Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The President's speech and the Libyan intervention under the 1973 War Powers Act- Part Two

As promised last Tuesday-- I do apologize for the delay as I have been attending to other matters, including preparing to take grad entrance exams in a couple months and other issues-- today we are going to delve a little deeper into the whole Libyan matter vis a vis the War Powers Act, (i.e., the "War Powers Resolution Act" passed by the U.S. Congress in 1973).  Initially, and to bring us up to speed on the developments over the last week, we are thrilled to see that any "handing off" of control over American service men and women is apparently going to result in the continuation of their service under the command of an American General in Nato, (for news click here), even if some don't think it will occur at all, (see here). 

 But all such pronouncements arising from the President's speech to the nation last night-- complete with its ironic and almost megalomaniac attempts to take the opportunity to draw some kind of contrast with his presidential predecessors' alleged "delayed" actions vis a vis Bosnia and the Iraq war, see here-- appeared to us to be more about "politics" than anything else and did little to address in detail many lingering questions, including:  1) What are America's national interests in Libya? 2) What is the "exit" strategy and ultimate goal of this "police action," 3) Whether the "War Powers Resolution Act" passed by the United States Congress in 1973 and for which all modern President's have been criticized for not carefully heeding to, can be abrogated, or its requirements fulfilled, by resolutions passed from a world body such as the United Nations Security Council, and 4) if they can be, on what basis are they legal?

Much more than mere academics-  The Rule of Law and America's role in the World

 Such questions as these last two are far more than academic, as they go to the very core of what it means to be an independent Republic of laws and not of men, while the first two, admittedly more "policy based," are inextricably intertwined with the question of whether America will continue to be a strong and independent force for freedom and good in the world.  Indeed, it is the inherent tension between the two that the current Libyan intervention inexplicably raises.  The answers could well determine whether America will in the future be reduced to merely a puppet of other world powers to do their bidding when it suits them if only our President unilaterally consents or whether we will continue to be an independent Republic "governed by laws and not of men" and able to act, unilaterally and pursuant to our law, when it is in our national interests to do so.  

To get to the answers will require a review of relevant history and Constitutional provisions, as well as a brief analysis of international law and relevant treaties governing America's relationship with international organizations such as the U.N. and Nato, (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

 And while the more "political" questions of various Presidents' regard, (or lack thereof) for the War Powers Resolution Act itself-- long a criticism of the political left but now also an issue raised by the American Tea Party movement-- will be addressed where relevant, it is not our primary focus of interest here, (as others have aptly weighed in on the legality of President Obama's actions generally, see here), and we have felt content to leave to history and the voters who have and will in due course render judgement as they see fit, (as is the genius of our free Democratic Republic under our Constitution).

As one might imagine, adequately addressing such a topic as I have raised will necessarily take some time. I therefore will devote as many posts as necessary to an adequate examination of this subject, (while allowing for other duties and interjection of other subjects as may arise of more immediate importance), and will note them appropriately for organizational purposes as their respective parts, (of which this is Part Two).

We begin our analysis of this subject with a review of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, our primary law which has successfully governed our Republic and insured our freedoms for over 230 years, (a record in the history of nation states!). 

The Congress' mandatory role under the United States Constitution and War Powers Act

The U.S. Constitution expressly states that "Congress shall have power to... declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal," and to "define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations."   United States Constitution, Art. 1, Section 8.

In the same section the Constitution further grants Congress the right to "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States" (the so called "necesssary and proper" or "elastic" clause which those in support of Obamacare like to repeat, another subject for another day, but see previous post on this blog "So what's really the problem with Obamacare?").

As we alluded to in Part One of this topic, Congress intended to utilize this constitutional "necessary and proper" power found in Section 8 by creating the War Powers Resolution Act, (i.e., WPRA). Indeed, this proper ground for its authority is particularly referenced in the text of the WPRA itself:

 SECTION 1, SEC. 2. (b)

"Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."

 As an aside, although President Obama stated in his address to the nation that he "consulted" with leaders of the Congress prior to approving military action to enforce U.N. resolution 1973 re: Libya, we note the President is obligated by the U.S. Constitution to do more than just garner international coalitions or "talk" with Congress.  Indeed, the WPRA doesn't refer to "talking" to Congressional leaders at all.  Rather, it clearly indicates the law's requirement that the President's "consulting" duties requires a more direct vote and approval of the Congress.  Again, I quote the relevant portions of the WPRA:


This joint resolution may be cited as the "War Powers Resolution".


"It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations."

Moreover, such consultations with Congress are to take place before military forced is used, and insure the President continues to "consult" with Congress in accord with the Act's requirements, to wit:

The Requirement for Consultation with Congress under the War Powers Act


"The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations." - War Powers Resolution Act Section 3.

Further, the WPRA is clear about the circumstances under which force can be utilized. Indeed, under Section 2. (c), the only exception is when American forces are attacked or forced into military action due to the threat of "imminent threat of hostilities" upon American forces:

"The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."  SECTION 2. (c) WPRA.

Moreover, as pointed out last time, it is the President's duty to-- within 48 hours of use of the armed forces under imminent threat or actual attack-- inform the Congress of the reasons for military action, (clearly not done in this case), to be followed up with written reports to Congress within specific time frames:


"In the absence of a declaration of war, [By Congress], in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."

Thus, while it remains to be seen whether the President will comply with the subsequent reporting required, it is inescapably clear that President Obama has clearly flouted the War Powers Act's requirements to initially do so within 48 hours upon one of the triggering events in order to apprise Congress of the reasons and authority for his actions and allow them to fulfill their constitutional role, (leading us to believe that Congressmen Dennis Kucinich's call for Obama's impeachment, while we think a bit over the top, at least has some basis in law, click here).

A question of Separation of Powers, not the 'moral' need for Intervention in Libya

Indeed, this action raises extremely serious constitutional questions regarding Separation of Powers, appropriate constitutional limitations on the two elected (i.e., "political") branches of our federal government, and the Obama Administration's questionable commitment to the Rule of Law. 

