The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: November 2009

Fork-Tongued in Washington

This is in the way of a correction to my “Fork-Tongued in Shanghai” (November 21), and of a footnote about our fork-tongued Senators as they sanction the groundwork of totalitarianism in this country.

This statement is corrected:

What Obama said about Sino-American relations in Shanghai is irrelevant here. China is the largest creditor of the U.S., holding about $800 billion in U.S. government securities, perhaps only three times what a health-care bill is estimated to cost over a decade.

I subsequently added a comment to the Shanghai post:

Last night (November 21) the Washington Post headlined: “Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) this evening secured the 60 votes needed to move an $848 billion health-care reform bill to the Senate floor for debate, clearing the way for amendment deliberations to begin after the Thanksgiving recess.”

So, this criminally irresponsible and morally evil legislation actually tops the $800 billion in U.S. government securities held by the Chinese government. Of course, there’s no way the $800 billion debt can be paid. Now it’s going to be $1.6 trillion — and counting.

And counting, indeed. My projection of the debt doubling to $1.6 trillion was literal and quite innocent. Americans for Limited Government’s Bill Wilson issued the following statement today:

“On Saturday, the Senate voted 60-39 to proceed to the so-called ’public option’ legislation that will cost more than $2 trillion over ten years when fully implemented, ration health care away from seniors, raise the cost of premiums, drive the American people off of private health options, and bankrupt the Treasury.”

And counting, again. But, accepting my modest projection of only $1.6 trillion — and this is exclusive of the billions in expenditure and cost to the economy incurred by whatever other socialist/fascist legislation is incubating in Congress’s collective mind, such as cap-and-trade, and exclusive of the costs of the looting, redistributionist “climate change” treaty President Obama is expected to sign next month in Copenhagen — the logical question to ask is: How can the U.S. honor its debt to China, and also pay for socialist health care? Where is all this money supposed to come from? Is it the diminishing private, productive sector of the U.S. economy, which would become a mere servant to government debt service? For how long?

Captive, command economies and a fettered citizenry produce according to the law of diminishing returns, unless it can siphon off wealth from another economy and benefit from the blood transfusions made possible by semi-free nations. Is this, or is it not, a formula for catastrophic economic collapse? Yes. Will it be an open invitation for dictatorship to “take charge” of a crisis of the government’s making? Yes.

The question assumes a frozen, static debt figure, astronomical as it may be. Total U.S. government debt to foreign holders is nearly $3.5 trillion, with China followed by Japan, the United Kingdom and OPEC, in that order.

As for the scale of federal indebtedness in all categories, that figure also boggles the imagination. See these Federal Reserve calculations for 2005. These are Alan Greenspan figures and legacy.

Economies and human actions are not static. Economies either atrophy or grow. Men flee from atrophying economies — when they can, when they and their wealth can remove to friendlier economic climes without being arrested and shaken down — or they create new wealth that allows economies to grow, provided they are not barred from action by fiat law. The Emerson Electric Co. of Chicago is a case in point, cited by The Wire: Washington Insider’s Report. The ALG title for the report is “Atlas Shrugs.”

Finally, here is a breakdown of the 60-39 Senate vote on whether or not to “debate” the Senate’s version of the health care bill, also now known as the ReidCare bill, which incorporates all the expropriatory and extortionate provisions and language as the House Pelosi/ObamaCare bill. And then some. The names of the guilty are there for all to see.

The “debate” will not proceed on anything as honest as a principle, not even a statist, collectivist one. As happened in the House, it will be in the nature of horse-trading, arm-twisting and sugar-coated corruption instigated by malice-driven humanitarians.

Fork-Tongued in Shanghai

One might be tempted to pen a dark comedy about it. Don’t bother. President Barack Obama has just added this latest act to his own peculiar satire, authored by his speechwriters and scripted by professional censors.

In Shanghai, China to bolster relations between China and the U.S., he appeared in a “town hall” that was as thoroughly rigged as his press conferences and other “town hall” meetings in the U.S. He addressed a group of Chinese government-vetted students and answered eight pre-selected questions from the audience and over the Internet.

“You see, freedom of speech in America is not given to the people by the president but is something that the people use to supervise their government and president, to protect themselves.”

