British Conservatism

uk-us-shooping-0211I wanted you guys to see this because many of my British friends think he is pretty much of a right-wing conservative. Personally I see him as a warmed over squish someplace between John Kennedy and Walter Mondale.

And in truth that is why so often we and the cousins seem to talk right past each other. Where for us, the Constitution is bedrock very similar, in fact, to what the Catholics call “the ordinary Magisterium”, the interpretation can be explained and the meaning twisted (slightly) because of the times but essentially it means exactly what it says, no more and no less.

These types of basic principles don’t play for our British brethren, mostly anyway. Their history tell tells them that all is pragmatism, does it win elections. Rather like HMS Victory at sea in fact. They know what they think is right, but they are dependant on the electoral winds to get there. That is what their history tells them.

When we separated from them, we set up safeguards so that no branch could wield power on its own; that’s what our Constitution does, although it does require some integrity from some number of members of the government. Our president was originally to be rather a constitutional monarch, his power proscribed by the other branches.

The cousins are different, the system until 1689 was essentially ‘The King in Parliament’ which had at least some features of separation. Since then the monarch has been rendered increasingly irrelevant (as has the House of Lord’s) leaving Britain ruled by the Prime Minister (a creature of the commons) ruling in the House of Commons, without anything resembling a check on what they can do. Both Magna Charta and the English Bill of rights have long since, almost totally been repealed. No Checks, No Balances, No Appeal. It’s democratic in the sense that you can vote for whichever creature of Westminster you choose if you can see any difference.

Anyway, here’s Michael Gove speaking to the Legatum Institute

[Unless you really like their backdrop you can safely skip to about 11:00]I think he has a few good ideas, but it’s hard for me to judge a house built on sand, and in truth, how they run their country is their business.

But he’s also got that peculiar British blind spot that you can drive a Nimitz class carrier task force through. That the NHS actually works, and is better, contrary to all (and I mean all) the evidence, that it is actually better than Zimbabwe’s system. It’s simply an ethnic religious belief, because not only can it not be proved, it can be disproved by anybody at all with about five minutes research.

We’ve  (both Jess and I) have written about it a fair amount here, because the so-called system, which might be better than Stalin’s in the 30s is the model for Obamacare.  In one of her posts on it, Jess said this.

Someone recently said that the National Health Service (NHS) was the closest the British now have to a religion. At the opening ceremony of the Olympics there was a section given over to celebrating the NHS. We are always being told it is the ‘envy of the world’, and in something close to brainwashing, any criticism of it is usually quickly closed down by the media. We’ve been fed a version of its history which tells us that before it poor people were toothless and dying in the streets for lack of money, but that now it cares for us all regardless of cost on a basis of ‘need’ only. It is, in short, the last argument left for socialism. That may be why so many in our media circles refuse to see, even when they get a report like this, that their story no longer holds water.

There’s no such thing as ‘regardless of cost’. The NHS is the largest employer in Europe. Every doctor and nurse in every hospital, every porter, every workman in hospitals, every local doctor, every midwife and social worker, they are all NHS employees. The bill of this is huge. Whether, as some say, it is £100 billion, or £101.5 billion, it costs each of us about £1500 a year.

The BBC, funded by a compulsory tax on every household with a TV, tells us how wonderful it is and how much better than what the Americans have. It is certainly true that no one in the UK needs to worry about paying if they get ill. The NHS will take care of you – the problem is not the money, it is the ‘care’.

She also recognized that it is very politicized, and in fact Jess, who is very well connected politically, although like me she tends to not use her contacts, does, I think, owe her very life to connected people who were able to threaten the NHS effectively on her behalf. I had the distinct impression, that left to themselves, the NHS would simply have left her to die unattended, like they have so many others.

And that is the model we have chosen for American health care as well. God help us.

The Ebola Firewall

Sorry guys, I’m neck-deep in a project, and the water keeps rising. But here’s Bill Whittle’s current Firewall.

What’s that? Yep, I agree with everything he says here.

Spanish Flu ≠ Ebola Virus; Unless We Make It

spanish_flu_newOK, let’s be honest here, Ebola is not anything to panic about. And there’s little reason it should ever be.

