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Tag Archive: ObamaCare

A world so lost that people no longer believe it ever really existed

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013 (11:54 pm), by John W Gillis


Jonathan Last at the Weekly Standard has an insightful article coming out in the September 30th edition of the magazine (available now online), entitled “Two Miserable Decades” in which he compares and contrasts the periods from 9/11 until today, and the 70’s – or more precisely, the period from 1967 through 1979. Having been born in 1960, I endured that earlier period at a highly impressionable yet largely oblivious stage of life. Of course, it is common lately to hear the Obama presidency compared to Carter’s, but this article looks much deeper into the fabrics of these oddly-related eras:

So which period was worse? There’s a strong case to be made for each. Superficially, you could argue the ’70s, for all the obvious reasons: 58,000 Americans dead in Vietnam, Watergate, gas lines, the last helicopter leaving Saigon. But the deeper undercurrents suggest a different answer.

After all, American culture was fraying in the ’70s, but for the most part, society agreed that it was fraying and that this dissolution was problematic. In the 1970s, the country retained habits learned during almost two generations of the strongest growth in American history. A 40-year-old in 1970 had lived through the Depression and the Second World War, and his parents had seen the Great War, too. These people were made of stern stuff. And they could plausibly look at the world around them and see it as a terrible aberration. They could believe that the normal state of affairs was much better and that a return to normalcy was possible. That’s why the country responded to Reagan’s call for “morning in America.”

Our age is different. A 40-year-old in 2000 was a teenager during the maelstrom of the ’70s. He saw the bright spot of the mid-1980s and the respite from history that was the 1990s. But to him, the economic and social patterns of the ’00s look like the norm.

As for the culture, the social order of the 1950s may have been washing out to sea during the 1970s, but today it might as well be Atlantis—a world so lost that people no longer believe it ever really existed. When 1 out of every 10 births is illegitimate, it’s a societal failure. When nearly half are, it’s a new way of life.

Last touches on many different elements of both time periods, from the bizarre (e.g. Paul Erlich’s “Population Bomb” apocalyptic to Jimmy Carter being elected leader of the free world a few months after having submitted an official UFO report) to the banal (e.g. economic performance) to the culturally basal (i.e. the state of cultural institutions and the social expectations thus engendered – hence the notion of a world so lost as to be incredible).

Much of it was easy to follow, and hardly controversial. But Last made one comment in particular that jumped out at me as potentially very insightful – and certainly provocative. He claims that the passage of Obamacare may have an even deeper negative significance to the political fabric of the country than did the resignation of Nixon – this because of the purely partisan nature of support that saw its ugly passage by professional politicians who quite often did not really support it (indeed, how could they, since its content was unknown to those who voted it into law!), and who knew their constituencies didn’t want it, but who voted to enact it anyway, to toe the party line. In other words, he sees it as a failure of the democratic processes built into our political institutions, which is indeed a foreboding notion for a nation that has nothing else to offer toward social cohesion if democracy fails, other than television “culture”.  It is a fascinating and sobering thought, which gives some practical weight to the oft-repeated complaints of the hyper-partisan nature of contemporary political discourse, especially in Washington.

The essay makes for good reading, especially for those who think often about the era of the Western “cultural revolution”, and how it continues to influence behaviors and beliefs today.

So what the blank could possibly go wrong?

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 (10:31 pm), by John W Gillis


[Video] Quote of the Day for Friday, September 28, 2012. Illinois State Senate candidate Barbara Bellar putting some context around the Affordable Care Act:

 

Now that I’ve figured out what was wrong with my video embeds, I’m on a roll…

As funny as this is, Bellar is actually softballing the problem of the plan’s utter lack of attention to the need for doctors in order to provide government care, what with stories like 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting over Obamacare floating around. And it’s not just sheer numbers, but the fact that ObamaCare doubles-down on the screw-turning inflicted upon general practitioners. The inevitable result of this will be the increasing specialization of the doctors that remain in the work force, producing an escalating shortage of actual opportunities for “care” for all the folks who’ve been assured by the government that they’re “covered”.

Even the progressive siren Boston Globe recognized this pattern emerging in the wake of the implementation of RomneyCare in Massachusetts, reporting two years ago that primary care physicians are getting harder to find. And that’s in one of the world’s great medical hubs! Good luck to the rubes in fly-over country. OK, so that links to a Boston.com-based blog, not the Globe per se, and just because they report it about RomneyCare’s unwanted, unintended consequences doesn’t mean they’ll report the problem when it is being generated, in spades, by Obama’s program, but you get the drift. This “Patient Protection” scam is one idiotically-conceived boondoggle.

