Friday, September 30, 2011

Dems want probe of Justice Thomas as health law ruling looms

By Julian Pecquet
Twenty House Democrats are demanding a judicial ethics investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas just as the high court is poised to issue a ruling on the healthcare law that could make or break President Obamas reelection.
The lawmakers on Thursday asked the U.S. Judicial Conference to formally request that the Department of Justice look into Thomas’s failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife has received from groups that want the healthcare law repealed. Their letter comes after 75 House Democrats in February asked Thomas to recuse himself from the case following reports that hed failed to report his wife Virginias income since he joined the bench in 1991.
Due to the simplicity of the disclosure requirements, along with Justice Thomas’s high level of legal training and experience, it is reasonable to infer that his failure to disclose his wife’s income for two decades was willful, and the Judicial Conference has a non-discretionary duty to refer this case to the Department of Justice,
the Democrats wrote in the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.
The letter comes just a day after the Obama administration and 26 states challenging the Democrats healthcare reform law asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, all but assuring that the high court will render a decision by next summer.
Many legal experts believe the court will end up with a split 5-4 ruling on the law — with Justice Anthony Kennedy filling his customary swing-vote role — so pressure on justices to recuse themselves is only expected to increase. Republicans for their part have focused their attacks on Justice Elena Kagan, who was the Obama administrations top lawyer when the healthcare law was being crafted.
I think that Kagan, who was the solicitor general at the time this was all done, probably should recuse herself,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News in February.
Conservative groups have similarly been raising concerns that Kagan might have been involved in crafting the administrations legal defense for a law shes now expected to rule on — something she emphatically denied during her Senate confirmation. In particular, they point to an email exchange between Kagan and her subordinate Neal Katyal that suggests she might have gotten involved without leaving a paper trail. The emails were obtained by under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Referring to a planned healthcare litigation meeting, Katyal emailed Kagan: I think you should go, no? I will, regardless, but feel this is litigation of singular importance.
Whats your phone number? Kagan asked, thereby ending the email chain.
Democrats are also ramping up the pressure on Thomas.
Their letter raises concerns not only with Virginia Thomas’s income, but also with a recent New York Times report that found that Justice Thomas might have benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement. And while the letter from the House Democrats doesnt mention the healthcare law, a news release from Slaughters office makes clear the pending litigation is on their minds.
Throughout his entire tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas checked a box titled none on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007 alone, Slaughters office said in the news release. The Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court in the near future.
The letters co-signers include: Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), John Olver (Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Bob Filner (Calif.), Peter Welch (Vt.), John Conyers (Mich.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.).

Wisconsin Judge: No "Fundamental Right to Produce and Consume Foods"


