Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama’s Recent Comments Suggest His Prejudice

The recent comments made by Barak Obama about the arrest of a black professor who claimed he was arrested out of racial prejudice in Cambridge, Massachusetts suggest Obama’s own prejudice. Although the President has since partially taken back his words, he judged the arresting officer as having acted “stupidly” before he knew the facts. In other words, Obama prejudged the white police officer.

Regardless of whether Obama went so far as to accept the allegation of racism made by the professor, whom he knows personally, he nonetheless asserted that the arrest must have been stupid, at least because “cooler heads” should have prevailed. But the facts that have emerged since then suggest that it was the professor who was the only one who did not remain cool, which is why he was charged with disorderly conduct after the officer responded to a dispatch for a suspected burglary that turned out to be based upon the fact that the professor was breaking into his own home. It was the professor – not the police officer – who was uncooperative in proving his residence there, prejudging the white officer’s actions as having been based upon racial bigotry, which turned out to be an unfounded judgment.

Although Obama did not allege that the arrest was racially motivated, his knee-jerk criticism of the white police officer accused by the black professor of racism lent credence from the office of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States not only to criticism of the officer’s actions, but to the more controversial accusation of racism. Obama’s comments reveal that beneath the veneer of coolness, is the angry black man he does not want the world to see, but whose associations, statements and policies reflect.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care "Access" vs. Health Insurance

I discussed in an earlier post the difference between health care and health insurance and observed that the issue is not the former, but the latter. Indeed, most people are satisfied with the health care they receive and no one can be denied emergency health care.

No one is proposing a government takeover of health care, per se, but President Barak Obama and Congressional Democrats are proposing a federalization of health insurance. However, the federalization of health insurance will lead to increased government regulation of health care, to the point that it will resemble fascism more so than socialism, just like the Obama Administration's takeover of much of the automobile industry. The main concern with federal regulation of health care is that it will lead to the rationing of health care by a massive federal bureaucracy in order to reduce costs, as well federal government decision making in what foods or behavior are acceptable. In short, although the federal government will not take over health care beyond veterans' care and certain other exceptions, it will essentially control it.

Liberal supporters of the federalization of health insurance and federal government-run health care sometimes use another misleading term in addition to "health care" when referring to health insurance in order to conflate the two: "access" to health care. Saying that they want to give people "access to health care" implies that they currently lack access to health care and worse, that such people may even be denied health care. No one may be denied health care who can pay for it -- as even many of those without health insurance can do to at least some degree -- and no one may be denied emergency health care even if one cannot pay for it. In other words, no one totally lacks access to health care. Obama and the Congressional Democrats are not proposing to give people access to health care who already have it. Their intent is to subsidize health insurance as a form of welfare -- to the point of driving all private health insurance providers out of the business in order to establish a federal monopoly.

Although federalized health insurance might increase some people's access to preventative or other non-emergency health care because they would otherwise not be able to afford it, it will not increase access to health care for many people because they already have it, even many who do not have health insurance. Worse, federalized health insurance will come at the expense of other patients who will be denied access to health care -- even lifesaving treatment -- because of the need to ration health care in order to hold down costs.

There are less Draconian ways to decrease the costs of health care and give greater access to health care. Alas, one of the best ways to reduce health care costs -- tort reform, which would reduce the medical malpractice insurance premiums doctors must pay -- is strongly opposed by Obama and the Congressional Democrats.

What a Difference Four Years Makes

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) stated on FOX News on July 20 that the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats were not “rushing through” their proposed federalization of health insurance, as some critics have alleged. He explained that the charge of “rushing” was unfair because the federalization of health insurance has been proposed since 1993.

If one accepts Hoyer’s argument that 16 years is not “rushing,” then four years must make all the difference between what is “rushing” and what is not. In 1993, when President George W. Bush launched the Liberation of Iraq after 12 years of numerous violations by Saddam Hussein’s regime of several UN resolutions and the 1991 cease-fire Agreement, as well as continued sponsorship of terrorism, many Congressional Democrats and other liberals accused him of “rushing to war.” In other words, 12 years is “rushing,” but 16 is not, according to Congressional Democratic thinking. Four years must make all the difference in their minds.