The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 (11:49 pm), by John W Gillis


Movie Director (e.g. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) and Czechoslovakian expatriate Milos Forman had an op-ed in the NY Times last week, using his experiences under communism as a context for criticizing the use of the term “socialist” to describe President Obama:

The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not. Now, years later, I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, “Obamacare is socialism!” They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.

Mr. Forman relates several anecdotes that paint a picture of just how disordered life was under Soviet domination, and how foreign it was to anything westerners experience as society, and at first blush, his seems like a very reasonable complaint. But when was the last time anyone sober suggested that Obama was trying to directly implement a Soviet-style order? Forman claims that Obama’s critics are “falsely equat[ing] Western European-style socialism … with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism”, but that is an entirely false claim. I think the word “equating”, used in this sense, is one of the two or three stupidest words in modern parlance, but if Obama is being “equated” to anybody, it is to the Western European socialists whom Forman himself identifies by that very term! But he’s offended. Forman is either confused, or worse. After all, should we wait for him to criticize himself for calling the Western European-style practice “socialism”, when it clearly differs from Soviet-style communism? Does that usage also “cheapen the experience” of those who’ve lived under “brutal forms of socialism”? If we can’t call Obama a socialist without having to answer to the standard of Stalin, why don’t we have to answer to the standard of Stalin when we refer to the socialists whom Obama is actually “equated” to?

It turns out one can legitimately use the term “socialism” to refer to a whole trajectory of political thought and circumstance, some of which take on more brutal form than others. The point Obama’s critics bring to light, much to the chagrin of folks like Forman who don’t want to hear it, is that the, yes, socialist vision of Obama, and his Western comrades, differs from the brutal form of Soviet-style socialism in degree, not in kind – and that owing at least partly to method of implementation (what we could call evolution vs. revolution).

A later paragraph from Forman shows just how little he understands what’s at stake in the current struggle for America’s political soul:

I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not — as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest — merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.”

Taking the ObamaCare debacle as a jumping-off point, do Forman, Obama, and the rest of the political left in America really not understand that the opposition to Obamacare is rooted not only in the valid fear of the thinly (if at all) disguised intent to hobble private enterprise through the centralization of government power, but also precisely in  disgust at the spoils system it inevitably creates, threatening to “kill off everything”, all in the name of “social justice”? Indeed, what a perfectly phrased indictment of the entire “tax and spend”, public-sector-centric, entitlements and subsidies mentality of the post-liberal left – whether American or Western Europe: a spoils system that kills off everything in the name of “social justice”. All we need now is a political movement aiming at establishing a classless society – one maybe where the “99%” decry the “inequality” represented by the “1%”, and begin the predative push to have them brought down to “our” level, and their un-equal privileges democratized… Forman, scarred by the crudeness of socialism’s full-bore frontal assault in Eastern Europe, can’t see it growing under his feet in the sophisticated West.

Initial Thoughts on Reactions to Fast & Furious and Obamacare Developments

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 (11:48 pm), by John W Gillis


Very interesting day in the political world, with the Supreme Court handing down its judgment on Obamacare, and Congress finding Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress for his evasive shenanigans trying to cover up the background to the “Fast & Furious” program – the first sitting US Attorney General to receive such an honor. How now to prosecute him becomes quite a conundrum, since the department he runs is responsible for such prosecutions, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Neither finding is very surprising to me (the first admittedly more than the next, however). But I find the behavior around the situations fascinating – and pretty much irrational. For starters, the big topic of conversation in the news space and blogosphere has been the Obamacare decision. Now, I’m not surprised by that in the least, and there are even some very good reasons for it (such as the fact that the contempt vote happened late in the afternoon, in contrast to the SCOTUS decision, which was read shortly after 10:00 AM).

Then there are the blatantly partisan motivations to factor in. For example, The Boston Globe’s boston.com site had a Breaking News!!! alert at the top of their page as soon as the Obamacare finding was released, where the story has remained all day – now complete with “analysis” of how “Obama scores win”. Well, not so fast, but I’m getting ahead of myself again. In contrast, news of the Holder verdict took the better part of an hour to show up at all, and was presented as a small, second-rate story, which at this point late in the evening – though still amazingly on the home page – has slid down below not only about a dozen and a half Obamacare story links, but half a dozen links (plus embedded video) concerning the Boston Celtics’ draft picks, and a story about US Rep John F. Tierney’s brother-in-law calling him a liar. At least it still ranks above the MBTA reversing a commuter rail surcharge decision. It’s just hard not to picture cowardly ideological snake oil salesmen (propagandists) laying out the pages of that august publication.

