Why Jonathan Gruber and Obamacare Matters

by Phil on 11/19/2014

For those who either don’t know or are confused over a certain MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber and his architectural association with Obamacare, LegalInsurrection.com has a great catch-all posting. Further, an organization called American Commitment has created a video montage of political and other responses to Mr. Gruber’s comments that have recently surfaced (by way of DailySignal.com):

While this makes a great setup for those of us who are against Obamacare, to be perfectly honest, anyone who has observe the process of how Obamacare actually became law had to have discerned a very large, rhetorical dead fish the size of 100 Jonah whales (!) being hoisted upon the American people. Therefore, while the above is interesting and makes great fodder for the talking heads, I think even the brightest of the talk show folks has missed the all-important question.

Why does it now matter — after a few years’ worth of hand-wringing over this law — that the law’s architect has been shown to be truthful about the bill? Why is it that the coverage over this issue is overwhelmingly and predominantly by cable channels, specifically those construed as right-wing, and not the alphabet soup of “mainstream” media (e.g.: NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.)?

To me, the answer is simple.

In spite of the fact that Mr. Gruber called the American people “stupid” (albeit — if you really listen to what he actually says — under the auspices that most Americans really don’t pay attention (at least they didn’t used to) to the proverbial sausage-making process that is legislative business), I think that if people saw this gentleman truly explain the intricacies of the law as it stands now, Washington, D.C. would likely see such a blow-back against the law that the 114th Congress could potentially have veto-proof majorities against the President if Congress decided to pass a total repeal and the President vetoed it.

And, frankly, I think that has a lot of politicos very nervous about the whole situation. Being brutally honest, I believe that both Democrats and Republicans have significant power to gain if they can stave off enough of the push-back against the law by keeping the majority of the law in place.

Not only this, but imagine if Obamacare can be significantly changed or even repealed — what does that say to the American people regarding other aspects of the federal government? It would say that yes, things can change.

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Dems Caving to GOP-Backed Issues Already?

by Phil on 11/12/2014

That didn’t take long.

With federal officials already lining up to take action on various issues (and with a majority of Americans now wanting to see the GOP govern), it could be the Keystone XL pipeline that rears its head first.

Why? Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wants to show that she doesn’t always agree with the President.

Personally, I don’t care about the rationale, as long as the initiative gets its day in Congress.

Per reporter Jamie Dupree:

Elections always have consequences. And now things seem to be moving in the right direction.

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Newly-Elected GOP Senators Welcomed on the Hill

by Phil on 11/12/2014

@JamieDupree:

As a Georgian, I’ll especially be keeping an eye out for Senator-elect David Perdue, pictured far left.

Hopefully he won’t push for the same stance on bills :)

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Humanity Has Landed on a Comet

by Phil on 11/12/2014

Courtesy SlashGear

Excellent feat of engineering.

It’s just too bad it was the Europeans who accomplished it and not we Americans.

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Gov. Jindal to Host Major Prayer Event in 2015

by Phil on 11/10/2014

Interesting stuff from CBN:

The Brody File has learned that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will host a major event for Christian Pastors called, “The Response-Louisiana: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” It will be held January 24th, 2015 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. Over 100,000 evangelical pastors are being invited by American Renewal Project leader David Lane. In addition, Lane is encouraging the pastors to pray about running for political office. He believes that if more pastors get involved in the political process, it can and will change the moral direction of this country.

A full letter of the event is at the link. The event’s hope is that some 63,000 such pastors would become officeholders at all levels of government.

At the risk of sounding overly negative, I have to wonder at how effective this event will be. In my view, pastors are called to be just that — spiritual leaders within the Church. In other words, I would expect these individuals to be at least as effective in their local parishes in reaching out to everyone as they would be in writing laws to the same effect.

Further, would enough voters think there’s no issue with Church versus state issues to allow lots of pastors to become secular leaders outside of the Church?

Don’t get me wrong — I’m firmly in support of the Church being a significant influence in society — so much so that I believe it should be up to the Church to keep families healthy with a good moral/ethical compass as well as providing the bulk of welfare in society. My question: How does taking pastors out of the Church positively impact society?

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SCOTUS Preview: Obamacare’s Subsidies at Risk, Same-Sex Marriage Ban Upheld

by Phil on 11/10/2014

Back in July, I had reported on Halbig v. Burwell — a case at the DC Circuit Court that challenged the use of Obamacare’s subsidies outside of State-based healthcare exchanges.

Now, the Supreme Court has decided they’re going to take on the case.

At the end of the day, if the Supremes decide that only State-based exchanges can legally offer federal subsidies, that would deal a huge blow against those who bought their insurance directly from the feds:

Since the health care exchanges have been in operation, nearly five million individuals have received federal subsidies to help them afford health insurance on an exchange run by the federal government. The average subsidy has been about $4,700 per person.  The fate of those subsidies apparently will now depend upon how the Court interprets four words in the Affordable Care Act.  In setting up the subsidy scheme, Congress said it would apply to exchanges “established by the State.”

What’s more, States such as my own — Georgia — currently have law that prohibits running an exchange, making any further implementations almost certainly requiring further acts of Congress.

Then, last Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned lower court cases in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee allowing bans on same-sex marriage as well as the non-recognition of such marriages being performed in other States.

SCOTUSBlog presents a compelling listing of the main points that this Appeals Court found:

The Sixth Circuit’s majority opinion reached its result through these specific steps:

* It ruled that the Supreme Court’s one-line decision in the 1972 case of Baker v. Nelson, saying that a challenge to a state ban on same-sex marriage did not raise “a substantial federal question,” is a still intact precedent, and it binds the lower courts.

* It found that the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, striking down a part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, did not disturb that 1972 precedent.

* It relied upon the Supreme Court’s comment in the Windsor decision that the Court was not providing an answer to the basic question of state authority to impose bans on same-sex marriages.  It also interpreted that decision as being primarily about federalism, and the need to respect the prerogatives of the states to define marriage.

* It commented that the Justices’ October 6 refusal to grant review of any of the same-sex marriage appeals before it then does not end the debate over state authority in this field.

* It rejected the reasoning of all of the other federal court rulings striking down state bans, and it said that they involve a wide array of reasoning.  And it rejected the theories of the challengers in bringing those cases, saying that “not one” of those “makes the case for constitutionalizing the definition of marriage and for removing the issue from the place it has been since the founding: in the hands of state voters.”

* It said it was guided by the history of state power to define marriage, which it said was an unbroken definition that this was open to opposite-sex couples, from the founding of the nation right up to 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck down that state’s ban.

* It declared that the state bans were to be evaluated using the “rational basis” test — the most lenient of the constitutional standards for judging claims of discrimination.  It conceded that this test set a “low bar.”  And it concluded that state bans have at least two rational foundations:  first, the regulation of sex between men and women, with the promotion of marriage between them as a way to establish stable family relationships; and, second, a state’s desire to wait and see before changing the norm of opposite-sex marriage.

* It found that none of the bans adopted by voter-approved ballot measures in the four states involved in the cases had been enacted out of hostility (“animus”) toward gays and lesbians, but rather sought only to codify long-standing social norms about marriage, already reflected in state laws.   It also commented that it was difficult to assess the motives of the 8.6 million people in the four states who voted for those measures.

* It concluded that what the same-sex couples were seeking was a fundamental right to “gay marriage,” and that does not exist under the Constitution.   The route of recognizing gay marriage through the Constitution, it said, “does not exist.”  It thus rejected the argument of advocates of same-sex marriage that they were seeking only an equal right to enter an institution open to others.  Even the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, for the first time allowing couples of different races to marry, did not provide a new definition of traditional marriage, it said.

* It ruled that bans on same-sex marriage would not violate the constitutional ban on discrimination based on gender.  Gays and lesbians, it said, have not been recognized by the Supreme Court as a discrete class deserving of special constitutional protection as historic targets of discrimination.

* It concluded that it was up to the nation’s people, not to its courts, to decide when “the time is right to recognize” a new and more expansive interpretation of rights under the Constitution.  “The federal courts,” it said, “have no long-lasting capacity to change what people think and believe about new social questions.”   Victories by gay rights advocates through initiatives and legislation, it remarked, would lead to “greater acceptance” of those goals.

* Finally, turning to the question of state authority to refuse to officially recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, it found that “states have always decided for themselves when to yield to laws of other states.”

TheDailySignal.com presents further arguments from the case via their post entitled, “Court Rules No Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage.”

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Illegal Immigration Turns Into High-Stakes Poker Game

by Phil on 11/8/2014

Who’s going to blink first?

First, the Speaker lays down his line against presidential executive orders on illegal immigration.

Then, Friday’s luncheon with the Washington powers-that-be resulted in reiterating the serious push-back expected from Congress.

President Obama holds firm.

In ultimate response (at least prior to the next Congress taking power), both the House and the Senate prepare to take action.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) began circulating a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, asking for language to be added to the Continuing Resolution (what allows the government to be funded in lieu of an actual budget) that would strip funding allowing the President to issue work permits and green cards for illegal immigrants.

On the Senate side, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) released a statement saying that part of the confirmation process for the recently-announced Attorney General replacement should be to ask her views on whether presidential amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.

Will the President force Ms. Lynch’s confirmation during the lame-duck congressional session? If not, her confirmation could be hinged upon the President backing off such executive orders in the next Congress.

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Dateline 2016: Dr. Ben Carson to Announce Candidacy for President

by Phil on 11/6/2014

Update: A listing of stations airing “A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America” can be seen at RightSideWire.com.

With the 2014 Midterm Election barely into the history books, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is about to throw his proverbial hat in the GOP presidential ring:

Carson, a famous pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative political star, will air a nearly 40 minute-long ad introducing himself to the American people this weekend, an aide to Carson confirms to ABC News.

The documentary titled “A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Prescription for America” will air in 22 states and Washington, DC. The paid video will detail some of his biography and family life, including his rise from being born to a single mother with a poor childhood in Detroit to director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins for almost 40 years, known for his work separating conjoined twins, to potential 2016 presidential candidate…

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll from last month of the potential 2016 presidential candidates showed Carson in seventh place garnering seven percent of the vote after other notables including Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio.

Carson has a grassroots effort to draft him for a 2016 presidential run that has raised millions for the effort.

Personally, I make no reservations about the fact that I’m very excited to see this happening. I’ve watched numerous YouTube videos that denonstrate his ability to handle nearly every issue he faces both passionately and reasonably, and persuasively.

In other words, he has the gift of being able to take the opposition and diplomatically shoot down their argument while making them wonder why they didn’t agree with him in the first place.

And, he’s exceptionally humble and intelligent :)

American history is so exciting to live at the moment!

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Speaker Boehner Vows Action Against Obamacare, Illegal Immigration

by Phil on 11/6/2014

In some very bold statements against the White House, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) promised action on Obamacare

…He did, however, say the House will vote to repeal Obamacare and will also likely pass a bunch of bills to carve out some of the most contentious parts such as a tax on medical devices or the individual mandate.

“We need to put them on the president’s desk and let him choose,” the speaker said.

…and illegal immigration:

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Sen. Scott, Rep-Elect Love Speak Out Against Democrat Policies

by Phil on 11/6/2014

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Representative-Elect Mia Love (R-UT) continued sharing their GOP views with the media:

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