Monday, August 22, 2011

GOP Negligence Largely to Blame for Gay Marriage's Rising Public Support

Note: the following article was originally written in early June for another venue, but I’ve reprinted it here because I think its point is still relevant.

What a difference a couple of election cycles make. In 2004, with solid majorities opposing gay marriage, Republicans aggressively campaigned on the issue, contributing significantly to the reelection of President George W. Bush and the passage of marriage protection laws in over 40 states. Congressional Republicans introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment repeatedly between 2002 and 2006.

Fast-forward to 2011. Support for gay marriage has been steadily rising since 2006, finally reaching a 53% majority in a March 18 ABC News/Washington Post poll. On May 6, Gallup found that just 15% of Republicans consider social issues their top priority.

Granted, most of the current GOP presidential field rejects Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ call for an ill-defined “truce” on social issues, and there are no serious Giuliani-style liberals in the race this time around, but overall the Republican Party and conservative punditry have put the issue on the backburner, allegedly to focus on wasteful spending. And in this observer’s opinion, this trend of Republicans taking their eye off the ball is the biggest factor to blame for public opinion’s leftward shift on marriage.

You see, liberals long ago figured out how to multitask with their economic and social agendas. As they fight for ObamaCare and cap & trade on Capitol Hill, they know they can leave their cultural causes to the courts, where judicial activists strike down traditional marriage definitions as discriminatory, to the schools, where radical sexual morals are increasingly embraced, and—most importantly—to the natural consequences of the Right’s comparative silence on the issue.

The arguments for gay marriage are intuitively appealing, since they tug just the right emotional heartstrings. It’s easy to recognize the deceptively simple appeal of the common rebuttal, “How does my marriage threaten yours?” Simple: it doesn’t. By contrast, the conservative argument that marriage’s man-woman definition serves a vital social purpose, and that dismantling it will have devastating indirect consequences, is less intuitively obvious to apolitical Americans. It needs sustained public explanation and debate.

The American people aren’t interested in telling gay people how to live, or keeping them from sharing property or visiting one another in the hospital, and as long as liberals frame the narrative as a choice between redefining marriage and treating gays like second-class citizens—and as long as conservatives aren’t loudly, visibly exposing it as a false choice and explaining the true point of marriage—it’s only natural that a significant portion of the populace will accept the Left’s scare-mongering and oversimplifications at face value. Lies don’t correct themselves.

And wouldn’t you know it, even with its schedule free of those distracting social issues, our Tea Party-charged Republican House has been somewhat less than effective at unshackling the economy or solving the debt crisis. We shouldn’t be surprised by the correlation between indifference on social issues and ineptness on economic ones—the link between conservatism’s social and fiscal aspects runs far deeper than many want to admit.

Our Founding Fathers understood that self-governing societies cannot endure if the virtues necessary for an independent citizenry—responsibility, independence, morality, work ethic—aren’t instilled in each generation, which marriage does by binding husband and wife to each other for the sake of their children’s upbringing, so future citizens can take care of themselves without Uncle Sam’s aid. And with scores of social ills, from poverty and academic failure to teen pregnancy and crime, linked to the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family, the verdict is in: children need both a mother and a father.

For years, society’s conception of marriage has been drifting away from the needs of children and toward the wishes of adults. By erasing procreation from marriage’s definition entirely, same-sex marriage would hammer the final nail in the traditional family’s coffin. Conservatives who are serious about reforming our paternalistic government can’t afford to sit this fight out. As marriage goes, so goes the nation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Around the Web

Michelle Malkin has written the definitive takedown of Rick Perry's disgraceful role in the Gardasil debacle. This guy's even worse than you think.

Speaking of Perry, here's his response to his Texan Tea Party critics: "A prophet is generally not loved in their hometown." So we're gonna beat an egotistical president with a guy who calls himself a prophet? Really?

On the other side, here's a detailed analysis of what the job situation really is in Texas.

Some rich libertarians want to build their own utopian mini-nations on the high seas. Yes, really. To quote Allahpundit, "An isolated community populated by people desperate enough to work for less than minimum wage with easy access to weapons of all sorts sounds like quite a ride." And don't forget the drugs!

