Some Further Thoughts On the Democrats’ Platform Problems

Over at the Corner, Hadley Arkes has some further analysis of the Democrats’ platform fiasco from their just concluded convention and comes up with this nugget:

For it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them.

This is the real crux of the matter. Denying the existence of God (or at least failing to acknowledge His existence) makes it much easier to also deny that any of our rights are also given by God. The Democrats, at their core, don’t’ honestly believe what the Declaration of Independence says. Once you’ve disavowed the Declaration it’s not hard to disavow the Constitution as the two documents are closely linked to one another.

Tonight, the President said this:

On every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties. When all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.

The President is exactly right. The choice that voters face is clear. Two differing worldviews are on clear display to choose from. One party believes that our rights are God-given and therefore cannot be infringed upon by government. The other believes that government has the power to grant (and to take away) rights as it pleases. Which choice would you make?

Obamacare and The End of Life

Buried deep within the 1000+ page healthcare bill is a confusing and vague provision that mandates “advanced care planning consultations” for Medicare recipients. What exactly is intended by these consultations is open to interpretation.

The provision originated from an earlier bill
that was designed to encourage patients to consider hospice and pallative care as they near the end of their lives. But make no mistake, this is also about money. According to one estimate, Medicare spends $100 billion a year for care of patients in their last year of life.

Many critics are rightly concerned that the government will be dictating to patients what care they can and can’t receive. The Bioethics Defense Fund is going so far to suggest that this provision is government endorsement of euthanasia.

As a matter of fact, such arguments about the cost of caring for the eldery and infirm as an endorsement for euthanasia has been tried before:

This poster appeared in Nazi Germany during the 1930’s. The message reads: “60,000 Reich Marks. This is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too.”

The arguments being made for mandatory “advanced care planning consultations” seemed to be eerily similar to the poster above. Critics of the President’s health care plan have very legitimate reasons to be worried about what this provision means. Voters should be concerned also.

Healthcare Reform Is Coming! No, Wait, It Isn’t!

Two different headlines from the same day illustrate the fundamental issues of the healthcare reform debate:

Blue Dog Democrats Announce Deal on Healthcare Reform

Key Senate Aide: Healthcare Reform Deal Not Imminent

The real reason that there is no quick solution coming is threefold: no one can agree on what exactly needs to be reformed, no one can agree on a solution, and the government is trying to provide the solution.

First, what needs to be reformed? It all depends on who you ask. Talk to a liberal Democrat and they will tell you that we need to have universal health insurance. Or that we need to do something about the uninsured. Or that we need to reduce the influence that insurance companies have over medical decisions.

Talk to a conservative Republican and they’ll tell you we need to get the government out of the business of providing health insurance (or at least streamline the current programs). They’ll tell you that we need to eliminate waste in Medicare. They’ll also talk about reducing overall costs.

Who’s right? There’s an element of truth in both sides of the argument. But there is no consensus on exactly what issue(s) need to be reformed thus the wide disagreement on how to solve the problems.

This brings us to the second point which is that without agreement on the problems you can’t find consensus on solutions.

To make matters worse, President Obama is running around pitching a plan without specifics. No one really knows what his proposed solution might be or what he thinks the extent of the problem really is because he doesn’t come right out and tell anyone. He’s been acting as if people will just do what he wishes because he asks them to. Perhaps he would be better served to slow down, listen to all sides in this debate, and figure out what the right steps are to take rather than trying to cram his agenda down the throats of voters. If polls are any indication, voters do not like what they are hearing from the President.

Finally, there is the issue of government involvement in the delivery of health care. Despite the fact that it has been proven repeatedly that government cannot fix every problem, Democrats still want to have government take over health care. Voters do not like that idea and understand what a disaster such a system would be. Most of the proposals so far make the government bureau overseeing health care look like the Office of Circumlocution from Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving–HOW NOT TO DO IT.

While the news channels may drone on about how healthcare reform is about to be passed it doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon. The longer the debate drags on the better as it is far better to stick with the current system we have no matter how flawed it may be rather than to rush through a package that will only make the situation far, far worse.

President Obama Overexposed?

Gee, you think so?

The possibility that the President’s overexposure is hurting his message is not the big news story. The big story is that it took the media so long to catch on.

Hat tip: Hot Air

How Long Before He Breaks This Promise?

Lost in the midst of the weekend news coverage of President Barack Obama hamming it up with his new best friend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is this little promise tucked into this weekend’s Presidential Radio/Internet Address:

“In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective,” he said. “In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.”

For those of you keeping score at home, this is the same President Obama who pushed through a $787 billion pork-filled spending bill and a proposed $3.6 trillion budget. He also promised during the campaign to go through the budget line-by-line and eliminate waste. Yet such scrutiny seems to have been absent during these initial spending initiatives.

Anyone really think he’s going to follow through on this one?

I wouldn’t count on it.

Obama’s Mortgage Plan: More Harm Than Good?

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at President Obama’s proposed mortgage rescue plan and finds that it could create far more problems than it solves:

President Obama yesterday announced his plan to prevent home foreclosures, saying he wanted to be “very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans . . . And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford.”

We really do wish he were right. In fact, the details released yesterday suggest the President’s plan will do all of the above. The plan will help some struggling homeowners. But by investing in failure, the Administration will also prolong the housing downturn and make financing a home purchase more difficult for future borrowers. Meanwhile, the plan isn’t likely to slow the continuing decline in housing prices.

