Archive for July, 2009

The Sins of Silence

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
Abraham Lincoln
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You can say a lot of things about President Obama, but you can never accuse him of slacking in his momentum to get things done. It helps that he has an army of supporters in Congress–there is strength in numbers.

This makes me nervous. The current legislative branch has a lot more power than I am comfortable with. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have been privy to enough government corruption in times when the ideologies in Washington DC, were much more balanced.

If Obama’s Cap and Trade steamrolls through Congress, we will see higher energy costs, which will send what remains of our suffering manufacturing sector overseas. I keep hearing that these jobs will be replaced with green jobs, jobs which will produce the cheaper energy. Just because we use the solar energy doesn’t mean that it will be cheaper for solar-panel producers to make them stateside. They will suffer from higher costs, too…and will likely move their operations to cost-effective climes.

If the Kennedy- Dodd Health-Care Reform bill passes (and the president wants some major progress by August), we will eventually see an entire private industry eliminated and replaced by the low efficiency of the government sector. I know, I know, according to the plan, we can keep our current insurance and doctors. Sounds great on paper. But I doubt any employers are going to continue administrating health care plans when the government will do it. This will spell the end of the health insurance industry, and put some more folks out of work. I don’t need to make all of the arguments that already exist about quality of care, waiting periods, etc….

I do need to get to my point: those of us who might agree that we could do more to produce and rely upon alternative energy and those of us who might agree that we could and should make some changes to the current health care situation, BUT disagree that that the government-administrator route is the answer, need to do something, lest we commit the very sin of silence Lincoln referred to in the quote above. But what?

ONE: Read the legislation posed by Kennedy-Dodd and Sen John McCain’s counter “offer.” You can access all legislation at Govtrack (Click here to reach the search page).
If the bills are too much to grasp–and they are difficult reading–read the synopses that summarize the material. These are located in the navigation box on each bill’s main page.

This goes for all of you–those who side with and against me. I have little tolerance for those who oppose me who tell me things like “the majority of Americans do not have health care!!!!!!” and “people are dying because they don’t have access to health care!” Yet, they don’t even know what is in the bill, nor do they have ACCURATE statistics. Those who are on board with Kennedy and Dodd will be surprised to see just who this health reform helps (hint: People making more than $33,000 per year…not the poor who will continue to be covered by Medicaid and Medicare that will undergo reforms at a later date).

Thomas Jefferson said, “Knowledge is the currency of democracy.” We have evolved into a people that believes government knows best, and a people who would rather learn every detail about Michael Jackson’s rise and fall than the text of a bill before Congress that affects our livelihood and puts our country in increasingly precarious financial straits.

TWO: Pick up the phone and call Senators and tell them that you agree or disagree with Cap and Trade and health Care reform. Tell them if you are happy having the government’s checkbook trillions of dollars in the red.

Court the Moderate senators. I am spending the next couple of days on the phone doing just this. Below is the list of Moderate senators who could go either way on Cap and Trade and Health-Care Reform. I plan to tell them I disagree with both plans, and the out-of-control spending, and I plan to urge them to vote against both bills, and go back to the drawing board.

Moderate DEMOCRATS
Evan Bayh, Indiana(202) 224-5623
Kent Conrad, North Dakota(202) 224-2043
Mary Landrieu, Louisiana(202) 224-5824
Joe Lieberman, Connecticut (Independent, but caucuses as a Democrat)(202) 224-4041
Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas(202) 224-4843
Ben Nelson, Nebraska(202) 224-6551
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania(202) 224-4254
Mark Warner, Virginia(202) 224-2023
Jim Webb, Virginia(202) 224-4024

Moderate REPUBLICANS
Susan Collins, Maine(202) 224-2523
Olympia Snowe, Maine(202) 224-5344
George Voinovich, Ohio(202) 224-3353

The Health Care “Crisis”

Percentage of Americans without Health Insurance 15.5% (Centers for Disease Control)
Percentage of Americans without a cell phone: 18% (TECHnews)
Percentage of Americans without a computer in the home: 20% (Nielsen)
Percentage of Americans without Internet access: 43% (Nielsen)

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Universal Health Care advocates would have us believe that most Americans do not have health insurance–I read such a statement in a Toledo politics blog just the other day.

In fact, the majority of Americans DO have health insurance. As the stats above illustrate, there are more people in this country who do not have a cell phone. There are more people in this country who do not have a computer. There are more people in this country who do not have home-based Internet access.

