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March 11, 2010
Remember President Cool? Barack Obama looking supremely self-confident (perhaps even a little cocky) in his speaking appearances, seeming to say, in effect, “Let us reason together, and you will see why America must have the benefits of the health care reform which I am advocating.”
Now meet President Angry. He was at a speaking podium in Philadelphia earlier this week. A photographer caught him in action in The New York Times picture published below. Does this look like a political leader trying to lead? Or more like a political figure seeking to be a driver, angry at those who don’t understand how wise, how right, he is?
“President Angry” losing his cool in Philadelphia
If you’re going to demagogue an issue, switching from reasoned argument to emotion and occasional vituperation, you are best served by having some specific target or targets. Generalizations won’t do. Health insurance companies are President Angry’s target of choice.
In his Philadelphia appearance, Obama made what The New York Times described as “an emotional pitch for public support” as he tries to push his health care reform proposal through a final series of votes in Congress in the next several weeks. The Times story said that Obama seemed to relish the opportunity to “cut loose.”
It will be interesting—and important for the welfare of this country—to see whether President Angry can reverse the tide of public disfavor which is affecting his personal popularity as well as the fate of what has come to be called his “ObamaCare” health reform proposal with its price tag of nearly a trillion dollars.
Incidentally and importantly, the public’s skepticism might be even greater if the news media had done a better job of spotlighting the facts referred to in the third paragraph of the Associated Press displayed on an inside page in a recent edition of The World-Herald. The AP story said:
“Democratic leaders are contending with a host of lawmakers who want to see the fine print before making a decision. Hoyer (House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer) said final language and a cost estimate should come back from the Congressional Budget Office by the end of this week.
“At this point in time, we don’t have a bill,” Hoyer said. “It’s a little difficult to count votes if you don’t have a bill.”
Little wonder that the majority of the American people and a good many members of Congress aren’t buying a health care proposal which, after months of debate, at the 11th hour still hasn’t been put in the form of legislation which could be submitted to a vote, and with increased cost and tax estimates, which admittedly will involve a good deal of guess work, still not calculated.
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Some thoughts on the controversial subject of public funding for prenatal care for illegal immigrant mothers-to-be.
I believe that the children should not be punished for the transgressions of the mothers (and being in this country illegally is a transgression). Or punished for the fact that the United States government has massively failed in controlling immigration and in dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants who are in this country as a result of that failure.
But I deplore efforts by “don’t penalize the babies” advocates who gloss over or ignore some realities. For example, a recent lengthy editorial first referred to the illegal immigrant mothers-to-be as “those who are not U.S. citizens,” gingerly avoiding describing them as “illegal immigrants,” which is what they are. The editorial later referred them simply as “these women.”
Incidentally but importantly, I wonder if enough attention is being given to the fact that the impetus for ending the practice of providing public funds to such mothers is a result of a federal policy which prohibits federal funding for the benefit of illegal immigrants.
Also getting scant attention as the Nebraska Legislature considers a bill to have Nebraska taxpayers pick up the cost is a report that 35 states, including all of those bordering Nebraska, don’t pay prenatal care costs.
A great deal of emphasis is being placed on the fact that the babies, as soon as they are born, become United States citizens. This is a consequence of some unfortunate wording in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as I see it.
That amendment famously includes a variety of safeguards against abuse of “citizens of the United States” or “any person” within the judicial jurisdiction of the United States.
But the 14th Amendment also includes this language: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States.”
This language—presumably well intentioned but carelessly drawn, in my opinion—was drafted by Congress as part of the 14th Amendment ratified by 38 states.
Obviously, at the time the language was adopted 142 years ago, no one anticipated that one day this country would be flooded with more than 10 million illegal immigrants, some of whom came to this country with the specific objective of giving birth to children who would become United States citizens eligible for the opportunities as well as the government-subsidized welfare care which this country provides and which is at the heart of the debate in Nebraska today.
I believe the American people would offer strong majority support for a proposal that the 14th Amendment be amended to provide that automatic citizenship is granted only to children born to parents at least one of whom must be a United States citizen.
* * *
Further thoughts on the prenatal care issue:
One might say that Nebraska’s three Catholic bishops need better political advice.