Abercrombie & Fitch offers to pay the cast of Jersey Shore to not wear their brand onscreen. If you're too sleazy for Abercrombie & Fitch...wow.

Stogie has the debt crisis explained in just five easy steps.

A conference to get pedophilia mainstreamed? My favorite part of this story is probably the guy who complains that the studies the American Psychological Association relies upon "completely ignore the existence of" pedophiles - excuse me, "minor-attracted persons" - who "are law-abiding." Er, if they engage in pedophilia, aren't they by definition not law abiding?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Romney Hits a Home Run on Marriage

Here's one of the highlights of the most recent GOP debate, where Mitt Romney made a surprisingly strong case for the Federal Marriage Amendment. I don't think I've ever heard it explained so clearly in so few words:  
I believe that the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level. You might wonder, why is that? Why wouldn't you just let each state make their own decision? And the reason is because people move from state to state, of course, in a society like ours, they have children, as they go to different states, if one state recognizes a marriage and another does not, what's the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding potential would there be in a state that didn't recognize the marriage in the first place? There are - marriage is a status, it's not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state, and as a result, marriage status relationships should be constant across the country.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Official CFO 2012 Republican Presidential Roundup

In the 2008 Republican primary, it was pretty easy for to pick a candidate early on: I endorsed and vigorously supported Mitt Romney. I reasoned at the time that, aside from his formidable private-sector experience and squeaky-clean personal life, he best unified the social, fiscal, and defense wings of conservatism, and though there were a couple flip-flops in his record, the baggage and positions of his competitors were easily worse. I stand by that decision.

This time around, though, the decision has been more difficult, essentially because the candidates seem more evenly mediocre. Romney looks worse (for reasons we’ll get into below), there are no extreme babykillers among the viable candidates who need to be derailed, and overall there’s just nobody whose assets aren’t marred by substantial drawbacks of one form or another.

But recently, enough has come into focus that I feel comfortable making concrete pronouncements about the major active, official candidates, including an endorsement. So here’s an alphabetical rundown of my take on each candidate, with my endorsement at the end.

Michele Bachmann: Bachmann strikes all the right notes on the Constitution, life, marriage, economics, and defense, she’s got the passion to convince people of her sincerity and her ability to mount a tough challenge to Obama, and she couldn’t care less about whether or not her remarks or positions are expedient or establishment-approved. On the other hand, she’s sometimes a clumsy communicator, and has had a string of minor gaffes and blunders (not reading that Iowa pledge more closely is the most recent example). Ultimately, I’d be more than comfortable voting for Bachmann over Obama.

Herman Cain: I like Herman Cain the man, but I just can’t warm up to Herman Cain the would-be president. He’s generally solid on the issues and a great businessman, but his campaign seems to be something of a one-trick pony, with little more to offer than generic rhetoric about being an outsider and a problem solver, which simply isn’t enough to paper over the sense that he’s utterly unprepared when discussing foreign policy, which is kind of a big deal for a potential commander in chief. Of course, I’d happily vote for him in the general election, since our current president is far more incompetent…he just hides it better.

Newt Gingrich: Newt is frustrating. He’s extremely intelligent, a superb speaker and debater, has lots of terrific ideas, and is second to none in his ability to convey the gravity of a situation. But he’s also got a scandal-ridden personal life, a laundry list of foolish flirtations with liberals, and a horribly managed campaign. I’d still vote for Gingrich in the general, since I think most of his values are basically in the right place (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t love to see Barack Obama forced to debate this guy for an hour on stage?).

John Huntsman: Huntsman is a flake, a moderate-to-liberal Republican, and a phony. I wouldn’t vote for him in the general, which is good because he’s not getting the nomination. Next.
 
Gary Johnson: He’s like Ron Paul, only worse. He’s going nowhere, and under no circumstances would I vote for him. Next.

Ron Paul: I’ve written extensively about why Ron Paul’s treason, demagoguery, conspiracism, and dishonesty disqualify him from serious consideration, so I don’t think I need to repeat myself too much there. (Oh, and while I’ve admitted before that Paul’s got a solid record on abortion, pro-lifers should be aware that he says the only other candidate he’d support is Gary Johnson, the one pro-abort in the field this time around.) And did you know he’s drifting leftward on immigration? In the unlikely event that the GOP would be so irresponsible as to nominate Paul, I could not in good conscience vote for him, even in a general election against Obama.