Of course, we here at the ACLP have often acknowledged President Obama's soaring rhetorical skills.  Unfortunately, admirable as that may be, it does not in itself change or effect the importance of what we are here discussing, (which is the very Rule of Law by which our whole system of government must continue or eventually fail entirely).  

In that respect, the speech to the nation last night by the President changes none of these matters. 

American interests?  The cost of intervention

Indeed, on that score, this is not about whether or not intervention was necessary in Libya in order to prevent a mass slaughter of civilians, or whether it is in America's interests for Gaddafi to be removed from power.  (As our previous posts make clear, we wholeheartedly agree that the "mad dog of Africa," as President Reagan used to call Gaddafi, needs to go, indeed such is expressly in our national interests.)   He does, after all, have the blood of hundreds of American lives on his hands, (e.g., Pan Am flight 103 terrorist attack as well as Berlin Disco bombing in the 80's and countless other covert terrorist acts around the world).  And this is so regardless of whether or not the rebels are connected to Al Quaeda, a very serious and separate question that must definitively be answered before we allow any other regime to establish itself and/or we decide to directly arm the rebels with American arms.  (Indeed, establishment of just another terrorist regime in Gaddafi's place wouldn't be worth the blood of even one American soldier, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars this attack is costing the U.S. taxpayers, see here and here. For reports upon possible Al Quaeda and terrorist connections of the Libyan 'rebels' click here and here).

The Rule of Law

Clearly, the questions at stake which we raise here rather go to the Rule of Law, (and to a lessor extent, the means by which the mission, even assuming it were clearly defined, will be accomplished; incidentally, the United Nations resolution does not authorize "regime change," the very action which would need to take place for any true freedom and protection for the Libyan people to endure as well as to bring the terrorist thug Gaddafi to justice).  Indeed, while the President's speech admits the desireability of removing Gaddafi from power, he openly admits there is no authority for such action from the U.N. mandate, (to say nothing of the War Powers Resolution!) and our limited goals in this regard. (And this on top of his utter failure to outline our exit strategy, the oft critically mentioned "end game" which the President openly admits doesn't exist, nor is there likely to be a clear one established once control of the mission is fully handed off to Nato, for full news on this see here).

Thus, while we here at the ACLP actually agree with the President that some action was desireable and even necessary, we continue to have great reservations about the process, plan and means being used to justify the use of American military forces to do so (even if there were a clear "end game," and even as the President has announced his policy of pursuing a mere "support role" going forward in conflict he has now involved American forces in). 

Non-sensical political correctness?

Indeed, while the President seems to be bending over backwards not to unduly threaten or "offend" other Islamic nations at the prospect of the "great Satan" intervening imperially into their affairs, it apparently hasn't dawned on him that the radical jihadists aren't likely to feel kindly towards us anyways, and that the moderates of the Muslim religion who yearn for freedom and make up the vast bulk of the citizenry want nothing more than for us to intervene, (in fact, if anything they are more likely to be radicalized and recruited for terrorism if we turn a deaf ear to their cries as we did with the Iranian student protestors in June of 2009, see here, here and here, and almost did in Egypt following a seeming pattern, see here).  Such arguments therefore just don't hold up.

As pointed out herein however that does not necessarily mean that we can dispense with the War Powers Resolution or assume military intervention in Libya is lawful.

Moreover, we have serious concerns about the criteria listed by the Administration, (as surely Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Iran and North Korea are countries fraught with unrest which are ruled by dictators who brutally repress and murder their own people as well as constitute potential (or actual!) hotbeds for terrorism and to varying degrees oppose America and its "freedom agenda" for Democracy around the world).

Don't misunderstand; The ACLP wholeheartedly supports promoting freedom and Democracy around the world wherever we can with decisive action, (one reason we were so unhappy with the Obama Administration's initial lack of decisive action three weeks ago when the "freedom fighter's" were on Tripoli's doorstep instead of now when the human cost and duration of our mission must necessarily be more extensive in order to achieve success).

But in an environment where today's freedom fighters often become tomorrow's terrorists-- and with little seeming ability to forecast the difference between the two-- and especially in this time of limited financial resources and great needs here at home, we simply cannot afford either the human or economic capitol that similar intervention in every country that meets this somewhat amorphous standard would cost.  

A call (and hope!) for clarity in the Libyan mission

In sum, and even as we continue to probe the Constitutionality of this military action, we look forward to receiving more clarity on the mission shortly from the Administration-- or at least news that Gaddafi has stepped down or been summarily deposed in a way that will usher in a free and open society in Libya-- and hope this intervention in Libya succeeds.  (Of course, even if it does, that will not have proven this little exploit was lawful, as we have already shown, it is very arguably not).  

Moreover-- and especially if this action continues with use of the American military for much longer-- the American people, and the men and women who stand ready to lay down their lives for our country every day in potential actions like this all around the world, deserve a lawful justification for the mission in Libya, as well as a better framing of just what are our goals and America's exit strategy for the mission there.

 Indeed, in light of the sacrifices our servicemen and women make every day, they deserve no less. jp  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Terror attacks on Israel raises stakes in Mid-east turmoil

This week Israel suffered more than 60 rocket attacks from Gaza as well as an attack on their public transportation system with killed a British national and injured scores more, (click here for more info).

The rocket attacks have been alleged by some in Israeli security and government agencies as being instigated by Iran, who has had a freer hand to sponsor such terrorism even as they have come under less scrutiny while the eyes of the world have been more focused on the Libyan and Japan crises.

In the bomb attack, it appears that a bag with explosives was left behind on a popular bus route; although members of the public had reported the bag as suspicious, it detonated before police could arrive to defuse it.

Such attacks had been reduced by up to 95% since Israel built large security walls on the borders with Gaza and the West Bank and instituted stricter border controls on who could cross the border into Israel.  However, current events have raised fears that trend was reversing as militant and terrorist groups seek to take advantage of recent unrest in Libya and the Mid-east region generally.

