Morning Report, July 29: Obama’s Faith, Black Church, Blue Dogs, and the Amazing Flying Homeless

1.  President Obama said, in an interview recently conducted for Nightline, that he begins each day with a devotional and “pray(s) all the time now.”

2.  The Barna Group (which has been studying evangelicals for decades) has issued an excellent new study of African American Christians.  Check out the article.

3.  Christopher Hitchens asserts that Henry Louis Gates was wrong to presume to know that officer James Crowley was motivated by racism–yet Gates should have stood instead on Civil Liberties grounds and insisted that a man has a right to harangue a police officer in his own home.  Ed Morrisey, a moderate conservative at Hot Air, agrees.  “James Crowley sounds like an outstanding officer, but arresting someone on their own property for yelling at the police sounds a little strange.  It seems at least plausible that Crowley had a bad moment and used poor judgment, not because of race, but simply because he’s human and has a tough job.    Had Gates stuck to just those facts, he would have provided a teaching moment and a lesson on civil liberty and the right, at times, to yell at the representatives of our government when they appear to trample on the rights of citizens — even when the citizens are wrong in assuming the motivations involved.”

Tomorrow the President will meet with Gates and Crowley.  Some will see this as leadership-by-example, Obama showing the way toward healing the racial divide.  Others will see it, especially in light of the “stupidly” comment, as cynical political theater.  You can be sure that the President’s advisors have already developed the language they want the participants to use when they emerge and speak with the press.  One wonders what it will be.  Crowley may be willing to admit to pulling out the handcuffs too quickly; yet he will not admit to racism, which is what Gates desires.  And surely Gates will not admit to racism on his part, in assuming that a white police officer was inspired by racist impulses.

To we have a right to berate police officers publicly, or do police officers require a certain amount of respect and compliance in order to perform their duties of keeping order and safety?  You cannot be arrested for resisting arrest; restisting arrest is only possible if one is already being arrested, as a secondary charge.  Gates was booked on disorderly conduct, and Crowley cited the concerned attention the incident was drawing.  Probably Crowley should not have arrested Gates–but many cops stand with Crowley on this, including African American cops who say he is a sterling policeman.  Colin Powell chides Gates and says that one should not argue with a cop who is trying to his job.

The woman who made the 911 call, Lucia Whalen, is not white, and did not cite Gates’ race when she made the call.  Her lawyer, speaking with a local radio station, says that all she could hear of the arrest “was Gates screaming.”  Gates would win major plaudits in many quarters if he, still objecting to his rough handling, said that he was wrong to assume racist motives.  Was he wrong?  Perhaps we’ll never know.  But the African-American community could do with a little less suspicion, and a little more cooperation, with law enforcement.  After all, Gates and Crowley are family.

4.  Rahm Emanuel was hailed as genius when, heading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he recruited moderates and social conservatives to run in traditionally Republican districts, significantly increasing the Democrat’s hold in both chambers of Congress.  Now some, like Maxine Waters, are blaming him for bringing on board people who are not really on board.  Now the Blue Dogs, she claims, are holding up important legislation such as the health care bill.  It now appears that health care reform will be passed neither in the Senate nor the House before the August deadline, and Waters urges that Democrats run liberals against the Blue Dogs in the Congressional primaries.

Waters presumably knows that the Democratic power structure would be interested in no such thing.  They do not want to lose their supermajorities.  Yet some grassroots organizations could throw their support behind liberal Democrats in those districts.  Regardless, Waters’ statements should be understood for what they are: threats and intimidation.  Michelle Malkin points to the pressure coming from the Obama administration and sees it all as part of “White House Thuggery.”

The other person (or group of persons) to blame for stalling health care reform is…you.  “The problem with health care is that it’s so big and so complicated that the public is never really going to understand all the moving parts of this,” NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner said on air Wednesday.  Others suggest that the public is not being swayed because they “know enough to spot obvious chicanery.”

5.  New York City has begun buying one-way tickets home for homeless families who wish to leave the United States, since this is cheaper than providing them with services.  So if a family comes from San Juan, and becomes homeless, if they can prove they have a residence awaiting them in San Juan, they can be flown back.  The question: is this compassionate?  For the family that wants to return to where it has a home, but cannot afford the return flight, the answer would seem to be yes.

6.  Sign of the times: “The body of an elderly shopaholic was found underneath a pile of clothing and other items after she died of natural causes, an inquest heard.  Joan Cunnane’s bungalow was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house before she was found.”

7.  I share this without taking any position in relation to anthropogenic global warming.  Jonathan Manthorpe writes, “Global warming is the new religion of First World urban elites.”  Quite apart from the question of whether the basic claims of global warming theorists are correct, there are more extreme claims that are almost certainly false–and it is interesting to compare what you might call global warming alarmism to a religion.

8.  Today’s Two-Sides.  Obama explains his health care plan in further detail with Swampland’s Karen Tumulty.  Also on the Left, Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post takes the Blue Dogs (notice their new extended appellation) to task:

But the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee and the right-wing Democratic Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee want to go in different directions. The Blue Dogs want to reduce payments to doctors except in the rural areas they disproportionately represent, where they want to increase them. They oppose, so far, the public option, though it would be the most effective way to bring down costs in their districts. They oppose partly funding the subsidies by taxing the wealthiest Americans. And they are waiting to see what the Senate Finance Committee turns out before they subject themselves to the ordeal of actually voting on a bill (oh, the horror).

Meyerson also explains why bipartisanship is no longer worth pursuing: “Problem is, bipartisanship ain’t what it used to be, and for one fundamental reason: Republicans ain’t what they used to be.”

On the other hand, Theodore Dalrymple (no relation) disputes the notion that we have a “right” to health care.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

…The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.

Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.

And finally, Megan McArdle, a centrist who writes for the Atlantic, explains why she opposes the “public option,” or putting in place a government-run insurance program that would keep prices low in order to force private insurers (in order to complete) to do the same:

I know, most of you have already figured out why I oppose national health care. In a nutshell, I hate the poor and want them to die so that all my rich friends can use their bodies as mulch for their diamond ranches.  But y’all keep asking, so here goes the longer explanation.

Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory.  Once we’ve got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government’s incentives?  I think they’re bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad.  I’m afraid that instead of Security Theater, we’ll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we’re getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.

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~ by tddalrymple on July 29, 2009.

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