Lock Up Your Salters, There’s A New Nanny In Town

April 21, 2010

In case you ever wanted to know why this blog is called The Clampdown and why the tagline is “I’m not working for The Clampdown” the reason is right here in this entry (and also it’s a great Clash song).

Many of us have a sweet tooth…it’s chocolatey goodness we crave. Many of us prefer the sour tastes of the world. While I enjoy both of these tastes on occasion, my weakness is for the salty goods. Pretzels, potato chips…the saltier the better. I put way too much salt in my food, but my blood pressure is good.

So this strikes home: the Food and Drug Administration is launching a ten-year program to cut down the amount of salt in processed foods. They are doing so in the name of health, claiming that lowering sodium intake will result in fewer deaths from hypertension and heart disease.

Sneaky folks that they are, the changes will be slowly phased in so people won’t even be aware of the difference because their taste buds will be slowly acclimated. A little less salt this year, another tiny subtraction next year, and ten years later you won’t even notice that your food is as bland and grey as the bureaucrats who brought you this decision. Like the myth of the frog that will be boiled alive if you turn up the temperature slowly, the FDA is stating that we won’t be able to tell the difference if they just make the changes gradual enough. Unless, of course, you have a memory that extends back eleven years.

This is just the latest and stupidest manifestation of the Nanny Government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. It does so “to help,” of course, by regulating business and industry and by forcing you to accept dietary changes that…well, that you’re just not smart enough to understand are for your own benefit.

This new program needs to be fought not just because it represents a massive government intrusion into our lives, but because it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks to the Democrats in Congress and the President of the United States, the government now has a massive stake in the health care industry. This massive stake means that they have a financial interest. A huge financial interest.

What this boils down to is that the government will be getting involved in all manner of things that were previously considered none of its damn business. If it affects your health, it affects their cost.

Over the past 20 or 30 years, whenever Democrats have wanted to increase the size of government, they claimed that they were doing it “for the children.” It was an emotional catchphrase designed to circumvent rational debate. By phrasing it this way—that government intervention in this, that, or the other thing was necessary for the future of America’s youth—they were able to cast anyone opposed to their statist goals as being somehow anti-child. The rallying cry for the next 20 or 30 years is likely to be “for the health of our children.” The government will now be claiming outrageous regulatory powers under the guise of “health care.” It started several years back with the government assault on tobacco companies and laws designed to prevent the “dangers” of second hand smoke by regulating businesses. Then there were the laws passed banning “trans fats” from food. Now in New York they want to add a tax to all sugary drinks: soda, powdered lemonade, etc. The goal is to “combat obesity.”

Today we add the Salt Police of the FDA, trying to save us from ourselves, and spare us the horrors of hypertension even if it means making our food bland and tasteless. And through all of this—secondhand smoke, trans fats, obesity, Coca-Cola, Lay’s Potato Chips—there is never even the acknowledgment that Americans are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Clearly there are real health problems in America, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, etc., but the way to solve these problems is not government regulation of business. The way to solve them is personal responsibility. If the government were to ban salt completely, my guess is that a whole new generation of “sweet tooths” would spring into being. Ban cigarettes, and people will smoke cigars; ban cigars, they’ll switch to pipes. It is a parent’s job to make sure the child doesn’t eat the entire Easter bunny in one sitting; it is not the government’s job.

The health care reform bill that was just signed in to law is a Trojan Horse for a single-payer system, to be sure. But it also carries within its hollow core the meddling busybodies of the Nanny State, now given free rein to regulate our lives right down to the seasoning in our soup.


UPDATE: Hot Air is on this, too and over at the Weekly Standard Mary Katherine Ham weighs in. Mmmm…ham…delicious salty ham…

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Today’s Lesson In Progressive Politics: Phil Hare

April 2, 2010

The conservative blogosphere is having a “kids on Christmas morning” day today with this video of Illinois Representative Phil Hare summarily dismissing the United States Constitution.

So much has been said on Hot Air. Big Government, Gateway Pundit, and others that there isn’t really all that much left to say.

That’s never stopped me before, though.

What we’ve got here really is nothing short of fascinating. It’s a genuine peek into the Leftist mindset that is usually hidden from prying eyes. Bless the You Tube generation, folks, because there are millions of tiny portable cameras out there ready to catch the Left unguarded.

