Monday, April 21, 2014

Heaven is For Real


The movie "Heaven is For Real" has been generating some buzz lately, both from Christians who are looking to the story as proof of the truth of the Bible, and from atheists seeking to discount the story.

Someone asked me if I believe that the little boy's experience was real. The best answer I can provide is "I don't know, and it doesn't really matter." It is not likely to convince anyone who has already decided to reject God in order to deny his moral authority over his life. But from my viewpoint, even if we knew that his experience was the result of brain chemistry caused by his near-death condition, that doesn't disprove the reality of heaven.

I tend to look at most accounts of "near death experiences" with some degree of skepticism. With a few exceptions in the times of the Bible, heaven is only experienced after death, and death is a one-way street. If you are not dead, you are not experiencing heaven, and if you come back to life in this world, you were not dead. I've heard people say "I was dead for 8 minutes before I was resuscitated." If you are walking around telling this story, you were not dead. Hebrews 9:27 says that you die once, and after that comes judgement.

There are complicating factors in "Heaven is For Real". How did the boy know facts about the baby that his parents had lost? I can't answer that question. Maybe in that moment, God revealed it to him. Maybe someone had told him. Or maybe it was a remarkable case of intuition. On the other side of the scale, why did he describe Jesus as looking like Kenny Loggins? Maybe that's how Jesus chose to reveal himself, or maybe it was a projection of his own subconscious preconceptions of what Jesus would look like.

Regardless of what I think of this movie and the events behind it, I believe that heaven is real, not because someone saw it and reported back to me about it, but because I know the God who reigns there. The reality which can not be denied is that He has transformed me into a new creation. I have not seen heaven, but I know that it is real like I know the force of gravity. Attempts to prove it empirically are doomed to fail. That is why it requires faith. Not a leap of faith into darkness, but a confident step onto the solid ground of God's love, proven to us on the cross.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Obamacare succeeds in keeping uninsured rate level



Today Gallop released the results of a huge poll to measure the results of the full implementation of the Obamacare law. Read about it here. It found that the White House claim that they have enrolled 7.1 million people is a bit off. The true number is roughly 3.5 million, or less than half of what they claimed. This is not an aberration for the Obama administration, which routinely announces positive job reports with great fanfare, only to quietly revise them downwards a couple of months later. Signing up 3.5 million people is not a great accomplishment when they started off by kicking 5 million people out of their existing coverage with the individual mandate.

So how did they get the number so wrong? After all, they run the web site.

Maybe they were counting all of their dead voters and the fictional people they registered via ACORN.

But the key line in this story is buried about half way down, and twisted to sound like a positive for BO.

But Gallup's numbers do show an improving trend. The share of Americans without coverage is at its lowest since late 2008, before Obama took office, the survey found. That's independent validation for the White House, and shows the country at least is not suffering from a net loss of insurance coverage due to cancellations. 

Let me get this straight. The big win for Obamacare is that the uninsured rate is the same as it was under Bush? We've wrecked the medical system and imposed a bunch of authoritarian mandates enforced by the IRS against hundreds of millions of Americans, but that is justified by the fact that the same number of people are still uninsured?

Wasn't Obamacare sold on the promise of ushering us to the promised land of universal coverage? They told us that the law would cover all of the 43 million uninsured people languishing in the gutter, but now they claim victory when they say that 7.1 million people have signed up, and the real number is half of that. Do you remember all of the Facebook lemmings posting drivel like "No one should die because they can't afford health care, or go broke because they get sick. If you agree, post this as your status today." Those sycophants are still defending Obamacare today, in spite of the fact that it has (predictably) failed to achieve it's stated utopian objective.

Last week when Obama made his decree in the Rose Garden that the debate on Obamacare is over and that history does not look favorably on people who stand in the way of American progress, he was employing the language of tyrants, proclaiming false propaganda to be true and forbidding dissent. No, Mr. President, the debate is not over. You don't get to declare the debate to be over. The American people get to decide if what you have done to us is "progress". We'll let you know in November. I think that is what you fear most.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why would Wendy Davis fabricate *this* story?



You have most likely seen the news stories about Wendy Davis, the hapless Democrat candidate for Governor of Texas, fabricating a tragic sob story about how she put herself through Harvard Law School as a single mom living in a trailer park. She told this story as part of her filibuster which destroyed her chance to be re-elected in her fairly conservative Texas Senate district, but catapulted her from obscurity to national fame and front-runner status for a chance to lose to Gregg Abbott. Fortunately, being a proponent of late-term abortion is not a positive in Texas, and that is all that sets Wendy Davis apart. Now the facts of Wendy's days at Harvard Law are coming out. Turns out, she was not a single mom when she attended Harvard Law. She was married to her second husband, who spent his life savings paying for her law degree. As soon as he had made the final payment, she divorced him and gave him the kid, too. Quite a different series of events from what she presented to the world.

But lets examine Wendy's tale of woe. Why would a Texas Senator wish to fabricate a story about herself as a single mom, when it didn't happen? Simple. Single motherhood qualifies an individual for sainthood in the religion of liberalism. Single mothers are held up as the ultimate in virtue and selflessness, in spite of the fact that they are ensuring that their kids have the worst possible chance of a happy and productive life. Single mothers are consulted as experts on all societal issues, trotted out as props by politicians and used as applause lines. Wendy no doubt believed that her claim of single mother status lent credibility to her position on late term abortion. But the fact is that kids raised by single mothers are harmed in numerous ways by the choices of their mother.

Single mothers are adored by liberals because of their made-to-order victim status, making them dependents on the father figure of government, useful as tools used to justify the expansion of the welfare state, and giving them blanket immunity from criticism. Establishing this status requires that they be seen as passive victims of their circumstances, with no control over their own lives. To perpetuate this image, divorced mothers and widowed mothers are often lumped in with single mothers. However, sociologists see these as distinct categories. Each of the studies I cite below has separate statistics for single mothers, divorced mothers, widowed mothers, divorced and re-married mothers, etc. Children of divorced or widowed mothers do much better than those whose mother wasn't married in the first place. Having a child is the result of a volitional choice. Making that choice without being prepared to raise a child in a family with a loving mother and father is irresponsible. A woman who becomes pregnant without being married has the option of putting her child up for adoption. Adopted children do as well or better, on average, than children raised by both biological parents, while children raised by a single mother have much worse odds. A woman who makes the choice to put her own children in the worst possible environment is not a hero. Of course, some kids raised by single mothers turn out just fine, and two-parent families sometimes produce some really rotten brats. But if you want the best for your kids, get married before you have kids, or find a way for them to be raised in a stable, two-parent family.