No, don’t take heart. Obama did not say it. It was said by a Chinese blogger and novelist, Yang Hengjun (on Twitter via a proxy server, because Twitter is blocked in China) in admiration for and agreement with Obama‘s assertion that Americans can criticize their political leaders without fear of reprisal. Hengjun understands what neither Obama nor his White House minions and departmental appointees do not: that a free press and free speech can oppose, criticize, and even check the depredations of government.

Hengjun understood that freedom of speech is a right that originates in individuals, and is not a privilege or right bestowed by a government on a nation’s citizens.

What Obama said about Sino-American relations in Shanghai is irrelevant here. China is the largest creditor of the U.S., holding about $800 billion in U.S. government securities, perhaps only three times what a health-care bill is estimated to cost over a decade. China is not going to sign any climate change treaty next month in Oslo that would oblige it to cut back on CO2 emissions, and so agree to economic suicide, no matter how much Obama “prods“ the super creditor. Nor is it going to cease censoring its press or the Internet, it is never going to cease suppressing freedom of speech. China is a totalitarian country. It hosted the visit of a nascent totalitarian, President Obama. It allowed him to visit to amuse him, and to take his measure, just as Europe and the Mideast allowed him to visit, to make his speeches, and to take his measure.

While Obama and his team indulged in wishful thinking, the Chinese government called all the shots.

The particulars of the town hall, including whether it could even be called one, were the subject of delicate negotiations between the White House and the Chinese up to the last minute. It remained unclear, for instance, whether – and how broadly – it would be broadcast on television and how much of a hand the central government had in choosing those allowed to question the U.S. president.

Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama would call at random on several of those in the audience, to be made up of hundreds of students hand-picked by the department heads of Shanghai-area universities, and would also answer questions solicited in advance by the White House from “various sources on the Internet.”

What Obama said in China about freedom and speech and censorship, however, is far more relevant here, because it bodes ill for the future of freedom of speech in America. In answer to a question about the “Great Firewall of China” — the Chinese government’s absolute control over what is said and seen on the Internet — a question asked, incidentally, not by a Chinese student, but by the U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, he replied:

“I’m a big supporter of non-censorship,” Obama said. “I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access — is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.”

Obama is a “big supporter of non-censorship”? What is “non-censorship”? Is it an awkward grasp of the concept of freedom of speech, or an inverted synonym? No. It cannot even have an antonym. If, to paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary definition of censor, censorship is the “inspection of all books, journals, dramatic pieces, etc., before publication, to secure that they shall contain nothing immoral, heretical, or offensive to the government,” then non-censorship is an anti-concept. It is the “not censoring” of speech in any venue or form. That is, it is the staying of the government’s hand to censor it. It is the implicit acknowledgement that a government has the power and the will to censor, but chooses not to, for the moment. It is an Orwellian anti-concept possible only to a power-seeker at home with censoring and non-censoring.

Obama did not say that he is a “big supporter of freedom of speech” for two reasons: It would have been offensive to the Chinese totalitarian government — and because he does not believe in it.

Obama stated that he recognized that “different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access — is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.

He avoided the term “freedom of speech” again, and likened it to “tradition,” or custom. Message to China’s communist/fascist rulers: You have a long tradition of censorship and suppression of speech. On the other hand, we in the United States have a long “tradition” of freedom of speech. So, it’s just a difference of tradition. I won’t make a distinction between our traditions and yours, nor judge your regime.

And for how long does Obama intend our free Internet to be a “source of strength”? Not for long.

Which brings us to his term “unrestricted Internet access,” a euphemism for one of Obama’s key goals, “net neutrality,” or, government control and censorship of the Internet. He promised to promote and enact such controls two years ago on MTV. Net neutrality, in a nutshell, is “the idea that broadband operators shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade Internet content and services–or charge content providers an extra fee for speedier delivery or more favorable placement.”

Suppose broadband operators want to block or degrade Internet content they do not wish to carry? Suppose customers do not mind paying extra for speedier delivery and more favorable placement? Well, that is beside the point, according to Obama. Like newspapers and other venues of speech and entertainment, broadband operators are regarded as “public servants” serving the public by providing it information and entertainment, and should not be permitted to discriminate against any comers. Moreover, no one should be permitted to discriminate in their favor, that is, exercise his freedom of choice. All must be “equal.”