In a court case sure to go down in history for one of the most bizarre rulings, a Wisconsin judge has held that American citizens do not have a "fundamental right to produce or consume foods of their choice." The decision was so shocking that the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund asked the judge to issue a clarification of the ruling.
The case involved people who owned cows and sought to board them at a farm. As noted by, “Although the commercial relationship between the owner of the cow and owner of the land gives cause for the state to intervene, Fiedler [took] his ruling into a more personal and troubling direction.”
The plaintiffs in the case argued that their right to privacy — which allows them to decline medical treatment, allow abortion, view pornography, and engage in consensual sex — should also translate into the right to “consume food of his/her own choice.”
Judge Patrick Fiedler remained unconvinced, claiming that the constitutionality of food rights is “wholly without merit.” He added that the plaintiffs' use of the Roe v Wade case as a precedent does “not explain why a woman’s right to have an abortion translates to a right to consume unpasteurized milk…. This court is unwilling to declare that there is a fundamental right to consume the food of one’s choice without first being presented with significantly more developed arguments on both sides of the issue.”
Judge Fiedler went on to clarify his ruling further:
  1. “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;
  2. “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;
  3. “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;
  4. “no, the … Plaintiffs’ private contract does not fall outside the scope of the State’s police power;
  5. “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.”
While some of the points put forward by the judge are reasonable to an extent, points two and five are particularly disturbing to constitutionalists, as they propose severe limitations on personal rights. Foolocracy notes,
A person growing a tomato plant in his or her home and choosing to eat that tomato would seem to have that right as clearly as a person choosing a partner for sex in a private home. Frighteningly, Fiedler thinks otherwise.
Prison Planet remarks on how such a ruling would be received, even by the nation’s regulators:
You have to wonder if maybe even the regulators are getting a tad uncomfortable with the rulings coming from the nation’s judiciary on food rights. Many of these individuals, biased as they are against raw milk, dabble in farming to some extent, or grew up on farms. This judge has gone way beyond what many of them have come to assume — that everyone has the right to own a cow and consume its milk. Even in places that ban raw milk sales, there’s nearly always a provision in state law that anyone who owns a cow has the right to consume its milk.
It seems Judge Fiedler believes that food consumption is one of those rights that are not God-given but rather granted by the state.
Some analysts believe that such increased food regulations are being proposed because big agriculture fears competition from little producers, and therefore uses lobbyists to virtually eliminate small family farms that have been successful outside of the mainstream. Interestingly, those involved in large-scale agriculture are already the beneficiaries of massive government subsidies.
Evidence of federal government pressure that will affect small family farms more than large-scale agriculture can be found in recent regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation. The regulations reclassify farm vehicles and implements, and require all farm workers to meet the same set of requirements that over-the-road truck drivers do. Such a regulatory burden would be felt much more significantly by small family farms than by large ones.
Regulations are beginning to have an impact on nearly every aspect of food consumption in the United States. In Oregon, for example, Multnomah County inspectors recently targeted a lemonade stand for operating without a license and threatened to fine the seven-year-old operator $500.
Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration has turned its attention to Amish milk, setting up a sting operation to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling unpasteurized milk in the Washington area.
The Obama administration signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which, as noted by the Heritage Foundation, would “authorize the FDA to dictate how farmers grow fruits and vegetables, including rules governing soil, water, hygiene, packing, temperatures, and even what animals may roam which fields and when.” The act also “increases inspections of food facilities and tax[es] them to do so … [and] grants the FDA unilateral authority to order recalls.”
Now, Fiedler’s ruling opens the door for the need for “plant police” to help enforce restrictions on the personal use and growing of vegetables.
Groups of citizens around the country are beginning to recognize how federal government regulations are infringing on their personal rights, and as a result, have launched a counter-attack.
In Sedgwick, Maine, for example, approximately 100 residents unanimously approved a food sovereigntyinitiative at a March 5 town meeting, which permits food producers in the town to sell food without federal and state regulatory interference. Entitled “The Ordinance to Protect the Health and Integrity of the Local Food System,” the four-page document invoked the town’s right to self-governance and states that local producers and processors may sell food to consumers without licensing.
A number of other towns in Hancock County have elected to follow Sedgwick’s example.
Still, there is more to be done for Americans to shake the shackles of federal regulations. Prison Planet asserts that citizens should be more vigilant and publicize the issues in blogs, on the web, and via letters to their representatives and local newspapers, even calling for an end to subsidies to all industries. It adds that Americans should be supporting their local farmers.