This all means that Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Christopher Dodd (and President Barack Obama) have been hard at work realigning the universe in order to ensure coverage for an additional 42.6 million people. Actually, what they have been working toward is a world in which all Americans get the SAME coverage, no matter how restricted that coverage may be.

If those driving the UHC bandwagon really wanted to ensure that the 15.5 % of Americans,which includes 10 million children, had adequate access to the best health care and treatments in the world, they would craft a bill that created a government-sponsored health insurance plan only for those who are currently un- or under-insured. This would address the crisis of coverage without putting American medicine under the government’s growing umbrella of responsibilities. Sure, the fiscally responsible and anti-entitlement folks would balk at this misuse of tax dollars, but this beats the alternative.

If 15.5 % of the lights on my decorated Christmas tree go out, I don’t strip the whole thing bare and start over– I work, by trial and error, to locate the bulb or bulbs that are bad and replace them. This keeps the strings of lights, the icicles, and the ornaments intact. That seems like the more practical and least expensive action.

But our current elected leaders obviously aren’t thinking about practicality and thrift; they want control of our entire health care system, which has been the pie in the sky for the liberal crowd for some time now.

Excuses, excuses…

Over the holiday weekend, I was asked “Where has Helen Wheales been? I thought you promised to write everyday once you were off for the summer?”

At least someone noticed.

Honestly, I’ve no excuse for not sharing my thoughts, only an explanation. First, turns out that I am not “off” this summer–I took on some work that screws up my writing schedule.

Second, Helen Wheales is no match for Bat Outta Hell, Cyclone, and Bull in a China Shop, who have kept me on the go this past month. I worked almost every day in June, and when I returned home, there were other things to be done…and baseball in the evenings. I played hostess for a graduation party and our annual Independence Day fete. Now things can slow down a bit…and I can spend some time at the keyboard.

Scarecrow or Tin Man?

Dateline Oz: The Wizard of Oz today selected the Tin Man to fill a soon-to-be vacated Supreme Court seat, snubbing the conservative’s choice of the Scarecrow, known for exercising judicial restraint on the bench.

The Tin Man has an impressive record of decisions informed by the empathy of his big heart, most famously when he ruled in favor of the promotion of “the horse of a different color,” invalidating the merit-based promotions of the white stallions because the colored horses weren’t proportionately represented in the promotion process.
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In a little more than a week, we may get a break from the Michael Jackson drama when the headline news will cover the less-than sensational Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomoyer, President Obama’s pick to replace David Souter on the high bench.

Sotomoyer has the experience that Harriet Miers, Geo. W. Bush’s selection to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, lacked. And with that experience is a record of decisions that lends insight into what we might expect from her should she pass the Senate’s oral exam. She was appointed to the federal district court in 1991 by George H.W. Bush, and has been pegged by many as a moderate or bipartisan judge. On any rulings on abortion, she’s upheld current limitations. Her work on the 1994 baseball salary cap issue demonstrates she’s tough on the corporate machine and pro union…even if that union is representing workers who pull in multi-millions. Her recently overturned ruling against the New York firefighters who didn’t get their merit-based promotions because racial quotas weren’t met, indicates she is a supporter of Affirmative Action policies.

More troubling, however, is her own admission that she rules with her heart, rather than her head. In a commencement speech at the University of California at Berkeley she offered, “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

I wonder whether or not she appropriately views justice as blind or rather, as color blind, as any judge should. In that same speech, she said, “I would hope a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor said.

And this idea that empathy has some role in judicial decisions was one of the main reasons informing President Obama’s selection of Sotomoyer. In his May 1 press briefing regarding Souter’s retirement, he said,

” I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.”

He continued,

“I view that quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

Actually, the rule of law dictates that justice IS about legal theory and footnotes, it is about written law and precident, and not about understanding how the people are affected by the law. On the other hand, political and human considerations ARE the job of the executive and legistative branches of government. Congress and the President are accountable to the people; the Supreme Court is not. Plain and simple, they are appointed to uphold the laws that were enacted by the representative government–nothing more. They must cast aside personal ideologies, empathy, and sympathy, in order to enforce the law objectively, rather than subjectively.

The Republicans and Moderates have a chance to put up a good fight in the confirmation hearings, but they will probably take the stance of the Cowardly Lion, talking big in advance, then cowering when they have the chance to throw some effective punches.