Rick Perry: There seems to be a general sense that Perry’s the new favorite for Republican nomination, thanks to a combination of his job-creation record and the perception that he’s the True Conservative TM of the race. And that scares me for three reasons. First, his record on immigration is horrendous. Second, his recent calls to leave gay marriage and abortion to the states are troubling, even if he did flip-flop on both lickety-split. Third, how can you have faith in the liberty, limited-government principles of a guy who issued an executive order mandating that little girls be vaccinated with an unproven anti-STD drug? It’s vitally important that we get Obama out of office, and I’m willing to put up with a lot of bull for the greater good, so I’d vote for Perry in the general if it came to that…but I would do so reluctantly, and with very restrained expectations about his presidency.

Mitt Romney: After Romney dropped out last time, I said that if he put the effort into immersing himself in the movement and taking the lead on the issues, and if he stuck with it between 2008 and 2012, the nomination would be his for the taking. Well, that hasn’t happened. At best, we got the occasional okay-yet-unremarkable op-ed or sound byte. It’s bad enough that Romney hasn’t distinguished himself, but since then ObamaCare has reignited scrutiny over the healthcare plan he championed in Massachusetts, to the point where Democrats are giving him backhanded "thanks" for it. So the doubts about Mitt’s conservatism are bigger than ever, and he’s chosen to circle the wagons around RomneyCare rather than add another flip-flop to the list.  Mitt Romney’s drawbacks are even more pronounced this time around, and he brings nothing special to the table that would offset them. That said, I would vote for Romney in the general election—he still embraces (albeit imperfectly) all three legs of the conservative stool, I believe him when he says he wouldn't replicate RomneyCare at the federal level, and I think he’s got strong potential to threaten Obama on the economy.  

Rick Santorum: Santorum is a strong fiscal conservative, a strong defense hawk, and arguably the premiere social conservative lawmaker of the past 20 years. He’s a veteran of the conservative movement, an experienced senator, and a courageous, unapologetic advocate of conservative principles. On paper, it seems like a no-brainer that he should be the Republican nominee. The problem is, he just can’t seem to gain any traction, which I believe is due to a combination of growing antipathy toward social conservatives among establishment Republicans and Santorum’s inability to make his message resonate with voters. I’d love to vote for him in the general…but sadly, I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity.

Conclusion: If it were strictly a question of who I think would make the best president, I would back Rick Santorum. But unless he manages to grain some real traction, I don’t see him as a viable option, and I think Perry’s got the potential to fool enough people that we need a viable, trustworthy, conservative alternative. To that end, I am endorsing Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. She’s a little rough around the edges, but in the final analysis I believe she’s got the principles, the know-how, and the fire to take on Barack Obama and set America back on track.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Less Perfect Union: How Will Conservatives Restore States' Rights?

Note: the following article was originally written in early June for another venue, but I’ve reprinted it here because I think its point is still relevant. It is also cross-posted at RedState.

Thanks largely to the Tea Party movement, the United States is thinking harder about individual liberty and states’ rights than she has in years. But despite identifying the problem, conservatives aren’t any closer to enacting a viable long-term solution for taming our federal leviathan.

Several efforts show promise. Many states have challenged the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, guaranteeing an eventual ruling from the Supreme Court. Though worth doing, that’s far too risky a basket to put all our eggs in, since it relies on a majority of the justices to rule based on the text of the Constitution rather than their personal ideologies.

In his popular book Men in Black, constitutional scholar and talk radio host Dr. Mark Levin suggests that Congress should restrain such activist judges via its constitutional authority to place limits on the courts’ jurisdiction and to impeach especially odious judges, and advocates constitutional amendments to give judges term limits and give Congress a supermajority veto over Supreme Court decisions. All these proposals are worth exploring in further detail, but even if enacted, there would still be legislative statism to deal with.