To better concretize the issue: State-mandated smoking bans in restaurants, bars, businesses and other venues — in some localities, even in one’s own residence or in a public park — are enacted to favor an alleged majority of non-smokers for purported health reasons. This is the literal, partial seizure of private property for the benefit of one group. Call it the selective application of the power of eminent domain, in answer to the proclaimed “right” of non-smokers to drink or dine or work in a smoke-free, “un-degraded” environment, in defiance of the fact that they drink, dine or work in an environment that is someone else‘s property.

Business owners and proprietors nominally own their property or enterprises — but only for as long as they submit to the ban. They are not allowed to discriminate between smokers and non-smokers — call it “patron neutrality,” with a patron forbidden to light up lest he offend someone or “endanger” someone’s health — and all customers must be reduced to the same state of being non-smokers.

Extrapolate that phenomenon to the Internet — substitute bars, restaurants and businesses with broadband operators — now call them providers, “neutral” bureaucratic jargon for anyone or any business that creates and offers a “service,” a term that has spread like a corrosive into virtually every realm of trade — and it is easy to see what the consequences will be: a government policed Internet, just like the Chinese one. One will hear only what the government wishes one to hear, read, or watch.

Obama may have been hoping to set a personal example for China’s leaders when he said he believes that free discussion, including criticism that may be annoying to him, [that] makes him “a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”

Obama has made it eminently clear that he would rather not risk hearing opinions that conflict with his own. Recall his efforts to enlist Americans, at the height of the nationwide Tea Parties, to report “fishy” opinions about him and his administration directly to the White House. Remember that he wishes to compel radio and television stations to comply with a new “Fairness Doctrine” under the magic cloak of “diversity” and has chosen members of his Politburo to monitor and enforce that policy.

He appointed Mark Lloyd chief diversity officer of the Federal Communications Commission, who wishes to make private broadcasting companies pay licensing fees equal to their total operating costs to allow public broadcasting outlets to spend the same on their operations as the private companies do.

Obama appointed Julius Genachowski, his former Harvard Law School classmate and a busybody social worker, as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Doubtless he will do Obama’s bidding, just for old times’ sake, and formulate a new speech policy that would regulate the Internet to ensure net neutrality.

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed strengthening the agency’s current guidelines on net neutrality by formally adopting them as regulation. He also proposed two additional rules, including one aimed at preventing Internet companies from discriminating against any traffic to certain types of content or services. In other words, all traffic would have to be treated the same.

Net neutrality was a cornerstone of Obama’s technology priorities during his campaign. Genachowski, his top campaign tech adviser, was a key architect behind those plans.

Cass Sunstein, head of the White Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, can rule on virtually any brand of speech anywhere. Indeed, one blogger reported:

The recent Obama intended appointment of Cass Sunstein…is the next nail in the coffin of the First Amendment. In this position Sunstein will have powers that are unprecedented and very far reaching; not merely mind-boggling but with explicit ability to use the courts to stifle free speech if it opposes Obama policies. In particular, Sunstein thinks that the bloggers have been “rampaging out of control” and that “new laws need to be written” to contain them.

Doubtless this blogger, as well as countless others who disagree with Obama that the Constitution is “deeply flawed,” has been marked for gagging by administration snoops and FCC bloodhounds on the scent of “non-diversity.”

Of course, Mao admirer Anita Dunn, White House communications director and failed Fox-hunter who was a “victim” of opinions Obama would rather not hear, is gone, “but will remain as a consultant to the White House on the communications and strategic matters.” Her husband, attorney Robert Bauer and a long-time Obama devotee, has been appointed White House counsel to fend off more “frivolous” allegations and charges against Obama and members of his “team,” a political organization whose suffocating power is intended to extend from the White House rose garden to every nock and cranny of American life.

The satire is that in Shanghai, Obama was subjected to the same censorship that he wishes to impose on America. It was the professional totalitarians showing the ropes to an amateur.