Women not married to the biological parent of their children fall into various categories. In about six percent of the cases, she is widowed. This is the most rare of the situations, and the only one where truly no one is at fault. Thirty four percent of the cases result from divorce. The division of blame varies widely in these cases, but I have never seen a case where one hundred percent of the fault belonged to one person. Finally, the largest group, at forty one percent, are women who got pregnant without bothering to get married at all. These are the ones I am focusing on in this article, in particular. With the exception of widows, these situations were created by the choices of the parents, but the kids have to deal with the consequences. It is the responsibility of the grown ups to make sure that their own kids have a mother and a father. Of course the father bears his share of the blame as well. But society doesn't treat fathers who abandon their children like they are angels in disguise, and you don't see politicians making up stories about how they got a girl pregnant and then ditched her.

Society's fawning adulation for single mothers has resulted in a huge increase in unmarried women choosing to have children without having a husband. We are supposed to ignore the damage caused by unwed mothers and admire them for their pluck. But where has that gotten us? And who speaks for the children who are the true victims here?In 1970, there were just three million single mothers in the United States. By 2011 that number had increased to eleven million.  In 1979, just 600,000 babies were born out of wedlock, and a quarter of them were put up for adoption. By 1991 that number had doubled to 1,225,000, and only 4% of them were allowed to be adopted. In 2003 more than 1.5 million babies were born to unwed mothers, and only 14,000, less than one percent, were put up for adoption. Having babies without being married has become socially acceptable, and even praiseworthy, and the results are devastating.

In 2004, Jason DeParle wrote an article in New York Times Magazine, concluding that "Mounds of social science, from the left and the right, leave little doubt that the children of single-parent families face heightened risks." The article cited a book by sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur as the definitive text on the topic, which said "In our opinion, the evidence is quite clear: Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents' race or educational background."

Social scientist Charles Murray said that "Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time -- more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare, or homelessness because it drives everything else."

Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent.

By 1996, 70% of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. 72% of juvenile murderers and 60% of rapists come from single-mother homes. 70% of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers are children raised by single mothers. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rate disappeared.

According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63% of all youth suicides, 70% of all teenage pregnancies, 71% of all all adolescent chemical abuse, 80% of all prison inmates, and 90% of all homeless children.

A study cited in the Village Voice found that children brought up in single-mother homes are "five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances, fourteen times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), twenty times more likely to end up in prison, and thirty two times more likely to run away from home."

Eighty five percent of parents who kill their children through neglect are single mothers

America does not have a problem with poverty so much as it has a problem with unmarried parents. The rash of single motherhood is breeding a huge underclass. Half of all single mothers in America are under the poverty line, making their children six times more likely to be in poverty than children with married parents. Single mothers account for 85% of homeless families. Ninety percent of welfare recipients are single mothers. Meanwhile, a black child has just an 8% chance of being in poverty, if her parents are married. According to Isabel Sawhill of the liberal Brookings Institution, nearly all of the increase in child poverty since 1970 is attributed to the increase in single-parent families. The 2004 New York Times article said that "if you dig down in the world of the underclass, you hit a geyser of father-yearning."

If an unborn baby could choose one thing about her parents which would maximize her chances of having a good life, her first choice would not relate to her parent's race or socioeconomic status. Her first wish would be that her mother is pro-life. Her second wish, close behind that one, would be that her mother and father are married. Mothers who chose to give their own children nearly the worst possible start in life are inflicting great harm on those children, who have no voice and no say in the matter.

Liberals glorify single mothers because it gives them instant victim status and feminist street cred. Yet the real victims are the children who, by no fault of their own, are brought up without a father. Society used to stigmatize children born out of wedlock. They were labeled "bastards" or "illegitimate children." Clearly the stigma was wrong and misplaced. It is not the child who is illegitimate. It is the parent. Instead of removing the stigma altogether, I suggest that it is time to place the stigma where it belongs: on the adults who have children without providing the stable family environment, with a loving mother and father, where children can thrive.

Single motherhood is the embodiment of the feminist vision: women without men. Except they are not without men. They are without one specific man with a personal interest in their particular children. But men--and women--across the country have been forcibly enlisted in the job of feeding, housing, and clothing single mothers and their children. Government policies are designed to support single mothers rather than prevent single motherhood. The annual cost of single mothers to US taxpayers is $112 billion. Churches, corporations, non-profits, and individuals are required to chip in to make up for single mothers' lack of husbands. "I am woman, hear me roar! Hey, where is my government check?"

So that brings us back to Wendy Davis, who believed that it would boost her career as a political candidate in the Democrat party to be seen as a single mother. She could have fabricated a story about being a community organizer, a Nobel laureate, President of the Harvard Student Body, or a Peace Corps member who built wells for poor villages in Nigeria, but she choose to make up a story about being a single mom. What does it tell you about an ideology that it views single motherhood as a selling point?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Stop listening to them already!

I have never understood the eagerness of some Repubicans to take strategic advice from liberal media pundits.

It happened back in 2008 when they proclaimed that John McCain was the only candidate who could beat Hillary, and enough Republicans bought it to give us one of the worst campaigns in recent history. Sure, John McCain was a war hero, but as a politician he hasn't done anything even remotely inspiring. His main qualification is that he regularly stabs his own party in the back.

It happened again in 2012, when we bypassed a number of solid conservatives to nominate the governor who implemented government healthcare remarkably similar to Obamacare in his home state. Who thought that it was a good idea to nominate a Wall Street insider in the middle of a recession triggered, at least in the public perception, by Wall Street?

Wake up, folks! These people offering us unsolicited advice on which Republicans can win elections don't want us to win! And they certainly don't want a principled conservative to win.

They are not all Democrats, either. There are plenty of "moderate" Republican types who don't want the "crony capitalist" status quo to be disrupted.

Let's take the recent election in Virginia as an example of their flawed thinking.

Reagan won re-election Virginia by a margin of 62% to 37%. So anyone who says that a true conservative can't win there is just wrong.

But Obama beat McCain in Virginia by 6 percent and Romney by 4 percent.

These candidates who were sold to us based on their electability rather than their merit lost in a state which Republicans have usually won.

The recent election of a new governor in Virginia featured a true conservative, Ken Cuccinelli, who successfully led the fight against Obamacare as Virginia's attorney general. The Republican party establishment wrote off Cuccinelli from the start, so his opponent outspent him four to one. Many Republicans in statewide offices actually endorsed the other guy. Democrats backed a fake "libertarian" candidate who had a record of backing taxes on mileage of your car, to steal away votes from Cuccinelli. In the last week of the election, all sorts of liberal starpower was brought in to back the Democrat. In addition to the usual Hollywood crowd, the Clintons and Obama himself stumped for the liberal. The media constantly predicted that Cuccinelli would lose by 14 percent or more. With the Democrats, the media, and most of his own party united against him, he ought to have lost badly.

He didn't win, but he lost by about two percent.

That is, he did better than McCain or Romney.

Now the same people are telling us that Chris Christie is the only candidate who can beat Hillary. This is the guy who was all to eager to implement Obamacare in his state, supports amnesty and gun control, and chums around with Obama. A real, solid, principled, articulate conservative like Ted Cruz can't win, we are told.

As the Obamacare disaster continues to crash and burn, voters in all fifty states will be ready for a real alternative. It's time to stop listening to the people who steer us towards more spineless moderates while their own hard left ideologues win. A real conservative can win. We have plenty of evidence that nominating a squishy moderate does not help us to win, and even if it did, it means we get a squishy moderate President.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Obamacare won't work

The whole premise of Obamacare is that it will get healthy young people to pay more than they should for health insurance to subsidize the medical care of older, sicker people. That goal is falling apart before our eyes. Apparently, young people, even those who voted for the idealistic mirage of Obama, are not willing to roll over and be the victim of his redistributionist utopia.

Headlines are dominated by stories of the ongoing disaster of the mismanaged web site development and weekly reports of hundreds of thousands more people dropped from their existing coverage due to Obamacare. But behind that, the fundamental infrastructure of Obamacare is failing to materialize. The bill, drafted in secret, rushed through Congress, and passed in spite of the author's acknowledgement that it was not written correctly, is still full of defects. But those defects only exacerbate the fact that the concept behind the bill was fatally flawed from the beginning.

The law does not require states to establish an exchange. It was assumed that states would be eager to set up an exchange, but clearly they were mistaken. Even rats know to jump off a sinking ship, not onto it. The subsidies, which are a key part of the redistribution effort, can only be distributed through state exchanges. States which don't have an exchange can not, according to the law, get those subsidies. The Obama administration is trying to find a way to give the subsidies to the 26 states sensible enough to not establish an exchange, but it is not clear that there is a legal way to do it.

But more devastating than that is the fact that young, healthy people are not eager to self-destruct for the greater good. How quickly that idealism fades when you recognize that you are expected to pay for it all.

To understand how the new law is working, lets examine the case of Joe. Joe is 26, single, and self-employed. He doesn't make a whole bunch of money, but he is doing alright, earning around $50,000. Joe bought his own individual medical insurance, a low cost catastrophic policy intended to protect him in case he got really sick.

Last week, Joe was one of several million people who got a letter from his insurance carrier indicating that his policy is being cancelled. It doesn't meet the requirements of Obamacare insurance. He can buy a different policy, or go to healthcare.gov and buy insurance there.

Joe compares his options, and is surprised to find that the cheapest policy he can get costs almost twice what he was paying last year. And that policy still comes with a $6,000 deductible. Sure, it will pay for his yearly checkup, but he paid that last year out of pocket. It was $150, which is nothing compared to the increase in his monthly premiums.

Joe realizes that he would have to run up more than ten thousand dollars of medical bills before this insurance would be advantageous to him. His actual costs have never exceeded $500.

Joe looks into the fine for not buying insurance. It is $95 or 1% of his income, whichever is greater. Well, one percent of his income is a lot less than it would cost to buy insurance. So that seems like a good idea. But what if he gets seriously sick? He's pretty young to get cancer or heart disease, and he is very healthy, but things happen. Well, the pre-existing condition requirements mean that even if he has some long-term ailment, he can still buy insurance.

So there is really no reason for Joe to pay $400 per month for medical insurance which only benefits him after he pays an additional $6,000 to cover the deductible. He can pay for his routine medical bills out of pocket and come out way ahead. If he gets injured, emergency rooms can't deny him treatment. And if he gets really sick, he can buy always insurance.

Cost of buying insurance:
$4,800 in premiums

Cost of not buying insurance:
$150 for doctor visit
$500 Obamacare fine

As long as he doesn't have more than $4000 in unexpected medical costs, not buying insurance is money in the bank.

But it gets better. Obamacare specifies that the IRS can't do much to get the money that they say Joe owes for not being insured. They can't seize the money or put a lien on his property to get it, and they can't even garnish his pay to collect it. The only way they can take it is if they owe Joe a refund. In that case, they can subtract it from his refund. All Joe needs to do is make sure that he withholds less from his pay check than he actually owes in income taxes. Then, every year Joe will owe the IRS on April 15, and they will not be able to take the Obamacare penalty from him.

This makes it a total no-brainer. Joe is much better off to self-insure for the smaller medical costs, and only buy insurance if something huge happens to him.

It turns out that there are millions of people in Joe's situation, and the deal cut with the insurance companies was that they would sign up for overpriced insurance in droves, to pay for the costs of accepting older patients and patients with pre-existing conditions. Every day more and more of these people are figuring out that Obamacare is a raw deal, and they are not buying it.

Without them, Obamacare will collapse.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Incompetence on parade



The ongoing train wreck that is Obamacare is just starting its chain reaction of destruction. This week alone, half a million more people were notified that their insurance policy is being dropped. Obama promised that "If you like your insurance, you can keep it." Well, not so much. The exchanges are the centerpiece of Obama's crowning legislative achievement, so you would think that he would make sure they were implemented flawlessly. He did throw $634 million at them, but he didn't take the most basic of steps to ensure that they would be ready for prime time on October 1.

More people have had their existing insurance coverage dropped due to Obamacare than have enrolled for new coverage in the Obamacare exchanges. And the deadline to avoid the individual mandate penalties, which fine uninsured people, is rapidly approaching.

Yesterday CBS ran an expose revealing that the teaser prices which visitors to the healthcare.gov web site are quoted when they browse the system are often half of what the insurance actually ends up costing.

Insurance companies are complaining that the "applications" they receive from healthcare.gov are unusable, with garbled, wrong, or missing data. One application listed the applicants four children as his "spouses".

The "Hub" of the insurance exchange system is responsible for verifying the eligibility of applicants and determining how much their policy will be subsidized by all of us, the taxpayers. Well, the Hub is not finished and won't be until sometime next year, so the web site quotes subsidies which may or may not actually exist. It remains to be seen who will be left holding the bag for subsidies which should not have been granted. I fully expect to cough up the money.

When the website first went live, the White House tried to spin the problems as being a result of the huge demand for "quality affordable health insurance." So many people flooded the web site that it could not keep up with the traffic, or so we were told. The fact that the web site didn't work was used as evidence of the importance of Obamacare. Yeah. Today's testimony indicates that in the days before the public debut of this $634 million debacle,  the people testing the system could not get it to work with even one user at a time. The traffic load didn't break it. It just doesn't work.

Twenty four days after the launch of the healthcare.gov web site, it is still essentially unusable. Consumer Reports says to not bother trying to use the site. I've gone a few times to try it out. I encourage you to try it too. After five or six tries, I was able to create an account and verify my identity. Now I'm sure I'm me. But I couldn't get beyond that. I have not been able to do so much as view the insurance options, which is my real goal, let alone have an opportunity to apply or obtain insurance.

I'm not alone. A number of states have said that no one has been able to successfully obtain insurance through healthcare.gov. Most states have had a handful of hardy and persistent individuals who managed to navigate the klunky web site and apply for coverage. These people are being treated like celebrities by a media who seems to think that such attention will promote the rare success stories, but in reality it just emphasizes that the system does not work for the vast majority of visitors. Today it was pointed out that more people have booked one-way passage to Mars than have bought Obamacare insurance at healthcare.gov.

