Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When leftists and socialists compare Americans who believe in limited government to Nazis, they forget that many of them had fathers who left wives and children behind to join in the effort to defeat Hitler. To such Americans, the comparison is an outrage, and the left would do well not to underestimate the consequences of stoking this anger. The following appeared here:
March 31, 2010
The Hostility Follies
By Jonah Goldberg
Apparently there's a self-proclaimed militia leader named Mike Vanderboegh who runs an obscure, low-traffic blog out of Pinson, Ala. (population 5,007). Mr. Vanderboegh recently called on his fellow "sons of liberty" to break the windows of Democrats who voted for healthcare reform.
So let's start with the obvious: Vanderboegh is an idiot, and anyone who followed his advice is an idiot too. These people are buffoons, not just because such tactics help Democrats but because such behavior is simply wrong, reprehensible and clownish.
Equally wrong, reprehensible and clownish: The reaction to Vanderboegh and his alleged ilk.
The Daily Beast's John Avlon insists that Vanderboegh's rallying cry, combined with some threats and broken windows, make "the parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis' heinous 1938 Kristallnacht . . . hard to ignore."
Actually, it's really, really easy to ignore the parallels. During Kristallnacht, Nazi goons destroyed not just 7,000 store windows but hundreds of synagogues and thousands of homes. Tens of thousands of Jews were hauled off to concentration camps by the Nazis, who had been in total power for half a decade.
This combination of state power and murderous, genocidal intent is nowhere on display in America today, not in the Obama administration (contrary to what some overheated right-wingers claim) and certainly not among out-of-power conservatives and "tea partyers." It's amazing anyone needs to point this out, but a few libertarians throwing bricks is not the same thing as the tightening fist of the Third Reich. Indeed, it's an anti-American slander to suggest anything like it is going on here, and it cheapens the moral horror of the Holocaust.
Don't tell that to the Democrats and their media transmission belt, who largely turned a blind eye to partisan vandalism and extremist rhetoric against Republicans for eight years but now express horror at what they claim to hear from the right.
Columnist Paul Krugman, who encouraged liberals to hang Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in effigy, is concerned about right-wing "eliminationist rhetoric." The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy can't stand the incivility of the tea partyers, which is why he wants to "knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads." Frank Rich says the mantra "take our country back" is now code for a white racist backlash -- though it was an apparently fine Democratic applause line when George W. Bush was president.
So what's the evidence for this new reign of terror? Those broken windows, some nasty voice and e-mail messages (not counting those aimed at Republicans, naturally), a coffin "left" at a Missouri congressman's home, a few repugnant signs at rallies and allegations from Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.)and John Lewis (D-Ga.) that they were spit on and insulted with the "N-word," respectively.
But wait. The coffin was part of a protest over the death of "our freedoms" and was toted by the protesters, not left anywhere. And videos make it clear that what Cleaver called spitting was a protester spraying too much saliva while talking, the racist pig.
As for the epithet aimed at Lewis, if it happened, it's disgusting. But going by the video, there's nothing to back it up, and Rep. Andre Carson's (D-Ind.) claim that the N-word was chanted 15 times is pure dishonesty.
Let's assume it is true. I thought liberals rejected guilt by association as McCarthyism. Or are we to believe that every opponent of Obamacare is a racist?
On March 3, Politico broke a story about a leaked PowerPoint presentation delivered at a GOP retreat in Florida. It laid out, in cartoonish terms, a fundraising strategy exploiting "fear" of President Obama's "socialist" agenda. Ranking Republicans condemned and repudiated it.
Now, Obama's political arm, Organizing for America, is fundraising based on fear, sending out e-mails insinuating that Republicans are unleashing a lynch mob to repeal Obamacare. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democrats' Congressional Campaign Committee, insists we all should be very scared.
Heaven forbid anyone suggest a coordinated strategy is at work here. That would be distracting us from the Kristallnacht unfolding before our eyes.
Noemie Emery in "Dems Break Spirit of Law When Enacting Law" for The Washington Examiner, which appeared here, puts the matter this way:
The passage of health care is not the same thing as obstruction of justice, but it has a connection, in nature and kind. Before Scott Brown appeared, the bill, while unpopular, was headed on a legitimate path to enactment, by passing the House and the Senate, and going into a conference committee, after which the revised version would be sent for final affirmation to the Senate and House.
After Brown, this couldn't occur as the Senate would kill it, so it had to sneak by -- against the popular will and by bribes, threats and buy-offs -- through a loophole for which bills of this import were not intended. Big bills aren't supposed to squeak by on a simple majority, and under proper procedure, it would not have happened.
It followed the law, while it shattered its intent. The whole country knows it's a fraud.
You'll want to read the rest at the link.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
If so, it gets the chutzpah award of the millennium. The following appeared here:
Power Line Blog: John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, Paul Mirengoff
NON-ENFORCEMENT: A FEATURE OR A BUG?
March 29, 2010 Posted by John at 6:59 PM
The individual mandate is one of the most controversial features of Obamacare, so when it came out that the law makes no provision to enforce the mandate, many were nonplussed. Morgen Richmond, in the linked article, writes:
[W]ithout an effective mechanism of enforcing the individual mandate, the entire system is likely to collapse. (The individual mandate is the "third leg of the stool" as many a liberal has been pointing out for months.) Given that the bill also bans insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, WHY WOULD ANYONE OBTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE PRIOR TO NEEDING IT? This was already going to be a problem with the relatively low cost of the penalty, but take away any meaningful enforcement of it and it is a complete and total joke.
The net result will be an ever increasing shift of healthcare costs on to those who remain in the insurance system (or to tax payers), and possibly even the bankruptcy of the insurance industry.
