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Monday, July 27 2009

As it's becoming increasingly clear this presidency thing isn't going to work out for him, Barack Obama should feel relieved that he has proven to have the skills necessary to forge a successful follow-up career as a snake oil salesman.  His most recent Obamacare press conference demonstrated that when it comes to far-fetched guarantees of miracles at bargain-basement prices, President Obama is in a league of his own. 


The editors of National Review magazine pointed out that during the course of this hour long sales pitch, Obama "said essentially all of the uninsured would be covered, the insured could keep their existing coverage, the quality of care would rise, waste and fraud would be slashed, the deficit would decline, and no one would have to pay a price for all this except a few millionaires."  One must wonder if while he spoke, Vice President Biden was out looking for Pete's Dragon to capture and compound into the remedies necessary to make all this come to pass.


But since these snake oil deals never seem to work out very well for the customers, perhaps we citizens should take a careful look at the fine print on Mr. Obama's bill.  The current version of Obamacare working its way through the House of Representatives is a 1,018 page monstrosity that no lawmaker has actually read, and that they're assuming no citizen will take the time to read either.  Fortunately, you only wade through to page 16 to find out things aren't exactly as advertised.


Under the section entitled, "Limitation on New Enrollment," it states in black and white: "Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of Obamacare's enactment.


Plain English: those of you who have private coverage, you can keep it - but you can't change it.  And if you decide to leave your current job to start your own business, you won't be able to purchase individual plans from private carriers.  Page 16 forbids it.


Those of us who oppose socialism have been warning for some time that when a private company is forced to compete with the government, the private company will never survive.  Unlike private companies who need to make profits in order to operate, government does not.  Government can charge a ridiculously cheap amount for their insurance option and offset the difference with taxpayer money.  Since private companies don't have that ability and must keep their prices elevated to the point where they will make profit, a government option will eventually destroy the entire private market.  Why would employers pay more to a private company for coverage when they can take the government option and pay less?


As the nonpartisan Lewin Group study revealed and Investor's Business Daily reported, "120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program."  This gutting of the customer base of private insurance carriers would cause the market to "fizzle out altogether."


So why is that a bad thing?  People would be covered, right?  Sure, but as the president has often acknowledged, in order to cut costs, the government will have to limit access to certain procedures, surgeries, and treatment (recall that macabre moment when the president told a woman that under his plan her 105 year old mother would have received pain pills instead of a life-saving pacemaker).  The government will determine whether you're young, healthy, and responsible enough to be worth the expense.  And if you don't want a government bureaucrat making those determinations for you, can you opt out of the government plan and purchase your own private insurance?  Nope.  Page 16 forbids it.


Some have suggested that if things got too bad in a government run healthcare system, private companies would start popping up again and offering an alternative.  There's only one problem with that.  Page 16 forbids "any new policies [from being] written after the public option becomes law."


When you consider that the Obamacare header over page 16 reads "Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage," you start to get an idea about the amount of deception that is taking place.


The president has admitted to being unsure of the details of the House version of Obamacare, yet has urged members to rush its passage regardless.  Why?  Because snake oil salesmen are never really concerned with the well-being of their customers.  They distort, manipulate, mislead, and make outlandish promises...right before they pack up their trailer with your money and head down the road.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 01:07 am   |  Permalink   |  143 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, July 19 2009

It was indeed a heartwarming moment.  With teachers, representatives, and affiliates to the National Education Association's annual convention gathered around, the NEA's retiring General Counsel Bob Chanin took to the stage to deliver his outgoing remarks.  His inspiring and uplifting message asserted the profound commitment held by the NEA to the betterment of American society: "We are not paranoid, someone really is after us.  Why are these conservative and right-wing b****rds picking on NEA and its affiliates?  I will tell you why: it is the price we pay for success."


As one of those right-wing "fatherless lads" Mr. Chanin was referring to, I found myself moved at how open-minded and inclusive his speech sounded.  But more than that, Chanin did a masterful job of demonstrating what the true priorities of the NEA are when he stated that what makes the group effective is, "not because of our creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.  NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power."


Now there's a relief.  Perhaps the NEA should put that quote on its promotional fliers?  After all, who would want the largest association representing teachers in the country to be basing its effectiveness on its ability to improve the lives of children?!  Thankfully, the leadership of the NEA has sought a pursuit of raw political power instead.  And why are they so successful in this pursuit?  Mr. Chanin explains, "And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year."  Keep in mind that many of those 3.2 million are faithful Christian teachers who seem to turn Mr. Chanin's stomach.


Not that any of this should come as a surprise.  In 1996, the NEA issued a handbook on dealing with the "radical right's crusade against public schools."  The handbook states, "They won't go away.  No matter how bizarre we believe their beliefs to be, no matter how illogical and inconsistent their goals appear, and no matter how often we reassure ourselves that 'this too, shall pass,' the political, social, and religious forces that make up the radical right in contemporary American society will not go away."  For teachers who hold to traditional moral values, we're just to look the other way and continue sending our money.


Sadly, the pathetic reality of the current state of affairs in the National Education Association gets worse.  At this same convention in San Diego, the NEA voted to throw their full support behind homosexual "marriage" by committing to use its resources and political muscle to take down any legislation that hinders the homosexual movement.


Also, the NEA voted down a resolution that called for the group to take "no position" on the issue of abortion.  Currently, the NEA uses the dues money from members to advocate and support lobby groups battling for the "right to choose."  Had this resolution passed, the NEA would have been unable to commit any dues money of members to causes that have anything to do with the abortion debate.  Instead, they would have had to use that money on something issues actually pertaining to education.


To me, this year marks the line in the sand.  There are many justifications and reasons an individual Christian teacher can give for joining a local association.  But because of the power of the NEA in Washington, we can't deny the reality that our local associations are in many cases legally compelled to affiliate themselves under the NEA's control.  Consequently our money - money we intend to be put towards actually improving the lives of children - goes to fund deliberately anti-Christian activities.


Sure, there are excuses we can use to justify our capitulation and spineless allegiance to causes we know to be wrong.  We can accept the fear-mongering about how we'll all lose our jobs without the NEA.  We can delude ourselves into believing that when we check the box stating that our dues can't be used for political purposes that we aren't still contributing to the very executive councils, legal offices, and management that is publicly acknowledging their hatred towards everything we stand for.  We can rationalize that it's impossible anymore to keep from spending our money on things we don't really support.


But we shouldn't do it any longer.  Our consciences shouldn't allow it. 


We will undoubtedly be told that we are traitors to the cause, overreacting prudes, or freeloaders.  But we didn't tell the NEA to throw full support behind the slaughter of children in the womb.  We didn't tell the NEA to use their muscle to advocate homosexual marriage across the country.  We didn't make the decision to abandon the NEA.  The NEA made the conscious decision to abandon us.  And if there's any confusion on that fact, see Bob Chanin.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 06:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  13 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, July 12 2009

As pundits around the country debate what the political future will be of Alaska's soon-to-be former Governor, I can't help becoming increasingly convinced of the prediction I texted to my brother after watching her Vice-Presidential acceptance speech last summer: Sarah Palin will be the first woman president of the United States.


Don't be fooled - that condescending laughter you hear from Palin-despising liberals is a lot less about them thinking it could never happen, and a lot more about them fearing that it will.


Why else would that Democrat propaganda machine called the New York Times dump so much ink over the fourth of July weekend attempting to convince Americans Palin was a lunatic?  Back-to-back columns by those queens of incoherence, Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd, lambasted Palin for being a, "disjointed, garbled, scandalous, underachieving, nutty, batty, erratic, egoistic, solipsistic, reckless, crazy quitter," who "deserted Juneau with her tanning bed."  Methinks they doth protest too much.


But the Times wasn't alone.  Network morning shows and evening newscasts informed us that her resignation amounted to political suicide and undoubtedly took her out of contention for the presidency in 2012.  Evidently it didn't dawn on them that their rush to diminish the notion of her chances only demonstrated how strong they really are.


Consider the left's narrative ever since John McCain introduced Governor Palin to the national scene: she was supposedly an inexperienced, uneducated, quirky mayor of a podunk town that simply was not ready for prime time.  She lacked concentration, was unnecessarily divisive, mean to animals, and lacked any foreign policy savvy.  This, they said, sunk McCain's chances of winning the presidency.  No matter how demonstrably false, this was exactly the template the left pretended to believe.  But if they truly did - if they were truly convinced of her incompetence and un-electability - then why are they so obsessed with talking about her?


Why not focus on the real threats to their power like Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, or the increasingly impressive representative Mike Pence?  Why not spend the valuable pages of the Times ripping Newt Gingrich's strategy for real change, or Mitt Romney's perpetual candidacy?  Why focus on a loony that apparently no one would vote for anyway?  Why work so neurotically to convince Americans of what they say we already think?


The obvious answer is that they know Americans don't think those things about Governor Palin, and they are scared to death of her.


Regardless of what the talking heads postulate, any conscious observer of the 2008 election knows that McCain's margin of loss would have been staggering without the presence of Sarah Palin on his ticket.


Regardless of what left-wing demagogues deride as her lack of experience and knowledge, remember that this is a woman who had more executive experience in 2008 than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined.  Further, the position she took on Israel during the campaign that was mocked by liberal journalists is now being parroted by the Obama administration.  And Palin's statements on personal responsibility and the foolishness of the Obama stimulus monstrosity now seem prescient given the bill's epic failure.


