Monthly Archives: September 2007

John Edwards: You’ll Go To The Doctor Whether You Want To Or Not

John Edwards was in Iowa yesterday and demonstrated in a few short words what’s wrong with most of the Democratic Party:

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

He noted, for example, that women would be required to have regular mammograms in an effort to find and treat “the first trace of problem.” Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced earlier this year that her breast cancer had returned and spread.

Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.

“The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death,” he said.

The former North Carolina senator said all presidential candidates talking about health care “ought to be asked one question: Does your plan cover every single American?”

“Because if it doesn’t they should be made to explain what child, what woman, what man in America is not worthy of health care,” he said. “Because in my view, everybody is worth health care.”

Edwards said his plan would cost up to $120 billion a year, a cost he proposes covering by ending President Bush’s tax cuts to people who make more than $200,000 per year.

If you accept the logic of government provided universal health care coverage, then Edwards’ proposal actually makes sense. After all, if the taxpayers are paying for your health care, we can’t let you do anything unhealthy now can we ? We’ll ban smoking in practically every public venue, take trans-fats off the market, require food makers to slap labels on their product that are more confusing than anything else and, then, we’ll tell you that you don’t have the right to decide to seek medical care or not.

Is it wise to go to a doctor on a regular basis and get a check up ? Generally, yes.

Is it the place of the government to force you to do it ? In John Edwards’ America, where pro-choice apparently only applies to some medical procedures, the answer is apparently yes.

Bad News For A Holiday Weekend

It seems things may be heating up in the Persian Gulf soon:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has reached its long-sought goal of running 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for its nuclear program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Sunday in a report on state media.

The U.N. Security Council had threatened a third round of sanctions against the country if it did not freeze the uranium enrichment program — which Iran maintains is for peaceful energy purposes, but the U.S. says is to hide a weapons program.

“The West thought the Iranian nation would give in after just a resolution, but now we have taken another step in the nuclear progress and launched more than 3,000 centrifuge machines, installing a new cascade every week,” the state television Web site quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

Still, Ahmadinejad’s comments seemed at odds with independent assessments of the status of his country’s enrichment program.

As recently as Thursday, a report drawn up by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, put the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at closer to 2,000 at its vast underground hall at Natanz.

And, as if that weren’t enough, the Sunday Times of London is reporting that the United States has drawn up a massive three day war plan against the Iranian regime:

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

(….)

One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said ? to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.

And then there’s the Iraq angle to this story:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, irritated the Bush administration last week by vowing to fill a “power vacuum” in Iraq. But Washington believes Iran is already fighting a proxy war with the Americans in Iraq.

The Institute for the Study of War last week released a report by Kimberly Kagan that explicitly uses the term “proxy war” and claims that with the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda in Iraq “increasingly under control”, Iranian intervention is the “next major problem the coalition must tackle”.

Bush noted that the number of attacks on US bases and troops by Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months ? “despite pledges by Iran to help stabilise the security situation in Iraq”.

There are a few caveats here. First of all, the Times report may not be true at all. It could be based on bad reporting, or even part of a disinformation campaign directed at the Iranians as part of the diplomatic pressure that’s being placed on them. Second, just because there are plans in place doesn’t mean war is imminent, which is what this diary entry at Kos seems to suggest.

Nonetheless, it appears that Iran will be in the headlines in the coming months, for better or worse. If military action does come, one can only hope that it’s preceded by much better planning than we had before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Cathy Young On The Ron Paul Phenomenon

Reason Magazine’s Cathy Young has a column in the Boston Globe about Ron Paul, and his interesting coalition of supporters:

What, then, is Ron Paul all about? While his views are decidedly unorthodox for today’s Republican Party, they represent a venerable, oft-forgotten Republican tradition of small government at home and noninterventionism abroad. In some ways, he is an heir to Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican who ran for president in 1964. Paul, a 72-year-old physician, first ran for president in 1988 on the Libertarian Party ticket. Then, he decided to work from within the GOP. He won a House seat as a Republican in 1996, over strong opposition from the establishment.

On the campaign trail, Paul articulates a philosophy that recalls the famous dictum often attributed to Henry David Thoreau: “That government is best which governs least.” “I want to be president mainly for what I don’t want to do: I don’t want to run your life, I don’t want to run the economy, and I don’t want to police the world,” he told a potential supporter at the Strafford County straw poll. He wants to abolish the Federal Reserve and the income tax, to end the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, to dismantle the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education.

(….)

Paul’s followers are a veritable rainbow coalition drawn from across the political spectrum. The most striking image from his campaign – the slogan “Revolution” with the letters “EVOL” reversed to spell “love” backward – is, to use a 1960s metaphor, more Beatles than Barry Goldwater. (The creator of this slogan, Arizona libertarian Ernie Hancock, explains in an online article that the “love” refers to love of liberty, but concedes that the visual was chosen mainly for its emotional impact.)

In a sense, Paul is the Ralph Nader of the right, attracting people who are deeply alienated by conventional politics. Inevitably, he attracts people from the lunatic fringe, such as Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists who believe the US government engineered the attacks. But it would be unfair to paint Paul as the candidate of crackpots. His message resonates with many people who don’t fit into conventional categories of left and right.

But can this type of coalition be crafted into something that can win elections ? Much like the coalitions that rallied around Ralph Nader and Howard Dean, Young doesn’t think so:

In its pure form, Paul’s libertarianism is not politically viable. Polls have shown that, at most, about 10 percent of Americans are in favor of reducing the scope of government, and domestic government services, to a minimum. Paul’s case for noninterventionism abroad is problematic as well. He has contrasted our entanglements in Third World countries that cannot pose a military threat to the United States with the fact that “we stood up to the Soviets [who] had 40,000 nuclear weapons.” But American foreign policy in the Cold War was an interventionist one, requiring massive and expensive commitments from the federal government. And there is a strong argument that, in today’s globalized world, totalitarian movements rooted in religious extremism would inevitably threaten US interests and safety if left unchecked by American power.

Is she right ? In some sense yes.

We are far too gone for it realistic to think that the IRS, most of the Federal bureaucracy, and the Federal Reserve can be realistically abolished with the stroke of a pen. And, the idea that isolationism can be a viable foreign policy for the United States today is, at best, naive. Given the choice between Ron Paul’s freedom, Hillary Clinton’s Nanny State, or Rudy Giuliani’s Surveillance State, I think far too many Americans would make the choice for safety over freedom.

But we’re not too far gone if candidates like Ron Paul, if there are others out there, can start talking about the ideas of liberty and actually find a receptive audience for it.

Ron Paul Third In Texas Straw Poll

Ron Paul came in third in the Texas GOP’s Straw poll yesterday:

FORT WORTH, Sept. 1 — Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) won Texas’s first Republican Party straw poll on Saturday in a low-turnout event that lacked the top-tier presidential candidates.

Hunter got 534 votes, or 41 percent of the total. Former senator and actor Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.), who is expected to announce his candidacy next week but was not at the event, came in second with 266 votes, or nearly 21 percent. Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) came in third with 217 votes, or 17 percent.

No other candidate received as much as 7 percent of the 1,300 votes.

The Texas straw poll is only for party activists, and those casting ballots must have been a delegate or alternate in a recent GOP state or national convention. Last month’s Iowa Republican straw poll, which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won, was open to any voter who paid for a ticket.

A respectable showing, especially considering the fact that Texas limits participation to people who’ve been actively involved in the part in the recent past, but all of the campaigns in the top three should remember that none of the leading candidates —- Giuliani, Romney, McCain —- appeared for the event or, it would seem, actively participated, so it’s unclear that these results mean anything one way or the other.

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