Only time will tell if Israel, our oldest and most reliable ally in the region, (and only reliable Democracy) will be able to protect its citizens from the rising tide of terrorist attacks and dictatorial regimes they find themselves surrounded by in this increasingly turbulent time. jp

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obama Administration announces plans to 'hand off' control of Libyan military action to foreign powers- War Powers Part I

Already under fire in Congress over the much-delayed intervention and nebulous goals of the Libyan military strikes as well as failure of the President to consult with lawmakers under the 'War Powers Act' prior to committing American force to the African conflict, opposition to the Obama Administration's intervention in Libya has only intensified with the announcement from President Obama that he intends to hand off control of the mission to foreign powers, (chronological history and video here).  

Indeed, the move, coming after passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution last Thursday providing for "all necessary measures" to be taken by the methodically-- and some say ploddingly-- crafted coalition to protect the civilian populace has stirred concerns from all ends of the political spectrum, (albeit for different reasons), and left supporters of the President at a loss to explain both the mission and endgame of the intervention.

According to the President, American forces would still be available to support coalition forces in a "supportive role," (see here and here for news of the policy shift, or here for full text of the President's March 25, 2011 speech).  

Unfortunately however, as of this writing, no definition of just what "supportive" means or an explanation of how the safety of American troops would be assured-- or for that matter how and to what ends their role might be utilized or expanded in the future, e.g., in support of "regime change" which the Administration has opaquely indicated was preferable even as the U.N. resolution remains silent on the issue-- was forthcoming from the Administration, (see other commentary on this here).

From the right, concerns have been raised about handing off control over American troops and/or military resources to foreign powers unaccountable to the American people who are undoubtedly on the hook for the majority of the cost of at least the initial missile attack; from the left (and right) that the U.S. will get mired in yet another Mid-east war for nebulous purposes in support of yet another "never-ending" war in favor of an "imperialistic" American foreign policy, (see here). 

And from both ends of the political spectrum concerns are being raised about adherence to the 'War Powers Act' which requires the President to gain Congress' approval for any extended use of military force, see here.   As mentioned above some members of Congress have also raised concerns that the President under the War Powers Resolution Act didn't adequately consult with them prior to launching missile attacks against the African nation, see here, leading at least one
Democratic member of the House, Dennis Kucinich, (D-OH), to raise the question of whether this constitutes an impeachable offense under the Constitution, click here and here.  This in addition to complaints of Democrat Brad Sherman of California who has accused the White House of deliberately underestimating the financial costs of the Libyan operation, see here.  While all such matters are fascinating, they are political matters that for the most part we must leave for discussion another day in order to address the critical legal questions at hand re: the requirements of the War Powers Act itself. 

The War Powers Act, (officially entitled the "War Powers Resolution Act of 1973"), addresses serious Separation of Powers issues between the so-called "political" branches of the U.S. government and has long been the source of constitutional debate and tension between the Legislative and Executive branches. 

Passed in the wake of the Korean and Vietnam wars in which military "conflicts" extended long beyond their intended time without a formal "declaration of war" required by Congress under the Constitution, the War Powers Resolution Act (i.e.'WPRA') requires Congressional "consultation" and approval for any military action the President takes that lasts longer than 60 days. It also requires notice be given to Congress within 48 hours of military force being exercised. The relevant text reads:


SEC. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
(3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of  Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth--
(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

It is indisputable then that, regardless of the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the President's actions in Libya or whether the Congress would, in fact, have approved of the actions of the President in this case, the President unquestionably has not abided by the requirements of the War Powers Resolution Act here. (Note: While ostensibly (un?)intentional by its textual framers at the U.N., it is important to note that the Security Council resolution, while ironically affixed with the identical "1973" designation, is not the same as the portion of United States Code at issue here.  Of course, the question of whether such a U.N. resolution is binding on the United States or suffices to authorize military action by the President in absence of Congressional approval is certainly germaine to the overall discussion, more on this next time).

Perhaps the most interesting part of the debate between the Legislative and Executive branches over the WPRA is that in spite of increasing reliance upon it by the Legislative branch it has long been considered by the Executive as an unconstitutional intrusion upon the President's right as "Commander in Chief" to direct the military under Article 2, Section 2, par. 1 of the Constitution and to lead in foreign affairs under par. 2 of the same section. 

Indeed, in addition to originally being vetoed by President Nixon-- and with the exception of both President Bush's who sought Congressional approval in dealing with Iraq-- all modern Presidents, (including President Clinton in acting to intervene in Bosnia in 1995), have either skirted or entirely flouted the law's requirements to consult with and report to Congress within 48 hours of hostilities breaking out and receive subsequent legislative approval for the continued involvement of American forces in any conflict worldwide regardless of the circumstances or relevant U.N. resolutions. (Indeed, in defending against a law suit by certain members of Congress to force the withdrawl of American forces from the Kosovo war in 1999 President Clinton expressly claimed that the War Powers Resolution Act was unconstitutional. For an exhaustive review of Presidential compliance with the WPRA in the modern era click here to download a pdf of a report by Richard F. Grimmet of the Congressional Research Service). 

Instead of adhere to the letter of the War Powers Act, Presidents historically have usually opted for giving it lip service while characterizing military interventions as "police actions" to avoid the stringent requirements of the WPRA, (that is, if they didn't outright assert that the requirements of the act were unconstitutional as virtually every President since enactment of this legislation has).

Nevertheless, and in spite of the ongoing confusion and tension between the Legislative and Executive branches on this issue, the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution Act of 1973 has never been squarely addressed by the Supreme Court in the history of the nation, (although portions of it have been tangentially addressed. See Associate Justice Byron White's passing reference to this issue in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, {1983}).  

In the Chadha case Justice White openly states his opinion that the requirements of Section 5(c) of the WPRA found in the the U.S. code at 50 U.S.C. 1544(c) stating that any U.S. forces commited by the President "shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution"  constitutes an improper 'legislative veto,' see Chahda, supra, at 971, dissenting opinion of White, Associate Justice).

Thus, while we cannot say whether the current circumstance will warrant sufficient occasion for the Supreme Court to finally settle the ongoing tension between the Executive and Legislative branches re: the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution Act, we believe it to be in the interest of the country that it do so.  In any event, and re: the question of which our title today has to do, it seems beyond debate that it is the President of the United States who must, under out constitution, be in charge of leading our armed forces in times of battle and is who is ultimately responsible for their actions and success (or defeat), a responsibility he cannot merely "delegate" to foreign powers and tribunals.  Indeed, it is this action of the President that we find most troubling and contrary to our Constitution.  Accordingly, and to that end, it may be that the Supreme Court must also weigh in on the related questions re: the 
binding requirements of the War Powers Act on the Executive Branch, and to that extent, we certainly welcome it (as it would resolve these important constitutional questions that have lingered long in our Republic).  

