Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Government, History, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:14 am

I haven’t been screamed at by conservatives in a while so I thought I’d put that headline out there to see if any of them will take the bait.

The trap set, I would urge those of you inclined to be hip shooters to read the following in its entirety before you ride me out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered, drummed out of what’s left of the conservative movement for being such a jackass.

Frankly, I don’t need an excuse to be a jackass. Just ask my Zsu-Zsu whose legendary patience has been tried many times during the course of our 6 year relationship. It is a constant wonder to me that one so beautiful, generous, and smart would hook up with jackass like me.

It’s a physical thing, really.

It has been a constant refrain on blogs, at tea party protests, at health care town halls, and everywhere conservatives gather that Obamacare (and, by extension, the Obama presidency) means “The End of America as We Know It.”

Yes, but how well do you really “know” America? I say that because it isn’t the first time this refrain has been heard in American history and I daresay - hopefully - it won’t be the last.

Part of what makes America special is this fantastic ability we possess to re-invent ourselves to meet the challenges of a changing world. From Thomas Jefferson warning during the election of 1800 that re-electing Adams and the Federalists would result in the institution of a monarchy (”changing America as we know it”) through Andy Jackson’s populist revolution that “changed America as we know it,” through the the southerner’s warning that electing Abe Lincoln would “change America as we know it…”

I could go on and on. Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Reagan - all of them “changed America as we knew it” at that time. The question, then, isn’t whether or not Obama is “changing America as we know it,” but rather what kind of America is likely to emerge after those changes have been made.

Each of those presidents mentioned above were responsible for great changes in the America they found when they entered office. But I would argue that every one of them were cognizant of, and adhered to, America’s First Principles (some to a greater degree than others) when re-inventing their America.

Even radical changes like those initiated by Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, made in reaction to the times in which they lived - made reluctantly as they were pulled and pushed by history’s tidal forces that were beyond their control - were tied to tradition, and America’s past. Can anyone doubt Lincoln’s belief in the Declaration of Independence when he redefined freedom in America with the Gettysburg Address? Or FDR’s devotion to the founding principles of America being a shared community where individual rights are respected?

America stands still for no one. We are a nation that wears size 20 boots, striding purposefully into the future with a cocky arrogance that steamrolls the past, stomping on those who stand in the way as we blithely and deliberately proceed to our date with destiny. For conservatives, it has always been a rearguard action to preserve tradition and fight for change that is based on those traditions and our First Principles rather than accept change that destroys the connection to our cherished past.

We lose some of these battles - but we win many more. Big changes may mean the “end of America as we know it,” but they also mean that essential truths gleaned through the centuries of American progress are nurtured and kept safe by those of us who value liberty, and the individual rights granted by the Constitution. There may have been an erosion of some of those rights in recent decades. But the core values that make us who we are and define the American experiment are intact, if not now constantly under attack by an overweening, overreaching, gargantuan government.

No one except some addle brained liberals believe that big government is not a threat to individual liberty, not to mention being at odds with the very first principle espoused by the Founders; that America should be a land of free men who govern themselves under a Constitution that clearly defines and limits the role of the federal government.

I don’t necessarily begrudge President Obama his efforts to “remake America” - if those efforts were carried out with a respect for that first principle uppermost in his mind. I would probably still oppose most of what he would do, but after all, elections have consequences and the president has a perfect right to try and change America if he finds it wanting in some respects.

But President Obama has no right to fundamentally alter the relationship between the governed and the government as defined in the Constitution. If he feels so strongly about having the federal government gradually taking over 1/6 of the American economy by being able to dictate to free men what kind of health care they will receive and their families will receive, then he should do it in the Constitutionally approved manner of amending our founding document to reflect that change.

The same can be said about takeovers of the auto industry, the financial services sector, and any other buy out by the government of private companies. The Constitution is a very supple document in that while changing it is difficult (as it is meant to be), just about anything can be amended that was unforeseen at the time it was written. If the temperance movement could get an amendment passed to ban liquor, just about anything can be shoehorned into our Basic Law that the people genuinely want.

Barack Obama is not playing by the rules. Whether through ignorance, or more likely a lack of interest, he has proposed changes to government that are in direct conflict with the basic principles by which we have governed ourselves for 221 years. He has replaced those size 20 boots with an industrial sized scythe and is imprudently mowing down fields that were planted with the seeds of self-governance, the primacy of the individual, and the notion of limited government - seeds that took root and have flourished through war and peace, economic calamity and prosperity.

What was done in painfully small increments before, is now being rushed to fruition in one, great, gigantic gulp of activism before we can digest and manage the change he is seeking to make. That may be his greatest transgression of all in that he refuses to acknowledge that America’s past is prologue, that the path to the future must be trod on the well worn trails and byways of history that his predecessors respected and revered.

It is not that he is seeking to “end America as we know it.” It is that he is trying to do it by breaking the ties that bind us to a past where our ancestors worked, sweated, fought, and bled to create a nation like no other. It is the president’s failure to contextualize his actions, giving them a frame of reference that the American people can grasp and claim as part of their patrimony of freedom and individual liberty where he has failed utterly.

And for that, he is finding his plans to “remake America” coming a cropper.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:38 am

I have used this blog for most of the last 5 years to berate liberals for what I view as stupidity, myopia, hysteria, hypocrisy, and for advocating ideas that are an anathema to America’s founding principles.

