Con­trast­ing the shut­down to the roll­out

Oba­macare pun­ishes not hun­dreds, but mil­lions

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - By An­drew P. Napoli­tano

Here is a quick pop quiz. Which pre­sented more harm to hu­man life and per­sonal free­dom: the 16-day par­tial shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment last month or the roll­out of Oba­macare this month? Oba­macare is the great­est sin­gle ex­pan­sion of fed­eral reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity in Amer­i­can his­tory. In one stroke, it puts 16 per­cent of Amer­i­can eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity — vir­tu­ally all of health care and health insurance — un­der the thumb of fed­eral bu­reau­crats. It dic­tates the min­i­mum insurance cov­er­age that ev­ery­one in the United States must have.

It pun­ishes se­verely, with­out a hear­ing, any­one who de­vi­ates be­low the pre­scribed min­i­mum. It forces nearly all Amer­i­cans to ac­quire cov­er­age in a one-size-fits-all pol­icy, in­clud­ing cov­er­age for events that can­not oc­cur.

Oba­macare was passed by both houses of Congress with sup­port from Democrats only, us­ing par­lia­men­tary tricks, rather than straight up-or-down votes. All the Democrats voted for it af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama promised them and the Amer­i­can peo­ple ad nau­seam that if they like their cur­rent doc­tor and if they like their cur­rent health insurance, they would be able to keep them un­der Oba­macare.

The law was found con­sti­tu­tional by the Supreme Court only af­ter the chief jus­tice — who ac­knowl­edged in his opin­ion in the case that Congress lacks the au­thor­ity to com­pel peo­ple to en­gage in in­ter­state com­merce by

Morocco’s King Mo­hammed VI ar­rives in Wash­ing­ton this Thurs­day, and since he has made clear his in­ter­est in deep­en­ing the U.S.-Moroc­can re­la­tion­ship, he will likely be re­ceived by Pres­i­dent Obama. He will em­pha­size is­sues on which the United States and Morocco agree, but he should also be pre­pared to deal with is­sues on which his coun­try and poli­cies are squarely at odds with Amer­i­can val­ues and in­ter­ests. Namely, th­ese are on­go­ing hu­man rights abuses and the sta­tus of the Western Sa­hara, both of which are cur­rently con­tribut­ing to in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

It is far from cer­tain, how­ever, whether Mr. Obama will even raise th­ese is­sues dur­ing their meet­ing. If the meet­ing with the king con­cludes with­out the pres­i­dent rais­ing them, his fail­ure to do so will be taken as U.S. ap­proval of Morocco’s poli­cies.

Free­dom House, in the watch­dog group’s most re­cent an­nual re­port, ranked Western Sa­hara with the “Worst of the Worst.” In terms of po­lit­i­cal, civil rights and hu­man­i­tar­ian abuse, this puts the king­dom in the same cat­e­gory as North Korea, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, China for its mis­treat­ment of oc­cu­pied Ti­betan peo­ple, and Syria for its on­go­ing abuse of its own peo­ple.

Morocco talks about re­form, but con­tin­ues to jail dis­si­dents. Most re­cently, for ex­am­ple, the king’s se­cu­rity forces ar­rested Ali Anou­zla, one of Morocco’s fore­most jour­nal­ists and a critic of the king.

Morocco’s con­tin­u­ing oc­cu­pa­tion of the Western Sa­hara and mis­treat­ment of those liv­ing there — in spite of in­ter­na­tional and United Na­tions’ in­sis­tence that the peo­ple of the re­gion be given a right to vote on their sta­tus — is of even greater sig­nif­i­cance. When Spain left what had been known in colo­nial times as the Span­ish Sa­hara in 1975, Morocco seized it and has oc­cu­pied it ever since. The U.N. rec­og­nizes Western Sa­hara as a “non-self-gov­ern­ing ter­ri­tory,” and many sim­ply call it the “last colony of Africa.” The African Union has re­fused to al­low the an­nex­a­tion of Western Sa­hara to be a hur­dle to Sa­hawaris’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in African af­fairs, and has made Western Sa­hara a full mem­ber of the union.

Western Sa­hara’s sta­tus has not been fully for­got­ten by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, though. Christo­pher Ross, a for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Al­ge­ria and Syria, is now serv­ing as the U.N. sec­re­tarygen­eral’s spe­cial en­voy and has been en­gaged in ac­tive “shut­tle diplo­macy” in an ef­fort to help re­solve this long-stand­ing dis­pute. For­mer Sec­re­tary of State James A. Baker pre­ceded Mr. Ross in this ef­fort, but nei­ther have made much progress — and won’t — un­til and un­less the pres­i­dent makes clear that the United States wants it re­solved. forc­ing them to pur­chase a good they don’t want — changed his mind on the ul­ti­mate out­come of the chal­lenge. In or­der to save the law from im­mi­nent con­sti­tu­tional ex­tinc­tion, he cre­ated a novel le­gal the­ory, and he per­suaded the four pro­gres­sives on the court to join him.