Hmm. Bug or feature? We report, you decide. A reader writes:
Absolutely essential and fundamental to the very design of the Obamacare bill is the individual mandate to require purchase of prescribed health insurance. And yet in what is an amazingly revealing feature of the bill there is literally no provision for enforcement of the mandate. While this has been known for some time -- it was discussed a few weeks ago in NRO in the context of resistance or civil disobedience to the mandate -- it is only now getting the exposure it deserves.
As the linked article makes clear, while the bill does provide for fines to enforce the mandate through the income tax system....the IRS is explicitly prevented from collecting the fines by assessments, liens or seizures, no civil or criminal penalties attach to failure to pay such fines and no interest accrues from the date the fine is due!! This is actually amazing and cries out for explanation.
In my view, this is not the result of a simple oversight or error...quite the contrary. This is a feature, not a bug. We can be sure of this because they had to go to the trouble of specifying that enforcement was prohibited; silence would have meant that the normal IRS enforcement powers were available and presumed to be used to ensure that the mandate legislated by Congress was carried out. Normally the simplest explanation would involve stupidity, incompetence, error, haste or some other ordinary failure. In this case I think the explanation has to be, since it was intentionally put in the bill, that the architects of Obamacare intend that the individual mandate will fail....and guarantee it by actually affirmatively prohibiting enforcement.
Why would they do this? One reason is that, despite all the confident left wing bluster, they may very well be afraid that, given the extraordinary implications for the vast expansion of government power, the Supreme Court may well find, as they should, such a mandate to be unconstitutional. [Ed.: Unlikely, in my view.] That would undermine the whole program and is a complication that the Obama administration I am sure would prefer to avoid. As well as avoiding nasty scenes of property seizures or wage garnishments lack of enforcement would also prevent an individual desiring to make a test case from having standing to sue. (Why the approach taken by the Attorney General in Virginia in relying for standing on conflict of state and federal laws is clever.)
The real reason, I suspect, is more insidious -- quite simply to destroy the private health insurance industry and create an irresistible demand for expansion of the program to a public option and ultimately to single payer provision. It is undeniable that guaranteed issue of insurance at ordinary rates for those with preëxisting medical conditions is popular; but forcing insurance companies to cover them at average rates cannot possibly work unless healthy younger people are forced into the risk pool at rates higher than what their risk rating would otherwise be. Without the mandate, in other words, the insurance companies cannot possibly be viable and also cover preëxisting conditions at average premium rates.
Quite simply, Obamacare has created a ticking time bomb for the insurance industry. Those with preëxisting conditions will be covered.....and demand continuation of the coverage at prescribed rates....and those who ignore the mandate, presumably anybody at all affected by it, face no consequences. As costs spiral out of control, premiums will have to rise and subsidies increase. Insurance companies would have to either fold or shift costs....to those covered by employers....becoming a perfect target for left wing demagoguery and vilification. The only way out as more and more of those covered by employers get pushed into the exchanges as costs get shifted to them and employers no longer offer insurance -- yet another intended consequence -- is the public "option" or outright nationalization through a single payer plan.
We know that a single payer nationalized health care plan is the long term objective and intention for proponents of Obamacare and has been all along. They're completely disingenuous about how "incremental" and "modest" the program is. The astonishing fact that they deliberately prohibited enforcement of a critical component of the plan tells you all you need to know. It will intentionally create a crisis...a feature, not a bug....and a crisis is something this crowd never wants to go to waste.
"Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America," Eric Hoffer said.
"A ruling intelligentsia," he said, ". . . treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed and wasted at will."
Posted by jm at 1:15 PM
Monday, March 29, 2010
Down in the middle of the report from The Detroit News about the arrested militia members was this little narrative:
"According to federal authorities, the group had identified a Michigan law enforcement officer as a potential target. Their idea was to kill that officer and when law enforcement officials from around the country came to the area for the funeral, they would attack the procession with improvised explosive devices and 'explosively formed projectiles.' They hoped the attack would serve as a 'catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government.'"
No one who's been paying attention to what's been happening in this country since 2008 believes for one minute that there has been any feeling of animosity whatsover toward law enforcement officers in any of the groups opposed to what "government" has been shoving down the throats of the American people.
Law enforcement does not represent "the government" in the minds of Tea Partiers, Republicans, militiamen and the millions of Americans who are opposed to Obama's policies. In fact, police groups such as the Oath Keepers have formed along with this groundswell of opposition, pledging their loyalty to the rule of law and the constitution.
If members of the Hutaree believed their actions would be a catalyst to incite violence against the police, I'll believe it when I hear it from their lips in testimony, and chalk it up to the deluded thinking so characteristic of religious fanatics. But right now this story is nothing more than the narrative of the Feds. On the contrary, part of what frustrates rank and file Americans so much, quite apart from the votes of Congress, is the waiting for November 2, 2010, when the target will finally be in the crosshairs.
The timing of the raid comes hot on the heels of the healthcare vote circus and weeks before a so-called recon mission planned by the Hutaree was to take place.
After Obama and the Democrats have pushed everything to the far limits of the law for over a year we're actually supposed to believe their explanation?
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
In "Indictment: Militia Members Sought To 'Levy War' Against US," which appeared here, Paul Egan and Mike Wilkinson for The Detroit News report that nine Hutaree militia members were arrested because they planned to "oppose by force" the national government of the United States:
The five-count indictment alleges that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants were trying to use bombs and other weapons to oppose the U.S. government. ...
"This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society," said Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge. "The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States."
The eight men and one woman are members of the Hutaree, identified as an "anti-government extremist organization" in the indictment, and each faces three to five charges, including sedition, attempts to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating use of explosive materials and two counts of carrying weapons in relation to a crime of violence. ...
Accused are: David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, all three of Clayton; and his other son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian. Also accused are Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio. ...
"Because the Hutaree had planned a covert reconnaissance operation for April which had the potential of placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk, the safety of the public and of the law enforcement community demanded intervention at this time," she said in a prepared statement.