But we also all know the phrase, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” don’t we? And that’s the danger here. Because Obama is a statist and a progressive that believes everything should come from the government. Nor is he the first to put his politics ahead of his duty to the country. And for that matter there is a precedent for Ebola getting completely out of hand. Didn’t know that did you? I didn’t either.

But there is, and it’s a horrid story. It goes back to Woodrow Wilson, who may well be the worst man to ever be president, including Obama. Like him, Wilson was a statist, and a progressive, who thought the Constitution was outdated, and wanted to rule by his prerogative, to use the old term. He pretty much did, especially after we got into the Great War.

And as James Jay Carafano says in the linked article, the last time we made an epidemic/pandemic a national security matter, fifty million (50,000,000) people died, worldwide. Think about that for a minute.

Sufficiently revolted? Yeah, me too. Let’s let him tell part of the story.

Progressives like to expropriate the label of national security to help drive their agendas. Statist, centrally managed, with top-down direction, the national-security model is the perfect vehicle for any policy “crusade,” be it fighting global warming or raising taxes. Thus, for example, when the administration got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to label the “debt the biggest threat to national security,” it had all the cover needed to press for cutting defense and raising taxes—two cornerstones of President Obama’s progressive political agenda.

But playing “national security” progressive politics with public health can bring outright disaster. When the United States entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson played the national-security card early and often. The war effort became an excuse for everything from jailing political opponents to spying on everyday Americans. But, when the president used a global war as an excuse to preempt sound public-health policy, he reaped a global catastrophe.

In 1917, the war to end all wars was well under way. At Camp Funston within the boundaries of Fort Riley, Kansas, sergeants were turning recruits into doughboys. During their training, the soldiers picked up backpacks, rifles, helmets—and a new strain of flu. They carried all these with them as they traveled from the camp to the railroads, the big cities, the ports and, ultimately, overseas. On every step of the way to the trenches in Western Europe, they spread the deadly disease.

When news of the epidemic reached Washington, the White House decided it was a national-security problem. The British and French desperately needed reinforcements to turn the tide of the war; getting our boys over there was far more important than stopping the spread of the flu over here.

I can understand their thinking, I guess, but it’s simply wrong isn’t it? Was delaying the American deployments until the flu was burned out going to cost the war? Doesn’t seem very likely, does it? And starting a pandemic is pretty callous, even for a progressive.

Of course, so is ignoring the problem to fundraise, campaign, and play golf. Although, the president did cancel a fundraiser and a rally yesterday, so he could look like he was doing his job. What I really detest, along that line is that Wilson kept having mass rallies to sell war bonds.

President Wilson took one precaution. He transferred the Public Health Service to military control. Support the military effort, not the public health, became Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s main mission.

In less than a year, the Kansas outbreak had become a global pandemic. It was commonly referred to as the “Spanish flu.” Spain was a nonbelligerent in the First Word War. The government had not imposed press censorship. As a result, widespread news of the disease’s deadly progress appeared first in Spain. Most assumed that was where the problem started.

In the end, more died from the pandemic than from the war.

Stateside, at a military camp outside of Gettysburg, a young post commander named Dwight David Eisenhower ignored Washington’s advice to ignore the disease. Instead, he developed health protocols that broke the back of the disease’s run through the ranks. Impressed with the success of his methods, the Army ordered Eisenhower to dispatch his staff to other camps to train them on how to rein in influenza.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Likewise, many American cities got the disease under control only by ignoring the federal government and adopting responsible public-health policies.

See the thing is, even then, how to stop an epidemic was conventional knowledge, likely we didn’t know why, until we figured out germ theory, and all that in the late nineteenth century, but we had known that quarantines worked since the Black Death cost Europe one third of its population in the middle ages.

The moral of the story is not that it’s 1918 all over again. Ebola and influenza are two very different contagious diseases. But this cautionary tale from the last century reminds us is that the best way to deal with a disease outbreak is to follow sound public-health policies, not cloud the issue with the trappings of national security.

H/T Moe Lane

Obama’s Great Big Ebola Error | The National Interest.