But the truth is that the Holder story is a much bigger deal. Despite the incessant protestations of the professional leftists that the contempt vote was politically or even (may God heal their shriveled little souls) racially motivated, this criminally insane operation Holder is trying to hide the origins of is a very big deal. If this ends up being traced back to Obama himself, which is looking more and more likely every time the stakes are raised and Holder doesn’t buckle, it will be Obama’s Watergate – especially if any evidence surfaces that it was even partially motivated by a cynical desire to advance the left’s agenda of opposition to gun ownership by citizens. A good man is dead, and the entire republic is not stupid enough to get buried under a dump truck full of liberal smokescreens about a “botched operation” that actually went pretty much according to plan, even if the corpses were not supposed to include border patrol officers.

The self-proclaimed Most Transparent Administration Evah is going to have to release those documents they’re hiding to Congress, or risk a serious constitutional crisis. The only real question will be whether they are damaging enough to sink Obama’s presidency (and, needless to say, his reelection chances). Fast & Furious (or Gunwalker, as I first heard it called last year) might turn out to be the one thing schoolchildren know about Barack Obama 100 years from now (or more likely the only thing besides the fact that he was the first black president of the USA, a fact which will eventually be the answer to a trivia question). That would be a shame, because he has done so many other things to advance the cause of statism against the commonweal of human freedom and lawfulness, and those lessons should be learned and not forgotten.

On the contrary, the SCOTUS decision this morning, despite all the public hoopla, was really pretty much a non-event in terms of the ACA act itself. I’m not saying important decisions weren’t made, but everything remains pretty much the way it was yesterday, except that the Feds don’t have the power to punish non-conforming states by withholding Medicaid funds under Obamacare, and Commerce Clause activism has been legally circumscribed in a manner that departs significantly from the court’s trajectory over the past several decades. The first change very well might (further) doom the program fiscally, and the second establishes a much-needed, critical restraint on the cancerous spread of federal statism on the whole. Not insignificant points, either, but hardly fodder for naïve leftist victory dancing, or for anti-leftist tirades against Chief Justice Roberts for his “betrayal” of conservatism (which, of course, completely misses the point of his or SCOTUS’ role as constitutional referee). While I admit that it would have been easier if the whole law were shot down by the court, and that legislative repeal is likely to be difficult and at best partially successful, the fact is that Obama is going to have to carry this “tax” law with him as a political albatross through November, while Mitt Romney can stand on the side and say: “If you want to get rid of Obamacare, you have to get rid of Obama”. Sometimes the easiest answer is not the best.

Time permitting, I will try to take up these SCOTUS decision reactions in more detail later on, because I do find them fascinating, and almost universally wrong-headed in just about every conceivable way.

We can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house

Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 (11:10 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Tuesday, February 1st, 2011:

I’m not sure quite how to attribute this… I’m quoting Joe Carter over at the First Thoughts blog today, who is quoting Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling published Monday striking down the ObamaCare law on account of the individual mandate, which is quoting then-candidate Barack Obama from 2008, essentially mocking the notion of a mandate… You can figure it out:

On this point, it should be emphasized that while the individual mandate was clearly “necessary and essential” to the Act as drafted, it is not “necessary and essential” to health care reform in general. It is undisputed that there are various other (Constitutional) ways to accomplish what Congress wanted to do. Indeed, I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that “if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.”

Politicians really hate when you remind them what they said on the campaign trail. I imagine they despise it even more when the reminder is included in a federal ruling overturning their prized legislation.

Priceless. But if there remained any doubts, we surely know now why Senator Obama was so well-known for voting “present” during his legislative stints – he’s not stupid. As to whether he’s principled, well, that’s another question altogether, as we wouldn’t want to conflate being principled with having an agenda. There’s a world of difference between being willing to pay any price to stand your ground, and being willing to pay any price to get what you want.

Can You Imagine the Reaction?

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 (11:08 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Tuesday, December 14th, 2010:

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, on CBS, trying to explain in terms a clearly bewildered Bob Schieffer might relate to, why the legal concept of Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate might not be so smurfy:

Imagine if this bill were, that in order to protect our communities and for homeland security, every American had to buy a gun – can you imagine the reaction across the country to that?

Do you think?

(fyi: I refuse to backlink to the source, because CBS video performance is so pathetically poor, and I don’t want my site associated with such bald incompetence in any way – sorry)

End of the Road for the Tax? errr, Penalty? errr,Tax? errr, Penalty?

Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010 (10:55 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Monday, December 13th, 2010:

Judge Henry E. Hudson, from page 38 of his ruling today invalidating ObamaCare’s "individual purchase mandate" provision:

On careful review, this Court must conclude that Section 1502 of the Patient Prevention Affordable Care Act–specifically the Minimum Coverage Provision–exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.