There is much more at the link.
"As for me, after more than a year of seeing how [Obama's] 'prodigious oratorical and intellectual gifts' have worked themselves out in action, I remain more convinced than ever of the soundness of Buckley's quip, in the spirit of which I hereby declare that I would rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party, and I would rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama."
So says Norman Podhoretz today, here.
Conservatives will wonder at the choice of language.
Ruled? By political parties? The Tea Parties' very existence is in large measure a reaction to being ruled, especially by political parties which are tone deaf to the broad feeling rising in the American people that the founding ideas have been under attack by both Republicans and Democrats grown long in the tooth and that our traditional liberties are being flushed down the toilet. Self-rule and self-government are the ideas conservative spokesmen ought to be expounding, if in fact they are conservatives.
Sarah Palin's on-going work on behalf of old guard Republicans like Senator John McCain is not encouraging in this regard, the other aspects of her appeal notwithstanding. McCain's long miserable record precedes him, proven by his mad dash to the right in his difficult re-election bid. Sarah Palin ought to consider more carefully how a loss for McCain on August 24th, after supporting him so strongly, might be a liability for her going forward.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
The FBI's m/o is similar to the one used by the Feds to seize failing banks, except that the FBI uses military roadblocks and helicopter air support when it swoops in on the weekend. I'm going to call this Militia Failure Friday number one, because there will be more.
Jennifer Chambers, writing for The Detroit News in the story "Seven Arrested in FBI Raids Linked to Christian Militia Group," which appeared here, reports that:
seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said. ...
Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ.
WXYZ-TV reports that helicopters were spotted in the sky for much of Saturday night, and agents set up checkpoints throughout the area. Witnesses told the station that it was like a small army had descended on the area. The Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are also involved in the raids. ...
The Associated Press is reporting that FBI spokesman Scott Wilson in Cleveland said agents arrested two people Saturday in northwest Ohio. A third arrest was made in Illinois on Sunday, a day after raids in northwest Indiana.
There is much more at the link.
Nolan Finley in today's Detroit News says in "Democrats' Deafness Reaps Hate Mail" that
Democrats stubbornly refused to listen to the tremendous public outcry against their health care package. They attempted to minimize the protests and marginalize the protesters. But now that they've shoved the bill down America's throat, they're feigning shock -- and even fear -- at the vehemence of the backlash. ...
But most of what is being passed off as menacing is nothing more than old-fashioned hate mail. Much of it is crude and offensive, a lot of it is inappropriate, but it doesn't rise to the level of a threat. ...
For a long stretch, I heard from a detractor who wanted me separated from body parts that I'm rather fond of. I felt intensely unloved, but never in danger of losing my vitals.
There's nothing new here. Hatred has been part of politics for some time. Ask former President George W. Bush about his mail. Bush loathers even made a movie fantasizing about his assassination.
The real threat presented by the hate mail is to the Democratic pretense that they've passed a bill demanded and welcomed by the American people.
Read more at the link.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The following post appeared here:
New Obama Mortgage Plan: A Backdoor Bank Bailout
Posted By Mark A. Calabria
March 26, 2010
Today President Obama announced an expansion and modification of his Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). While one can debate the merits of incentives to keep unemployed families in their homes while they search for jobs — I personally believe this will more often than not keep those families tied to weak labor markets — what should be beyond debate is the various bailouts to mortgage lenders contained in the program’s fine print.
Several of the largest mortgage lenders, including some that have already received huge bailouts, carry hundreds of billions worth of second mortgages on their books. As home prices have nationally declined by almost 30 percent, these second mortgages are worthless in the case of a foreclosure. Second mortgages are usually wiped out completely during a foreclosure if the price has decreased more than 20 percent. Yet the Obama solution is now to pay off 6 cents on the dollar for those junior liens. While 6 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, it is a whole lot more than zero, which is what the banks would receive otherwise. Given that the largest lenders are carrying over $500 billion in second mortgages that may need to be written down, we are looking at tens of billions of taxpayer dollars again being funneled to the very banks behind the mortgage crisis.
If that bailout isn’t enough, the new plan increases payments to lenders to not foreclose, all at the expense of the taxpayer. While TARP was passed under Bush’s watch, and he rightly deserves blame for it, Obama continues these bailouts in the name of avoiding a much needed correction in our housing market.
Article printed from Cato @ Liberty: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org
"Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there's a way."
So says Kathleen Parker, a right wing kook who voted for Obama and writes for the liberal Washington Post, here.
P.S. And you'll be paying for them through Obamacare.
Posted by jm at 5:33 PM
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sorry. Just correcting the lies.
The article was posted here:
March 25, 2010
Bond Markets Reflect the True Cost of Obamacare
By Michael Barone
Not many people noticed amid the Democrats' struggle to jam their health care bill through the House, but in recent weeks U.S. Treasury bonds have lost their status as the world's safest investment.
The numbers are pretty clear. In February, Bloomberg News reports, Berkshire Hathaway sold two-year bonds with an interest rate lower than that on two-year Treasuries. A company run by a 79-year-old investor is a better credit risk, the markets are telling us, than the U.S. government.
Buffett's firm isn't the only one. Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Lowe's have been borrowing money at cheaper rates than Uncle Sam.
Democrats wary of voting for the health care bill may have been soothed by the Congressional Budget Office's report that it would reduce federal deficits over the next 10 years. But bond buyers know that the Democrats gamed the CBO system to get a good score.
The realities, as former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin pointed out in The New York Times, are different. The real cost is disguised by the fact that the bill includes 10 years of revenue but only six years of spending. It includes $70 billion in premiums for long-term care that will have to be paid out later. It excludes $114 billion in discretionary spending needed to run the program. It includes nearly half a trillion dollars in unrealistic Medicare savings.
Holtz-Eakins's bottom line: The bill will not lower deficits, but will raise them by $562 billion over 10 years. Treasury will have to borrow that money -- and probably pay much higher interest than it's paying now.
Moreover, once the bill is fully in effect, the Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds points out, its expenses are likely to grow at least 7 percent a year -- significantly faster than revenues. At that rate, spending doubles every 10 years.
No wonder that Moody's declared last week that the Treasury is "substantially" closer to losing its AAA bond rating.
It's not only the federal government that is heading toward insolvency. State governments will have to spend more under the health care bill -- $735 million in Tennessee alone, according to Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
And state governments are already facing a huge problem called pensions. The Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that state government pensions are underfunded by $450 billion. My American Enterprise Institute colleague Andrew Biggs argues in The Wall Street Journal that the real figure is over $3 trillion.
The reason: State governments set aside cash to invest in pensions, but they typically assume that their investments will rise 8 percent a year indefinitely. They haven't been getting such high returns and are not likely to do so in the future. But they are under legal obligations, which courts won't allow them to escape, to pay the pensions. Retirees get paid off before bondholders, which means that states are going to have to pay more interest when they borrow.
Back in the 1990s, Clinton adviser James Carville said that if he was reincarnated he would like to come back as the bond market -- "because you can intimidate everybody." Governments, like all organizations, need to borrow routinely. But investors won't lend unless they think they will be paid back. And they will demand higher interest rates as their loans become riskier.
On Sunday, 219 House Democrats, soothed by their leaders' gaming of the CBO scoring process, voted in reckless disregard of what the bond market has been telling them. Some may share Speaker Nancy Pelosi's optimism that the government's looming fiscal disaster can be avoided by imposing a value-added tax -- in effect, a national sales tax.
But, as we know from the experience of high-tax Western Europe and relatively low-tax America over the last three decades, higher taxes tend to retard economic growth. Lower economic growth means less revenue for government than in CBO projections. Less revenue means more borrowing -- and at some point lenders are going to call a halt.
Barack Obama's project of transforming the United States into something like Western Europe is, according to the CBO, raising the national debt burden on the economy to World War II levels. I see train wrecks ahead -- as the bond market forces huge spending cuts or tax increases first on states and then on the federal government. It will make what happened in the House Sunday look pretty.
The following was posted here:
March 25, 2010
The Reality of Obamacare
By Jonah Goldberg
First: Congratulations to President Obama and the Democratic leadership. You won dirty against bipartisan opposition from both Congress and the majority of Americans. You've definitely polarized the country even more, and quite possibly bankrupted us, too. But hey, you won. Bubbly for everyone.
Simply, you have nationalized health care by proxy. Insurance companies are now heavily regulated government contractors. Way to get big business out of Washington and our lives! These giant corporations will clear a small, government-approved profit on top of their government-approved fees. Then, when health-care costs rise - and they will - Democrats will insist, yet again, that the profit motive is to blame, and out from this Obamacare Trojan horse will pour another army of liberals demanding a more honest version of single-payer.
The Obama administration has turned the insurance industry into the Blackwater of socialized medicine.
That's what Obama always had in mind. During the now-legendary health-care summit, Obama, who loves to talk about "risk pools," "competition," "consumer choice," and the like, let it slip that he actually doesn't believe in insurance as commonly understood. The notion that Americans should buy the health-care "equivalent of Acme Insurance that I had for my car" seemed preposterous to him. "I'm buying that to protect me from some catastrophic situation," he explained. "Otherwise, I'm just paying out of pocket. I don't go to the doctor. I don't get preventive care. There are a whole bunch of things I just do without. But if I get hit by a truck, maybe I don't go bankrupt." Apparently, people are just too stupid to go to the doctor - or maintain their homes - if they have to pay much of anything out of pocket.
The endgame was to get the young and healthy to buy more expensive insurance than they need or want. "Expanding the risk pool" and "spreading out the risk" by mandating - i.e., forcing - young people to buy insurance is just market-based spin for socialist ends. A risk pool is an actuarial device where a lot of people pay a small sum to cover themselves against a "rainy day" problem that will affect only a few people. Such "peace of mind" health insurance is gone. What we have now is health assurance. With health assurance, there are no "risk pools" really, only payment plans.
Under the new law, all the exits from the system are blocked. You can't opt out or buy cheap, high-deductible Acme car-type insurance, even if that's what you need. Ultimately, even that coercion won't be enough to make the whole thing work, because the "cost curve" will not be bending.
Profit-hungry insurance companies were never the problem. (According to American Enterprise Institute economist Andrew Biggs, industry profit margins are around 3 percent, and the entire industry recorded profits of just $13 billion last year, close to a rounding error in Medicare fraud estimates.) Rather, health-care costs have been skyrocketing because consumers treat health insurance like an expense account. Putting almost everyone into one "risk pool" doesn't change that dynamic; it universalizes it. And eventually, the only way to cut costs will be to ration care.
In September, Obama got into a semantic argument with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who noted that requiring all Americans to pay premiums for a government-guaranteed service sounds an awful lot like a tax. "No. That's not true, George," Obama said. "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it's saying is . . . that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you."
Stephanopoulos invoked a dictionary definition of a tax: "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes." Obama laughed off the idea that a dictionary might outrank him as the final arbiter of a word's meaning: "George, the fact that you looked up . . . the definition of tax increase indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition."
Okay, put aside your dictionaries. The legislation allocates $10 billion to pay for 16,500 IRS agents who will collect and enforce mandatory "premiums." Does that sound like the private sector at work to you?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Obama is the one pursuing the radical course of action, which is why he is forever talking about healthcare, trying to defend his reforms and persuade doubters even after it's passed! He is the rebel. It is he who wants to destroy the American post-war way of healthcare. It is his party which has attempted to pervert the American constitution. It is he who means death to private health enterprise. It is he who means to expose millions to the risks of losing private coverage. It is he who will preside over the demise of Medicare benefits for seniors who need them most. Thwarting him and defeating him would mean a return, a rolling back, to the old constitutional order, a defense and preservation of life. It would be a healthy reaction, no violence and no innovation, to bring his program to an end and reverse it. His failure would be a shot heard round the world.