Hoyer’s argument that Obama’s federalization of health insurance is not being rushed through because it was first proposed 16 years ago fails to refute the critics who insist that it is. The critics are referring to the current proposal, which was made by President Barak Obama only a few weeks ago, and which he is pushing to be approved almost immediately, not to the topic in general. The Democratic bill is so complicated that a flow chart had to be created in order to understand all of the bureaucracy it will require. See the chart on the webpage of its creator, Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-TX): A federal takeover of such a large segment of the economy, which would require much more spending, borrowing and taxing than Obama has already approved, is not something to be rushed through in just a few weeks. It is something to oppose. One way to oppose it effectively is to slow it down in order to give people the opportunity to learn what is in the bill and to contemplate its effects.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

500 Visits to My Blog

I am pleased to report that my blog has received its 500th visit since April 2, 2009. As I have noted in earlier blog hit reports, I do not count my own visits, and I strictly define a visit as a page view at least one hour later than the previous one. If I were to count each additional page viewed as a hit, then the total would be 550, and if I were to count every page load as a hit, as many others do, then the total is around 730 hits. Thank you for your patronage of my blog!

Health Insurance Is Not a Federal Issue or Constitutional Right

President Barak Obama proposes to federalize health insurance and to make it a “right.” However, health insurance is neither a right, nor is it even generally a federal issue under the United States Constitution in the first place.

As I note in an earlier post (Misleading Media Phrases), in which I observe that the issue is not about “health care,” but health insurance, many people who lack health insurance chose not to obtain health insurance because they are wealthy enough to afford to pay for their own health care, do not need it or believe in it for cultural or religious purposes, or are too young and healthy to justify the expense that seems unnecessary. In the case of the last group, catastrophic health insurance should suffice. A last major group of people who lack health insurance lack it only temporarily, as they are people between jobs, which is why there have been some reforms like Health Savings Accounts that President George W. Bush signed into law that allow people to maintain coverage even if they lose their jobs. Obama’s proposal moves in the wrong direction by forcing a return to the system whereby health insurance is only obtainable through one’s employer.

Health insurance premiums began to be provided by employers because of federal government interference in the free market in the first place. General Motors Corporation first began providing health benefits to its employees because of federal wage controls during World War II. Thus, over time most people’s health insurance has been provided by their employers, with often generous “Cadillac” health insurance plans. Employer-provided plans have allowed people to feel as if their health care is free, even though it costs them compensation they would otherwise have made, which provides no incentive to them to reduce costs. Now, in response to such employer generosity, Obama and Congressional Democrats led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) propose to mandate all but the smallest employers to provide health insurance to their employees or face a federal penalty. They also propose the provision of health insurance, which will compete with private plans and eventually drive them out of business.

An argument can reasonably be made that federal mandates or provision of health insurance benefits would violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate (between states) commerce, which means that the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate intrastate (within states) commerce. Alas, the Commerce Clause has routinely been ignored by the federal government unconstitutionally for decades without any serious debate about whether to repeal it with a constitutional amendment. Regardless of the constitutional question, it is not appropriate for the federal government, nor any government at all, to be involved in the matter of health insurance, as it is a private matter. Even if it were a government issue, it is not a federal one, as there is nothing particularly federal about it. The federal government’s only interest in health is generally limited to communicable diseases because non-communicable diseases do no pose a threat to the health of others like contagious ones do, while state governments’ interests are similar. Once the federal government subsidizes all health care, then it will have the total power to regulate all health issues totally. For example, it could decide which foods people could eat, let alone ration health care.

The argument that Obama and other liberals claim is that health insurance improves health because it provides people the opportunity to avail themselves of preventative care, which, in turn, saves the federal government money, is irrelevant, even if it were only interested in communicable diseases. The main reason that liberals claim government interest in health care besides for veterans is because of federal government subsidization of health insurance in the first place (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid). The circular argument is that government has an interest in health insurance once it takes an interest by subsidizing health care. But government should not have begun to subsidize health care because it has no constitutional authority to take money from one person and give it to another, which is a form of welfare. It is never too late to privatize health insurance, which would eliminate federal interest in health insurance.

A right is a legal claim, which necessarily imposes a duty on others. The analogy between the federal government providing health care and providing an accused person with a lawyer fails because the provision of the lawyer is arguably a facet of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution; a bundle of rights, including the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, attaches once a person is accused of a crime. However, a person cannot claim health insurance as a right, just as he cannot claim food as a right, for he cannot generally impose upon someone else the duty to pay for his needs. Note: I say “health insurance,” because emergency health care is a right; no one can be denied emergency health care, but one can be denied health insurance, just as one cannot be denied food if one were dying of starvation but could not pay for it, but can be denied food absent starvation otherwise. But although one cannot be denied food or healthcare in emergencies, their provision to one person does not impose a duty upon another to pay for it. Obama’s proposal to create a right to non-emergency health care at other people’s expense would be like creating a right to be fed at others’ expense, which would establish a precedent to be housed or clothed at other people’s expense, even on a non-emergency basis. Thus, welfare would be expanded to a federal right of unlimited degree.

