Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dems Go Nuclear in Senate

Dems Go Nuclear in Senate
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 21, 2013

Majority rule, minority rights is a thing of the past in the United States Senate as the Democrats voted to eliminate the filibuster as a right and protective tool of the minority. Ironically, the Democrats weren't too keen on this notion when they were in the minority. Now they have usurped total control of the Senate to continue Obama's biding in a dictatorial and tyrannical manner.

The “nuclear option” trigger was pulled by Senate Majority Leader and hypocrite Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday, November 21 and a mushroom cloud enveloped the chamber when Senate Democrats unilaterally ended Republican minority ability to filibuster some of Obama’s judicial and executive appointments by a 52-48 vote. Democrats Carl Levin (MI), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Pryor (AR) had the good sense to vote with the GOP.

The filibuster is an important instrument provided the Senate alone, not the House of Representatives, where all speeches and debates are parsed by the minute. In the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart portrays the naïve, but good hearted senator who convenes a filibuster of epic proportion, the likes of which could only have been challenged in real life by South Carolina Senator J. Strom Thurmond, whose record filibuster of 24 hours and 18 minutes on August 28-29, 1957 still stands.

Reid is aptly called a hypocrite for evoking the nuclear option in 2013, when he vehemently argued against it in 2005.

“The filibuster is far from a procedural gimmick. It’s part of the fabric of this institution… Senators have used the filibuster… even… to stall executive nominees… Some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power… They think they’re wiser than our Founding Fathers. I doubt that that’s true,” said Reid on May 18, 2005.

Eight and a half years later, almost to the day, Reid accomplished just what he and his Democratic cohorts railed against so vigorously.

Under the old rules a minimum of 60 votes were required to break a filibuster on presidential nominees. Under the new rules, a mere simple majority of 51 votes ends a filibuster – easy for the democrats of this Congress as they rule with a 55-45 majority, taking into account the two independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Such an unheard of power grab will forever alter the fabric and landscape of the United States Senate, a legislative body which prided itself on debate since the Founding Fathers established it so the rights of the minority would not be trampled upon – words with which then Senator Barack Obama agreed in 2005.

“In the long run, it is not a good result for either party. One day Democrats will be in the majority again and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority that it is to a Democratic minority,” said Obama in 2005.

“A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal,” said Obama vociferously applauding the rule change on November 21, 2013.

As usual, Obama is whining about the fact that his nominees are not getting rubber stamped, when they obviously leave something to be desired. Perhaps he needs to take the advice doled out by then Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) when she opposed this very power grab attempted by the GOP, although it never came to fruition.

“If you cannot get 60 votes for a nominee, maybe you should think about who you are sending to us to be confirmed,” said Clinton on May 23, 2005. “Remember our Founders, and maintain the integrity of the Senate,” continued Clinton in opposition.

A month prior, on April 13, 2005, Obama chided the GOP, saying “I urge all of us to think not just about winning every debate, but about protecting free and democratic debate…. It certainly [is] not what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.”

Former Senator and current Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) also opposed then what he approves now. “This is the single most significant vote any one of us will cast in my 32 years in the Senate… This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power… designed to change the reading of the Constitution. Has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body,” Biden asked on May 23, 2005.

Biden’s choice of words was prophetically ironic as presidential candidate Obama campaigned in 2008 on his desire to fundamentally change the entirety of the United States – not just one half of its legislative branch.

This vote on the rule change pertaining to filibusters will most assuredly create an even deeper fissure between Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans. It will not solve problems.

“They [Democrats] succeeded and they will pay a very, very, heavy price for it,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

“You’ll regret this and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“It is another partisan political maneuver to permit the Democratic majority to whatever it wants to do, and in this case it is to advance the President’s regulatory agenda and the only cure for it that I know is an election,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The following Democratic senators are hypocrites having opposed in 2005 what they voted to enact in 2013:

Max Baucus (MT)*                                        Bob Menendez (NJ)
Barbara Boxer (CA)                                     Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Maria Cantwell (WA)                                    Patty Murray (WA)
Tom Carper (DE)                                          Bill Nelson (FL)
Dick Durbin (IL)*                                            Jack Reed (RI)*
Dianne Feinstein (CA)                                 Harry Reid (NV)
Tom Harkin (IA)*                                            Jay Rockefeller (WV)*
Tim Johnson (SD)*                                       Chuck Schumer (NY)
Mary Landrieu (LA)*                                     Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Pat Leahy (VT)                                              Ron Wyden (OR)

