The Patriot Post® · Friday Digest
“No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable.” –James Madison
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Train Wreck Proceeds as Expected
The fight began with ObamaCare, and it led to 17% of the government shutting down. The House GOP offered a deal Thursday night to raise the debt ceiling for six weeks but without reopening government. Senate Republicans are pursuing a three-month increase. Barack Obama still refuses to budge until Republicans completely cave.
Meanwhile, the problems with ObamaCare’s public rollout continue to stack up as the program closes its second official week in operation. On the technical front, insurance companies are receiving incomplete applications, bad data and unusable files from the mere 51,000 enrollees who somehow managed to sign up on the ObamaCare exchanges in the first week. Government computer contractors with a three-year head start and at least $94 million failed to design a system that could effectively communicate with private insurance companies. Now insurers will have to clean up the data on their end, leading to a backlog of applications and possible delays in coverage.
In other news, the Better Business Bureau raised a red flag about the potential for mass fraud with ObamaCare. The ridiculous complexity of the law and the dysfunction of the online system present myriad opportunities for scammers who thrive on confusion and misinformation. One popular tactic already in effect is identity thieves posing as insurance representatives offering customers a short cut to signing on by getting them to turn over their Social Security and bank account information. And since the system was never properly tested, there’s no telling what kinds of security holes hackers will exploit.
Finally, those who do manage to sign up, get their insurance and avoid being robbed in the process, face significantly higher costs than promised. Even government actuaries found that ObamaCare will increase health care spending by at least $621 billion over the next 10 years. Despite the snake oil that Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats were selling us in 2009, there’s no way health care will cost less when more people are added to the insurance rolls and forced to buy more expensive plans.
Regulatory Commissars: Enforcing the Ethanol Mandate
On the heels of federal subsidies and legislation designed to force a commodity into a market with little appetite for it, ethanol may be getting yet another assist. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) recently sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting investigation of the oil industry for “anticompetitive practices aimed at blocking market access for renewable fuels.” In other words, having failed to create demand with special treatment for ethanol, they now want Big Brother to harass oil companies forced to blend it with their product.
This goes back to the 2007 congressional mandate that 36 billion gallons of ethanol must contaminate the nation’s gas supply by 2022. With a growing gasoline supply, this might not have been problematic, but demand for gas hasn’t grown because of the EPA’s mileage demands and better technology from car manufacturers. And since gasoline with more than 10% ethanol wreaks havoc on engines not built to handle its corrosive effects, refiners have found themselves stuck between reality and the mandate. Unbothered by the former, the pro-ethanol lobby claims the oil industry is “blocking the introduction of cheaper, cleaner, and renewable alternatives.”
Meanwhile, even one Democrat has conceded the mandate’s failure, calling the standard a “flop” that’s caused both “environmental … [and] economic detriment to many sectors of the economy.” The White House, however, continues to vow loyalty to the ethanol lobby. But then again, that’s not surprising for an administration that doesn’t let facts cloud its judgment.
‘Progress’ in Syria
Since taking office, Barack Obama has never shied away from diplomacy (unless of course it’s with the Republican Party). We all remember the “Kumbaya” tone of his campaign speeches, and it comes as no surprise that his tireless efforts to “make nice” in the Middle East have resulted not in a decline in violence but only in America’s influence there. This was most recently illustrated in the president’s handling (or lack thereof) of Syria’s chemical weapons.
Obama’s show of bravado fooled no one, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who warned that we should be “prepared for anything” if we struck Syria. The absence of American leadership always creates a power vacuum, and those stepping into that vacuum might not be friendly to our interests, or to liberty in general. This time, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the helm.
In the meantime, Assad is putting his own spin on the situation, namely, that Putin is a “real friend” who truly “understands the fight against terrorism” due to Russia’s own troubles in Chechnya. Of Obama, Assad said something with which we can sympathize: “He has nothing to offer other than lies.” Currently, UN inspectors say they’re in the process of destroying Syria’s weapons and the machinery that created them. But we have no knowledge of what specifically is being destroyed, only the “promise” that the entire program will be shut down by the middle of next year.
Finally, from The Washington Post: “The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Hague-based agency responsible for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Friday in Oslo.” Yet another meaningless prize handed to someone who hasn’t actually done anything yet.
Village Academic Curriculum: Common Core or Common Sense?
