THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin


“The truth is, it took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage. But I am confident that we are finally headed in the right direction. We are moving forward. ; And what we can’t afford right now is to go back to the same ideas that created this mess in the first place.”—President Barak Obama, July 23, 2010 in weekly address

In a four page article in National Review Online, William Voegeli systematically argues that Liberalism is dangerous.

If politics is defined as “the way power is organized”, American power was conceived to be essentially organized by individual citizens in a free market who then delegated a portion of that power to duly elected representatives.  Voegeli makes the point that power thus organized is responsive to the electorate, because their positions depend on the support of the electorate.

As the result of Liberalism, we now have a system in which Congressional power is largely (mis)placed in a myriad of Government Agencies: SSA, EPA, US Department of Ed., etc., etc. who can regulate extra-legally.  These unelected bureaucrats are not responsive to citizens, because citizens have no power to fire them.  Thus, the individual is diminished and devalued by huge, faceless Government machinery.

America originated with the idea of an individual with natural, God-given, inalienable rights. This idea preceded laws, regulations and policies.  The rights of an individual citizen of the United States were not changeable, could not be abolished, nor could they be bestowed.  Humans possessed these rights by virtue of being created in the image of God.

Today housing, jobs, health care, transportation, food, childcare are identified as “rights”.  They are not. Furthermore, when we treat them as such, we are treading into an extra-Constitutional boggy swamp.  “Rights” that are invented and then distributed “fairly” after taking money from other citizens to pay for them are simply favors give to specific groups at the expense of individual citizens.

These Leftist ideas should alert us that our Country is traveling into an uninhabitable landscape.  Indeed Voegeli concludes his article with a plea to “turn around and go back”—wise words to cling to during this “Summer of Recovery” when we continue to hear that we cannot “go back”.

Voegeli’s summary is below.  Take the time to read his entire article.  It is well worth it.

“C. S. Lewis wrote that since progress means getting closer to your goal, when you’ve taken a wrong turn and are getting farther and farther from your destination, the truly “progressive” response is to turn around and go back to the right road. Most conservatives believe that America took a wrong turn in 1932, one that has led us farther away from the goal of preserving and strengthening republican self-government. Self-styled progressives talked us into that navigational error, and in the subsequent 78 years their liberal disciples have continued on the wrong road, superintending a rolling regime change that has steadily hollowed out our constitutional republic and replaced it with an administrative state, one increasingly indifferent to ordinary citizens’ concerns and insulated from their opposition.

The conservatives now reviving constitutionalism are rightly insistent on the need to retrace our steps, and to undo the mistakes that have supplanted limited with unlimited government. The point is not to go back to 1932 and stay there, compiling a list of things government cannot do and problems it cannot address. The point, rather, is to resume progress on the road not taken: toward a government that is both limited and vigorous, scrupulous about upholding the principles of republicanism but energetic and prudent about working within the framework created by those principles to respond to economic and social changes with policies that advance the people’s prosperity and security.”

— William Voegeli is a contributing editor of The Claremont Review of Books and a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Salvatori Center.

Filed under: big government, , , , , ,


Recently, disturbing reports are emerging from Massachusetts.  Hopefully, these will make their way into the larger American consciousness.  Gov. Patrick (D) is attempting to not only control the prices of a private industry, but also to force private companies to sell their products within the state or face penalties.  Price controls are nothing new.  Coercing a business to sell products is.  Since Massachusetts can be used as a “mini-model” of what we can expect from “Obamacare”, if it is implemented, it would be wise to be aware of the progression of these events and closely watch how the Court rules in this case.

Carmen Balber of “Consumer Watchdog”, a “nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization”, provides some insight into how the Federal Government would seek to use regulations in the ACA to compel private insurance companies to act against their own best interests.  Whether or not these providers comply, they will eventually be put out of business.

“Massachusetts has quickly come to realize that when the government requires everyone to purchase a health insurance policy or face tax fines it must also exercise real oversight of what health insurers can charge. Now that Congress has followed in Massachusetts’ footsteps we need ‘prior approval’ regulation of all health insurance rates to make sure the prices insurers charge Americans for coverage are fair. Regulators’ close look at the numbers behind proposed rate hikes revealed that, in the case of Massachusetts small businesses, increases could not be justified,” said Carmen Balber, Washington  Director for Consumer Watchdog.