* Term expires January 2015

These Democratic senators are also up for reelection in 2014:

Mark Begich (AK)                                         Jeff Merkley (OR)                             
Cory Booker (NJ)                                          Mark Pryor (AR)
Chris Coons (DE)                                         Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Al Franken (MN)                                            Mark Udall (CO)
Kay Hagan (NC)                                            Tom Udall (NM)
Carl Levin (MI)                                               Mark Warner (VA)
Edward Markey (MA)

Each of these senators, save for Levin and Pryor, voted to deny minority rights to the Republicans, and they should pay the price in next November’s midterm election.

It is up to we the people to deny the Democrats any further destruction of American political and historical precedent dating back to 1789 by making them the minority party following the 2014 midterm elections. This nuclear option has gone too far and no party should be without recourse, even in the case of just filibustering presidential nominees.

Do not sit idly by as one by one rights continue to fall by the wayside. Fight to defeat those who have cavalierly moved toward tyranny, by commandeering the right of the minority party to filibuster against those nominees they deem unworthy of filling the post for which they have been nominated. Send a message that their votes have consequences.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Twice as Thankful This Chanukah

Twice as Thankful This Chanukah
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 20, 2013

For the first time in our lifetimes Chanukah commences on erev Thanksgiving, to note it as we in the Jewish community would say. While this intersection is indeed rare, it is worth noting the similarities between these two holidays that have become so over-commercialized as to have virtually lost all original meaning – giving thanks to G-d.

Giving thanks to G-d, albeit for different reasons, is what grateful colonists in a new land did and what the People of Israel did as well. Colonists who traversed an ocean to seek new freedoms, among them, religious, and Israelites who fought a war to retain their religious freedom gave thanks for the gifts bestowed upon them by G-d.

In Judaism, we actually celebrate a thanksgiving in late summer-early fall, with the observance of Sukkot – giving thanks for the gathering of crops as well as the thankfulness for G-d’s protection during the 40 years in the desert/wilderness.

Our American Thanksgiving celebrates the long journey escaping religious persecution in search of religious freedom; thanking G-d for the miracles of surviving the harsh winter of 1620-21 and the eventual prosperity. The premier celebratory feast, organized by Governor William Bradford, lasted three days, included 53 colonists and 90 Wampanoag Indians. They enjoyed swan, duck, goose, venison, turkey, shellfish, lobster, stuffing, corn, and pumpkin.

Chanukah, meaning dedication, observes the victory in war by the Israelites led by Mattathias, father of the Maccabees, in the second century BCE, around 139 BCE. The Maccabees defeated the Antiochus-led Syrian-Greeks who also failed to Hellenize the Israelites. The Maccabees-led Israelites fought for, and won their religious freedom.

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a minor festival on the scale of Jewish observances, lasting eight nights and eight days due to the other miracle – that of the oil lasting eight nights when it was expected to barely survive one. The two miracles of the victory over a people with presumed greater military might and the longevity of the oil are praised in prayers of thanksgiving to G-d.

The menorah (candelabra) is lit each of the eight nights by adding a new candle, thus brightening, not dimming the light, as the lives of the Israelites became brighter with the rededication of the Temple.

Today, Jewish people around the world light the menorah in celebration and thanksgiving for the “great miracles that happened there,” to quote the letters and their representations on the dreidl enjoyed by children and even adults alike.

And while gift giving is a modern Americanized addition to the celebration of Chanukah, (an unfortunate secularization of Chanukah) it is important to tell the story every year so that it is never forgotten, as well as enjoying the traditional treats of potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) – fried in today’s representation of the miraculous oil.

This year, on the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln declaring the Thanksgiving holiday during the height of the Civil War in 1863, incorporate American Thanksgiving with Chanukah and enjoy pumpkin-cream sufganiyot along with potato latkes adorned with cranberry applesauce, or even butternut squash-sweet potato latkes.

I am thankful to be an American and just as thankful to be Jewish. Let us give thanks to G-d for the gifts He has given us, and let us say, Amen.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama Should be in Gettysburg; Could Have Saved JFK

Obama Should be in Gettysburg; Could Have Saved JFK
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 19, 2013

Barack Obama should be ashamed of himself for not taking a few hours out of a lackluster schedule and go to Gettysburg, on this, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's famous Address.

