Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama-Care Makes America Sick

“The American people are understandably queasy.” – Barack Hussein Obama, July 22, 2009

Obama-Care Makes America Sick
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 23, 2009

What is making the American people queasy is a Congress that does not pay attention to those who hired them in the first place. What is making the American people queasy is a Congress that does not do the job for which it was hired. What is making the American people queasy is the possibility of a healthcare program run by the Federal Government – after all, we all know how well the government has run the postal service, the department of motor vehicles and the public school system.

In a press conference that revealed nothing except Obama’s serious lack of a grasp on reality and a mostly sycophantic, fawning press, the state of capitalism, free choice and a first class medical system are on the critical list with doctors and nurses fleeing from the patient.

Actually the possibility of doctors and nurses leaving their chosen professions is approaching reality as their incomes will drop, and they will lose many of the freedoms they and their patients currently enjoy. Yet, Obama claimed his plan is supported by the American Medical Association and the American Nursing Association. However, the reality is that  only 20 to 30 percent of AMA doctors support the plan and seven other medical societies have weighed in against the plan. Medical and nursing school will still cost an arm and a leg, but the days of top salaries will be a thing of the past. Obama all but admitted as much during his press lecture when he said that “we will cut medical costs.”

How will that happen? Via a drop in salaries? Cutting the cost of medical care? Cutting the cost of drugs? Obama mentioned having the support of the traditionally left of center AARP, which would make one think they could help cut the cost of medical care and drugs. However, those companies use profits to support candidates like Obama, so no chance of cutting the cost of medical care or drugs. Drug companies should not be begrudged their profits as they are the ones who conduct the research and development of the new drugs that are needed to fight diseases as well as the irresponsible behavior of Americans who live haphazard lives and expect government to take car of them womb to tomb and cradle to grave. Consider the amount of trial and error involved in R and D, thus the profit margin. This is a capitalist society and companies are entitled to reap the rewards produced by their risks and investments and make a profit.

Medical care in and of itself will wane simply because Obama is seeking to level the playing field to ensure that we all have worse care. He claims Americans pay $6,000 more per person than any other developed country – that is disingenuous as one cannot compare the United States to other countries with dissimilar populations and economies. Do we want health care a la Cuba, Sweden or even Great Britain, for example? Americans are not fleeing this country for health care overseas; just the opposite as thousands of foreigners are literally dying to get into the United States for medical treatment.

However, remember this is not really about health care, but instead health insurance. Obama noted there are allegedly 47 million people in the United States living sans health insurance, saying, “I want to cover everybody,” all but guaranteeing a rise in the cost of premiums to cover the uninsured. And it begs the questions, how many of the 47 million are in the United States illegally and how many simply choose not to be insured. Before Obama officially becomes the clone of Fidel Castro, he needs to be reminded that not having insurance is also a choice people in this country can make.

Obama asserted that people should be able to get affordable health care. Agreed; but it should not be thrust upon the American people; after all this is still a country of individual choice and personal responsibility.  Additionally, demonstrating that this is about health insurance and not health care, Obama said he has a goal to “take [the] profit motive out” of the insurance companies adding that they are “making record-breaking profits.” That’s the American way – capitalism in action. The Obama desire to curtail that process is him tipping his own hand showing his cards leading this country down a path toward socialism.

Obama also demonstrated his “don’t do as I say, do as I do” attitude when he condemned the politics of health care, saying it should not be a political volleyball. Yet, in the very next sentence, he blamed two Republicans, not by name, for attempting to stymie his plan without mentioning the Blue Dog Democrats who may (hopefully) sink this dastardly bill – a bill he himself has yet to read. Fortunately, Obama does not get to vote on it. Unfortunately, the people for whom it is the responsibility to read such legislation prior to voting yea or nay have yet to do so either. This is their job. This is what they were sent to Washington to do and they are neglecting their sworn duties. If they are not willing to do their jobs the voters must do theirs and replace these indolent weasels.

Not only are the members of Congress not reading the legislation they are writing, but they are being implored by Obama to pass the bill into law prior to taking their August recess. This is one time I am endorsing the Congressional recess, and for two reasons – when they are idle, they can do no harm and when they return to their home districts they will get earfuls from their constituents to hopefully get them to see the light and crush this feeble legislation into dust.

