Obamacare dictating FREE anything is weird — and election observations

The recent brouhaha around birth control and Catholic institutions appears to be dying down, although the “solution” that Obama has come up with strikes me as entirely insane. I mean, he is now telling insurance companies, by presidential fiat, to provide a product FREE of charge to certain types of institutions? There must be some outcry about this. Not because it is or is not birth control, but because — since when can the President of the United States determine what an insurance provider charges for anything? Anything at all?

I sense that this Obamacare, while not being out-and-out “socialized” medicine, certainly is similar to that looming behemoth. The insurance companies now appear to be mere utilities to the government. The government sets so much of the cost and risk and charges under Obamacare — that they are no longer independent, free market, competing entities. Here, from Charles Krauthammer, he says it better than me:

From – The Obamacare Trifecta
Where is the opposition’s argument against government health-care control?
By Charles Krauthammer

“Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim.

Third, the assault on individual autonomy. Every citizen without insurance is ordered to buy it, again under penalty of law. This so-called individual mandate is now before the Supreme Court — because never before has the already-inflated Commerce Clause been used to compel a citizen to enter into a private contract with a private company by mere fact of his existence.

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies, and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.”

Obamacare Trifecta

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And, yes, religious institutions should be allowed to not have anything to do with providing birth control or “morning after” pills to their employees. Not even “free” (and nothing is ever truly free, somewhere the price will be raised to cover the cost) birth control! Why? The first amendment keeps the government from dictating to religious institutions what they should do in matters of personal morality or belief. Unless of course, a church or temple wants to sacrifice babies to Odin, and then, we might have an issue. There are certainly restrictions on religious institutions doing criminal activities. In any event, this whole mess strikes me as being not about women’s health, but as a power grab by the government. It must be unconstitutional and I would hope that it is challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

I support women’s perogative (not a “right” since the government strictly speaking does not give “rights” in the US, but a perogative) — to obtain birth control and even, an abortion within the first trimester — but certainly, religious institutions that provide care, often for poor women and children, or homeless men, like the Catholic church through its Catholic hospitals – deserve to have their right of conscience respected. It is in the First Amendment, it is that simple and straightforward.

The media, which is often driven by progressive or at least, Democratic party bias, keeps focusing on this controversy as a sign that the right “hates women”. Of course, Santorum, plays into this meme with his personal beliefs about birth control being unacceptable. Although I actually don’t believe that all people who think birth control is wrong, also hate women. That’s like saying that people who support abortion, hate children. What is interesting about Santorum however, is that he does support the government ponying up for birth control when it is not being done by a religious institution. He did support the Federal government providing birth control through Title X. Yes, he actually supported giving Federal money to Family planning clinics for poor people here:

Title X Family Planning
” History of Title X
The Title X Family Planning program [“Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs” (Public Law 91-572)], was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only Federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

That’s from the HHS page on Title X.
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So there is more to Santorum than meets the eye. Santorum is more of a populist, and less of a fiscal conservative than he appears. He is a stalwart social conservative yes, but as Ann Coulter observed, “Santorum is not a conservative, he’s a Catholic.” Here from her column “IOWA SHOWS REPUBLICANS DETERMINED TO BEAT OBAMA”
January 4, 2012:

“Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest. He is more of a Catholic than a conservative, which means he’s good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs. He’d be Ted Kennedy if he didn’t believe in God.

Santorum may not be a big spender as far as professional politicians go, but he is still a professional politician. In 2005, one of his former aides described him as “a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.”

The Catholic missionary was fantastic on issues like partial-birth abortion, but more like a Catholic bishop in his support for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug entitlement program (now costing taxpayers more than $60 billion a year), and a highway bill with a Christmas tree of earmarks, including the famous “bridge to nowhere.”

Santorum cites his father’s admonition to put any extra money in the poor box at church to explain his wanting to use the federal government to help the poor. ”

Read the whole thing here: Coulter on Santorum and Iowa Caucus
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I am not in the bag for Santorum. He is waaaay too mouthy about his social conservatism for me. I prefer those beliefs to be more understated. I certainly agree that it is preferable that people marry before they have children (how can this be controversial?) but I also am in favor of people living their lives as they see fit. In this country, we do have a measure of personal freedom and choice and I like that. In Santorum, I sense an authoritarian streak just beneath the surface. And, he exhibits a tangible disdain for gay and lesbian people. That distaste alone, which feels palpable, makes me uncomfortable. However, I will say that once I heard him through an entire speech, sat and listened all the way through — I also sensed a nearly earnest sincerity. A boyish Eagle Scout streak that felt a bit guileless in a politician, and — I realized that in spite of our very serious disagreements, Santorum is actually a good man. I believe he is strongly mistaken in some of his beliefs, but he is a good man nonetheless. In other words, when he is not exhorting homosexuals or homosexuality as inferior and sinful, Santorum is actually kind of likable. But, no. I am still in the corner for Gingrich and I will accept Romney. In fact, Romney is starting to look better all the time. He is not an extremist, he is a fiscal conservative, he is competent, he gets it on Iran (though they all appear to) and his moderation is appealing to more voters than Santorum’s bona fide social conservatism which feels, in this day and age, shrill and extreme.

I am watching everything in the election very closely now. Time will tell! My favorite, Newt, may yet pull something out of his hat. He can get things done (budget balancing, welfare reform), he’s fearless, he’s smart and — he’s sharp and angry enough to take on Obama’s smooth-talking sleight of hand, his large and hollow rhetorical flotsam. He means business. So, I do hope…

But I digress… what I really meant to write about was this strange new directive of Obamacare, telling an insurance company to provide something for FREE. Dictating a price to a private entity. So, is an insurance company then still an independent private company — or an arm of the state?

Seems like those “crazy” Tea Partiers screaming about “socialized medicine being Obamacare” were not so far off after all. I think they were downright prescient.

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The Vindication of Clarence Thomas

I’m easing back into blogging, and just had to note the new perceptions of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that are appearing in the wider media. I cite two below. I especially enjoyed Thomas’s assessment of “the elites”. He is an anti-snob who received an Ivy League education and who remains especially suspicious of the elite Ivys and their audacity and monopoly on opinion in the media and (especially) the judiciary. I really gained a new respect from him from the sources I cite below (Jeffrey Toobin and Walter Russell Mead’s article on Toobin), enjoy if you haven’t already read about this new take on the man.

I also agree with Justice Thomas that Affirmative Action tends to negate the prestige of an individual’s accomplishment since it is forever cast under a veil of suspicion as to its authenticity. I mean, I’m half American Indian and half Hispanic (Sephardic New Mexico roots) and have often been told that “I must have gotten (x or y or z) because of Affirmative Action. I am always shocked and always protest that this is not the case, as I was usually at the top of my class in test scores and often in the gifted classes – but, of course, one can never defend oneself enough and the taint remains. Apparently, Judge Thomas knows this also from hard experience.

As most people are aware, Clarence Thomas has been an embattled and often belittled Supreme Court Justice from his nomination to the present day. Most people I know think he is a mute idiot and a token African American Justice chosen by George H.W. Bush to give him some kind of credibility regarding “diversity” while also shoring up the extreme constitutional conservatism of Scalia on the bench. He’s widely regarded as a mere intellectual follower of Scalia and widely derided by lefties of all stripes from mild and moderate to extreme as being a dummy. Well, apparently, it is becoming apparent even to constitutional scholars who are left wing and ideological foes, and who have held a scornfully low opinion of him, that actually Thomas is brilliant and that he knows exactly what he is doing and is following no one, first from a blog post by Walter Russell Mead commenting on Toobin’s article in the New Yorker:


If Toobin’s revionist take is correct, (and I defer to his knowledge of the direction of modern constitutional thought) it means that liberal America has spent a generation mocking a Black man as an ignorant fool, even as constitutional scholars stand in growing amazement at the intellectual audacity, philosophical coherence and historical reflection embedded in his judicial work.

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Thomas may get the last laugh, and apparently, he is a man with a razor sharp intellect and strongly felt opinions who despises those he calls “the elites”. That is, the graduates from Harvard, Columbia and other Ivy League schools that tend to be the only people selected for important judgeships. While he is also himself a graduate of Yale, he refuses to do speaking engagements at Ivy league schools, and is the only Supreme Court Justice to select law clerks from schools that are not Ivy League, here from Toobin’s article in the New Yorker :

“We talk about diversity. The real problem of our Court is that it’s all Ivy League,” Thomas said. Currently, all nine Justices attended law school at either Harvard or Yale. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there are other law schools out there,” he said. Alone among his colleagues, Thomas usually selects at least some of his law clerks from less prominent schools. In recent years, his clerks have included graduates of the law schools of Creighton University, in Nebraska; Rutgers; George Mason; and the University of Utah.”

He has a low regard for his own education at Yale feeling that Affirmative Action sullied the brand saying: “When he recently received an honorary doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law, in Gulfport, Florida, he said, “Thank you for a law degree that I can put up on my wall.” The audience greeted the remark with polite laughter, but Thomas’s sentiment has a long history. Thomas graduated from Yale Law School in 1974, and he maintains a rich and public loathing for the institution. In his autobiography, published in 2007, he wrote, “As a symbol of my disillusionment, I peeled a fifteen-cent sticker off a package of cigars and stuck it on the frame of my law degree to remind myself of the mistake I’d made by going to Yale. I never did change my mind about its value.” Thomas has refused entreaties from a series of deans at Yale to sit for a portrait for the school…”

Read more Toobin article

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Finally, Toobin testifies that Thomas may well soon have a chance to nullify many of the structures of the modern progressive (post New Deal) state, giving a new credence to the 10th amendment just as in the recent past, the 2nd amendment came to be viewed in a different light — giving new weight to the idea that the 2nd amendment protects individual gun owners’ rights and not simply the right of states to have an armed militia. I’m just getting clear with all of this right now, but I found this article very informative and surprising since I had also been boondoggled into seeing Thomas as at the least, a mediocre Justice. Apparently, once again, I have had to rethink this received and formerly unquestioned opinion. Soon, he may have a chance to declare Obama’s mandate to purchase health insurance unconstitutional, and this could have broad implications for other instances of the Federal government mandating policy to the states. And, Toobin, BTW is not a booster of conservative views apparently, but a liberal himself. He writes this in warning.

More here, directly from Jeffrey Toobin:

“These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

The conventional view of Thomas takes his lack of participation at oral argument as a kind of metaphor. The silent Justice is said to be an intellectual nonentity, a cipher for his similarly conservative colleague, Antonin Scalia. But those who follow the Court closely find this stereotype wrong in every particular. Thomas has long been a favorite of conservatives, but they admire the Justice for how he gives voice to their cause, not just because he votes their way. “Of the nine Justices presently on the Court, he is the one whose opinions I enjoy reading the most,” Steve Calabresi, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law and a co-founder of the Federalist Society, said. “They are very scholarly, with lots of historical sources, and his views are the most principled, even among the conservatives. He has staked out some bold positions, and then the Court has set out and moved in his direction.”

Thomas’s intellect and his influence have also been recognized by those who generally disagree with his views. According to Akhil Reed Amar, a professor at Yale Law School, Thomas’s career resembles that of Hugo Black, the former Alabama senator who served from 1937 to 1971 and is today universally regarded as a major figure in the Court’s history. “Both were Southerners who came to the Court young and with very little judicial experience,” Amar said. (Thomas is from Georgia.) “Early in their careers, they were often in dissent, sometimes by themselves, but they were content to go their own way. But once Earl Warren became Chief Justice the Court started to come to Black. It’s the same with Thomas and the Roberts Court. Thomas’s views are now being followed by a majority of the Court in case after case.”

The implications of Thomas’s leadership for the Court, and for the country, are profound. Thomas is probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties. More than virtually any of his colleagues, he has a fully wrought judicial philosophy that, if realized, would transform much of American government and society. Thomas’s views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement, which his wife has helped lead almost since its inception. The Tea Party is a diffuse operation, and it can be difficult to pin down its stand on any given issue. Still, the Tea Party is unusual among American political movements in its commitment to a specific view of the Constitution—one that accords, with great precision, with Thomas’s own approach. For decades, various branches of the conservative movement have called for a reduction in the size of the federal government, but for the Tea Party, and for Thomas, small government is a constitutional command.

In his jurisprudence, Thomas may be best known for his belief in a “color-blind Constitution”; that is, one that forbids any form of racial preference or affirmative action. But color blind, for Thomas, is not blind to race. Thomas finds a racial angle on a broad array of issues, including those which appear to be scarcely related to traditional civil rights, like campaign finance or gun control. In Thomas’s view, the Constitution imposes an ideal of racial self-sufficiency, an extreme version of the philosophy associated with Booker T. Washington, whose portrait hangs in his chambers. (This personal gallery also includes Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.)

In recent weeks, two federal courts of appeals have reached opposing conclusions about the constitutionality of the 2010 health-care law; the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, upheld it, while the Eleventh Circuit, in Atlanta, struck down its requirement that all Americans buy health insurance. This conflict means that the Supreme Court will almost certainly agree to review the case this fall, with a decision expected by June of next year. It is likely to be the most important case for the Justices since Bush v. Gore, and it will certainly be the clearest test yet of Thomas’s ascendancy at the Court. Thomas’s entire career as a judge has been building toward the moment when he would be able to declare that law unconstitutional. It would be not only a victory for his approach to the Constitution but also, it seems, a defeat for the enemies who have pursued him for so long: liberals, law professors, journalists—the group that Thomas refers to collectively as “the élites.” ”


Read more more Toobin on Thomas

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I recommend everyone read the article! Quite an eye opener. Yes, Toobin talks about Anita Hill. Whether or not Thomas has a potty mouth and a weakness for bad sexual politics in the office is not historically clear, although I have always tended to believe Hill — but now that issue is not of great importance. Not when Clarence Thomas is poised to help make history. Apparently, Judge Thomas has more brains than he has been given credit for and finally, he may be able to vindicate himself and his views on a larger historical stage.