I don't want to hear from people about how President John F. Kennedy wasn't in attendance for the 100th anniversary and that other presidents from both sides of the aisle have not attended either. Not since William Howard Taft has a sitting president appeared at a Gettysburg ceremony, and that is a shame. It is not political – at least on every tenth anniversary the president should have visited Gettysburg. Distance is not an issue either.

Obama has referenced Lincoln, attempted to emulate Lincoln (to a colossal failure), kicked off his presidential campaign in Springfield, IL, and took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible.
Obama should be in Gettysburg today.
Now for an interesting what if of history. What if President Kennedy attended the ceremony on November 19, 1963? Perhaps he may not have been in Dallas, TX three days later. That is not to say Kennedy would not have ever been assassinated, no one knows that, obviously, but a trip to Gettysburg may have saved his life.

Such a trip may not have secured Kennedy’s reelection the following year, however. Could Arizona Senator Barry M. Goldwater have defeated JFK in 1964? That too remains to be seen, but he would have fared better than he did against President Lyndon Johnson.

The nation was not prepared to have three presidents with a 14 month span. A grieving nation, so enamored by the young Kennedy and the mystique of his family and White House, elected Johnson as a continuation of the Kennedy administration a year after the assassination.

Interestingly enough, the wide swath of Civil Rights legislation passed easily under Johnson’s watch in memory of Kennedy, as so many believed, may not have passed so easily had Kennedy been president. Kennedy was no liberal on civil rights (or the economy, for that matter) and passage would have been a harder path to endure.

Had Goldwater been elected, the conservative revolution may have started nearly two decades prior to its actuality upon the election of President Ronald Reagan. Goldwater would no doubt have seen Vietnam end sooner and with a more positive conclusion.

A Goldwater presidency might have precluded one of Richard M. Nixon, and thus avoided the scandal of Watergate. Without a Watergate scandal there would not have been a President Gerald Ford, or Jimmy Carter. Carter, and quite frankly, any Democrat would have enjoyed electoral success in 1976 following the Nixon fall from grace.

On the other hand, without Carter and his miserable failure of an administration, Reagan might not emerged as the leader he became that the United States needed following the Iranian hostage crisis, out of control inflation, and unemployment.

Just a supposition on history.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Obama Lied - It's Just That Simple

“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – period.” – Barack Obama

“You f*cked up – you trusted us.” – Otter to Flounder (Animal House, 1978)

Obama Lied – It’s Just That Simple
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 5, 2013

“If you like your private health care plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.” – Barack Obama; said loud and clear in dozens of speeches, pre and post-Election Day 2012

"No one will take it away – period.” – Obama, again

Liar, liar, pantalones en fuego!

Apparently "period," is never the end with Obama, as now he has introduced a caveat. “If you like your policy, you can keep it – if it hasn’t changed since the law passed – period,” is the new Obama mantra.

Obama can spin this like a dreidl at Chanukah all day long, but the fact is, he outright lied to the American people continuously. Let’s not sugarcoat it. He didn’t misspeak, he wasn’t confused, as left of center media outlets would claim in Obama’s feeble defense. He simply lied – period.

We the people don’t like your health plan, Mr. Obama – you keep it. In fact, if you think it’s so great why weren’t you the first to log on to your failed website and sign up for your proposed plan?

More like a scheme, not a plan, when the younger and healthier are being sacked with greater and greater costs to make up for the lower costs paid by older, less healthy folks. A failed website is the least of the problem, but it is indicative of the inability of the government to deliver a healthcare system remotely comparable to what the majority of the American people are receiving in their current plans.

But as the website is under current indictment, let’s kick it around before getting to the impoverished plan and Obama’s potential impeachment. A government that can’t successfully launch a website after a three year head start is demanding that we the people surrender our health, and by extension, our lives, to them.

Our health is not just the physical, but the mental, and if the Obama administration believes any clear thinking American is going to willingly, blithely forfeit its health care options to an incompetent government racing toward socialism, then they are simply nuts.

To listen to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius bloviate and tap dance around questions asked by the committee, dripping with arrogance is yet another sterling example of government’s overreaching into the lives of the American people. She claimed the system never crashed – define crash however you like, but several times during her testimony committee members showed how it was inoperable at that moment.

Both Obama and Sebelius have encouraged frustrated Americans unable to access the website to apply via telephone or paper formats, yet all roads still lead back to the not yet ready for prime time website.