Indeed, in our humble opinion, almost a generation of confusion over the constitutionality and proper application of the War Powers Resolution Act and the according damage ignoring it has caused to our Constitutional Republic is enough. jp  

Monday, March 21, 2011

64 Senators Write Letter to Obama Urging Action Addressing Deficit, Entitlements

Continuing a now-familiar refrain of the President's seeming unwillingness to lead on the tough issues facing our nation, (see previous posts on Obama's dithering, this blog), 64 Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators urged President Obama in a letter last Friday to deal with the American deficit and entitlement crisis that threatens the nation's economic security, click here, and on which his own blue-ribbon deficit-reduction Commission reported its findings in Dec. 2010, (for Commission's report click here).

The letter, (the full text of which can be seen here), signed by 32 members of the President's own party in the U.S. Senate and joined by 32 of their deficit-hawk Republican colleagues, expresses concern over the drastic fiscal and economic consequences that will result from a failure to act.   Aside from interest on the national debt eventually exceeding all other expenditures of the federal government, such consequences include drastic necessitated cuts in social security and other programs the legislators-- and the numbers-- say will be inevitable in the absence of serious entitlement, tax and spending reform, (even if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unbelievably thinks "there is no crisis," see here).

Neither the Republican nor Democrat Senate leaders personally signed the letter, meaning that if push comes to shove, the Republicans need only peel away just a couple more Democrat votes to have a super-majority capable of overriding a Presidential veto on any legislation that reaches his desk, (assuming the President can be persuaded to get involved in what has long been considered the "third rail" of American politics, that surrounding "entitlement reform"). 

Indeed, such "entitlement" programs-- about which any talk of reform has traditionally evoked a visceral emotional response in the electorate-- has traditionally meant that addressing such matters has been considered an almost sure way of committing political suicide. 

These days however, the burgeoning national debt and excessive and continual budget deficits of Washington have combined to result in an openness, and indeed, demand on the part of a plurality of voters for such issues to be addressed prior to the devastating economic results of failure to act predicted by the Deficit Commission's report, (as well as other institutions like the Federal reserve and the opinion of most economists). 

In this light, although it may well be many of the Democratic Senators signed the letter as a desperate act of political self-preservation due to the potential effects of inaction on their imminent 2012 re-election campaigns during a time of growing public concern with the ballooning national debt caused by national economic woes and rampant deficit spending on everything from Tarp to new federal programs like Obamacare, it still marks a change in the political winds that, in our view, is long overdue.

And while we have written at length on the President's tendency for prevarication and procrastination when dealing with important issues which may have a political price to pay-- choosing instead a "you-go-first" attitude that defers tough political decisions to the legislative or judicial branches-- this seems just one more piece of evidence in support of that thesis, (albeit a significant one).

Like the President's stance (or lack thereof) on almost every other domestic and foreign policy issue, including Iran nukes, Tax cuts, Libya, traditional marriage, Guantanamo-- which the President, in spite of announcing resumption of military trials for terrorist suspects being held there, see here, has now and almost immediately muddied the waters on even that, see here-- this tendency is now on full display and likely to only increase the split in the Democrat party going into the 2012 elections absent strong executive leadership from President Obama.

This can only increase the chances of catastrophic losses for the Democrats in 2012, already presaged by demographic factors which strongly favor Republicans, (who only need to defend 10 Senate seats to the Democrats 23).

Fortunately, it also increases the chances the President will now take action on these critical matters facing the nation.

For the country's sake, let's hope the President gets the message from his Democratic colleagues. jp

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Has the President given his approval to Libyan regime persistency?

The approval by the U.N. Security Council Thursday for sovereign nations to use "all necessary measures" (see news brief here), to enforce a "no fly zone" over Libya and defend the civilian populace is, while perhaps too late to force out the regime of 41 year dictator Muammar Gadaffi, a welcome development.  Leaving aside the significant paradigm shift of a reduced stature of America in the world that European leadership-- it was after all French President Nicolas Sarkozy who led the international effort-- in getting the U.N's "permission" on this perhaps presages, of much more immediate concern is the apparent willingness of the Obama Administration to allow the Libyan regime to persist even after imposition of the Security Council's directive. In the words of President Obama yesterday,"If Col. Gadhafi does not comply with this resolution, the international community will impose consequences" (read full coverage by clicking here, for background see also here).

Of course, the operative term in the President's statement is "If."

To that end, Obama's statement is as interesting in what it says as the implications in what it doesn't say, (e.g. does it mean that if Gadaffi stops his brutal assault and advance on the rebels and civilian populace in Benghazi he might be allowed to hold on to power?).

Moreover, in line with the President's tendency towards ambivalence and prevarication, (see previous post on this blog "Obama's dithering dilemma, Part Two," posted March 17, 2011), this development means little to residents who have seen their hopes for a free and Democratic country recede as rapidly as the rebels without international support have lost ground in the last two weeks, (tracking an offensive launched by the African dictator against the rebels largely with paid mercenaries and a small core of loyal soldiers with heavier weaponry). 

Such prevarication of the President seems to bely a rift in his own administration, see here and here, with indications that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's previously expressed support for taking a "tougher line" and her behind-the-scenes consultation and insistence along with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the influential Office of Multilateral and Human Rights Director Samantha Power to argue for airstrikes played a significant role in the President coming out in support of Libyan intervention and seeking the U.N. bodies approval (see here).

We sincerely hope that President Obama, having now received the international "consensus" it so craved on this matter, will now move forward with decisive action. 

Indeed, the world is watching whether the U.S. Administration is willing to do more than just "talk an issue to death" but will extend to defending both the aspirations of a people for freedom as well as the reputation of the United States, (which has been damaged by its ambivalence in the previous Egyptian uprisings and its approach to the Mid-east generally, click here).

