Senate’s Frantic Distraction Efforts in Snowden Affair

by Don Hank, Guest Contributor to The Bold Pursuit

They’re doing damage control again.

Instead of giving you the big news, linked here:

http://www.euronews.com/2014/01/09/snowden-to-testify-to-european-parliament-s-civil-liberties-committee

… the media and U.S. officials give you this:

http://www.examiner.com/article/senate-hearing-snowden-perpetrated-massive-act-of-espionage

The article linked first is the big news, and the important news for all who love liberty and want to see our government exposed for the un-Constitutional infringer of privacy rights that it is (first link above). The MSM and the US Senate have conspired to show that Snowden is the crook and that the NSA and the current administration have done no wrong and are simply looking out for your interests by massively eavesdropping on your conversations.

Yet, according to Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich,

“if the Americans intercepted cellphones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil.” He added wiretapping is a crime and “those responsible must be held accountable.”  

Of course, you can say that Snowden has technically broken his contract with the government, whereby he agreed not to disclose government secrets.

However, this promise on his part was predicated on a misconception, namely that the US government was not violating the rights of individuals or breaking any laws, that the government was above reproach in the performance of its duty to keep Americans safe, and that your safety was its paramount concern. However, once Snowden saw the massive unprecedented data harvesting program against all US and other citizens – including allies – it became his legal duty to blow the whistle.

How so you ask?

The answer is the verdict at the Nuremberg Trials. This verdict came not from a foreign organization but from US judges, legal experts who sat in court in Nuremberg after the war. Their verdict, and hence, their message to the world was that even if a person occupies an official position in a government (as Nazi war criminals did), if that government is violating human rights, that official has the duty to refuse orders and do what is morally right.

So far-reaching and influential were the Nuremberg trials that this novel legal precept was soon accepted as part of International Law.

Yet now that the shoe is on the other foot, US officials are pretending the Nuremberg trials either never happened or never had this world-changing outcome. Or worse, they are acting as if this new precept only applies to other countries, notably those hostile to the US. An extraordinarily ethnocentric viewpoint that has no place in any serious discussion of international law.

Thus their morality is malleable and subject to change at a moment’s notice, and it depends not on any higher principles of right vs wrong, but on one very base, despicable notion: political expediency at all costs.

So keep this in mind when you read these two above-linked articles.

As for the second one, remember that it was specifically the Germans who were targeted by the above-described novel jurisprudential precept that emerged at Nuremberg.

Today, at this very moment, Ed Snowden is expected to be heard as a witness on behalf of the European Court, and one of the issues discussed will be precisely how the US violated German law and hence the human rights of Germans. What went around came around and we weren’t prepared.

In his testimony, Snowden will have the opportunity to throw the American made Nuremberg verdicts back in the face of the government that is rushing to judgment against him.

Reprinted with permission

When “Fairness” Replaces “Freedom,

by Joseph Beverly, Guest Contributor

When “fairness” replaces “freedom,” all our liberties are in danger. “Fairness” is strictly in the eye of the beholder. Who decides?

This classic article by Dr. Milton Friedman, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, originally appeared in the July 4, 1977 issue of Newsweek and in other leading publications. It concisely explains the extreme danger of replacing the pursuit of “freedom” with the pursuit of “fairness.” The important distinction of these two values is enormous and was clearly understood by America’s Founders. Unfortunately, the de facto Marxist/Socialist/Leftists have been gradually moving uninformed public opinion in the wrong direction — promoting the high-minded goals of “fairness,” “justice,” and “equality” — which will only serve to diminish America’s freedom. . . The American experiment in government of a free people is based solidly on the principle of individual freedom. Americans should not be mislead by the Leftist advocates’ of “fairness.” Take a couple minutes to read Friedman’s keen explanation of the “freedom” vs. “fairness” argument. – WAP 8-1-11

Fair versus Free
by Milton Friedman

The Federal Communications Commission seeks to enforce a “fairness doctrine” on radio and TV stations. We suffered numerous “fair trade” laws, until they were declared unenforceable. One businessman vies with another in proclaiming his faith in competition — provided that it is “fair.”

Yet, scrutinize word for word the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and you will not find the word “fair.” The First Amendment does not protect the “fair” exercise of religion, but the “free” exercise thereof; it does not restrain Congress from abridging the “fairness” of speech or of the press, but the “freedom” of speech or of the press.

The modern tendency to substitute “fair” for “free” reveals how far we have moved from the initial conception of the Founding Fathers. They viewed government as policeman and umpire. They sought to establish a framework within which individuals could pursue their own objectives in their own way, separately or through voluntary cooperation, provided only that they did not interfere with the freedom of others to do likewise.

The modern conception is very different. Government has become Big Brother. Its function has become to protect the citizen, not merely from his fellows, but from himself, whether he wants to be protected or not. Government is not simply an umpire but an active participant, entering into every nook and cranny of social and economic activity. All this, in order to promote the high-minded goals of “fairness,” “justice,” “equality.”

Does this not constitute progress? A move toward a more humane society? Quite the contrary. When “fairness” replaces “freedom,” all our liberties are in danger. In Walden, Thoreau says: “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” That is the way I feel when I hear my “servants” in Washington assuring me of the “fairness” of their edicts.