The following may be found here:
“A Revolution Not Made But Prevented”
WAS THE AMERICAN War of Independence a revolution? In the view of Edmund Burke and of the Whigs generally, it was not the sort of political and social overturn that the word “revolution” has come to signify nowadays. Rather, it paralleled that alteration of government in Britain which accompanied the accession of William and Mary to the throne, and which is styled, somewhat confusingly, “The Glorious Revolution of 1688.”
The most learned editor of Burke’s works, E. J. Payne, summarizes Burke’s account of the events of 1688-89 as “a revolution not made but prevented.” Let us see how that theory may be applicable to North American events nine decades later.
We need first to examine definitions of that ambiguous word “revolution.” The signification of the word was altered greatly by the catastrophic events of the French Revolution, commencing only two years after the Constitutional Convention of the United States. Before the French explosion of 1789-99, “revolution” commonly was employed to describe a round of periodic or recurrent changes or events, that is, the process of coming full cycle; or the act of rolling back or moving back, a return to a point previously occupied.
Not until the French radicals utterly overturned the old political and social order in their country did the word “revolution” acquire its present general meaning of a truly radical change in social and governmental institutions, a tremendous convulsion in society, producing huge alterations that might never be undone. Thus when the eighteenth-century Whigs praised the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, which established their party’s domination, they did not mean that William and Mary, the Act of Settlement, and the Declaration of Rights had produced a radically new English political and social order. On the contrary, they argued that the English Revolution had restored tried and true constitutional practices, preservative of immemorial ways. It was James II, they contended, who had been perverting the English constitution; his overthrow had been a return, a rolling back, to old constitutional order; the Revolution of 1688, in short, had been a healthy reaction, not a bold innovation.
The Whigs, Burke among them, here were employing that word “revolution” in its older sense.
This shift in usage tends to confuse discussion today. If we employ the word “revolution” in its common signification near the end of the twentieth century, what occurred in 1688-89 was no true revolution. In the Whig interpretation of history, at least, the overturn of James II was a revolution not made, but prevented (according to the later definition of “revolution”).
But what of the events in North America from 1775 to 1781? Was the War of Independence no revolution?
That war, with the events immediately preceding and following it, constituted a series of movements which produced separation from Britain and the establishment of a different political order in most of British North America. Yet the Republic of the United States was an order new only in some aspects, founded upon a century and a half of colonial experience and upon institutions, customs, and beliefs mainly of British origin. The American Revolution did not result promptly in the creation of a new social order, nor did the leaders in that series of movements intend that the new nation should break with the conventions, the moral convictions, and the major institutions (except monarchy) out of which America had arisen. As John C. Calhoun expressed this three quarters of a century later, “The revolution, as it is called, produced no other changes than those which were necessarily caused by the declaration of independence.”
To apprehend how the leading Americans of the last quarter of the eighteenth century thought of their own revolution, it is valuable to turn to the arguments of Edmund Burke, which exercised so strong an influence in America, an influence more telling, indeed, after the adoption of the Constitution than earlier. (Until my own generation, Burke’s Speech on Conciliation with the American Colonies was studied closely in most American high schools.)
In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, as earlier, Burke strongly approves the Revolution of 1688. “The Revolution was made to preserve our ancient indisputable laws and liberties, and that ancient constitution of government which is our only security for law and liberty,” Burke declares.
"The very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust and horror. We wished at the period of the Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. Upon that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate any [scion] alien to the nature of the original plant. All the reformations we have hitherto made, have proceeded upon the principle of reference to antiquity; and I hope, nay I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be made hereafter, will be carefully formed upon analogical precedent, authority, and example."
The Whig apology for the expulsion of James II, then, here so succinctly expressed by Burke, was that James had begun to alter for the worse the old constitution of England: James was an innovator. As Burke writes elsewhere in the Reflections, “To have made a revolution is a measure which, prima fronte, requires an apology.” A very similar apology, we shall see, was made by the American leaders in their quarrel with king and Parliament, and for their act of separation. The Whig magnates had prevented James II from working a revolution; the American Patriots had prevented George III from working a revolution (a revolution, that is, in the twentieth-century sense of the word). If the events of 1688 and 1776 were revolutions at all, they were counter revolutions, intended to restore the old constitutions of government. So, at any rate, runs the Whig interpretation of history.
One will perceive that already, by 1790, Burke and the Old Whigs were involved in difficulty by this troublous word “revolution.” For the same word was coming to signify two very different phenomena. On the one hand, it meant a healthy return to old ways; on the other hand, it meant (with reference to what was happening in France) a violent destruction of the old order. The English Revolution and the French Revolution were contrary impulses, although for a brief while, with the summoning of the long-dormant Three Estates, it had appeared that the French movement too might be in part a turning back to old political ways.
In America, the dominant Federalists, and soon not the Federalists only, were similarly perplexed by the word. Here they stood, the victors of the American Revolution, Washington and Hamilton and Adams and Madison and Morris and all that breed; and they were aghast at the revolution running its course in France. They had fought to secure the “chartered rights of Englishmen” in America, those of the Bill of Rights of 1689; and now they were horrified by the consequences of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, borrowed in part from that very Declaration of Independence to which they had subscribed. The same revulsion soon spread to many of the Jeffersonian faction, to such early egalitarians as Randolph of Roanoke, Republican leader of the House of Representatives. It spread in England to the New Whigs, so that even Charles James Fox, by 1794, would declare, “I can hardly frame to myself the conditions of a people, in which I would not rather desire that they should continue, than fly to arms, and seek redress through the unknown miseries of a revolution.” In short, Whig revolution meant recovery of what was being lost; Jacobin revolution meant destruction of the fabric of society. The confounding of those two quite inconsonant interpretations of the word “revolution” troubles us still.
