February 1st, 2011

storming the castle

Calling things by their right names

At the core of the legal battles over Obamacare is the concept of the police power of the state. In American legal theory, the several States have virtually unlimited power to interfere with private conduct for the public good -- except where they are restrained from doing so, by, e.g., the State or federal Constitution. On the other hand, the federal government has only minimal power to interfere with private conduct for the public good -- except where it is specifically granted such power by the U.S. Constitution. An example of this is the area of law governing bankruptcies. The power to make laws concerning bankruptcy is specifically granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution, and that therefore restrains the States from making laws in this area.

So, Massachusetts' health care law has an individual mandate. You may like that or not, but the courts have so far held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can make people buy insurance at its direction as an expression of the police power of the state. If the people object, they can elect a new legislature, which can repeal or modify the law. On the other hand, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not extend so far as to empower Congress to interfere with Americans' private conduct to that extent. So, the individual mandate in Obamacare has been ruled unconstitutional by two different federal judges; the latest has gone so far as to say that without this component, the entire law is void.

I commented on a friend's FB that I thought Obamacare was "tyranny." I still believe that. I was slimed in return by some progressive whose method of disagreement was basically to call me a liar while criticizing my intemperate speech. But when the government infringes upon our liberty, that is the textbook definition of tyranny. It doesn't matter if you agree with the goals of the law*, if it attempts to regulate our conduct without warrant, then it is tyranny.

We rebelled against George III for less. What could the Stamp Act hurt, after all? Supporters of the Crown in the 1760s and '70s (including John Wesley) constantly pointed out that the goals of the British government were benign, spreading the costs to provide important benefits. Why were all these colonists so upset about paying taxes in return for government services? Why care about voting? Englishmen paid taxes and most of them couldn't vote -- what's the big deal?

Well, we thought it was a very big deal then, and it's a big deal now.

*For the record, I don't know of anyone, conservative or liberal, who doesn't want our health care system reformed and poor people assisted. Republican ideas on how to do that were overridden in the last Congress in order to pass the worst possible, most intrusive, gawdawfullest expensive bill into law.

Groundhog Day is tomorrow!

Just in case the local groundhogs are all snowed in tomorrow, I'm posting this picture I took of a mountain cousin of theirs back a few years ago. You'll notice that there is NO SHADOW in the picture.

Marmot on Wheeler Peak, NM Marmot on Wheeler Peak, NM

how long

Passions are aroused

Lot of Sturm und Drang circulating on United Methodist blogs and social networks. We're coming up on General Conference elections this spring and summer. Tempers are flaring, and some are angrily insisting that they love the Church just as much as their opponents do. Others are suggesting that we could jolly well do without some of these people we've been dragging along all these years [fingers pointing in both directions].

Me, I'm a church orphan. I stumbled into The UMC because I read the Articles of Religion and thought, "I'd like to belong to a church that believed that." Also, First UMC of Terre Haute was just up the street from our first apartment. So I don't have a lifelong sense of belonging that I'm defending; I'm a United Methodist by choice and commitment, and so long as I can live out what I was looking for when I came in, I'm happy to stay. Only if General Conference makes it impossible for me to stay with my conscience intact will I leave.

As John Denver sang a long while ago:
Love is why I came here in the first place,
Love is now the reason I must go;*
Love is all I ever hoped to find here,
Love is still the only dream I know.

*If I must.
by himself

Baby, it's cold outside

Hera likes to go outside, but not Lightning. Today, however, going outside was very cold and nasty. After Hera came back in, she was glad to be picked up and cuddled. She purred in my lap, then sat up and watched me blog for a while.

Guest Editor Guest Editor
Hera assists me with my blogging.

Note that I am a two-fisted drinker who has both hot and cold running caffeine (mug of coffee, liter of Diet Coke) while at the computer. Especially on mornings like this, caffeine provides lift (Fourth Law of Aerodynamics or something).