The Patriot Post Digest
“[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution.” –Alexander Hamilton
Government & Politics
ObamaCare in the Emergency Room
There are no two ways about it — the health care summit that took place Thursday in Washington was a sham and a farce. But it’s a fitting chapter for the bill being debated.
Barack Obama invited various congressmen to join him for a “discussion” about his latest health care takeover plot, which looks an awful lot like last year’s Senate proposal, only more expensive. Obama released his “new” plan Monday to great fanfare, though there was precious little new about it.
About one new feature, the Associated Press editorialized, the proposal “would allow the government to deny or roll back egregious insurance premium increases that infuriated consumers” via a seven-member panel of all-knowing insurance premium gurus. Funny thing is that all 50 states already require insurance companies to justify premium increases. Obama’s proposal amounts to little more than federal price controls. … Yet with his best Wizard of Oz impression (pay no attention to the stuff behind the curtain), Obama asserted, “Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market.” Sure — if you say so.
CNN actually came closer to the mark: “If enacted, the president’s sweeping compromise plan would constitute the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades ago.” The key words are “biggest expansion.”
Another part of Obama’s proposal is the supposed elimination of the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the $100 million in Medicaid relief for Nebraska that bought Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote. When reading the fine print, however, we see that the kickback has simply been extended to every state by transferring all new Medicaid spending through 2017 directly to the federal ledger.
Obama is trying mightily to win over “obstructionist” Republicans — or so his media minions tell us. More likely, however, it’s the 38 House Democrats who voted against ObamaCare in November that are his target. Since the House passed its trillion-dollar version by a not-so-comfortable majority of five votes (220-215), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has lost three votes with the retirements of Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), and the death of Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA). Also, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the lone Republican in either chamber to vote for the bill, says he will not support it again, and pro-life Democrats — whose leader, Michigan’s Bart Stupak, wasn’t invited to Thursday’s photo-op — continue to vow opposition if abortion funding is included. Pelosi conceded Wednesday that she doesn’t yet have the votes for passage. That’s, of course, if you believe anything she says.
The administration pushed the idea of using the reconciliation process to ram the bill through the Senate if Republicans don’t heel. Reconciliation, which is a procedure contrived in 1974 to circumvent filibustering on budget bills, would allow Senate Democrats to pass ObamaCare with only 51 votes. Doing so would greatly enhance Republicans’ election prospects in November, though enough Democrats may calculate the price is worth paying.
The White House isn’t without Plan B. If the complete takeover fails, Democrats will just grab smaller pieces of the pie. The alternative would be to extend insurance coverage to about 15 million Americans by requiring insurance providers to allow people to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26, and by expanding Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Most Democrats do behave like children, so these proposals certainly make sense to them.)
Perhaps the tone and purpose of the summit can be encapsulated by an exchange between Obama and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the number-two House Republican: The president chastised Cantor for using “props” that “prevent us from having a conversation.” The prop? Cantor was sitting behind a copy of the current 2,400-page Senate bill. Heaven forbid Republicans bring the actual bill to a summit about the bill. Next time, though, Eric, bring the Constitution.
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
“[Republicans] should stop crying about reconciliation as if it’s never been done before.” –Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Video of the Week
In 2005, when Republicans were considering the “nuclear option” to stop Democrats’ filibuster of dozens of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, Democrats lined up at every microphone in sight to denounce the idea, claiming it was a “naked power grab,” a “constitutional crisis” and “how democracy ends.” Times sure have changed. Watch the video.
The BIG Lie
“It’s about jobs. In its life, [the health bill] will create four million jobs — 400,000 jobs almost immediately.” –House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
We’re still waiting for all those jobs promised by the stimulus bill.
New & Notable Legislation
The Senate passed a $15 billion “jobs” bill Wednesday by a 70-28 vote. Thirteen Republicans, including newly minted Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, joined Democrats in voting for passage. The centerpiece is a payroll tax cut for businesses that hire new employees, but it’s unlikely that short-term tax relief will have a real effect on unemployment. The bill now goes to the House for consideration, though leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus have announced their opposition to the bill, which they called inadequate and just a “tax bill,” not a jobs bill. No word yet from the Congressional White Caucus.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Dietary Supplement Safety Act (DSSA), S. 3002, which would empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate dietary supplements such as vitamins. The FDA could arbitrarily reclassify supplements as drugs or pull them off the shelves altogether. Find that one in the Constitution. With Republicans like this, who needs Democrats?
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) plans to introduce legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits homosexuals from disclosing their pathology while serving in the military. The White House supports his bill, but no timeline for its implementation has been established. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced a more aggressive bill in the House that calls for repeal in 2010. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have indicated support for repealing the law but stated that the Pentagon would need at least a year to study implementation. General James Conway, head of the U.S. Marine Corps, dissented. “My best military advice … would be to keep the law such as it is.” Conway added that the only question that mattered is this: “Do we somehow enhance the war fighting capabilities of the United States Marine Corps by allowing homosexuals to openly serve?”