There is no objective standard of “fairness.” “Fairness” is strictly in the eye of the beholder. If speech must be fair, then it cannot also be free; someone must decide what is fair. A radio station is not free to transmit unfair speech — as judged by the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission. If the printed press were subject to a comparable “fairness doctrine,” it would have to be controlled by a government bureau and our vaunted free press would soon become a historical curiosity.

What is true for speech — where the conflict is perhaps clearest — is equally true for every other area. To a producer or seller, a “fair” price is a high price. To the buyer or consumer, a “fair” price is a low price. How is the conflict to be adjudicated? By competition in a free market? Or by government bureaucrats in a “fair” market?

Businessmen who sing the glories of free enterprise and then demand “fair” competition are enemies, not friends, of free markets. To them, “fair” competition is a euphemism for a price-fixing agreement. They are exemplifying Adam Smith’s remark that “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” For consumers, the more “unfair” the competition, the better. That assures lowest prices and highest quality.

Is then the search for “fairness” all a mistake? Not at all. There is a real role for fairness, but that role is in constructing general rules and adjudicating disputes about the rules, not in determining the outcome of our separate activities. That is the sense in which we speak of a “fair” game and “fair” umpire. If we applied the present doctrine of “fairness” to a football game, the referee would be required after each play to move the ball backward or forward enough to make sure that the game ended in a draw!

Our Founding Fathers designed a fair Constitution to protect human freedom. In Thomas Jefferson’s ringing phrases from the Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among Men … to secure … certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Milton Friedman, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, is the author of Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose . This piece originally appeared in the July 4, 1977 issue of Newsweek and was reprinted in Bright Promises, Dismal Performances: An Economist’s Protest, a collection of his articles. Copyright 1983 by Thomas Horton and Daughters, 26662 South New Town Drive, Sun Lakes, AZ 85224. Reprinted by permission.

Science versus Religion? Really?

by Robert Arvay

Fewer debates are less reasoned than that between atheists and theists. The atheists think that we of faith are either idiots or worse, and many theists accuse atheists of being spawn of the devil. And it goes downhill from there. Is there any hope of a mutually respectful discussion between the two camps?

Foremost among those who argue atheism are scientists. Correction—it is not really atheism they argue, but rather, something called natural-materialism. Natural-materialism differs from outright atheism, in that it does not affirm the absence of God, but rather, the absence of proof of God, indeed, it denies any significant evidence for Him.

Those who argue for belief in the supernatural take on such a wide variety of positions that it would be far too time-consuming to argue each one separately in the available forums.

For these two reasons, it is important to distill the arguments down to something that everyone can discuss. While I personally believe in the God of the King James Bible, I recognize that there are other forms of religious belief, and not all of them can take the stage at the same time. Therefore, instead of doing that, the debate can be limited to a topic that has come to be called, “Intelligent Design,” or, ID for short. Intelligent Design proposes a divine creator or at least, something so close to it that we can, for all practical purposes, call it, God.

While there is no proof if ID, there certainly is evidence for it. Here it is. Scientists themselves, atheists included, were perplexed for a time about something called the fine tuning of the universe. Basically, the fine tuning proposal points out that the physical laws of the universe depend on a large number of constants. These constants determine how strong gravity is, how atoms are held together, and many other features of physical reality.

If any one of the constants were much different than they are, then life in the universe could not exist. The fact that every last one of the constants is within the narrow limits that allow life—that fact is asking too much of coincidence. One constant in particular governs the rate of the expansion of the universe, and that one is so very finely tuned that even atheist scientists admitted that it would be absurd to attribute it to chance. Intelligent design seemed to be the only reasonable explanation for fine tuning. While not necessarily proving a creator, fine tuning is strong evidence indeed!

Natural-materialism needed a way out of this dilemma. In order to explain fine tuning without resort to Intelligent Design, scientists proposed something called the “Many Universes” idea, or MU for short. According to that idea, the unimaginably tiny chance of a universe being able to support life can become an imaginably large chance, if one has unimaginably many universes. Given enough explosions in enough print shops, sooner or later, one of those explosions is going to produce an encyclopedia, guaranteed. That is the basic idea of the Many Universes explanation.

However, the MU idea not only has serious problems of its own, it actually provides further evidence for ID, not against it.

One problem with MU is scientific. Science requires observation of physical evidence. There is no physical evidence for MU. Another scientific requirement for any theory is that there must be a way to test it. There is no way to test MU. Therefore, it remains no stronger a position than ID, and indeed, we at least can observe the evidence for ID in the form of the physical constants.

If we do accept MU as valid, then that acceptance actually strengthens the argument for ID. Why? For one thing, ID requires, and proposes, a higher order of reality than what is physically observable. After all, if an intelligent designer is responsible for the existence of the universe, the designer is outside the limits of the universe. In theistic terms, He is supernatural, above nature. Natural-materialism, on the other hand, denies that anything outside of nature can explain anything inside of nature.

Just as does ID, MU requires a higher order of reality than our own universe, albeit a higher order that is physical, not spiritual. MU, at the least, requires something we might call a hyper-universe. The hyper-universe, according to scientists, must contain vastly large numbers of smaller universes, including our own universe. These are called, “bubble universes.” Each bubble universe is the result of a sort of cosmic dice roll, an explosion in a print shop. Each bubble universe is designed at random, so that its constants are not intelligently designed.

This is where natural-materialism goes off the rails, creating even more problems for itself than it had before.

