The imminent rebellion: States vs the Federal government

Note:  This is a guest blog entry submitted by James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, who is an Ohio native currently residing in Utah.

Not long ago while listening to KSL radio in Salt Lake City I heard that the state legislature was proposing an unusual move if the US congress passes the “Obamacare” bill:  nullification.  While this concept is not new it has been a while since we have seen it surface in this country from legitimate sources.  The state legislature here discussed passing a measure that would nullify the federal law and put in its place a state law.  I am not sure of the legal arguments for such a move but it seems our legislature here in Utah is not alone.

This quote is lifted directly from Wikipedia after searching for secession movements in the United States:

“On April 1, 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution 43-1 which affirmed the right of States to nullify Federal laws. The resolution also included the assertion that if Congress took certain steps, including restricting firearms or ammunition, the United States government would cease to exist ”  http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/fulltext/sr632.htm is listed as the reference and contains the full text of the resolution.

Why the Georgia state legislature felt the need to pass this resolution is becoming increasingly apparent.  A few of our legislative and executive branch leaders have apparently lost touch with reality. Voter rage was already on the rise with the passage of the TARP bailout in the fall of 2008.  Unfortunately it was not sufficient to create a significant change in the landscape of the congress.  The White House changed hands but it did not take long to find a new source of public outrage sponsered by the White House in the health care reform debate.  Rather than respond to the voters a few of our “fearless leaders” have decided to bully and intimidate congressmen and senators that do not share the view of our new “politiboro”.  This has been tried many times in the past in other countries with varying degrees of success but it is a rare occurence here and is one of the things that keeps our country free and makes it so great.

This political freedom of expression in terms of votes is now in real danger as there is a large disconnect between the will of the voters and the will of the elected.  Thus the drive to get things done quickly, hoping that things will improve before the next election and the voter rage will have time to cool.  In this I believe the hope of the current oligarchy will fail.
Consider the next statement by the governor of Texas (lifted from the same Wikipedia page):

“In April 2009, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, raised the issue of secession during a speech at a Tea Party protest: “Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that…My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”[39] After Perry’s comments received considerable attention and news coverage, Rasmussen Reports polled Texans and found that 31% of them believed that Texas has the right to secede from the United States, although only 18% would support secession.”  Reference: “In Texas, 31% Say State Has Right to Secede From U.S., But 75% Opt To Stay“. Rasmussen Reports. 2009-04-17. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/states_general/texas/in_texas_31_say_state_has_right_to_secede_from_u_s_but_75_opt_to_stay. Retrieved 2009-04-19.

Secession movements have always existed in this country to some extent, but when the governor of the third most populous state (and right now perhaps the most solvent) starts talking secession someone in Washington ought to think twice about what they are doing.  This statement was made in April.  It is now August and the disconnect between the ambitions of the White House, Speaker, and Pro-tempore and the public will only seem to be growing daily.

Not long ago a Russian former KJB financial analyst (his name escapes me) predicted that the US would break up over the growing discontent of the financial inequity among the states.  Specifically that the states that have the greatest revenue gap (send more in taxes than they receive from the federal government) would stop sending tax revenue to Washington and that would cause a collapse of the system.  Ohio is the poster-child for this problem.  While unemployment escalates and economic activity stagnates Ohio continues to shoulder much more than its fair share of the financial burden imposed by the federal government exacerbating the difficulty of lasting economic recovery, while California is on the receiving end.  Why the preferential treatment for California?  Could it be the number of congressional votes?  Could it be the large population of “undocumented” immigrants that bloat census district populations but have very little political voice and are easily bought with things such as immigration reform promises and free healthcare for mothers who deliver “anchor babies”?  These inequalities cannot persist forever and if our government doesn’t wake up and smell the coffee soon they will wake up to the smell of burnt toast…

I don’t know who first coined the phrase “ObamaNation” but they forgot two words:  “of Desolation”..

$876,831

Take a guess what that number means.  Need a hint?  The source of that number comes from the Contra Costa Times, of Contra Costa, California.

Have you figured it out yet?

It’s what one person earned last year.  But these weren’t the earnings of a celebrity, nor were they the earnings of a lottery jackpot winner, nor were they even the earnings of some evil capitalist.

This person works for the government.  Not the federal government, mind you.  Not even a state government.  This person works for local government, but at a regional level rather than a municipal level.