Education Spending Not Reflected in Test Scores


The lingering institutional wisdom when it comes to education is that increased spending will bring about improved results — even as history continues to reveal otherwise. For example, recent reports indicate that though education spending has increased 64 percent since the inception of the federal No Child Left Behind program, there has been little improvement in America’s test scores. Meanwhile, American schools continue to make little progress against other industrialized nations.
No Child Left Behind mandates that public schools meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) levels by 2014, thoiugh many states are far from this standard. At the time it was proposed, NCLB purported it would do the following:
  • Set higher standards by establishing measurable goals to improve individual outcomes
  • Require states to develop assessments in basic skills in order to receive federal funding
  • Not set a national standard, instead allowing individual states to construct their own
The program received incredible bipartisan support.
Years later, however, NCLB has proved to be a colossal failure. Now, the Obama administration has sought to rescue states that are struggling under the provisions of No Child Left Behind by granting waivers to schools that are not meeting the standards set forth in the educational program, as well as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), passed by Congress in 2001.
According to the Department of Education, education spending has increased dramatically in order to implement No Child Left Behind. In the first year of the program, mandatory and discretionary spending for elementary and secondary schools increased by $9.5 billion. By 2002, spending increased 33.6 percent from $42.1 billion in 2001 to $56.2 billion.
Over the course of the last decade, spending increased 63.8 percent, with an increase of $24.6 billion to the Education Department’s budget.
By comparison, before No Child Left Behind was implemented, spending for the Department of Education went up less than $3 billion per year.
The Department of Education website contains data which show the total amounts of spending per year since 1997. The figures reveal the dramatic increases in spending since the inception of No Child Left Behind. CNS News succinctly summarized the numbers as follows:
1997 - $33.52 billion
1998 - $35.67 billion
1999 - $38.31 billion
2000 - $38.44 billion
2001 - $42.06 billion
2002 - $56.17 billion
2003 - $63.25 billion
2004 - $67.21 billion
2005 - $71.47 billion
2006 - $100.04 billion (due to a jump in Federal Family Education Loans)
2007 - $67.12 billion
2008 - $68.57 billion
2009 - $138.00 billion (regular spending of $39.88 billion plus $98.23 billion under the Recovery Act)
2010 - $63.00 billion
The 2011 Continuing Resolution has education spending sitting around $70 billion, but under President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget, that amount would increase to $77.4 billion.
The astronomical figures could theoretically (but not constitutionally) be defendable if there has been a marked and significant increase in educational achievement in America’s public schools. Unfortunately that has not been the case. CNS News reports:
Results from the Nation’s Report Card for Fourth Grade reading proficiency in 2002 found 38 percent below basic, 32 percent basic, 23 percent proficient and 6 percent advanced. In 2009 for reading, 34 percent were below basic, 34 percent at basic, 24 percent at proficient and 7 percent at advanced.
More specifically, reading scores for 8th grade reveal that between 2002 and 2009, 26 percent of students were below basic proficiency.
The one area where achievements have been made is mathematics, with scores steadily improving since 1990, which indicates that none of that credit belongs to No Child Left Behind. In 1990, 52 percent of 4th graders were below proficiency in math, but by 2007, that figure had dropped to 19 percent.
Similar trends were found with 8th grade mathematics scores. Since 1990, students performing below basic levels dropped 20 points in 2009. Between 2007 and 2009, however, there were minimal increases in mathematics achievement scores.
Overall, when ranked in the global arena, the United States was rated “average” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2010, after U.S. students took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment, a reading, math, and science test that is offered internationally to 15-year-olds.
The Department of Education posted on its blog, “The U.S. effectively showed no improvement in reading since 2000. Overall, the OECD’s rankings have U.S. students in 14th place in reading literacy among OECD nations.”
What’s worse is that in 2000, when the test was first administered, the U.S. students ranked 15th in reading and 19th in math. But the latest PISA scores show that American students now rank 25th in math.
The results forced the department to admit, “How much money the U.S. spends on education isn’t the problem. We spend more per student than any nation in the PISA ... except Luxembourg.”
The United States spent an average of $10,500 per student in 2009. The Obama administration is still asking to spend more money on education, even after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $100 billion to states to address “budget shortfalls.”
At the same time, President Obama has indicated that he would like to see his administration “implement a new educational system” while he waits for Congress to reauthorize the ESEA. His new plan would permit the states to opt out of provisions of the law on the condition that they adopt other approved policies of the Obama administration.
Obama explains that states will receive exemptions as long as they agree to implement “state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college and are career-ready.”
Constitutionalists note that the data continue to prove that the best way to save education is to eliminate the Department of Education and return to local governments the reserved power to handle educational issues.
GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has long been a proponent of doing just that, as he has been a staunch critic of the Department of Education, observing:
First, the Constitution does not authorize the Department of Education, and the founders never envisioned the federal government dictating those education policies.
Second, it is a huge bureaucracy that squanders our money. We send billions of dollars to Washington and get back less than we sent. The money would be much better off left in states and local communities rather than being squandered in Washington.
Finally, I think that the smallest level of government possible best performs education. Teachers, parents, and local community leaders should be making decisions about exactly how our children should be taught, not Washington bureaucrats. 