On Tuesday, Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, told CNN that Obama didn't know anything about the problems with the web site until after the site was launched on October 1, marking the fifth time that Obama has deployed the "I'm clueless and incompetent" defense this year. He is President, and these things are under his administration, so he ought to know what his own people are doing. That is doubly true in this case, where his reputation, credibility, and legacy are directly tied to the success of his signature accomplishment.

I have been involved in a number of software development projects, and I can tell you that with any level of project management, there should never be an unpleasant surprise for the people in charge at the end date of a project. This is not super-advanced stuff. It's project management 101. Central to any viable plan is a schedule with trackable, measurable milestones. Management can measure the progress at any point by looking at the milestones and asking "Are we meeting our dates?" and "Are we meeting our functionality and performance metrics?" If they identify a problem, they have time to address it, reallocate resources, or make adjustments to get back on schedule.

According to testimony in today's Congressional hearings, they never tested the system until a week before it went live nationwide. This is unbelievable. In the software industry this is called "Big Bang" integration, which is discussed in the chapter of "Software Development for Dummies" titled "What not to do". It means that they developed all of the pieces separately and then on September 23 when they put them all together for the first time, they were surprised that the whole system didn't magically work. A system of that size never works the first time you try it, and expecting otherwise was inexcusable.

Instead of a Big Bang integration, a continuous integration model is the industry standard. This means that two years ago they should have had the very most basic infrastructure of the system being tested. This would be the functionality that every user needs, like being able to create an account, log in, and access generic data. This would be tested and evaluated while the next layer of functionality was being developed. Next might be templates for different states, different insurance plans, and application data. As new functionality is added, it would be integrated into the working baseline, and every day automated regression testing would ensure that the new additions did not break the existing functions. At any point, management should be fully aware of the status, what works, what does not work, what is on schedule, and what is behind schedule. If Obama was not seeing demos of a working system six months ago, he should have been very concerned.

For months there have been news reports indicating that the exchange would not be ready on time. Check out this one from Bloomberg back in June. I knew about it, and so did lots of people. How did Obama not know about it? This was the guy who was supposed to be the smartest, most competent President ever. He was playing 7-dimensional chess while everyone else in the room was playing checkers. Sorry Obama, fainting women in the Rose Garden will not distract us from the fact that you are not up to the job.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Et tu, Brute?



One has to admire the prescience of Judge Robert Yates, better known by his pen name, Brutus.

During the debates leading up to the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, a series of essays by "Brutus" ran in the New-York Journal and Weekly Register, making the case that the proposed Constitution concentrated too much power in the Federal Government, saying that "when the people once part with power, they can seldom or never resume it again but by force."

Brutus spent a great deal of time pointing out weaknesses in the Constitution's limitation of powers and phrases which could be exploited as granting broad authority which was never intended by the framers, concluding that "This government is to possess absolute and uncontrollable powers, legislative, executive, and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends."

One such case is the "Welfare clause". Brutus predicted that its meaning would be expanded until it permitted Congress to do essentially anything, so long as it was claimed to be "providing for the General Welfare". Thomas Jefferson responded to this concern by claiming that it is absurd that anyone would claim such authority under the welfare clause. After all, he pointed out, the welfare clause specifies a purpose for which Congress may lay taxes, not a blank check grant of authority for any purpose. He went on to explain that it would not make sense to grant Congress unlimited authority to do anything and then to also explicitly enumerate the powers which Congress actually is granted. James Madison made a similar point: “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” It is clear that not only did the framers never intend the welfare clause to grant expansive power to Congress, they actually considered the idea so preposterous to not merit clarification in the text of the Constitution.

Similarly, he objected to the "Interstate Commerce" clause, suggesting that it might be used to justify most any intrusion into the private lives of the citizens. Jefferson and Madison both dismissed this concern as groundless and absurd as well. However, in the Supreme Court case of Wickard v. Filburn, the court ruled that Congress could limit the amount of grain that a farmer grew on his own land, even if that grain never left his property, and therefore did not enter interstate commerce. Since then, the interstate commerce clause has been used to grant vast, expansive powers to Congress far beyond what the framers intended or imagined.

Brutus also discussed his view of how the division of powers and system of checks and balances could break down as each branch of government naturally sought to expand its own power.

The fears expressed by Robert Yates, dismissed by the framers as unfounded and beyond the realm of possibility, have been vindicated by recent events in Washington DC.

The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to appropriate money to be spent. The President can't spend a dime of the taxpayers money unless the House and Senate both vote to approve that spending. The appropriation process is separate and independent of the process of passing legislation into law. For example, in the 1980's Congress passed legislation to provide financial assistance to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. However, the Boland Amendment cut off funding to that effort. Congress has repeatedly passed legislation mandating the construction of a secure border fence along the southern border of the country, but it has not funded that project, so the fence remains mostly unbuilt.

Prior to October 1 of this year, Congress had not appropriated money for Obamacare beyond October 1. To fund Obamacare it was necessary for the House and Senate to vote to approve the spending, and for the President to sign the bill. People who stated that the effort was futile because the President would not sign a bill defunding Obamacare were misinformed. No law needed to be passed to defund Obamacare. A law was required to fund it. Without the approval of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Obamacare would not be funded. Today that failed policy is only receiving funding because of the support of House Republicans.

Democrats objected that Obamacare is "established law" and that the budget process should not be used to block its implementation. Obamacare was passed through the budget process. Reconciliation rules in the Senate only apply to purely budgetary matters, so it was a large stretch to use those rules to pass Obamacare with only 51 votes, when normal Senate rules require 60 votes. But Democrats who passed Obamacare as a purely budgetary matter should not whine about it being treated as a purely budgetary matter. For being "established law", Obama himself surely has modified it a lot, as have justices on the Supreme Court.

When the individual mandate, a provision which punishes people for being uninsured, was found to not pass Constitutional muster, the Supreme Court took on the mantle of the Legislature and modified the law. They ruled that Congress does not have the authority to force people to buy a product and to punish them if they don't, a power they claimed under the interstate commerce clause. However, the Court found that Congress does have the power to force people to buy a product and tax them if they don't. So instead of sending the law back to Congress to fix, the Court redefined the individual mandate as a tax, in spite of repeated and emphatic statements from the authors of Obamacare that the mandate is not a tax. Congress could not have passed Obamacare as a tax, and the Supreme Court could not uphold it unless it was a tax. So the Supreme Court did the legislating.

Since then, Obama has altered the law more than a dozen times, delaying provisions which had statutorily mandated start dates, ignoring other portions of the law, and granting waivers arbitrarily to his cronies and campaign donors. If Obamacare is established law, Obama might start acting like it. But even so, Congress alters, amends, funds, defunds, and repeals existing law with regularity.