Regardless of the "quitter" nonsense, the fact remains that politicians leave their posts to take on new, greater challenges and opportunities on a regular basis.  An example would be the man who "quit" on the people of Illinois to become president.  The truth is Palin had become such a target for the demented left that the good people of Alaska were being forced to pay millions of dollars of legal fees to fight frivolous lawsuits brought against their Governor for purely political reasons.  Her decision spares them that, plus it allows a staunch conservative lieutenant governor to carry on the successes of her administration and run in 2010 as an incumbent.


Regardless of what the Democratic spokesmen on MSNBC pontificate about Palin being an embarrassment to the Party, just ask any 2010 Republican congressional candidate which national figure they want to come and help campaign for them.  I'll give you a's not going to be Mike Huckabee.


The primary source of the left's angst over her decision is that as long as she was confined to the Great North, she had limited ability to grow her political base.  Now, she is free to tour, speak, study, raise money, and rejuvenate the country's defense, economic, and social conservatives.  That is what has the liberals worked up into a lather.


Many of the high-priced political thinkers are suggesting that if Palin is eyeing the presidency at all, it won't be until 2016 or 2020.  I don't buy it.  In three years, she will be the most well known, articulate, charismatic conservative in America with a boatload of cash, an energized base, and a solid team of advisers around her.  Palin in 2012?  You betcha.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 05:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  21 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, July 05 2009

With all due respect, when the President of France is quicker to defend the cause of freedom than the President of the United States, it's a sad day.  Welcome to the pitiful reality of Obama's brave new world.


In last week's column, I focused on President Obama's domestic agenda in illustrating the fundamental disagreements our 44th president has with our Founding Fathers and their faith in the unrelenting power of human liberty. 


But if there is any area where Obama's frightening disregard for the virtues of freedom becomes even more glaring, it is in his disastrous foreign policy.  In his inaugural address, the new president tipped his hand when he declared to the mad regimes of the world, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."


At the time, Obama's words appealed to many as they demonstrated a marked departure from the past.  The conventional wisdom was that the eight years of George W. Bush had seen a dangerous isolation of regimes like Iran and North Korea that had made them more violent and unpredictable.  Extending a hand for peaceful coexistence, it was thought, would make these countries come to their senses.  But as Alexander Benard notes, "a dozen missile launches, a nuclear detonation, a rigged election, and countless crackdowns on individual liberties later, it is safe to say this effort has had the opposite of its intended effect."  Without question.


But Obama is not the first American president to misjudge foreign adversaries, or to indulge the fond illusions of hope against the better senses of many more savvy than himself.  He is not the first American president to learn the hard way or be forced to change course.  But he is the first American president to demonstrate such a disinterest in standing up for freedom before a watching world.


It started with questionable speeches in Turkey and Cairo in which he extolled the virtues of a religion (Islam) that stands diametrically opposed to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Elevating it to an intellectual and moral equivalence with the Judeo-Christian ethic of the United States was disturbing and bizarre.  Failing to condemn the atrocities and horrors committed by those who follow its plain teachings was dishonest and disconcerting.


But the utter lack of response to the courageous stand taken by thousands of repressed Iranians following the Ayatollah-rigged sham of an election was simply inexcusable.  It was an embarrassment to the American people, and one for which Barack Obama owes his office, his country, and the world an apology.


When the communists were oppressing the freedom loving dissidents of the Solidarity movement in Poland back in 1982, the freedom-fighters bolstered their convictions through the knowledge that they had the support of the Americans.  Why?  Because the American president Ronald Reagan let them know.  Declaring "Solidarity Day," he blasted the communist thugs and immediately condemned their persecution.


Years later, the leader of that Solidarity movement became president of Poland and said this: "When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal.  We in Poland took him so personally.  Why?  Because we owe him our liberty.  This can't be said often enough."


Contrast that to the image of Iranians staring into cameras begging, "Please don't leave us alone," or weeping over bleeding martyrs asking reporters, "Are we on our own?"  The answer they received from the American president was stone cold silence.


Finally, after being shamed by congressional Republicans who refused to stand for his cowardly inaction and pushed through a condemnation of Iranian repression by a 405-1 vote, President Obama toughened his rhetoric.  Sort of.  After condemning the violence, he shockingly stated his belief that, "It's not too late" for Iran's regime to negotiate with the international community.


This was an outrage of the highest order.  Not only does it suggest that the United States is willing to partner with such enemies of humanity, it horrifyingly signals to Iranian freedom-fighters President Obama's belief that they will be unsuccessful.  And, that once they have been crushed into submission, the U.S. is ready to shake hands with their killers. 


Given these realities perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised when President Obama rushed to the defense of Honduras' would-be dictator Zelaya, attempting to prevent his ouster by democratic forces.  This is where Barack Obama has brought us: freedom loving people in Honduras taking to the streets protesting their oppression from a socialist dictator and his allies in Ortega of Nicaragua, Chavez of Venezuela, Castro of Cuba...and the President of the United States of America.  Barack Obama is no friend of freedom.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 06:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  67 Comments  |  Email
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