The Dark and Dangerous Road of Modern Politics

By Robert Eugene Simmons Jr.
Imagine sitting down for dinner with the news on in the background.  Everyone is enjoying dinner while half-listening to the latest political intrigue going on in Washington and in the media.  Suddenly one of your guests starts calling 14- and 17-year-old girls who just happen to be a child of a notable politician "whores" and "tramps."  How, as father of a young girl yourself, could you nod or laugh?  I have often wondered what kind of state of mind it would take to find such a thing acceptable or even funny. 
Unfortunately such conversations are going on all over the political spectrum these days.  The nastiest of allegations and accusations are coming from the statists, directed towards the Tea Party and like-minded politicians.  The statists and especially the far left seem to have willingly and consciously abandoned all morality, taste, and ethics for the purpose of winning a political battle.  They seem willing to put the lives of young men and women at risk to win an election, and the trend is disturbing.
Take for example a young woman named Bristol Palin.  Her mother entered the national political scene when she was 17.  Bristol herself had not violated laws or abused anyone, or even held political office; she simply had a mother who was a politician, and Bristol had made an unfortunate decision that resulted in her becoming pregnant at a young age.  The vultures of the left swarmed in on the young woman with the vilest accusations imaginable and they continue to do so today.  They alleged she was promiscuous and that she was "white trash," and national shows like Saturday Night Live implied that her own father was the father of her baby.
While watching the media and blogosphere treatment of Bristol, I was reminded of the tale ofPhoebe Prince, a 15-year-old teenager who was bullied online and eventually took her own life in her despair.  As a father, I felt a stab of horror and sadness when I heard about the poor young lady.  Yet Bristol Palin has endured what Phoebe did on an international level and at levels of magnitude more intensity.  Frankly, it is a miracle that she was able to live through those times.  The attacks were, in fact, calculated to destroy her personally.
After reading Bristol's book, I was taken aback by the misery that Bristol's life had become and the steel spine she must have had to make it through.  I admired her resolve and resilience and was saddened by her ordeal.  As a father, I sat back and tried, but failed, to imagine the mind of a man who could bully a young teenage girl, risking causing a suicide, and then face his family calmly.  I often wonder if they have trouble facing their young daughters after writing a particularly nasty comment on a blog somewhere.
However, Bristol isn't the only person who has had to endure such vitriolic attacks.  Her mother, of course, has received more such attacks than any other politician in history.  Apparently threatening to kill Sarah Palin is something of a sport to some leftists.  They have even proudly published a video game that allows the players to indulge their murder fantasy.  I wonder how a player of such a game explains the game to his or her 10-year-old when the kid looks over Mom's or Dad's shoulder.  Long before the game there were posters, drawings, and altered photographs that indulged in a sick fantasy of murdering Mrs. Palin.  However, the Palin family isn't alone in being the recipient of such hostility.
The Tea Party has been under increasingly vitriolic and nasty attacks trying to bully the membership into retreating from public life.  Throughout their short existence, they have been accused of being racists and white supremacist Nazis -- ironic, since their views have little in common with the National Socialist German Worker's Party.  The accusers aren't limited to a few oddballs in the blogosphere and political commentators.  Even the vice president of the United States implied that the Tea Party were terrorists, saying that Republican leaders had "guns to their heads" when trying to negotiate a bill.  From the second-highest office in the executive branch, that is just irresponsible and dangerous.
What I can't understand is how the leftists manage to make such attacks without having a crisis of conscience.  How does the black man who endured racism under Democrat George Wallace in Alabama allow leftists to trivialize the fear and oppression they went through by tossing "racism" around like a ping-pong ball?  How does a feminist who suffered against the glass ceiling allow others to refer to a female politician as a "slut" or "whore" just because she is in the opposite party?  How does a father allow such horrible things to be said of children just because their mother is a politician?  I know if I heard such things about Sasha and Malia Obama at my dinner table, despite my deep disagreements with their father, I would throw the guest out of my house, and feel I had to shampoo the carpets where he or she walked.
It is as if the left have tossed out the window any sense of morality, ethics, tolerance, and diversity of opinion that they professed to believe in for a hundred years.  The rise of the Tea Party didn't surprise me, given the vast overreach of statists in both parties, but that an entire group in politics was willing to throw out their humanity for the sake of political gain does surprise me.  I suppose I had naively thought that Americans were unable to go down the roads traveled in so many dark times in human history.  I suppose I cannot understand such a mindset.
The question is, will that mindset be the new politics in America?  Have we traded in the debate halls and questions of Constitution and the freedom of speech for vicious allegations and attempts to destroy others' lives because we disagree with them?  Will we laugh when a 47-year-old man verbally attacks a 20-year-old woman in public with words like "slut" and "whore"?  Each one of us, no matter what the political persuasion, has that power in our blogs, comments online, and interactions to change the tone of the conversation.  The only requirement is the courage to not remain silent.

