Tuesday, January 19, 2021

More Trumped-up hypocrisy from inflammatory left

How can Democrats equate Trump’s strong language with incitement, yet ignore their own record of inflammatory rhetoric?

The great revolt against the US election featured a man in animal skins howling like a lunatic while blokes with flags walked around in a state of bewilderment. A menacing sort broke into the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, spread his legs over her chair and sneered at the camera. There were no great speeches, no articles of faith. There was no grand vision for an alternative future. If this is politics as entertainment, bring back boring.

The Save America rally began with President Donald Trump delivering a speech outlining his belief that the election result was invalid because of fraudulent vote harvesting and counting. State legislatures have rejected the claims. Tens of thousands went to the rally, which spiralled out of control when protesters marched on Capitol Hill, stormed barricades, assaulted security staff, ransacked congressional offices and obstructed the joint session of congress convened to confirm Joe Biden as president-elect. It was an outrageous display of anti-democratic thuggery.

In the wake of the riots, much media attention was given to the Democrats’ resolve to impeach Trump. Major liberal media outlets ran headlines accusing the President of incitement. The New York Times front page read: “Trump Incites Mob”. A week later, it read: “IMPEACHED Trump, After Inciting Rampage In Capitol, Is First President To Face 2nd Senate Trial”.

The Democrats’ last attempt to impeach Trump failed after the Senate acquitted him and legal experts have raised serious doubts about the current grounds for impeachment. The text of the article on incitement includes the following allegations: “President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted … He also wilfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’.

Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd … unlawfully breached and vandalised the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced members of congress, the Vice-President, and congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.”

Trump played a significant role in leading his supporters to believe they were cheated on election day, but he neither mentioned violence in his speech nor directed his supporters to enact it on January 6. Rather, he urged them to march peacefully.

Those who engaged in violence should be prosecuted. The vast majority who remained peaceful should not be condemned. They did nothing more than put their faith in the only man on Capitol Hill who consistently defended the “deplorables”, a group the liberal elite routinely belittles as uneducated, white and working class. The fact that such a large section of the US feels so poorly represented by government reflects the state of American democracy.

Before the election, Democrats argued in favour of curbing the monopolistic power of Big Tech. The US House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust found Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google seriously wanting. Having won the election, some Democrat representatives and their allies have called on Big Tech companies to censor the President, his supporters, or people who questioned the election process. Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has enthused about figuring out how to “rein in” the press. She criticised “disinformation and misinformation” in the media before sharing some of her own fake news homebrew: “White supremacists (were) ordered by President Trump to attack the Capitol.” She tendered no evidence to support the claim the President “ordered” such an attack.

Former first lady Michelle Obama called on Big Tech to censor the US President: “Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to … go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man.” Twitter announced it would, and justified the act of censoring the President by repeating the allegation of incitement: “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Yet Twitter has not permanently suspended the account of Democrat Maxine Walters, who incited supporters to act against members of congress in 2018, saying: “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and create a crowd and … push back on them.”

Pelosi believes Trump deserves to be impeached for inciting insurrection in his January 6 speech. However, Pelosi once described the President and congress as virtual enemies of the state, saying: “The domestic enemies to our voting system and … our constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the congress of the United States.”

There is more than a hint of hypocrisy in Democrats who condemn Trump for using strong language and equate it with incitement, despite having their own record of inflammatory rhetoric. Freedom of speech is indispensable to democracy, but equally destructive when it is used to either incite violence or censor dissent.

To watch America from afar is a dispiriting exercise. The free world depends on Americans defending democracy as a form of government and a living culture. Both are under attack. Joe Biden has a choice: lead his country towards a more enlightened future or drive it deeper into despair.


New Poll Should Have Mitch McConnell Rethinking Support for Trump's Inpeachment

The 2016 election showed the gulf between the GOP base and its leadership in Congress. The base didn’t want Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan anymore. They wanted something new. Donald Trump zeroed in on the issue that the base was truly passionate about, which was immigration. There were others, but Trump getting on that narrative first catapulted him to the top of the GOP field. The base wanted fair trade deals; there was an increased skepticism on free trade. The GOP leadership was the opposite.

As we leave 2020, it’s now a fact that the GOP is Trump’s party. Trumpism is here to stay, and there’s not much that can be done about it. For starters, it’s not like there’s much of a difference between this right-leaning populist variant and the traditional conservative Republican agenda. Both sides want a smaller government, fewer taxes, and less regulation. They want economic growth. They want a strong national defense. They’re both against the authoritarian political correctness ethos. They’re for school choice. They may differ on criminal justice reform, tariffs (though that was mostly a negotiating tactic with the Chinese), and some aspects of the America First doctrine, but overall both wings overlap a lot. Oh, and both sides want a conservative judiciary. I don’t see where the massive divide is here. On foreign policy, Trumpism is averse to nation-building and long protracted wars. The horror!

It’s also an ideology that has brought millions more into the GOP camp concerning those who have never voted before. The GOP of old is gone. Dead. It’s over. To use a quote from "The Mandalorian," "This is the way."

It’s why Sen. Mitch McConnell’s somewhat aggressive support for the Democratic impeachment push over the Capitol Hill riot is fraught with danger. The base isn’t leaving Trump. In fact, it wants GOP politicians to be more like the president. Even after the chaotic scene last week, where five people died, the base isn’t leaving the 45th president. Ninety-one percent of GOP voters are still dedicated to making America great again (via Washington Examiner):

An overwhelming majority of President Trump supporters surveyed by pollster Frank Luntz over the weekend said they’d still vote for the president again despite last week’s riot on Capitol Hill.