House Democrats expressed their displeasure with the slow pace of their Senate counterparts by producing a list of 290 House-passed bills that are stalled in the upper chamber. The various pieces of that legislation range from routine naming of buildings to more significant legislation like health care, Wall Street reform and climate change. Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were both quick to blame Republicans, but Reid’s Democrats had held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate until earlier this month. The Democrats have few if any friends across the aisle, but their worst enemies seem to be located within their own caucus. All in all, these 290 stalled bills are the best news to come out of the Swamp all week.
Hope ‘n’ Change: That Demo Culture of Corruption
The White House is being accused of offering juicy government jobs to two Democrats in exchange for their withdrawal from potential primary battles in this year’s election cycle. The charges, which come from the Democrats themselves, are quite serious and carry punishments including jail time, assuming anyone would prosecute.
Read more here.
Village Academic Curriculum: Federal Standards Are No Prize, Either
Even with the establishment of additional federal standards for education in the No Child Left Behind legislation signed by President George W. Bush back in 2002, states were granted flexibility in how they enacted these mandates, as the Bush administration left at least that modicum of local control intact. But the Obama Department of Education wants to wipe that pretense away and require states to adopt “college- and career-ready standards” in order to qualify for part of $14 billion in Title I funding.
One fig leaf covering this power grab is that all but two states (Texas and Alaska) are collaborating — with the encouragement of the White House — on setting up standards which would be acceptable to the federal government. It’s clear, however, that local control of education is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Recently, Barack Obama offered himself as a prize to the student who best describes “why your school is special and why it should be a model for other schools around the country, working to boost attendance and increase the number of graduates prepared for college or a career.” The winning school would be the lucky recipient of a presidential visit, with the narcissist-in-chief stopping by to read a commencement address off his teleprompter.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Justice and Jihad
“Last November, Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA], a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the Justice Department how many of its lawyers had defended terrorist detainees over whom the department holds sway,” reports Investor’s Business Daily. “Grassley knew from earlier press reports of two such lawyers who worked on behalf of detainees at the liberal organization Human Rights Watch. He wanted to know how many more there were.”
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, there are nine. “To the best of our knowledge, during their employment prior to joining the government, only five of the lawyers who serve as political appointees in those components represented detainees,” Holder said. “Four others contributed to amicus briefs in detainee-related cases involved in advocacy on behalf of detainees.” Holder himself was a partner at Covington & Burling, a firm that gave 3,000 hours to detainee litigation — in 2007 alone.
Now we know why Justice chose to Mirandize the undi-bomber and hasn’t announced an official plan should Osama bin Laden one day be captured. How many amicus briefs will be submitted by Justice on his behalf? Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the plane terrorists flew into the Pentagon on 9/11, said, “It’s like they’re bringing al-Qa’ida lawyers inside the Department of Justice.” Precisely.
IAEA Annual Report on Iran
Iran kept its streak going last week when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its annual report “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of UNSCR 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1835 in Iran.” Make that eight years in a row that the IAEA has come to the conclusion that “Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Among the highlights from the report’s Summary section:
47. Iran is not implementing the requirements contained in the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council… In particular, Iran needs to cooperate in clarifying outstanding issues … about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme…
48. … Iran has continued with the operation of Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant and Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, and the construction of a new enrichment plant at [Qom].
49. … Iran has also continued with the construction of the IR-40 reactor and related heavy water activities. The Agency has not been permitted to take samples of the heavy water … stored at [Esfahan].
We have been reporting on this issue since 2003, when the IAEA first declared, “As indicated in the Director General’s report of 10 November 2003 … Iran had been in breach of its obligations to comply with the provisions of its safeguard agreement.” Eight years gone by, and still the IAEA cannot verify the true nature of Iran’s nuclear program; eight years with nothing to show but former IAEA Director General Mohammed el-Baradei’s Nobel Peace Prize; eight years in which Iran has all but mastered enrichment, launched missiles with ever-longer ranges, openly called for the destruction of Israel and threatened to “cut the hands off of anyone who attacks us.” How much longer must we wait before deciding that diplomacy will not work? What administration will be willing to take the necessary action to stop Iran from going nuclear?
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Col. Robert Howard
Ret. Col. Robert Howard was laid to rest Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. He died Dec. 23 at age 70. Howard served five tours in Vietnam, was wounded 14 times, and was the most decorated soldier from that war, including eight Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars, four Legion of Merit awards, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Cross (twice) and the Medal of Honor — a medal for which he was nominated three times for three separate actions in a 13-month period.
Howard’s Medal of Honor citation reads, “1st Lt. Howard (then SFC.), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon … was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. …
“Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard’s small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard’s gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”
Rest in peace, Colonel.