The President’s plan is predicated on the false belief that everyone deserves to own a home. The fact is that not everyone can afford to own a home. The efforts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make it easier for people to buy homes they could not afford are at the heart of the current financial crisis. Unfortunately, the President’s plan does nothing to address this fundamental issue and instead just prolongs the crisis and leaving taxpayers on the hook.

As CNBC’s Rick Santelli correctly points out in this clip, this is an example of government rewarding bad behavior. Unfortunately it’s the 92% of honest, hardworking Americans he refers to that will pay the price.

Geithner Must Go

National Review’s Larry Kudlow says it’s time for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign:

For all of Mr. Geithner’s apparent skills and knowledge and other professional qualifications, he still has a tremendous ethical problem. Pres. Obama has made much of the need for a new era of responsibility and ethics. Obama is right. But Mr. Geithner is wrong. He should follow Daschle and Killefer by submitting his resignation.

This is a matter of personal character and accountability. It is a matter of honesty. Too many of our leaders suffer big deficits in these areas.

As Kudlow points out, the fact that President Obama has made ethics a central part of his administration makes the Geithner problem more acute. In addition, with the focus of the administration’s energies on the economy, it is going to be difficult for Geithner to be the face of economic policy for the administration. In a separate post, Kudlow made this point:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stood alongside President Obama in a White House press briefing yesterday. Obama talked about bank compensation limits and Geithner spoke about the need for trust, confidence, and faith in our leaders to get the job done. Only a day earlier, Pres. Obama said there should be no double standard when it comes to paying taxes.

However, Mr. Geithner is guilty of a double standard. He dodged his taxes. We know that. The only reason he eventually paid his taxes is because he was nominated to the Treasury. He has never gotten honest about his tax dodge. He never answered the key question of whether he would have paid his back-taxes had he not been nominated to the Treasury. And the result is that Mr. Geithner has lost the trust and confidence of the American people.

It’s time for Mr. Geithner to go.

The New Deal Didn’t Work (And Won’t Work Again)

President Barack Obama has made no secret of the fact that he considers Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of his role models. President Obama’s economic plans are very similar to those of FDR: increased government spending and intervention in markets to try to spur economic growth. Amity Shales, author of the excellent book The Forgotten Man, offers a terrific summary of why the New Deal didn’t work. (hat tip: Nota Bennett)

The fundamental problem with President Obama’s economic policies is the underlying assumption that government action can solve problems that can be more effectively and efficiently dealt with by market forces. The only guarantee with the President’s proposals is that the economy will be no better off and in fact probably be in much worse shape no matter how much new spending is dressed up as “stimulus”.

If the President’s program actually helps the economy recover it will be the first time that increased government spending has spurred economic growth. History (and particularly the New Deal) suggest that the President’s stimulus is doomed to fail.

Barack Obama has won the election: God help us

Senator Barack Obama has won the election for President of the United States and, essentially, the leader of the free world.

God, help us.

In 1 Timothy, Paul stated,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV

Yes, Christians… God. Help. Us. As Christians, we have been admonished to not only submit to our earthly authorities, but to pray for them as well.

In Romans, Paul stated,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

– Romans 13:1-5 ESV

God, help us.

Help us to pray for our leaders, despite the fact that we may not only disagree with them, but that they may be hostile to us and our beliefs. Help us to submit to our leaders, thereby demonstrating that we are not a subversive element, but are to be trusted as exemplary citizens.

While I believe Senator Barack Obama to be, among other things:

  • dangerously naive with regards to his vision of hope,
  • blatantly socialist with regards to his economic policies,
  • and, most distressingly, no friend of the unborn;

I know that my Christian duty is to extend prayers for him, his cabinet, as well as other federal, state, and local authorities.

Despite the general conservative contention that having a President Obama will bring a sorry state of affairs to our country, it would do us well to put our situation in perspective, with regards to the context of history at the time of the writing of many New Testament epistles.

In 1 Peter, Peter stated,

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

1 Peter 2:13-15 ESV

Through his teaching, my pastor, Dr. David Thomas, has greatly helped me in keeping such a perspective clearly in view. This has especially been revealed in some recent lectures he gave on 1 Peter (see mp3 files here). In the 26 March 2008 session, he pointed out that:

  • Peter and Paul have made an assertion that all human authority proceeds from God;
  • To respect and submit to human authority is to respect and submit to God;
  • Such a respect and submission has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with that authority;

And, with regards to the moral and ethical conditions of the leaders we pray for, he gave this comparison as context for the first century church,

  • Of the first 12 emperors (Julius Caesar through Domitian), only one was heterosexual, the rest were either bisexual or homosexual;
  • Nero, to whom Paul appealed (in the book of Acts), and the one who was Caesar when Paul wrote the book of Romans, married a 13 year-old boy;
  • Nero kicked his wife in the stomach until she miscarried;

In the same message, he stated,

Christians recognize authority as invested in mortal, fallen and, sometimes, unbelieving and cruel individuals… as being a reflection of the authority of God. …What they’re [Peter and Paul] saying is, have respect for the authority that’s invested in these mortal men, out of reverence for God.

Now, more than ever, we Christians must pray for our leaders, including President Obama.