For a quick history lesson, this is what’s known as the “Supremacy Clause”:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Translated, the United States is a nation of laws, and the U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land. There can be no laws that circumvent, overrule, or ignore the Constitution and all Senators, Justices, Representatives, and Presidents have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Yet when asked a simple question: “Where does the Constitution give you the power to create this health care bill?” Phil Hare responds: “I don’t worry about the Constitution.”

While this is really not surprising, in many ways it is nothing short of staggering. Rep. Hare goes on to talk about the “right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as if it were in the Constitution, and when told that this phrase is from the Declaration of Independence (not a legal document), Hare responds, “It doesn’t matter to me.”

This is the mindset of the Left. Specifically enumerated laws are unimportant. Anecdotes about poor children and bankrupt families are worth more than the legal document on which this country was founded. The law is unimportant. Gefühl ist alles, said Goethe. “Feeling is everything.”

There is a very telling line that Hare uses that isn’t getting much play anywhere else: “I’m the dreamer,” he says when asked about his convictions. The unintended consequences, the crippling of business, the enforced mandates on private citizens, the sick engorgement of government, the thousands of pages of new rules and regulations, of taxes and penalties…all of it in the pursuit of a Leftist dream.

Of course, morning arrives as it always must. When those who are awake find that the law and government policy is based on anecdotes, emotion, and the dream of a perfect society, then one realizes that there are no longer any limits on what government can do and the descent into tyranny will be swift and sure. It won’t be the brutal tyranny of a Nazi regime, but it is fascism nonetheless.

And Congressmen like Phil Hare are wearing the jackboots you hear sneaking up behind you under cover of doing something for “the people.”


Don’t Go Wobbly On Us

March 31, 2010

Back during the original Gulf War (1990s version), Margaret Thatcher famously told President George H.W. Bush, “Don’t go wobbly on us now, George.” It was her veddy, veddy English way of telling him to stiffen his spine and follow through.

When I suggested Republicans run on a slogan of “Repeal, Replace, Reform” I believed that it would be a winner for Republicans. Mitch McConnell agreed, and so did Karl Rove. There seemed to be a large push for a campaign run with health care reform as the centerpiece. I still believe this, but it’s starting to look like the Republicans are going a little, well, wobbly.

Fox News is reporting that “top Republicans” are starting to backtrack a little bit. The fear is that while repealing the bill is popular in the conservative base, it may not play well in a general election. The Republicans seem to be buying into the Democratic narrative that the more people learn about the bill, the more they’ll like it.

For instance, Democrats think people are going to just love, love, love these “surprises“: (H/T: Hot Air)

TIME FOR MOTHER’S MILK For a year after giving birth, nursing mothers must be allowed breaks on the job to express breast milk as often as necessary, and a private place to do so that’s not a bathroom (emphasis mine). Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.

A TAX ON TANNING Tanning salons say they will be burned by a new 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning that starts in July. But the American Academy of Dermatology applauded the move. According to the academy, indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, by 75 percent.

COMING SOON TO W-2 FORMS: HEALTH BENEFITS DETAILS In the name of transparency, employers will be required next year to spell out the value of health benefits on W-2 forms. “It’s about making consumers aware of what’s getting paid on their behalf toward health insurance, part of an effort to make everyone aware of how much we’re spending on health care services,” said Jennifer Tolbert, an associate director at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

LESS FLEX IN FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS Starting in January, you will no longer be able to tap your account to cover aspirin, vitamins and other over-the-counter medications, unless they are prescribed by a doctor. Come 2013, the total amount you can contribute annually will be limited to $2,500.

STRENGTHENING THE ‘S’ IN H.S.A. Times are tough. But if you’re thinking of raiding your health savings account to cover your mortgage payment or your child’s college tuition, think again. The health reform law increased the tax on H.S.A. withdrawals for nonmedical expenses to 20 percent from 10 percent for people under age 65. The provision takes effect in 2011. For the uninitiated, health savings accounts are tax-advantaged accounts linked to high-deductible health plans. About eight million people have signed up since the accounts were introduced in 2004.

ABSTINENCE MAKES A COMEBACK Abstinence-only education programs to prevent teenage pregnancy took a hit when President Obama took office and eliminated $115 million in funding, moving the money into more comprehensive programs that cover contraception and sexually transmitted diseases as well. Congress allowed another $50 million in abstinence-only funding to expire in June. The health reform law restores $50 million a year for abstinence-only programs for each of the next five years. But there’s a catch: states must match any federal funding they receive. “That may be significant,” said Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute. Last year, even before the previous $50 million expired, she said, “many states had already stopped participating.”