The Whig interpretation of history has been most seriously criticized, and perhaps confuted, by such recent historians as Sir Herbert Butterfield. No longer do most historians believe that James II could have worked fundamental constitutional alterations, nor that he intended to; and James was more tolerant than were his adversaries. What ruined him with the English people, indeed, was his Declaration for Liberty of Conscience, indulging Catholics and Dissenters; and what impelled William of Orange to supplant James was William’s dread of a popular rising that might overthrow the monarchy altogether and establish another Commonwealth. William, too, preferred preventing a revolution to making one. For a convincing brief study of the period, I commend Maurice Ashley’s The Glorious Revolution of 1688, published in 1966. Ashley doubts whether the overturn of 1688 did indeed constitute a “Glorious Revolution”; but he concludes that the event “undoubtedly contributed to the evolution of parliamentary democracy in England and of a balanced constitution in the United States of America.”
However that may be, Edmund Burke repeatedly and emphatically approved what had occurred in 1688 and 1689. The Whig interpretation was the creed of his party: it was the premise of his Thoughts on the Present Discontents and of his American speeches. It would not do for Burke, so eminent in Whig councils, to be found wanting in zeal for the Glorious Revolution that had dethroned a Papist. For Irish Tories had been among his ancestors; his mother and sister were Catholics (although that fact appears not to have been widely known); Burke was the agent at Westminster for the Irish Catholic interest; early in his career he had been accused by the old Duke of Newcastle of being “a Jesuit in disguise,” and a caricaturist had represented him in a Jesuit soutane. “Remember, remember the fifth of November”: Burke had been compelled to draw his sword to defend himself during the Gordon Riots. It was prudent for Burke to subscribe conspicuously to the Whig doctrines of 1688 and 1689.
Certainly Burke in part founded his vehement denunciation of the French Revolution upon his approbation of the English Revolution, of that “revolution” which had been a return, in Whig doctrine, to established political modes of yesteryear. Upon the same ground, Burke had attacked mordantly the American policies of George III, advocating a “salutary neglect” of the American colonies because it was to Britain’s interest, as to the colonies’ interest, that the old autonomy of the colonies should be preserved. It was King George, with his stubborn insistence upon taxing the Americans directly, who was the innovator, the revolutionary (in the French sense of the word), in Burke’s argument; Burke, with the Rockingham Whigs, sought to achieve compromise and conciliation.
But it does not follow that Burke approved what came to be called the American Revolution.
The notion that Burke rightly supported the American Revolution but inconsistently opposed the French Revolution is a vulgar error often refuted, by Woodrow Wilson, for one, in his article “Edmund.Burke and the French Revolution,” in the September 1901 issue of The Century Magazine. Burke advocated redress of American grievances, or at least tacit acceptance of certain American claims of prescriptive right; he never countenanced ambitions for total separation from the authority of Crown in Parliament. Burke’s stand is ably summed up by Ross Hoffman in his Edmund Burke, New York Agent (1956):
"Burke had no natural sympathy for America except as a part of the British Empire, and if, when the war came, he did not wish success to British arms, neither did he desire the Americans to triumph. Peace and Anglo-American reconciliation within the empire were his objects. After Americans won their independence, he seems to have lost all interest in their country."
During the decade before the shot heard round the world, Burke seemed a champion of the claims of Americans. That sympathy, nevertheless, was incidental to his championing of the rights of Englishmen. It was for English liberties that the Rockingham Whigs were earnestly concerned. If the king should succeed in dragooning Americans, might he not then turn to dragooning Englishmen? It was the belief of the Whigs that George III intended to resurrect royal prerogatives of Stuart and Tudor times; that he would make himself a despot. That peril the Whigs, and Burke in particular, with fierce invective, considerably exaggerated; but it is easy to be wise by hindsight. George III was a more formidable adversary than ever James II had been. Where James had been timid and indecisive, George was courageous and tenacious; and often George was clever, if obdurate, in his aspiration to rule as a Patriot King. At the end, Burke came to understand that in the heat of partisan passion he had reviled his king unjustly; and in his Letter to a Noble Lord (1796) he called George “a mild and benevolent sovereign.”
Yet neither to the American Patriots nor to Burke, in 1774 and 1775, had George III seemed either mild or benevolent. Upon the assumption that King George meant to root up the liberties of Englishmen, to trample upon the British constitution, the dominant faction of Whigs in America determined to raise armies and risk hanging. They declared that they were resisting pernicious innovations and defending ancient rights: that they were true-born Englishmen, up in arms to maintain what Burke called “the chartered rights” of their nation. They appealed to the Declaration of Rights of 1689; they offered for their violent resistance to royal authority the very apology offered by the Whigs of 1688. In the older sense of that uneasy word “revolution,” they were endeavoring to prevent, rather than to make, a revolution. Or such was the case they made until a French alliance became indispensable.
THE THESIS THAT the Patriots intended no radical break with the past, that they thought of themselves as conservators rather than as innovators, scarcely is peculiar to your servant. It is now dominant among leading historians of American politics. It is most succinctly stated by Daniel Boorstin in his slim volume The Genius of American Politics (1953):
"The most obvious peculiarity of our American Revolution is that, in the modern European sense of the word, it was hardly a revolution at all. The Daughters of the American Revolution, who have been understandably sensitive on this subject, have always insisted in their literature that the American Revolution was no revolution but merely a colonial rebellion. The more I have looked into the subject, the more convinced I have become of the wisdom of their naivete. 'The social condition and the Constitution of the Americans are democratic,' de Tocqueville observed about a hundred years ago. 'But they have not had a democratic revolution.' This fact is surely one of the more important of our history."