The insurers, themselves, would take issue with the assertion that “increases could not be justified”.  However, in the future, “justification” seems to be the standard that the Government will use to decide whether a private company can continue to operate, let alone thrive.  In fact, “Consumer Watchdog”

“ called for an expansion of the modest health insurance rate justification requirements in the federal health reform law to encourage prior approval rate regulation in the states, and provide a federal backstop where states do not act.”

In other words, if a State will not do what Massachusetts is now attempting to do to its private health insurers, then the Federal Government will.  Here is my question:  will any kind or amount of  “justification” ever be sufficient to convince the Government that rate increases are necessary?  And, a related question: what lengths would a company pursue to ensure that Government would be convinced?  Obviously, using straight facts made no difference in this case.  Nor does the Government need to justify its decision to deny an insurance company its request for price increases.  Read the commentary posted by reaganaut1, (emphasis added):

Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2010 11:42AM by reaganaut1

This is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now Presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts,” President Obama said in a recent interview defending his national health-care plan—and few disagree, Mitt Romney excepted. So the Massachusetts preview of ObamaCare is all the more instructive after this week’s imposition of de facto price controls on its remaining private insurers.

On Thursday, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick’s insurance regulators announced that they had rejected 235 of 274 insurer requests for premium increases for individuals and small businesses over the coming year. This power has been on the books since 1977 but never used, and Mr. Patrick announced in February that he was dusting it off as an opening bid for rate-setting for hospitals, doctors and all other providers as well. The state’s health costs have risen to the nation’s highest since Beacon Hill passed the ObamaCare prototype that was supposed to reduce health costs.

The premium increases were “excessive and unreasonable,” Mr. Patrick said in a statement, though his insurance division issued no actuarial analysis to justify its decision. “Now, the big insurance companies will criticize this action,” he said. “But the fact is that for three years now, both they and health-care providers have sat around the table talking the issue of excessive cost to death and coming up with no solutions.” In other words, price controls are supposedly the only option.

Yet campaigns against the insurance industry are always the first political resort, as Mr. Obama’s assault on Anthem Blue Cross of California showed. In Massachusetts, however, the major insurers—Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health Plan—are all nonprofits. The state itself calculates that they spend at least 88 cents of every premium dollar on the underlying costs of medical care, often more.

If the Government can do such things, then none of our private industries are safe from ultimate Government regulation and controls.  REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER!

Filed under: big government, , , , ,


Video below is from yesterday.  Note that Senator Baucus not only judges that some people are “too wealthy”, (and this is a bad thing?), but that health care has now become a “right” through the passage of this bill into law.  (And here I thought that new “rights” could only be delineated through the Constitutional amendment process, silly me.)

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , ,


Cartoon by Erin Bonsteel

On National Review online, Jeffrey H. Anderson has written a piece called, “The Battle Is Lost, and the War Has Begun”.  His views are worthwhile to read on this day after our hard fought battle against Obamacare has ended in defeat.  Mr. Anderson is right, I believe, concerning the conflicts to come over this Bill that was narrowly passed in the House last night. Obamacare is not the last word on our health care system.  It will not stand, but neither will it have its legs cut off in quick fashion.  And, let us not lose sight of the fact that this is only the opening gambit in a war against the American people and their Constitution.  Obama and his soldiers will not long linger on this victory.  They have immigration “reform”, Cap and Trade, card check, regulation of the airwaves and internet, among other things, still to accomplish.

It is important for us to ensure that the passage of this Bill is simply a “Pyrrhic Victory”.  Read its definition:

The phrase is named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. After the latter battle, Plutarch  relates in a report by Dionysius:

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.-Wikipedia

Obama has expended tremendous political capital, as well as financial capital, to pass this very unpopular Bill—the thing that will define his Presidency.  We, on the other hand, are like the Romans that Pyrrhus describes, “not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war”.

Ben Stein offers these words of comfort and encouragement in the aftermath of this exhausting contest:

For those of us who still believe in the Constitution, I offer the words of the great civil rights anthem, “We shall overcome, ” and “We are not afraid.” In that spirit, we continue the fight for the return to Constitutional government. Loyal to the nation and the Constitution, but most certainly opposed to the subversion or either.

As Churchill said, “In war, resolution. In defeat, defiance.” And this is a war for Constitutional government. A war of words, to be sure, but a war we must win.

For those of you who have read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, (or have at least seen the movies), remember that the Balrog did not pass Gandalf on the bridge, but took him into the void using one last desperate lunge.  However, even then Gandalf did not stop fighting it, and in the end the Balrog was defeated.  May this be a parable for our own circumstances and give us true hope.