For, if our universe has features that enable it to produce, for example, stars and planets and living creatures, and if it gets those features from a hyper-universe, then we have to ask the obvious question:  from where does the hyper-universe get the ability to form bubble universes? Surely, the hyper-universe must have its own set of constants.

Is there a hyper-hyper-universe? If so, from where does it get its features? As one can see, there is no end to it. For the Many Universes idea to work, there must be an infinite progression of higher universes. Such an idea is beyond the scope of physical science.

If MU is indeed a valid idea, then the best explanation for it is not only ID, but IID, an infinitely intelligent designer, a designer forever beyond our comprehension.

In the end, we cannot (to everyone’s satisfaction) prove or disprove God. Indeed, any god so small as to be provable would not be God. We can, however, recognize that the debate remains both open, and indeed, useful, if we conduct it with mutual respect.

Name-calling has no place in it. We should treat each other with, at the least, mutual respect, and in my opinion, with Christian love.

And no, I cannot prove that.

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Reboot the State of the Union

by Scot Faulkner

It is time to rethink the State of the Union Address.

On January 28, Americans will once again endure the pointless spectacle of yet another State of the Union Address.  The President will enter the chamber like a reigning monarch with all branches of government in polite attendance.  Many promises will be made, of which few will be kept.  Many cheap applause lines will be given so that everyone in the Chamber, except the Supreme Court Justices, will rise in ovation.  An array of symbolic guests will be seated next to the First Lady and be used as props at key junctures in the speech.

Whether Republican or Democrat, Presidents use the State of the Union address to annually reboot their agenda.  It is a huge waste of time for everyone involved.  It creates the visage of an imperial President holding the co-equal branches of government hostage to the vanity of one person.  The only people longing for this annual rite are the pundits who get to spend a week speculating on the speech and another week analyzing it.  It is the Super Bowl for politicians.  The only difference is the cheerleading occurs afterward in Statuary Hall and the pre-game tailgate parties are held at expensive clubs and restaurants.

Why is there a State of the Union speech?

There is no official reason for the speech. There is not even a requirement for it to be annual. Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution only requires the President to make a report:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

It is also not required that Congress grant the President the use of their Chamber for a ritualized infomercial. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives must formally vote on a Joint Resolution to convene a Joint Session of Congress. At any time, one or both Chambers could bring an end to this tedium by simply refusing to approve the resolution.

President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union speech in person before a Joint Session of Congress on January 8, 1790.  Since then, there have been 223 opportunities for Presidents to deliver their report.  Presidents have delivered their report as a speech before a Joint Session of Congress only 98 times.  The other 125 times were through written communication.

George Washington and John Adams delivered their State of the Union reports as speeches, but Thomas Jefferson let his written word suffice.  For 113 years, no other President delivered a State of the Union speech until Woodrow Wilson on December 2, 1913.  President Warren Harding continued this new practice as did Calvin Coolidge, once.

For ten years, Congress did not have to arrange a Joint Session for the State of the Union Address.  Then Franklin Roosevelt asked for the forum in 1934. In 1946, President Harry Truman opted out of a formal speech because, during the previous nine months, there had been five Joint Sessions of Congress relating to the end of World War II.  In 1956, President Eisenhower opted out of a speech because he was still recovering from his September 24, 1955 heart attack.

America seems to have survived the absence of Presidential vanity 125 times.  Congress still operated.  Legislative business continued.  The President issues a detailed Budget Message a few weeks after the speech, which is a far more tangible communication of the Administration’s priorities. So why, in the 21st Century, must we put up with this annual charade, which everyone knows is totally meaningless?  A simple reading of the President’s Budget executive summary from the Oval Office would more than meet the Constitutional requirement. The last memorable line from a State of the Union Address was President George W. Bush’s description of an “Axis of Evil” on January 29, 2002.  That did not end well.

Since Bush’s 2002 flourish viewership of State of the Union Addresses has plummeted.  In 2003, 62 million watched.  By 2013, only 33.4 million viewed the festivities.  Even if you factor in alternative viewing modes offered by digital media, the audience has substantially declined.  It seems that most Americans, unlike politicians and pundits, are tuning out this outdated and superficial display of Washington excess. Imagine any State of the Union address without the pomp and pageantry and without countless interruptions for orchestrated applause.  The words would be even more empty and meaningless than they are already.

(Reprinted with Permission)

[Scot Faulkner served in the Reagan Administration and as Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. http://citizenoversight.blogspot.com/ ]

Compromising the Constitution

by Robert Arvay

If you follow the news, and of course you do, you will have noticed that in the Republican Party, there are increasing calls for compromise—compromise not from those calling for it, but compromise from TEA Party conservatives. Mike Huckabee, Lou Dobbs, and other stalwart members of the GOP are warning us that if we (we, not they) do not compromise, Democrat liberals will win the next presidential election.

Normally, compromise is a good thing. Half a loaf is better than none. Getting some of what we wish is better than getting nothing. Alas, all is not normal these days, and it seems that compromise often means, “Heads they win, tails we lose.”

How often have we heard the phrase that begins with, “I am pro-life, but . . .” The “but” seems always to amount to, “. . . but let’s not restrict abortion.” As far as I know, not one single abortion has ever been prevented by any law in the last forty years. Yet it is we who should compromise.