The attainment of America’s independence, Boorstin makes clear in his writings, was not the work of what Burke called “theoretic dogma.” What most moved the Americans of that time was their own colonial experience: they were defending their right to go on living in the future much as they had lived in the past; they were not marching to Zion. To quote Boorstin directly again:
"The American Revolution was in a very special way conceived as both a vindication of the British past and an affirmation of an American future. The British past was contained in ancient and living institutions rather than in doctrines; and the American future was never to be contained in a theory."
This point is made with equal force by Clinton Rossiter in his Seedtime of the Republic: The Origin of the American Tradition of Political Liberty (1953). In the course of his discussion of Richard Bland, Rossiter remarks that
"Throughout the colonial period and right down to the last months before the Declaration of Independence, politically conscious Americans looked upon the British Constitution rather than natural law as the bulwark of their cherished liberties. Practical political thinking in eighteenth-century America was dominated by two assumptions: that the British Constitution was the best and happiest of all possible forms of government, and that the colonists, descendants of freeborn Englishmen, enjoyed the blessings of this constitution to the fullest extent consistent with a wilderness environment."
Men like Bland, and those, too, like Patrick Henry, more radical than Bland, regarded themselves as the defenders of a venerable constitution, not as marchers in the dawn of a Brave New World. As Rossiter continues in his chapter on the Rights of Man: “Virginians made excellent practical use of this distinction. When their last royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, pro- claimed them to be in rebellion, they retorted immediately in print that he was the rebel and they the saviors of the constitution.” It was the case of James II and arbitrary power all over again.
Or turn to H. Trevor Colbourn’s study The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution (1963). He writes:
"In insisting upon rights which their history showed were deeply embedded in antiquity, American Revolutionaries argued that their stand was essentially conservative; it was the corrupted mother country which was pursuing a radical course of action, pressing innovations and encroachments upon her long-suffering colonies. Independence was in large measure the product of the historical concepts of the men who made it, men who furnished intellectual as well as political leadership to a new nation."
Here we have for authority the famous sentences of Patrick Henry in 1775: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” The appeal of even the more passionate leaders of the American rising against royal innovation was to precedent and old usage, not to utopian visions.
The men who made the American Revolution, in fine, had little intention of making a revolution in the French sense (so soon to follow) of a reconstitution of society. Until little choice remained to them, they were anything but enthusiasts even for separation from Britain. This is brought out in an interesting conversation between Burke and Benjamin Franklin, on the eve of Franklin’s departure from London for America; Burke relates this in his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791).
"In this discourse Dr. Franklin lamented, and with apparent sincerity, the separation which he feared as inevitable between Great Britain and her colonies. He certainly spoke of it as an event which gave him the greatest concern. America, he said, would never again see such happy days as she had passed under the protection of England. He observed, that ours was the only instance of a great empire, in which the most distant parts and members had been as well governed as the metropolis and its vicinage: but that the Americans were going to lose the means which secured to them this rare and precious advantage. The question with them was not whether they were to remain as they had been before the troubles, for better, he allowed, they could not hope to be; but whether they were to give up so happy a situation without a struggle? Mr. Burke had several other conversations with him about that time, in none of which, soured and exasperated as his mind certainly was, did he discover any other wish in favour of America than for a security to its ancient condition. Mr. Burke’s conversation with other Americans was large indeed, and his inquiries extensive and diligent. Trusting to the result of all these means of information, but trusting much more in the public presumptive indications I have just referred to, and to the reiterated, solemn declarations of their assemblies, he always firmly believed that they were purely on the defensive in that rebellion. He considered the Americans as standing at that time, and in that controversy, in the same relation to England, as England did to King James the Second, in 1688. He believed, that they had taken up arms from one motive only; that is, our attempting to tax them without their consent; to tax them for the purposes of maintaining civil and military establishments. If this attempt of ours could have been practically established, he thought, with them, that their assemblies would become totally useless; that, under the system of policy which was then pursued, the Americans could have no sort of security for their laws or liberties, or for any part of them; and that the very circumstance of our freedom would have augmented the weight of their slavery."
Such were the language and the convictions of the American Patriots, as Rossiter puts it, “right down to the last months before the Declaration of Independence.” Then what account do we make of the highly theoretical and abstract language of the first part of the Declaration of In- dependence, with its appeal to “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” to self-evident truths, to a right to abolish any form of government? Why is Parliament not even mentioned in the Declaration? What has become of the English constitution, the rights of Englishmen, the citing of English precedents, the references to James II and the Glorious Revolution?
These startling inclusions and omissions are discussed penetratingly by Carl Becker in The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas, first published in 1922. Indeed the language of much of the Declaration is the language of the French Enlightenment, and, more immediately, the language of the Thomas Jefferson of 1776, rather than the tone and temper of the typical member of the Continental Congress:
"Not without reason was Jefferson most at home in Paris. By the qualities of his mind and temperament he really belonged to the philosophical school, to the Encyclopaedists, those generous souls who loved mankind by virtue of not knowing too much about men, who worshipped reason with unreasoning faith, who made a study of Nature while cultivating a studied aversion for “enthusiasm,” and strong religious emotion. Like them, Jefferson, in his earlier years especially, impresses one as being a radical by profession. We often feel that he defends certain practices and ideas, that he denounces certain customs or institutions, not so much from independent reflection or deep-seated conviction on the particular matter in hand as because in general these are the things that a philosopher and a man of virtue ought naturally to defend or denounce. It belonged to the eighteenth-century philosopher, as a matter of course, to apostrophize Nature, to defend Liberty, to denounce Tyranny, perchance to shed tears at the thought of a virtuous action."
The Francophile Jefferson, in other words, was atypical of the men, steeped in Blackstone and constitutional history, who sat in the Continental Congress. Yet the Congress accepted Jefferson’s Declaration, unprotestingly. Why?