Natural Allies Against Liberty

Just as the Witch Doctor is impotent without Attila, so Attila is impotent without the Witch Doctor; neither can make his power last without the other.*

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.**

In all ages, hypocrites, called priests, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called kings.***

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lent its endorsement to the 2,000+ page health care bill passed by the House last week (H.R. 3962), when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her arm-twisting cohorts persuaded others to okay the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. The amendment would prohibit insurance companies from including coverage for federally-subsidized abortions in their health plans, or so restrict them that it would not encourage any insurance company to include an abortion as a covered medical procedure.

The amendment, which passed by a vote of 240 to 194, would be included in the so-called “public option” of the legislation. The term “public option,” however, is a deceptive misnomer. There is nothing “public” about it. It would place a government bureaucrat in between an insurer and the insured. It should be called the “bureaucratic option.”

What has not been paid much attention is the fact that an organization of Catholic clergy has prevailed upon a nominally secular government to impose its religious dogma — that fetuses are persons from the moment of conception — on the rest of the country, in the face of opposition by several other religious groups, including one called Catholics for Choice. Of course, few in Congress, least of all Pelosi and her mandating munchkins and trolls, care to think of the First Amendment of the Constitution or even to give it serious credence, or perhaps devote two seconds of consideration of it in their power-obsessed minds. The words in that amendment are simple, clear and brief. It states that:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The establishment clause prohibits Congress from creating a state religion, while the free exercise clause bars Congress from granting “most-favored religion” status to any religion at the expense of or over another (that is, while not literally creating a state religion).

Balance that against the mammoth health care bill with its millions of words. The question, however, is: Can the endorsement of the anti-abortion provision by the bishops, together with the concession by Pelosi (also a Catholic) and her allies in response to the peevish machinations of Stupak and his allies, be construed as the establishment of a religion?

Actually, no. But it hovers close to it. In fact, the American Catholic Church is a major recipient of federal funds. Its collection basket overflows with taxpayer money. It should come as no surprise that the bishops could exert such extraordinary influence on a nominally secular Congress. Politico reports:

With well over half of their revenue coming from the government, it is safe to say that Catholic hospitals survive on government funding as well as contributions from private sources….Catholic Charities, the domestic direct service arm of the bishops, also depends on state and federal dollars. Sixty-seven percent of Catholic Charities’ income comes from government funding. That represents over $2.6 billion in 2008 — an amount that is more than three times as large as the next largest charitable recipient of federal funds, the YMCA. Just as Catholic hospitals do, Catholic Charities receives enormous quantities of government dollars while abiding by existing constitutional and statutory requirements that prevent government sponsorship of religion.

How the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health care bill came to be an issue is completely consistent with the character of the bill itself. In a move that smacks of extortion of extortionists. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat (and Catholic) who sponsored the amendment, together with Pennsylvania Republican representative Joseph Pitts (an evangelical Christian), promised that they and other Democrats and Republicans would block passage of the bill if it permitted the federal subsidy of abortions in conjunction with the bill’s insurance coverage. Joining them in that maneuver were Democratic Representatives Ike Skelton of Missouri, John Tanner and Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, and Dan Boren of Oklahoma.

They were apparently moved to initiate that maneuver by the first bishops’ letter, dated October 10, in which, among other things, the bishops demanded that the bill:

Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test.

Otherwise, the bishops warned:

If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill. We remain committed to working with the Administration, Congressional leadership, and our allies to produce final health reform legislation that will reflect our principles.

Once the amendment had passed, however, the bishops wrote the House:

We are very pleased that the House leadership has agreed to allow the essential Stupak-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment to be considered by the House. This amendment will add to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) crucial provisions that maintain the current protections against abortion funding and mandates. Specifically, it will achieve our objective of applying the provisions of the Hyde amendment to the public health plan and on the affordability credits in the exchanges called for in the legislation.

Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation. It also would fulfill President Obama’s commitment in this area. Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion. It is a major step forward.

In the bishops’ first letter there is no reference to or mention of the premise that abortion is immoral, or that fetuses are “persons” with “rights.” Those are merely covered by the disingenuous phrases, “rights of conscience” and “our principles.” What “rights” and what “principles”? As Ayn Rand would retort: Blank-out. In the second, congratulatory letter, the bishops felt they no longer needed to mention “rights” or “principles.” They were only too happy to pat the Stupak syndicate on the back.