Have you ever heard someone say anything like this: “I am pro-choice (in favor of abortion on demand), but we need to compromise with the pro-life element of our party, and do something meaningful to decrease abortion. Ever?

Even on fiscal matters, where the GOP establishment says it favors lower taxes, less spending, and less borrowing, the word, “less,” somehow always results in “more.” Spending has never gone down, not even under Republicans. The national debt always goes up. We always owe more. The interest alone on the national debt is astronomically high, and will only increase. All the Democrats need do is to whisper the words, “government shutdown,” and the GOP leaders run whimpering into the shadows,continuing to vote to empty our wallets, and to deprive our children of their freedom.

Oh, but we in the TEA Party are labeled as the extremists. We are the ones who must tone down the rhetoric. We must never say, “death panels,” but instead, must defer to the wisdom of an unelected “payment advisory board,” which has the power to withhold life-saving medical treatment from patients who will die without a transplant. Yet, it was Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, queen of Obamacare, who denied exactly such treatment to a young girl, and did so based on a flimsy bureaucratic excuse. If not for a judge overruling that cruel, uncompromising edict, that girl would be dead today.

Where were the calls for Sebelius to compromise?

It was not compromise that won the House of Representatives for the Republican Party in 2010. It was the TEA Party, yes, those uncompromising extremists, the ones who insist on governing according to the Constitution. They replaced Nancy Pelosi with John Boehner in the Speaker’s chair; now Boehner is among those waging political war against the TEA Party.

It might be different if the track record gave evidence that compromising the Constitution would preserve at least half of it. The record, however, shows exactly the opposite. Governor Cuomo of New York, a liberal Democrat, actually got it right when he said this:

“You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington. The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans. You’re seeing that play out in New York. The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are. If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.”

While I strongly disagree with parts of Cuomo’s assertion, he did unwittingly point outwhy there is a schism in the Republican Party. Of course, his prescription is basically for Republicans to become Democrats. Indeed, as one pundit cleverly stated it, the GOP establishment has become little more than the Democrat wing of the Republican Party.

Despite my disagreement with him, I give credit where credit is due. Cuomo showed something that the GOP establishment leadership lacks and which the TEA Party has in abundance: a firm resolve.

Compromise? I’m all for it. It is the only path to preserve the Constitution. So come on, Boehner, stop compromising with those who would destroy our nation, and compromise instead with those of us who insist on adhering to that radical document, the one that says that, The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Compromise? Show me where in the limited, enumerated powers of the federal government is found the authority to impose on the States respectively, or to the people,” Obama-care?

Compromise? Explain to me where in the Constitution it is permitted for the Congress to pass laws it has not read, does not understand, and which do not apply to Congress itself, while imposing on the rest of us the burden
of mandatory compliance?

Explain to me how an informed electorate is to govern itself, when those in office routinely lie to us, conceal vital facts that we need, and otherwise ensure that we are denied the very information that we require to make sound decisions?

Just who are the extremists? It seems to me that they are already deeply ensconced in power, and that the rest of us are reaping the whirlwind.

That is where so-called compromise has gotten us.

Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer to The Bold Pursuit

State Of Obama’s Union: Democrat Care

by Joseph Beverly, Guest Contributor

After Five State of the Union Addresses, All Obama Has Delivered On Health Care Is A Series of Broken Promises

Obama: “Our Government Shouldn’t Make Promises We Cannot Keep — But We Must Keep the Promises We’ve Already Made.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President in the State of The Union Address, Washington, D.C., 2/12/13)

AT OBAMA’S 2010 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, OBAMA MADE HEALTH CARE PROMISES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN BROKEN

Obama In His 2010 State Of The Union: “Our Approach Would Preserve The Right Of Americans Who Have Insurance To Keep Their Doctor And Their Plan. It Would Reduce Costs And Premiums For Millions Of Families And Businesses.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President In The State Of The Union Address, Washington, D.C., 1/27/10)

Obama’s Keep Your Plan Promise: Broken

5 Million People That Purchased Insurance On The Individual Health Insurance Market Have Received Cancellation Notices. “They said the widespread cancellations in the individual health insurance market – roughly 5 million and counting – are in line with what was projected under regulations drawn up by the administration in 2010, requirements that both insurers and businesses objected to at the time. Cancellations also are occurring in the small group market, which covers businesses with between two and 50 employees, they noted.” (Lisa Myers, “Insurers, State Officials Say Cancellation of Health care Policies Just As They Predicted,” NBC News, 11/15/13)

PolitiFact Headline: “Lie Of The Year: ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It.'” (Angie Drobnic Holan, “Lie Of The Year: ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It,'” PolitiFact, 12/12/13)

Obama’s “Catchy Political Pitch” Was “Impossible To Keep.” “It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system. ‘ If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ President Barack Obama said — many times — of his landmark new law. But the promise was impossible to keep.” (Angie Drobnic Holan, “Lie Of The Year: ‘If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It,'” PolitiFact, 12/12/13)

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Gave Obama’s Promise That Americans Could Keep Their Health Care Plan Four Pinocchios. “The president’s promise apparently came with a very large caveat: ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan – if we deem it to be adequate.’ Four Pinocchios.” (Glenn Kessler, “Obama’s Pledge That ‘No One Will Take Away’ Your Health Plan,” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, 10/30/13)