NURSING A BOND BETWEEN MOTHER AND CHILD Pregnant teenagers who receive home visits by nurses once or twice a month before delivery and for a few years afterward learn parenting and coping skills that can cut child abuse and neglect nearly in half, according to research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The $1.5 billion that home-visiting programs will receive over five years is by far the biggest financial commitment made to those evidence-based programs, said David Kass, president of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nonprofit anticrime organization.

Taxes, penalties, regulations and, as a kicker, we’re spending taxpayer dollars to teach teenagers that it’s bad to beat your kids. Think about that last item for one more second: a home visit from a nurse once or twice a month will cut child abuse in half. Do they really believe this? Do they really, honestly believe that all we need to do to cut child abuse by 50% is teach teenage parents “coping skills?” That telling a 16-year-old mother who spent her formative years being beaten by her mother’s boyfriend that she should just count to ten when she starts feeling angry will have a massive impact on child abuse? Good grief.

And yet, this is perfectly indicative of the larger problem of the health care reform bill. Here is the Nanny State in all of its hideous glory, reaching down to take care of you by hook or by crook. You will learn to be happy with health care reform by being taxed, by being penalized, and by being instructed. Memo to “top Republicans”: this isn’t popular, it won’t become popular. The only worry is that it will become addictive. Democrats like to claim that Social Security and Medicare are popular, but they would probably find out that heroin was popular if they asked junkies. These programs are not generally popular except to those people who become addicted to them. Big government is the true opiate of the people.

But Republicans are right that they need more than a promise to repeal health care reform. They need to run on a promise to repeal the Nanny State that this bill represents. They need to offer a simple replacement for health care reform and they need to accent other issues. Health care reform repeal should be right near the top of issues, but the Republicans should be running this year and in 2012 on a platform of smaller government, less regulation, and lower taxes…a platform that will accent the job-creating nature of these proposals. Health care reform is a huge issue, but with a 10% unemployment rate, people are more worried about paying their bills tomorrow than a government reform plan that doesn’t take full effect until 2014.

The Republicans need to run on the idea that the Federal Government has absolutely no business telling private industry that they need to create a special room for lactating mothers. They need to run on the concept that Washington D.C. shouldn’t be telling restaurants what information to put on menus. They need to run on a platform that stresses that it’s not the job of Congress to tell you the preferred way to get a tan. Health care reform is not a disease. It’s simply the most visible symptom of a far more malignant virus that promises to choke the life out of the economy and the nation: Big Government. It is Big Government that needs to be repealed, and health care reform is only part of that picture.


UPDATE: Turns out Ace of Spades was on the same page as me…right down to the headline. And Michelle Malkin is asking a rather pointed question about this. And the always worthwhile Iowahawk also chimes in.

UPDATE II: Via Hot Air, it looks like Doctor Zero has reached the same conclusion:

It’s true that the GOP cannot completely dedicate itself to the repeal of one piece of legislation for the next three years. Instead, they should dedicate themselves to slaying the blasphemous, rotting leviathan that gave birth to ObamaCare, and whose tentacles are visibly squeezing the life out of the American economy. Big Government is a parasite that is more than willing to kill its host.

Amen.


On Dems and Death Threats

March 25, 2010

Matt Drudge is using his finest bold type today: DEMS FEAR VIOLENT BACKLASH. The MSM is breathlessly reporting about this backlash. Congressmen who voted for health care reform are receiving death threats! In Rochester, NY someone tossed a rock with a Barry Goldwater quote attached through the window of the Democratic Party office! Louise Slaughter, of the famed “Slaughter Solution,” had her office window broken! A coffin was placed on Russ Carnahan’s lawn! We’re talking real wrath of God stuff here…fire and brimstone…dogs and cats living together…

I certainly would never advocate violence, but there needs to be a little perspective here. There are cranks and knuckleheads out there in every political group, but the air time given to this is intended for one purpose only: to delegitimize the opposition. By making such a public spectacle about what are, in reality, few real incidents, the Democrats are attempting to paint all Republicans and Tea Party folks as frothing at the mouth crazies. Don’t believe me? Here’s Louise Slaughter:

“It’s more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames with coded rhetoric,” said Slaughter, a key supporter of the bill.

Now, frankly, that’s just a bold-faced lie. The Republican leadership has been vigilant in their condemnation lest they seem to be slow in responding to this sort of stuff. John Boehner, who as House Minority Leader qualifies as “Republican leadership” said:

“I know many Americans are angry over this health-care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Boehner told Fox News Channel. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard — but let’s do it the right way.”

I’m sure that getting a death threat can be a really scary experience, but my guess is that there isn’t a single public figure who hasn’t received a few death threats. You think Rush Limbaugh doesn’t get death threats? Sean Hannity? Glenn Beck? Ann Coulter? Michelle Malkin? I wonder how many death threats Newt Gingrich got when he was Speaker Of The House…my guess is more than a few. The difference is that these people are not trying to claim that the kooks out there are part of a wider pattern. The Democrats right now are running around with their panties in a bunch and it’s all nothing more than a clumsy pantomime of real fear.

The FBI needs to investigate some of the more outrageous acts that have taken place, like the rocks through the windows and the cutting of a propane gas line, but let’s get real here. The vast, overwhelming majority of the threats of physical violence are nothing more than a bunch of angry people blowing off steam in a way that they think will have an impact. The serious threats need to be addressed, and the rest chalked up to another day of doing business in the eyes of 300 million citizens, some of whom are too lazy or stupid to argue the facts and resort to cheap insults or threats. But painting these cranks as somehow being indicative of the much larger anti-reform movement is as wrong as claiming that the WTO riots in Seattle were part and parcel of Democrat operations. Just because a kook wears a Tea Party button does not mean that all Tea Party people are kooks.

For a particularly ghastly example of how out of touch the Left is on this, look no further than Bob Herbert’s ridiculous New York Times column on the subject. Herbert is crystal-clear that he holds the entire Republican Party responsible for a few incidents at a Tea Party in D.C., many of which can not even be verified. I thought about creating a lengthy response to his tirade, pointing out many of hateful and violent things the Left has said and done, but it’s not worth it. For starters, he’ll never read it. And secondly, it wouldn’t matter to him. People like Herbert are prisoners of their ideology and see only as far as their blinders will allow them to see.

Just recently in Canada, a speech by Ann Coulter was canceled because angry Leftists were surrounding the auditorium, throwing tables and chairs, blocking the entrance, and demanding that Coulter’s books be burned. Are all Canadian liberals to blame, Mr. Herbert? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

I sincerely doubt that these are the first death threats received by members of Congress. What is unique about the threats this time is that they give the Democrats the chance both to play the victim and to blame the whole of their political opposition in order to silence those people with shame. The Democrats with their sissy press conferences and fevered brows, fretting ominously about their safety, are speaking out in the hopes that the millions of good and decent people who make up the Tea Party movement will abandon that movement so as not to be identified with a few crazies and cranks. In the end, it’s all show biz, and it won’t work.

Violence should not be the means, but the ends of the Tea Party movement are still more than justifiable. Write, call, protest, read and understand the Founding Fathers, learn our history and the things that made America different…but leave the rocks and the threats at home.


UPDATE: Filling in for the semi-vacationing mistress of the house, Doug Powers is on the same page at Michelle Malkin’s site, while also pointing out some of the hateful speech that is coming from Democrats about this very issue: the odious James Clyburn accusing Republicans of aiding and abetting terrorism. Meanwhile Hot Air has video of Eric Cantor accusing the Democrats of fanning the flames of hatred. The difference between Clyburn and Cantor: Cantor’s right.

Fight the hype! (Well, not fight…but “peacefully protest the hype” doesn’t have the same ring, you know?)


Dingell: Healthcare Will “Control The People”

March 24, 2010

It’s a cliche now, but that doesn’t mean that Michael Kinsley’s observation that a “gaffe” means a politician got caught saying what he believes isn’t true.

So I don’t look at this as a mistake from Michigan Representative John Dingell. I think that behind those closed House and Senate doors, when the health care reform legislation was being cooked up like so much crystal meth waiting to be forced on a population in the hopes of creating a massive, narcotizing addiction, this is the kind of stuff they say to each other. Breitbart TV has the audio.

When confronted by a radio host who makes the spurious claim that 18,000 people die every year because they don’t have health insurance, and that because the major part of the bill doesn’t take effect until 2014 an additional 72,000 people will die, Dingell explains that these things take time:

“We’re not ready to be doing it. But let me remind you this has been going on for years. We are bringing it to a halt. The hard fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [sic] American people in different ways, it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.” [Emphasis mine]

And that’s what health care reform is all about, Charlie Brown.