The Coming Obama Administration War on Doctors

By Scott Kirwin
A recent study in the journal "Health Affairs" compared physicians in the United States with those in Europe, Australia, and Canada and concluded that higher physician fees, including those by primary care physicians (PCPs), were the main reason for escalating health care costs in the U.S.  In short, the authors of the study Miriam Laugesen, an associate professor at Columbia University, and Sherry Glied, appointed in June 2010 by the Obama administration to the position of assistant health secretary for planning and evaluation, believe doctors are overpaid.
Glied tried distancing the Obama administration from the study in a statement after the study was announced, saying that the study did not reflect the administration's views.  Laugesen has targeted physicians in the past.  In her 2009 paper "Siren Song," she compared Congress to Ulysses as being unable to resist the siren song of physicians' groups.  Glied's work has been no less controversial, penning a study that found "substantial racial/ethnic disparities in satisfaction with care," implying physicians were racists.
I presented the study findings to the CEO of a non-profit hospital.  He believes that this study is the first shot by the Obama administration in a war against physicians to cut health care costs by cutting Medicare payments.  There is currently a bill in Congress recommending a 29% decrease in Medicare physician fees, and he believes that the Obama administration will use this study to negotiate a "compromise" cut of 10%-15%.  Since private insurance increasingly uses the Relative Value Unit (RVU) method to determine their own reimbursement schedules, this would have the effect of cutting payments not just for Medicare but to private insurance payers as well.
It is ironic that doctors would find themselves targeted by the Obama administration.  The American Medical Association endorsed ObamaCare, much to the dismay of a large portion of its members.  Although the Association tried to walk back its support two years later, the AMA finds itself in the sights of the administration that got what it needed from the group, and Republicans who view the organization as providing the cover the bill needed at the critical time when it could have been killed.  Suddenly doctors find themselves with few friends on either side of the aisle.
Laugesen and Glied's study design suffers from errors of omission and faulty assumptions although it was extensively cited by the press.  First, it didn't mention the cost of malpractice insurance, which averages $12,500 per year for primary care physicians but is tiny in countries with national health systems that do not award large payouts.  Second, it called the cost of medical school in the U.S. "negligible."  Medical school abroad is often free, but American doctors graduate $180,000 in debt that will cost each $400,000 in taxable income to pay off over 15 years after the loan is capitalized and taxes are included.  Next the study compared Medicarepayments with private insurance payments, but it didn't consider Medicaid, which pays on average a third less than Medicare for the same treatment.
What is the average pay for a primary care physician in 2011?  Statistics vary.  It should be no surprise that health care personnel placement firms report higher salaries since placement firms encourage lucrative starting salaries so that they can get a bigger cut after they place a doctor.  But this overstates salaries since most doctors earn these starting salaries for a fixed time and are then placed on productivity -- whereby their salaries fluctuate depending on the number of patients they see and the procedures they perform in a quarter as translated into RVU's.  TheBureau of Labor Statistics reports a median income for family and general practitioners in 2011 of $163,510.
If salaries are the main driver of escalating costs shouldn't they escalate?  A 2006 study by the Center for Studying Health System Change reported that in 1995 the average salary for a primary care physician was $135,036.  By 2003 that figure had risen to $146,405, but adjusting for inflation by using 1995 dollars, the 2003 salary was $121,262, a 10.1% decrease in just 8 years.  Translated into 1995 dollars, the BLS 2011 median income of $163,510 becomes $110,299.  Primary care physician salaries have actually declined over the past 16 years.  Even Laugesen and Glied's fantastic average of $186,582 is the equivalent of just $125,862 in 1995 dollars, below the 1995 average of $135,036 reported in the 2006 study.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 1995 the per capita national health expenditure was about $3,950.  In 2009 the per capita expenditure was $8,086 -- $5,744 in 1995 dollars.  Health care costs are soaring -- that's a rise in 16 years of 69% beyond inflation, but Laugesen and Glied's conclusion is wrong.  How can primary care physicians be the main drivers of higher U.S. spending on health care when their earnings have fallen over the past 16 years, not risen?
Medicine is a business, but for some reason doctors are penalized when they begin to treat it like one.  As the CEO of the non-profit hospital states, "[r]elating the income to the costs born by physicians is a silly comparison. ... That isn't ever done for the lawyers, is it?"
Doctors aren't to blame for the health care system mess, but they will soon find themselves held responsible by an administration that got what it needed from them two years ago and now finds them expendable.

It Is Not the Economy, Stupid

By Bruce Walker
Watching the Republican debates, listening to the droning of our dreary presidential flop, reading what wise pundits on the right as well as the left say, one might assume that economics was the standard of all policy and politics.  Twenty years ago, when Bill Clinton ran for president, his mantra was clear: "It's the economy, stupid!"
I pray that we do not surrender to the damnable vice of utter materialism.  If we do, nothing can save us.  America is a rich nation which is being drained and hobbled by those who hate it with unbridled venom.  "God damn America!" Obama's preacher screeched.  All over the world and all over our nation, grotesque little monsters frown and sneer at our country.
They hate us, but they do not hate our wealth, nor do they particularly hate how wealth is divided in our nation (every nation, without exception, has its "upper ten percent," its "super-rich" and its "very poor.")  We think that the attack on America is based upon economics because those who hate us spout class warfare all the time.  But that is simply another lie told by those who think lying is fine.
Modern life, particularly in America and modern industrialized societies, is pure luxury compared with any other era of human history.  Our biggest health problem is obesity, yet because the left cannot discard the hopelessly silly notion of rampant hunger in America, one is likely to find in the same leftist screed a condemnation of our heartless indifference to childhood hunger and a call for fat poor kids to exercise more.
Look at the object of consumer consumption today.  Software, particularly computer gaming, takes up a huge chunk of discretionary spending.  Cable television is stuffed like a pig with venal, vaporous, and vicious programming.  The coronation of all forms of celebrity leads us into countless cul-de-sacs of despair as Casey Anthony is vetted for a career in pornography.
There are places where real need is desperate, particularly in Africa, but the cause of hardship is not economic.  Rather, it is political.  Leaders cannot have their subjects affluent.  These wretches must, instead, be forced into corrals of poverty.  All the trillions of dollars of aid which America and Europe have given to these nations have not helped the poor.
Why would anyone want his own people poor?  Why do leftists here create phantasms like global warming and demand holy altars to worship dirt?  Why do they ignore the ghastly deconstruction of wholesome youth, which is the sole aim of state-controlled education and culture?  It has nothing to do with money or with markets or with any other aspect of conventional economics.
Reach back to Orwell and to C.S. Lewis, writing more than sixty years ago, and grasp what these prescient men saw then.  In 1984, there was grinding poverty for nearly all, but a modicum of affluence for members of the Inner Party.  Orwell leaves no doubt that the societal poverty is a central policy of the Inner Party.  Obsessed with simple survival, the slaves of Oceania have no room for any greater existence.  If manna fell from Heaven, the Inner Party would gather it all up and burn it.  Orwell describes a secular Hell.
C.S. Lewis describes a spiritual Hell.  In The Great Divorce, Lewis shows us a society in which anyone can create anything he wishes just by wishing.  Although the reader can see their utterly hopeless and accursed existence, these subjects of godless afterlife do not know that they are in Hell.
Stuff cannot give us purpose or peace.  Any society which focuses on "stuff" will end up, whether as rich as Beverly Hills or as poor as Havana, worshipping false gods and living horrible lives.  When Republicans say that "jobs" is the only real issue, when Republicans seem to believe that prenatal infanticide, snickering defamation of Judeo-Christian faith, or flaying of family in the torture chambers of leftism is a distraction, let us hope that they do not mean it.
Obama and his orcs view life as a soulless struggle for stuff without a Great Watchman who judges those who lie and steal and bully in pursuit of some invented "noble" goal.  This is entirely and eternally wrong: life is the pursuit of truth, of love, of honor, and of liberty.  America was created not for purposes of comfort or money.  It was created so that each of us could seek, unmolested by public needs, a private path to what is right. 
It is the left which rewrote our history to make the Founding Fathers ciphers in some vast battle between capitalism and socialism.  In 1938, Dorothy Thompson, the first journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany, wrote a small book which explains how history professors were teaching students to interpret history from the standpoint of materialism, as if the Constitution should be read wholly in the life of the economic status of the men who framed it, with the presumption that they were incapable of disinterested thinking.  Thompson warns that this will shrink human life to sterile economic analysis of life1.
The war we fight involves jobs, money, taxes, and other elements of economics -- and it is perfectly proper to make arguments in favor of ordered liberty -- but the heart of our battle to defend our way of life would not end if next year we found a way to synthetically create all we might want without any effort beyond our wishing for it.  Peel back the thin and translucent layer of stuff and find a vastly deeper and more vital conflict between men who would be gods or druids to empty nature-worship and people who have immortal souls and know the infinite importance of that truth.  It is not the economy, stupid. 