Obama’s Keep Your Doctor Promise: Broken

Obama’s “High-Profile Pledge” That All Americans Could Keep Their Doctor Under Democrat Care Is Another Broken Promise. “Barack Obama’s broken promise that all Americans would be able to keep their health care plans after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has infuriated people who took the President at his word and rattled even his staunchest supporters. But for the President, the real political pain may only be starting. Come 2014, the rest of the country may learn that another high-profile pledge was untrue. ‘No matter how we reform health care,’ Obama said in 2009, ‘we will keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.'” (Alex Altman, “‘You Can Keep Your Doctor’: Democrat Care’s Next Broken Promise?” Time, 11/19/13)

Despite Obama’s Promise, “New Plans Appear To Offer A Narrow Choice Of Hospitals And Doctors.” “Obama promised people could keep their doctors. But in many states, the new plans appear to offer a narrow choice of hospitals and doctors. Overall, it’s shaping up as less choice than what people get through Medicare or employer-based coverage.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Holly Ramer, “Limited Patient Choice Next Overhaul Issue,” The Associated Press, 11/20/13)

Under Democrat Care, “Many Insurers Are Significantly Limiting The Choices Of Doctors And Hospitals Available To Consumers.” “Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.” (Robert Pear, “Lower Health Insurance Premiums To Come At Cost Of Fewer Choices,” The New York Times, 9/23/13)

Faced With The Need To Cut Down Costs, Insurers Are “Shrinking” The Network Of Doctors Available To Patients. “It’s not that simple. In order to participate in health-insurance exchanges, insurers needed to find a way to tamp down the high costs of premiums. As a result, many will narrow their networks, shrinking the range of doctors that are available to patients under their plan, experts say.” (Alex Altman, “‘You Can Keep Your Doctor’: Democrat Care’s Next Broken Promise?” Time, 11/19/13)

ObamaCare’s Mandates Are Leading To “Limited Choices And Significant Out-Of-Pocket Costs.” “Exchange plans are required to take all applicants, cover broad benefits and provide robust financial protection against catastrophic illness. In return for that, something else has to give. The result: limited choices and significant out-of-pocket costs through deductibles and copayments.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Holly Ramer, “Limited Patient Choice Next Overhaul Issue,” The Associated Press, 11/20/13)

Democrat’s Health Care Premiums Promise: Broken

Under Obama, The Average Cost Of Family Health Care Premiums Has Increased By $3,671 From $12,680 To $16,351, A 29 Percent Increase. (“Employer Health Benefits; 2013 Annual Survey,” The Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/20/13)

“The Average Premium For Family Coverage Is $1,363 Per Month Or $16,351 Per Year.” (“Employer Health Benefits; 2013 Annual Survey,” The Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/20/13)

Under Obama, The Average Cost Of Single Coverage Premiums Has Increased By $1,180, From $4,704 To $5,884, A 25 Percent Increase. (“Employer Health Benefits; 2013 Annual Survey,” The Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/20/13)

“The Average Premium For Single Coverage In 2013 Is $490 Per Month Or $5,884 Per Year.” (“Employer Health Benefits; 2013 Annual Survey,” The Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/20/13)

“Workers Are Seeing A Larger Portion Of Their Paycheck Sliced Off” Due To Higher Health Care Premiums. “That means that in many cases workers are seeing a larger portion of their paycheck sliced off to cover health insurance.” (“Health Insurance Costs Outpace Wage Gains, Survey Says,” The Associated Press, 8/20/13)

For 2013, Employer-Sponsored Health Care Costs “Outpaced Worker Wage Increases.” “An annual survey shows that the average cost for employer-sponsored health insurance rose modestly this year, but it still outpaced worker wage increases.” (“Health Insurance Costs Outpace Wage Gains, Survey Says,” The Associated Press, 8/20/13)

Democrat Care Will “Accelerate” Health Insurance Premiums By Nearly 3 Percent. “Improved coverage for those who currently have individually purchased insurance is also expected to influence higher spending growth. On a per enrollee basis, growth in private health insurance premiums is expected to accelerate to 6.0 percent, up from 3.2 percent in 2013.” (Sean P. Keehan, et al, “National Health Expenditure Projections, 2012-22: Slow Growth Until Coverage Expands And Economy Improves,” Health Affairs, no. (2013))

DESPITE OBAMA’S 2010 PROMISE TO SMALL BUSINESS, OBAMACARE IS PROVING A BURDEN

Obama In His 2010 State Of The Union: “It Would Give Small Businesses And Uninsured Americans A Chance To Choose An Affordable Health Care Plan In A Competitive Market.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President In The State Of The Union Address, Washington, D.C., 1/27/10)

Obama’s Affordable Insurance For Small Businesses Promise: Broken

Democrat Care’s Small Business Rate Hikes Are “Another Political Time Bomb Lurking That Could Explode” Before The 2014 Midterm Election. “Think the canceled health policies hurt the Democrat Care cause? There’s another political time bomb lurking that could explode not too long before next year’s elections: rate hikes for small businesses. Like the canceled individual health plans, it’s another example of a tradeoff that health care experts have long known about, as the new rules for health insurance prices create winners and losers. But most Americans won’t become aware of it until some small business employees learn that their premiums are going up because of a law called – oops – the Affordable Care Act.” (David Nather, “Next Democrat Care Crisis: Small-Business Costs,” Politico, 12/17/13)