As with Obama’s massive so-called stimulus plan, the danger to liberty goes beyond the massive spending and borrowing and taxing his proposed federalization of health insurance would necessitate, but to the increase in federal control over our lives. If Obama and other liberals get their way, the federal government will decide who gets what health care or not, what foods we may eat and what behaviors in which we may engage. For the sake of liberty, the federalization of health insurance must be stopped.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama's Approval Rating Falls to All-Time Low

Recent public opinion polls suggest a decline in President Barak Obama's popularity. First, a reliable poll of likely voters suggested that Obama's strongly disapproval rating exceeded his strongly approval rating for the first time. Second, a major poll suggested that Obama's approval rating had declined for the first time to below 54%, the percentage of the popular vote the Obama-Biden ticket received in the election for presidential electors in 2008. Third, a poll suggests a drop in Obama's approval rating to below 50% in the major swing state of Ohio.

All of these ratings reflect personal lows for Obama, but the media consistently reported personal lows for his predecessor, George W. Bush, as "all-time" lows, as if they were the lowest in the history of public opinion polling, which they were not. Indeed, as Bush had been a popular president during his first term, despite the Bush-Cheney ticket not having received a majority of the popular vote, as soon as his approval rating dropped below 50%, it marked a personal low. The constant reporting of personal lows as "all-time" lows -- often in polls commissioned by the media itself -- exaggerated Bush's decline in popularity and probably reinforced it, much as the frequent polling of Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal probably reinforced his popularity.

There are at least three of Obama's policies that have decreased his popularity: 1) Obama's announced closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terrorists captured on the battlefield without a plan to detain them elsewhere, 2) His federal subsidization with taxpayer dollars for organizations that promote abortion abroad, and 3) Perhaps especially, Obama's massive spending and borrowing.

In a future post, I shall discuss public opinion polling more broadly, but for now I took the opportunity of this post to create a headline that demonstrates how the liberal media uses polling in a biased manner by turning the tables on them.

Please feel free to post a comment in order to query about public opinion polling in general in preparation for my upcoming post on the topic.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Robert McNamara Never Vindicated Bill Clinton

Robert McNamara, who served as U.S. Defense Secretary under President Lyndon Johnson, died earlier this week. He was known as the architect of the Vietnamese War. But in his 1995 memoir, McNamara shockingly concluded that the Vietnamese War had been wrong because it was unwinnable. At the time of the publication of the memoir, President Bill Clinton stated that he felt vindicated in having protested the War (even, in Clinton’s case, on foreign soil) because McNamara admitted the war had been a mistake. Clinton was wrong.

There are two parts to the Just War Theory. The first part is whether a war is morally justified. If it is, then the second part is whether a war is prudent. One factor as to whether a war is prudent is whether it is winnable. Unwinnable wars are imprudent. If, for the sake of argument, McNamara were correct that the Vietnamese War were unwinnable, then it would have been an unjust war, because it would have been imprudent. However, imprudence was not the reason that Bill Clinton and many other anti-Vietnamese War protests regarded the war as unjust. They believed that the Vietnamese War was morally unjust because, for various reasons, they were sympathetic to the cause of the Communists. Therefore, it did not matter to these protestors whether the war were winnable. Anti-Vietnamese protestors like Clinton were not concerned that the War was unjust because the United States might lose, but were concerned that the War was unjust because the United States might win, which is why Clinton worked with the Soviet KGB in the 1969 Fall Campaign of propaganda intended to strengthen the Communists’ morale and weaken the morale of the South Vietnamese and their American and other allies. Indeed, Clinton was among a select group of Americans who were allowed to visit the Soviet Union in 1970, apparently to be honored for their efforts. The details surrounding this trip remain a mystery, as Clinton will not admit to this day what he was doing there, nor offer any apology to veterans for his war-protesting and draft-dodging.

McNamara’s admission of the imprudence of the Vietnamese War – even if correct – cannot possibly vindicate Clinton’s contention that the War was morally unjust in the first place. Regardless of the argument over whether the War were prudent, the suffering of the millions of Indochinese who were oppressed, imprisoned, tortured or killed because of the Communist takeover of Indochina vindicates not Clinton and his comrades in the so-called “peace movement” who succeeded in forcing the United States to withdraw from the War that permitted the Communist victory, but those who regarded the Vietnamese War as a noble cause.