All accounts say that Ebola isn’t anywhere near as contagious as the (Spanish) flu. But that is no reason to screw around and generate another pandemic, while playing politics.

President Obama Already Has An Ebola Czar. Where Is She?

NIH logo

NIH logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So are you panicking over the Ebola virus? No, of course you’re not, like me, you understand the utter futility of panic. I imagine also, like me, as well, you find it worrisome, it gives the TV folks something to talk about, nor would it hurt if someone in the government was in charge. The thing is, there is. There is a federal bureaucrat (and agency) specifically charged to take care of this kind of stuff.

So of course, that is the one person who hasn’t had anything to say about it. But Mollie Hemingway thinks we should meet her, and she’s right. This woman is the head of a multi-billion dollar agency tasked to protect us from things like Ebola, and biowar, and stuff like that. She, and the agency, appear to be totally corrupt as well. (Wait, why would that surprise you?)

Mollie found a video from the administrator about the agency, here it is.

You did note that her highest priority is to support the President, right? I would have thought it was to carry out the agency’s mission but, I’m old fashioned like that.

As the Ebola situation in West Africa continues to deteriorate, some U.S. officials are claiming that they would have been able to better deal with the public health threat if only they had more money.

Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” Hillary Clinton also claimed that funding restrictions were to blame for inability to combat Ebola.

Or did they?

See, in 2004, Congress passed The Project Bioshield Act. The text of that legislation authorized up to $5,593,000,000 in new spending by NIH for the purpose of purchasing vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack. A major part of the plan was to allow stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.

Just two years later, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which created a new assistant secretary for preparedness and response to oversee medical efforts and called for a National Health Security Strategy. The Act established Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as the focal point within HHS for medical efforts to protect the American civilian population against naturally occurring threats to public health.

Via President Obama Already Has An Ebola Czar. Where Is She?.

Of course, you realize that incompetent Washington politicians and bureaucrat (redundancy alert) will throw more of your hard earned money (that they stole from you) at the problem. It will also be ineffective.

Why?

Because they’re corrupt as well as incompetent.

Our government at work.

Greedy Capitalists v Ebola; Going Where Government Won’t

There’s not much to say about this story, it’s about a private company looking out for its own, and doing what governments and NGOs can’t–stopping Ebola in its tracks.

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, and likely because it needs its employees, but mostly because it the right thing to do, I suspect.

But the other thing here is, Firestone didn’t spend their time whining about funding and equipment and a myriad of rules. They simply got to work, and took care of business, in my life we call it Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. It’s something we learned from the Marine Corps, and it’s highly effective at getting things done, often superlatively.

While governments and nonprofits have been stymied in their efforts to stymie the spread of the Ebola virus, Firestone Tire & Rubber has apparently succeeded among its 80,000 Liberian employees and their families. When a wife of a Firestone employee showed up ill after caring for an Ebola victim, the staff of the evil capitalist corporation leaped into action.

“None of us had any Ebola experience,” he says. They scoured the Internet for information about how to treat Ebola. They cleared out a building on the hospital grounds and set up an isolation ward. They grabbed a bunch of hazmat suits for dealing with chemical spills at the rubber factory and gave them to the hospital staff. The suits worked just as well for Ebola cases.

Firestone immediately quarantined the family of the woman. Like so many Ebola patients, she died soon after being admitted to the ward. But no one else at Firestone got infected: not her family and not the workers who transported, treated and cared for her.

 

More at The PJ Tatler » Greedy Corporation Stops Ebola Spread in Liberia.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The King’s Prerogative

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have talked several times about the rise of administrative law and it’s almost exact similarity with the King’s Prerogative. You can find those articles here, here, here, and one here at Jess’, nearly all of those articles also have links, if you’re interested.

Today we are going to speak of how the Obama administration and its Democratic sycophants are defending it. In the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare, and other less complimentary names), it states clearly and unequivocally, that to receive a subsidy one must purchase through an exchange established by a State.