In Minnesota’s 2010 gubernatorial race, unsuccessful Republican nominee Tom Emmer backed a state constitutional amendment forbidding federal laws from taking effect without approval by a two-thirds vote in the state legislature. This proposal’s practical failings are obvious—preemptively nullifying all federal laws until the high bar of supermajority support is met would drastically complicate the law’s execution, and there’s no reason to expect state lawmakers’ decisions will be significantly more pro-Constitution that Congress, instead of simply turning on whether a particular majority happens to agree with whoever controls Capitol Hill at any given time.

In his recent book Power Divided is Power Checked, talk radio host Jason Lewis floats a more radical solution—a 28th Amendment, which would expressly affirm each state’s right to secession: “any state whose inhabitants desire through legal means and in accordance with state law to leave this union of the several states shall not be forcibly refrained from doing so.”

Secession is one of the Right’s more heated inter-movement debates, often distinguishing Libertarian from Republican, Northerner from Southerner. This conservative believes secession-at-will is a dangerous doctrine which undermines the rule of law and forgets the nation’s founding principles. Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Jay all considered the national Union an indispensible safeguard of liberty, and “Father of the Constitution” James Madison explicitly denied secession’s legitimacy, explaining that, as a mutually-binding legal compact, the Constitution cannot be broken by any single party.

Moreover, conservatives need to be honest about secession’s full implications—by breaking away from the country, a state wouldn’t merely be rejecting an unjust administration, but also rejecting our very Constitution as no longer worth defending within the system of government it establishes.

So what is the answer? Taking unconstitutional laws to court would certainly be worthwhile. So would Levin’s proposed remedies. But these aren’t magic bullets, and conservatives need to recognize that the problem is more complex than “good states versus evil feds.” Indeed, bad national politicians don’t just fall from the sky; they start out as bad state and local politicians.

Why do so many Americans accept statism? Because the rest of us have failed to be vigilant in our own backyards. For decades, we’ve let progressive presuppositions about government and society gradually infect our politics, education, and culture. To really change course, we must retake our institutions at the local level, particularly with renewed scrutiny of what our schools are—and aren’t—teaching. We can’t expect future generations to recognize betrayals of our founding principles if they don’t even recognize names like Locke or Publius.

We didn’t get here overnight, and we shouldn’t expect a constitutional rebirth overnight either. Every level of American government and society needs to be scrubbed clean. Meaningful, lasting reform is the work of generations, which will demand from each of us more patience, tenacity, and fortitude than ever before.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New on Media Trackers - Wisconsin's Unique, Union-Backed Recalls

My debut article for Media Trackers:

Wisconsin may not be the only state moving to control costs by reducing the political influence of public employee unions, but nowhere else has the fallout of reform been so volatile.

Eight state senators have been targeted for recall elections—six Republicans who voted to restrict collective bargaining, and two of the fourteen Democrats who left the state to delay a vote on the measure (a recall against a third Democrat, Dave Hansen, has already failed). Pro-union activists hope to oust more politicians, including Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as soon as they become legally eligible for recall.

Only in Wisconsin is the possibility of overturning the last election being seriously entertained. Recalling state officials has been tried just thirty times in American history, and our state’s current battle accounts for a striking 30% of that total, despite Wisconsin recall requirements being no easier than those of most states. No other state comes close to so many recalls in the same year. California rates a distant second with three recalls in 1995, in a fight instigated by the GOP to punish two Republicans and a Democrat who undermined the party’s narrow, just-won majority in the Assembly by voting to give Democrats the Speakership. With a few twists and turns along the way, Republicans ultimately won.

What makes Wisconsin different? Why aren’t unions threatening to undo election results in other states?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Around the Web

Your daily does of Remedial History, Religion Edition: "Four Myths about the Crusades."

It seems Canada's got its own counterpart to the great Lila Rose, seen here debating the role of graphic abortion images in public use. I've got mixed feelings on the subject - on the one hand, the local pro-life activism I've been involved with hasn't used such images because we figure that level of shock isn't the best way to introduce ourselves to strangers who didn't ask to be made sick just for, say, crossing the street or visiting a county fair. On the other hand, I absolutely think they serve an important role: pro-aborts shouldn't be able to hold or defend their position without being made to confront its true horror.

I first lost respect for noted character assassin Rob Taylor when he smeared Robert Stacy McCain as a rape apologist by taking Stacy's admittedly ill-considered quote "you buy the ticket, you take the ride" out of context and put a wildly-hostile spin on Stacy's intentions. So imagine my amusement when I read this debate on the Casey Anthony case, in which Taylor - based on the standards of fair interpretation he himself has established - suggests the Duke Lacrosse players deserved to be falsely accused of rape and smeared as racist predators, simply because they engaged in other sleazy behavior. Put a fork in this guy, his credibility's done.

San FranSicko's war on crisis pregnancy centers heats up, with a new law against false advertising (which will be very fairly interpreted, I'm sure) and an asinine lawsuit against a crisis pregnancy center for false advertising because....their name pops up when you Google "abortion." All in favor of either kicking California out of the country or revoking their statehood.....

Brian Stewart talks defense spending at the Corner. Funny how the only area liberals are willing to cut is the one that actually is the federal government's constitutional business, isn't it?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Allahpundit Doesn't Get It

And by "it," I'm referring to Rick Perry's answer on why he (now) backs a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Perry:
It’s part of the fabric of America to support traditional marriage and that being between one man and one woman. I led the charge back in the mid 2000′s in Texas when we passed a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, passed by 75%, that’s rather overwhelming. But I do respect a state’s right to have a different opinion and take a different tact if you will, California did that. I respect that right, but our founding fathers also said, ‘listen, if you all in the future think things are so important that you need to change the constitution here’s the way you do it’. It takes three quarters of the states deciding that this is important, it goes forward and it becomes an amendment to the United States Constitution. I support that for issues that are so important, I think, to the soul of this country and to the traditional values which our founding fathers, on the issue of traditional marriage I support the federal marriage amendment.
Allah:
Why would you want an amendment in a case where you respect a state’s right to have a different opinion? The touchstone for an amendment, I would think, is when you don’t respect that right because a particular state’s legislative preference would lead to grievous harm. Slavery is the paradigm example; abortion, arguably, is another. If you can look at your opponent’s position and say, “I see your point but I think you’re wrong,” that should take the amendment option off the table and put you back in Tenth Amendment territory. Federalism is “part of the fabric of America” too, after all; as a wise man once said, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Perry’s arguing, I guess, that this experiment is simply too dangerous to conduct — except, actually, he never does say that it’s dangerous. He just says it’s contrary to “traditional values,” a standard that would prohibit “novel social experiments” altogether. And the kicker is that he’s couching his argument in terms of Article V, which is the most “non-traditional” part of the Constitution insofar as it lets future generations change the law as opinions change. Well, opinions are changing. Why use Article V to stop it if you can’t articulate some sort of overweening harm?
That's fair enough as a critique of Perry's case for the FMA, but Allah talks as if that's the only pro-FMA argument he's familiar with. He's been manning one of the blogosphere's top center-right blogs for years, and yet he's this ignorant about the pro-side?

To summarize, the case for a Federal Marriage Amendment is simple: first, it's the only thing that will truly insulate marriage from judicial activism, and second, marriage is so vital to the continuance of a free society that the United States must insist on a uniform definition. For further edification, I prescribe the following articles:

Chris Christie and His Islamist Pals

Here's recent video New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie angrily denouncing the critics of one of his judicial nominees, Sohail Mohammed, as Islamophobes who are groundlessly smearing a good patriot based on his religious background.

Oh really? That's not the impression I got from Jonathan Tobin's January write-up on Mohammed:
Mohammed is mainly known for the fact that he was the defense attorney for Muslims who were arrested in the wake of 9/11 because of their ties to terror organizations. In one case, Mohammed fought the government’s effort to deport Mohammed Qatanani, the imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County and an influential member of the extremist — though well-connected — American Muslim Union. Though the New York Times praised him in 2008 during his deportation trial as a “revered imam” and portrayed the case as an overreaction to 9/11, Qatanani, a Palestinian, is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and admitted to being a member of Hamas when he was arrested by Israeli authorities in 1993 before coming to the United States. Though he claimed to be an advocate of interfaith dialogue (and was accepted as such by some liberal Jews), Qatanani was no moderate on the Middle East. His ties to Hamas were well known, and just the year before his deportation trial, Qatanani endorsed Israel’s absorption into an Islamic “Greater Syria.” Qatanani clearly lied about his record as an Islamist on documents that he used to enter the country. But he was nevertheless able to evade justice in the immigration courts because the judge accepted his undocumented claim that the Israelis tortured him.