It is our considered opinion that to leave this dictatorial regime in place would only insure one outcome, to wit: It would insure increased support for worldwide terrorism from an emboldened Libyan regime and future and escalated battles with the West.

Indeed, the increasing realization in the world that "talk is cheap" due to the West's persistent lack of resolve against Iran's expansion of its nuclear program and suspected development of nuclear weapons raises questions of American impotence and ability to accurately predict imminent changes in the political landscape and may, be encouraging other rogue regimes, actually endanger American lives in the future.  (After all, we all know what happens when you don't confront a bully, but if you don't, click here.  This aptly illustrates the truth that the right of self-defense is, as among individuals, an inherent natural right of all sovereign nations.)

Even more damaging to American global interests is that the United States, once considered a global and stalwart supporter of freedom, may now appear helpless to effect postive change in the world and this volatile region in particular, (and underscoring an unspoken fear on the part of many countries that they will be the next American "ally" who is hung out to dry, as the President's back and forth on American Mideast peace ally and partner in the war on terror that was Egypt under the Hosni Mubarack Administration highlighted in the minds of some, see herehere and here).  

So as the free world ponders what this latest statement of the President means, and watches to see, in fact, if there is any teeth left in this tiger that is still the world's most powerful superpower, (with all its attendant obligations), it waits with baited breath to see what exactly all this talk means in actual practice.  

So do we, Mr. President, so do we.  jp

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obama's Dithering Dilemma- Part Two

It has now been over a week, (ten days to be exact), since my post of Part One on the subject of President Obama's dithering, an apparent attribute of his leadership “style” that has not gone unnoticed by many astute political watchers, click here, including members of his own party, (for Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's remarks on Obama's failure to lead on reducing our nation's growing deficit click here or here for video, scroll down and click embedded video).

As promised last time, in this post I will examine a few more examples of this trait of the President's as well as, equally important, possible reasons for it in addition to the wider implications for American interests, (i.e., the “dilemma” above mentioned being a particularly relevant matter in this time of global upheaval and uncertainty).

For starters, it can hardly be disputed that Obama's dithering ways are, in fact, established, (see here, here, and here).

Indeed, whether expressed in his “laissez-faire” attitude towards rising domestic gas prices, his failure to produce anything remotely approaching a balanced budget (or that tackles the deficit in any significant way), or his ambivalent stance towards troubles in Mid-east countries like Libya-- which is about to result in a final crushing of the rebels and a falling of the country back into the firm control of Muammar Gaddafi's mercenaries and dictatorial grip and the death of her citizen's hopes for freedom-- all attest to the point of being beyond debate that Obama is, in the most charitable view, disposed to almost paralyzingly careful thought and deliberation on almost every facet of his duties as President. (Indeed, such tendencies hearken in the minds of some back to the days of the Carter Administration, an unwelcome comparison to the current Administration for obvious reasons).

Leaving aside for the moment our own considered analysis of whether this is on balance a “good” or bad thing, we must first ask why it is that Obama seems to exercise such pervasive restraint.

Equal opportunity dithering

It should be noted initially that it is not just his critics on the political right who have noticed his excessively cautious ways (which some allege stem from his early political career in the Illinois State Senate where Obama voted “present” in order to abstain from staking out a position a record 129 times!  See proof here and here.)

Indeed, those on the left which make up his base have long complained that Obama was moving almost imperceptively on such matters as gay marriage “equality” and various 2008 campaign “promises,” from closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist-holding and detention facility to repealing the Clinton era “Don't Ask Don't tell” policy, (which much to the pleasure of his friends on the left he finally pushed through in the lame duck session of Congress post the 2010 mid-term elections); Even in doing this, and subsequently and unilaterally reversing his 2008 campaign position and deciding to no longer defend in federal courts the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as between a man and woman and protects states from being forced to recognize any different definition of marriage imposed by other states, his recent actions have resulted in many on the left uttering a collective “About time!” (For our take on the subject see the Feb. 24th, 2011 post on this blog, "Obama and the DOMA- Rule by Decree?").

So a broader examination of the reasons for this character trait favoring delay is, we feel, relevant and important to review. Indeed, it is this apparent need to placate his political base in conflict with an increasingly disapproving wider electorate that we believe holds the key to Obama's ambivalence over not just this issue, but his entire Presidency.

Squeezed in the middle- Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right?

As alluded to above, Obama was elected on a campaign of broad appeal promising to rise above partisan politics, (remember the “not a red state, not a blue state, but the United States of America” rhetoric?) This was in stark contrast to his dogged critics in society and the media such as Sean Hannity of Fox news and others who claimed his appeal to the political center was just a “smokescreen” for a much more partisan and radical agenda more accurately portrayed by his associations with the likes of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayres and Pastor Jeremiah Wright, (his pastor of more than 20 years who Obama was forced to disassociate with in the 2008 campaign for certain racially provocative and anti-American statements).

In essence, by walking a fine line between needing to appear “centrist” enough to be elected and what has now become clear are his core beliefs he was able to hold in check these two opposing tensions in the body politic which his party holding a majority in the U.S. Congress afforded him the luxury of.

All this changed with the 2010 elections and the takeover of the U.S. House by the Republicans. This caused an increase in angst and political pressure from his left flank to DO something, anything, (or risk the consequences of their lack of support and a possible primary challenge to his Presidency in 2012, see here).

Thus, with increasing pressure on his political left joined with the increasingly difficult task of burnishing his “centrist” credentials in the eyes of the political right and independents, (who always looked a bit askance at the President's many nuanced and suspect policy positions), a more “liberal” President Obama emerged, (one who finally found the “courage” to push through DODT repeal in the lame duck session and stop defending a DOMA he in all likelihood never truly believed in in the first place).

Nature vs. Nurture- Liberalism meets realism?

When taken in conjunction with the President's decision after the Gulf oil spill to order the cessation of all offshore drilling and his natural coziness with the environmental lobby, (which gave contributions to the Democrats totaling almost two million dollars and to the Republicans only $151,000 dollars, Click here to see proof), this may explain much, if not all, of the President's shift in domestic policy on things such as energy and environmental policy. (If not provide more support for the dithering thesis in general vis a vis the almost one-month-long delay in deciding how to even respond to the BP gulf oil spill, an event which naturally and most certainly was, at least politically, of great interest to the President and his green allies).