In fact that was one of the major inducements included to try to force the states to establish exchanges. A majority of the states, being more attuned to the people than Washington is, refused. And the matter came to the DC court last week, which ruled that the words meant what the words said. That was what the Democrats had campaigned on back in the effort to pass the law, but now, they find it most inconvenient, since it means that many Americans will have to pay the full price of the overpriced, not very good insurance available on the exchanges.

So now, not understanding apparently, that we were listening (and that You-Tube exists) they are now saying that what they meant was an exchange established by a state or by the administrative bureaucracy of the federal government. Most of the administration, legislature and judicial officials owing loyalty to the Democratic party are supporting this nonsense, and some courts will no doubt rule accordingly. And so we are likely to end up at the Supreme Court again.

On Sunday Angelo M Codevilla wrote on the Library of Law and Liberty on this. Here is a bit of it.

[…]America has moved away from the rule of law in recent decades, as more and more of the decisions by which we must live are made by administrative agencies in consultation with their favorite constituencies and judges rather than by the people’s elected representatives. More and more, statutes passed by Congress are lengthy grants of power to administrative agencies, the content of which is determined by complex interactions between bureaucrats, special interests, and judges aligned with either. Hence House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s famous statement—that the ACA’s meaning would be determined only after its passage—was true of it and most other modern legislation as well. This is the rule of men, not of law.

But the transition away from the rule of law has been masked by the (ever thinner) fiction that the administrators are merely filling in the interstices of laws. Were they to prevail, the administration’s arguments for casting aside the ACA’s explicit provision because it conflicts with its will and its clients’ convenience would mark the dropping of the mask. America’s transition from the rule of law to the rule of the sovereign, largely accomplished some time ago de facto,would now be fulfilled de jure. Openly, this President and his partisans would have trumped law by will. Thereafter, continuing to pretend that America lives by law would be a mockery.

The importance of this is difficult to exaggerate. The nation’s slide into something foreign to its past would accelerate.

Barack Obama is not the last President America will ever have. Sooner or later, someone will come into the presidency representing a majority of Americans who—rightly or wrongly—may be aggrieved by what they feel are measures that the previous administration and its partners have shoved down their throats. They may be eager to engage in retaliatory activity with lots of compound interest. The administrative machinery, the legal arguments, and the political precedents would be ready for them.[…]

You really need to read it all

This morning Robert Tracinski also wrote on The Federalist on this. He shows that this type of legislating is what we increasingly do. Here’s a bit of that:

[…]But the big question is: why do they think they can get away with this? Why do they think they can write something into the law, go around for a couple of years explaining that provision to audiences, and then pretend later that it wasn’t there at all and it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to think it ever was?

Partly this a measure of crass partisanship, and partly it’s a measure of desperation. Without the subsidies, what happens to ObamaCare? And without ObamaCare, what does their messiah have to show for his presidency?

But this also fits into a larger context. They think they can get away with rewriting the law on the fly because of the way we legislate now. For more than a century, it has become increasingly common for Congress to write laws that declare a broad, vague goal without clearly defining the specifics of its implementation—and then leave it to bureaucrats in federal agencies to fill in the blanks.[…]

Again, you should read his entire article

But the main takeaways here are that the legislative authority in our system is vested in the Congress, and only the Congress. One of the results of this mispractice is that Congress can evade their responsibility for what the legislation says, and simply blame HHS or EPA or whatever bureaucracy is concerned. That is not what the Founder’s intended. The bureaucracy (and the executive generally) were established to enforce the laws the Congress passed, essentially without comment, although it wouldn’t do any harm if the Legislative and Executive branches were to occasionally remember that they also have sworn to uphold the Constitution.

In truth this practice is not measurably different that The Statute of Proclamations (1539) that allowed Henry VIII to rule as a despot. This allowed the King to issue proclamations which had the force of an Act of Parliament.This essentially did away with the need for Parliament. And that is pretty much what we are seeing with Obama’s reliance on his “pen and a phone”. I should note that very soon after Henry’s death that Act of Proclamations was repealed, although all the way to 1689 English Monarchs kept trying personal rule under various guises.

This was one of the abuses that the Constitution was specifically written to prohibit. We’ve let it sneak back in, in the guise of administrative law.

Nothing new under the sun is there?

 

%d bloggers like this: