Monday, November 29, 2004

Freedom Hijacked - Again

Freedom Hijacked - Again

In their never ending campaign to make the constitution irrelevant, our government is putting yet another nail in the coffin of our freedom, with almost no mention in the press. Using the dubious procedure of a voice vote in a lame duck session - which gives every single legislator the ability to deny his vote, if and when the voters turn against this benighted law - the House has already passed, and the Senate is about to pass, the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, or NASPER, H.R. 3015.

This act will give to the government easy access to the medical records of any citizen who takes any controlled substance. While pain medications are the stated target of this new law, antidepressant and other drugs used in the treatment of mental distress and illness, not to mention medically authorized marijuana, are all included. The act provides that any doctor prescribing, and any provider dispensing any of these medicines must report, within one week, the name, address, and telephone number of the patient receiving these substances. Normal constitutionally mandated controls on search and seizure are thus not applicable. No judge need issue a warrant, nor must any law enforcement person show probable cause, not even reasonable suspicion, that any law has been violated. Mere curiosity on the part of law enforcement would appear to be allowed, under the language of the statute.
(2) any local, State, or Federal law enforcement, narcotics control, licensure, disciplinary, or program authority, who certifies, under the procedures determined by the State, that the requested information is related to an individual investigation or proceeding involving the unlawful diversion or misuse of a schedule II, III, or IV substance, and such information will further the purpose of the investigation or assist in the proceeding;

(3) any agent of the Department of Health and Human Services, a State medicaid program, a State health department, or the Drug Enforcement Administration who certifies that the requested information is necessary for research to be conducted by such department, program, or administration, respectively, and the intended purpose of the research is related to a function committed to such department, program, or administration by law that is not investigative in nature
This is nothing more than an outrageous continuation on the Justice department's War on Citizens in Pain and the Doctors Who Treat Them. Sneaking it in under the conditions of a voice vote in a lame duck session shows what law enforcement usually refers to as "awareness of guilt." Just as O.J. or Peterson running for the border shows that they know that they are guilty, legislators sneaking this vote in anonymously shows that they are unwilling to put their names to it. Oh, quite a few will be proud to tell their constituencies that they voted for this monstrous invasion - not of privacy, but of a patient in pain's very ability to get the medication that he or she needs to survive. But, the rest of our brave Congressmen will be able to deny that they were even in the House when the vote took place. And, the Senate has decided to use the very same sleazy trick when the vote comes up in the next month or so. Don't just take my word for it, ask a doctor:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a physician, calls NASPER, a.k.a. HR 3015, "yet another unjustifiable attempt by the federal government to use the war on drugs as an excuse for invading the privacy and liberties of the American people and for expanding the federal government's disastrous micromanagement of medical care." He argues that the bill violates the Fourth Amendment, since it "authorizes the use and disclosure of identifiable health information for law enforcement purposes without the patient's knowledge or consent, without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and without obtaining a search warrant."
This bill is aimed at creating a national system in which the government is constantly looking over doctors' shoulders as they write prescriptions, looking for signs of nonmedical use. Such a system would magnify the chilling effect that the government's second-guessing has on pain treatment while sacrificing patient privacy for the sake of the war on drugs.

As a chronic pain patient myself, I can attest to the difficulty of even finding a physician willing to prescribe these substances. Getting the proper dosage of them is impossible, at least for me. My doctor is candid with me in discussing her concerns, and she is quite clear that, if not for the DEA looking over her shoulder, she would prescribe the proper dose. Her problem is that federal agants, who have absolutely no medical training, make decisions on the correctness of her treatment of her chronic pain patients, and her license, even her very freedom is constantly on the line. Thank God that my MRI clearly shows my condition. Many pain patients have pain that does not show up on the diagnostic film, and therefore get no medication at all. Some, very few, doctors are willing to prescribe for these patients, and quite a few have landed in prison for prescribing more Percocets than a DEA agent and an Assistant U.S. Attorney believes to be the correct amount. So I make do, and would surely be in a bad way if I could not get my disease medicated. In fact, untreated and undertreated chronic pain is one of the leading causes of suicide.