A Comparison of Mark Sanford and Bill Clinton

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who recently admitted to marital infidelity, had voted in favor of impeaching Bill Clinton when he was a U.S. Representative because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Predictably, liberals are calling him “hypocritical.” They are wrong.

First of all, liberals, like many people, often confuse hypocrisy with inconsistency. Hypocrisy suggests insincerity because it means making a show of virtue, which is not the same as failing to live up to one’s own standard. It is necessarily judgmental, therefore, to call someone a “hypocrite,” for although it is easy to observe an inconsistency, it is more difficult to judge someone’s motivations.

In the case of Sanford, it is not even necessary to judge whether his actions were inconsistent because Clinton was not impeached for marital infidelity, but for perjury and obstruction of justice. Perjury (i.e. lying under oath) is a crime inconsistent with an office for which an oath is required in order for it to be held. Unlike Clinton, Sanford is not facing a civil trial for sexual harassment in which he was questioned under oath about his pattern of behavior, and has been cooperative with the investigation.

Both Clinton and Sanford abused their office. Clinton used his physical office (the Executive Mansion) in order to commit adultery, but he also abused his office in the sense that his affair was conducted with a subordinate. Worse, he gave his mistress a federal job in order to remove her from the White House discretely and keep her quiet. In short, Clinton’s affair was far from a “private matter,” as his defenders contended. Sanford used official trips to conduct his affair, regardless of whether any by public money were spent on his dalliance. Like Clinton, Sanford was dishonest about it, although not under oath in a civil trial. Sanford was incommunicado on his trip, which was irresponsible, although not as critical as a presidential escape from the Secret Service (such as John Kennedy did in order to commit adultery). Sanford, like Clinton, could have been blackmailed. Indeed, in Clinton’s case, his mistress testified that his phone conversations were being subjected to eavesdropping by a foreign government, an averment he never denied. Blackmail of a public official is a temptation for that official to commit financial impropriety.

Unlike Clinton, Sanford admitted to infidelity. Despite the widespread belief to the contrary, Clinton never admitted to infidelity. All he admitted to, even after the DNA evidence proved his adultery, was that he had had “an inappropriate relationship” with Monica Lewinsky. The phrase, “an inappropriate relationship,” like Clinton’s statement on PBS as a candidate for president about his affair with Gennifer Flowers while he was Governor of Arkansas, that he had “caused pain” in his marriage, necessarily admitted no adultery, but allowed the listener to read into Clinton’s statement what the listener wanted to hear, just like many of Clinton’s political statements, which is the modus operandi of a con man. Although many of Clinton's defenders categorized his abuse of his public office and his perjury as a “private matter” that was not reflective of his public performance, they missed the point that if Clinton would lie under oath about a matter as supposedly insignificant as a sexual harassment case, he could not be trusted to tell the truth on more significant matters because in both cases, he was foremost concerned with his popularity above anything else.

It is noteworthy that Clinton campaigned in 1992 on the basis that his marriage was strong after his aforementioned supposed admission of adultery on PBS. A video about the strength of his marriage was prominently featured at the Democratic National Convention. In other words, Clinton's marriage was not a private matter, but something about which to boast publicly when it was policitally expedient to do so, but it became a private matter once it was not expedient to do so when Clinton's lie was exposed. It is an unanswered question as to whether Clinton was the one who was hypocritical in 1992, or whether he suddenly lapsed back to philandering in the late 1990s once Monica Lewinsky stepped into the Oval Office. Regardless, the American people were either deceived by candidate Clinton, or the premise upon which he was elected later became false, and Clinton deceived them at the time of its discovery by lying about it. In contrast, Sanford's affair appears to have begun after his election, which was not as clearly based upon a premise of marital fidelity in the first place.

The reactions of the wives of Clinton and Sanford are different, with Mrs. Clinton publicly standing by her husband and Mrs. Sanford publicly rebuking him, but their reactions are irrelevant. Many of Clinton's defenders excused his adultery because his wife did not appear to be angered relatively by his infidelity, but the degree of the moral wrong of adultery does not depend upon the degree to which a spouse feels victimized.