Hang on until November, and during the ensuing 7 months let our battle cry be, “Resist.  Roll back. Repeal.”

God bless you.  God bless our beloved America.

Filed under: healthcare, LEGISLATION, liberal activism, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , ,


Yesterday, there was a meeting at the White House.  It wasn’t about Healthcare Reform.  It was about how important it is for the Senate to pass a comprehensive energy-climate bill!

Following are excerpts from an AP article concerning this bill:

A bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., aims to cut emissions of pollution-causing greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020. The bill would abandon a broad “cap-and-trade” approach to reducing carbon pollution. Instead it would apply different carbon controls to different sectors of the economy.

Republicans and business groups oppose [it] because it would raise the price of oil and coal.

Kerry and other lawmakers are looking at cutting the nation’s output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by targeting, in separate ways, three major sources of emissions: electric utilities, transportation and industry.

The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities.

“There’s not 60 votes doing energy only for offshore drilling. There’s not 60 votes for nuclear power the way I would like. Only when you marry up climate change—cleaning up the air—with energy independence do you get” to 60 votes in the Senate, he said.  “If you’re a Republican, and you believe we should ‘drill, baby, drill,’ now’s your chance,” Graham said.

Really, Senator Graham?  So, in order to exploit our own energy resources, we are to be compelled to pay more to use them.  That’s a pretty small carrot attached to one whale of a stick.  We will pay more for gasoline, more for utilities and more for anything that is shipped, (which is just about everything).  At the same time that we are producing more energy, (if you believe that will ever really happen), we will be forced to use less, due to its upward spiraling price.  This plan, according to our friend, Lindsey, is in the interest of “cleaning up the air”, which he somehow he equates with “climate change”.   This fiction is no longer, if it ever was, a good reason for Government regulation and management of yet another private U.S. industry.

Senator Graham, needs to follow the example of Senator Specter and join the Democrat Party rather than continuing to masquerade as a (RINO) Republican.  Lending support to this bill is in no way supporting American business, nor the American people.  Our friend, Lindsey, needs to hear our voices loud and clear on this issue, and the voices of South Carolina need to be the loudest and clearest of all.

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , ,

Obama’s New ‘Poverty’ Measurement Setting a new national goal: class warfare-by Robert Rector

Below I have reprinted the excellent article by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation.

Although defeating The Healthcare Reform Bill in the House is of paramount importance, we cannot lose sight of the other measures that the Obama Administration is trying to enact in the interests of “hope and change”.  Lest we awake one day in the near future and find that the America that we love has been “hoped and changed” out of existence, we must continue to stay informed and fight against these leftist policies.

Here is Robert Rector’s article:

This week, the Obama administration announced it will create a new poverty-measurement system that will eventually displace the current poverty measure. This new measure, which has little or nothing to do with actual poverty, will serve as the propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth.”

Under the new measure, a family will be judged “poor” if its income falls below a certain specified income threshold. Nothing new there, but, unlike the current poverty standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause: They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

The current poverty measure counts absolute purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy. The new measure will count comparative purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy relative to other people. As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to ensure that “the poor will always be with you,” no matter how much better off they get in absolute terms.

The Left has promoted this idea of an ever-rising poverty measure for a long time. It was floated at the beginning of the War on Poverty and flatly rejected by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. Not so President Obama, who consistently seeks to expand the far-left horizons of U.S. politics.

The weird new poverty measure will produce very odd results. For example, if the real income of every single American were to magically triple over night, the new poverty measure would show there had been no drop in “poverty,” because the poverty income threshold would also triple. Under the Obama system, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else.

Another paradox of the new poverty measure is that countries such as Bangladesh and Albania will have lower poverty rates than the United States, even though the actual living conditions in those countries are extremely bad. Haiti would probably have a very low poverty rate when measured by the Obama system because the earthquake reduced much of the population to a uniform penniless squalor.

According to Obama’s measure, economic growth per se has no impact on poverty. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the incomes of nearly all Americans have increased sevenfold, after adjusting for inflation. However, from Obama’s perspective, this increase in real incomes had no impact on poverty, because the wages of those at the bottom of the income distribution did not rise faster than the incomes of those in the middle.

What has the Obama measure to do with actual poverty? Not much. For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 40 million per­sons classified as poor under the government’s current poverty definition fit that description. Most of America’s poor live in material conditions that would have been judged comfortable, or even well-off, two generations ago.