But the most disturbing grab at extraconstitutional power came near the end of the recent debt ceiling standoff. President Obama framed the debate in terms of defaulting on America's debt, suggesting that if Congress did not allow him limitless borrowing authority, America would default. As I explained earlier, the Treasury collects more than enough money each month to cover its debt obligations. In fact, 9% of the monthly tax revenue is required for debt service. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that paying our debts is the first priority, so by law, Obama must take the first 9% of the tax revenue and use it to pay the interest and principle as required. The only way we could default is if Obama made the political decision to take that money and spend it on other things. Doing so would be his choice, but it would also be a violation of his oath of office and of the Constitution, a law far higher than even Obamacare. It is certainly true that being unable to borrow more money would force him to make some budgetary priorities. There would not be money available to continue his profligate spending binge. But the only way we would default is if Obama decided to default.

So Obama's talk of default was a threat, pure and simple. Obama was demanding that Congress give him all of the money and all of the borrowing authority that he wants, or else he will destroy the full faith and credit of the United States. And he had the Alinskyite gall to do it while calling House Republicans, who rightfully possess the power they were exercising, arsonists, terrorists, anarchists, and blackmailers negotiating with a bomb strapped to their chest.

This is a new low for demagoguery. Normally, a demagogue will suggest that if he does not get his way, someone else will do something harmful, as in Joe Biden telling a predominantly black group of voters that if Mitt Romney is elected, Romney will reinstitute slavery. Obama's threat was that if he didn't get everything he demanded, Obama himself would cause grave harm to America, and then blame Republicans for it, backed up by a media which had already bought the lie.

It may seem preposterous to suggest that the President would consider the various options for dealing with the debt ceiling and deliberately choose the most damaging course for the nation. But stop for a moment and consider how Obama managed the sequestration and the government shutdown. In both cases he decided to make the cuts as damaging as possible. He specifically instructed that air traffic controllers be furloughed due to the sequestration, a petty act intended to disrupt as many people's lives as possible. During the partial government shutdown he blocked payments to the families of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and shut down trials of new cancer treatments for kids dying of cancer. Also, Obama barricaded monuments and national parks, and actually used rangers to make sure that people didn't pull off a road to look at Mount Rushmore. He spent more money trying to close the World War II monument than it would have cost to leave it open. So Obama's record of being vindictive with his execution of laws he does not like is well established.

Congress caved to that lawless threat, completing Obama's usurpation of the authority to borrow and spend. We no longer have a system of divided powers. Obama is consolidating power to himself to impose his statist fundamental transformation of America against the will of the people for whom he works.

Robert Yates was right.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Demagoguery is their default



Attention all of you who believe that the Federal Government is about to default on its debt. Obama has made the claim repeatedly, so it must be true, right? I've got an offer for you which is too good to pass up.

Don't get stuck with a handful of worthless Treasury Bills. Next week they won't be good for anything more than lining your birdcage. Sell them to me! I'm offering two thirds of the bond's present value, cash money on the spot, no questions asked.

If you believe your glorious leader, this is the best deal you are going to get.

That is right. I'll give you sixty seven cents on the dollar. See, I even rounded that two thirds of a cent up, all because I'm that great of a guy. If we were equally sure of our position, a fair offer would be fifty cents on the dollar, but because I am twice as confident as you, I'll go two to one. Act quickly, as this offer only lasts until America defaults on its debt. Why, might you ask, am I so brimming with confidence that we are not headed for a default? The monthly cost to service our debt is right around $20 billion. It varies a bit and is generally increasing over time, but for a ballpark figure, that is the current cost. Every month the Treasury collects well over $200 billion in taxes.

It requires nine percent of the money being collected to pay the interest on the debt. For the mathematically challenged Democrats out there, that leaves ninety one percent of the money to spend on Food Stamps, Medicaid, Social Security, Defense, Welfare, etc. Some Treasury Bills will come due, and the Treasury can issue new bonds to replace them without increasing the total debt. So there is absolutely no reason that the government has to default on its debts. As a matter of fact, the 14th Amendment requires the government to pay its debts as a first priority, so even if Obama wanted to spend the money and blow raspberries at our creditors, he could not legally do so.

When you hit the credit limit on your credit card, it doesn't mean you stop making the monthly payments. It means you can't keep charging new stuff.

So why does Obama keep saying it? A demagogue is gonna demagogue. He wants to scare people, plain and simple. He can't win on fact, so he is trying to get people to panic and demand that Congress give him what he wants: more money to spend on his failed policies. What is really at stake is Obama being forced to set some budgetary priorities. He doesn't want to do this because it means saying "No" to someone's demand for Federal money, and no one is ever happy when their money is cut back. Obama's greatest horror is that he might be forced to balance the budget and live within our means. That, not the possibility of default, is why Obama can't permit the debt ceiling to be reached.

Reality is that we can't afford the current levels of spending, so cuts have to be made somewhere. If the results of this mess is some small step towards fiscal sanity, it will all be worthwhile. Seeing Obama's hypocrisy on clear display is just a bonus.

So I repeat my offer. If you believe the demagoguery, get in line to take me up on this deal. I'll give you two thirds of the present value of any outstanding US Treasury Bond. It's better than your President is offering.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Putting the "Limit" in Debt Limit



We are back exactly where we were last year, and the year before that. Once again we are bumping up against the debt limit, and Congress is considering raising or not raising the limit, or looking for what concessions they can get from the other party to get their way. In the end, the debt limit will be raised and business as usual will continue. In the past it has always been raised, and if things go on unchanged, it will continue to always be raised, which means that the nation's debt will continue to mount.

Right now our debt stands at 73% of GDP. On our current trajectory, debt will exceed 100% of GDP within 20 years, and could be 150% of GDP by 2038.

The debt ceiling as it exists now is not functioning to control the rate of growth of debt. As we rack up debt at ever-increasing rates, Congress just has to raise the ceiling more often, or raise it further. It has been suggested that we should simply do away with the debt ceiling, allowing the President to borrow as needed to achieve the spending approved by Congress. The Constitution gives Congress the power to authorize borrowing, and that authority should not be casually handed over to the Executive Branch.

Either way, there is a disconnect between revenue and spending. A responsible fiscal policy must look at the available revenue and set spending priorities to function with the money available. This is how a household or a business functions, and it is how the Federal Government must function as well.

The debt ceiling could be used in a way which would function as a true limit, constraining government spending and creating a link between revenue and spending. Instead of setting a dollar amount, the debt ceiling should vary on a fixed, predetermined schedule based on a percentage of GDP. This schedule should be designed to start out close to our current level of 73% of GDP, but in the coming decades, gradually bend that curve downward. Instead of growing the debt to 150% of GDP by 2038, we should reduce it to 60%. This would still be a larger dollar amount than we have today, but it would back us away from the brink of the debt spiral and financial collapse which we will certainly reach within our lifetime on the current course.

The real debt ceiling comes when interest on the debt outpaces economic growth, causing creditors to demand much higher interest rates, driving up the cost of servicing the debt, and ending our ability to continue spending money without any consideration of how we will pay it back. The choice is ours. We can control spending and debt now in a controlled, gradual way or it will be done for us in a much more painful manner in the not so distant future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Health care is NOT a right


Yesterday President Obama, noted Constitutional scholar, proclaimed that

"For a long time, America was the only advanced economy in the world where health care was not a right but a privilege"

Let's get this straight once for all. Health care is NOT a right.

If health care was a right, that would mean certain things.

For one, it would mean that no one could be denied any treatment for any reason. Medicare denies treatment to millions of people every year. The new Independent Payment Advisory Board established by Obamacare exists to deny treatment to even more people. If health care is a right, they can't do that. If health care is a right, it can't be dependent on my ability or even willingness to pay for it.

In 2009, Obama claimed that we needed Obamacare to cover 46 million uninsured people. Last year, they estimated that it would actually only cover 22 million of those people. Last week Obama's own Department of Health and Human Services revised that number downward again. Now it will cover only 11 million people, leaving 30 million uninsured. This is why we are putting millions of people out of work, depressing the economy, and making insurance massively more expensive for those who already have it? Obama is declaring that he made health care into a "right" by insuring eleven million people in a nation of 309 million, leaving 30 million uninsured? If health care is a right, everyone must have it for free. Even countries like Great Britain which have national health care systems which liberals want to model do not treat health care as a right. They deny treatment to millions of people every year, allowing people to die due to government budgetary considerations, and leaving people on waiting lists for inordinate periods of time.

A right to health insurance is not the same thing as a right to health care. We could issue insurance policies to everyone in America tomorrow for essentially no cost. Unless there is actual health care, meaning available doctors, nurses, hospital facilities and staff, medication, and equipment, to deliver, what is the value of the insurance policy? Doctors are leaving practice, hospitals are shutting down, and hospitals which were being planned for construction are being cancelled, so providing insurance promising a product which does not exist is worthless. Think about it this way: imagine that a prominent Congressman by the name of Hairy Weed is convinced that too many Americans don't have a unicorn. Every American has the right to a unicorn, and they just don't have them. So Hairy prints 309 million coupons, each of which guarantee the bearer one unicorn. He distributes the pieces of paper to every American, and declares that he has made unicorn ownership a right! Does every American now have a unicorn? Government can promise every citizen a coupon for a unicorn, but it can't promise them a unicorn. Obamacare is no different. It promises every American a piece of paper entitling them to a product they can't deliver.

A second consequence of declaring health care to be a right is that those who provide it are enslaved to those who demand it. However you slice it, if I demand health care as my right, someone else must give up a part of their life to provide it. Tell me why I am entitled to that portion of another person's life?

If the government declares that everyone has the right to a house, it means that if someone doesn't have a house, the government must provide them with one. Now the government doesn't produce houses out of thin air. To provide the house, they have to take it from someone else. If houses are a right, I want my house! I'll make sure that I'm one of the people receiving a free house, and not one of those stupid suckers who they take the houses from. Similarly, if health care is a right, why should anyone pay for it? Let someone else pay for it, and give me my free meds. But how is it right for government to confiscate what that other person has earned to give it to me? If I go out and do that, it is called robbery, and they would put me in jail. If I get a government agent to do it for me, that makes is a compassionate social program.

A legitimate right is exercised, not demanded from someone else. I have the right to life. I exercise that right by living. I don't have to go take it from anyone, and no one has the right to take it from me. Government does not create rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant me the right to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, or freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. God gave me those rights, and the Bill of Rights restrains the government from infringing on them. Health care is not a right, because if it was, government would not need to grant it to me. Health care is a product which I can choose to buy or not buy as I wish, but which no one else is obligated to give me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Defunding Obamacare



Get ready for record levels of hysterical demagoguery.

Today the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution which fully funds all of the government, except for Obamacare.

If a bill does not pass both chambers of Congress and receive the President's signature by the end of September, the government will not be authorized to spend any more money, and all "non-essential" services will close down. This has happened seventeen times in my lifetime, and contrary to what the left would have you believe, the sun still kept rising and life went on, even without the all-present nanny state meddling in everyone's business.

The next month will determine if there is any remaining use for the Republican Party. They have a miserable track record for standing up under pressure to stop the erosion of liberty and the irresponsible piling on of massive generational debt. With the exception of sequestration, every confrontation in the past five years has ended with the Republican leadership caving, giving Obama all of the taxes and spending he wants in return for nothing. Democrats believe that all they need to do is paint Republicans as mean guys who want to shut down the government, starve people, and take away their medical care, and Republicans will immediately agree to any demands. They may very well be right.

But if there ever was a time to stand up to the Democrats and say "No!", this is it. Even the author of Obamacare, Democrat Max Bachus, says that the implementation of the massive government program is a "train wreck."

The state exchanges are not even close to being ready to open.

The Obama administration has delayed, cancelled, or altered more than half of the provisions in the bill.

The White House has granted exemptions to their cronies, ranging from campaign donors to labor unions to Congress. Getting out from the onerous restrictions and penalties of Obamacare is a perk. Congress should exempt the people they work for: all the American people, who overwhelmingly don't want Obamacare.

Obamacare is trampling on the religious liberty of Americans, forcing people to violate their beliefs by paying for abortion.

Employers are being forced to decide between cutting back their workforce or reducing their existing employees from full time to part time. Obamacare's job killing costs are the biggest factor in America's long-lasting high level of unemployment and economic doldrums.

Meanwhile, the two major selling points for Obamacare have proven to be false. Instead of driving insurance costs down, premiums and deductibles are through the roof. Many people will be paying twice as much next year as they did in 2009. And access to health insurance is also down. Millions of people who had coverage for years are losing it.

The FDA is rejecting life-saving drugs, not because they are not safe or effective, but because the government doesn't want to pay for them. Doctors are leaving practice, hospitals are closing, planned construction of new hospitals is being cancelled, and doctor shortages are growing. Doctors are refusing to accept Medicare patients because it is impossible to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and stay in business at the below-market rates paid by Medicare.

Obama claims that predictions of "death panels" have not come true. However, patients are now routinely denied lifesaving treatment based on government budgetary constraints. For example, an Obama administration bureaucrat refused a lung transplant to 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, in spite of the fact that she would die without the new organ, and her doctors agreed that she was an ideal candidate for a transplant and could live a long, healthy life with new lungs. Government should not be making those life and death decisions.

Obama repeatedly promised that "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" and "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance." Again, the reality of Obamacare fails to deliver on the promises of Obamacare, as employers drop insurance coverage due to the inflated costs caused by all of the new requirements, and doctors are forced out of private practice or forced to stop accepting insurance plans because Obamacare has made it economically nonviable.

Obama promised that he would not allow a bill which "adds one dime to the deficit." But the actual costs of the first ten years of Obamacare have already tripled the original CBO projections. Obamacare costs account for roughly three trillion dollars of new debt in the next ten years.

Polls consistently show that most people don't want Obamacare.

But Obama is bent on ramming Obamacare down the throat of a nation which does not want it. This week he said that people don't like it because they don't understand it, and when they see how swell it really is, they'll come around. Nancy Pelosi said that we have to pass it to find out what is in it. Apparently we are always a year or two away from people recognizing how wonderful Obamacare is.

There is only one thing which can stand in Obama's way, to prevent him from destroying America's medical system and imposing his top-down authoritarian leviathan. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund, or not fund, any spending measure. The Government can't spend a penny unless the House of Representatives, elected by and representing the citizens of America, grant their approval. If the House does not vote to fund Obamacare, it will not be funded. Conversely, if Obamacare is funded, it will only be because Republicans in the House of Representatives ignored the will of the people they represent and voted to fund it.

Republicans should not proceed down this road if they are not willing to see it to the end. If they are going to cave on September 30, what is the point? Republicans hold all of the cards. They can win, if they have the will to win. This is the job they were sent to Washington to do, and if they aren't up to it, they should go home now.

Count on Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama to try to convince the public that the Republicans are shutting down the government. How does that make a bit of sense? The House passed a bill which fully funds the government, except for Obamacare. If the Senate or President refuse to pass that bill, how is it the fault of the House? If the Democrats shut down the government in their effort to force their takeover of the medical system on us, so be it. Republicans can do just fine without the government. I doubt that Democrats can say the same thing.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"Giving back"

Last week I bumped into an old friend who was working on some improvements to the bike trails near Harry Myer’s Park. It had been a couple of months since I had seen him, so I stopped to talk. We each talked about our kids, and then discussed his very successful business based here in Rockwall. Finally I asked him about the work he was doing on the trail. With a rather pained expression, he told me that he had volunteered for this project because he wanted to “give back to the community.”

As we talked, I continued to process that statement. If he needs to “give back to the community,” that presumes that his success was taken from the community. For every dollar he has earned, the rest of the community must be one dollar poorer. I needed some clarification, so I asked him why he felt the need to give back to the community. “Well,” he told me, “My business is for profit. I’m doing this for free.”

“Why does starting a profitable business mean that you are taking from the community?” The question took him aback, so I pressed on. “How many people do you employ?” He told me that he currently has fifteen full-time employees and a few students and interns part-time.

I picked up a shovel and started helping him load rocks into a wheelbarrow. “How much did your company pay in taxes last year?” He listed off the amounts they paid in sales tax, property tax, corporate income tax, and payroll tax, each one well into five-digit figures. All told, it was well over a hundred thousand dollars, and that didn’t count his own income taxes, property taxes, and the income taxes paid by all of his employees.

“How many customers patronized your business last year?” He pondered that for a moment, then responded, “Thousands. But I made a profit on them.” Finally we had gotten to the crux of the matter. Clearly he had fallen for the myth that profit is greed and altruism is the only pure motivation. “Which do you believe that your customers value more: your product or the money they paid for your product?” He looked puzzled. “I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before. I suppose they value the product more. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother to buy it.” I agreed. The fact that people freely decided to trade indicates that both parties are benefiting from the exchange. “The goods you produce enrich the lives of the people who buy them. You pay more than your share of the tax burden. And you created more than a dozen jobs which would not exist without you. So why do you feel guilty for making a profit”

“I guess I feel like I’m supposed to feel guilty. Are you saying I shouldn’t work on this bike trail?”

“Not at all,” I answered. “Building this trail is magnificent. I’m saying that running a successful, profitable business is noble and does not put you in debt to society. There are people who owe a debt to society, and ought to feel the need to give back to society. The most obvious are criminals. We say that they go to prison to ‘pay their debt to society.’ In fact, society doesn’t benefit much from their time in prison, apart from being protected from their criminal behavior. Our taxes pay for their free room and board, cable television, weight-lifting room, and law degrees preparing them to beat the system next time, but they spend years producing nothing in return for our resources they consume. A second category are government dependents who take from society in the form of welfare checks, food stamps, unpaid mortgages and student loans, and a host of other means of accessing the public trough. They receive something for nothing, which means that somewhere, someone is producing something only to have it confiscated without remuneration. Sometimes the first two categories even overlap, as seen in the vast array of fraud perpetrated in the welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment systems. Next comes the vast army of 4.1 million government bureaucrats who endlessly write regulations and produce nothing but draw a taxpayer-funded paycheck for meddling in other people’s business, suppressing productivity, destroying wealth, and hindering commerce. The final category is those who profit from cronyism, seeking special favors from government officials in exchange for campaign contributions or political pull. These looters are hard to distinguish from real producers, because they have all of the trappings of success, but careful examination will show that their profit does not come from voluntary free-market transactions. They are being carried just as much as the welfare recipient. All of these people benefit by taking from society and therefore ought to feel compelled to give back, but rarely do.”

“But doesn’t it show that I’m a good person if I want to give back?”

“No!” I told him emphatically. “It means that you are agreeing to their misplaced guilt, accepting their accusation that earning profit is an evil which must be atoned for. There is no virtue in saying that good is actually evil. All of these people who you are carrying want you to feel that way so that you won’t object when they demand more from you. More taxes, more freedom, more of your life.”

“Then why should I work on this bike trail?”

“Because it is consistent with who you are every day,” I told him. “You are a creative force, a producer, an innovator who brings life to this community. The purpose of your generosity is not to make up for your success. It is an extension of your success.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monkeying around with life




Recently at the Fort Worth Zoo I observed two baboons having a dispute. I’m not sure what the problem was between them. Perhaps it was over food or a female baboon or maybe they just irritated each other for some reason. They chattered angrily at one another and the larger primate began to beat its chest in an effort to physically intimidate the other. Then one baboon pooped in his hand and hurled the feces at the other one. I guess that is just how baboons resolve their differences. They don’t have the ability to form a coherent argument or state a rational position, so they throw poop at one another.

Last week, a similar scene played out in the gallery of the Texas Senate, as our duly elected legislators debated a bill to ban late-term abortions and raise medical safety standards at abortion clinics. Hundreds of abortion supporters packed the gallery, dozens of them smuggling bottles filled with urine, feces, paint, glitter, confetti, used tampons, and other projectiles they intended to use to disrupt the proceedings of the Senate.

Abortion supporters display the same level of discourse as the baboons at the zoo: when they don't get their way, they throw poop.

Some will point out that it is unfair to draw generalizations about all abortion supporters based on the action of a few dozen people. However, by definition, they all favor sucking human babies into garbage disposals. And that is just one of the less inhumane abortion procedures.

Even when abortion supporters are not using excrement as projectiles they have considerable trouble dealing with reality. Their primary argument against House Bill 2 is their claim that it would shut down nearly all of the abortion clinics in Texas. They are referring to an increase in the safety requirements to operate an abortion clinic, currently the most unregulated business in the medical industry. When a similar law was enacted in Pennsylvania, the same objections were raised. Opponents claimed that sixteen of Pennsylvania’s nineteen clinics would be shut down. Ultimately, exactly one clinic was closed, exposing the claim for the exaggerated demagoguery that it is.

Some abortion clinics need to be shut down. Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell has recently made news with the appalling ways in which he abused the lack of accountability in the abortion industry. When Gosnell’s clinic was raided on February 18, 2010, investigators described the scene as “Filthy”, “Deplorable”, “Disgusting”, “Very unsanitary”, and “Horrendous”. They describe bloody floors and the stench of urine, as well as a flea-infested cat leaving its excrement on the floors. Patients who had been sedated hours earlier by unlicensed staff sat moaning on filthy recliners covered with bloody blankets. They compared the operating rooms to “a bad gas station restroom”. Surgical instruments were dirty, rusted, and obsolete. Fetal remains were haphazardly stored throughout the clinic in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even cat-food containers.

Contrary to what abortion supporters would have you believe, Gosnell was not the exception to the rule. Through years of lobbying, government regulation and oversight of the abortion industry has been reduced to nearly zero. Any kind of standard has been denounced as an attack on a “women’s right to choose”, resulting in a dangerous situation for women who wish to obtain an abortion. Clinics are rarely inspected, so even the meager requirements which still apply to them are unenforced and widely ignored.

House Bill 2 places new requirements on abortion clinics similar to what is required for a clinic which performs tonsillectomies. They must have adequate emergency equipment which can be the difference between life and death in cases where a patient has a reaction to a drug, suffers a perforated uterus, or experiences excessive bleeding. Clinic personnel must be licensed as they are elsewhere in the medical industry. And a doctor with admission privileges at a nearby hospital must be present, a precaution essential in saving the lives of women who suffer complications beyond the capabilities of the clinic.

House Bill 2 also will help, in a small way, to protect unborn babies, or at least those who are far enough along to be viable, by banning most abortions after 20 weeks gestation. At this point, a baby has been a living human, distinct from her mother, for nearly five months and in most cases could live outside of her mother, with the assistance of modern medical care. I hope that someday we will extend the same protection to all unborn babies, but this is a step in the right direction. This bill protects both unborn babies and their mothers. Shame on those whose best argument against this life-affirming legislation is to hurl poop.

At a definitive moment in the debate, pro-life and pro-abortion activists faced off outside of the Texas capitol. As pro-lifers sang “Amazing Grace”, the pro-abortion crowd tried to drown them out by shouting “Hail Satan.”  Occasionally even someone promoting the murder of innocent babies will inadvertently swerve into truth. The abortion debate is a spiritual battle, and in Austin the two sides stood in stark contrast. God loves life. Satan loves death. Which side will you stand on? Will you assert the “right” to take an innocent life as the cost of living as you wish? Or will you commit to exercising responsibility and self-control in your own life and extend grace to the lives around you, perhaps by adopting an “unwanted” child, taking in a pregnant teenager, or volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hypotheticals



Since Saturday night, Facebook has been filled with liberals posting nonsense about the Zimmerman verdict. I guess that’s nothing new, other than the topic of the nonsense. But it is particularly silly nonsense. Many of them attempt to claim that the verdict was racially motivated by suggesting that the outcome would have been different if the people’s races were reversed.

Here is one example, word for word: “If a black man went into a white neighborhood and picked a fight with a white kid and then shot him, he would be on death row right now.”

I understand the concept of a role reversal, but let’s compare this hypothetical case to the real case of Zimmerman/Martin. Zimmerman is Hispanic and the neighborhood is racially mixed. Zimmerman lives in the neighborhood, so he didn’t “go into” the neighborhood. Trevon Martin does not live there. The jury spent two weeks looking at all of the evidence, including the best case that the prosecutor could put together, and was not convinced that Zimmerman picked the fight. The instructions to the jury said that if the jury determined that Zimmerman instigated the violent confrontation, his claim of self defense was not valid. So there is no connection between the hypothetical situation and the real one. All that can be concluded is that the poster believes that in a completely different situation, the jury would decide differently, based on the facts. That should be the case regardless of the race of any of the participants.

If a conservative made such an inapplicable hypothetical role reversal argument he would be laughed clear back to a remedial rhetoric class.

But the silliness goes beyond that.

Liberals keep saying that Zimmerman provoked Martin. How? By getting out of his car. In his own neighborhood. The nerve of some people! Zimmerman really had it coming. I’ll remember never to get out of my car in my own neighborhood, because I might be jumped by a thug, and if I defend myself it will be my own fault.

Liberals suggest that Zimmerman is a wannabe cop, which is somehow worse than being a wannbe gangsta.

One liberal said that the moral of the verdict is "You see a black kid, you shoot him".  Well, only if he jumped you, broke your nose, and is straddling you bashing your head on the concrete, as the only eyewitness in the Zimmerman case testified.

Others argued that the case demonstrates the problems with "Stand your ground" laws which say that a person whose life is being threatened does not have a duty to retreat before using lethal force to defend himself, as opposed to other states which only allow self defense when you have retreated until your "back is against the wall". Must I point out that Zimmerman's back was against the sidewalk?

Let’s be generous and assume that some liberal has successfully come up with a hypothetical situation which is equivalent except that the races are reversed. I don’t believe that there is a jury in this country which would convict someone who was walking in his own neighborhood, which is still legal last I checked, who defended himself while his head was being cracked against a sidewalk. In 2013, you might find one ignorant, racist individual here or there, although they are not all that common, and that one person might think that a black person couldn’t possibly need to defend himself from a white person. But you won’t get a jury made up entirely of such people. It is just not possible, particularly because the defense attorney has a say in the makeup of the jury. To convict a person of a felony requires a unanimous decision of the jury, and that just won’t happen today. To anyone who says that a black person is automatically convicted of killing a white person, I have two little letters just for you: OJ. You'll say that case was different. Yup. It wasn't self defense.

But again let’s be generous and assume that somehow the prosecutor has succeeded in stacking the jury with racists and they convict the hypothetical black man for shooting the white kid instead of just letting his head continue to be bashed into the sidewalk. That would be a wrong verdict, wouldn’t it? That is the whole point of the argument. The claim is that America is racist and a black man would be wrongly convicted in the same situation all because of his race.

Isn’t that an admission that the Zimmerman verdict was correct? A jury which is not racist would acquit the black man who defended himself. A just and colorblind jury should also acquit a white, Hispanic, Asian, or purple polka-dotted man who defended himself in the equivalent situation. So liberals, by your own hypothetical argument, the jury in the non-hypothetical Zimmerman case acted exactly as a just and colorblind jury should have acted. The creepy-ass cracker is not the one who injected race into the situation.