However, this political calculus fails to explain his reluctance for decisive action in foreign affairs, (from a coherent policy on Israel, the Mid-East's only reliably functioning Democracy, to his failure to aggressively confront Iran and lessor threats like Libya). For that we must go deeper into President Obama's history and upbringing.

Indeed, we submit that in addition to the above political factors it may well be in Obama's very nature as a former law professor to ruminate, to consider, indeed, to carefully ponder ad nauseum every angle, political and otherwise, before taking action.

Additionally, while we in general reject the premise that any one factor can ever be completely decisive in determining why humans, in all their complexity, behave the way they do, we believe it behooves us to examine all theories which modern scholarship and others more versed than we have contributed to the discussion.

Accordingly, and in that light, author and political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, has researched and written extensively on this subject in his bestselling book “The Roots of Obama's Rage.”

According to D'Souza, and citing Obama's autobiography, “Dreams from my Father,” Obama's formative political beliefs were influenced strongly by both his father's and grandfather's anti-colonial and leftist views. (For an interview where D'Souza explains this click here.)

This, to us, makes some sense. (Indeed, in addition to explaining his ambivalence to “forcing America's will” on countries as Libya that a strong “anti-colonial” philosophical undercurrent in Obama would explain, it could also explain his reluctance to get involved in many similar situations, recall the President's lackluster support of the original Iranian student pro-Democracy protests in 2009).

So what other forces may be at play in explaining Obama's dithering, especially when it comes to domestic American affairs?

The effect of Obamacare and an increasingly conservative electorate upon Obama's dithering.

As previously pointed out elsewhere, the public's support of Obama in the wake of his forcing through the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act (i.e. Obamacare), has waned as a result of spending so much “political capital” on his crown jewel of domestic policy. Indeed, partly as a result of its being forced through in highly partisan fashion, its passage has raised serious questions for a public no longer willing to give him the political benefit of the doubt, no matter his soaring rhetorical skills. (After all, while many criticized previous President George Bush for his lack of speech-giving skills, no one had to guess whether he had a core belief system or where he stood on most issues. Not so with President Obama).

Moreover, the extent to which President Obama has chosen to almost continuously appear on television and at campaign-style events has resulted in a sort of “Obama fatigue” among many in the electorate.

This, in conjunction with a growing realization among the public in the aftermath of recent highly partisan and political acts including and especially those used to pass Obamacare, (see previous post on this blog “So what's really the problem with Obamacare?”) as well as some of his more recent “political” decisions on controversial subjects of which the American people have serious doubt, (e.g. DADT and his recent DOMA stance) have resulted in somewhat of a “crisis of confidence” among the electorate that the country is on the right track with Obama at the helm, (indeed, public polling data bears this out, with the percentage of people thinking the country is “on the right track” dropping even as Obama's personal approval ratings have fallen to 44%, see poll results by clicking here and here).

While we would argue that such a drop in the percentage of voters who approve of Obama's actions are probably due equally to his unpopular “policy” decisions as to the very way he goes about the process, his lack of projecting strong leadership generally has not helped the impression that he lacks the ability to act decisively when needed-- preferring instead to await action by the other 2 branches of government before deciding whether to follow or oppose their lead-- but whatever the cause, such a lack of seeming ability to act forcibly as the nation's leader is the inevitable end impression the electorate is faced with.

Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the controversial and left-of-center actions the President has taken, in conjunction with the tactics used to pass “health reform,” has caused many to conclude that Obama may be less “above partisanship” than he led the voters to believe he was in his 2008 campaign, striking at the very heart of a (then) carefully cultivated image of truly being “non-partisan” and able to represent all Americans, regardless of party or sect. (A powerful motivator for re-election in the mind of the electorate that would support his re-election in much the same way that Ronald Reagan was able to capitalize on such sentiments and unite Americans of differing political perspectives in his “It's morning in American again” re-election campaign of 1984).

Unfortunately for Obama, this strikes at the very core of who he was perceived to be in the mind of the 2008 electorate and significantly strikes at his chances for re-election. Indeed, in our opinion it is the chief reason that constitutes the bulk of public dissatisfaction with the President and is the potentially fatal flaw to his re-election prospects. (You can send our consulting fee for political analysis to us anytime Mr. President! lol)

Of course, the President and his advisors are aware of all this, (with modern polling being what it is). But in sum, and getting back to political considerations, as a result of Obama's significant own left-of-center beliefs and the political need to shore up his base ahead of his re-election campaign clashing with his realization that he needs to garner at least 50% of the American people's vote to keep his job in 2012, he is “caught in the middle” in such a way that makes acting decisively difficult for him, (even if he didn't have a natural predilection for cautious and careful consideration).

Indeed, we find this a compelling explanation for his deep reticence to take decisive action in any particular direction for fear of alienating either side, (which also explains his backing off his campaign promise re: closure of Guantanamo Bay, widely condemned by large majorities of the electoraate as well as politicians from both parties).

In short, although we believe his true loyalties are clear, it is in essence a “hunkering down” and awaiting-full-campaign-mode in hopes to shore up just enough votes from his base and a plurality of independents to win re-election in 2012, (and, when it comes to specific issues, another way of hearkening back to his Illinois Senate days and voting “present” without having to cast a vote either way).

Interestingly, on the above example of Guantanamo Bay, the President has just recently given approval to re-commence the trial of some prisoners at the sprawling island complex, see here, even as he almost immediately and at the same time has signaled he will keep the civilian-trial option open, see here.  Such "mixed messages" can only continue to re-inforce in the mind of the electorate the fact that this is a Presidency seemingly bandied about by the winds of ideology and politics, not exactly the sort of position of strength he wants to be in heading into the 2012 election cycle.

Are there benefits to the President's dithering ways?