Qatanani also benefited from having some highly placed friends in the justice system as a result of the political pull of the American Muslim Union, which boasts Sohail Mohammed as one of its board members. The AMU was able to get former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell, and then U.S. attorney Chris Christie to intervene on Qatanani’s behalf during the trial. As far as Christie was concerned, this was not a matter of merely signing a letter or making a phone call. The day before the Immigration Court announced its decision, Christie actually spoke at Qatanani’s mosque (Qatanani’s predecessor had boasted of raising at the mosque $2 million for Hamas via the now banned Holy Land Foundation) at a Ramadan breakfast dinner, where he embraced the imam while praising him as “a man of great good will.”

Terror researcher Steve Emerson was quoted at the time as calling Christie’s involvement in the case “a disgrace and an act of pure political corruption,” especially since “I know for certain that Christie and the FBI had access to information about Qatanani’s background, involvement with and support of Hamas.”
Put aside all the other black marks against Christie; this alone is enough to disqualify him from any presidential consideration, serious or otherwise. Absolutely disgraceful.

Interestingly enough, I found the link for the top video on the sidebar of Ann Coulter's website, with this confusing caption: "Our Next President Defends Slander about 'Sharia Law' Judge." Coulter has been an obsessive Christie for President advocate, and I've been especially curious how the author of Treason would react to her hero's coziness with Islamic radicals. Saying that Christie "defends slander" seems awfully damning, but she still calls him "our next president." Here's hoping Ann has reconsidered her support for Christie, and that she'll clarify it soon.

McCarthy on the Secret History of Medicare

There's nobody I agree with 100% of the time, but I honestly can't remember ever finding Andy McCarthy's commentary lacking. You should take the time to read his take on what Medicare's architects were really thinking, and why the system deserves to die:
Medicare was a scam from the start. It had to be a scam because its ostensible purpose — providing health insurance for the elderly — was never the objective of its proponents. Instead, Medicare was a stepping stone to a utopia its champions dared not acknowledge: A compulsory universal-health-care system administered by government experts. FDR’s Committee on Economic Security initially intended to issue a health-care plan in conjunction with its universal, compulsory Social Security proposal in 1934. As Cato’s Charlotte Twight recounts, the former was dropped due to fear that pervasive opposition among the public and the medical profession would jeopardize passage of the latter. But Roosevelt got right back to it the day after he signed the 1935 Social Security Act, empowering the new Social Security Board to study the “related” area of health insurance.

There followed three decades of progressive proposals, each shot down by lawmakers animated by fierce public dissent. The Left realized the dream of socializing the health-care sector was not attainable in one fell swoop, so an incremental strategy was adopted: Get a foot in the door with less ambitious proposals; establish the precedent of government control while avoiding debate over the principle of government control. “Incremental change,” said Medicare scholar Martha Derthick, “has less potential for generating conflict than change that involves innovation in principle.” [...]

More shrewdly, proponents misrepresented Medicare as an “insurance” program, with a “trust fund” into which working people paid “contributions” and beneficiaries paid “premiums” that would “entitle” them to claim “benefits.” In reality, there is no “trust fund.” Workers pay taxes — at levels that can no longer satisfy the pay-outs for current beneficiaries. This state of affairs was entirely predictable when Medicare was enacted in 1965 with the Baby Boom well underway. Back in the early days, when the program was flush, the surplus of taxes passed from the “trust fund” into the federal treasury, which redistributed the money to whatever chicanery Washington happened to be heaping money on. In return, the “trust fund” got an IOU, which would ultimately have to be satisfied by future taxes (or by borrowing from creditors who’d have to be repaid by taxpayers with interest). And the “premiums” largely turned out to be nonsense, too: The pols endeared themselves to elderly voters by arranging for Uncle Sam pick up more and more of the tab, or by using the government’s newfound market power to demand that providers accept lower payments.

