QOTD

By Peggy Noonan:

Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Friday Funny

XKCD cracked me up this morning.

I went to buy a battery powered weed whacker the other day. That XKCD cartoon was me in the store with one bar on my phone trying to get reviews and prices on line of the different brands. I finally chose the one I wanted. I pulled it down to get a “feel” for it only to discover it had a safety button that you push in with your thumb while whacking the weeds. The damn button was set for a right handed person’s thumb.

I do not own a battery powered weed whacker to this day.

ps
Thought you might like a re-hashed Friday Calf Blog after a week of the Supremes.

Supreme Court Week

I’m not up to date on yesterday’s hearings, but here are a couple of columns to comment on.
EJ Dionne who cannot believe that Congress doesn’t have unlimited power to pass whatever it wants to pass (I am very curious what he thinks the Supreme Court’s job is) has this to say [my comments are in brackets]:

The conservative justices were obsessed with weird hypotheticals. If the federal government could make you buy health insurance, might it require you to buy broccoli, health club memberships, cellphones, burial services and cars? All of which have nothing to do with an uninsured person getting expensive treatment that others — often taxpayers — have to pay for. [Yet everyone agrees that lifestyles DO make a difference in how much health care costs. So if people live badly and all the "weird hypotheticals" are of course metaphors for living unsafely, then why on earth couldn't the government mandate other acts if it can mandate purchases? It's a real question EJ.]

Liberals should learn from this display that there is no point in catering to today’s hard-line conservatives. The individual mandate was a conservative idea that President Obama adopted to preserve the private market in health insurance rather than move toward a government-financed, single-payer system. What he got back from conservatives was not gratitude but charges of socialism — for adopting their own proposal. [Are you saying that because a conservative came up with the idea that it is by default constitutional? I don't think so. And thank God for people willing to point that out.]

The irony is that if the court’s conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system. Justice Anthony Kennedy even hinted that it might be more “honest” if government simply used “the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single-payer.” Remember those words. [This is not irony. Nor is it necessarily true. The reason the less "government-heavy system" got passed was because a more government-heavy system could not get passed. Health care and fixes to it have become a part of the national discussion and there have been many, many good ideas passed around. None of which are nationalized.]

And then this column by John Podheretz was good concerning the shock the left is feeling that this mandate really is being honestly questioned as unconstitutional. As if the rest of us out here are complaining just to be partisan and mean. No one gives a rip about that old document do they?

The panicked reception in the mainstream media of the three-day Supreme Court health-care marathon is a delightful reminder of the nearly impenetrable parochialism of American liberals.

They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal self-satisfaction as they do so.

That’s what happened this week. There appears to be no question in the mind of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama administration’s advocates and the liberal members of the court.

That was a good quote, but this was a truism that can be taken to the bank:

There’s no telling which of 10 possible ways the high court will finally rule. But one thing is for certain: There will again come a time when liberals and conservatives disagree on a fundamental intellectual matter. Conservatives will take liberals and their arguments seriously and try to find the best way to argue the other side.
And the liberals will put their fingers in their ears and sing, “La la la.”

Outrage

Last night after hearing another something on the radio, I again felt a surge of outrage and realized how tired I am of being outraged. I called to sympathize with my sister who actually knows things like Congressional rules/laws and who is allowed to do what when because I realized as much as I’m outraged out here, those people “inside” must REALLY be outraged.

They are.

Jeff Goldstein ever so kindly manages to wrap one of my outrages in a neat little bow this morning as he note the Obama administration saying that Republicans are politicizing Trayvon Martin’s death.
You read that right.

Yes. Republicans. It is they who are ‘politicizing’ Martin’s death

Go read the rest, he has it all noting that

Up is down. Black is white. Malcolm is Martin.

Supreme Court Week

I had been very disappointed these last weeks as every newspaper in the universe kept saying, “the 4 liberal justices will vote that the mandate is constitutional” because….sheesh, can’t they wait and hear the arguments? And aren’t the arguments good ones? And just because they are left or right, don’t they still believe the constitution counts for something?

Yesterday the liberal justices seemed to do their best to help the Obama lawyer, but their questions were still decent in most cases. Ginsberg related this to Social Security. Kagan notes that by making a mandate unconstitutional you are essentially saying that Obamacare can only work as universal coverage vs the private/public combo.

Lawyers did a good job of distinguishing the 2 markets even though it’s easy to smooth them together.

While “everything is politics”, I really hated thinking that the liberal judges were so in the pocked of the left that they wouldn’t at least have a comprehension of what they would be voting for/against. It’s the constitution!!

Links:
The transcript.
Bryan at ThreeSources has the Ginsberg clip about those not participating making it more expensive for those who are. Of which I respond……”and that concerns the constitutionality how when it’s Congress who has required others into the market?”
Protein Wisdom notes the part where it’s its admitted that the mandate actually solves nothing:

However, in the Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Samuel Alito forced President Barack Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, to admit that under Obamacare these free riders will not be eliminated despite the individual mandate.
For an elite group—including people eligible for Medicaid who don’t sign up for it and people whose health care expenses exceed 8 percent of their income—the Obamacare mandate is no mandate and the penalty is neither a penalty nor a tax because they are not required to pay it, period.
Under Obamacare, Verrilli conceded, these people can continue to receive free health care care, not sign up for health insurance, not sign up for Medicaid, and not pay a penalty.

Betsy McCaughey notes that Obamacare puts the government in charge of doctors in the same way that the Supreme Court DISallowed in 2008.

Sec. 1311 of the law says approved plans can pay only doctors and hospitals that follow whatever regulations the federal government imposes in the name of “quality.” That could mean everything — when your cardiologist recommends a stent, or your ob/gyn does a Cesarean.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_mandate_supreme_jeopardy_moMCOnc6NN1KyxXUdqak7H#ixzz1qPw7GxIo

The WSJ notes that the mandate wouldn’t even begin to fix the problem anyway.

The Constitution may permit far-reaching schemes of insurance regulation; it may even permit an individual mandate. It may permit the government completely to take over health care. But it certainly does not permit insurance fraud. That’s what the mandate is: It forces the young and healthy to pony up once again for another of Washington’s actuarially unsound welfare promises.

In fairness to Mr. Obama, his motives at least are intelligible. The Democratic Party has made it semi-clear that it sees the “progressive” health-care project still at the stage of taking a wrecking ball to the existing system.

We’ll leave aside the political ethics of such salami tactics, which voters have long tolerated. ObamaCare, for the purposes of the Supreme Court, must be assumed to be an end in itself. On its own terms, ObamaCare is a scheme that cannot work and was not designed to work. The justices would not be committing an inconvenience if they forced Congress to start over.

Which brings us back to universal coverage, which would be “constitutional”, yet would lead down these other paths such as the title of this column suggests from the Telegraph:

Why should fat people take precedence over the elderly in the NHS?

Or, if congress can mandate the people buy insurance so that insurance isn’t too expensive, then why can’t congress mandate exercise, healthy eating, who gets to have babies and no/lo risk lifestyles (including overwork by the big taxpayers) so that insurance isn’t too expensive?

Disjointed thoughts and late for work, but I’m pressing publish anyway. Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court still believes the Constitution means something.

UPDATE: Ooh, lets not forget the NYTimes (ht Ann Althouse) who says, that the mandate is constitutional because it is and the Supreme Court is meeting to determine whether there are limits to their authority. bwahahahaha!

In ruling on the constitutionality of requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.

…and [bold is mine]

The Obama administration persuasively argues that the mandate is central to solving the crisis in America’s health care system, which leaves 50 million people uninsured and accounts for 17.6 percent of the national economy. The challengers contend that the law is an unlimited — and, therefore, unconstitutional — use of federal authority to force individuals to buy insurance, or pay a penalty.

That view wrongly frames the mechanism created by this law. The insurance mandate is nothing like requiring people to buy broccoli — a comparison Justice Antonin Scalia suggested in his exasperated questioning of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. Congress has no interest in requiring broccoli purchases because the failure to buy broccoli does not push that cost onto others in the system.

except that “buying broccoli” is a metaphor for “doing things purposefully to stay healthy”. And since staying health is a LOT less expensive than getting disease then sorry NYTimes, but yes, Congress will definitely have an interest in “failing to buy broccoli” because it WILL and DOES push that cost onto others in the system.
doh

Supreme Court Week: Day 2

On is the mandate constitutional.