The bishops went public with a strongly-worded communication to Governor Dave Heineman, urging him to reverse his stand against providing state tax funds to provide prenatal care for illegal immigrant mothers.
By taking a public stand to pressure Heineman, the bishops made it less likely that Heineman would reverse his position, in my opinion.
If Heineman were to reverse his position—he says he won’t—in what could be interpreted as yielding to pressure from spokesmen for the Catholic Church, the governor would pay a price at the polls, in my opinion. Consider the numbers:
A research survey indicated that 31% of Nebraskans consider themselves to be Catholics. That would mean, if the research figure is reasonably accurate, that some 69% of Nebraskans do not consider themselves Catholics.
Do advocates of state funding of prenatal care of illegal immigrants believe that a 69% majority would approve a governor’s yielding to well-publicized pressure from representatives of a 31% minority of Nebraskans?
The Catholic bishops would have done better if they had designated one of their number to, on a very private basis, telephone Heineman and present the bishops’ point of view. Going public with something that sounded more like pressure than persuasion was simply self-defeating, in my opinion.
A final (for today) thought on the issue:
I don’t suppose there is much chance that taxpayer-provided care of welfare-case mothers could be accompanied by some rather specific information as to family planning, including contraceptive measures.
“Every child a wanted child” is sound family planning policy as well as sound public policy in cases where the public pays the cost of the results of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
* * *
Herewith a sort of smorgasbord of commentary. I hope you find something to suit your taste.
--Most surprising news to come out of the Vatican in a long while, it seems to me, is the fact that Pope Benedict XVI chose to join those complaining about airport body scanners.
A recent Associated Press dispatch reported that civil libertarians “and even Pope Benedict XVI” have complained that the new machines can violate an airline passenger’s privacy.
Do the Pope and the civil libertarians really believe that scanning passengers to prevent terrorists from blowing up airplanes and their passengers is an unjustified invasion of the potential bomber’s privacy?
I would guess that a body scan is probably more powerful protection against being blown up than would be a prayer that there are no terrorists aboard your flight.
--It seems to me that the old saying “Let the dead past bury its dead” would be sound public policy in the following case.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Congress recently endorsing a resolution placing the “genocide” label on the World War I-era killing of Armenians.
The action so angered the government of Turkey, a key Muslim ally United States, that Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the United States.
Why in the name of common sense—sometimes a rare commodity in the halls of our Congress—bring up such an issue nearly a century after the fact?
--Another example of the lack of common sense on Capitol Hill, it seems to me:
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R.-N.C., has introduced a bill proposing that the likeness of the late President Ronald Reagan replace the likeness of Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill.
I think a strong case can be made that Grant, although his presidency was scarred by some scandal not involving him personally, is properly recognized on the $50 currency, especially when you consider his monumental contribution to the Union victory in the Civil War.
I admire Ronald Reagan also, and he has been honored by having his name given to an airport, a freeway, an aircraft carrier and a large federal building in Washington.
Doesn’t Rep. McHenry have something more productive to do than waste time on a proposition that isn’t going anywhere?
* * *
Among all the requests for contributions which come our way—the figure sometimes runs to four or five a day—the first of its kind arrived last week. Marian and I were asked to “SAVE THE DATE!” (Friday, April 30) for a fund-raising event carrying the title “Cinco de Mayo.”
The beneficiary of the fund-raiser would be as organization called OneWorld, described as a community health organization of some kind. One is left to guess that it is focused on South Omaha. (The fund-raiser will be held in the Livestock Exchange Building in South Omaha.)
My knowledge of Mexican holidays is limited, but I believe “Cinco de Mayo” means the Fifth of May, a celebration of a Mexican victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
The fund-raiser will be Friday, April 30, close enough to May 5 to qualify for the “Cinco de Mayo” title, I suppose.
But I wish there were some evidence that Mexicans, including those living primarily in South Omaha—were interested also in celebrating the 4th of July. It would be evidence that at least some of them think of themselves as Americans—or Americans-to-be if they are working towards citizenship—rather than simply Mexicans living in America.
Marian and I decided to decline the invitation to join in celebrating that Mexican military victory over a French army 148 years ago.
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