Tranforming America

In this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They’re willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.

Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress. Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.

And going in larger numbers for the complete Socialist package with little baggage, Bernie Sanders.

Psephologists of varying stripes attribute this discontent to varying causes. Conservatives blame insufficiently aggressive Republican congressional leaders. Liberals blame Hillary Clinton’s closeness to plutocrats and her home email system.

But in our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan “Experience counts.” No one is running on that theme this year.

Nixon could, because over the preceding quarter-century the majority of Americans mostly approved of the performance of incumbent presidents. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower still look pretty good more than 50 years later.

Barack Obama doesn’t. His deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said that the president’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as Obamacare was of the first. Historians may well agree.

These two policy achievements have many things in common.

nuclear_blast

Both were unpopular when proposed and still are now. In March 2010 Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that people would know, and presumably like, what was in the bill after it was passed. But most Americans didn’t like it then and most don’t today, five and a half years later. As for the Iran deal, Pew Research reports it has only 21 percent approval today, much lower than Obamacare in 2010.

But since both are on THE AGENDA, they and The Ministry of Truth are happy.

What “the American People” want is irrelevant nowadays. It’s what The Agenda wants, whether it’s The Democrats or The Republican Elite RINOs.

Both Obamacare and the Iran deal were bulldozed through Congress through legislative legerdemain. Democrats passed Obamacare by using the temporary 60-vote Senate supermajority gained through a Minnesota recount and the wrongful prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens. After they lost the 60th vote, they resorted to a dubious legislative procedure.

The Agenda is The Agenda.

This year Obama labeled the Iran treaty an executive agreement, and Congress concocted a process requiring only a one-third-plus-one rather than a two-thirds vote for approval. Only 38 percent of members of Congress supported it. Many, such as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, did so only after saying that they never would have accepted it in negotiations.

But the Republicans, allegedly in control of Congress,  willfully submitted to this slight of hand rather than stand on the principles that got them elected in the first place.

And they have done this REPEATEDLY. The Minority (Democrats) are still in control of Congress.

In 2008 Obama promised he would “fundamentally transform” America, and Obamacare and the Iran deal are indeed fundamental transformations of policy –transformations most Americans oppose.

But are on THE AGENDA, so they must be.

Obamacare assumed that financial crisis and recession would make most voters supportive of, or amenable to, bigger government. But as National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru points out, polling doesn’t show that. Obama assumed that if America could “extend a hand” to such propitiated enemies as the mullahs of Iran, they would become friends with us. Most Americans think that’s delusional. No wonder voters are angry.

So he goes out an gets more Illegals to vote for Democrats instead. After all, it’s about the power of Homo Superior Liberalis. The Agenda is The Agenda.

Republican voters are frustrated and angry because for six years they have believed they have public opinion on their side, but their congressional leaders have failed to prevail on high visibility issues. Their successes (clamping down on domestic discretionary spending) have been invisible. They haven’t made gains through compromise because Obama, unlike his two predecessors, lacks both the inclination and ability to make deals.

Rigid Ideologues and weak spined Republicans will do that.

So Republicans who imposed harsh litmus tests in previous presidential cycles (like asking candidates if they’ve ever supported a tax increase, or if they’ve ever wavered in their opposition to abortion) are flocking to Donald Trump, a candidate who would fail every one of them. They are paying little attention to candidates — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal — who advance serious proposals to change public policy.

Because, we don’t believe them. The proof is in the Jar Jar Boehner and Mitch The Ditch pudding.

In polls, Democratic voters have stayed loyal to the president. But to listen to their candidates (and maybe-candidate Joe Biden) you would think we are in our seventh year of oppression by a right-wing administration. You don’t hear much about the virtues of Obamacare or the Iran deal — or “choice.”

Of course not, it’s still, Vote for Me, the “other guy” is an asshole. The “other guy” is still the fear mongering and “Bush” narratives. Grandma is still going be thrown out in the street by evil White, Male, Rich Republicans. The candy is still going to be stolen from babies by evil, heartless Conservatives.

The narrative hasn’t changed because The Democrats haven’t changed.

Most Americans hoped the first black president would improve race relations. Now most Americans believe they have gotten worse.

White Guilt has bit them in the asp!

And so a president who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions: a fundamental transformation indeed. (Michael Barone)

those dame dirty nukes! Agree with me or else!

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino
Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Charity Begins with Washington :) IN Triplicate

No good deed will go unpunished under ObamaCare. If a charitable hospital treats a homeless person who staggers into the emergency room without insurance, it may be punished with taxes and fines.

One of the “unintended” consequences of the misnamed Affordable Care Act was to place charitable tax-exempt hospitals in a medical Catch-22: To maintain their tax-exempt status they’re required to treat a minimum number of patients who can’t pay, yet ObamaCare requires everyone to have health coverage.