Making this information so easily available will absolutely have a chilling affect on the prescribing activities of most doctors. If it passes, look for the immediate effect of dentists prescribing only two days worth of painkillers, rather than the three or four that is usual, in order to get under the reporting requirements. If you are one who believes that the War on (some) Drugs makes this law a reasonable intrusion into our privacy, may God have mercy on you if you ever develop chronic pain. If you suffer from depression and are medicated for it, prepare for this information about you to become available to prospective employers and nosy neighbors. If you are taking medically authorized marijuana, expect the D.A.R.E. officer to reveal this to your kids. Little by little, our constitution is being chipped away. Those of you who fail to respond when someone else's freedom is taken away, will probably scream the loudest when "they" come for one of your own.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Guest Post

Israel, Campus Unreality and Democratic Reality

Guest Post by Joey Tartakovsky

My mother, past president of the Berkeley-Oakland Feminist Socialist Organization, is no stranger to the zany world of campus politics. Protesting Vietnam in the late 1960s, she encountered radicals of all stripes. But Israel, she recalls, was never one of their causes. Now, all campus radicals, no matter their inspiration—socialists, animal rights activists, ethnic racists, radical greens, alien cults—seem to have a problem with Israel.

Compare the “free Palestine” movement with the “free Tibet” movement to illustrate the sheer campus brutality against Israel. Professors do not offer lunchtime lectures ‘objectively’ explaining how terrible China is. There is no divestment from China campaign. There is no academic boycott of China. Casual anti-China brickbats aren't hurled out by professors in the Environmental Studies or Dramatic Arts departments. Even at Tibetan freedom concerts, rare would be the attendee that declared China a fundamentally illegitimate country and demanded its abolition.

The calls to abandon our only ally in the Middle East and the foul apologies for terrorism are testaments to the intellectual corruption of the academy. While chanting about peace and justice in the Middle East, the campus turns a blind eye to the world’s ghastliest conflicts, like the Congo war, whose butcher’s bill exceeds Israel-Palestinian fighting by a factor of one-thousand. Upper-middle-class revolutionaries stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, yet ignore the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 of them by Kuwait after they cheered Saddam Hussein. In four years at UC Santa Barbara, I never once heard someone explain why Palestinian Arabs have no rights in Lebanon, but why in Israel they sit on the Supreme Court, serve as Ambassadors and lead parties in the Israeli parliament.

What’s interesting is that the most outspoken are not students, but activist professors, who exploit their position of privilege to preach. It is unfortunate that they were hired in the first place, because they will ensure ideological conformity for years to come in their classrooms and departments. As consolation, I note that their unwillingness to take the American side in any dispute—in fact, their proud hostility towards American principles and interests—has ensured that no U.S. policymaker will ever take them seriously. This is how it should be.

America supports Israel because Israel resembles America. They share common strategic interests, common democratic principles and common jihadist enemies. Some identify the U.S.-Israel alliance as the product of a “Jewish lobby,” a view popular in Cairo and Riyadh and Paris. But do these types really find it strange that Americans are less than enamored of the Palestinians after Americans watched the West Bank erupt in celebration on 9/11? How do they think Americans should respond as they watch Palestinians deploy the same barbaric method of suicide bombing practiced on them by bin Laden? Does our government share intelligence with Iran, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority—or with Israel? Why? In the new war, medieval Islamic aggressors seek to humiliate and bloody the United States, and it is clear where the allegiances lie in the Middle East. It resembles the alignments in the Fascist-Democratic and Communist-Democratic wars. Between the U.S. and al-Qaeda there is no peace process, only a war process, which ends when one side is defeated and demoralized. So it is with Israel and Fatah and Hamas.

Yasir Arafat has left this world. He was the billionaire godfather of modern terrorism, pioneer of school hostage-takings, multiple plane hijackings and suicide bombings. He never stopped calling for jihad, he stole $900 million in public funds between 1995-2002, and he was a failure to his people. After decades of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” he did so one last time by leaving the 2000 Camp David talks. Some claimed that Israel never really made an offer; others insisted it was a most generous deal. But the terms of the deal were never made public, and so it remained subject to debate. Until now. With the publication of his book Missing Peace, Ambassador Dennis Ross put in print the terms of the Camp David deal, which Clinton personally read to both sides. Guess what? It was exactly what Barak and Clinton said it was: 95% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, dismantlement of all settlements save three blocs contiguous to Israel, limited right of return and a $30 billion compensation package.

The Oslo era is over. Israel has resolved to act unilaterally, a wise and overdue decision. This is now Israel’s policy: exit the Gaza Strip, build a fence and kill the terrorists. Israel has every right to hunt those who murder its citizens as surely as we hunt bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. Terrorists have no right to trial or due process nor protection from the Geneva Conventions. Israel owes the Palestinians nothing except the right to live in their own independent state. However cruel it may sound, the truth is that Palestine will never really be free. Israeli occupation will eventually end, yes, but its replacement? The character of the future government of Palestine will resemble, depending on the outcome of the impending civil war, lawlessness or theocratic tyranny, or something in between, the only certainty being an oppression rooted in Arafat’s long and corrupt tenure. Palestinian society reflects the same blend of corruption, gender apartheid, religious intolerance and conspiratorialism that has left the region impoverished and shackled.

Americans have come to realize that the U.N. is not the esteemed forum of collective world wisdom they imagined it to be, but a corrupt place for the thugs of the world to unite in solidarity against the democratic few. More and more, Americans just don’t give a damn what happens at the UN. They see a crooked oil-for-food-scandal involving Kofi Annan’s own son. They see a UN obsessed with persecuting a tiny democracy beset on all sides by fascistic governments while millions perish without fanfare in Serbia, Rwanda and Iraq. The tyrant-infested UN will not change, and Israel will continue to be bullied. Why? Because there are fifty-seven Islamic-majority states, amounting to one-third of the UN’s total membership. Israel will always be outvoted. Thus, the UN will rule that Israel’s fence is illegal—a measure of self-defense forced after one-hundred and thirty suicide bombings in four years—and simultaneously deny the very existence an ongoing genocide in the Sudan whose toll approaches 70,000. (The perpetrators are Muslim Arabs, and so criticism of the Khartoum regime is squelched.) And this will all be business as usual.

Europe will criticize Israel too. To understand why, consider the large and growing domestic Muslim populations (as high as 10% of the population of France), fears of Arab terrorism, residual anti-Semitism, and kowtowing to Gulf oil producers. But I wonder if this can hold forever. After all, Israel is not really their problem. In the near future, the true threats to Europe will become clearer: tens of thousands of unassimilated, resentful immigrants from North Africa and the Greater Middle East, many drawn to the call of jihad, and a nuclearized mullocracy in Iran. Each European nation will react differently. Some will choose to join the U.S. in confronting terrorism; others will appease it. Europe has learned that if you cross Israel, Israelis shrug and feel disappointed. If you cross the Islamic world, you risk ten coordinated Semtex bombings in a Madrid train station at rush hour. Spain threw out its government for an appeasing socialist, and now learns that the same holy warriors are attempting to blow up its high court and soccer stadiums.

If it puffs Syrian or Egyptian pride vis-à-vis Israel to do at the UN what they could not do on the battlefield—win—then let them posture. It does not change the fact that Israelis are rich and powerful and free, and Syrians and Egyptians are poor and illiterate and weak. Does anyone doubt that grudge and envy do not fire their anger against Israel, a country of six million? Israel’s neighbors have fallen so far behind the rest of the world in the globalizing era that their literacy rates lag behind those of sub-Saharan Africa. Spain translates more books in a year than the entire Arab Middle East has in the last thousand years.

Meanwhile, Israel has transformed a resource-poor land the size of New Jersey into a proud and unapologetic democracy that wins wars. Self-investment, openness and unbound inquiry have catapulted Israel to world leader in medical, military and internet technology, developers of everything from the agricultural equipment used in the valleys of California and AOL Instant Messenger to our ballistic missile defense system. A commitment to economic liberty and the rule of law have grown Israel’s economy larger than those of South Africa and Argentina, whose populations number 42 million and 39 million, respectively. Critics whine that Israelis possess tanks while Palestinians wield only rocks. It does not seem to register with them that Israel has tanks because Israel invented tanks. (It’s called the Merkava, from the Biblical word for “chariot.”) Out of twelve Nobel prizes awarded this year, Israelis received two. These are the earned fruits of a free society.

The Holocaust destroyed forever the universe of European Jewry from which Einstein, Freud and Marx emerged—its culture, language, and two-thirds of its lives. But one of the most curious aspects of this narrative is that the survivors did not allow themselves to drown in a black ocean of loss and pity, or pledge eternal revenge against Germany. Instead, they set about to rebuild, painfully, but inspirited by a deep sense of faith and dignity. This moral character explains why Israel has never produced a suicide bomber, and why Palestine has never produced a deserving Nobel laureate. History is made not by unseen social forces but by men, and it matters dearly in the determination of a nation’s fate whether its Founding Fathers are men like David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann and Abba Eban and whether they are men like Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Yasir Arafat.

Joey Tartakovsky is assistant editor of the Claremont Review of Books, published by The Claremont Institute. He graduated this year from UC Santa Barbara, where he was founding president of American Students for Israel. This essay reprinted from Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why the Dead Vote

Why the Dead Vote

I'm getting a bit of flack over my unsubstantiated statement yesterday that the result included "all the election fraud, all the dead and illegal voters voting against him." Since I can not rely on every reader to be a long term fan, I shall reprise my understanding of the American electoral process, as I have witnessed it over the last half century.

I have a background in actual politics, the kind that we had before the internet, before everyone became an expert. It is my experience that most American urban centers are controlled by democrat machines, and these machines commonly vote the dead, and multiple voting is more than the canard: "vote early, and often." It is the way of life, certainly in New York, and reportedly elsewhere. Also Stalin's maxim that the voters count for little, the vote counters count for far more has more than a bit of reality to it, and solidly democrat precincts have precious little in the way of opposition poll watchers. My mother was a democrat District Leader, which in New York City is a pretty powerful position, and I was therefore able, at a very young age, to watch the sausage of our political repast being made. I also have no reason to keep these secrets, since my mother is beyond the reach of any temporal punishment, and all I ever did was witness these crimes.

You might ask why a solidly democrat district needs to pad the tally for the top of the democrat ticket. The answer is simple. Each district has a slate of its own candidates for minor functionaries and, especially, judges. The judges apparently have a keen interest in the result, since they commonly, and I have with my own eyes witnessed this, pay immense amounts of cash to the district leaders in return for nomination in a "safe" district. The leaders, two in each district, therefore can take no chances on the outcome of these little elections. Sometimes independent candidates run, and, instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to each district leader, mount actual campaigns. Sometimes, they even win. Thus, the dead return, to vote one more time. Bums, who we now call "the homeless," are sent in to play the part of dead or absent voters, and enter the voting booth with a slate of levers to pull, in return for which they are remunerated. In order to make the final tally balanced, they vote the entire ticket, not just the few specific candidates that have paid for this service. Thus, the top of the ticket is padded. The result of the presidential race is rarely, if ever, changed, since these are pretty solidly democrat precincts in the first place. But the final tally will show plenty of extra votes for the president.

During the years that I witnessed this activity on my democrat mother's side, my father was an activist on the republican side. I owe him a great debt for pointing these activities out to my brother and me. Since he was an immigrant from Europe, this type of corruption seemed reasonable to him. What impressed him far more, was that this type of shennanigans did not go on in the republican ranks. I can not say that they indeed did not, since an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but I can definitely say that, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Adlai Stevenson, Jack Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson got credit for far more votes than they deserved. Nobody doubts that they got a few extra votes in Chicago as well, and there is quite a bit of evidence out there that JFK got some help in East Texas in 1960.

Doubters might say that these activities no longer go on, that district leaders in safe districts no longer accept cash in return for their support for mediocre lawyers seeking refuge on the bench, but there are also those who believe that chickens have lips. I have no doubt that fraud of all kinds, perpetrated by those on both sides, goes on to this day. But I saw what I saw, and in my experience, only democrats have done these things, and none of the republicans I know today would participate in anything like this type of vote fraud. Your mileage may differ. But what can not be said, is that these charges are unsubstantiated. I saw with my own eyes bags of cash, and bums being paid to vote the dead, going from precinct to precinct on election day. For the record, and I know that it weakens my story, my mother gave her cash to her co-leader, or at least that is what my parents told us kids. But it is certainly true that politics ain't beanbag, and I saw it with my own eyes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Clear Result

A Clear Result

One week after an election in which more Americans voted for the winner than any other time in history, the sore losers and fantasists of the Left are still rambling on, making up stories and excuses for their loss. While not all of them believe that the majority "voted for an extremist Christian regime," many do, and many more are hatching conspiracy plots of a stolen election. The denial is palpable, and Occam's Razor is nowhere to be seen. The simple conclusion, that more people voted for the candidate that they wanted in the White House, seems out of reach for these people.

Not much has changed since eight months ago, when John Kerry was selected by the Iowa caucuses as the candidate of the Democrats. Terry McAuliffe's master plan to allow the good people of New Hampshire and Iowa to decide the primary race by March netted the party another soulless northeastern liberal lawyer. At that time I predicted a 40 state victory for Bush with confidence, and while I missed the margin of vistory by a bit, I was not alone in my confidence in that victory. We believed that our moderate-to conservative electorate would never stand for such an extreme ideologue, such a wealthy elitist, and they didn't. The only reasons for the closeness of the election I have stated before. The massive propaganda onslaught by the media is misunderstood in many quarters as a depiction of Bush as an incompetent. The truth about it is that they unfairly, and quite successfully, painted him as an extreme conservative. They falsely claimed that the nation is bitterly divided, a prophesy that they managed to make real to a certain extent. They allowed lies by the Kerry campaign to stand without scrutiny, such as the claim that this was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, that jobs have been lost on Bush's watch. They underestimated the American voter. Almost two thirds, or 71% of the voters who participated in the exit polls said that their personal economy was as good as or better than it was four years ago. A majority had indeed been convinced that the national economy was worse, yet not enough of them voted for the Democrat as a result, since only 45% trusted Kerry to handle the economy any better than Bush had.

For the third of the electorate that is worried, or even bitter, about the result, we on the right can relate. We went through the same thing twelve years ago. Therein lies the good news - nothing so bad happened when Clinton "caught the pickup truck" then, nothing so bad will ensue for the next four years. We can expect four more years of freedom for more and more people around the world. Four more years of jihadi terror masters on the run. Four more years of positive GDP growth spurred by low taxes. None of this is a formula for disaster. The only disaster that is on the horizon is the disaster that will surely befall the Democrat Party if they fail to heed the message of this election. If they continue in the Nancy Pelosi - Hillary Clinton - Howard Dean direction, they can expect less of the vote next time. They need to understand that they did get their message out, and most Americans rejected it. The last two national elections they won, their candidate ran to the right of their Republican adversary. It is simple for me, as a businessman, to see that you should reinforce positive statistics, and run away from negative ones. Simple. Say no to liberal lawyer. Yes to Southern Governor. Realize that Nancy Pelosi's district has 35% home ownership, and the rest of the country has 70%. Remember that Bill Clinton won on welfare reform and the castigation of Sister Soulja, and Kerry lost with all of Hollywood, and Michael Moore, on his side.

This election was not so much about George W. Bush as it was about his mandate, which couldn't be clearer - continue stomping the Jihadis wherever they are, keep taxes low, and reform Social Security. Appoint some conservative, meaning non-activist, judges, including (hopefully) replacing a few superannuated Justices of the Supreme Court. The most breathtaking thing about the election result is that its mandate demands that Bush actually become a conservative President. We on the Right can only wait, and hope, that he gets the message. He needs to curb his liberal tendencies, especially in the area of entitlements. Creating new bureaucracies, and pushing legislation authored by Ted Kennedy, both things he did in his first term, he should eschew in his second. In the face of all the propaganda, all the election fraud, all the dead and illegal voters voting against him, we still elected him. He needs to heed his mandate, and act accordingly. The early noises he has made are encouraging. With a result this clear, he needs to turn noise into action.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Margin of Victory

Margin of Victory

This is a conservative country, and this election shows that. But make no mistake, the margin of victory was much greater than three and a half million votes. To believe that, you must believe that Bruce Springstein and P Diddy delivered nothing to the final Kerry totals, that millions of votes cast by the dead, illegal aliens, and purely fraudulent votes cast by nonexistent people were evenly divided between the two candidates, and that ownership of the national propaganda machine meant nothing to the final result. Balderdash! No, the rational conclusion must be that this nation is so conservative, so convinced that John Kerry would have been a disaster for us, that even in the face of this unprecedented assault upon the democratic process in America, George W. Bush carried the day with much more than the margin of victory that the official vote tallies show.

There is no way to count the number of voters who were misled into voting for the stealth candidate. It is not in our national interest to attempt to count the vast number of fraudulent votes that were successfully cast by leftist operatives. There is no way to understand the effect of a national media juggernaut that unfairly cast Bush in the most unfavorable light at every opportunity had on the final tally. But anyone who considers this question fairly must come to the conclusion that these instrumentalities had some effect.

To understand this, we must remember that many on the left considered the first Bush victory a theft, and have spent the last four years simmering with the need, and believing that they had the right, to use any means to justify their end, which they believe to be a restoration of liberal leadership in the White House. That is why we have seen massive theft of Bush campaign lawn signs from coast to coast. That is why we have seen CBS news caught twice attempting to fabricate damning news against the President. That explains the popularity of Fahrenheit 911. (Either every American has seen that film, or many left leaning viewers have seen it many times each.) But popular vote totals show the wrongness of that view. Bush exceeded his vote totals, both in number and expressed as a fraction, of his 2000 results, according to the exit polls, in every area and in almost every demographic cohort. This is truly a triumph of the people, by the people, and for the people. I may not be Adam Yoshida, but the Left must pardon me as I gloat. Or not, but gloat I will. I am thrilled to be the winner, this time. We can take up our criticism of the many failings of George W. Bush later, and admonish both parties for giving us two such flawed candidates. But the democrats ran such a loser, such an unmitigated disaster, that we can all be proud and relieved that Bush won. In spite of all the shennanigans, the tricks and the fraud, and the unprecedented level of propaganda, the American people dodged a bullet on Tuesday.