Because aid from France had become an urgent necessity for the Patriot cause. The phrases of the Declaration, congenial to the philosophes, were calculated to wake strong sympathy in France’s climate of opinion; and, as Becker emphasizes, those phrases achieved with high success precisely that result. It would have been not merely pointless, but counterproductive, to appeal for French assistance on the ground of the ancient rights of Englishmen; the French did not wish Englishmen well.
Here we turn again to the quotable Daniel Boorstin (who differs somewhat with Becker). It is not to the Declaration we should look, Boorstin suggests, if we seek to understand the motives of the men who accomplished the American Revolution: not, at least, to the Declaration’s first two paragraphs. “People have grasped at ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ forgetting that it was two-thirds borrowed and, altogether, only part of a preamble,” Boorstin writes. “We have repeated that ‘all men are created equal’ without daring to discover what it meant and without realizing that probably to none of the men who spoke it did it mean what we would like it to mean.” Really, he tells us, the Revolution was all about no taxation without representation. “It is my view that the major issue of the American Revolution was the true constitution of the British Empire, which is a pretty technical legal problem.”
Amen to that. Burke declared, looking upon the ghastly spectacle of the French Revolution, that nothing is more consummately wicked than the heart of an abstract metaphysician who aspires to govern a nation by utopian designs, regardless of prudence, historical experience, convention, custom, the complexities of political compromise, and long-received principles of morality. The men who made the American Revolution were not revolutionaries of the meta- physical sort. They had practical grievances; they sought practical redress; not obtaining it, they settled upon separation from the Crown in Parliament as a hard necessity. That act was meant not as a repudiation of their past, but as a means for preventing the destruction of their pattern of politics by King George’s presumed intended revolution of arbitrary power, after which, in Burke’s phrase, “the Americans could have no sort of security for their laws or liberties.” That is not the cast of mind which is encountered among the revolutionaries of the twentieth century.
THE CAREFUL STUDY of history is of high value, among other reasons because it may instruct us, sometimes, concerning ways to deal with our present discontents. I do not mean simply that history repeats itself, or repeats itself with variations, although there is something in that, and particularly in the history of revolutions on the French model, which devour their own children. (Here I commend Crane Brinton‘s The Anatomy of Revolution and D. W. Brogan’s The Price of Revolution.) I am suggesting, rather, that deficiency in historical perspective leads to the ruinous blunders of ideologues, whom Burckhardt calls “the terrible simplifiers,” while sound historical knowledge may diminish the force of Hegel’s aphorism that “we learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
The history of this slippery word “revolution” is a case in point. Political terms have historical origins. If one is ignorant of those historical origins, powerful statesmen are ignorant of them, great errors become possible. It is as if one were to confound the word “law” as a term of jurisprudence with the word “law” as a term of natural science. If one assumes that the word “revolution” signifies always the same phenomenon, regardless of historical background, one may make miscalculations with grave consequences, perhaps fatal consequences.
The French Revolution was a very different phenomenon, as was its successor, the Russian Revolution. These were philosophical revolutions, or, as we say nowadays with greater precision, ideological revolutions: catastrophic upheavals, in the later signification of the term “revolution.” Their objectives were unlimited, in the sense of being utopian; their consequences were quite the contrary of what their original authors had hoped for.To apprehend the French Revolution, we still do well to turn to the analyses by Tocqueville and by Taine; for the Bolshevik Revolution, we have the recent books by Solzhenitsyn, Shafarevich, and others. “To begin with unlimited liberty,” says Fyodor Dostoievski, “is to end with unlimited despotism.” Or, as Burke put it, to be possessed liberty must be limited.
The American Revolution, or War of Independence, was a preventive movement, intended to preserve an old constitutional structure for the most part. Its limited objectives attained, order was restored. It arose from causes intimately bound up with the colonial experience and the British constitution, and little connected with the causes of the French Revolution. In intention, at least, it was a “revolution” in the meaning of that term generally accepted during the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century.
A considerable element of the population of these United States has tended to fancy, almost from the inception of the Republic, that all revolutions everywhere somehow are emulatory of the American War of Independence and ought to lead to similar democratic institutions. Revolutionary ideologues in many lands have played upon this American naivete, successfully enough, from Havana to Saigon. This widespread American illusion, or confusion about the word “revolution,” has led not merely to sentimentality in policy regarding virulent Marxist or nationalistic movements in their earlier stages, but also to unfounded expectations that some magic overnight “democratic reforms," free elections especially, can suffice to restrain what Burke called “an armed doctrine.” How many Americans forget, or never knew, that in time of civil war Abraham Lincoln found it necessary to suspend writs of habeas corpus?
Knowledge of history is no perfect safeguard against such blunders. It did not save Woodrow Wilson, who had read a great deal of history, from miscalculations about the consequences of ”self-determination” in central Europe. It did not save his advisor Herbert Hoover, who knew some history, from fancying that an improbable “restoration of the Habsburg tyranny” in central Europe was a more imminent menace than live and kicking Bolshevism or the recrudescence of German ambitions. Nevertheless, knowledge of history generally and knowledge of the historical origin of political terms are some insurance against ideological in- fatuation or sentimental sloganizing.
The crying need of our age is to avert revolutions, not to multiply them. Recent revolutions have reduced half the world to servitude of body and mind, and to extreme poverty, in Ethiopia and Chad, in Cambodia and Timor, and in fifty other lands. What we call the American Revolution had fortunate consequences because, in some sense, it was a revolution not made, but prevented. Folk who fancy the phrase “permanent revolution” are advocating, if unwittingly, permanent misery. The first step toward recovery from this confusion is to apprehend that the word “revolution” has a variety of meanings; that not all revolutions are cut from the same cloth; that politics cannot be divorced from history; and that “revolution,” in its common twentieth-century signification, is no highroad to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.