“Good morning, class. I have a light reading assignment for you. First read War and Peace, all 1,296 pages of it, and then tackle the 832 pages of Anna Karenina, both by Leo Tolstoy. Pay particular attention to the supporting characters, and the differences between the Tsarist society of the Napoleonic wars of War and Peace and the later time period of Anna Karenina. Tests and essays determining how well you have learned the books will comprise a large part of your grade.

“Oh, and the test may happen any day now, so I suggest you best get cracking.”

Do you think you could successfully navigate through the required 2,000+ pages of Russian prose with complete understanding? Do you think you would have the time to finish the reading and fully grasp the subtleties of Tsarist society of 19th century Russia in the short time allotted? Do you think the professor is a complete idiot to pile this load of work on you in such a small time? Doesn’t he know that you have other classes and activities you are responsible for?

But this is exactly what the Senate is doing. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before the Senate clocks in at 2,074 pages, making it slightly shorter than the 2,128 pages in the Tolstoy reading assignment. To make it even, feel free to skip the last part of Anna Karenina after the title character dies, and Tolstoy rambles on about his Mary Sue.

Do you think any Senator has actually read this monstrosity of a bill? And do you think any Senator fully understands what is in the bill? And worse still, do you think any Senator has an understanding of the unintended consequences that will arise by the passing of this bill? Or do you think this is just a naked power-grab by Washington D.C.?

A power-grab? Surely not! It’s not like government has already grabbed the reigns of power over the economy already. Oh, wait, it has already begun.

William Boyes, an economics professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, estimates that the government now owns or controls businesses that generate about one-third of U.S. economic activity.

And adding the medical industry’s 17-18% of the U.S. economy under the thumb of the government will raise the level of the government’s control close to, if not past, the 50% mark. But don’t you dare call President Obama a socialist!

Obama took months to pick out a dog for the family, and he has yet to pick a church to attend, but the mind-boggling complexity of the health industry, the planned reforms, and their unintended consequences don’t need careful scrutiny. Nope, it’s already passed the House, and the Senate is rushing toward a vote with the grace and understanding of the long-range ramifications as a college kid homing in on the frat house beer keg. And when I say rushing, I mean it. The Senate may have a procedural vote on the bill today, when normally Saturdays are reserved for pressing the flesh of their home-state constituents. But not when it’s time to ram home a double novel sized health care bill.

I have to wonder if the people of 19th century Russia who were complaining so loudly about the corruption and abuses of power under the Tsars would have been so anxious to support their overthrow if they had foreseen the corruption and abuses of power under the later communists? It’s the unforeseen consequences that will always get you when you rush into a massive change. Do you think the people cheering the fall of the Tsars and the rise of the communists in 1917 were also cheering for political repression, economic depression, and the murder of 20 million people under Stalin? I don’t believe so. I think they were just caught up in the moment as they called for change. People forget that change can also be for the worse.

Anna Karenina starts with the best line of the whole novel: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Once government has successfully taken over our health care industry, every unhappy family will be unhappy in the same way — the unhappiness that comes from reduced freedoms and government oppression. And reduced freedoms and government oppression is exactly what you get when the Senate rushes to pass a 2,074 page long bill that they haven’t even read.

“What’s in the bill? Who cares?!? Change!”

Oil

One of the rallying cries during the lead-up to the liberation of Iraq was the oft-shouted “No blood for oil!” This is a cute and snappy slogan, but it has no basis in fact. If the U. S. were really that greedy for oil, Kuwait would have become the 51st State a decade ago. Nor would it take much force to occupy Saudi Arabia. But oil did play an important part in the lead-up to the fighting in Iraq.

In 1996, a U.N. plan was implemented to feed the people of Iraq. For years Iraq was under a trade embargo as a result of invading Kuwait. The plan was informally called the “Oil for Food” program, and it allowed Iraq to sell its oil at dirt-cheap prices in exchange for humanitarian aid, mainly food and medicines. This plan ran for about seven years under the direct control of the U.N. In January of this year, the Iraqi newspaper al-Mada published a list of 270 names of people and organizations whom the newspaper found in Iraqi oil ministry documents. These were the people and organizations who took part in the Oil for Food program. Dick Morris sums up some of the people involved in a New York Post article:

The list of those receiving these bribes includes France’s former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (who’s a leader of Chirac’s party) and Patrick Maugein, the head of the French Oil firm Soco International. France’s former U.N. ambassador, Jean-Bernard Merimee, got vouchers to sell 11 million barrels.

In Russia, the payoff chain reached right into the “office of the Russian president.” President Vladimir Putin’s Peace and Unity Party also got vouchers, as did the Soviet-era Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov and the Russian Orthodox Church. Nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky shared in the largesse.

Who were the three biggest opponents to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq? Who were the three biggest beneficiaries of the Oil for Food program? Why, in both cases these were France, Russia, and the U.N. Basically, Saddam had bought their opposition to the war with oil bribes. Oil certainly did play a part in the fighting in Iraq, but oil wasn’t the reason why the U.S. invaded. Oil was the reason behind the people crying out for the status quo. After all, they had a sweet deal going on.

If someone tells you the U.S. invaded Iraq because of oil, congratulations! You have just discovered someone who doesn’t have a clue. Feel free to give them their sign.

Torture

In April, news broke of Americans and other Coalition soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. In one photo, soldiers grin behind a pile of naked Iraqis. Another shows a female soldier grinning and pointing to naked Iraqis. Americans and Arabs are understandably upset about this. After all, Americans value human dignity, and the Iraqis in the pictures have had this dignity robbed from them. And Arabs are upset because the photographs seem to show just how evil the satanic American crusaders have become.

I want a full investigation of those involved because I value human life and dignity. But to be honest, I’m not all that torn up by these photos. Regardless of how much is true and how much is fake, the “torture” displayed by the Coalition doesn’t hold a candle to the real torture the Iraqis endured under Saddam’s rule. On one hand we have a pile of naked people, and on the other hand we have thousands shot, starved, macheted, stung, and maimed by Saddam.

America is being blamed for this because we have standards and we clearly failed to live up to them. But Saddam didn’t have any standards, and the world seemed willing to give him a pass. If France, Russia, the U.N., and American liberals had their way, Saddam would still be in charge, and the real torture and rape rooms would still be in full swing.

The Draft

Early this year, Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel introduced a bill to reinstate the military draft. “I truly believe that those who make the decision and those who support the United States going into war would feel more readily the pain that’s involved, the sacrifice that’s involved, if they thought that the fighting force would include the affluent and those who historically have avoided this great responsibility,” Rangel said.

Liar. This has nothing to do with making sure the children of the rich serve, and everything to do with forcing people to serve against their wishes.

During the Vietnam War, college campuses rocked with anti-war demonstrations. One main reason was the understandable anger of being forced to serve a cause that one did not believe in or support. Modern liberals like Rep. Rangel hope that by reinstating the military draft, they will foment the same anti-war emotions and demonstrations in which they participated during the ’60s and ’70s. These liberals care less about making sure our military is fully staffed and funded than they do about creating the same kind of anti-war demonstrations they remember from their younger, less informed days.

I cannot support this push for the draft because I can see the cynical purpose behind it. But even if the draft were proposed by conservative leaders, I would still be against it. This is one area where my libertarian feelings rise to the surface, and I agree wholeheartedly with what Robert A. Heinlein said back in 1961:

Conscription is slavery – and I don’t think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone – no matter what name it is called. We have had a draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain!

America will go down the drain if it cannot inspire enough citizens to put their lives on the line to defend it. Or as stated in another place:

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.