Business & Economy
“Americans’ confidence in the economy has suffered a sudden relapse, dimming hopes that they will start spending — and spurring job growth — any time soon,” the Associated Press reports. Indeed, Tuesday’s release of the latest Consumer Confidence Index figures revealed attitudes that are still rather negative about job growth and the economy in general. The index fell almost 11 points to 46 in February, the lowest level since April 2009. Since consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of the economy, analysts watch this number closely.
The AP further notes, “The overall economy expanded at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, but only about one-fourth of that growth came from consumers. Most of the growth came from companies replenishing low inventories.”
As we explained at the outset, this economic recession is largely the result of a crisis of confidence. A year after the so-called stimulus, headline unemployment remains at nearly 10 percent and total unemployment remains over 17 percent. Despite Congress’ recent crowing about helping “create” jobs, businesses aren’t hiring because of uncertainty about the future. A few billion dollars in temporary tax breaks won’t change that. Neither consumers nor businesses have confidence that government will leave the economy alone to grow on its own. Until that changes, real recovery will take a mighty long time.
Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
“This was my heart, my choice and my health,” said Danny Williams this week. Williams isn’t just any heart patient, however. He’s the Premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and he had heart surgery, not at the local hospital under CanadaCare, but in Miami.
If Canada’s health care is so great, why did Williams travel 2,500 miles for surgery? Because “I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.” In other words, socialized medicine leaves something to be desired. Namely, “the best possible care.”
Doctors in Canada advised him that the only way to repair a heart valve problem was through a full or partial sternotomy, which would require breaking bones. However, when he was referred to Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center by a fellow Canadian practicing cardiology in New Jersey, he found that he could be treated with only an incision under his arm. This procedure “was not offered to me in Canada,” he said.
Notwithstanding the superior care he received under a system that is at least somewhat based on the free market, Williams still declared his support of Canadian medicine, saying, “I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system.” Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Williams. Furthermore, if ObamaCare passes, where will other wealthy Canadians go for health care?
Culture & Policy
Climate Change This Week: More Retractions
Whoops! Scientists have had to retract yet another a study on global warming — this time, one purporting to show that sea levels will rise by 7 to 82 cm (3 to 33 inches) by 2100. The study, published last year in Nature Geoscience, echoed warnings issued in 2007 by the global warming indoctrination arm of the United Nations: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Apparently, there were a couple of not-so-minor mistakes that mean the study’s earth-shattering (or earth-flooding) conclusions aren’t so accurate after all. Citing two mistakes — a “miscalculation” and “not … allow[ing] fully for temperature change over the past 2,000 years” — the authors retracted the paper, stating they would “invest in the further work needed to correct these mistakes.”
According to author Mark Siddall, though, it’s just “one of those things that happens. People make mistakes and mistakes happen in science.” The problem is, global warmists want to redistribute our nation’s wealth and hamstring the world’s economy based on theories full of such mistakes.
Despite the expanding evidentiary void, the UN is set to restart negotiations on a global climate change treaty. UN Climate Head Yvo de Boer (who recently announced his resignation, effective July 1) said the negotiating schedule would be intensified in hopes of reaching an agreement by year’s end — an agreement based, of course, on an ever-growing pile of mistakes.
Sen. Inhofe Calls for Climate Investigation
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), long a leading skeptic of man-made global warming, has asked the Justice Department to investigate what he called “the greatest scientific scandal of our generation.” Inhofe believes climate scientists and honorary weatherman Al Gore have deliberately misled Congress and the public regarding the case for anthropogenic climate change. Now, he wants them held accountable.
Read more here.
This Week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ Award
“[The climate change debate] reminds me in some ways of the debate taking place in this country and around the world in the late 1930s. And during that period with Nazism and fascism growing — a real danger to the United States and democratic countries all over the world — there were people in this Congress, in the British parliament saying, ‘Don’t worry! Hitler is not real! It’ll disappear! We don’t have to be prepared to take it on.'” –Socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto responded, “Wow, that’s a great analogy! The only difference between the two situations is that the Nazis were real.”
Around the Nation: ACORN Cracks Up
The friendly neighborhood nuts at ACORN are back in the news, but reports recounting the demise of the community organization may be a little premature. Offices across the land are turning out the lights and turning off the phones. One ACORN official wrote in an e-mail, “Last one to leave turn out the lights and wipe the server.”
However, many of ACORN’s administrators, employees and structure have been simply re-branded: The New York Communities for Change, New England United for Justice in Boston, and so on. Each group will continue to be intertwined and work in concert, just under new identities.
Former ACORN officials are still bitter about the apparent demise of the organization, blaming “a pro-corporate agenda” and “a 24-hour propaganda channel” for exposing ACORN’s zeal to assist bootstrapping criminals. Nor are leftists spared ACORN’s wrath, as one observer noted that the movement “stood by while ACORN got gutted.”