Everybody thinks so. Why? Because of Wickard v Filburn. The Washington Post comes right out and says it.

In the recent past, the Supreme Court has struck down attempts by Congress to use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to promulgate laws that had no connection to commercial activity, including those involving guns near schools and violence against women. Yet it has upheld Congress’s Commerce Clause power to reach individuals who were not obviously involved in commercial activity — most famously, the Depression-era farmer who grew wheat for his own consumption. The court concluded that his decision to grow — rather than purchase — wheat interfered with the government’s ability to regulate wheat prices.

The same logic should hold true for individuals able but unwilling to buy health insurance: Their absence has a significant impact on the market, especially because it is virtually inevitable that they will need health-care services at some point in their lives.

I understand that the Supremes follow precedent. But in the case of Filburn they may be thinking a) that is already overstepped bounds of the constitution during the days of a strong CIC and b) Wickard v Filburn forced Filburn to not grow, not TO grow, but to not grow grain for himself. In this case the government is not asking us to not smoke because it affects health which affects health insurance which is a big part of interstate commerce. Instead it’s asking us to buy insurance as a requirement for living.

Not only is it different, but the original case really needs to be relooked at- IMHO.

Thomas Sowell has a good column today:

The principle that the legal authority to regulate X implies the authority to regulate anything that can affect X is a huge and dangerous leap of logic, in a world where all sorts of things have some effect on all sorts of other things.

As an example, take a law that liberals, conservatives and everybody else would agree is valid — namely, that cars have to stop at red lights. Local governments certainly have the right to pass such laws and to punish those who disobey them.

No doubt people who are tired or drowsy are more likely to run through a red light than people who are rested and alert. But does that mean that local governments should have the power to order people when to go to bed and when to get up, because their tiredness can have an effect on the likelihood of their driving through a red light?

The power to regulate indirect effects is not a slippery slope. It is the disastrous loss of freedom that lies at the bottom of a slippery slope.

Leaks

Apparently this administration who we know works directly with the press and private enterprise using it’s knowledge to get what it wants has refused to hand over memos in an investigations due to…..wait for it…….congressional leaks.

The latest twist in the tug of war over Department of Justice documents central to the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious came Friday evening, when a top Justice official refused a congressional request for subpoenaed documents and blamed GOP lawmakers over the leaking of sensitive information.

In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich suggested that sensitive information relating to ongoing investigations is coming from their staffs. …

The documents refer specifically to reports of investigation (ROI’s) involving an active criminal investigation of a firearms trafficking ring, and to the prosecution of suspect Manuel Celis-Acosta, who awaits trial on felony counts, Weich said.

The Justice official said he was denying Issa’s and Grassley’s requests for additional documents because of the sensitivity of the ongoing operations.

I love this quote from the original source story:

Friday night, in response to the Justice Department letter refusing the documents, Issa spokeswoman Becca Watkins said, “It is troubling that the attorney general continues to express the outlandish view that his compliance with lawful and binding subpoenas is merely optional.”

I would say “unbelievable”, but how often can a person say that and be believable themselves?

A 2nd Friday Funny

It’s China’s fault, no it’s Congress’ fault, no it’s the Republicans fault.

Here’s a quick search for the story behind the story because I’m late.

And now the Tribune Washington Bureau has reported that the U.S. Department of Energy employee who helped monitor the Solyndra loan guarantee was one of Obama’s top fundraisers.

And a double whammy for the funny as the first article suggests Obama’s bullpucky is “an exaggeration of the truth” which would make it what?

Have a good weekend!

Showing my Paranoia

I am going to bet (with all my vast judicial knowledge) that the Supreme Court punts on this issue until 2014.
These people they are using look like they are all candidates for expanded medicaid.

What they need is a young healthy person who would rather own a fast car than buy insurance.

UPDATE: After reading this fantastic column by Charles Krauthammer (thanks you JG for insisting I take the time), how can they not rule? Wouldn’t anyone in that position want to stop this?