Small Businesses Will Be Forced To Comply With Democrat Care’s Rules, Which Are Likely To Cause Premiums To Go Up For Many. “Here’s why: Next year, small business health plans – generally those that cover less than 100 workers – will have to comply with a wide range of new rules, particularly the ones that say employees can’t be charged more if they have health problems. Their premiums will only vary based on their age, whether they have individual or family coverage, what part of the country they live in, and whether they use tobacco – and older workers won’t be able to be charged more than three times as much as younger ones. Those changes will be helpful to small businesses with older workers and employees with health problems, but they also mean that small firms with younger, healthier workers will have to pay more than they used to.” (David Nather, “Next Democrat care Crisis: Small-Business Costs?,” Politico, 12/17/13)

“Insurers Have Been Warning For Months That The UnAffordable Care Act Will Lead To Premium Increases For Some Small Businesses – It Was Part Of Their Pitch To Get Employers To Renew Their Old Coverage Early.” (David Nather, “Next Democrat care Crisis: Small-Business Costs?,” Politico, 12/17/13)

One Insurance Broker Expects 75 Percent Of His Clients To See “A Noticeable Increase” In Premiums Due To Democrat Care. “Chris Foley of Abbot Benefits, a Houston-based insurance broker firm, said he expected about 75 percent of his clients to see “a noticeable increase” in premiums when they renew under the new Democrat care rules, while the other 25 percent would see their rates stay the same or go down.” (David Nather, “Next Democrat care Crisis: Small-Business Costs?,” Politico, 12/17/13)

Democrat Care Will Unduly Burden Small Business Owners With Cancellation Letters And New Taxes

Many Small Businesses Will Be Receiving A Cancellation Letter In October 2014, Right Before The November Midterm Elections. “While some cancellation notices already have gone out, insurers say the bulk of the letters will be sent in October, shortly before the next open-enrollment period begins. The timing – right before the midterm elections – could be difficult for Democrats who are already fending off Republican attacks about the UnAffordable Care Act and its troubled rollout.” (Ariana Eunjung Cha, “Second Wave Of Health-Insurance Disruption Affects Small Businesses,” The Washington Post, 1/11/14)

The Cancellation Letters Will Leave “Some Small-Business Owners Confused And Disillusioned” About Democrat Care. “Still, the changes being made by the insurance industry are leaving some small-business owners confused and disillusioned about the law – whether it is directly to blame for the changes or not.” (Ariana Eunjung Cha, “Second Wave Of Health-Insurance Disruption Affects Small Businesses,” The Washington Post, 1/11/14)

The Department Of Health And Human Services Estimated 80 Percent Of Small Business Health Plans Will Be Cancelled, Affecting As Many As 46 Million Americans. “An estimated 18 million to 24 million people in the United States have insurance through employers with fewer than 50 workers, and about 40 million have coverage through firms with fewer than 100 workers. The Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 2010 that up to 80 percent of small-group plans, defined as having fewer than 100 workers, could be discontinued by the end of 2013. But many small employers bought themselves extra time by renewing policies early through the end of 2014.” (Ariana Eunjung Cha, “Second Wave Of Health-Insurance Disruption Affects Small Businesses,” The Washington Post, 1/11/14)

Small Business Owners Worry That Democrat Care’s HIT Tax “Will Mean Higher Premiums For Them.” “Many small-business owners worry that a new tax on insurance providers in the health-care law will mean higher premiums for them, undermining the law’s capacity to lower their health-care costs. Starting next year, the federal government will charge a new fee on health insurance firms based on the plans they sell to individuals and companies, known as the fully insured market. Meanwhile, the provision exempts health-insurance plans that are set up and operated by businesses themselves (the self-insured market).” (J.D. Harrison, “Health Insurance Tax ‘Scares The Daylights’ Out Of Some Small-Business Owners,” The Washington Post, 5/12/13)

The HIT Tax Will Hurt Small Businesses, As They “Are Less Likely To Self-Insure.” “The tax does apply to insurance companies that pick up the tab, including the private Medicare Advantage plans and those that will be sold to individuals on the new state-based Democrat Care exchanges. It applies to most small-business plans, which are less likely to self-insure.” (Brett Norman, “Health Insurance Tax Faces Challenge,” Politico, 9/9/13

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Ruled by Idiots, Crushed by Reality

by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” David Solway’s article [see the link at the end] contains this quote from Sir Winston Churchill.

I cannot write better than Solway, but I think I can write more plainly, as his vocabulary is far superior to mine. So, using his article as inspiration for this one, I am going to express points similar to his, but according to my own limited ability—while at the same time, strongly recommending that you read Solway’s excellent article in its entirety.

Solway hits several nails on several heads. I would state them this way. Tyranny cannot succeed simply by the force of power exercised by a single tyrant and his small group of assistant thugs. Tyranny requires a large population of weak people to enable that tyranny. That weakness resides not in their muscles and bones, but in their brains and in their hearts.

In the United States today, the citizenry has abdicated its Constitutional powers by abandoning its Constitutional responsibilities, first and foremost of which is to have actually read the document, not to mention having some basic knowledge about its contents. The Congress has violated its Constitutional duty by refusing to read bills before passing them into law. Judges routinely make law, rather than applying them. The president openly sneers at both the Congress and the courts, deeming himself above the law.

All of this comes right back to the ordinary citizen, and this criticism is not merely about getting poor grades in a civics class, but rather, the failure to protect our children and grandchildren from a swiftly emerging tyranny, one every bit as destructive as those which brought ruin to Germany and Japan in the 1930s and 40s.

Many of us chuckle at the man-in-the street interviews with ordinary citizens who do not know the name of the Vice President, who think that the Constitution divides the government into two branches, Republican and Democrat. But there is nothing funny about it. It is as if they were being asked to recommend a diet for schoolchildren, and they prescribe one that contains large doses of a deadly poison.

Adolph Hitler was funny—until he wasn’t.

What can we do?

A better question is, what will we do? There is no avoiding reality. The consequence of national ignorance on the present scale is national death.

What will happen is that there will be a major crisis of such dire proportions that the present system will collapse. This is not rocket science. The economic policy of the United States is to continually spend more money than it has, to borrow more than it can repay, and to print so much currency that it will soon become worthless. This policy is exactly what brought the German republic to such ruin that the people turned to the Nazis, thinking that that would make matters better. Instead, it killed millions of people for nothing gained.

What will the crisis be? If it is not economic collapse, it will be because something worse happens sooner. International war may break out, as our foreign policy is to alienate our allies and empower our enemies. Civil unrest might burn down our cities—on a much larger scale than has already happened. An actual political coup d’état is possible, either from the left or the right. Technological disasters are possible, such as massive credit card fraud that crushes our banking system. The list of possible terminal crises is very long indeed.

Into the chaos brought about by the next massive crisis, into the power vacuum thus created, there will step an opportunist, a tyrant.

The question then becomes, not what will the nation do, but what will you do, what will I do?

Make a plan. Follow it.

 

Reference:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/01/the_reign_of_collective_stupidity.html

The Reign of Collective Stupidity

By David Solway

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The Palinization of Chris Christie

by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer

It would be difficult to mistake me for being a fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I am not, not even close. I am, however, dismayed as I witness the orchestrated attacks designed to destroy him politically.

Before I express that dismay, I must confess to a bit of schadenfreude, which for those unfamiliar with this German word, is translated to mean taking delight in another person’s misfortune.

My tiny bit of schadenfreude comes from the fact that Christie seems to have thought that by “making nice” to Democrats, they would go easier on him than they would otherwise do. Foolish thought! One cannot say that Christie got what he deserved, but neither can one say that he was completely innocent in knowingly playing with snakes. He got bitten, and I am ashamed to say that I do not feel his pain.

It is easy to understand why Christie would make this mistake. He got elected with a heavy dose of Democrat votes. Christie mistook this support from the left as a sign that they would play fair, when in fact, it was simply that the voters hated the Democrat governor, Jon Corzine, who preceded Christie, even more than they hate Christie, and needed to clean out the state-house.

The disdain of New Jersey Democrats was not an easy task for Corzine to accomplish. He had to work hard at it, else we might not even know Christie’s first name. Corzine had to immerse himself neck deep in scandals, and to govern with such obvious ineptitude that it boggled the imaginations of even his supporters. (After he left office and took a top position with MF Global Holdings, Corzine could not account for one point two billion dollars – billions of dollars missing, unaccounted for, as in, “I do not know where the money went.” Billions, not millions – entrusted by investors to his oversight. Ineptitude is too weak a word to describe Corzine’s executive performance, in or out of office.)

To his great credit, Christie did, upon becoming governor, take on some of the Democrat Party’s sacred cows – or more appropriately, their golden calf, in the form of a teachers union that is radical and corrupt. This made him hated, of course, but only in the run-of-the mill sense; as such things go in Democrat-land. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin certainly overshadowed Christie in this regard.

While Christie’s push-back against the union initially made TEA Party conservatives take favorable notice of him, Christie did not regard that as sufficient to propel him to the presidency should he choose to run. To the contrary, he may well have disdained being identified with Constitutional conservatives. Taking for granted his moderate Republican support, Christie embarked (and this is my speculation) on a leftward course, that would garner Democrat support from not only his state, but from the nation at large.

Indeed, I speculated in another blog post that Christie may have (had) plans to seek not the Republican nomination, but the Democrat, thus becoming (I said half-seriously) the first candidate for the presidency to run on both major party tickets. If anyone could defeat Hillary Clinton in a Democrat primary (leaving aside Obama who is no longer eligible), it would be Christie.

All that has changed. It is, to make a very bad reference, water under the bridge.

Compared to the Obama scandals which actually killed people, Christie’s misdeeds amount at most to nothing more than a traffic jam and some dirty political tricks. They are certainly nothing at all compared to Hillary’s so-called Travelgate scandal, in which she actually tried to have people prosecuted for crimes of which she knew they were completely innocent, simply so she could replace them with friends as political favors.

The news media, however, have no inclination to report on Democrat scandals, not even when they reach the level of actual murder. Their every inclination is to destroy any perceived threat to the belated coronation of Hillary Clinton.

None of this should surprise Christie in the least. The object lesson for him is former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was actually tolerated by Democrats when she instigated investigations of corruption that sent Republicans to prison. She remained, in a sense, the Democrat’s favorite Republican governor until she became an actual threat to their presidential aspirations.