The government’s own data show that the typical American defined as poor (according to the traditional, pre-Obama poverty measure) has two color televisions, cable or satellite service, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He also has a car, air conditioning, a refrig­erator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had suf­ficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the stark images conveyed by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.

Clearly, “poverty” as currently defined by the government has little connection with “poverty” as the average American understands it. The new Obama poverty measure will stretch this semantic gap, artificially swelling the number of “poor” Americans, and severing any link between the government’s concept of poverty and even modest deprivation.

In honest English, the new system will measure income inequality, not poverty. Why not just call it an “inequality” index? Answer: because the American voter is unwilling to support massive welfare increases, soaring deficits, and tax increases to equalize incomes. However, if the goal of income leveling is camouflaged as a desperate struggle against poverty, hunger, and dire deprivation, then the political prospects improve. The new measure is a public-relations Trojan horse, smuggling in a “spread the wealth” agenda under the ruse of fighting real material privation — a condition that is rare in our society.

True, the new Obama measure will not, at present, alter benefits or expand eligibility for welfare programs. But the new measure does establish a new philosophy of poverty. For the first time, the government is planning to define poverty as a problem that can never be solved by the American dream: a general rise of incomes of all Americans across society over time. By definition, poverty can now be solved only by the dream of the Left: massive taxes on the upper and middle classes and redistribution to the less affluent. In effect, the Obama poverty measure sets a new national goal of class warfare and income redistribution. [Emphasis added.]

Of course, massive “wealth spreading” is already under way. This year, government will spend some $900 billion on means-tested aid for the poor and low-income persons, around $9,000 for each American in the low-income third of the population. According to the Left, that’s not nearly enough. The new poverty measure will use deception to promote a much larger welfare state. Taxpayers, beware.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS ON RECTOR’S ARTICLE: A rising tide will never lift all boats in an effective way with this philosophy, because some boats originally started at a higher level. The goal of this sort of measure is to urge me to focus on how much higher those original boats are instead of how much higher my boat is.  This philosophy fairly stinks of endless “class warfare”, endless “unfairness”, endless “victimization”, an endless sense of failure and an utter surrender to that sense of failure. There is no room for individual achievement in this philosophy.  It truly lays the foundation for change, and hopelessness.

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , ,


As if we were not concerned enough about the Government taking over the Healthcare Industry, here is another area of concern—Government plans to take additional land from the private sector, to make it off limits for development, energy exploration, etc.  But, what would happen to all these Federal lands should we default on our Federal debts?  I’m just wondering.

Read also the results of this Harvard Study.  Question: Does a Government land grab have anything to do with needing the price of gasoline to rise in order to further the “progressive” agenda?

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , ,


I have a lousy sense of direction.  When traveling, I arm myself with a map, two sets of written directions and a list of landmarks.  I still lose my way.  Exits beckon to me.  Road signs confuse me.  Assuring remarks like, “Trust me, you can’t miss it”, terrify me.  I can panic even when I am not lost.  So, maybe being “directionally challenged” has made it difficult for me to follow the maps produced by the Obama Administration.  Am I lost?  Or, as I see each landmark pass, am I simply panicked for no reason?

During the past year, Mr. Obama and his comrades have manufactured a lot of maps.  Maps for the economy, healthcare, energy, housing, jobs, education, climate change and National security.  Although attractive in presentation, they appear to lack crucial elements.  Large areas are marked, “Unknown Territory” and “There Be Dragons Here”.  Compass points are skewed—true North is always oriented leftward.  Roads meander aimlessly and often reach a dead-end at a deep gorge marked, “Bridge Out”.  Nevertheless, the urgent message is that these maps must be followed or we will be hopelessly lost.  (I think I hear, “Trust me, you can’t miss it”—excuse me while I shudder).  Where do these maps really lead?  Where are we going?

Here is the most exasperating aspect of these maps.  They include no avenue leading to factual, rational discussion of how they have been drawn.  If one points out that such-and-such a road does not correspond to reality, or that a particular feature does not exist, or that there is no bridge spanning that river the response is to criticize the critic.  The cartographers will not engage in a meaningful analysis of their efforts.  Nor do they have an attitude open to correcting their mistakes.  Instead, they defend their maps with twisted statistics, partial truths and downright lies.  In the end, they are reduced to reiterating that failure to follow their roads will lead to ruin.  Moreover, we are promised that pursuing these paths will lead to a utopia filled with human goodness.  The way will be “difficult”, it is said, but nothing really worthwhile is easy.  For my part, I fear that these map-makers are related somehow to the Pied Piper!

