Beneath the cover in the health care debate
An email today from Mybarrackobama.com asked me to write a letter to my local paper and post it on Facebook. The email said:
"An alarming new study shows that health care costs increased last year at the fastest rate in more than a half century. Health care spending rose to an estimated $2.5 trillion in 2009, or $8,047 per person -- and is now projected to nearly double by 2019. If we don't act, this growing burden will mean more lost jobs, more families pushed into bankruptcy, and more crushing debt for our nation. The conclusion is clear: This isn't a problem we can kick down the road for another decade -- or even another year. We need to pass health reform now."
Readers will note an initial lie (act of omission) that although this was an html email there was no link provided to that "alarming new study." Don't want you folks being influenced by facts or informed about the source of the 'study'. read more »
Congress must listen to the anger of the American people
In his State of the Union address Wednesday, President Obama made a particular point about the mood of the public and the affect of that mood on elected officials in Congress. "To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills." That is, the President is telling the Congress that in writing and passing laws he supports, the opposition of the public should be ignored. What the President seems to have missed is the element of consent of the governed. Why should laws obnoxious to the public ever be enacted by their representatives?It might be helpful if the President reread the Declaration of Independence:
...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...
Mr. President, the American people will not long permit you and your party to enact laws and policies which they strongly oppose.
Comments on the State of the Union
The full text of the State of the Union address and interspersed commentary is provided below the fold. The response provided by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in the chamber of the oldest legislative body in America was brilliant and a stark contrast to the address by President Obama. In Richmond, an address of optimism belonging to a free people who are capable, self sufficient and generous and who can govern themselves at government which is close to and response to them. In Washington, an address of a petty tyrant, that national government is the only answer to all problems for a people who are dependent serfs. Comments are shown offset by breaks and contrasting color.
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the Presidentshall give to Congress information about the state of our union. Fortwo hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. Andthey have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments ofgreat strife and great struggle.
It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that ourprogress was inevitable – that America was always destined to succeed.But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies firstlanded at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the marketcrashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten onBloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were timesthat tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of ourunion. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitationsand our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward asone nation, and one people. read more »
A raw deal for workers in self funded employer plans
The health care reform bill H.R. 3590, which passed the Senate on December 24, 2009 contains in Section 9001 of Title IX a new excise tax on high cost employer sponsored health coverage.While some have described this tax as being aimed at 'cadillac health plans' a closer look at the bill reveals it is a death threat to health care coverage for those whose employer's sponsor self funded plans.The 40% excise tax this bill imposes on costs in any month of over $708.33 for any single worker and $1916.67 for any family will quickly lead such employers to terminate the health coverage of their workers covered by such plans. Any worker or family member with a hospitalization would easily incur costs which exceed the monthly cap. In any month the cap is exceeded the 40% tax is imposed on the amount paid for health care for that worker which is over the cap.Senator's Jim Webb and Mark Warner (both D-VA) voted for the bill with this provision in it. If you are a Virginian in an employer sponsored self funded health plan, you might want to let your Senator's know that you oppose this particularly foul pernicious section. (The links are to their web site email form.)
Obama's Address Between the Lines
The MSM and the blogosphere are surfeited with comments on President Obama's Afghanistan policy described in his Tuesday night address at the U.S. Military academy. I have taken the liberty of including some marginal comments (in italics) to the full text below. Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York
8:01 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets (Perhaps the United States Military Academy Corps of Cadets, but not to be noticed by those with no familiarity with it),to the men and women of our Armed Services (This is a speech about war, can't we remember to call these folks the Armed Forces?), and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort inAfghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of ourinterests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bringthis war to a successful conclusion. It's an extraordinary honor forme to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women haveprepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finestabout our country.
To address these important issues, it's important to recall whyAmerica and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan inthe first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001,19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. Theytook the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard totheir faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions ofpassengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at (another)one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killedmany more. read more »
The bad choices and likely worse outcomes
The weekend news reports and talk show discussions are full of viewpoints regarding the announced terrorism trials to be held in New York City. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani remarked on the security threats trials in New York would pose as well as the publicity platform which such trials may provide to the defendants. Meanwhile, the AP reports Senator Patrick Leahy D-Vt, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed the opinion, "If someone murders Americans in this country, they should be tried in the U.S" Senator Leahy has apparently missed the Supreme Court interpretation that the prisoners held in Guantanamo are within the U.S. at least for the purposes of access to the federal courts.Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., also commented on holding the trials in New York. He mentioned that the terrorists to be tried want to be considered holy warriors or jihadists which could be corroborated by a military commission trial. Reed is quoted as saying: "if we try them before military officers, that image of a soldier will be portrayed by the Islamic community. That's not the image we want."The real muddle created by pursuing a criminal trial in federal court may be directly connected not to security, or sound bites, but to the legal details of trying the defendants. Senator Reed's comments suggest the desire to see the acts committed by those to be tried as criminal acts amenable to a criminal trial. If we accept that reasoning, we must also consider the due process requirements that a criminal trial requires.The defendants for the trials in New York are reported to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.According to the London based Telegraph Mohammed confessed to Yosri Fouda, an al-Jazeera reporter that he took part in the planning for the 9/11 attacks on New York in 2001 (Attacks depicted in the accompanying Pulitzer prize winning photo by Steve Ludlum, New York Times staff photographer). He was captured in March 2003 at a house in Rawalpindi Pakistan. He made his al-Jazeera confession alongside Ramzi bin al-Sibh. Although he allegedly participated in the planning for 9/11, al-Sibh was unable to get a U.S. visa and was unable to directly participate in the attacks. Walid bin Attash is suspected of training some of the 9/11 hijackers while Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi is supsected of organizing the financing for the 9/11 attackers. Ali Abdal Aziz Ali is the maternal nephew of Mohammed and is also believed to have participated in the financing and logistics for the 9/11 attacks. 