Category Archives: Politics
It was much more heated than the town hall debate against Mitt Romney. “It’s not gonna happen because 90% of republicans voted against this idea” seemed to spew out of his mouth with venom and vitriol. I have never seen President Obama, or any President for that matter, as angry as he was on April 17th, in the White House Rose Garden, speaking about the Manchin Toomey Amendment to expand background checks.
Though Patriotslog has always been opposed to gun control because it does not work, we have always been in favor of expanding background checks; why would we not want to know who possesses deadly firearms? But that is not the point. By far, most Americans support expanding background checks, so I would be wasting my energy typing a few paragraphs to add to the tsunami of voices calling for their establishment. Rather, I would like to set aside a few paragraphs to talk about the politics around gun control–because they are repulsive.
In the same speech President Obama spend a few good minutes to make sure the voting people heard his message that they needed to vote against that 90% of Republicans who did not support an expansion of background checks. The entire speech was designed as a “them versus you” expose. The only positive sentence in the entire speech was telling us that 90% of Democrats voted for the bill–there was no other mention of the four Democratic Senators who voted against it. This was a clear political move for the President, and more importantly, for the Democratic Party. At no other time has President Obama taken to the podium so swiftly to rage against a failed amendment to a bill. Why now? Why with Gabby Giffords and victims of Newtown present? Well, he told you. He wants you to vote against Republicans.
Most left wingers have joined in the campaigning. It takes some real homework to find a mention of the four Democrats who voted against the amendment. But if you want to know who the Republicans are, just ask Gabby Giffords. The other day I heard a radio ad by her Super PAC Ameircans for Responsible Solutions telling me that Mitch McConnell does not listen to the people of Kentucky because he voted against expanded background checks. I took special interest in this because I was born and raised in Kentucky and I have seen all the things Senator McConnell has done for my state. Is he my favorite politician? No. However, he is not the monster Americans for Responsible solutions would have you think he is.
So I looked into these ads; as it turns out, they are being run against Republicans who voted against expanding the background checks. I have to emphasize Republican because as of my writing this sentence, there are no ads from Americans for Responsible solutions running against the four Democrats who opposed the measure. If passing the Minchin-Toomey amendment was really what Americans for Responsible Solutions wanted, it would not just be a campaign against republicans.
Of course, none of this means Republicans are noble and gallant. The right wing politics on gun control are just as gruesome. For them it all comes down to re-election as well. For many Republicans a primary election is their biggest concern. Though nearly 90% of Americans support expanded background checks, that certainly does not mean they are willing to picket Pennsylvania Avenue to get them. In many polls I have analyzed much of the 90% who support it do so passively–it is not a driving issue for them. For this reason it is much easier for a Republican to tell voters in a general election that they were defending the Second Amendment than it is for them to try to tell primary voters–typically much, much more radical than the general population–that they voted for expanded background checks.
But the gun lobby is still the elephant in the room. They may play the biggest factor in any general election. Not as powerful as it once was, the gun lobby can leverage the diminished influence by playing to the fears of radical conservatives during a primary. In 2012 alone the gun lobby spent well over $30 million. If every penny of that was spent to defeat Republican Senators up for re-election next year in their primaries it would total well over $1 million per primary: a massive amount for a primary race! Despite the limited success of gun rights groups in the general elections, cash like that would make a monumental impact in primaries. Now, the fact that the nation’s second largest gun rights group supported the expansion of background checks means not all of that would go toward defeating Senators who voted for expanded background checks, but the impact would still be enormous. These same Senators would much rather have this money spent on them and for them rather, not against them. With the likes of President Obama and Americans for Responsible Solutions trying to defeat them they will take all the help they can get.
Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican you ought to be disgusted that your party would act in so manipulative a way. Unfortunately, we have put the entire political system in the hands of two private parties whose sole purpose for existing is to gain and maintain power, no matter how manipulative their propaganda. I am not saying that there are not politicians out there who truly want expanded background checks, there certainly are, and I believe they sincerely do. I am just saying that when it comes to expanded background checks, background checks take second place.
29 April 2013
It is a legitimate question. Now that Obamacare is three years old we can take some time to reflect on how it has unfolded. Obamacare was initially a derogatory term used by Republicans to insult the program, but during the Presidential campaign the president accepted the term as his own. He was proud of it and pleased with it, saying “I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care”. But does he?
Someone who cares would clearly want what is most beneficial for those they were elected to serve. Someone who cares would make public welfare a higher priority than personal merit. The failures of Obamacare are in plain sight. So many promises have been broken, and so little benefit has come from the law, that it is time to really ask: does Obama care?