At that point, the Democrats, using their lapdog media, unleashed the most savage and relentless campaign of personal destruction ever seen in modern American politics. Even today, there are Americans who fervently hate Palin, while knowing nothing more about her than her name, even when they cannot spell it.

Governor Christie, welcome to Alaska.

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How Society Gets the Wrong Result – Every Time

by Robert Arvay

In colonial times, the treatment for anemia was to bleed the patient, and when this inevitably made matters worse, the bleeding treatment was then deemed even more necessary than before. Today, we are applying the same logic to our social problems, and with much the same results.

The colonial doctors had the best of intentions, but sometimes, the best of intentions can go tragically wrong. The culprit is often called, “unforeseen consequences.”

The worst part of this is that when things get worse, the blame often gets misplaced. When the supposed cure proves worse than the disease, we repeat the supposed cure. If insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, then we are truly crazy.

So much for analogies. Reality is not so simple. Social issues are a complex fabric of many root causes, and are difficult to trace – but let’s trace through the tangled web we have woven, and find the solution to our greatest problem. Since we have to begin somewhere, let’s start with our young people, who are the victims of us older people.

Most young people today are growing up in an era in which it is expected, almost fully expected, that teenagers will have premarital sex (ho boy, here comes the prudish sermon). What could be wrong with that? Sexually transmitted diseases? They can be cured. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies? They can be prevented by a number of means, or remedied by abortion. At least that seems to be the prevailing attitude.

There was a time when attitudes were different. There was a time when out-of-wedlock pregnancies were far, far more rare than they are today, and while sexually transmitted diseases existed, they were not at the epidemic proportion we find today.

Why were things different then than now?

An anecdote from my own experience will set the stage. When I was young, more than fifty years ago, it was discovered, and made rumor, that a female classmate had lost her virginity the day before. The very next day, her family moved out of state. We never saw them again. They found the shame to be unbearable.

Today, when I tell this anecdote to young adults and teenagers, I get a blank stare. My, those were cruel times, weren’t they? How insensitive people were! Today we are more enlightened, are we not?

No, we aren’t. Those were the days when out-of-wedlock pregnancies were far more rare than they are today, and so were the problems arising from them, including crime, poverty, and many others that, at first, seem unrelated.

How did we get from then to now? It is, indeed, a tangled web, one filled with good intentions and unintended consequences. Let’s follow the issue a bit further.

A year or so after the “virginity incident,” a new pharmaceutical became widely available. It was called, the birth control pill. At last! We finally had a solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy. If we simply made birth control pills available to young, unmarried girls and women, why, the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies would plummet to near zero. How could it possibly be otherwise? Oh, to be sure, there were naysayers. Why, some fools even predicted that the rate of such pregnancies would not go down, but would instead, skyrocket. How could they make such a stupid prediction?

The naysayers proved correct. Unimaginable as it seemed at the time, the very innovation that had been touted as a solution to the problem became instead, the instrument of increasing the problem.

Oh, no, you say. That makes no sense at all. There must have been some other reason.

What happened was that, the birth control pill slowly changed the attitudes people had about premarital sex. What had kept many a young lady a virgin until her wedding night was fear –the fear of shaming herself and her family, should she get pregnant, or indeed, even be discovered to have lost her virginity. Fear had been an effective antidote to the most powerful aphrodisiac, much to the chagrin of many a young and amorous boyfriend.

As attitudes shifted concerning premarital sex and, as the perceived consequences were thought to have decreased, then so also did the public attitude toward out-of-wedlock pregnancy. After all, if it is now okay to have sex before marriage with the birth control pill, then premarital sex itself can’t really be all that bad, even without the pill. And if sex without the pill results in pregnancy, then there is always abortion. What could go wrong?

Fear and shame had been removed. Discipline had been removed. Indeed, morality itself had been removed. No, these things did not occur overnight, but they did occur over the course of a couple of decades. Those decades were times of social upheaval. The feminist movement had roared back to life, and its most publicly vocal adherents were angry at men. Men had been holding women down, violating their rights, keeping them, as the slogan of the day had it, “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.”

“Women’s Lib” had a new slogan: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” The male role in sex had become that of anonymous sperm donor. Fatherhood had been demoted to the level of animals, that is to say, merely biological, as far as many people were concerned. Many men gladly bought into this new paradigm, only too happy to impregnate women and move on, with no expectation of being held responsible. This brand of feminism did not free women, but enslaved them, reducing many of them to becoming the disposable playthings of promiscuous males.

Bleeding the patient produced awful results, but the doctor decided that a return to the old medicines would only make matters worse. What was needed was to bleed the patient even more.

The bleeding continued, as an entire welfare system – all with the best of intentions – was implemented with the pernicious effect of keeping many thousands of women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Indeed, welfare recipients were all but required to be unmarried mothers and men were forbidden to live with them. Single motherhood produced not liberation, but poverty. Fatherless sons, bereft of positive male role models, turned to crime. Fatherless daughters imitated their mothers, and gave birth to succeeding generations of welfare-dependent, fatherless children.

The web is too tangled to fully describe in the short space of this commentary, but anyone willing to investigate the ills of society today can conclude that technology and innovation are not an adequate substitute for moral character. We tried that medicine and it has produced only more of the disease we tried to cure. Today, we continue to bleed ourselves dry.

But at least this much has been accomplished—too many people no longer feel shame, not even when they most need it.

Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer to The Patriot’s Notepad