When Medicare was enacted in 1965, the inevitability of its many adverse consequences was crystal clear. The system was grossly underfunded. The fee-for-service structure (expertly described by Capretta) was certain to increase costs exorbitantly with no commensurate increase in quality of care (indeed, care is mediocre, or worse). But most palpably, the fact that government was at the wheel made Medicare instantly ripe for political gaming and demagoguery. The ensuing 46 years have not only made the obvious explicit; Medicare and its tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities are actually worse than even its most fearful early critics predicted it would be.
McCarthy also throws some cold water on Paul Ryan fanboys like Bill Kristol and Charlie Sykes:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich steered the break-out of his presidential campaign into a ditch a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that the Ryan Medicare reform was “right-wing social engineering.” He was wrong, but not for the reason cited by his critics. To be more precise, Representative Ryan’s plan is a surrender to left-wing social engineering on terms the right wing na├»vely believes it can accept. Ryan is the darling of a Washington breed of conservative wonk convinced that we can make the welfare state work if we just incorporate a few free-market, family-friendly tweaks [...]

Reformers such as Representative Ryan always ignore this inevitable trajectory of entitlement politics. They rationalize that they can make a government-sanctioned bribery system run better, or at least preempt Democrats from making it run worse. Hoping to stave off Medicare, congressional moderates in 1960 passed a bill to provide means-tested medical assistance to the elderly. It only greased the wheels for not only Medicare but Medicaid. In Massachusetts, Romneycare was another well-meaning attempt to install a compulsory statewide health-insurance system that would be less autocratic and costly than the one the Left would have imposed. It is, predictably, a disaster that tends toward ever-more-suffocating government control.
Go read the whole thing, as well as McCarthy's rebuttal to critic Peter Wehner.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hey, Let's Subsidize Crack!


Vancouver health officials will distribute new crack pipes to the city’s non-injection drug users this fall as part of a pilot project aimed at engaging crack cocaine smokers and reducing the transmission of disease such as hepatitis C.

The program, part of Vancouver’s harm reduction strategy, is expected to start in October and run for six months to a year, said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health.

The intent is to connect health care workers with crack cocaine smokers to evaluate how many of the drug users are in the city and what equipment they need to lower their risk of catching diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV and even respiratory illnesses.

A kit with a clean, unused pipe, mouthpiece, filter and condoms will be handed out to the participants, Gustafson said. It’s not known at this time how many drug users will take part in the pilot, which is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

“There’s been a shift to crack cocaine smoking and we want to make sure the services we provide are the services they need ... if we’re providing syringes and what we need are pipes, we’re not serving them,” Gustafson said […] “It’s just understanding and knowing the health consequences of crack cocaine smoking.”
Which is why they’re going help facilitate its continued practice with taxpayer dollars. Because as long as you’re using a clean pipe, cocaine’s pretty much harmless, right?

I guess Canada has abandoned all pretense that self-destructive behavior shouldn’t be encouraged. And too bad they still haven’t figured out that prevention doesn't decrease healthcare costs. One of Steyn’s commenters, Henry Hawkins, knocks this one out of the park:
The reason they want to get clean needles and crack pipes out on the street is because 95% of addicts don't keep theirs clean, of course. However, once you've passed out a clean pipe or clean needle, **it's only sterile for that first use**. From then on it's dirty and stays that way. It will be used again. And again, and again, and again.

But Henry, they'll teach them all about the importance of sterile works! They have a program and everything! And the addicts will ignore them. Such education programs have been common for over forty years. I've been working with addicts since 1986. There is a uniquely evil kind of ignorance that tells would-be do-gooders that the addict who won't change his behaviors despite the likelihood of death by gunshot, overdose, AIDS, organic damage, mugging, and a thousand others ways an addict manages to die, will for some reason see the light and change out of fear of contracting hepatitis. If you want to kill an addict, give him uncut heroin or a government health department social worker. They are equally deadly.

So now, thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health, there will be many, many thousands more dirty pipes infected with hepatitis and other nasties out there in the addict community than there were before. Same number of addicts, just several thousand extra infected crack pipes, so the individual chance of infection is significantly raised.