A line of questioning regarding CGI, the Canadian company responsible for the website, unearthed the disconcerting fact that the same company will be tagged with fixing the problems for additional pay. Why should we the people pay this company for not doing the job correctly in the first place? The amount contracted for should be all they get and they should stay on the job until they complete it correctly.  And why couldn’t the Obama administration hire an American firm to do this job? Obama has outsourced jobs and is leading by example once again.

And further demonstrative of the paucity of leadership in this administration came when Sebelius used the childish response of “whatever” when she became flustered over a question of who is really in charge – Sebelius herself, or Obama – of this debacle.

“I’m as frustrated as anyone,” Sebelius said. Yeah, not so much, Madam Secretary – you are not using this system to sign up for Obamacare. The frustration exhibited by the American people comes in the form of those not able to sign up, which is few people in the first place who actually want to sign up, to those who are being unceremoniously dumped by their current insurers, which is numbering in the millions. As of November 4, 3.5 million Americans have already been dropped from their policies with no end in sight.

Obamacare will continue to have a deleterious effect on the economy as businesses large and small keep trimming staff and schedules turning America’s workforce into a part-time labor force. Additionally, the economy will suffer as people are now forced to spend more money for a lesser-quality insurance policy, as has been the testimony from far too many already. People from all walks of life and both sides of the aisle have testified that policy rates are increasing by hundreds of dollars per month and co-pays are doubling all with the promise of fewer options and higher deductibles.

Those who have received “Dear John/Jane” letters from their current insurance carriers are stunned, yet Obama and his cronies knew these letters were forthcoming as far back as 2010, as a recent “smoking gun” has been produced from inside the Obama White House detailing how millions of Americans would be cancelled. Obama has said to blame the insurers, yet why would they want to see their rolls diminished at a cost of millions of dollars?

That Obama knew, and as far back as 2010 – clearly in advance of the 2012 presidential election, smacks of a case of defrauding the American people. Such a fraud perpetrated against we the people should certainly be grounds for impeachment.

To be forced to purchase a product people may or may not want is tyrannical. For an administration so ardently supportive of a woman’s right to choose (i.e.: murder her unborn child), they’re rather restrictive about how we the people procure our health care.

Obama cavalierly and dispassionately expects people to just switch carriers or more importantly doctors as if swapping one brand of shampoo for another. Selecting a doctor is not an easy task and a very personal one at that. And after a many year relationship with a doctor to find it suddenly over can be unnerving and disconcerting, especially for older citizens. Do we the people really want government dictating how and where we procure our healthcare and doctors? Or from government’s chosen list?

It is not up to government to dictate to we the people. It is up to we the people to dictate to the government – a little thing called “consent of the governed,” as found in the Declaration of Independence. The time is now for we the people to stop offering tacit consent, and stand up to be heard.

The solution is not a government-controlled, mediocre health care plan with fewer choices, but an open market system where health insurers and providers compete across state lines for our business.

Less government, not more, is the answer. That also includes not providing “free” health care for illegal aliens. “Free,” of course, is never free, when once again, we the people are on the hook for the bills of the indigents. That spigot must be shut off and order restored.

We the people are speaking – while we still are able.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Voter ID a Must in Civilized Society

Voter ID a Must in Civilized Society
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
October 30, 2013

Common sense, gone the way of the Oldsmobile, clearly not so common any longer, when the Democrats consistently suggest, en masse, that photo ID at the ballot box is simply a tool by the GOP to “rig election rules to their advantage,” according to William R. Groth’s October 29 LTTE.

As a society we are required to produce photo ID before boarding an airplane, obtaining a driver’s license, purchasing alcohol, renting/buying a home, cashing/writing a check, opening a bank account, enrolling in college, picking up tickets at a will call window, securing a library card, using a credit card in some places, checking into a hotel or hospital, entering many government buildings, entering a military base, and procuring a firearm – just to name several.

Yet, when in the defense and protection of one of our most sacred rights, to ensure the sanctity of our precious vote, the Democrats take a laissez faire attitude suggesting that the demand for photo ID is somehow racist or designed to disenfranchise potential voters. Or worse when suggesting voter fraud is minimal. One instance of voter fraud is too many in a civilized society.

To allow anyone who is not a United States citizen, properly registered to vote using a government issued form of photo identification is to degrade the value of the vote.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. This item appeared in The Indianapolis Star on November 1, 2013.