They ruled that the pun­ish­ment for the fail­ure to ob­tain the level of health care cov­er­age that the law re­quires is ac­tu­ally a tax. Then the court ruled that be­cause Congress can con­sti­tu­tion­ally tax any event, it can tax non­events (like the fail­ure to pur­chase health insurance), and so the en­tire scheme is con­sti­tu­tional be­cause it is re­ally just a tax law.

The Supreme Court, lawyers some­times say, is in­fal­li­ble be­cause it is fi­nal; it is not fi­nal be­cause it is in­fal­li­ble. I am a stu­dent of the court, and I re­vere it. It can change the laws of the land, but it can’t change the laws of eco­nom­ics. When Oba­macare or­dered all insurance car­ri­ers in the land to cease of­fer­ing health care plans that pro­vide insurance cov­er­age be­low the fed­er­ally man­dated min­i­mum, they nat­u­rally be­gan to can­cel those plans. When the new health care ex­changes that Oba­macare es­tab­lished failed to find cov­er­age for those for­merly in­sured by the sub­stan­dard plans, those who had th­ese plans and liked them sud­denly were told that on Jan. 1, 2014, when Oba­macare be­comes ef­fec­tive, they will have no health insurance. The old insurance cov­er­age will be il­le­gal, and there is no new cov­er­age for them.

Why were th­ese sub­stan­dard plans can­celed when the pres­i­dent re­peat­edly promised that they could be kept? Didn’t the pres­i­dent know that he was not be­ing truth­ful when he signed a bill into law that man­dated min­i­mum cov­er­age, yet promised that plans that failed to meet that min­i­mum cov­er­age could sur­vive the law? How is it that emails from the West Wing to the White House and le­gal briefs filed by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice de­fend­ing Oba­macare in var­i­ous fed­eral courts ac­knowl­edged that mil­lions would lose the doc­tors and the cov­er­age that they liked?

One of the rea­sons many Amer­i­cans had their poli­cies can­celed this month is the fail­ure of those poli­cies to con­form to the new fed­eral min­i­mum re­quire­ments. At the heart and soul

Mr. Obama should make it clear to the king that he agrees with the U.N. that the sta­tus of the Western Sa­hara should be de­cided by ref­er­en­dum. The U.N. es­tab­lished a peace­keep­ing mis­sion in 1991 to sup­port just such a ref­er­en­dum, aptly called the U.N. Mis­sion for the Ref­er­en­dum in Western Sa­hara, but the ref­er­en­dum has yet to take place.

Most such U.N. mis­sions in­clude a hu­man rights mon­i­tor­ing com­po­nent, but this one does not. The United States sought to chal­lenge this anom­aly last spring at the United Na­tions, but backed down of Oba­macare is the power of bu­reau­crats to tell ev­ery­one what cov­er­age to have. At the core of Oba­macare is the re­moval of in­di­vid­ual choice from the de­ci­sion to pur­chase health care cov­er­age. The goal of Oba­macare is high­end cov­er­age for ev­ery­one — brought about by Soviet-style cen­tral plan­ning, not in re­sponse to free-mar­ket forces.

From the per­spec­tive of the cen­tral plan­ners who con­cocted Oba­macare, min­i­mum insurance cov­er­age is the sine qua non of the statute. They want you to pay for cov­er­age you will not need or ever use, so that the insurance car­ri­ers when Morocco ob­jected. In­stead of agree­ing to let the peo­ple of the re­gion de­ter­mine their own fu­ture, the king has of­fered what he calls “au­ton­omy” to the Western Sa­hara. The irony of of­fer­ing “au­ton­omy” to a group of peo­ple liv­ing in an area seized and held by mil­i­tary force is hard to miss. Amer­ica’s Founders would likely not have ac­cepted such an of­fer of “au­ton­omy” within the Bri­tish Em­pire in 1776, and the Western Sa­ha­ran peo­ple don’t want such an ar­range­ment to­day. They want their coun­try back.

In his 2009 speech in Cairo, Mr. Obama warned that we should not “ig­nore sources of ten­sion, [rather] … we must fi­nally con­front to­gether,” and went on to out­line four is­sues, in­clud­ing democ­racy, that must re­main at the heart of the di­a­logue be­tween the United States and coun­tries in the Mid­dle East. He elo­quently ar­gued that gov­ern­ment ac­tions must re­flect the will of its peo­ple, not­ing how peo­ple yearn for free­dom of ex­pres­sion, rule of law and trans­par­ent gov­er­nance. He ar­gued that th­ese are not only Amer­i­can but in­ter­na­tional val­ues, and that gov­ern­ments that pro­tect th­ese rights are “more sta­ble, suc­cess­ful and se­cure.”

If he meant what he said back then, Mr. Obama should ask that the Moroc­can king sup­port the U.N.-led process and agree to a dead­line — prefer­ably in early 2014 — to bring this oc­cu­pa­tion to an end. He should also in­sist that the king or­der the re­lease of all po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, im­me­di­ately.

We should wel­come the king’s visit. Morocco is a friend and ally of the United States, but that friend­ship should not come at the price of a re­quire­ment that we ig­nore our val­ues or re­main silent in the face of even a friendly na­tion’s vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights. In a ma­ture re­la­tion­ship be­tween al­lies, the king must ex­pect the pres­i­dent of the United States to raise th­ese ques­tions, and the pres­i­dent should do so.

Mr. Obama has spo­ken out in fa­vor of democ­racy and hu­man rights, but now he has a real chance to demon­strate that he means what he says. will have ex­tra cash on hand to fund cov­er­age for those who can­not af­ford high-end poli­cies. This is where the laws of eco­nom­ics en­ter. By forc­ing all car­ri­ers to of­fer only high-end poli­cies, the statute forced the car­ri­ers to raise their rates. By rais­ing rates, the sub­stan­dard poli­cies — with their lower rates — could no longer be of­fered. If the gov­ern­ment forced ev­ery­one to buy a Mercedes when most are per­fectly happy with an Acura, soon the Acuras would dis­ap­pear from the mar­ket, and most of us would be walk­ing to work.

Now back to our pop quiz. When Congress was un­able to agree on a bud­get for this cur­rent fis­cal year be­cause Tea Party Repub­li­cans saw this mess com­ing and wanted to dull its st­ing, and con­gres­sional Democrats re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate with them, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment par­tially shut down. The Democrats and the main­stream me­dia went wild. They claimed the gov­ern­ment would de­fault on its obli­ga­tions and that mil­lions would suf­fer with­out the con­ve­niences nor­mally of­fered by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Yet, the only in­con­ve­nience we re­ally heard about was the in­abil­ity of a few hun­dred folks to visit fed­eral parks and mon­u­ments. All fed­eral ser­vices — de­fense, the courts, the air­ports, cus­toms and meat in­spec­tors — con­tin­ued to op­er­ate the same as be­fore the shut­down.

Yet, when Oba­macare was rolled out ear­lier this month, more than 5.5 mil­lion in­no­cent Amer­i­cans lost their health insurance. The pres­i­dent knew of this in ad­vance and lied about it re­peat­edly, and caused it with the one-size-fits-all men­tal­ity of his sig­na­ture piece of leg­is­la­tion. Last week, he caved and said that folks who have the old sub­stan­dard poli­cies could keep them for another year. This was too lit­tle and too late. He can no more change fed­eral law than he can change the laws of eco­nom­ics, and he knows that.

In mod­ern times, we have en­dured great lies told in the White House. One great lie was about a third-rate bur­glary, and it ended in a pres­i­den­tial res­ig­na­tion. Another great lie was about a pri­vate sex­ual af­fair, and it ended in a pres­i­den­tial im­peach­ment. The cur­rent great lies are about the health and free­dom of 5.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans. How will this mess end?

Nan A. Talese/Dou­bleday, $27.95, 299 pages

Dur­ing a busi­ness con­fer­ence in Krakow in 2002, Paul Glaser, a Dutch busi­ness­man, re­luc­tantly joined his col­leagues in a visit to the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp. In a dis­play of con­fis­cated lug­gage, “a large brown suit­case . . . glued [him] to the spot.” The suit­case was from the Nether­lands and the la­bel at­tached read “Glaser” in large let­ters. The suit­case gave Mr. Glaser the im­pe­tus to re­veal his fam­ily’s se­cret, that his ori­gins were Jewish and that his aunt, Rosie, had led one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary lives of the 20th cen­tury.

Paul Glaser had grown up as a strict Catholic. He knew his mother came from a Catholic fam­ily, but about his fa­ther’s back­ground he knew noth­ing. His re­search ul­ti­mately led him to Swe­den and his fa­ther’s sis­ter, Rosa Glaser.

Rosie was born in 1914 of Dutch par­ents in the Ger­man town of Cleves near the Dutch bor­der. Rosie knew she was Jewish, but she and her younger brother, John, grew up in a sec­u­lar house­hold. She was pretty, in­de­pen­dent, lively and pas­sion­ate about dance. By the time she was 25, she had taught ball­room danc­ing all over Europe and had an ac­tive love life.

Rosie’s first love was killed in a plane crash; she mar­ried (and di­vorced) Leo, the owner of the danc­ing school where she taught; she had an af­fair with a charm­ing, ir­re­spon­si­ble young man and, by 1942, she was en­gaged to a Swiss busi­ness­man she met in one of her classes.

Af­ter the Ger­mans marched into the Nether­lands, Jews were no longer al­lowed “to eat in restau­rants, visit ho­tels, go to the cin­ema, walk along the beach, take a stroll in the park” or to travel. Rosie re­fused to wear the yel­low star iden­ti­fy­ing her as a Jew, or to honor the new re­stric­tions. Forced to give up the danc­ing school she had started af­ter her sep­a­ra­tion from Leo, she opened a se­cret school in her par­ents’ at­tic.

She was be­trayed twice, once by her ex-hus­band and once by her lover, and sent to prison and to two con­cen­tra­tion camps in Hol­land. Thanks to her straight­for­ward na­ture, her abil­ity to dance and sing for pris­on­ers and guards, and her flu­ent Ger­man, she worked as a nurse, sec­re­tary and model for gar­ments made by in­mates for po­ten­tial buy­ers. She se­duced the Dutch SS of­fi­cer in charge of pris­on­ers’ des­tinies at Camp Wester­bork and spent “re­laxed and cozy evenings” with him.

Rosie was de­ported to Auschwitz in 1943, where she was as­signed to the Ex­per­i­ment Bar­racks. Af­ter un­der­go­ing a se­ries of med­i­cal ex­per­i­ments, in­clud­ing painful ster­il­iza­tion and ty­phoid in­jec­tions, she re­fused to vol­un­teer for fur­ther ex­per­i­ments. She was sent to Birke­nau ex­ter­mi­na­tion camp “to ac­com­pany and re­as­sure the pris­on­ers be­fore they went for a so-called shower” and then “to drag the still warm-corpses out­side.”

Af­ter six weeks, she marched up to the group leader and spoke to him in Ger­man, telling him she wanted to be trans­ferred to the fac­tory where shells and grenades were man­u­fac­tured.

Her luck held out; she soon was given an ad­min­is­tra­tive job in the fac­tory’s of­fice.

Rosie of­fered to play the pi­ano and dance for the SS of­fi­cers’ evening get-to­geth­ers. She sug­gested teach­ing the of­fi­cers the lat­est dance steps and be­came her boss’ mis­tress, “a lit­tle love in the midst of de­spair, in that fac­tory of death, that de­monic en­ter­prise.”

Rosie sur­vived Birke­nau and the death march west away from the ad­vanc­ing Rus­sian army. She was res­cued by the Swedish Red Cross, mar­ried a Swede and started a new life, dis­gusted by the way she and her fam­ily had been treated by the Dutch, not­ing that the “pro­por­tion of Jews mur­dered in the Nether­lands was higher than in any of its neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ger­many. . . . I was un­lucky not be­cause I had been born Jewish, but be­cause I had been born Dutch.”

Paul, who “had al­ways thought there had been much re­sis­tance dur­ing the war, that the Dutch gov­ern­ment had done as much as pos­si­ble for its op­pressed cit­i­zens,” was shocked to dis­cover that “many of my fel­low cit­i­zens par­tic­i­pated and prof­ited. There was more be­trayal than re­sis­tance.”

In writ­ing “Danc­ing with the Enemy,” Mr. Glaser’s sources were Rosie’s di­ary, her let­ters, pho­tos and old films, and a va­ri­ety of other doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing po­ems, songs and of­fi­cial re­ports from the Dutch State Po­lice. He in­ter­viewed his mother, cousins and Rosie her­self. The book is di­vided into chap­ters al­ter­nat­ing be­tween first-per­son ac­counts by Rosie of her life and by Paul as he un­cov­ers his Jewish back­ground. Un­for­tu­nately, the writ­ing in “Danc­ing with the Enemy” is not as good as the riv­et­ing story. Rosie’s and Paul’s voices are not dis­tinct. With­out a bib­li­og­ra­phy, it’s im­pos­si­ble to tell what is au­then­tic and what is the au­thor’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of his source ma­te­ri­als. No trans­la­tor is given credit for the English ver­sion.

What is un­de­ni­able, how­ever, is Rosie’s fear­less strength in fac­ing her fate and her re­fusal to be­come a vic­tim. She refers lit­tle to the bru­tal­ity she en­coun­tered, but fre­quently men­tions the lit­tle kind­nesses ex­tended by the Ger­mans. The will to sur­vive is pow­er­ful in­deed.


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