18 USC 2331 provides definitions for the following criminal articles relating to terrorism. It appears to be limited in application by the the apparent intent of the participants. The required elements of the definition are that overt acts are intended to coerce a civilian population, or influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping and with the overt acts occuring within United States territory.Terrorism penalties are prescribed in the following section 2332. The death penalty in this section is allowed only for murdering a U.S. national outside the United States but participation in a conspiracy resulting in murder is not a capital offense.It would seem that the conspiracy that each of the defendants are accused of participating in cannot result in a death penalty finding. The elements of the offense with regard to intent also would seem difficult to establish and prove. Indeed it is entirely possible that the intent of the attack was simply to cause death and destruction and not necessarily to coerce the population, influence government policy or affect the conduct of the government. It is possible however that the last element, affecting the conduct of the government to withdraw military forces from within the claimed Moslem caliphate may have been a motive.Before the elements can be proved however, the government will need to establish that the arrests of the defendants took place pursuant to a warrant properly sworn and issued and that the defendants were given the due process protections required under the fourth amendment such as advise of the charges, warnings against self incrimination, access to effective counsel, and opportunity for writ of habeas corpus. During the trial they will also need to be given access to call witnesses and confront all witnesses against them. These may be problematic.When we look outside the criminal process, we can consider the actions of the defendants in terms of acts of war. If they were acts of war they could be held as prisoners though out the duration of the conflict until properly exchanged. If they were acts of war, and they were combatants, the military forces of the United States would be obliged to kill them whenever or wherever found unless they surrendered or became incapable of defense. If they were acts of war the intent of each individual participant is not subject to review, as each combatant is equally subject to the use of deadly military force against them without regard to their individual circumstances, motives or intent. Violations of the law of war committed during the conduct of war are separately and individually punishable.Taking all of the above into consideration, it is substantially likely that the criminal prosecutions against these defendants may founder on the legal issues and the administration may come to regret wading into this legal quagmire, especially for the sake of denying jihadist status to the defendants.
How about Aiding the Enemy
Although Michelle Malkin makes an important case for 14 murder charges not 13 against Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadi murder suspect (shown in the accompanying UK Telegraph composite photo), there does appear to be at least one more charge that should be brought by his command against him.
Article 104 of the Uniform code of Military Justice defines the crime of Aiding the Enemy. This crime is committed by any person who, without proper authority, communicates or corresponds with the enemy, either directly or indirectly. Those who violate article 104 shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct. (Complete text below)
The Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by the Congress on September 18, 2001 defines the authority to use military force against those nations, organizations, or persons determined to have planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.
ABC News reports Thursday evening that Hasan "used multiple e-mail addresses and screen names as he contacted several jihadist web sites around the world." ABC News also reports, "In addition to his contacts with suspected al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen, authorities said there is evidence he contacted other radical sites and individuals, including some in Europe." read more »
Will Congress? When?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting Saturday night that President Obama has pledged to end the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces. Speaking at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a advocacy group for gay rights, Mr. Obama was quoted as saying: "I will end "don't ask-don't tell.'" No time frame was associated with his promise.While Mr. Obama made the first person pledge, don't ask-don't tell is not a policy malleable by the president, it is a law which requires action by the Congress to change. Even if done at the request of the president, it would never be accurate to say the president changed the law, only that Congress changed the law. The Whitehouse lists a livestream link to the speech audio but the link does not appear to be working. (Accompanying Getty Image photo of Pres. Obama and TOTUS addressing HRC link from online.WSJ.com)
Don't Count on It
Sunset on the American Dream? Don't count on it. Over 2000 Defenders of the American Dream are gathering at Arlington Virginia's Crystal Gateway Marriott to make sure it is a rising not a setting sun. They will be storming Capital Hill this afternoon to remind our representatives that we expect them to defend the dream also and not be drawing the curtains.What is the American Dream? In a word freedom. Freedom for ourselves and our children. Freedom to succeed or learn from our failures. Freedom to achieve, grow and prosper. Freedom to pursue happiness, an inalienable right, which along with life and liberty form the basis of our republican ideals.The Defending the American Dream Summit will be underway today and tomorrow sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. Following visits to Capital Hill, this evening's highlight is the 'Tribute to Ronald Reagan' Dinner with Laura Ingraham, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), Dr. Jim Miller, former Reagan administration budget director, and American's for Prosperity Chairman Art Pope.The VirginianFederalist is live blogging from the conference's blogger's row. Follow updates here, and on twitter (#dad09).Defend the American Dream!
Unemployment Rises to 9.8%
Although having predicted that unemployment would not increase beyond 8% if the immediately needed $787 billion stimulus package was passed, the Washington Post reports today that the unemployment rate reached 9.8% in September, and the economy lost a further 263,000 jobs in September, more than the revised 201,000 jobs lost in August.When the August results were announced, the President declared:"that while lost jobs are still “unacceptable” there are some signs of light.“For the second straight month, we lost fewer jobs than the month before and it was the fewest jobs lost in a year. So make no mistake. We're moving in the right direction. We're on the road to recovery. Ohio. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”Now that the loss of jobs has increased from August to September and the overall unemployment rate has risen, not fallen, I think we can tell Mr. Obama otherwise. Perhaps we can judge the honesty of the President's remarks using the words now made famous by Representative Joe Wilson: "You Lie."