Right now, about 60% of the 6,000 or so hospitals in the U.S. are tax-exempt nonprofits, while 25% are government-owned. The rest — fewer than 1,000 — are for-profit. But this may change under provisions of ObamaCare to be enforced by the IRS.

A provision in Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code that takes effect under ObamaCare sets new standards of review and installs potential financial penalties if hospitals don’t conform to IRS standards of when and how much charitable work can be performed.

Religious groups, especially Catholic orders, opened many of these facilities as charitable institutions. The IRS originally granted tax-exempt status to institutions that provided a “community benefit,” defined as spending 3% of operating revenue to take care of patients who couldn’t pay.

This benefited the hospitals as well as the community, for if you counted all the sales, property and income taxes that nonprofit hospitals currently avoid paying, it would total $20 billion.

The quality of mercy may not be strained, but it must now be carefully defined and audited with stringent new reporting requirements. “It (the IRS) requires tax-exempt hospitals to do a community needs survey and file additional paperwork with the IRS every three years,” says John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform. “This is to prove that the charitable hospital is still needed in their geographical area — ‘needed’ as defined by ObamaCare and overseen by IRS bureaucrats.”

“Failure to comply, or to prove this continuing need, could result in the loss of the hospital’s tax-exempt status,” Kartch adds. “The hospital would then become a for-profit venture, paying income tax.”

Failure to complete a community health needs assessment in any applicable three-year period results in a penalty on the organization of up to $50,000, according to a report by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.

It is our belief that community need is best determined by those who reside in the community, not by faceless Washington bureaucrats with a vested interest in growing government and imposing leftist ideology.

We also believe the record shows faith-based and charitable institutions are most efficient at delivering needed services to the poor, hungry and sick. They should be encouraged, not punished, for their work.

Yet the government is rigging the game against them, in this case against nonprofit charitable hospitals. All blessings must flow from that government, which will determine who can help the needy and when, lest they be punished, either with loss of tax-exempt status or fines for not having the proper paperwork.

Faith-based institutions such as Catholic hospitals are already under attack because of ObamaCare’s mandate that free contraceptives be provided in any health plan even if that violates your free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.

One in six patients in the U.S. is in a Catholic hospital. Catholic charities provide needed services to the hungry, homeless and poor. Many would be forced to close, and many would do so rather than render unto Caesar that which is not his. ObamaCare may spell the doom of nonprofit hospitals.

So, if you’re that Good Samaritan who sees someone in need along the road, make sure the government approves and have your forms in order. (IBD)

In triplicate, stamped,  and countersigned no doubt.

Dr. Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H): “We’ve been getting double-talk in triplicate.”

.“The Late Captain Pierce” (M*A*S*H Season 4): Back in Colonel Potter’s office, Hawkeye and the Colonel are visited by an army bureaucrat named Captain Pratt. After listing the procedures for bringing Hawkeye back to life, which, of course, entails the filling out of way too many forms, Captain Pratt chuckles and classifies Hawkeye as an ‘unperson’  lists the numerous forms Hawkeye will have to fill out and have signed by other officers (in triplicate). They include ‘a request to rescind the certificate of death on form ten-stroke-249, in triplicate, accompanied by an SF-88-stroke-11-0-7, signed by three officers of equal or higher rank, followed by a personal written report on form 63-stroke-E-B-Y by a ranking officer who actually saw the deceased not die, in triplicate’.An unperson is a person who has been “vaporized”; who has not only been killed by the state, but effectively erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family members. Mentioning his or her name, or even speaking of their past existence, is thoughtcrime; the concept that the person may have existed at one time and has disappeared cannot be expressed in Newspeak.Sounds like Ambassador Chris Stevens….Or am I just be UNcharitable… 🙂

Consider: Hit by years of budget cuts, some U.S. public school boards are looking to avoid providing health benefits to substitute teachers and supporting staff under President Barack Obama’s reform law, education officials say.

According to the law, employers will have to offer health coverage to all full-time employees, defined as those who work an average of 30 or more hours per week each month, or else pay a fine starting in 2015.

School boards, already struggling to manage after years of state budget cuts, are trying to get ahead of the potential costs of Obamacare for the current academic year, education and labor officials say. The need to find creative solutions, or risk cutting back staff hours further, will increase as they finalize their budgets, they say.

In Pennsylvania’s Penn Manor School District, Superintendent Mike Leichliter said there is no room in its constrained budget to provide additional employee insurance. Instead of cutting hours, the district used a substitute-teacher contracting service to pay part of the salaries for 95 employees. Money for such a service does not count against the school’s budget.

“When we looked at our costs, (healthcare) was one area that really had the potential to skyrocket,” Leichliter said. “This is absolutely the worst time for school districts to be faced with mandated increases.”

“It creates a lot of inconsistency in staffing, and I can’t see how that would be good for students,” Wehrbein said. “How could you have a teacher teaching English four days a week and then on the fifth day you have someone else?” (townhall)

Aren’t you happy that the same people who want all this want even more! 🙂

Enjoy…

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez