Friday, June 29, 2012

The Disembowelment of Obamacare?

Like most Americans, I have not read the 900, or 2,500, or2,700 pages (depending upon who your ask) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It apparently is such a monstrousity that few people can agree even on its length.

I doubt the justices of the Supreme Court read the act in its entirety either.

They ruled that it is constitutional, to the surprise of many court observers.

I have not read  their opinion in its entirety, either.

From the "chattering classes" on television, we learned, however, several things from the ruling.

First, we learned that the Supreme Court finally found a limit to the extent to which Congress can use the “commerce clause” to enact whatever legislation it wants. Enumerated powers is something one only hears about in middle school civics classes these days, never on Capitol Hill.

Second, we learned that the incentive to force people to purchase health insurance is not a penalty, but a tax.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi said that Congress must pass the bill in order to find out what is in it:

Apparently, President Obama did not know what was in it either. He had to wait until the recent Supreme Court decision to find out that the mandate was a tax.

Third, we learned that the greatest expense of the PPACA has been thrown out. Or have we? No one in the “chattering classes” has addressed it. While the mandate, whether construed as a “tax” or a “penalty” may force those who can afford it to purchase health insurance, the mechanism for universal health care—the most expensive part of the PPACA-- has been thrown out. The PPACA required that states expand Medicare coverage beyond the elderly and those with special conditions to include anyone who falls below 133% of the poverty level. Moreover, the law empowered the Department of HHS to remove all Medicare funds from any state who failed to comply.

On page 51 of the Supreme Court decision, Roberts wrote that

In this case, the financial “inducement” Congress has chosen is much more than “relatively mild encouragement”—it is a gun to the head.

The administration claimed that this provision was simply a lawful modification of the existing Medicare program.

The court ruled, however, that

It is no longer a program to care for the neediest among us, but rather an element of a comprehensive national plan to provide universal health insurance coverage.

On the basis that the PPACA is a new program and not an expansion of Medicare, the Court ruled that  government does not have the power to coerce the states.

They threw the most expensive—and expansive—part of the PPACA.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another Thing Obama Did Right

While it is on my mind, another thing Obama did right.

When singer rapper Kanye West interrupted an awards ceremony honoring Taylor Swift to rant about the great song of video by Beyonce, it evoked the response from Obama that everyone, including the very embarrassed Beyonce, no doubt felt.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Thing Obama Did Right

Several recent posts criticized various aspects of our President's ideas and performance.

But what has he done right?

President Obama started out well at his nomination:

It sure beats the open-mouthed greeting that Al gave Tipper the last time around:

That's the kind of openness in government we can do without.

And we all know what happened later. . .

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Comedy Relief from Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi this week again provided some comedy relief during some intense political moments.

In the midst of a congressional committee investigation of the "Fast and Furious" gun running operation by the ATF, the stakes suddenly became higher when President Obama asserted "executive privilege" when the committee demanded additional internal documents from Eric Holder's Department of Justice.

In a great example of "the paranoid style" of politics, or else the comedy relief that comes from just plain stupidity, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi discerned the REAL reason behind the investigation:

This is not the first time Pelosi brought us a little comedy relief:

Here she forgets that natural gas IS a fossil fuel . . .

500 million jobs lost . . .

Pass the bill so we can learn what is in it . . .

Economic stimulus of sexually transmitted disease . . .

The word . . .

An appropriate cell from the old comic strip Nancy showing the results of Pelosi's progressivism.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Case You Didn't Know

In case you did not know, June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

On 31 May, President Obama issued this proclamation from the White House.

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people."

As is the case in most of these Presidential proclamations, it does not say much of any importance. These proclamations simply recognize in some way the particular constituency which they concern. Ultimately, the hope is that these proclamations will firm up or garner new votes in the election.

Aside from that, the only point of this particular proclamation, as Obama says in the conclusion quoted above, is for Americans to "eliminate prejudice" and "celebrate the great diversity of the American people." A noble goal, to be sure. Of course, its achievement is made more difficult when people accentuate their differences in the name of "diversity" and "multiculturalism." That seems to set the stage for conflict.

But what about other claims in the proclamation?

The President devotes most of the proclamation touting his administrations achievements on behalf of LGBT people.

 The President reminds readers that his administration revoked the  "Don't Ask Don't Tell." According to the President, that means  that "Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized." I am not really sure how this strengthens our national security. And I do not understand how the public recognition of any soldier's courage will be enhanced by learning about his or her individual sexuality. "Wow, all that heroism, and he's gay, too?" I just do not believe that most people are interested in the sexual orientation of our soldiers, or anybody else for that matter.

The President then lauds his administration for advocating for rights of LBGT people and for the participation of LGBT organizations around the globe. Since LGBT rights are human rights, according to modern progressivism, they "trump" any notions of multiculturalism, cultural diversity, and toleration of other cultures around the globe--especially in the Muslim world.

The President asserts that  "we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act." Of course, those acts do no such thing. They accord special legal distinctions to crimes committed against minorities and homosexuals; they contribute nothing in the way of prevention.

The President reminds readers of the first White House conference on bullying.

Finally, the President pledges to "expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care." While care remains incredibly expensive, it is difficult to imagine how much easier one can make access to prevention. If a person can make his way to the family planning section of a grocery or drug store, he can secure adequate means of prevention--condoms.

The most important part of the message contained the essence of modern progressivism: "that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all."  Establishing justice, as everyone knows, it the most basic function of government. And justice guides, or at least should guide, the way we think about liberty and equality.

The problem is that in the eyes of modern progressivism, the parameters of justice are never defined. Whenever progressives see something they do not approve, they call it "injustice" and seek to change it.

This means that no social or political question is ever settled.

There will never be an end in the quest for "justice" and the expansion of government power in that quest.

Meanwhile, CBS News among other reports on the celebration of LGBT Pride month in the military.

This evokes fond memories of, well, you know:

Good to see that progressives have "progressed" in their attitudes about homosexuality. When Monty Python mocked the military and martial virtues in the early 1970s, they likened military men to prissy, effete homosexuals. (This clip came out on television before the man who introduced the skit, Graham Chapman, "came out" himself.)

But now homosexual men are manly,  brave, and heroic.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marriage Rites and Marriage Rights

Some advocates of same-sex marriage have taken to emphasizing a distinction between religious marriage--or marriage rites, and civil marriage--marriage rights.  They suggest a "compromise" solution to the marriage wars that includes removing religious aspects of marriage from the legal realm and confining them to the churches. That way, they argue, religious conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage remain free to conduct private religious ceremonies that inform those occasions with the spiritual meaning derived from their particular religious tradition. Meanwhile, they say, civil or legal marriage would contain no religious connotations and would be open, of course, to any couples regardless of gender.

This argument does not really say anything important. Marriage rites already are distinct from marriage rights.

So it is difficult to really disagree with the general principle.

As a conservative, however, I see no reason to change the status quo about how that principle is currently applied.

What that means is, let's continue to keep religious notions of marriage in the church. That way, homosexual couples remain free to hold private religious ceremonies in any liberal, mainline Christian Church that will inform the ceremony with whatever spiritual meaning they derived from their own religious tradition. Meanwhile, the states can continue to recognize only biologically- based marriage and issue licences only to heterosexual couples.

There now. That was easy. We've brought an end to the marriage wars.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Evolution and Marriage

President Barack Obama recently announced his support for same-sex marriage. He utilized the biological concept of "evolution" as an analogy to describe is changing views. Evolution, of course, describes the changes that living organisms experience over generations as they move from simple to more complex physical structures through mutations and natural selection.

What about marriage and evolution as a biological concept instead of an analogy?

I do not see how biological evolution supports same-sex marriage.

Marriage between a man and a woman is a social convention that we can define anyway we want as a society,  but it is based upon natural processes. Over the course of four million years, biological evolution has selected two genders for the reproduction and rearing of offspring to perpetuate the human species. Human reproductive organs possess an evolved compatibility. The male's external reproductive organs and the female's mostly internal reproductive organs when properly functioning enable intercourse and reproduction. Although instinct does not determine human behavior the same way that it does in other species, natural processes involving various visual, auditory, and olfactory cues influence human mating. Facial appearance, voice pitch, and the more subtle influences of pheromones such androstadienone and copulence draw the sexes together. Sexual desire itself as a visceral urge is expressed through human reproductive faculties. These biological phenomena assist in establishing human mating generally and finding genetically advantageous mates specifically. The union between a man and a woman with the potentiality for children is an essential property of the concept of marriage.

For some interesting  research on this see here.

Men and women engage in sexual intercourse. They have children. They form kinship networks based upon consanguinity.

Same-sex couples do none of these things. Through some malfunction of nature, probably through hormonal deficiency during intrauterine development, about one percent of people inherit  an orientation for the same sex. They pick up on the wrong visual, auditory, and olfactory cues. Some of these people appear to have some kind of gender identity disorder as well.

 This presents a biological and social problem. Same-sex couple cannot engage in sexual intercourse, properly speaking. Same-sex couples cannot give birth to biological children. Same-sex couples cannot form kinship networks based upon consanguinity. Consequently, there seems to be no compelling reason to provide legal recognition to same-sex relationships.