Friday, July 28, 2017

McCain Kills Obamacare Repeal, Gridlocks Senate

Sen. John McCain typifies the dysfunctional U.S. Senate.

The 80-year-old flew 2,300 miles from Phoenix to Washington for an important procedural vote: simply to begin debate for the GOP's replacement bill for Obamacare (Vice President Pence broke the 50-50 deadlock with his tie-breaking vote). To a hero's welcome of universal cheers, McCain delivered a feisty 15-minute speech excoriating his colleagues' inaction. He criticized them for their partisan infighting, and for their inability to get constructive things accomplished. If that's so, hasn't this elder statesman been an integral part of that governing body for the last 30 years? Doesn't this former presidential nominee — the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services — bear some responsibility for Republicans' failure to deliver in 2017?

Stitched brow fresh from the surgeon's knife, his face full of righteous indignation, McCain bloviated. His voice conveyed a grandstanding message of unrealistic idealism:

“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. We’re getting nothing done, my friends. We’re getting nothing done.”

Speaking of achieving nothing, what was this “maverick's” next move? Utterly oblivious to his own advice, he voted against the “clean” Obamacare repeal. Recall that repeal is the fundamental step to finally kill this costly healthcare disaster. That must occur regardless of any GOP replacement still in the works. Specifically, doesn't Senator McCain's long-suffering constituency deserve real progress? After all, for them, Obamacare premiums have increased a staggering 116 percent! However, that's not this multimillionaire's problem: as a member of Congress he's exempted from Obamacare's vagaries. Furthermore, given McCain's own pressing health issues, where's his sympathy for those less well-situated then himself?

For seven years, the GOP has repeatedly promised the American people that they would rip out Obamacare “root and branch” once they gained control of Congress and the White House. Well, prettily perched, there they sit. Six months has elapsed while Congressional Republicans dawdle. Yet, the clock is rapidly ticking to the midterm elections in 2018. On Wednesday, seven betrayed that long-standing pledge, joining all Democrats to defeat a straight repeal bill. For context, with the exception of Susan M. Collins (R-ME), six voted for the 2015 Obamacare repeal that was subsequently vetoed by President Obama.

Unfortunately for Republicans, history has shown how easily disenchanted voters dispense with them when they don't keep their word. A case and point was one-termer George H. W. Bush. Recall his empty one-liner, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” That capitulation cost him reelection. Likewise with healthcare reform, GOP dithering will likely cost them their slim majority in the Senate next year. As Republicans are acting indistinguishably from Democrats — as blatantly demonstrated by John McCain — what good are they?

All is now jeopardized within this contentious political landscape. Still, what's clear is that Republican legislative efforts consistently garner zero support from Democrats. Therefore, how is one supposed to “work across the aisle” — as McCain admonishes — with the obstinate and the intractable? After all, as Democrats jammed Obamacare down the unsuspecting throats of the American people in 2010 — with no Republican support — why shouldn't any replacement follow suit?

For starters, McCain's “wishful thinking” isn't a practical or effective strategy. What is is publicly calling out Democrats: for their party caused this healthcare fiasco. What's worse is their complete abdication of responsibility, and their utter lack of cooperation now. In response, political hardball is required. For a cue, the senator need only look to President Trump's comments from July 18:

“It would be nice to get Democrat support but really they are obstructionists. They have no ideas. They have no thought process. All they want to do is obstruct government and obstruct period. In this case, think of it, so many good things we didn’t get one vote and their plan has failed. And, by the way, Obamacare isn’t failing. It’s failed. Done.”

Liberals' unyielding mind-set is absolutely incongruent with basic American ideals like liberty and self-determination. At least in theory, that's why Republicans value individuals over government. By contrast, progressives expand the state to compel social and political change. Wasn't Obamacare — a government takeover of 1/6 of the economy — precisely that? Given all these facts, why would any Democrat support the GOP's floundering efforts to unshackle healthcare from its centralized, bureaucratic controls?

One can neither bargain with fate, nor deny what is self-evident. Sorry Senator: advocacy of “compromise” with progressives is a proven nonstarter. Another lame tactic — shared by McCain's fellow RINOs — is the self-defeating notion not to vote for repeal until a replacement is fleshed out. What's the point of voting for formal debate — but against meaningful repeal? To that end, McCain put an early morning shiv in the GOP's latest Obamacare repeal known as the stripped-down “skinny” option. Needing 50 votes to advance, it only received 49. Once again, Trump's 2:25 AM Tweet of July 28 says it all:

“3 Republicans [McCain, Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)] and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”

This veteran of Washington gridlock — and those who follow him — have likely gifted the chamber to Democrats' hands in the next election cycle. Yet, whether that happens or not, they have wounded the American people by blocking every offered healthcare solution. Today, thanks primarily to John McCain, disgusted millions who placed their faith in Congressional Republicans have ample reason to feel blue.