While in the eyes of some, not only in his core liberal base of supporters but also including some on the right, (e.g. Congressmen Ron Paul, R-TX), who assert that such characteristics may in fact be beneficial in that they might keep us out of unnecessary foreign entanglements that are both costly in a time of burgeoning deficits as well as never ending, (for this general view click here), we are compelled by an even more ancient dictum that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” (Thomas Jefferson, America's 3rd President), and that “existence of injustice anywhere results in injustice everywhere,” (Martin Luther King, paraphrased). Nevertheless, even if we weren't compelled by such wisdom beyond our own time, the domestic ramifications to Obama's foreign policy dithering are not insignificant.

The political and economic consequences of Obama's dithering

We have already noted in Part one of this topic that for every penny rise in domestic gasoline prices at the pump a billion dollars are taken out of the U.S. economy for such things as job creation and factory expansion.

Moreover, the rapid rise in the price of fuel as a result of uncertainty in places like Libya, while largely a "foreign policy" issue, undoubtedly might be largely offset by an entirely domestic decision on the part of the President to open the spigot of the National Strategic Petroleum Reserve, (activity which when last done by President Bush resulted in a prompt 30 cent a gallon drop in pump prices). Yet, again, in spite of certainly knowing this, the President delays and dithers, increasing the chances of a dreaded “double dip” economic recession that the American taxpayers can ill afford with deficits looming and badly-needed entitlement reform going un-addressed by the President. 

In that light, and while such a tendency may be good, even highly beneficial in matters such as teaching law, (our President's pre-political-career vocation), it is our modest opinion that such a tendency to delay can be dangerous, even lethal, in the execution of the duties of the Presidency. (Indeed, for a stark juxtaposition one need only contrast Obama's leadership "style" with the leadership of President Ronald Reagan who proved he was guided by a much stronger dedication to principles of right and freedom without regard to concern for international "approval" than probably any modern President when he promptly acted to bomb Libya in retaliation for its role in masterminding an attack on a Berlin Germany Disco known to cater to American servicemen in 1986, see here (as well as for its many other terrorist acts around the world, ultimately and including its shooting down of Pan American flight 103 over Scotland two years later. In this light one shudders to think what the outcome might be vis a vis a renewed and increasing support for terrorism by the Libyan nation if in fact Ghaddafi somehow remains in power after the current conflagration).

It is in this context then that such a tendency for continuous delay, often beyond the time when action can even be taken efficaciously, (as it appears the case in Libya now, and was in Iran in 2009), becomes in fact a danger to our Republic, and is, in our view, the very height of abdication of the Presidential responsibility to protect the American people by strongly leading the nation in matters of both foreign and domestic economic policy.  One can only hope that, if President Obama didn't/won't hear the message the voters sent in the 2010 elections, we can amplify it for him in 2012.  jp

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baby Joseph given a reprieve, re-ignites debate over Obamacare health rationing

The baby at the center of what has become an international flash-fire debate on the right to life and to what extent public authorities (as opposed to individuals and families) should decide who lives and dies and “merits” the graces of the government to receive medical treatment that may prolong their life has received a reprieve and reignited a debate on the risks of health care rationing in modern industrial societies increasingly turning to socialized medicine.

Joseph Maraachli, the son of Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader who originally only wished for their son who suffers from a genetically rare disorder to be given a tracheotomy-- a common medical procedure whereby a breathing tube is inserted to enable breathing by a person who is temporarily unable to breathe through their mouth-- in order to allow him to return home with them and die a peaceful death as his sister who had the same disorder did 7 years ago. (Regarding the tracheotomy itself you'll recall the same procedure was performed on Congresswomen Gabby Giffords after being shot in the head by mentally deranged gunman Jared Loughner in the Tuscon Shootings, see Dubya Dupnik post, Dec. 10, 2010 on this blog).

However, under Canada's social medicine system London Ontario's “Health and Science Center,” a regulated health provider in London Ontario, Canada had refused, claiming the operation would be a "futile" waste of resources on the boy who they claimed was in a terminal “persistent vegetative state.”

Moreover, eager to pull the plug, they went to court in an effort to procure an order to force the removal of all medical assistance from the child resulting in issuance from the London Ontario Superior Court of a court order for the parents to “consent to the removal” of their child's breathing tube. This is where international charitable and right to life organization Priests for Life came in.

PFL began a focused social media effort highlighting such heavy-handed tactics and open contempt of the boy's parents to determine the appropriate treatment for their son and moreover, seemed to force them to violate their consciences by ordering them to “consent” to ending their child's life. (Indeed, such tactics call to mind the tragic Florida case of Terry Schiavo, an American, who, upon expressing intentions to leave her relationship with her husband Michael whom her parents, best friend, and some medical evidence suggested had been abusing her, see here,  and here, mysteriously ended up dead after the suspicious collapse of Ms. Schiavo which was originally assigned to be investigated by homicide detectives got "bumped down" by a police commander who had interestingly donated campaign funds to the Florida judge who ruled over the matter, see here).  Although I realize this may seem a slight digression from the baby Joseph story give me a moment and I'm sure you will see the connection.

The dangers of giving government too much power over health care- The Terri Schiavo and baby Joseph Stories 

  Although widespread media accounts listed the reason for Terri Schiavo's collapse as due to being caused by a "heart attack" brought on by the eating disorder bulemia, not so widespread were the facts of various ongoing state investigations into her husband's alleged abuse which were halted by the court, see here, and the fact there was no way for doctors to conclusively determine the cause of Terri's "heart attack" at the time in light of her husband's absolute control over her medical care and his obstructions of any procedure that could possibly rehabilitate Terri or yield more definitive answers about her sudden collapse.

  Indeed, it was only after her death that an autopsy conducted by Pinellas County medical examiner Jon Thogmartin determined that rather than a heart attack her collapse had been caused by an “external problem outside of the heart causing the heart not to beat,” (see investigative report of the North Country Gazette here).  Moreover, and even more ominously,

       "The autopsy performed in 2005 also definitively ruled out that Terri Schiavo had bulimia as Schiavo has long claimed. The autopsy report states that there was no evidence of bulimia and the assumption of bulimia presented at the medical malpractice trial had simply been accepted and not challenged. The medical examiner said there was absolutely nothing to support the theory of bulimia as presented by Michael’s attorneys. He also ruled out the 15-year fallacy presented by the mainstream media and Michael Schiavo that Terri had sustained a heart attack, saying that her collapse was the result of an “external problem outside of the heart causing the heart not to beat”. He said there was no evidence that she had had any heart problems prior to her collapse and said that the fact she lived 15 years after her resuscitation was testimony to the strength of her heart"- North Country Gazette Feb 5, 2009, see here for article, for results of a more complete and subsequent medical/neurological examination of Ms. Schiavo see here.

