The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What to do when constitutions conflict?

There are people who take Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to task for declining to defend a Virginia state constitutional ban on gay marriage. I think he did the right thing if, and that's an important if, he truly believes that the Virginia provision is contrary to the United States Constitution.

Article VI of the U. S. Constitution states:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Thus in cases of conflicts between the U. S. Constitution and a state constitution, the state constitution is invalid. And if an attorney general of a state truly believes that a state constitutional provision conflicts with the U. S. Constitution, he has no duty to defend it. If Virginia's people ratified a Constitutional provision reinstituting slavery, or denying the vote to all but white males, would Mark Herring be duty-bound to defend it? I think not.

A constitional-law scholar like Curt Levey must know this — and in fact, though his post is entitled, “An attorney general's job is to defend the law — no exceptions,” if you read it, he clearly accepts at least one exception. For he says that an attorney general would not be required to defend “a law requiring the arrest and imprisonment of all members of the opposition party without trial.” So it is a matter of where one draws a line. And unless there is a clear Supreme Court decision, each attorney general, and in fact each citizen, has to interpret the U. S. Constitution as he sees fit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Split up Ukraine!

It is clear to me that Ukraine ought to be two countries. The eastern and southern parts of the country are more oriented toward Russia, and now-ousted president Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych is popular there. People are agitating there for Yanukovych's restoration. In the western part of the country, the people are more European in their orientation, and it was from there that the calls to oust Yanukovych came. Both groups will not be happy, however this turns out. Unfortunately, it's like Czechoslovakia — there may be good reasons to keep the pieces together, but the people don't want the same things for their country's government to be doing.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President François Hollande, and other national leaders have issued calls to preserve Ukraine's territorial integrity. They are simply mistaken.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

More on health care reform

Democrats have assailed Republicans for wanting to “repeal and replace” the so-called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” usually known as “Obamacare,” but not having any plan for the replacement: in other words, Republicans are accused of being willing to “repeal” but only giving lip service to “replace.” Well, a couple of weeks ago, I read of a plan by Republican Senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Orrin Hatch that would replace “Obamacare.” As described in that article (see my January 29, 2014 post entitled “Reforming health care”) the Burr/Coburn/Hatch plan had some flaws, but recently I saw an editorial in The Washington Post that gave a description that differed from the one I saw last month. (The Post did not like the Burr/Coburn/Hatch proposal; it called it “a starting point for a conversation, not a replacement”; but that's another matter — for one, the Post seems to think that mandates are a good idea!) The original article I saw last month said that Burr/Coburn/Hatch would not require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but only grant the companies incentives, while the plan described in the Post editorial would require this coverage; and there was no mention in the earlier posting of replacing the individual mandate by a plan similar to what Medicare Part D has — allowing the insurance companies to charge a higher premium to people eligible for coverage who chose not to buy insurance (which I think is the best way to sove the problem of people signing up only after they become sick), but the Post editorial says that Burr/Coburn/Hatch has such a provision. I don't know whether the first posting was in error, or the Senators involved modified their proposal, but if the Post editorial is correct about those two provisions, Burr/Coburn/Hatch becomes a plan I can support pretty much unreservedly.

It is going to be a major slog trying to get something like Burr/Coburn/Hatch passed, of course. The Senate is still dominated by Democrats, though in November an election is coming up that may — probably will — change that; and President Obama is on track to veto any bill that destroys his “masterpiece.” But this blog will favor the implementation of Burr/Coburn/Hatch or something like it, and you are likely to read more here in the future.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Virginia gay-marriage decision

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen issued an opinion voiding Virginia's ban on gay marriage. And while I approve of the decision, I wonder how ignorant a judge can be of our Constitution, as in her decision she stated that “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal.” Surely it would be incumbent on a Federal judge to know that those words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, but come from the Declaration of Independence, a document written by a prominent Virginian, Thomas Jefferson.

In fact, Judge Allen issued a revision of her opinion correcting this mistake afterward, but only after the error was pointed out to her by commentators. The basic idea of the opinion is right, of course. And it's fitting that the decision be made in Virginia, the state whose ban on interracial marriage was overridden by the Supreme Court in the Loving v. Virginia case. And in fact, Judge Allen began her decision with a quote from Mildred Loving, the wife in the marriage that was upheld in Loving v. Virginia. This, of course, is not a Supreme Court decision, but hopefully it will lead to one.

So, I view the decision favorably, but it gives me great pause that the judge that issued it could make such an egregious error as to the contents of our Constitution, which governs our laws.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The REAL effect of “Obamacare”

The Congressional Budget Office just came out with a report on the effects that “Obamacare” will have on the economy and on the health insurance status of the American people. As reported by John Podhoretz in the New York Post, it's not so good. On page 111, it says:

As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.

That's fewer! So, people may say, “That's not so bad; people will pick up their insurance on the exchanges, and this will lead to more coverage altogether.” But the report also says:

About 31 million nonelderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.

Now note that when President Obama was selling “Obamacare” to the American people in September 2009, he said:

[T]here are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.

So in 2024, we will have approximately the same number of uninsured Americans as we has in 2009! All this tampering with the health insurance of millions of Americans, merely to tread water?

Read Podhoretz's column. It's illuminating.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Not a good sign

A poll by CNN just showed the Republican leader to be… former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an extremist of the Religious Right. If I were faced with a choice in November 2016 between Huckabee and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, I'd have nowhere to go — I might even vote for Clinton, though more likely I'd vote for the Libertarian. Apparently the media's attacks on New Jersey governor Chris Christie have had some effect (though Christie was only 4 points below Huckabee, and all these candidates are below 20%) which shows that their indirect strategy (hurt the most qualified Republicans' chances, so they nominate someone who will be a pushover for Hillary) is working. However, it's still two years before 2016. We will see what happens in the interim.