But, but, but.. we give them pamphlets!

Arrrgh.
If you think it can’t happen here, think again. The nanny-state mentality is deeply entrenched in the minds of our ruling class, and where drugs are concerned, something tells me libertarians’ steadfast anti-government principles will evaporate right before our eyes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Some Inconvenient Truths About GOProud

With some high profile center-right bloggers outraged by the American Conservative Union’s decision not to continue gay Republican group GOProud’s sponsorship of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, it’s worth listing a few points about GOProud and CPAC the finger wavers should think about:
  1. GOProud’s position on marriage: “Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.  Marriage should be a question for the states.  A federal constitutional amendment on marriage would be an unprecedented federal power grab from the states.” Deferring marriage policy to the states is a respectable (albeit mistaken, in my view) conservative position; referring to the marriage amendment as “anti-gay” is not.
  2. GOProud’s stated support for marriage federalism is highly misleading. The organization wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, falsely suggesting the law interferes with the right of the states to set marriage policy. DOMA is not a federal same-sex marriage ban, but merely a federal guarantee that individual states won’t be forced to recognize or adopt the marriage definitions of other states. What good is it for GOProud to say they support states’ rights on the issue if they want to leave the states defenseless against activist judges?
  3. GOProud doesn’t merely ignore social issues; they also actively demand that the rest of the conservative coalition abandons social issues too. In doing so they misrepresent how many Tea Partiers they speak for and denigrate the movement’s most conservative, loyal and long-standing members as “Washington insiders and special interest groups.”
  4. GOProud supported the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. But as those following the issue know, policymakers ignored the concerns of many servicemen and military officers in deciding what to do about DADT. Can any organization that doesn’t take seriously the military’s judgment in such matters truly call itself conservative?
  5. GOProud supports ending taxpayer funding for abortion, but punts on the main issue. It turns out GOProud president Chris Barron worked for Planned Parenthood as director of pro-choice outreach to Republicans. Barron says his time with PP was the “worst 2 months of my life,” yet it apparently wasn’t significant enough to change his position all that much: “he stopped supporting the Roe v Wade decision in early 2006, after this experience, ‘but beyond that don’t have strong feelings on abortion – not really involved in the process.’”
  6. Barron has also smeared longtime conservative activists Tony Perkins (Family Research Council president) and Cleta Mitchell (ACU board member) as “bigots,” and ridiculed those boycotting CPAC over GOProud’s involvement, including Sen. Jim DeMint and Concerned Women for America, as living on “the Island of Political Misfit Toys.” Barron did apologize to Mitchell, but not to the others. Not only has Barron shown his capacity for demonization, but he lacks the common sense and the humility to recognize that a newcomer to the Right, especially one with all the baggage listed above, doesn’t quite have the standing to pass judgment on the political relevance of the movement’s veterans.
  7. Barron isn’t the only GOProud bigwig with behavioral problems. In response to the National Organization for Marriage’s perfectly reasonable press release stating, “We welcome everyone’s right to participate in the democratic process, but we have a message for GOProud on marriage: If you try to elect pro-gay-marriage Republicans, we will Dede Scozzafava them,” LaSalvia threw a temper tantrum: “I just have a question for them: Who’s the pansy at CPAC? What wusses. Just come over. Don’t play nice if you’re not going to be nice.”
  8. Some critics have asked why the ACU is throwing out GOProud, but not Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, both of whom are disturbingly cozy with radical Islamists. That’s an excellent question, and the ACU should be confronted on it. Y’know what else is an excellent question? Why the people raising the question don’t notice that Norquist is also on GOProud’s advisory board. Are we to believe Norquist impairs the ACU’s reliability on national security and foreign policy, but not GOProud’s?
Everyone makes mistakes now and then, and prudent allies should be able to forgive one or two transgressions for the sake of their shared priorities. But with no less than eight serious marks against GOProud, it’s entirely reasonable to doubt the organization’s intentions and conservative credibility. CPAC made the right decision.

This article is cross-posted at RedState.com.
The views expressed on this weblog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of any other websites, blogs, campaigns, publications, or organizations where I have been employed and/or my work has been featured, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of any individuals employed by or otherwise affiliated with such groups.