While a provision mandating that its subjects purchase healthcare “insurance” does represent an egregious accretion of state power, and a large nail in the coffin of political liberty – and only even more so at the Federal level than it is here in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts – it must be admitted that this provision was one of the few elements of the Obamacare monstrosity that could have kept its cost in tax dollars from going into orbit right out of the gate.

Actually, looking beyond the tunnel-vision view of tax revenues and public expenditures, losing this provision will probably result in slightly lower overall healthcare costs than would otherwise have been the case, even if the rest of ObamaCare stands (because of fewer people trying to “get their money’s worth” after having been required to shell out premiums or face penalties), but that is somewhat beside the point today. Congress will have an opportunity next year to re-run the ObamaCare numbers through the CBO, and if this ruling stands, it will be nearly impossible now for the administration to game the system again in order to come up with cost projections that are anything prettier than blatantly gruesome – especially if the “Doc Fix” numbers are honestly factored in this time. It’s almost time for a little fiscal truth juice in D.C.

The Edge of Politics

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 (11:21 pm), by John W Gillis


Richard Fernandez over at Pajamas Media posted a disturbing commentary yesterday on a couple of articles he had recently read concerning the apocalyptic economic problems facing both California and Great Britain. The root of the problem, in both cases, is easy enough to identify: the entitlement mentality that believes that something can be had for nothing (or little). The title of his article (I Want My MTV) sums it up neatly (money for nothing, chicks for free…).

But it’s easy to hammer on the unsustainability of free lunch programs for massive numbers of people. In the abstract, more or less everybody understands it. What’s disturbing about the viewpoint of Fernandez (and his interlocutors) is a pessimism that politics would even be capable of tackling the problem – but they may be right:

Britain has gone into debt to buy a ball and chain. Who’s going to tell the electorate that? And how do you sell solutions to such monumental problems to an electorate accustomed to being promised ever more comfort, safety and ease? The answer: you can’t. The political system can’t meet the challenge without liquidating itself. Faced with an insoluble problem the political elite marks time by becoming obsessed with trivia. It rearranges the deck chairs on its Titanic. It whistles past its graveyard.

I keep telling myself that America has a reservoir of resiliency that will surge up to fend off the dangerous lurch to the left that the country has taken – telling myself that the overreach of the Obama regime will waken the sleeping giant that has too quietly acquiesced to the steady leftward march of the nation over the past century, and manage to do so before we plunge over the edge.

But listening to people rationalizing the government takeover of the healthcare market – whether various flavors of the Obamacare vision, or even the current regulatory shakedown of (non-profit!) insurers here in Massachusetts under Romneycare – it strikes me that the defense of these actions is almost invariably couched in moralistic terms that defend taking (i.e. stealing) from the “haves” for the greater good – whatever that may actually entail in practice. In other words, this is hardly a political problem at all, but a spiritual one, which displaces even basic morality with a moralism rooted in the will to power – and those crafty paving stones of good intentions.

This is a very different rationale than Fernandez pursues, but it certainly supports his conclusion .

The Good Samaritan, Updated

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 (7:38 am), by John W Gillis


Good Samaritan, Obamacare Version

via Townhall.com

 

A Vote with Meaning in Massachusetts?

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 (8:38 pm), by John W Gillis


It’s quite a night for politics in the Bay State tonight. The polls closed about half an hour ago on the first competitive race for a national office that I can remember in my lifetime. My sense is that, before this night is over,  Republican State Senator Scott Brown will have knocked off once heavily favored Mass Attorney General Democrat Martha Coakley for the open U.S. Senate seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy since I was a two-year old. It has been a lot of fun over the past few weeks to feel the momentum building for Brown’s candidacy in this deep blue state, as it has provided some hope that the leftwing lunacy prevailing in Washington D.C. might be brought at least somewhat under control. Not that I think Scott Brown is going to exert some magical power – he’s a deeply flawed politician who just happens to have enough common sense to seem like a bright bulb in a dull array – but he will bring a sorely needed fiscal seriousness to the table, and the loss of the seat will at least force the Democrats to play ball in the Senate.

More importantly, the establishment elite have been served unambiguous notice that the American people are not buying the lies that have been served up as “healthcare reform,” nor do they approve of the bald shenanigans that have accompanied it. If Brown wins tonight, of course the rules in Washington change. It’s simply incredible to think that the Democrats needed a super-majority to get that pig passed, yet thought it was perfectly OK to proceed with it anyway. What arrogance to think they could makeover a major part of our culture through brute force, without having to convince others through reason! But even if Brown fails tonight, it has become abundantly clear for all to see that the current direction of the Obama administration is a political dead-end – even if they can’t see that it is also a moral dead-end. If even Massachusetts Democrats could so much as come close to losing “the Kennedy seat” to an anti-Obamacare movement, that is one dead movement. Stick a fork in it.