UPDATE: Michelle Malkin’s on fire with all the “Demcare Control Freaks“. So is Hot Air.


“This Is Not Who We Are.”

March 22, 2010

Paul Ryan is a rock star.


Repeal And Replace

March 22, 2010

I can’t help but be reminded of that scene in the movie The Omen, where the nanny shouts “It’s all for you!” before jumping off the roof with a noose around her neck.

Last night we watched that scene replayed 219 times.

The rubber is officially on the road now. Bart Stupak has proven to be the Profile in Cowardice I fully expected him to be (and has rightfully been stripped of the “Defender Of Life” Award he was to receive on Wednesday), and the “health care reform” bill has passed the House.

There are a few things to learn from this:

  • There is no such thing as a Blue Dog Democrat in Washington D.C. Fiscal and social conservatism is a gimmick that Democrats use in Republican-leaning districts to enhance their chances at winning elections. They don’t mean it, and should all be voted out.
  • The Far Left wing of the Democrat party, led by Obama and Pelosi, with Harry Reid standing on the sidelines begging to be allowed to play, will stop at nothing to advance their agenda of turning America into a European-style socialist state. That can’t be stated clearly enough. They will stop at nothing.
  • The Republican Party needs to recognize the first two items listed here and understand that there is no bipartisanship in Washington D.C. as long as the Democrat party is a Far Left party. Negotiations with the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, etc. will only lead to bad bills. The Republicans need to snap out of the Battered Wife Syndrome they currently embrace.

What’s done is done, as Shakespeare wrote. I am under no illusions that this bill can be repealed any time before January 2013. But that doesn’t mean that the Republicans should not run in 2010 on a campaign to repeal and replace the bill. C’mon, it’s even a good slogan: Repeal. Replace. Reform.

The Republicans can not continue to bad mouth the bill without providing a clear alternative. As much as I admire and respect Paul Ryan, he has a tendency to get deep into the weeds when he talks about policy. What the Republicans need is a simple 5-point plan that can be printed on a single page of paper.

  • Health-savings accounts. Allows people to put aside tax-deferred dollars for use in health care. This money will not be on a “use it or lose it” basis as it currently is. It can be kept, added to, and left to heirs just like a 401K and IRA.
  • Real, meaningful tort reform. Limit non-income damages in malpractice cases, and limit the amount of winnings that can be collected by lawyers. This has been done on a state level in Texas, and health care costs have dropped because doctors will no longer feel the need to order so many CYA tests.
  • Allow people to buy insurance across state lines. This is a no-brainer. Allow people to shop for their insurance needs wherever they need to. Allow real competition between insurance companies.
  • Eliminate Federal requirements for insurance. Right now, the government dictates what conditions must be covered by insurance. The more things that are covered, the more the insurance costs. Allow people to decide for themselves what they want covered, and allow people to choose from a wide range of deductibles. The only medical coverage people need from insurance is catastrophic coverage, or drug coverage over a certain amount per year. Let me decide if I want my coverage to include sex-reassignment surgery, not the government.
  • Eliminate the individual mandate. First off, it’s unconstitutional. Secondly, if people choose not to have health care insurance then those people need to take their medicine when they go to the doctor. Strengthen the position of hospitals and doctors to legally pursue people who skip out without paying the bill, rather than pass the cost on to those people who do have insurance.

The fine details of any plan must be worked out, and the five points I wrote above do not necessarily have to be the five points that they agree upon, but the public face of the plan must be something that the public can digest easily and quickly. The Republicans have many plans floating around. They need to get together in the local Capitol Hill watering hole, bash out a final plan with the best elements, and then put it into a language that be easily understood: a one-page summary and a bill itself that is no longer than 50 pages, with a non-lawyer translation available.

Nothing will be repealed until January 2013 because Obama holds the veto pen, but that doesn’t mean that a Republican majority in the House and, maybe, the Senate, can’t send the bill to the President as regularly as clockwork and force him to veto and then defend his action.

Last night Obama said, “This is what change looks like.” This November will give the Naked Emperor another example of what change can look like.

This fight is not over. It is just beginning.

Michelle Malkin has more here. Hot Air has an open thread here and video of Mike Pence’s stinging rebuke of Bart Stupak.


UPDATE: Many thanks to Rich Lowry for The Corner shoutout from the tongue-in-cheek email I sent him yesterday. I am truly honored.


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