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Saturday, August 15, 2009
"We've Tried But They're Not Answering": Things That Might Be Worth Worrying About

There is a growing body of evidence that the party which controls the White House, the US Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Big Media Acronyms believes that opponents are un-American, have no right to oppose them, and should be intimidated, discredited, and even suppressed. Here are links to readings from the week on this and other themes, a few related thoughts, and a little reward for reading to the end.

In some cases worrying is the smart thing to do. Now may be a good time to worry about the life expectancy of some of those First Amendment freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. Here's some shrapnel from the week's readings.

If you get to the end of this post, you'll find there a happy antidote to help you face your worries.

Free Speech, Press, and Assembly

While Democrats in Washington are campaigning full-bore to discredit citizens who attend town hall meetings, union thugs who are quite open about their identity are doing thuggish things to some of those citizens when they try to assemble. The free press covering every twitch and growl at the meetings is the same which largely ignored worse behavior by Lefties protesting President Bush in recent years.

If we care about the rationality and integrity of our political debates, we may want to worry about signs that people in the party which controls the White House and both houses of Congress think that the thing to do with a businessman who disagrees with them on a political issue is put him out of business. (Read the article. How could a company have better credentials than Whole Foods, in terms of providing health care to its employees? Also, the stereotype here that only liberals shop at health food stores is funny. And the insistence that the CEO poll his customers and adopt their majority opinions, rather than speaking his own mind, is infantile in its arrogance.)

We may also want to worry that people still have to explain to us -- and rather frequently of late -- that not everyone who disagrees with a particular argument is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, and that trotting der Fuhrer out every time our political dander is up trivializes the horror he wrought. You'll note that I'm hesitant to invoke Soviet Communism for similar reasons. Comrade Stalin killed far more people than Hitler; he was just very slightly more subtle about it.

We may want to worry that the President of the United States thinks we should think it scandalous that companies whose very existence is threatened by proposed legislation would fund some of the opposition to that legislation.

I really do worry about the forceful arguments being made right now that disagreeing, especially in public, is un-American. It is clearly designed to have a chilling effect on opponents and potential opponents, and it may also be intended as justification for future constraints on political speech and assembly. If you think the latter idea is alarmist, you may want to worry about the views of Mark Lloyd, the Federal Communications Communication's new Chief Diversity Officer (how positively Orwellian!). He is the current reincarnation of the defunct (and equally Orwellian) Fairness Doctrine, has the ideas to match, and has lots of fresh, new authority to go with those ideas.

(In case you think I'm just being partisan about this, I have no patience with a conservative or other Republican who exhibits and proposes to act upon a similar distaste for the rights of opponents. But few if any of those are in power at the moment.)

Health Care, Ethics, Oddly-Placed Victimhood

We may want to worry about the temptation to think the Democrats are victims right now, even though they control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Big Media Acronyms. Those poor Lefties! People are standing in the way of their getting what they deserve -- everything they want --and it's the people who hired them!

On an even broader plane, perhaps we should worry that far too few people are asking the question Paul Greenberg, one of my favorite columnists, is asking. It's Plato's question in Republic, "Who guards the guardians?" The current answer in Washington is, the guardians do. Should the Democrats worry that this is how they lost so badly in 1994?

Speaking of the Democrats, should they worry that one of their major and most faithful constituencies, African-Americans, is sounding disillusioned? Hope seems to be fading that having an African-American in the White House will resolve major sociological problems among African-Americans. (I don't mean Walter Williams' hope; he's been a conservative for a long time.)

And speaking of constituencies, if I were the Democrats, I think I'd worry some that they're losing senior citizens in the health care debate.

And I'd worry, if I were they, about losing a Texas congressional seat in 2010, specifically that of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who was caught on video this week at a town hall meeting, talking at some length on her cell phone during the meeting, while a constituent (i.e. evil-monger, to use Senator Harry Reid's term) was asking her a question. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, when asked about it later, The Honorable Miss Manners suggested the video was doctored. All this will make a devastating advertisement for her opponents next year.

We probably should worry that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's brother Ezekial, a top Obama adviser on health care, wants government to measure an individual's value to society when deciding how much health care to allow that individual to receive.

Orphaned Worries

Here are some worries about which I did not find columns I liked this week. (Should I worry about that?)

  • President Obama's top advisors consider one thing essential to any health care reform: Moving control of Medicare and other benefits away from Congress, which has to answer to the people (i.e. evil-mongers) every two years, and into the executive branch, where the White House can exert control but claim disinterest, and the bureaucracy doesn't have to run for re-election. It's not just that they want to make our health care decisions for us; they want to do so without accountability.
  • The stimulus bill which passed earlier this year, largely unread, allows some draconian measures, enforced by new or newly-enlarged bureaucracies, related to health care. Visualize a bureaucrat looking at your medical and financial records, looking over your doctor's shoulder and deciding whether his ideas for treating you are acceptable and sufficiently economical. Read this old Betsy McCaughey article if you think I'm kidding. Come to think of it, read it anyway. Newsweek thought this article threatening enough that it devoted a very long piece of its own to discrediting the author and the article, and blaming some of the changes which worry McCaughey on President Bush. In summary, it boils down to Newsweek saying if a bill doesn't require the government to do rotten things, we're okay, while McCaughey says that if the bill allows government to do rotten things, we're in trouble.
  • The White House and the EPA think that caps on carbon emissions can be imposed unilaterally by the EPA, so it's not such a big deal that legislation to impose them seems to be dead on arrival on the Senate floor.
  • The Secretary of State, our nation's chief diplomat (except for the Apologizer-in-Chief himself), can't seem to tell the difference between diplomacy, of which Secretary Clinton has displayed far too little in Africa this week; politics, which for her has so often been . . . angry, shrill, and decidedly undiplomatic; and good, old-fashioned temper-tantrums.

Something I'm Not Worrying About

(Besides that dangling preposition, I mean.) The major networks' summer shows are all failing. I wonder what that means, but I'm not worried.

For American Forkers (and Others in Utah)

If you want to vote in the September 15 primary election, but you're not registered yet, you should worry soon.

Your Reward

Now, if you'd like to worry a little less, read this Jon Sanders piece, "What I Saw at the Health Care Rallies." It may be my favorite reading of the week, and it's of a piece with my own favorite writing of the week, "Yankee Doodle, Keep It Up! (a thank-you note)."

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