In conclusion, although Clinton's behavior was far worse than Sanford's, both men's behavior was wrong and unbecoming of a public official. However, Sanford was neither hypocrical nor inconsistent to have voted to impeach Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. Indeed, Sanford would have been right to vote the way he did even if he had been adulterous at the time of the impeachment vote, for lesser federal officials had been impeached and removed from office for perjury, a fate which Clinton should have shared regardless of any imperfections of anyone who oppsed him.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Quaterly Blog Hit Report

I am pleased that my blog has received nearly 460 visits, not including my own. If I were to define a hit as loosely as many other do (as a page view), as opposed to a visit (a page view at least an hour apart from the first page view), then it received around 670 hits during the quarter that began April 2. Hits came from at least 39 states and the District of Columbia and 33 foreign states. In addition to my homepage, searchers landed on 37 posts, whence several of them went on to view additional posts. Those whose visit to my blog started at my blog homepage came from PA, VA, CA, MD and as far away as India. The most searchers from the U.S. came from CA, while the most foreign searchers came from the United Kingdom.

Thank you for your patronage! Your comments, questions or suggestions are welcome. I have been enjoying blogging very much. I am grateful for your support.

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! July 4 is the 223rd Anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by Continental Congress. Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence had been approved two days earlier, but the prominent Fourth of July date on the Declaration caused the latter date to supersede the one that John Adams had recommended by celebrated with parades and fireworks. It is especially important to thank our veterans and soldiers today for the liberty we enjoy. May God Bless America.

On a few other notes, the Minnesota Supreme Court gave U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Al Franken, a victory in the contested senate election over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, despite the application of inconsistent standards for what constituted a vote. I suppose that had the case been in federal courts, the Bush v. Gore standard would have applied. In that landmark 2000 case about the disputed election for Florida's Electors, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Al Gore's attempt to use inconsistent standards for the definition of a vote violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 5-4 vote was only in regard to the remedy: the Court ruled that the manual recount caused a spoliation issue for the evidence (the more the chads on the paper ballots were handled). George W. Bush was therefore derided by liberal critics as having been "selected, not elected," despite the fact that the Bush-Cheney ticket had won the Florida vote count and recount, and even the partial recounts, which later unofficial recounts confirmed. More importantly, unlike U.S. Senators, Electors need not be elected in the first place, but may be appointed by state legislatures, as has happened numerous times in American history, and as Florida's Republican legislature would have done had the validity of its originally-elected Electors been questionable. Indeed, no president or vice president is popularly elected. They are elected by Electors, on separate ballots, whose votes are ratified by Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court did not elect the president. It settled a constitutional dispute about the election -- which was not even necessary -- of Florida's presidential electors by confirming the original vote and recount. I doubt that the same liberals who questioned Bush's legitimacy will declare Al Franken "selected, not elected," nor make their usual complaints about a denial of equal protection.

Of course, a recent Supreme Court ruling which declared discrimination against whites or Hispanics as a supposed remedy against discrimination against blacks a violation itself of the Equal Protection clause also exposed the liberal inconsistency in applying the principle of equal protection. The Court overturned a decision by President Obama's Supreme Court liberal nominee, Sonia Sotomayor that upheld such discrimination.

Another recent Court decision relevant to equal protection upheld the principle of federalism. Although the Court did not overturn the entire Voting Rights Act of 1964, which was enacted in order to protect the voting privileges of blacks against discrimination by states, it did loosen its burdensome provisions that required polling precincts in certain states to receive permission from the federal government to make even the slightest changes, even absent any history of discrimination in that particular precinct. Several Justices seemed troubled by the inconsistency in applying specific standards (e.g. for voter turnout) to certain states, especially southern ones, that are higher than the outcomes in states not covered by the Voting Rights Act. Some of the Justices even questioned the constitutionality of a law that is applied to some sovereign states and not to others, but it was not necessary for them to decide the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act in order to rule on the issue before them.

Another liberal inconsistency is apparent in foreign policy, where Obama was cautious about "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs, which directly impact the security of the United States, but not cautious about meddling in Honduras's internal affairs, even though the president that was removed from power there was in league with the Castros of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who are hostile to American interests. If the Iranian regime is able to crush the nascent democratic opposition, Obama will be second-guessed for having been so cautious toward Iran, especially if it develops nuclear weapons. He should increase support for Voice of America and Radio Farda, among other appropriate moves in support of human rights in Iran. Meanwhile, he is wrong to criticize the coup in Honduras, as I note in my post, A Coup for Democracy in Honduras. Obama is apparently contemplating some sort of punishment for Honduras' new democratic government that does not appear to be hostile to the U.S. Any sort of punishment must be opposed and the new regime must instead be supported as the first example of a democratic rolling back of the creeping return of authoritarianism in Latin America.

Meanwhile, let us remain ever vigilant in safeguarding our liberty as Americans.