President Obama promised he would fight for the middle class; he promised he would not raise taxes on the middle class; he promised he would take care of the middle class. Obamacare does the opposite of these. In fighting for Obamacare President Obama raised taxes on the middle class by $1 trillion. Many of these taxes directly pass on the cost to patients, increasing the cost of healthcare.
President Obama promised that if you like your healthcare plan you will be able to keep it.“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: Fix what’s broken and build on what works. And that’s what we intend to do.”
Sound familiar? Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services tells us that may not be the case; in fact, estimates are as high as seven million for people who will have to find new healthcare plans. The cost of providing insurance to an employee is much higher than the fine levied for not providing it. Many employers are also laying workers off, or reducing them to part time hours in order to avoid the penalty at all. This will push many more people on to the expanding Medicaid system, which, in some states is so crowded already that it is difficult to find quality or timely healthcare.
Employers who can afford to offer the care for their employees may be in shock before too long. We are already learning that there will be a 32% increase in the cost of claims for employers. This is going to have a significant impact on business revenue. Consider this: the cut off for employer mandates under Obamacare is 50 employees. There are now two and a half times as many businesses with 49 employees than there are with 50. If this were not enough the government tried to remedy these problems and only made matters worse.
The Obamacare law states that “affordable” healthcare coverage from an employer must not exceed 9.5% of the annual household income of the worker; however, it has been decided that 9.5% will apply only to the employee, and not to their spouse or dependents. This means Obamacare still classifies a family spending 30% or more on healthcare as affordable, as long as the primary policy holder does not spend more than 9.5%. The Obamacare system places the burden of the costs on the shoulders of the employers and families: costs that keep increasing.
We were promised that Obamacare would not add a penny to the national debt. Earlier this year the Government Accountability Office released their estimate that Obamacare would add $6.2 trillion to the long term deficit.
The pinnacle of promises may have crested on the fib that health care premiums would decrease $2,500 per year if Obamacare passed. In the two year period from 2010 to 2012 the average healthcare premium increased $3,000 per year; a difference of $5,500 in extra costs to you and me from the promise made by President Obama. The worst part is that experts expect costs to continue to rise.
The only solution offered by Obamacare to any of these broken promises is the expansion of Medicaid. Millions of Americans will take the risk of waiting too long for insufficient care. Many states’ Medicaid systems function very well, but if you cannot afford healthcare, or your employer is cutting you to part time hours hopefully your state is one of these. To the Americans not so fortunate Obamacare offers the following sympathy: “good luck”.
Remember when President Obama promised this would insure 50 million Americans currently without insurance? All these broken promises result in only 20 million more insured Americans–many of whom qualified for insurance before Obamacare but chose not to have it.
So again, I ask the question: does Obama really care? Maybe he does, just not about you and me. To keep this law in place with so many broken promises and so much lack of fulfillment shows that he cares more about his crowning legislative achievement than he does about those who elected him. If this is not the case I call on him to prove he does care, admit he was wrong, and repeal this law. Doing so would be the mark of a great President.
2 April, 2013
I suppose it is unavoidable now because the Supreme Court is set to hear two cases this week that may ultimately pivot history and decide the fate of gay marriage in our nation. Tuesday and Wednesday the highest court in the land will hear arguments for the famous–or infamous, depending on your point of view–California Proposition 8 defining marriage between a man and a woman, and the Defense of Marriage Act stating that a homosexual union in one state need not be recognized by another.
I have avoided writing about gay marriage for as long as possible simply because of the ferocious passion on each side of the debate. I have no problem taking a stand in the face of vehement opposition, that is actually why I started writing. The problem is that both proponents of and opponents to gay marriage believe they are on a righteous quest, and, like jihadists do, they will settle for nothing less than complete and utter annihilation of their enemies. It is impossible to have a civil discussion about gay marriage with either side—disagreeing means you are insane. But with the hearings this week so many friends and readers have asked what if think of gay marriage, so I guess it is time to attempt a civil discussion.
So what do I think about gay marriage? It doesn’t matter. The lines of right and wrong intersect with gay marriage. To some, homosexuality is wrong, and a sin, and therefore gay marriage must never be considered. To others it is wrong to privileges or rights away from real people because of sexual orientation. This is exactly why the Constitution does not legislate right or wrong; they are fluid concepts relative to the perspective of the citizen. Slavery used to be viewed as right, as did burning witches, stoning adulterers, and abandoning babies with birth defects.
The argument against gay marriage is desperate at best. Most people who oppose gay marriage do so holding the belief that homosexuality is a sin. This argument lacks integrity because sins are decided by God, not the government. Is being married a sin? Most people would say no. So if marriage is not a sin, than two gay people being married is not a sin. It is being gay, not getting married that is a sin. Marriage does not make homosexuality any more of a sin than it otherwise is. So opposing gay marriage on those grounds is frivolous.
Many others say gay marriage poses a threat to traditional values, to which I ask, what are traditional values? If traditional values are a mother, father, kids, dog, minivan and church on Sunday than 2013 is a much bigger threat to traditional values than gay marriage. Divorce is not just common, it is practically expected. Single parent households are normal, and the statistics on children raised in these single parent homes are frightening. Most couples live together without being married, even if they are married later on. I find it very ironic that open marriages, swinging, and one night stands apparently pose less of a threat to traditional values than people who actually want to get married. Is a lasting, loving marriage between two men or two women really more destructive to the institution of marriage than Kim Kardashian? It seems gay people are the only ones fighting for marriage.
But Gay marriage is much more than just religious morality versus human rights. Marriage itself is recognized by the government not for religious reasons, but for civil reasons. A married couple expectedly will raise a family–a function any government has a vested interest in because of is necessity for a nation to survive–therefore, a married couple is given special tax consideration. They are allowed to file jointly, and their income bracket is raised. Because it is biologically impossible for two people of the same sex to conceive a child it is a valid question to ask whether or not gay marriage ought to be recognized by the government on basis of equality. Oddly ironic to argue against gay marriage using equality, I know, but it is clearly inequality to grant the same civil consideration to homosexual couples given that they cannot grow the population. This would be similar to granting every citizen the same consideration members of the military receive despite the fact they do not defend our country.
A predictable rebuttal to this would be that gay couples can always adopt, and, any special tax consideration given to adopting heterosexual couples would also need to be given to homosexual couples, but adopting does not grow the population. In regards to adoption I have heard many people say children raised by a gay couple face developmental hindrances, and so this should not be allowed. The science is still out on the subject; it is not yet clear if or what hindrances children might consistently face. Then again, would it be any worse than a single parent household? If marriage were simply just a name on a paper then the gay marriage issue may be as simple as a state’s vote–the way the 10th Amendment tells us to decide these issues.
Either way, the question is not what is right or wrong, but what is legal, and what is Constitutional. That is what the Supreme Court will consider this week. Proposition 8 was overturned (meaning marriage could not be defined as being between a man and a woman) by a federal judge on the basis of discrimination. Whether or not it is ruled discriminatory may well hinge on the arguments already made. Does or does not the 10th Amendment provides the freedom for citizens to decide such matters?
The Defense of Marriage Act case will be equally as gripping. Currently states are required to give ‘full faith and credit’ to the legal documents of other states, meaning that if you have a driver’s license in California you can drive to Miami and it will still be valid for spring break. The DOMA essentially states that this does not apply to a same-sex marriage, meaning a gay couple married in Massachusetts can move to Tennessee and the state does not have to recognize that marriage. The question up for debate is whether or not this violates the Constitution, or if a state has the authority to make this choice? One might immediately think “how could it not violate the Constitution to not give full faith and credit to a marriage certificate?”
The clause is written very vaguely, leaving for a lot of room for interpretation. “Public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings” does not really pin anything down. Currently a permit or license for a firearm or concealed weapon is issued in state A, and not valid in state B unless state B specifically lists it as being so. Permits to practice law, medicine, real estate, and insurance are currently not recognized across state lines. If these do not violate the full faith and credit clause why would a marriage certificate? Perhaps a better question is whether or not a state can refuse to acknowledge a heterosexual marriage? If a state can only choose to refuse same-sex marriages than this is clearly a discriminatory practice.
So where will the Supreme Court rule? Given their record I doubt they will overturn a ballot initiative like Proposition 8, especially considering the Constitution, in the 10th Amendment leaves to the decision of the states of the people any issue not delegated or prohibited by the constitution. I expect the Supreme Court will leave it up to each state to decide whether or not to legalize gay marriage. The more interesting question will be whether or not other states must recognize this decision in the DOMA ruling. Might the Supreme Court rule DOMA unconstitutional, thereby forcing one state to recognize another states’ marriage–whether gay or straight? If so, will they rule on how a same-sex marriage is to be treated by the IRS? Will they rule that states have the right to determine their own welfare, as they do with other licenses not recognized nationwide? Perhaps this week will be a perfect example of why Patriotslog feels the Supreme Court is the most powerful body in government.
I hope that in reading this you have realized that gay marriage is not a right or wrong issue. It is not a morality versus human rights issue. Most importantly I hope you understand that what I, or any one person, thinks of gay marriage does not matter. It is not a question of whether or not it is good for society, moral for our culture, or needed for human rights. Individually these may be our greatest concerns, they may be our driving force to oppose or support it, but whether or not it can reasonably be granted or denied on solid legal and constitutional grounds is what will determine the outcome. The Supreme Court is standing at histories’ crossroads. Either way, the controversy is not going away after they make their decision.
25 March 2013
Political parties suck. They are private institutions that have collectively gained control over our government. The sole goal of political parties is to obtain and maintain power. When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became Speaker of the House she stated that her most important job was not to be the third in line to succeed the President in a national crisis; not to lead the largest body of directly elected representatives in our nation; not to safeguard the rights of the people; and not to work for her constituents that elected her. No, her most important job was to get more Democrats elected. Similarly, of all the important tasks one could emphasize for a Senate minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one term President. A Senator’s top priority was not even in the Senate, it was in the White House. Clearly these leaders of their parties were working against the will and good of the people.
It is not that being liberal, libertarian, or conservative is a problem; the problem is that these parties serve themselves, not the United States. Perhaps the most dangerous symptom of this the fact that party loyalists quite literally become convinced that the other party is evil–not just bad, but knowingly, deceitfully, intentionally evil. (If you don’t believe that go to one of the wingnut radical blogs like redstate or dailykos, or even Rachel Maddow or CNS news and read the comments) If you literally believe someone or something is evil it becomes not just easy, but necessary to oppose them, even if you are breaking a law to do so. This, I really fear, is going to become regular occurrence if we allow the party beasts to continue to feed themselves. Elected officials swear to uphold and defend the Constitution; however, because we have created an incentive system that rewards radicalism, more often than not politicians are more concerned with upholding and defending their political party. And why shouldn’t they be? We have allowed losing the next election to become the worst punishment a politician can face.
Breaking a law to oppose another party, or to uphold one’s own ideology is deplorable for a citizen, but detestable for a politician. The problem is the citizen is punished by our legal system, but who is to punish the politician? This week Gov. Hickenlooper of Colorado signed into law a set of gun control measures, including a magazine capacity limit. Weld County Sheriff, John Cooke, went out of his way to let everyone he could reach know that he will not be enforcing this law, and he knows many other Sheriffs that also will not. Sheriff Cooke even made an appearance on Fox Propaganda to tell us this.
I have opposed gun control because research shows it does nothing to reduce crime, but a sheriff deliberately ignoring a law, even if to oppose gun control, does more to eliminate freedom than any gun control measure. If Sheriff Cooke wants to make laws he can run for the legislature. Unfortunately, Sheriff Cooke is not alone in his refusal to accept the laws. He is only following in the footsteps of one Barack Obama.
The constitution clearly points out that it is the duty of the Executive Branch to enforce the laws made by the Legislative Branch. Congress passed an immigration bill, and since his inauguration, President Obama has decided to use it as toilet paper. Not only has he deliberately decided not to enforce immigration laws, he sent the justice department to the Supreme Court to argue against an Arizona immigration law that mirrored the Federal law; a law Arizona felt they had to pass because President Obama refused to enforce the existing one. On top of that he implemented the Dream Act without a Congressional approval.
I am very much in favor of immigration reform, and a path to citizenship or something close to it, but the law is the law. If President Obama wanted to make laws, he should have stayed in the Senate. A President must uphold the office. Part of this means having enough integrity to enforce a law Congress has passed even if the president disagrees with it–no matter the law, no matter the President. Instead, President Obama refuses to send his administration before the Supreme Court to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I understand that he supports gay marriage, and I respect that, but nowhere in the Constitution does it allow a President to choose which laws hold merit because of his personal beliefs.
John Roberts said it best. Though I have been an opponent of Obamacare from the beginning I have to agree with Chief Justice Roberts. It is up to Congress to make the laws; the Supreme Court does not determine which laws are good laws, only which laws violate the Constitution. It is not up to Governors whether or not to follow Obamacare. Every elected official must have this same amount of respect for democracy in order to ensure democracy is living a century from now. People angry about judicial activism ought to be equally as angry about Executive activism. If a President wants to change a law, do as Lincoln did; push, pull, pry, preach, beg, and put together a public campaign to pass a law or amendment. But a President is an executive, not a legislator.
It is not a Sheriff, Governor, or President’s job to determine laws. In a Democracy we govern ourselves. We have a Congress that makes laws, and if we disapprove, we vote for new members. If a law is unjust or unconstitutional, we (or even the President, Governor, or Sheriff) can try that law in the courts. This is the system devised to ensure the rights of life, liberty, and property to all citizens of the United States. A law does not become invalid simply it does not fit with the current desires of a figure head. The last time one figure head determined the law for all Americans to follow declared independence and fought a revolution. We vote for representatives and executives, not monarchs. No matter how you feel about a law, seeing an elected official refuse to follow that law should make you cringe. If this becomes a pattern, our democracy will erode from under our feet.
21 March 2013