Twitter: @DavidHunterblog

Monday, July 24, 2017

Washington Swamp's Russian Fever

Supposed “Russian interference” is the Democrats' morning-after poison pill for the results of the 2016 election. From November 9 onward, this narrative has been intended to undermine Donald Trump, and hamstring his “Make America Great Again” agenda.

Unfairly, the liberal MSM has rabidly embraced wild-eyed supposition based upon unsubstantiated innuendo. Its underlying purpose is a face-saving measure to distract from the complete repudiation of progressives' eight years of failures. This effort also had the immediate benefit of painting responsibility-phobic Hillary—and her Democratic fellows—as victims of an “international conspiracy”.

Given this contrivance, one is reminded of Mrs. Clinton's outrageous January 27, 1988 claim of a “vast right wing conspiracy” against her presidential hubby for his adulterous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Then as now, a pattern of pure fiction spun as a distraction for Clintonian misdeeds. Specifically, during the last election cycle, what of Hillary's less than truthful answers; her highly suspect decisions related to her Server-gate scandal; her influence-peddling Charity-gate dealings; her obvious deficiencies as a politician?

Unfortunately, the entrenched Washington establishment has used this political smoke and mirrors as a feeble excuse not to pass meaningful legislation. That means both parties. On one hand, Democrats take up wasted space in Congress, filling the air with anti-Trump rhetoric. On the other, Republicans sit on their hands, ignoring their languishing seven-year pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare. These dysfunctions epitomize “the swamp” President Trump is working mightily to drain.

Ah, the idle political class—typified by poster boy Paul Ryan (R-WI). He stated on May 17, 2017, “It is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president.’’ As he acknowledges this is the case, why not put a stop to months of nebulous, fruitless inquiries? With no evidence—and no end in sight—why do GOP enablers facilitate a huge distraction from the successful agenda the president ran on? Is it political cover for their own fecklessness?

For historical context, recall Mr. Ryan's acceptance speech as House Speaker on October 29, 2015:

“But let’s be frank: The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.”

Doe-eyed Ryan promised a “fresh start,” but delivered more gridlock. Conciliatory lip service notwithstanding, what of his results? Likewise, what of his Senate counterpart Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)? Both seem to have an innate aversion to taking the political heat leadership requires. In large part, this ire comes from collectively intractable Democrats. Yet, where is their consensus building within GOP's ranks? Given the rejection of the status quo articulated by the last election cycle—why hasn't either man forcefully defended the president? Why haven't they told Congressional Democrats to stow their obstructionist carping? As a touchstone, why wasn't the ObamaCare repeal bill ready for President Trump's signature on day one: January 20, 2017?

After all, the Republicans ran against the healthcare debacle for years. Precisely as establishment Democrats, Congressional RINOs played politics to gain legislative majorities. Now, after six months of a new administration and GOP dominance in Congress, what do Ryan and McConnell have to show for it? The American Healthcare Act (AHCA) barely passed the House, 217-213 and may not pass in the Senate. How's that for snatching failure out of the jaws of victory? Indeed, if McConnell's minions don't coalesce behind the president's policies forthwith, they will be “swamped” by Democrats eager to replace them in 2018.

It's not the Trump campaign that needs attention here, but Hillary Clinton herself. Specifically, as then Secretary of State, she rubber stamped the Uranium One “deal” in which 20% of U.S. domestic uranium production was ceded to Kremlin control. In exchange, the now defunct Clinton Foundation received four donations totaling $2.35 million. A real Soviet windfall! If that's not blatant enough, Bill Clinton also received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with government ties promoting Uranium One stock. So, who has Russian ties and likely colluded? That's clear to anyone not subscribing to the Democrats' dishonest “red scare”. A politically expedient bogeyman spawned by do-nothing Republicans and corrupt liberals' wishful thinking.

Twitter: @DavidHunterblog

Monday, July 17, 2017

Guarding Charlie's Life

Why gamble with money when you can gamble with people's lives?” – high-powered lawyer Martin Vail played by Richard Gere in “Primal Fear” (1996)

What a heady power for a judge to hold the fate of terminally ill infant in his hands! If he wishes, this black robed figure may act as a state-sanctioned, de facto Grim Reaper. Should a British barrister—not a doctor, not the child's parents—be the ultimate arbiter of life or death for an innocent?

At issue is the welfare of 11-month-old Charlie Gard, born on August 4, 2016. Beyond being deaf, blind and severely epileptic, he's so infirm he cannot breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. Charlie's debilitating genetic condition is so rare there are only 16 reported cases worldwide. His malady—a RRM2B mutation of Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome (MDDS)—saps the vital organs of energy, causing progressive muscle weakness, loss of motor skills and brain damage. Hence, any further treatment is experimental; and only available in the United States with emergency FDA approval.

Ironically, the therapy for Charlie would be a simple oral medication. While not reversing any brain damage, it could help to manage Charlie’s symptoms and increase his life expectancy. Medically speaking, the treatment is a long shot, as acknowledged by Charlie’s mother Connie Yates, 31. She pleaded with the judge, “Ten percent. You would if it was your son, wouldn’t you? Well, precisely. Complicating matters is the fact that the medicine, beneficial to other children less afflicted, has never been tried on a patient as ill as Charlie. Essentially, British socialized medicine is currently “treating” Charlie like a prisoner. They want him to “die with dignity” and refuse to release him to his parent's care.

This tragedy has become a political firestorm reaching around the globe. In America, President Trump and members of Congress have weighed in. Specifically, Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) are planning special legislation to make Charlie Gard a lawful permanent resident of the United States. All in the hope to increase Charlie's chances to receive treatment stateside. Likewise, Pope Francis has offered a Vatican passport, and access to the Vatican hospital. Before any of that can potentially happen, Judge Nicholas Francis must make his final determination. Reportedly, that will happen by July 25.

His current position (read: the state's) bars travel, and authorizes London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to remove Charlie from life support. Justice Francis previously said, “Although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.” In my view, that's an impossible standard to meet; especially under these heart-wrenching circumstances! Therefore, only informed medical opinions will be offered—in other words, educated assumptions—nothing more. What an ego-trip for this judge to play God like Martin Vail! What of the age-old natural right of any parent to preserve the life of an offspring? Should that biological impulse be superseded by the flawed human perception of one wigged stranger in High Court silks?

Up until this point, his parents have moved metaphorical mountains to assist their ailing child. For example, they collected 350,000 signatures asking the hospital to release their son. Also, they set up a GoFundMe campaign, raising the equivalent of more than $1.7 million dollars to pay for Charlie's medical care without further burdening the British health-care system. Fortuitously, a U.S. hospital has even offered to give Charlie free treatment if he is able to relocate here. Given all of these positive developments, Charlie's mother is hopeful, “There’s 18 children currently on this medication [nucleoside bypass therapy], they’re all getting stronger, they’re all getting better. It’s a miracle what happens.”

Perhaps the miracle will take the form of Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurologist at New York's Columbia University Medical Center. He will consult with Charlie's doctors in London on Monday. In the interim, Hirano told the judge that a MRI scan of the baby's brain did not necessarily indicate structural damage. Per CNN, he stated there was an “11% to 56% chance of clinically meaningful improvement” in muscular function with the new therapy. Furthermore, this expert stated that keeping Charlie on a ventilator would not contribute to his problems because he did not appear to be in any significant discomfort.

Only three months of treatment at Columbia University will determine whether Charlie is improving. Thus, the old adage: “While there's life, there's hope.” Certainly, dealing with such grief and adverse circumstances is enough for any parent without the additional stresses of an intransigent hospital—and an ongoing legal battle. Even if those hurtles are overcome, Charlie's father, Chris, 32, is realistic about the equally daunting future medical challenge. He said, “If there is no improvement we will let him go. We just want to give him a chance.” Just the basic freedom to decide what’s best for their own child.

As the bill-sponsoring U.S. Congressmen said in a joint statement, “Should this little boy to be ordered to die—because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?” Hence a universal lesson is gleaned: government-run, nanny state medicine fails compared to the patient-centered variety. That's because the state imposes itself where it has no business being. Matters of mortality should remain with individuals and their families—not judges, bureaucrats and politicians.

Witness the danger of all-powerful governing bodies! The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to intervene, and the British courts have previously sided against Charlie's parents. Politically, aren't these imperial powers equivalent to the autonomous attorneys populating the 115th U.S. Congress (read: 167 members of the House (37.8 percent) and 55 Senators (55 percent))? Once again, lawyers—not doctors (only 14 physicians in Congress: 11 in the House, 3 in the Senate)—are determining a gerrymandered replacement for ObamaCare. Like mute and helpless Charlie, our health-care system hangs precariously in the balance. For better or worse, its destiny also in the wrong hands of the powerful and the political.

Our best solution, like Charlie's, is a long shot. Congress should return our society to free market, privatized medicine. The kind that existed pre-Obama: before progressives used government to seize control of 1/6 of the economy. That liberation of doctors and patients might save patients like Charlie Gard—and perhaps the rest of us as well. A gamble best left to those directly involved, rather than the state and its autocratic representatives.

Twitter: @DavidHunterblog

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trumpmageddon: Swampy Democrats' Waterloo

The Liberals have not had a new idea since the last Ice Age; and nowadays the mark of a true Liberal is not so much his adherence to a coherent agenda but the intensity of his angers and the alacrity with which he urges impeachment proceedings against a conservative president at the least provocation.” – “The American Spectator” editor in chief, author and columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., “The Conservative Crack-Up” (1992)

The Washington establishment is glacial in its permanence; defined by its “swampy” unwillingness to conform to the will of freedom-loving people who elected a true outsider to the presidency in 2016. Given scribe Tyrrell's above insight, who's not today instantly reminded of Democrats' rabidly anti-Trump rhetoric (abetted by entrenched, weak-kneed Republicans)? For context, his prophetic genius was actually penned over 25 years ago. It refers to liberals' unjustifiable angst over another political upstart: Ronald Reagan. Besides that commonality, Donald Trump has another Reaganesque connection: he appropriated his predecessor's patriotic 1980s slogan, “Make America Great Again”.

In order to “M.A.G.A.”, as “The Great Communicator,” Reagan utilized Oval Office addresses to speak directly to the American people. Thus, he circumvented the cacophony of Washington naysayers, and the largely unfavorable spin of the legacy press. For that same purpose, President Trump uses Twitter, the 21st century equivalent. For his part, Reagan was constantly belittled and attacked for opposing liberalism. Isn't the left's farcical charge of Trump campaign collusion with Russia the same thing? To that end, on June 15th, The Donald tweeted:

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history—led by some very bad and conflicted people!#MAGA”

Trump's “bad people” have reason for concern: their candidates are 0-5 in special congressional elections. If political hell is an “Ice Age”—a Siberian wasteland for the sidelined—this is squarely where Democrats find themselves. President Trump, as Reagan before him, is leading America despite the raging opposition. Hence, liberals' overblown response, a new political malady known as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. But, what else are backbenchers bereft of constructive ideas to do? They have reconstituted Barack Obama's buck-passing “blame Bush” strategy: a distraction from their own obvious policy failures.

Combine progressives' toxic track records with their equally hateful rhetoric—as epitomized by the last administration. That, in turn, has inspired their alienated, self-radicalized followers to perpetrate violent and murderous acts. As a case and point, why else would a Bernie Sanders supporter, James T. Hodgkinson, attempt to massacre a group of Republican lawmakers at a Virginia baseball park on June 14th? To that end, Tyrrell's ironically titled Washington Times column of June 21st, “Just another well-intentioned progressive,” addresses that disturbing incident. Once again, his spot-on assessment is both startlingly predictive and illuminating:

Actually, that Hodgkinson is pretty much a standard-issue progressive ought to give everyone the creeps. … [T]he “angry left”.... has been on a steady evolution toward homicide like what Hodgkinson undertook last week for years, and there are a lot more Hodgkinsons out there than we care to contemplate.”

Well, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. would know, wouldn't he?

What he wrote in 1992 is a snapshot of today's vanquished progressives: all bluster and bravado, signifying nothing. Lacking a platform, their divisive party has rotted to its core. Unless one considers the superficiality of identity politics, or grievance culture, a cohesive agenda. Is it any wonder they're so grossly out of touch in the Trump Age? Clearly, “Resistance” is a slipshod political strategy; as unlikely to bear fruit as their much beloved impeachment fantasy. Besides gridlock and dysfunction, what do they offer? Once again, Tyrrell's prescient words concerning liberals' shenanigans are as true now as they were during Reagan's era:

“They gave themselves over to innuendo, misrepresentation, and slander; and the conservatives sat quietly by with the American people witnessing an increasingly lurid spectacle.”

How is that not a blueprint for progressives' anti-Trump tactics of 2017? Democrats driven around the bend by those over the hill: Hillary Clinton, 69; Bernie Sanders, 75; Elizabeth Warren, 68; Nancy Pelosi, 77 (and for good measure, Joe Biden, 74). For the “iced” left—led astray by political dinosaurs—Tyrrell brilliantly proves the past truly is prologue.

Twitter: @DavidHunterblog