But I have also vigorously defended their idea of patriotism. I have sincerely tried to show my fellow conservatives that liberals love America as much as we do, except that they have a different, but equally valid way of expressing that devotion. To limit one’s definition of love of country to one’s own narrow perspective does a disservice to America which, after all, was created specifically so that those who dissent need not fear retribution.

But I don’t know what to make of this:

The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.

This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year’s election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it’s not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.

Run that by me again?

The plan is to turn a “day of fear” that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.

“They think it needs to be taken back from the right,” said the source. “They’re taking that day and they’re breaking it because it gives Republicans an advantage. To them, that day is a fearful day.”

I am all for allowing 9/11 to be placed in historical perspective, simplifying our remembrance of that tragic day, giving dignity to the dead and reminding the living of what is at stake. Like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, 9/11 (Patriot’s Day) should be marked with solemnity, but not the kind of overwrought oratory or ranting against Muslims that has marked previous incarnations of that day.

But this?

Of this National Day of Service, Jones says little except that it will be a great opportunity “for people to connect, to find other people in your peer group who are also passionate about repowering America but also greening up America and cleaning up America.”

On the same day, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Department of Energy Under Secretary Kristina Johnson and activists held a low-key press conference. At it, Yearwood said the National Day of Service will be “the first milestone” of a larger effort called Green the Block that is attempting to convince Americans that the utopian fantasy of a so-called green economy is possible without turning the U.S. into a Third World country.

“From policy creation to community implementation, the Green the Block campaign wants to see access and opportunity created for all Americans, to build prosperity and a healthier planet for future generations,” Yearwood said.

First of all, the political parameters of this attempt to demote the nationalistic significance of 9/11 is truly one of the most insidious ideas that has come from this administration. It leaves me speechless with anger that turning 9/11 into a day to celebrate Democratic interest groups would have its origins in the White House. If this is true - and given who is involved in this effort, one can easily believe it - it would be worse than anything the Bush administration ever tried to do to use 9/11 in order to advance their own political fortunes.

The left went crazy in 2004 when Bush held the Republican convention in New York City , gave Rudy Giuliani the keynote address, trotted out the “good” 9/11 widows who supported him, and did everything to remind people of that date except re-enact the attack on stage. It was shameless exploitation of the tragedy, but…

But there was no denying that there was also another dimension to the remembrance, one that all Americans could touch and be comforted. United in our grief and efforts to heal the gaping wound that 9/11 represented at that time (it being just 3 years removed from the tragedy), the GOP show may have had political overtones but also served the purpose of acting as a national catharsis for the still rank emotions that 9/11 brought to the surface.

No such dual objective appears to be present in this effort by the White House to essentially toss 9/11 down the memory hole, burying its true significance, in the name of advancing a political agenda.

And why put the radicals in charge of that day?

The administration’s plans were outlined in an Aug. 11 White House-sponsored teleconference call run by Obama ally Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Liv Havstad, the group’s senior vice president of strategic partnerships and programs.

Yearwood, who uses the honorific “Reverend” before his name, has been in the news in recent years, usually for getting arrested. After Democrats took back Congress, the rowdy activist was handcuffed outside a congressional hearing in September 2007 when Gen. David Petraeus was to testify. Yearwood told the “Democracy Now” radio program that he wanted to attend the hearing to hear Petraeus give his report. “I knew that when officers lie, soldiers die,” he said.

The Hip Hop Caucus? What the hell is going on here? If Bush had used the Michigan Militia to plan 9/11 events, don’t you think that would have elicited a few raised eyebrows somewhere?

Is 9/11 seen as a “Republican” day? Only if you’re an idiot liberal, paranoid about the political opposition to the point that you equate expressions by citizens of love for America with love of the Republican party. In the end, maybe that’s the problem in a nutshell. The kind of nationalistic outpouring on 9/11 is rejected on the left because they see nationalism as a form of fascism. And that kind of simple patriotism felt by the overwhelming majority of Americans is seen as dangerous, backwards, and not cynical enough to pass muster with “smart” people. Hence, any celebration of pride or love of country must, by definition, be evil.

What do you think these Bozos have in mind for the 4th of July?


Many of you have chosen to ignore the thrust of this post - that even though Bush and the GOP hijacked 9/11 for their own political purposes, why should the Democrats ape that? It takes a special kind of stupidity to copy the absolute worst antics of your political foe.

Obviously, I don’t object to a day of National Service (although I believe it absolutely legitimate to question why it has to be on 9/11). I object to Obama and the liberals seeking to denude that date of meaning as far as the very real war we are fighting with radical Islam.

It makes no differrence whatsoever whether you believe we are at war. The point is that THEY BELIEVE IT, and taking away the significance - as the liberals are desperately trying to do by radically altering the parameters of how we remember the date itself - of the fact that this date should be the one day all year that reminds us of who the enemy is and why we are fighting, smacks of myopia.

The political reasons to alter the meaning of the date are despicable. And I would write the same post tomorrow whether I’m on my “meds” or not.



Filed under: Bailout, Financial Crisis, History, Politics, S-CHIP, health care reform — Rick Moran @ 10:23 am

I have written previously that I believed the biggest contribution Ronald Reagan made to American conservatism was that he almost singlehandedly altered the civic conversation about government spending on social programs.

Prior to Reagan’s reasoned, and impassioned dialectic against big government, the debate over government programs began and ended with the question “How much more” should we be spending,” or “How big should this government program be” to accomplish its intended objective.

Democrats monetized this debate by increasing the number of zeroes in these program’s appropriations. Granted, this is something of an oversimplification but essentially, the center of gravity in Washington tilted toward more, more, and still more in the belief that “solving” the problem being addressed, and showing “compassion” for the poor was a matter of growing the size of government to meet the challenge.

Enter Ronald Reagan who championed the idea that “throwing money” at a problem wasn’t solving anything, and was making things worse. (There were other conservatives who gave Reagan his arguments - Buckley, Hayek, Mises, etc. But none had as big a bullhorn.) Over time, the civic conversation was altered to question not only the huge appropriations, but the necessity and the viability of these programs.

At bottom, of course, was Reagan’s contention that government was mis-spending tax dollars and threatening individual liberty by growing the size and scope of the federal government. It was an argument that plowed already fertile fields because from it’s founding, Americans have fiercely resisted centrally exercised power from Washington. From Andrew Jackson’s destruction of the Bank of America to the cheers of the common man, through Abe Lincoln’s draft, which set off riots in the north, through FDR’s overreach, and Bill Clinton’s attempt at nationalized health care, Americans have been more than suspicious of big government. There seems to be a genetic predisposition for Americans to resist government that they perceive as overstepping its limits.

Granted, those limits have expanded since Andy Jackson’s time. Most Americans have accepted a government that can feed them when they’re hungry, house them when they’re homeless, and generally be there with a “safety net” if misfortune befalls them. Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements are sacred cows because they enjoy almost universal support by voters. This may be the death of us yet unless we can find a way to get their gargantuan costs under control.

But, as President Obama is finding, there are still lines in the sand that Americans are refusing to allow their government in Washington to cross. And Matt Welch of Reason Magazine, writing in the NY Post, nails why:

While the commentariat’s condescension is almost comical, the whole evil-or-stupid explanation misses the elephant in Obama’s room: Americans of all stripes, it turns out, aren’t very keen about the government barging into their lives.

An ABC/Washington Post poll from June showed people preferred “smaller government with fewer services” over “larger government with more services” by 54% to 41%, up from 50%-45% a year earlier (independents were even more pronounced, at 61%-35%). A Rasmussen poll from April showed that 77% of Americans preferred a “free market” economy over a “government managed” economy, up seven percentage points from just last December. A July CBS poll found that 52% of Americans think that Obama is trying to do “too much.”

After 11 months of federal bailouts and freakouts, Americans have become bone tired of panicky power grabs from Washington. It’s the big government, stupid.

The message of the various Tea Party protests, which predated this summer’s ahistorical media panic over town hall “lynch mobs,” has been pretty simple, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the nonprofit that has helped organize the protests, told Reason magazine this spring. “It was: stop spending so much money, stop borrowing so much money, and stop bailing out people who were irresponsible.”

I applaud the attempt by Mr. Welch to alter the narrative that begins and ends with protestors being “racist,” fascist mobs,” “un-American,” or “retarded.” It won’t matter anyway. Polls also show that a majority of Americans support the protestors which means that the Krugman’s, Rich’s, Pelosi’s, Garafolo’s, and the rest of the left aren’t getting any traction with their “evil-or-stupid” incantations.

Regardless, it’s the resistance to government overstepping what Americans sense is a proper exercise of its power that has so many, so angry. While there is much more tolerance for big government today - even government that helps the middle class with programs like S-Chip, and home mortgage bailouts - there are still boundaries (sensed more than specifically spelled out) that a majority of Americans refuse to stand for.

This is the essence of American exceptionalism. We are a different people than Europeans, and any other society in the world. We were deliberately made so at our founding and continue to be to this day. What should be self evident, is lost on many liberals who equate American exceptionalism with a rude form of nationalism. Not so - demonstrably not so. There is no other society in the world that looks upon government with such a jaundiced eye when they perceive that government to be crossing a comfort barrier relating to how much power the central authority should wield.

At heart, America is a profoundly conservative country in that First Principles, a respect for our past, and supporting change only when that change can be folded into tradition, is believed and supported by a large majority. This doesn’t mean that the out of bounds hasn’t been moving left the last 100 years. We are also, at bottom, a practical people, and see real benefit to growing government when the occasion calls for it. This too, makes us an exceptional people in that despite all, the people still have a big say in how big a government they will accept.

Perhaps one day, Americans will accept a growth in government that will result in Washington running health care. But it is not today, nor do I see such a day arriving in my lifetime. Each generation of Americans defines the parameters of their liberty differently. It is our particular genius as we constantly re-invent ourselves to meet the challenges of a changing world.

Obama and the Democrats ignore this reality at their political peril.



Filed under: Ethics, Government, Politics, health care reform — Rick Moran @ 10:00 am

It takes anywhere from 11 to 13 years of schooling - including 3-5 years residency - to be able to call yourself a doctor. But as many physicians have pointed out, the process of learning is an on-going effort. Classes, seminars, and fellowships are required over the years so that a doctor can keep current with the breathtaking pace of innovation and increased knowledge.

This is one big reason I never even thought of being a doctor. I have an aversion to book learning, and the prospect of having to go to school until I was in my thirties lit my hair on fire. I find the human body eternally fascinating. But there are limits to curiosity and I have satisfied myself over the years with reading about the incredible breakthroughs and mind bending discoveries that makes the human machine so extraordinary.

Another reason I could never be a doctor is tied up with the debate we are having over health care reform; specifically, the discussion of end of life issues involving treatment and care, and most importantly, who should be involved in those decisions.

The doctors, hospitals, medical ethicists, and review boards that struggle with impossibly complex matters involving morality, religion, and the most intimate and personal desires of the patient, coupled with the pace of scientific progress in medicine that hold out the promise to prolong life, combine to present uniquely painful and wrenching decisions for all of us.

That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? This is the matter we dance around when talking about “death panels” or “end of life consultation.” I think what we fear most about this isn’t so much that government will force euthanasia down our throats but that “efficiencies” that are forced on government by rising costs will result in a “one size fits all” solutions to problems that are best solved on a case by case basis.

To relieve suffering is the goal of palliative care. Should government - or insurance companies for that matter - force people to accept the end by paying for such end of life care rather than paying for a treatment or procedure that could prolong life but not cure the condition? Let’s imagine the procedure costs $100,000. Should government pay for these treatments when insurance companies won’t?

Sticky, yes? Let’s throw a few other ethical bombs on this scenario. Suppose the patient is 10 years old? Suppose the patient’s age increases the chances for survival but not enough to rationally justify the cost of the treatment? Suppose the treatment will only prolong life for a year or two?

While we’re creating moral problems, let’s try another nightmare scenario. An 60 year old cancer patient with a heart condition has a recurrence of the disease. The cancer can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy. But because of the patient’s heart condition, he won’t live more than a year or so anyway. Without treatment, he will die in six months.

Should Obamacare spend the money to cure the cancer?

These are matters faced by patients, their families, doctors, and hospitals every day. Guidelines in such matters drawn up by government or insurance companies are worse than useless. But in the absence of any good choices, shouldn’t someone be able to make the hard decision and deny payment for experimental, or unproven procedures - or life saving treatment when death from another condition is right around the corner?

Each case is different. Each situation has a human being attached to it, not a slide rule. And I believe this is the fear of old and young alike regarding Obamacare; that in the name of acting for the benefit of the many, government will lose sight of the fact that ultimately, the personal cannot be political in this instance, that there are some things that no government should be able to have a hand in deciding.

The same question can be asked of private insurance companies who would also be inclined to deny the kind of care outlined in both scenarios above. Do we really want those kinds of decisions made based on bottom line medicine?

If I’m confusing you, it’s because there are no good answers. And to my mind, this gives the lie to people who claim that health care is a “right.” Health care is a commodity, bought and sold like any commodity, valued like a commodity, and treated like a commodity by government, insurance companies, and patients alike. True, it is vital to life. But so is food. And I doubt even the most rabid proponent of Obamacare would want to see a government takeover of the food industry.

Every single one of us has already faced these choices or will have to do so someday, whether it affects us, or a close family member. Part of the problem is certainly linked to the miraculous state of medicine today. Our knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds, outpacing our capacity to develop a moral framework to make ethical decisions on life, death and “quality of life.”

Our pitiful attempts to quantify quality of life fall short because in the end, we’re talking about someone else’s life being evaluated based on invented criteria. Even Solomon would have a tough time judging something so intimate and personal. But again, is the current state of our health delivery system so bad that we must empower someone - government or insurance companies - to make these decisions for us? This is the philosophy behind Obamacare and it makes most of us uncomfortable.

I don’t have the answers. I think bringing costs down intelligently should be a priority simply because it’s logical, and because fewer dollars expended per patient would mean more potential dollars to spend on others. There are ways to do this without rationing, or simply paying doctors and hospitals less.

As for the rest, the issues are so complex and fraught with ethical and moral landmines, it would be prudent to make a greater effort to examine what is currently being railroaded through Congress without much thought given to the consequences, so that we can avoid engendering the kind of fear I mentioned above.

It’s been said before by others but bears repeating; Obama is trying to do too much, too fast, and without enough thought given to the real world consequences of what he is trying to accomplish. To claim otherwise is silly. And those fascist, astroturfed mobs of 70-something seniors at health care town halls know it - and fear it.



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 10:44 am

It’s late August in the Heartland. Soon, surrounding my little town of Streator, Illinois, the farmers will begin the near frantic job of harvesting their crops, racing their giant combines down row upon row of impossibly bountiful fields of corn, soybeans, and other foodstuffs that will feed the nation, the world. This miracle is brought to us courtesy of science, mother nature, and the careful, patient husbandry of the American farmer. It takes equal parts hard work and an intimate knowledge of the land to make a living as a farmer in modern America. And these days, it also takes a keen business mind and an almost supernatural ability to judge the market to maximize the farmer’s razor thin margin of profit.

And it takes a little luck. We’ve had a farmer’s summer for growing that’s for sure. Rain has been plentiful. The weather has been mild, thus sparing those whose life is synced up with the rhythms of the seasons the burden of having to toil in the usual life draining heat and humidity that afflicts these parts during the summer months. No crop destroying floods. No plagues of locusts. Just the sun, the wind, the gentle rains, and nature’s mysterious magic that turns a tiny seed placed in the rich, loamy, middle American earth into the eye-popping bounty that is the envy of the modern world.

Indeed, in the entire history of civilization, dating back to the first attempts to cultivate wheat 10,000 years ago (probably in what is now Turkey), the world has never seen anything to compare to the productivity of the American farmer. Thanks to a happy marriage of science and experience, we grow more food, using less acreage, and in a wider variety of climates, soils, and landscape than any society that has trod earth.

And it all starts here, not 2 miles from where I’m sitting. We don’t think about it much, this wondrous process of bringing food to our tables. We walk into the grocery store and don’t think about the aisles and aisles of products that has as its origins someone’s hard labor. It rarely crosses our mind that each box of cereal, or head of lettuce, or tomato, or T-Bone steak has many hours of planning, feeding, growing, reaping, and processing being performed by real people before the fruit of that labor drops effortlessly into our carts.

Next time you’re in a supermarket, think about it. I daresay you will be filled with awe and gratitude that the few have worked so diligently to feed the many, and that appreciating what they accomplish year in and year out to literally keep us from starving is the least we can do to thank them.

Yes, it’s late summer and already, a cold dread is beginning to grip my heart as I realize that in a few short weeks, the lush verdancy of the growing season will be replaced by the slate grays and burnt umbers of Autumn. And where the fall has its own distinctive charm and beauty, I have begun to truly hate the winters here in the Midwest, which seem to be getting longer, colder, and darker the older I get.

I feel a kinship with my Celtic ancestors who also hated the winters. Unlike them, I know that spring will eventually get here. They, however, weren’t entirely sure and, just to be on the safe side, would sacrifice a cow during the festival of Samhain (November 1) to one or another of their deities so that the Gods would take pity on them and bring the spring back after a spell. I’m sure they were relieved as I am the first day that temps climb above 60 degrees.

Perhaps My Beloveds - the Chicago Bears - should make a sacrifice before the season gets underway. Just so they don’t mistake one of their defensive lineman for a cow.

And, of course, we are now officially in the stretch run of the baseball season. My White Sox have been so gloriously inconsistent this year that I haven’t even bothered to write about them. But here we are, 5 weeks from the end of the season and the Pale Hose find themselves just a couple of games out of first. Thankfully, other teams in their division have proven to be equally horrible so that the race for the Central Division crown will probably be decided that last week of the season when one team screws up less than the others and backs in to the title.

By then, I will be looking back on this moment with envy. By the time the season concludes, the night air will carry a sharp twitch of cold, you will probably be able to see your breath, a sweater will no longer be enough to keep you warm, and I will be bitching even more about the fact that winter is on the way. This is a prerogative of age, by the way, so I would appreciate it if you kept off my case about it.

After all, you might jinx the whole thing and spring might never make an appearance.



Filed under: Birthers, Blogging, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:20 am

This outrageous dishonesty from MSNBC should have produced an outpouring of criticism from responsible media. Instead, the deliberate cropping of a picture of a man carrying a rifle and pistol outside of an Obama town hall just so the anchor and guests could rail against “white racism” in opposing health care reform — even though the uncropped photo shows the gun carrier to be a Black man — got me to thinking about how it would be possible to quantify the level of hatred directed against President Obama because of his race.

Unlike many of my liberal friends, the Good Lord has not vouchsafed me the ability to peer into the souls of my fellow man to discern the truth or purity of his motives. And it is devilishly difficult to make assumptions in this matter based on polling, or other less politically motivated criteria because invariably, people are ashamed (as well they should be) of harboring racist attitudes toward our chief executive. They will lie to pollsters, to their friends, even to themselves, I suppose. It makes gleaning the truth that much more difficult.

Then there is the problem with separating real anger and fear about health care reform from the very real feelings of fear and anger that a black man is president. Can a racist sincerely be against health care reform because of their political or ideological beliefs? Does it matter? What legitimacy, if any, should be granted that individual’s views?

Obama supporters aren’t helping matters by tarring and feathering anyone who looks sideways at the president as a racist. And those who deliberately employ the word as a smear to score political points are as bereft of character and despicably dishonest as any real racist who opposes them. Casually dropping the word “racist” in critiques of Obama opponents is getting quite tiresome, and those who thoughtlessly do so are contributing to the dilution of the word’s impact - an unintended consequence of the word’s overuse.

All of this is lost on many, if not most purveyors of the “Obama opponents are really closet Kluxers” narrative. There appears to be as much mindless caricature of the president’s adversaries as there is of the president himself. But if many on the left are too willing to see the absolute down and dirty worst in their opponents, it is equally true that we on the right are at a loss about how to police our own ranks in order to rid ourselves of those who express outrageous opinions that specifically refer to Obama’s skin color or cultural heritage.

No penalty accrues to those who will correct me in the comments by stating that the president is “only half black” or that he’s looking out for his “home boys” or any one of a dozen other racially charged memes that can be found in the comments on many conservative blogs. Most bloggers try and police their comment sections and remove the most objectionable attitudes.

But deleting the comments doesn’t delete the problem, and aside from talking and writing about it, I am at a loss as to how to separate the scum from those who legitimately, and for reasons of party or ideology, oppose what the president is trying to do.

Sniffing out obvious racism is one thing. Discerning it otherwise is well nigh impossible. In the end, referring to one’s political opponents as being motivated by race hatred is being applied far too broadly, and in too many cases, is done knowing full well that it simply isn’t true. This too, breeds no consequences and is, in fact, cheered on by many liberals who delight in piously wrapping themselves in the mantle of authority on matters relating to who is and who is not a racist. Of course, they’d never let politics intrude in making such weighty decisions now, would they?

While there is no objective way to count racists, we might extrapolate that racist attitudes are held by many of those who, despite all evidence, logic, reason, and facts to the contrary, believe that Barack Obama is not the legitimate president of the United States.

There have been a few polls that have tried to measure the birther phenomenon, none with an eye toward discerning racial attitudes. The Pew Poll measured attitudes toward media coverage of the birther story. While 39% of Republicans say they had not heard enough about the birther issue, I fail to see how it necessarily follows that 39% of the GOP believes Obama is illegitimate for racist reasons - especially since 30% of independents say the same thing. There can’t be that many racists in America. If there were, Obama would never have been elected.

More to the point, this Daily-Kos-Research 2000 poll asks simply if Barack Obama was born in the United States. The fact that 58% of Republicans answered either “no” or “not sure” is more reflective of racist attitudes. And while it is impossible to be specific, I don’t see how one can escape concluding that a potentially large subset of that 58% refuse to acknowledge Obama as president because he is a black man.

How large is found in a regional breakdown of that number. Fully 53% of southerners doubt (23% “no”, 30% “not sure”) Obama’s citizenship. That includes both parties, by the way, although the number of Democrats who do not believe or are not sure Obama is a citizen nationally is only 7%. It is logical, considering the small level of doubt in other regions of the country (upwards of 90% of all respondents in the rest of the country believe Obama is a citizen), it’s a good bet that most of the Democratic doubters are found in the south too.

(How reliable is a poll conducted by one of the most partisan liberal sites on the web? Research 2000 is a respected outfit and those professionals who have examined their methodology find little to complain about.)

Is it reasonable to apply historical attitudes toward race and logic to believe a good portion of those southerners harbor racist attitudes toward the president? I believe the very nature of the birther argument supports that theory.

No, not all birthers are racists. Probably not even a majority. But the level of fear and hatred directed against the president based on absolutely nothing except a wild conspiracy theory would have to point to some other element at work besides the belief that Obama was not born here or is not a “natural born citizen.” Again, reason would dictate that a sizable but unknown segment of these Obama opponents are indeed, motivated by their inability to accept a black man as president.

(To my southern friends, I would say that you cannot deny history - ancient or recent - and say it is a statistical fluke of some kind that so many of your fellow southerners disbelieve the president’s citizenship, while refusing to ascribe such thinking to racial reasons.)

Scattershot charges of racism against most, if not all Obama opponents is therefore demonstrably untrue. But there is also no denying that a significant portion of the southern GOP opposes the president based at least partly on his race.

Where does this leave us as far as my original question? Is there any way to determine what percentage of opposition to the president is based on the fact that he’s African American?

Broadly speaking, I think we can, although it will be to nobody’s satisfaction. Racism as a factor in opposing the president is certainly far less prevalent than Obama supporters would have us believe. And from what I’ve tried to show, it is more prevalent than what many in the Republican party are claiming or wish to believe.

Yes, I’ve made a hash of the issue. What do you expect when the subject is racism in America? Ultimately, those with the courage to examine their own motives in opposing or supporting the president, must come to their own conclusions. But being aware of the issue as it affects our politics, weighing the methods by which we fight for what we believe, and discerning our personal attitudes toward our first Black president, will at least make us conscious of the dynamite with which we play when injecting race into any argument we have with each other.



Filed under: Blogging, Politics, health care reform — Rick Moran @ 9:15 am

So the public option is not a “government takeover” of the health insurance industry? Ok, sure. I’ll buy that.

Except after reading this, you will realize that the eventual goal of the people pushing it is to establish a single payer system and the public option is nothing more than a Trojan Horse designed to make that system a reality:

As progressives mourn the likely death of a public insurance option in health care reform, it’s worthwhile to trace the history of exactly where this idea — a compromise itself — came from. The public option was part of a carefully thought out and deliberately funded effort to put all the pieces in place for health reform before the 2008 election — a brilliant experiment, but one that at this particular moment, looks like it might turn out badly. (Which is not the same as saying it was a mistake.)

One key player was Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. Hickey took UC Berkley health care expert Jacob Hacker’s idea for “a new public insurance pool modeled after Medicare” and went around to the community of single-payer advocates, making the case that this limited “public option” was the best they could hope for. Ideally, it would someday magically turn into single-payer. And then Hickey went to all the presidential candidates, acknowledging that politically, they couldn’t support single-payer, but that the “public option” would attract a real progressive constituency.

This little history lesson by Mark Schmitt is instructive. Most liberals know that advocating a single payer system would be political death for reform because, despite everything they are putting out about private health insurers, a huge majority of Americans are satisfied with the insurance they have and don’t want that to change. A whopping 83% of Americans believe the quality of health care they receive is “excellent” or “good” according to this Gallup poll from last December. And 67% believe their health care insurance is also “excellent” or “good.”