According to the story in the Contra Costa Times, this person is the chief executive officer of the Washington Township health district of Alameda County, California.  The news organization is working on compiling a database revealing salaries of all public employees in the San Francisco Bay area, and they’ve provided two links for those who wish to peruse the database: here and here.

I have two thoughts that spring to mind.

First thought:

Umm . . . are we talking about  . . . the PUBLIC HEALTH sector?  You, know, the health sector that’s NOT capitalistic, that’s supposedly compassionate yet efficient and not overly expensive?

And after you look through more of that database for that one small segment of the country called the Bay Area, and you eyeball some other salaries of public health officials, could it make you question whether Obamacare will bring any improvement?  Oh, and, how about that PUBLIC OPTION?  Hmmm?  Will that add up to savings?

Second thought:

Regionalism.  Yuck.

Talking heads in the Cleveland area have been talking about regionalism.  There are already some regional bureaucracies in place in Northeast Ohio.  (NOACA comes to mind . . . yuck!)

Here’s the rub:  What kind of input do voters have on regional bureaucracies?

Would this CEO of a regional public health district in California be raking in $876,831 (her base salary, alone, is $633,393) if the voters had a say in the matter?

Don’t regional bureaucracies lend themselves to patronage appointments that are untouchable by voters?  What accountability mechanisms would voters have at their disposal?

From what the Contra Costa Times reports, it was like pulling teeth just to get these salaries disclosed to the public.  The fight went all the way to California’s Supreme Court in 2007 just to clarify that these salaries are matters of public record.  Beyond salaries, what other information might be lingering in the shadows of regional bureaucracies?

And when thinking about what reforms you’d like to see in Cuyahoga County government, be wary of proposals that place emphasis on appointed rather than elected officials as key to the reforms, because appointed officials are a step removed from voters.  Appointments don’t make government less political, nor do they make government less prone to scandal.  I still think the best remedy for Cuyahoga and other Ohio counties would be simply to change the election years for commissioners to odd numbered years.

Sutton creating myths about reform?

Is Betty Sutton, Ohio’s 13th Congressional District Representative (D-Akron), using teleconference calls to fabricate tall tales about what’s in the Obamacare bill that would otherwise be called into question if she were holding a town hall in an arena or stadium?

That she only addressed 9 questioners in one hour is, in itself, a slap in the public’s face.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Hampshire undeserving of first primary

From Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire, it appears the voters have become too brain-dead to conjure up the tough questions that need to be asked.  Why do they get to weigh in first on presidential candidates?  Is it because New Hampshire’s residents are the most carefully groomed to serve as presidential lap dogs?

Either that, or the crowd in attendance was very carefully handpicked.

Obamacare hysteria

Yes, there’s definitely hysteria being expressed by Obamacare opponents.  Obamacare supporters are claiming that Obamacare opponents have mischaracterized what the reform plan is, and with misleading rhetoric, have whipped mobs up into a frenzy.  Among the most noteworthy examples that Obamacare supporters like to point to are Sarah Palin’s recent remarks suggesting that Obamacare will eventually lead to a government bureaucracy that Palin called a “death panel,” that would make final determinations over which health care treatments will be prescribed for you, and which will be summarily denied.

If you think my purpose in writing this blog entry is to urge my fellow Obamacare opponents to adopt a more calm, impassionate, emotionally-detached, and less provocative tone in this debate, while restricting the scope of the health care dialogue to exactly what’s contained in the Congressional bill’s 1017 pages, you’d be . . . WRONG!

Instead, this blog entry is intended to offer a few highlights about why it’s perfectly OK to get hysterical in our opposition to Obamacare.  In recent years, we, the people, have been paying closer attention to how our federal government operates, and here are some of the lessons we’ve learned that inform our approach to Obamacare:

  1. The final bill won’t be 1017 pages. We know this from watching what happened to other high-profile bills, such as the bailouts, and cap-and-trade.  All kinds of amendments are attached, and additional pages get inserted, constantly changing the content of the bill, so it’s silly to insist that we limit the health care reform dialogue to reflect only what’s written on 1017 pages.
  2. Members of Congress don’t even author legislation anymore. Let’s not pretend that a member of Congress, or even multiple members of Congress crafted the wording of this or any bill.  Congress receives pre-fabricated pieces of legislation, and then nit-picks over it.  Who pre-fabricates the legislation?  Special interest groups, White House staffers, Congressional staffers, etc.  Even if there was a Thomas Jefferson among the ranks of members of Congress who was capable of drafting language as powerful and well-thought-out as the Declaration of Independence, I guarantee that none of them personally cranked out these 1017 pages during the time that has elapsed since the start of the Obama administration.  And because the words contained in this legislation are the handiwork of scores of anonymous grunts, and did not originate with the members of Congress themselves, we don’t trust members of Congress to be able to speak authoritatively about it, particularly not the nuances of the semantics.
  3. Changes to legislation are made in the middle of the night and the wee hours of the morning, just hours before the final floor vote on the bill. It’s impossible to predict in advance what these last-minute changes will entail, and there’s no window of opportunity to scrutinize the changes.  The fact that an additional 300 pages can be inserted into legislation between the time that floor debate has wrapped up and the time that the votes are cast further illustrates that members of Congress are not original authors of legislation, and that legislation arrives pre-packaged from other sources, and that portions of legislation are strategically withheld from public view until after the bill’s passage.
  4. We don’t even assume that our Congressional representatives have read the legislation that they vote on. Again, when legislation runs into the hundreds and thousands of pages, not only is it safe to assume that members of Congress were too busy to write the legislation themselves, we also have to wonder if they even read the legislation themselves.  We end up having to specifically ask our Congressional reps whether they’ve personally read through specific bills or not.  How many times have we faulted a member of Congress for a law’s unintended consequences, and the member of Congress, in turn, responds that they hadn’t the faintest idea that it was included in the legislation they passed?  If they aren’t reading the legislation, they definitely didn’t write it.
  5. There’s no way to hold the nameless, faceless, anonymous grunts accountable for slimy pre-packaged legislation that they feed Congress. We can try to hold members of Congress accountable, but members of Congress have shown that they can be quite slippery when we, the people, try to nab them.  Members of Congress are adept at playing the blame game and passing the buck to Rush Limbaugh, or some other imaginary demon, and letting themselves off the hook.  Meanwhile, the chief culprits who remain faceless, nameless, and anonymous, keep churning out the sausage that makes us all sick to our stomachs.  They face no reprisals.  We, the people, take it on the chin.
  6. Too many members of Congress are lawyers. They insert ambiguities into the law that are intended to reap a windfall for their own profession.  Disagreements over the meaning and intent of a law are decided in a courtroom.  Cha-ching.  Therefore, as applied to Obamacare, much of the meaning of the legislation won’t be truly known until long after the law has been enacted, as lawsuits wind their way through courthouses throughout the land.
  7. Obama seeks to appoint activist federal attorneys and judges. Following on the heels of the previous point, since the full meaning of the law won’t be known until the conclusion of court litigation, the outcome depends partly on who the personnel are inside the courtroom.  If Obama appointed those who were strict constructionists in interpreting the Constitution, we might have some gauge as to what the outcomes would be, as they would more closely conform to our understanding of the Constitution.  Activist attorneys and judges, however, may seek to impose something very far afield from what a reading of  the Constitution might indicate, adding uncertainty to the outcome.
  8. Even if Congress had an up-or-down vote on the 1017 pages, Bill Clinton has taught us that even the meaning of the word “is” can be interpreted in multiple ways. Thus, the debate even limited to the contents of the 1017 pages must envision all the ways in which meanings of words can be stretched.  So if it seems Obamacare opponents have an overactive imagination, there’s good reason for it.
  9. Even when meanings of words are agreed upon, it still doesn’t ensure the federal government will conform to expectations. Another lesson from the Bill Clinton era:  Perjury may be an impeachable offense, but it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal behavior that warrants removal from office.  Personally, I think it did warrant removal from office, but that’s not how the Senate voted.  The upshot is, key people in our federal government can lie, and the only penalty they will suffer is embarrassment.  The government can also cheat.  Note that Senator Dodd will not be penalized for his VIP mortgage deal from Countrywide, and that Tim Geithner was treated with much more leniency by the IRS than a non-VIP would receive.  The biggest players in Washington are cheaters, and we, the people, have little confidence in Washington’s integrity.
  10. The Beltway insulates the federal government from the people. Those inside Washington’s Beltway don’t live like the rest of us.  The more time they spend inside that cocoon, the less their motives match our own.
  11. Lobbyists have more access to the federal government than citizens do. The reason we have a captive marketplace for health insurance instead of a free marketplace has everything to do with the access that lobbyists have and the detachment from citizens that government officials feel.  And why do lobbyists have more access than we do?  Because they bundle campaign donations far more effectively than we do, and because they are physically present inside the Beltway while we inhabit the hinterlands.  Money talks, and the lobbyists have it, so they do the talking.  Campaigns treasuries have to fill their coffers somehow.  Citizens don’t get health care reformed in the way that we want it to be reformed because no lobbyists will cough up campaign donations for implementing the reforms that we, the people, would favor.
  12. Even as lengthy as legislation is, much of the rule-making is left to bureaucrats within the executive branch. So even if we identify the culprits who pre-packaged the legislative sausage for us and held them accountable, we have to take the additional step to identify the nameless, faceless, anonymous bureaucrats within the agencies of the Obama administration in order to address the federal administrative code that would follow on the heels of the passage of legislation.  Once those persons are identified, they still can’t be held accountable.  They are out of reach, and only a formidable outcry in the court of public opinion can get them booted from power.  On the other hand, public outcry seems to have little effect with this White House, as Tim Geithner getting the Treasury Secretary job illustrates.
  13. Problematic legislation is almost never repealed.  Instead, additional legislation is piled upon it, ostensibly to mitigate the problems, but invariably compounding the problems, until a crisis is declared, clearing the way for sweeping changes that result in yet another power grab by federal authorities. You’d think with advances in literacy, science, and technology, our society would be far better equipped to devolve power back to the people than when the Constitution was first drafted.  Counterintuitively, power has been increasingly consolidated in Washington over the past two-plus centuries.  Fixing problems is often the ruse used for Washington’s power grabs, even if the problems were caused by Washington in the first place.  In fact, we, the people, have to wonder whether enactment of flawed legislation is deliberate sabotage intended to trigger the “justification” for a bigger government role.

So, we, the people, have great difficulty communicating with Washington over top of the competing voices of lobbyists.  The members of Congress are passengers on a runaway train of legislation that they didn’t craft, perhaps didn’t even read, and probably don’t understand.  We have no clue what the final version of the legislation will be.  After the legislation leaves Congress, we don’t know what the resulting rules will be that are concocted and enforced by Obama’s bureaucrats.  After that, we don’t know what the lawyers will take issue with, and what the courts will decree in response.  Even once everything is hammered out, we can’t be assured that the federal government will keep up their end of the bargain as they’ve demonstrated a capacity to lie and cheat while dodging real accountability.

As far as I’m concerned, any interpretation of Obamacare is fair game, as it’s too fluid, too nebulous, not concrete enough to possess a set definition.  Sarah Palin is perfectly within reason to refer to Obama’s proposed health care regime as a “death panel.”  Obamacare supporters cannot credibly claim that something is or is not applicable to the health care reform debate, as nothing can be ruled out at this point.

I recommend that Obamacare opponents sound off on any and every possible concern they may have about health care granted by government decree.  If we don’t stake out our positions, if we don’t draw the line on what is and is not acceptable, if we do not make our voices heard, we are bound to discover that this legislation will take on a shape that we abhor.  We absolutely must raise a ruckus.  The magnitude of our mass hysteria must overpower the evil designs of Washington powermongers who would trample the authority of the people.

We edge ever closer to the crossroads that mark a defining turn of events in the future of our nation.  Liberty, itself, hangs in the balance.  We, the people, must rise to the challenge.

Uproar over health care: some Democrat myths need to be busted

I generally blog about what I want to blog about.  I generally prefer to blog about Ohio issues instead of national ones.  Lately, I’ve been on fire over gambling, both Strickland’s flip-flop, and the pending casino ballot issue.

However, my friends and family members have been pestering me day after day to blog about health care reform.  My friends and family are not nearly as political as I am, so it’s unusual for me to see them so fired up and passionate about something political.  My youngest sister (I’ve got 4 sisters and 5 brothers) is the only one out of all these people who hasn’t fully formed an opinion on the topic of health care.  Everyone else who’s emailed me is adamantly opposed to the direction that Obama and the Democrats are taking us in.  About two weeks ago, I emailed them all back and said that I’d already blogged about my own stance on health care last year, along with a string of blog entries expressing my agony that our nation is marching down the path of socialism.  My health care stance basically stipulates that we need to switch from a captive marketplace to a free marketplace where consumers make the choices among private sector competitors, similar to the auto insurance marketplace.  I encouraged them all to contact their Congressional representatives to let them know how they felt about the direction of health care reform, but I told them I was weary of the topic, myself, and didn’t plan to blog much more about it.

Yesterday at Michelle Malkin’s blog, I happened to see an eye-popping video of an AARP meeting in Dallas, so I included a brief blurb about it on my blog.  Voila.  I wrote my obligatory health care post.  ‘Nuff said.

I moved on to other tasks around the house, with a load off my mind.

Later, I came back to my computer to see what was going on in Ohio’s blogosphere, hoping to see who else might be writing something about the gambling issues in Ohio when I saw a post from Dayton OS that got me totally riled up.  It wasn’t about gambling.  It was about health care.  The Democrats are telling each other lies about the opposition to Obamacare.

How thick-skulled the Democrats are.  No matter how much they’re  bludgeoned with the truth about how we really feel about Obamacare, the truth doesn’t get through their thick skulls.

So here I am, seething with anger over Democrat lies, blogging about health care reform.

What lies are the Democrats telling each other?  That opposition to Obamacare is nothing but an astroturf campaign wholly concocted by the health insurance lobby, and there is no genuine grassroots opposition to Obamacare.

A conclusion that Democrats draw from their own lies is that there’s no need for Congressional representatives to pay any attention to any feedback from constituents on Obamacare.  They’ve convinced themselves that the grassroots all want Obamacare, no matter how much noise we make.

I can’t think of a greater dereliction of a Congress member’s duty than to turn a deaf ear to the people.  If opposition to Obamacare is nothing but astroturf, then overwhelm it.  Have all 535 members of Congress hold town hall meetings in their hometowns all over the country at the exact same times on the exact same days so that there’s no way that the health care lobbyists can be in all places at once.  If opposition turns up everywhere at once, then you’d better be listening, because that’s grassroots, not astroturf.  But if members of Congress, instead, are derelict in their duty by turning a deaf ear to the people, and letting us have no voice, I swear I’ll trek to Capitol Hill this fall and make some noise. I might even bring a pitchfork with me.

I am not in league with health care lobbyists.  If anyone cares to read my blog entry on health care reform, I expressed displeasure with the health care lobby and with pay-to-play legislators who got us to the point where we are now, with a very uneven playing field in a very uncompetitive health care marketplace.  I’m not against health insurers earning a profit in a free marketplace, but we don’t have a free marketplace.  We have a captive marketplace.  To get to a free marketplace, we have to repeal scores of laws that legislators enacted in exchange for campaign contributions from the health care lobby.  The real reason we can’t have the health care reform that Americans want is that members of Congress are too concerned about campaign fundraising and holding on to power.  Legislators won’t get PAC donations for repealing sweetheart deals so that we can free the marketplace.

It’s an insult to me to suggest that I, as an opponent of Obamacare, have been bought by the health care lobby for the sole purpose of an astroturf campaign.  I first started talking about marketplace reforms of health care when I first ran for state rep in 2002.  My health care plan blog entry from last year was very nearly a cut-and-paste of the same health care plan I touted in a campaign email newsletter that I circulated during my 2nd state rep run back in 2004.  I staked out my position on the issue long before Obama ran for President, let alone before Obamacare was placed before us.  No health care lobby has been orchestrating my opposition to Obamacare.  It’s Congress and the state legislatures that have been influenced decade after decade by the health care lobby that we’ve arrived at the mess we’re in.  It’s the height of hypocrisy for legislators to suggest that Obamacare’s opponents have all been bought by lobbyists.

“Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation.”

What a crock!  We’d like a conversation to begin, and we’d like it to be open and frank, and we’d like to be a part of it.

If Democrat members of Congress embrace these lies, and turn a deaf ear to us, despite their Constitutional duty to represent us, there won’t be a conversation.  If that happens, things could get really ugly.

AARP not working for the seniors

Mega hat-tip to Michelle Malkin for this astonishing post (complete with video clip) about an AARP town hall in Dallas that didn’t go according to plan.  The AARP staffer had an agenda different from grassroots seniors.  The AARP agenda?  Obamacare.  The staffer was asked by a senior, “Do you work for us?  Or do we work for you?”  The staffer pulled the plug on the microphone, said the meeting was over, and left, but the seniors continued with their forum after the AARP staff walked out the door.