It seems to me that the inability to deal with facts and specific details in an honest manner should alarm us.  Not only does it signal bad charting, it indicates even worse leadership.  Those who will not clearly articulate what our destination is to be, nor explain in detail the roads that will take us there, are either ignorant, or worse, diabolical.  I mistrust these maps.  More and more I believe that they mark the way to totalitarianism and slavery.

I see an exit marked “2010”.  It is beckoning me.  It doesn’t appear on the map.  That’s why I’m taking it.

Filed under: personal, Uncategorized, , , , , ,


Yesterday the POTUS showed rare genuine emotion when speaking.  So, what motivated his heartfelt expression of feeling?  Terrorist attacks?  The Haitian earthquake?  No, it was his plan to tax the banks who took TARP money.  The new bank “fee” is expected to generated $90 billion over the next ten years, although Mr. Obama stated that the “fee” would be enforced, “until they [the American people] are fully compensated”.  Oh, really?  Raise your hand if you believe that any of we commoners will be “compensated” even one dollar from this scheme.  Where will all this money go instead?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Duh, campaigns, lobbyists, pay-offs to special interests, buy-offs of Legislators, etc., etc.

Mr. Obama went on to say that this measure was being taken, “not to punish” the banks, (who, by the way, have paid back the TARP loans with interest, so what would there be to punish?), but “to prevent the abuse and excess” that led to the present economic difficulties.  The POTUS ended by telling the banks not to “fight” his proposed “fee”, but to simply pay it.  Wow!  The King speaks.  We obey.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Obama has not passionately spoken against the “abuse and excess” of Government in general, nor his Administration in particular.  What I would like is for all the Democrats to “compensate” the American people for the recent excessive spending.  They could start by reimbursing us for the party that they all enjoyed in Copenhagen last month.  However, hypocrites never follow their own standards.

Class warfare is a tried and true tactic of the hard Left.  Whether this type of strategy will be successful in dividing us, distracting us and furthering a socialist-fascist agenda is questionable.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  The American people are smarter than they give us credit for being.

P.S.  On a matter somewhat related to those residing in class, (or glass), houses, please take the time to read about what Florida Rep. Buchanan (R) is attempting to do with his discharge petition in the House of Representatives.  It is good to know that some of our elected representatives believe in glass houses that are actually transparent!

Filed under: LEGISLATION, POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , ,


These days I often feel just plum tuckered out.  Keeping up with the dreadful tactics of the Washington machine is like chasing after a rather committed arsonist.  There is always a fire to manage and, hopefully, extinguish.  But, what is downright exhausting is that these pyromaniacs continue to ignore the screaming of us firefighters to STOP SETTING FIRES!!  The “consent of the governed” that is supposed to supply the power to our Government is simply being ignored.

The Rasmussen tracking polls for yesterday, January 12, 2010, reports 55% opposition to the Congressional Health Care Plan.  Presidential approval ratings are also taking a hit, now standing at –14, or stated in a different way, a 46% approval rating. Yet, President Obama and his cohorts carry on playing with fire.

And, it is not that we are not screaming loudly enough.  The machine apparatchiks seem to either, a) not believe the poll numbers, or b)  not believe that people really are against having their country torched.  Consider the video below from the recent Town Hall that Senator Feingold held in Wisconsin, where 95% of the audience opposed the Congressional Health Care Plan.

And, if we are silly enough to think that we would be safe should the current legislation, through a benevolent act of God, be defeated, Big Brother has yet another box of matches up his sleeve.  SusanAnne Hiller at Big published a report exposing two other bills, S.B. 1110 and H.B. 2718, (also known as “MedPAC reform”), that backstop the Congressional Health Care Bill should it fail.  Basically, these bills amend the Social Security Act to take control of Medicare guideline and rule-setting processes from the Legislative branch and place it in the hands of the Executive branch.  The article is definitely worth a slow, careful read.

No wonder we are exhausted!  Some days it appears that there is surely not enough water in our wells to keep fighting all these fires.  Some days it even seems preferable to simply let everything “burn baby, burn”.  These are indeed, in George Washington’s words, “the times that try men’s souls”.  However, even as gold is purified by fire in the crucible, I must continue to believe that these fires will produce more than ashes.  Remember, too, that the word “fire” has more than one meaning–enough said.   Soldier on, Sparrows.  God willing, we will prevail.

Filed under: LEGISLATION, liberal activism, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , ,

"His eye is on the sparrow, and He surely watches me." --Mrs. Doolittle, 1905