After all, why the rush to passage before the recess? Oh, because of the fear of the people threatening to vote against their representatives en masse in 2010 and denying Obama a perpetual Democratic majority in Congress to do his bidding. So much for the Obama promise of transparency.

And if Obama-care is so great, why has not every member of Congress signed on for it as their own family plan? Perhaps because there is a provision on page 16 of the 1,018-page monstrosity making individual private medical insurance illegal. If Ted Kennedy needs medical attention, every effort will be made to keep him alive, while simultaneously, grandma will be subjected to being cast upon an ice float in the Arctic. Conversely, Obama bragged about the great policies he and Congress have. Why are the American people not entitled to that plan? Perhaps the stars were not as fully aligned as Obama claimed they were during his press conference.

Another ridiculous part of the plan requires all employers to cover all employees. This will only lead to increased unemployment as employers who can not afford such a stringent coverage policy will simply cut their work force. And to what extent will employees actually be covered? When did employer provided health insurance become a right and not a privilege? Instead of the government dictating the policy, there should be more competition amongst health care providers and everybody will benefit.

Contact your representatives, or the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to find your representative, demand that they first read the “health care for all Americans” bill, then vote against it, thus preserving what is currently the best health care in the world.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sotomayor Compelling but not Court-Worthy

Sotomayor Compelling but not Court-Worthy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 12, 2009

Let’s get the buzzwords out of the way so we can discuss what’s really important here. This is not about gender, as the Democrats blocked the Bush appointment of a qualified Janice Rogers Brown via filibuster. This is not about race – see the previous sentence about Ms. Brown who also happens to be black, not that that should matter. This is not about ethnicity, as the Democrats blocked the Bush appointment of a qualified Miguel Estrada, a native Honduran, via filibuster.

Both Brown and Estrada were nominated to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. And let the record show that Ms. Brown is the daughter of black sharecroppers who grew up in segregated Alabama, yet little was heard about her background from the so-called mainstream media. And even less has been heard about Justice Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938), nominated by Republican President Herbert Hoover in 1932. Cardozo fits two minority molds having been both Jewish and of Spanish and Portuguese heritage.

This is not about how sympathetic one is based upon how hard one’s upbringing was. If that were the case, Clarence Thomas would not have been harangued by the hypocritical Democrats on the Judiciary Committee two decades ago. Anyone who has read or spoken about her past will admit to being impressed about how Judge Sonia Sotomayor has risen up from the Bronx projects of her youth to Cardinal Spellman to Princeton as an undergraduate and to Yale Law School. Not to take away from her accomplishments, but Sotomayor herself has admitted benefiting from a system of affirmative action. So too for Justice Thomas, but it does not rule his life or his decision-making process on the bench.

Compelling is the oft-used word to describe Sotomayor’s life story, and it is, but that does not give her automatic entrance onto the highest court in the nation. The 12 Democrats sitting on the Judiciary Committee can praise Sotomayor from here to San Juan and back, but all the platitudes in the world are merely a fa├žade for the bigger issues that plague this nominee. Issues that the seven Republicans on the same Judiciary Committee will bring up to legitimately question the validity of this nominee’s fitness to serve an unchecked lifetime appointment.

This is about whether or not Sonia Sotomayor should serve a life term on the Supreme Court – the highest court in these United States. She should not. Using the Senator Obama method, sure Sotomayor is qualified, but that doesn’t mean she will get the votes from those who oppose her politically. Obama, when Senator of Illinois, practically said the same thing of current Chief Justice John Roberts, an eminently qualified jurist who somehow came up short in Obama’s mind.

Make no mistake, the Obama appointment of Sotomayor is both shrewd and overtly political. Shrewd as it puts the GOP senators’ collective backs to the wall already having enough problems securing Hispanic votes, and political, as it all but locks in Hispanic loyalty to Obama and the Democrats for the selection. Unfortunately, too many elected Republicans are afraid of their own shadows and will not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and vote against this nominee who will earn confirmation with well more than the necessary votes required. There are too few Tom Coburns (OK), Lindsey Grahams (SC) and Jeff Sessions (AL) in the GOP and too many Susan Collinses (ME), Olympia Snowes (ME) and George Voinoviches (OH).

Those who question whether or not the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee should use a full court press in their questioning of a nominee who will almost surely garner confirmation do not understand the process. This is not about the votes, but instead an opportunity for the members of the Senate who must vote yea or nay on Sotomayor to understand her judicial philosophy and the direction in which she sees the Supreme Court moving during her life tenure. The questioning will not entail hammering of a nominee, but a tempered, yet detailed probing to unearth the information required to make a cogent decision. This is also an opportunity for the American people to hear from Sotomayor first hand in an effort to gage what kind of justice she might become.

The Democrats will remind us that Judge Sotomayor is a mainstream candidate for the Supreme Court, after all she was initially nominated to the bench by President George Herbert Walker Bush upon the recommendation of the late Senator Pat Moynihan (D-NY). That the first President Bush appointed her is meaningless – see also retiring Justice David Souter, a disastrous appointment whose departure can’t come soon enough.

The bottom line of Sotomayor’s nomination ought to be about her words, her beliefs, her biases and her record. Having sat on the bench now for 17 years, Sotomayor has enough of a record that neither she nor her supporters can claim her words are being taken out of context. Sotomayor has tremendous experience, which clearly can be viewed as a double-edged sword.

Perhaps most damning are the 32 words she has uttered on more than one occasion. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] that a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” The word “better” is most troubling as Sotomayor is deigning to say outright that her background makes her decision-making process superior to any white male.

Juan Williams, author and commentator on National Public Radio as well as on Fox News, is certainly no conservative. He called Sotomayor’s statement racial on July 12. Rush Limbaugh said the same thing, but was excoriated for the comment simply because he is a conservative lightening rod. Sotomayor has since said she wished she had said those words in a better way. She meant what she said and has no regrets about it; and that’s fine – it gives us greater insight into how she will behave on the bench.

Our system of jurisprudence in the United States is supposed to be colorblind. Now, I am realistic enough to comprehend that clearly it has not been, is not now, and probably will never be in the future, but we do tend to inch ever so closer to that desire. Judge Sotomayor would set that notion back in its paces considerably. Perhaps the notion of a fair and balanced judicial system is anachronistic to both Obama and Sotomayor in this era of touchy-feely and empathy first in the courtroom, but that is not what the Founding Fathers laid out more than 200 years ago in a system that has admittedly been imperfect, but is still the best on record.

Most people don’t care if the nine jurists on the High Court’s bench are Latina, Latino, black, white or Asian, so long as they are not just qualified, but understand their purpose. The purpose is for the justices to interpret, not rewrite, the laws of the land. To interpret the Constitution and not write policy. Already, Sotomayor has that strike against her as she has said on more than occasion, that the Court of Appeals, where she has served, is where policy is made. That is a dangerous idea. The making of policy and creating legislation is, according to the Constitution, the purpose of the United States Congress – even as incompetent as it is.

Sotomayor has also suggested that gun ownership is not a fundamental right and that the states are not held to the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Last I checked, it is the 10th Amendment to the Constitution that tells us that that which is not defined by the previous nine amendments is left to the states. The second amendment does provide for “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” She has also come down on the side against people’s personal property rights on a number  of cases.

Then there’s the Ricci case, whose decision was just handed down by the Supreme Court less than three weeks ago. Twenty men, 19 white and one Hispanic sued the New Haven, CT Fire Department over a promotions exam that they passed but was thrown out denying the firefighters their just promotions simply because no black firefighters who took the same test earned a score qualifying them for the same promotion. The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, on which Sotomayor sits, upheld the lower court decision to deny the passing firefighters their promotions.

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling made by Sotomayor’s panel in a 5-4 decision on June 29. Sotomayor opined that in essence it is permissible to discriminate against one group in favor of another group. That the firefighters who passed the same test all others took should not be given the promotions they earned fairly is unconscionable. That the white and Hispanic firefighters should be penalized because the black firefighters were among those who did not pass the exam is absolutely discriminatory and it is a discrimination supported by Judge Sotomayor. And this was not the first time Sotomayor has been overturned by the Supremes – in fact four times out of six her decisions have been upended by the High Court.

Judge Sotomayor’s actions, judgments, rulings and writings are demonstrative of what is called judicial activism – the creation of rights not explicitly stated in the Constitution. This is not what being a Supreme Court justice is about, and although Sotomayor will almost surely be donning a High Court robe the first Monday in October, she must be watched carefully. The Senate must do its job – that’s what the system of checks and balances is about.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.