Even a Democratic pollster admits that people are “satisfied” with their coverage:

Satisfied’ means they like their doctor and have insurance to go to that doctor,” said Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster. “Maybe they think their policy is better than what most people have. But it doesn’t mean they don’t want reform.”

I agree. I want reform too. But establishing a system that is deliberately designed to eventually replace private insurance with a single payer government program would never fly in a million years in this country and the left knows it. Hence, the lies about the public option.

One of the major proponents of a single payer system, Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future, sold the idea of the public option to Obama and the other Democratic candidates last year:

The good news is that people are ready for big change. But the hard reality, from the point of view of all of us who understand the efficiency and simplicity of a single-payer system, is that our pollsters unanimously tell us that large numbers of Americans are not willing to give up the good private insurance they now have in order to be put into one big health plan run by the government.

Pollster Celinda Lake looked at public backing for a single-payer plan - and then compared it with an approach that offers a choice between highly regulated private insurance and a public plan like Medicare. This alternative, called “guaranteed choice” wins 64 percent support to 22 percent for single-payer. And even the hard core progressive part of the population, which Celinda calls the “health justice” constituency, favors “guaranteed choice” over single-payer. …

So the public option is not a slippery slope at all; it’s simply a lie invented to try and fool the American people into accepting “reform.”

Schmitt calls it “stealth single payer:”

But the downside is that the political process turns out to be as resistant to stealth single-payer as it is to plain-old single-payer. If there is a public plan, it certainly won’t be the kind of deal that could “become the dominant player.” So now this energetic, well-funded group of progressives is fired up to defend something fairly complex and not necessarily essential to health reform. (Or, put another way, there are plenty of bad versions of a public plan.) The symbolic intensity is hard for others to understand. But the intensity is understandable if you recognize that this is what they gave up single-payer for, so they want to win at least that much.

I had given Obama and the left the benefit of the doubt when ascribing a “slippery slope” to the idea that the public option would eventually crowd out private insurance in favor of a single payer government run system. In retrospect, I was too generous in granting them the inability to see the end result of their creation. It turns out, they knew full well where the public option would lead and simply lied about not believing that the public option would perform as they obviously hoped it would.

Professor Bainbridge:

What’s interesting is that so many on the left are willing to make what appears to be an admission against interest, but perhaps they feel it is needed to keep their less insightful troops in line.

It’s also why those of us who worry about slippery slopes want to see Obamacare killed in the womb.

I’ve been trying to think of anything comparable that has ever been attempted by conservatives - where they knew that what they wanted to accomplish was politically impossible and deliberately substituted an intermediate process that would eventually achieve what they wished, all the while denying that the slippery slope outlined by opponents would come to pass. Perhaps there has been abortion legislation designed to eventually outlaw the procedure. I’m sure there have been others. After all, there is nothing new in politics and the chances are very good that both sides have tried something like this before.

But I have never seen what Bainbridge calls this “admission against interest” so blatantly played out in such a public way. I think it shows that many on the left simply don’t care anymore about public opinion, and perhaps they’re right. Why should they when they’ve got such enormous majorities in the legislature, a president who believes most of what they believe, and an incurious media that refuses to call them out for such prevarication?


Filed under: Government, Politics, health care reform — Rick Moran @ 6:48 am

The pretense of bi-partisanship is being dropped by the Democrats in the health care reform debate as it now appears they are ready to go it alone to get something passed and rescue Obama’s presidency from irrelevancy.

Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

It’s actually sort of amusing. The Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of congress, they control the presidency, the bureaucracy, the press, and other major propaganda organs.

And they’re blaming Republicans for their woes?

The Times dances around the real significance of this decision by the Democrats. Allahpundit at Hot Air explains :

[T]his can only mean that they’re going to go all out for the public option and use “reconciliation” if need be to nuke the filibuster in the Senate, no? Why cut the GOP out of negotiations only to settle for some watered-down alternative like co-ops? If you’re going to kick the minority party out of the room and anger half the country, you might as well make the bill as syrupy sweet to your own side as possible. And if that means having to take a precedent-setting step as draconian as reconciliation to deal with Blue Dogs like Ben Nelson who might not accept a public option, hey. Besides, Grassley and Jon Kyl all but told the Democrats today that they won’t vote for the final bill regardless of what’s in it, in which case it’s pointless for The One to keep making concessions. He might as well get the bill he wants, paint the GOP as “the party of no”, and hope that the inevitable ill effects of his program don’t appear before the midterms. Which they probably won’t.

I call reconciliation the “Armageddon Option” because the aftermath will blow up Washington like no other event in recent memory. The senate is a peculiar institution, steeped in tradition, governed by a kind of amity between members of both parties that, while strained today, nevertheless continues to dominate its proceedings. The minority gets a much better shake via senate rules than in the House and consequently, the potential for minority mischief in sabotaging the majority’s agenda are manifest.

The use - or rather, the clear abuse - of the reconciliation process to get health care reform passed by a simple majority with no chance to filibuster would be unprecedented - dangerous territory for the tradition-bound senate. The GOP has already threatened to slow the business of the senate to a crawl if the tactic is used; something they are more than capable of doing under the rules.

Imagine having the entire Congressional Record of the previous day read out loud. It’s one of the first orders of business and the reading is always dispensed with by unanimous consent. Suppose the Republicans object? The Democrats would be forced to call for a vote - the first of potentially dozens of votes of that day and every single day as the GOP would force the complete reading of all bills and amendments, constantly notice the absence of a quorum, force votes on trivialities, object to all unanimous consent requests and voice votes, and generally wreak havoc to the point where no real business could be done.

The Democrats threatened something similar over the “nuclear option” on judges that the GOP was seriously contemplating at one time. The threat made the Republicans back off and led to the “Gang of 14″ compromise. It is doubtful any such compromise on health care reform could be worked out, which makes the Democrat’s threat to “go it alone” on health care reform that much more likely to lead to a showdown.

With the GOP out of the picture, let’s see how negotiations between liberals and moderates in the Democratic party proceed. One thing seems pretty clear; the public option just got some new life and reports of its demise - including mine from yesterday - appear to have been greatly exaggerated.



Filed under: The Rick Moran Show — Rick Moran @ 3:36 pm

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, my special guests are my good friend Jazz Shaw and AIP writer Despina Karras. We’ll discuss the fate of the public option in health care reform as well as a brewing civil war in the Democratic party.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

The Chat Room will open around 15 minutes before the show opens,

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio


In researching my latest AIP article on health care co-ops, I must confess that I wanted to like the idea. I didn’t know much about them but what I had heard was pretty good.

Here’s a reasonable analysis from the Heritage Foundation that finds some things to like but much more to fault with regard to health insurance cooperatives.

For myself, I am a firm believer in the concept of “simple is best.” All things being equal, whether it is in my personal life, or a government program, the less complex the idea, the better chance it has of working. This may sound stupidly simple but if you look at the way many people live their lives, they could benefit greatly by following that advice. Too often, we unnecessarily complicate our lives by overthinking, or overdoing.

With government, it is simply a matter of scale. Trying to serve 300 million people is, by definition, an enormously complex undertaking. So it would be with co-ops.

The plan is so nebulous at the moment that no one is really sure how co-ops would work in practice. Ideally, you would have 50 separate co-ops serving people in the various states. Some smaller states might band together to form regional co-ops to increase their marketing and distribution opportunities. The federal government would provide $3-4 billion in seed money to get the co-ops off the ground (perhaps more) and an administrative infrastructure for each co-op would either be set up by the state or contracted out.

Participants (”shareholders”) would sign up and purchase insurance through these pools. Policies would not be underwritten by private companies but by the co-ops themselves. It is assumed the government would grant generous tax subsidies to businesses and individuals to sign up with the co-ops and make them a going concern. Decisions on what to cover, and reimbursement rates would ideally be made by all the shareholders, but when you are talking about a statewide co-op, that will probably not be possible.

Would it work? Would the co-ops be able to compete with private insurance companies, forcing them to lower premiums while giving shareholders quality care at a reasonable cost?

The answer is almost certainly no. First of all, there is the titanic complexity of setting up so many co-ops in the first place. By definition, they would have different rules, different coverages (although guidelines from the federal government would help there). They would conduct business in 50 different ways.

Coverage would be wildly uneven and quality would also vary. Some - perhaps many - might not make it or be so poorly run that the government would have to take them over (The Washington, D.C. co-op was forced to sell itself to Humana it was so mismanaged.) There were many health care co-ops during the Depression that all ended up failing. And the record of co-ops begun in the last 20 years is very uneven with some succeeding, some failing, and some just limping along.

I think part of the answer is a matter of scale. The successful co-ops in Seattle and Minneapolis are small enough to be well run and large enough to spread the risk out over as many people as possible.

But what happens when you try and graft that model on to a statewide co-op? It won’t take for the simple reason that what is simple at the local level becomes devilishly complicated when you go from insuring 100,000 people to several million. Also, several questions would have to be raised; who elects the directors or would the governor appoint them? How can decisions on what coverages and how much that would be affecting a million or more people be made? Would politics enter into the running of these co-ops?

Co-ops would not adequately address the problem of insuring those with chronic or pre-existing conditions. And forget portability. Nor would they necessarily insure more of the currently uninsured. It’s hard to see how people would see a co-op - which after all, is competing with private insurance carriers - as any more practical or a better deal than anything they are presented with now. Without an individual mandate, there will be millions who simply refuse to buy insurance regardless of how cheap it is or how generous the subsidy.

Heritage’s Edmund F. Haislmaier thinks that there might be a minor role for co-ops in health care reform:

In the case of health insurance markets, there are two areas where the co-op model could conceivably be applied.

The first is with respect to entities that might organize the buying and selling of health insurance, such as employer purchasing groups or state health insurance exchanges. The second is applying the cooperative concept to one or more of the insurers selling coverage in the market.

The idea that businesses could pool themselves and purchase health insurance is an excellent one and is already being tried with liability and other forms of insurance on a micro basis in several industries. This also would be a complex undertaking but much less so than trying to set up statewide co-ops.

In short, the more I read about co-ops the more convinced I became that on a nationwide basis, it would never work to deal with the problems they would be set up to address and may, in many cases, make matters worse. It is possible that eventually, the federal government would be forced to take most of them over anyway.

I don’t necessarily buy the idea that co-ops are a Trojan Horse for a public option but certainly the potential is there for a de facto government takeover. It’s not the only reason to oppose their creation but it should be weighed with the rest of the complex problems that co-ops would create for both government and the consumer.

« Older PostsNewer Posts »

Powered by WordPress