In either case, the agenda will be the same once the successor organizations get on their feet, just in time for the 2010 elections. The fundraising is already under way and former ACORN leaders hope a new set of names will allow them to escape public scrutiny.
Faith and Family: DC Diocese Ceases Adoption Services
The Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has been forced to suspend indefinitely its foster care program after the City Council passed a law that not only legalizes same-sex marriage, but demands that contractors dealing with the city recognize the unions. In other words, Catholics would be forced to put foster and adopted children in same-sex homes. Archdiocese staff members and cases have been transferred to the National Center for Children and Families in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. Adoption services also have been discontinued. The Archdioceses of San Francisco and Boston likewise ended these services when similar laws were passed.
This law, as it pertains to faith-based organizations, is a blatant and grievous violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of “the free exercise” of religion. The Religious Clause was not enacted to provide rhetoric for secularists; it guarantees, among other things, a religious freedom from the state. Yet in this case, groups such as the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State — those who typically bang on their highchairs the loudest about alleged violations of the First Amendment — are either remaining silent or applauding the move.
For example, Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn is only too happy to see the Archdiocese relinquish the $2 million it receives from the government each year for its foster program, saying that the church should not be given public funds if it cannot or will not abide by civil rights laws.
The president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, after stating that the government had given the church no choice but to withdraw or violate its long-held view against same-sex unions, put it this way: “If Planned Parenthood were told that as a condition of public funding it had to refer Catholic women having second thoughts about abortion to a crisis pregnancy center, it would scream violation of church and state, refuse the money and end this program.” We would add that therein lies the problem of government “charity.”
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Arizona prosecutors have decided not to pursue the death penalty in the case of Faleh Al-Maleki, the Iraqi immigrant who struck his 20-year-old daughter Noor — and the woman who was protecting her — with his vehicle. Noor, whom Al-Maleki had accused of being too “Westernized,” died of her injuries, and her father has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and two counts of leaving the scene of a serious accident.
Public defender Billy Little asked the judge to take “special precautions” that the D.A. wouldn’t seek death because Al-Maleki is a Muslim. The irony is that Al-Maleki committed his crimes because by his own reckoning, his daughter was not true to her Muslim faith.
In addition, Little’s bias is apparently acceptable. Little, in reference to the religious beliefs of County Attorney Andrew Thomas, asked for “An open process [that] provides some level of assurance that there is no appearance that a Christian is seeking to execute a Muslim for racial, political, religious or cultural beliefs.”
This murder was based on the centuries-old tradition — still adhered to in some parts of the world — of murdering female relatives who don’t obey Islamic rules. It is, arguably, even more disturbing when the crime happens in the United States and political correctness affords special protection for her murderer.
To Keep and Bear Arms
A woman and her mother were tied up in their Indiana home after a man broke into the house. The intruder then sexually assaulted the daughter. According to Police Sgt. William Snead, the mother was able to send her neighbor a text message alerting her of the situation. Sonny Osborn, the neighbor’s boyfriend, heard the disturbance, grabbed his gun and headed for the victim’s home.
Osborn warned the suspect and told him to leave, but to no avail, so he shot him three times in the leg. After being treated at a local hospital, the perpetrator is now locked up in the Sullivan County Jail.
In other Second Amendment news, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly showed his opposition to select portions of the Bill of Rights when he interviewed Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes and the subject of gun confiscation during Hurricane Katrina came up. When Rhodes explained to O’Reilly that, even during a state of emergency, it’s unconstitutional to confiscate lawfully owned guns, the Fox News Pinhead responded, “That’s a pretty extreme position.” Tell that to the Founders, Bill.
Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens began carrying concealed firearms in national parks this week. To the shock and awe of anti-Second Amendment nuts across this great nation, there were no shootouts.
Some congressional leaders were so bent on making their case at Thursday’s “Healthcare Summit” that they resorted to what Barack Obama called “props” that “prevent us from having a conversation.” While Republican Congressman Eric Cantor used the 2,400-page bill itself as a “prop,” one of his Democrat colleagues wielded a deceased woman’s dentures. No kidding. New York Rep. Louise Slaughter lamented, “I even have one constituent — you will not believe this, and I know you won’t, but it’s true — her sister died. This poor woman had no dentures. She wore her dead sister’s teeth, which of course were uncomfortable and did not fit. Did you ever believe that in America that that’s where we would be?”
Clearly, Slaughter and her ilk believe that the only solution to this rampant denture problem is to redistribute $1 trillion of other people’s money. We are, after all, guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of properly fitting false teeth. But this episode of daytime drama also prompts a serious question: Aren’t liberals supposed to be in favor of recycling?
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