, but not a discrete power unto itself.)

Madison went on to explain that “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money.” In effect, Madison posited that “I have always regarded [the words] general welfare as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in Article 1, Section 8) connected to them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution not contemplated by its creators.”
Thomas Jefferson explained it this way: "The laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. Congress is not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It is an established rule of construction where a phrase will bear either of two meanings, to give it that which will allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not that which would render all the others useless.”
Under the Articles of Confederation during and immediately following the Revolution, the central government could raise naval forces and requisition ground forces, but it could not impose taxes or duties to implement those activities unless nine colonies assented. Herein lay the Articles’ greatest weakness and the Constitutional Convention was determined not to make that same mistake again. Thus, the enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8 and the means to execute those powers was included in the Constitution.

While Madison’s and Jefferson’s meaning of general welfare held sway in the early years of the Republic, in McCulloch vs Maryland (1819) Chief Justice Marshall championed the broader Hamiltonian view that the happiness and prosperity of the nation requires not only that the general government has ample powers to effectively ensure the general welfare, but that it has ample means for executing those enumerated powers.

Fast-forward to 1936 when the Supreme Court in an FDR-driven opinion (US vs Butler) held that the “general welfare clause granted Congress power it might not derive anywhere else [in the Constitution], but limited the power to spending for matters affecting only the national welfare.” It further held that the “general welfare clause confers a power separate and distinct from those 17 powers later enumerated and is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them…” Thus, by legal fiat the number of enumerated powers increased from 17 to 18.

Later, in Helvering vs Davis (1937), the court rendered a more expansive interpretation by conferring upon Congress power to impose taxes and to spend money for the general welfare subject almost exclusively to its own discretion.

Since then, the more expansive Hamiltonian interpretation which incorporates the preamble into the enumeration of powers has shaped legislative and Supreme Court thinking. (However, here it is worth noting that even to Hamilton pork barrel projects for specific localities exceeded congressional authority. To wit, “the object to which an appropriation of money is to be made [must] be general and not local; its operation extending in fact, or by possibility, throughout the Union, and not being confined to a particular spot.”) So, if nothing else, HR 450 would at least halt the self-serving and costly epidemic of pork barrel spending.

Serving to further muddy the waters, the changing meaning of the word “welfare” itself underscores the conundrum. For instance, in 1828, Webster’s dictionary links welfare to protection (from unusual evil or calamity) and security (peace and prosperity). In stark contrast to this earlier definition, however, the current definition is as follows: “aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need; an agency or program through which such aid is distributed.” Mindful of the striking contrast and the impact of that contrast to governance, Noah Webster himself posited that “in the lapse of two or three centuries, changes have taken place which…obscure the sense of the original language; whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced…mistakes may be very injurious.” No kidding.

Theodore Sky, Catholic University School of Law, notes that the expansive interpretation of the enumerated powers has led to an essentially “unbounded modern welfare state.” And that’s clearly where we now find ourselves as a nation.

So, even with passage of HR 450/S 1319, continued congressional reliance upon an already expansive interpretation of the general welfare clause will surely render further legislative abuse unavoidable. Ultimately, therefore, the only solution might well be a Constitutional amendment which would return Article 1, Section 8 to its original and more restrictive meaning and intent. But, can we hold our collective breath until that happens? Probably not.

Nonetheless, HR 450/S 1319 is a step in the right direction, and, at the very least, the unconstitutional expenditure of billions of dollars for “pork” could finally be thwarted. That alone should make passage of the Enumerated Powers Act a top priority in D.C.

For this reason, we should urge our representatives to fast-track passage of HR 450/S 1319. As said, it's a pivotal step in the right direction.

Both HR450 and S1319 died in committee