Catholics and their clergy are not the only religious groups that oppose abortion on moral grounds. There are secular opponents, as well. The question, then, is not whether there are any provable grounds to such a position, but whether or not such an idea, grounded on mere emotionalist assertions, has any business influencing any legislation.

In both of the bishops’ letters, the premise is not spoken, revealed, or even implied. It has been merely incorporated into the arid language of the bill concerning federal funding of abortions and insurance coverage.

In an apparent digression here, it would be apropos to quote Ayn Rand from her 1964 Playboy interview. Asked about her alleged remark about the cross being a symbol of torture, she replied:

To begin with, I never said that. It’s not my style….What is correct is that I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. Isn’t that what it does mean? Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used. That is torture.

What is the bishops’ premise? What is their principle? Just as environmentalists expect man to sacrifice his well-being, standard of living, longevity, and happiness in the name of “preserving” the earth or the climate or polar bears or weeds, women are specifically expected to be virtuous by sacrificing their lives and happiness for the sake of a non-ideal, that is, for the sake of a fetus, or a non-person.

So it is logical that the bishops would endorse the entire, sacrifice-through-coercion health care legislation. It is doubtful that they actually believe in the nonsense that fetuses have “rights.” They know, in the dark, unexamined cores of their souls, that the bill is a prescription for slavery and sacrifice to all the “non-ideal” men and women in the country. They are the Witch Doctors working hand-in-hand with the Attilas. Virtue comes from the point of a gun. They pose as “pro-life,” when, in fact, they are anti-life.

Had the bishops not intervened and played politics with the House sponsors and advocates of the health care bill, the provisions that cover insurance-covered abortions would probably have remained untouched. This is aside from the issue that the whole bill virtually appropriates Americans’ bodies and wealth for the sake of the poor, the uninsured, illegal immigrants — and fetuses. The bishops are indifferent to the fact that the bill lays the groundwork for totalitarianism in this country. They are oblivious to the virtual enslavement of the medical profession. Their “rights of conscience” and “principles” trump those of all other Americans.

The bishops are not only anti-choice in the matter of abortion, but anti-choice in the most fundamental sense of individual rights. The Bill of Rights means as little to them as it does to most members of Congress. They are the natural allies of the totalitarians in the House and Senate.

*”For the New Intellectual,” in For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Signet, 1961, p. 23.

**Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.

***Robert G. Ingersoll, 1833-1899, Prose Poems and Selections, 1884. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.

In Congress, Ignorance is Strength

I open this commentary with the introduction to my previous commentary, “The Mainstream Smearing of Ayn Rand.” The disparity in subject is not so irrelevant as one might presume, but I won’t dwell on that matter.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi looked like a deer caught in the blinding headlight of an oncoming freight train, her expression frozen in either ignorance or fear. It has always been difficult to distinguish between the two in her. But the malice in her words was palpable. “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes, I am.”

Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandate that individual Americans buy health insurance was not a “serious question.”

“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

His iterating mockery of the reporter is indeed on the record. Elshami, deputy communications director and senior adviser to Pelosi, later issued a press release stating that Congress was empowered by the commerce clause in the Constitution to mandate individual health insurance. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), however, differed from that dubious specificity, instead likening the power to compel all Americans to buy health insurance to federal authority to impose speed limits on interstate highways (???), adding that “nobody questions” Congress’s authority to impose controls of any kind. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) linked the power to the general welfare clause.

Since that demonstration of Congressional arrogance, the House passed its health-care legislation by a vote of 220 to 215, squeaking through only because of the browbeating of Blue Dog Democrats by the Pelosi gang. Hardly a glittering victory. The bill has been sent to the Senate, which has its own versions of health care legislation to scuffle over. The House bill, remarked Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, soon after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her determined co-conspirators posed with smiles of triumph for photo ops, was “dead on arrival.” In the meantime, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut issued his own warning:

If a government plan is part of the deal, “as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent whose vote Democrats need to overcome GOP filibusters.

It seems that some Senators understand the original purpose of the Senate, which is to act as a check on the populist, “democratic,” majority-rule grounded legislation concocted by the House, to better preserve and protect the life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness of Americans. Unfortunately, only Graham, Lieberman, and a handful of other Senators appreciate that intention. Others have publicly articulated it — but with reservations.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) says he is “not aware” of the Constitution giving Congress the authority to make individuals purchase health insurance, as the health care bills in both the House and Senate require.

No, he isn’t aware of the Constitution mandating Congress the power to force Americans to buy health insurance. And that unawareness won’t stop him from advocating such compulsion.

When asked if there was a specific part of the Constitution that gives Congress the authority to make people buy health insurance, Akaka said: “Not in particular with health insurance. It’s not covered in that respect. But in ways to help citizens in our country to live a good life, let me say it that way, is what we’re trying to do, and in this case, we’re trying to help them with their health.”

Both House and Senate health care bills mandate that people buy health insurance, facing a financial penalty if they do not. Akaka said this mandate should not be looked upon as a penalty…“It’s an idea of making it possible for people and this is what it’s all about,” he said. “I don’t look upon that as a penalty but as a way of getting help with health insurance.”

If Akaka had been sharp enough, he might have echoed House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and claimed that “helping people” at the point of a gun to buy health insurance came under the (misunderstood) general welfare clause. But, he was not sharp enough, and that neglect simply added to his ignorance quotient.

Other politicians have been more specific in their opposition to any health care legislation. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah remarked that if the government can force Americans to purchase health insurance, “then there is literally nothing the federal government can’t force us to do.”

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island is in a dead heat with Senator Akaka in being unaware of any Constitutional mandate to compel Americans to buy health insurance. When asked by a reporter to identify that mandate in the Constitution, Reed answered:

“Let me see,” said Reed. “I would have to check the specific sections, so I’ll have to get back to you on the specific section. But it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft and do many other things too, which I don’t think are explicitly contained [in the Constitution]. It gives Congress a right to raise an army, but it doesn’t say you can take people and draft them. But since that was something necessary for the functioning of the government over the past several years, the practice on the books, it’s been recognized, the authority to do that.”

The gentleman did not “get back” to the reporter who buttonholed him with that question. He likened the element of compulsion to forcing Americans to register for the military draft. That is okay with him. It is all about duty, and sacrifice, and “giving back” to society. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska also displayed his ignorance as well as his manners:

“Specifically, where in the Constitution does Congress get its authority to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?” asked Nelson.

“Well, you know, I don’t know that I’m a constitutional scholar,” said Nelson. So, I, I’m not going to be able to answer that question.” The senator then turned away to answer another reporter’s question.

If he doesn’t know whether or not he’s a constitutional scholar, then he isn’t one. That answer invites the observation and question: One can expect members of the House of Representatives to be foggy on matters of constitutionality, although their two-year terms ought to allow them to become experts on the subject.

Should Senators come to their jobs as Solons prepared to repel any and all usurpations of the Constitution? Yes. Willing and able to uphold individual rights and the sanctity of private contract? Yes. It is in the nature of the title and the concomitant responsibility of the office. Most senators, however, do not come to the job with anything near a tenuous knowledge of their function. And many of them assume their seats in the Senate with a contempt for the Constitution that may as well be ignorance.

Most Senators complement their ignorance of the Constitution with an indifference to its clearly-worded stipulations, and in this state of mind emulate President Barack Obama, former pseudo-professor of Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. Obama is not so much ignorant of that document as hostile to it. It is “deeply flawed,” and a “charter of negative liberties,” which should be amended or rewritten to include the “positive“ liberties of welfare state entitlements and provisions for fiat executive powers. His demonstrated hostility for individual rights and private property is arguably more deep-seated than was FDR’s, whose grasp of the Constitutional limits placed on the executive and legislative branches of government was as blithely disjointed as is Obama’s.

The key to understanding the machinations of Obama, Pelosi, Reid and their allies in Congress is to grasp this: No one can express, as they have, such vehement ignorance without knowing full well what it is they are ignorant of.

It is time Americans called their bluff, as they may well do in the 2010 mid-term elections, or in manners reminiscent of the Tea Parties of 2009, or of the Minute Men of 1775.

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