The latest effort at government control in education comes in a set of standards purportedly set up to help us compete on a global scale. The Common Core State Standards Initiative, better and more simply known as Common Core, was sold to states as a replacement for the much-maligned No Child Left Behind program enacted by the George W. Bush administration. States that adopted Common Core were given waivers from many NCLB standards. The pot was sweetened by billions of dollars in stimulus money promised to states, with adoption of Common Core being a factor. Just five states – Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia – do not yet participate.
But a backlash is developing as parents learn about the program and educational experts decry the watering down of standards and “empty promises” of Common Core. Some states have listened – Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation last spring to “slow down” the adoption of Common Core until more research and input could be obtained – but others are moving full speed ahead and even arresting parents who question the motives of the state in blindly following.
Even parents who think they can avoid Common Core by sending their children to private school or homeschooling them may find an issue, as the ACT, SAT and even the GED high school equivalency exam are in the process of aligning their tests with the Common Core curriculum.
Surely, though, when succeeding generations graduate from whatever school they attend, they’ll find the school of hard knocks will give them an education they’ll never forget. It’s lifelong learning we all endure and are tested on daily.
For the Record
Columnist Ann Coulter: “Responding to the people’s will, House Republicans first voted to fund all of government – except Obamacare. Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it. Then the Republicans voted to fully fund the government, but merely delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year. Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it. Finally, the Republicans voted to fully fund the government, but added a requirement that everyone live under Obamacare. … Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it. So as you can see, Republicans are the big holdup here. … If you are in the minority of Americans not already unalterably opposed to Obamacare, keep in mind that the only reason the government is shut down right now is that Democrats refuse to fund the government if they are required to live under Obamacare. That’s how good it is!”
Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “[T]here’s an intriguing consensus around one issue: the ratchet effect. Neither side uses the term, but both the right and left treat it as an article of faith. … [T]he state takes on massive new powers during a crisis, usually wars. When the crisis subsides, the state relinquishes some of those powers, but it never gives them all back. This is how the state grows over time. … On both the right and the left, there’s agreement that once you give people a new entitlement, they won’t want to let go of it. Government programs become so ingrained, even Tea Party protesters can hold signs saying ‘Keep government out of Medicare!’ … [M]odern societies tend to produce interest groups (also known as lobbies) that undermine the public good for private gain. Virtually everyone wants to get rid of mohair subsidies, but almost no one cares about getting rid of them as much as the subsidy’s recipients care about keeping them. … The White House hopes that Obamacare will create a coalition of interests … that will defend the law, regardless of the social costs.”
Faith and Family
Columnist George Will: “The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America. … Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president. To be a liberal would mean being a scold. … [L]iberalism became less concerned with material well-being than with lifestyle, and cultural issues such as feminism, abortion and sexual freedom. The bullets fired on Nov. 22, 1963, could shatter the social consensus that characterized the 1950s only because powerful new forces of an adversarial culture were about to erupt through society’s crust. Foremost among these forces was the college-bound population bulge – baby boomers with their sense of entitlement and moral superiority, vanities encouraged by an intelligentsia bored by peace and prosperity and hungry for heroic politics.”
For more, visit The Right Opinion.
Columnist Michael Reagan: “One reason the D.C. crowd can’t lead is because they’re so politically spineless. They can’t decide how to vote on anything important without reading a poll. I bet they don’t pick a tie to wear until they’ve consulted Gallup. But leadership is not looking at polls. Leadership is leading.”
Barack Obama: “We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy. Democracy doesn’t function this way. … [W]e’re not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That’s something that should be non-negotiable, and everybody should agree on that.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: “The political dysfunction that has brought about the shutdown and now threatens default, isn’t so much gridlock. It is exposing the fatal flaw in our Constitution and highly distinct system of government. In other words, it’s the Constitution’s fault. Something truly catastrophic was bound to happen sooner or later.”
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
“Reverend” Jesse Jackson: “Calling the Affordable Care Act ‘ObamaCare’ is like an omelet with no eggs.”
Rep. Alan Grayson: “[T]here are really three Republican parties: There are the corporate shills, there are the religious fanatics and then there are the freedom fiends, the ones who want to make sure you have the right to sleep under a bridge.”
Former Clintonista Robert Reich: “[T]he President cannot re-negotiate the Affordable Care Act. And I don’t believe Tea Bag Republicans expect him to. Their real goal is far more insidious. They want to sow even greater cynicism about the capacity of government to do much of anything. … If you give in to bullies, their bullying only escalates. If you give in to cynicism about our democracy, our democracy steadily erodes.”
Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “How about instead of term limits, there’s a mandatory prison term after so many years in office for everything we didn’t catch them doing.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.