  Indeed, the paucity of evidence that Terri suffered from bullimia or any other condition that could have caused a heart attack as she is alleged to have had-- amidst competing suggestions she could have been poisoned-- contrasts sharply with the almost universal concern over Michael Schiavo's near malevolent attitude and conduct in the case, see here.  

  In addition to a former girlfriend of Michael's who plainly stated  under oath that he lied about knowing Terri's end-of-life wishes-- aside from the fact Terri's life was arguably far from "ending"-- and that he only cared mostly about monetary matters, (see here), his possessive and/or possibly abusive nature was attested to by multiple parties in sworn court documents, (see portions of statement of witness Cynthia Shook here, in addition to the sworn statements of at least two others close to the case regarding Mr. Schiavo's callous attitude towards the wife he allegedly "loved" and was legally obligated to protect as her "guardian" here and here).  NOTE: while the purpose of my mention of these things here is not to comprehensively examine all the possible motives, claims and counterclaims of all parties of the Schiavo case, something which would take a much longer discussion, (but see here and here)-- in the end as persuasive as all this is we must admit that we do not and may never know the whole truth regarding this case-- I do believe that in the very least it provides an apt example of the failings of the legal system to protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us and/or always err on the side of caution when it comes to the health-care and due process rights of those unable to speak for themselves.

  Indeed, regardless over the disputed facts and legal outcome in this case, there is little doubt from the record that Terri Schiavo was left in an entirely vulnerable state at the mercy of a husband who, in the most charitable light, had a conflict of interest by virtue of his desire to marry one of the many women he had had affairs with during his marriage to Terri and whose conduct throughout the ordeal suggested a less than pure interest in Terri's welfare, see herehere and here).  (Indeed, he had openly fathered a child with another woman he later married while Terri lay in the hospital, see here and here for details).  And again, while our focus here is on the tragedy of rationing that can occur in such cases vis a vis their relation to the case at hand, we would have been remiss not to mention the Terri Schiavo story for its potential relevance.   

  In short, I detailed the Terri Schiavo story here, as, just in the baby Joseph case, I believe it reveals the dangers of giving anyone-- including a government who in the end could do nothing to insure either a searching examination and/or accounting for all the irregularities in the case OR the right to life of Terri Schiavo-- too much power to decide when to end someone's life and/or cease providing medical care, (often the same thing in critical cases), based on often incomplete or conflicting medical "facts" and for other than altruistic reasons, (i.e., economic). 

 While we leave for another article the general debate on what has become an almost macabre "culture of death" in many states of the Union, it appears as if the baby Joseph case is on its way to a happy (at least as happy as can be) ending.   

Thankfully, with the decision to accept baby Joseph by American and non-profit St. Louis-based Cardinal Glennon Hospital, a children's health organization dedicated to improving the lives of all its patients to the best of its ability, baby Joseph now won't go “quietly into that good night” without giving him every benefit of a medical doubt. (Indeed, let's face it, even doctors don't ALWAYS know why a patient recovers and can't say with certainty whether a person, even a gravely ill one, will live or die; indeed, they have been wrong before, even with those in long term comas, Click here for proof ).

But politically speaking, the case could not have come at a worse time for President Obama and the left wing of the Democratic party who have been engaged in an ongoing public relations campaign to shore up support amongst an increasingly restive American electorate over Obamacare. Indeed public support for repealing this divisive and overarching “health reform” bill has risen to almost 60% in some polls, driven at least in part due to the fears by many that it could result in similar denials and rationing of care in America on a broad scale, (see previous post on this blog “So what's really the problem with Obamacare?”)

Indeed, the 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act, as it's officially called, as well as rising health premiums and cases like Baby Joseph's, has re-invigorated debate over the latter's precise concerns for which former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin was mocked in 2008 for warning of possible “death panels” (an apparently apt characterization coined to warn of the Act's possible unintended effects of stripping individuals and insurance companies alike of the decisions re: who receives necessary health treatment and who doesn't by handing them wholly over to government bureaucrats' who it was feared would make such determinations based solely on cold financial calculations).

This case has also reignited, in our view, a badly needed debate over when (and whether) there is ever an appropriate time for governments or insurance companies to engage in a “balancing” of financial costs v. perceived “quality of life” issues in making life and death medical decisions, (determinations many argue are better left to theologians and families, or at least the various State legislatures which could better represent the values of its citizens by enacting appropriate legislation upon full and thorough consideration of all salient issues through the Democratic process).

Indeed, in addition to the legal and moral questions raised by the Maraachli's experience with socialized medicine, concerns that this monumental shift in American health policy was passed by less than savory means without ANY pro-life or Republican support in Congress and with considerable dissension even in the Democratic House at the time only amplify the concerns with rationing already latent in this legislation, (see “So what's really the problem with Obamacare?” post this blog).

So our satisfaction that at least in baby Maraachli's case he will be given the second opinion (and chance) at life-- with Cardinal Glennon hospital announcing that baby Joseph's tracheotomy will likely be performed this week-- is tempered by the fact that thousands of other "baby joseph's" might not be so lucky. (Indeed, if Obamacare is not repealed stories like this could be become more of a standard occurrence all across this great land).

It is due at least in part to such concerns as well as the enormous increase in the deficit that Obamacare is likely to have in its outyears-- as has occurred with every other federal entitlement program in our nation's history-- that the Republican-controlled House has already voted to repeal this ill-conceived legislation. 

 Accordingly, we urge all concerned citizens to work to insure such health care rationing as we see has happened to Baby Joseph can never happen to all of our citizens by contacting their United State's Senators and demanding they go along with the House and repeal this misguided legislation so real solutions to health care that respects the right to life and dignity of all our citizens can be implemented in its place.   jp