Okay, I get it. They’re Trump voters. They’re not leaving, but other polls are also showing the changes that have occurred in the base. When it comes to choosing between Mitch McConnell and Trump, GOP voters break for Trump. It’s not shocking at all. It’s why McConnell’s alliance with Senate Democrats here on impeachment could be a monumental blunder.

Does the Capitol Hill riot change the situation? No. As of now, and as it will be until the next election in 2024, Donald J. Trump is bound to be the nominee should he decide to run again. Also, the so-called Trump Republican wing is numerous in their millions — and has the ability to truly chop the more traditional GOP at the knees if the latter does stuff like, I don’t know — support the impeachment of Donald Trump

Big majorities of Republicans still think Trump was right to challenge his election loss, support him, don’t blame him for the Capitol mob and want him to be the Republican nominee in 2024, Margaret Talev and David Nather write.

The survey shows why Trump could run again in 2024 (and possibly win) if he isn't convicted — or banned from holding federal office — by the Senate. It also shows the peril and opportunity for institutionalists like McConnell trying to reclaim the GOP.

In addition, it helps explain why a majority of House Republicans voted against certifying the election, and against impeachment.


My Encounter With Medicaid Is a Cautionary Tale About Biden’s Public Option

If Biden’s health care plan was ever to be realized, it would be a total disaster, as I can attest from my own experience.

On its surface, having reliable insurance coverage with low premiums is an attractive concept many pandemic-stricken Americans can get behind. Unfortunately, that concept is just a mirage concealing unreasonable tax hikes and an eventual segue to a single-payer health care system that will prolong wait times.

In the final analysis, the public option is just a slow-baked single-payer system in disguise.

Every devised single-payer system raises taxes. It’s unavoidable. Even the 2016 plan from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would have cost the federal government $30 trillion just to implement. And for what? The supposed savings Americans would receive from not paying monthly insurance bills would most likely shift to covering the 36.5% increase in payroll taxes that would be required to fund Sanders’ plan.

To be precise, the typical American household would lose an annual average of $5,671 in disposable income, according to a November 2019 special report from The Heritage Foundation, “How ‘Medicare for All’ Harms Working Americans.”

In addition, the public option is inherently disposed to transfer power to the government. For example, Washington state’s public option, Cascade Care, is only able to maintain lower premiums because the state caps its reimbursement rate at 10% below individual-market insurers’ rates.

Since health care providers can’t negotiate with the state, they shift costs onto private insurers to make up for the loss of revenue. Encumbered by additional costs, private insurers are forced to raise their rates. That in turn compels consumers to ditch their private insurance for Cascade Care, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle that continually grows the government’s presence in the insurance market.

As the current American health care system stands, it sounds momentous to switch to a single-payer plan, but if millions of people are already under some form of government-administered insurance, the jump to a single-payer system becomes a lot more feasible.

Before blindly accepting another government-run health coverage option, Americans should review problem-riddled programs in their backyards.

Just look at the vulnerable low-income populations on Medicaid that are being dismissed or forced to endure ludicrous wait times for elective surgeries.

Due to the way Medicaid reimburses doctors for a fraction of their fees and the fact that the Affordable Care Act does not mandate physicians to operate on elective surgeries, doctors tend to delay procedures for Medicaid enrollees until they can get a better reimbursement rate.

Unfortunately, for me, that’s not just an abstraction. It’s something I’ve lived through personally. I tore my ACL playing football at George Fox University. Since I was injured in Oregon, my parents’ Washington-based health care plan wouldn’t cover me. So, I was left to the loving embrace of Oregon’s Medicaid program—which meant my ACL reconstruction surgery was delayed for nearly four months.

The reason for the holdup? The Oregon Health Plan reimbursement rate was offering only about 63% of the cost of the procedure. As a result, doctors delayed MRI scans and the pre-assessment appointment for surgery. It wasn’t until my team’s athletic trainer and head coach appealed to one of the local orthopedic surgeons to work for the Oregon Health Plan rate that I underwent surgery.

For comparison, consider my teammate, Mitchell Lemos, who tore his ACL just eight days after my injury. Lemos was on the Kaiser Permanente Point of Service II plan, a well-known private health insurance plan in Oregon. Unlike me, Lemos underwent surgery the following weekend.

Even though I was spared from out-of-pocket costs, the four-month wait time left me with mobility complications, increased my risk of arthritis, and actually resulted in a minor meniscus tear because my leg gave out while walking down the stairs.

Americans should be free from unreasonable wait periods, and that freedom resides outside of single-payer systems and slippery-sloped public options.

My experience with the inefficiency of government-sponsored health care is tame compared with those of others.

In 2014, the government-run Department of Veteran Affairs was subjected to an internal audit that revealed 35 veterans died while waiting for coverage approval for medical services. Another audit undertaken in the same year showed that more than 120,000 veterans either waited 90 days for an appointment or were denied getting an appointment at all.

In the United States, it’s clear. Government-managed health care programs engender longer wait times and prolong suffering, which has drastically diminished our health care system’s ability to protect Americans’ health resiliency. Swift delivery of care and the ability to return to health after a medical emergency is an absolute necessity for thriving in today’s American workforce.

And it’s the same abroad. For example, Britain’s National Health Service guidelines state, “The maximum waiting time for non-urgent, consultant-led treatments is 18 weeks from the day an appointment is booked.” Yet, last year, National Health Service hospitals canceled 4,076 emergency procedures and more than 50,000 non-urgent elective surgeries, sometimes on the day of the scheduled treatment.

Even our own neighbor, Canada, has a staggering average wait time for arthroplasty surgeries that ranges from 20 to 52 weeks.

Time and again, single-payer health care systems have produced complications and slowed access to quality care, both at home and abroad. Biden’s public option may carry promises of an improved American health care system, but what good is an alleged panacea if it arrives months too late?


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