Justice Kennedy and the Fate of ObamaCare

By Joseph Ashby
It's been one year, six months, and eight days since it happened.  White-hot tempers have cooled.  Dire predictions are rarer.  Unlike many tumultuous situations, which in retrospect appear unworthy of our ire, the intensity that accompanied the passage of ObamaCare was well-suited to the size of the cause.
Throughout the Western world, government-run health care has served to catalyze a permanent leftist political climate.  Unlike the relatively limited nature of our current welfare state (which is already bankrupting the nation), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is designed to reach across all age demographics and into nearly every income bracket.
Because of its near-limitless reach, if fully implemented, ObamaCare will quickly become a political force surpassing even Social Security and Medicare.  Once that happens, the only way to win elections will be to promise not to touch government health care.  Every politician will have to accept and even endorse issues that are now championed only by the far left.
The morning after ObamaCare passed, the Los Angeles Times announced that the Democrats had won a 100-year war, but the war didn't end.  Once the law passed, Americans began a two-pronged effort to sabotage the left's well-laid plan, and thereby rescue America from an ominous fate.
The success of the first prong, judicial action, will likely be determined by late next spring.
Earlier this week, the U.S. government failed to file a request for re-hearing of their case before the full panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Failure to file for the re-hearing likely means one of three things.  The Obama team wanted no part of the unfriendly 11th Circuit, is willing to accept a version of ObamaCare without the insurance purchase mandate (a possibility Rush Limbaugh pointed out Wednesday), or believes it has a winning argument to take to the Supreme Court.
With four reliable liberals and four reliable constitutionalists on the Supreme Court, many consider the court's decision to rest with Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Kennedy's recent votes are both cause for hope and concern for those fighting ObamaCare.
For example, in the 2005 Kelo decision, Kennedy sided with the liberal wing of the court.  The decision allowed a municipal government in Connecticut to seize private lands through eminent domain and hand the land over to other private interests.  Kennedy wrote in a concurring opinionthat as long as there was a proper "rational-basis test" which justified government taking the land, then the use of eminent domain was constitutional.
If Kennedy finds the health insurance mandate "rational" or a necessity to address health care costs, the unthinkable (but very possible) may occur: ObamaCare may get the SCOTUS stamp of constitutional approval.
Opponents of the president's health care law will find the Citizens United decision more encouraging, both because Kennedy fell on the side of the Constitution and because of its analogous similarity to ObamaCare.  In both Citizens United (free speech) and the Affordable Care Act (right to property), the law in question gives the federal government such broad power that even dependable moderates like Kennedy cringe.
The most iconic moment of the Citizens United case came during oral arguments, when Chief Justice John Roberts questioned deputy solicitor general Malcolm Stewart on what types of speech the government could outlaw:
Roberts: If it's a 500-page book and at the end it says, "so vote for X," the government could ban that?
Stewart: If you have Citizens United or General Motors using general treasury funds to publish a book that at the outset, for instance, that Hillary Clinton's election would be a disaster for this --
Roberts: No, no. Take my hypothetical. It doesn't say at the outset. "Here is a..." whatever it is. "This is a discussion of the American political system." And at the end it says, "Vote for X."
Stewart: Yes, our position would be that the corporation could be required to use PAC funds rather than general treasury funds.
Roberts: And if they didn't you could ban it?
Stewart: If they didn't, we could prohibit the publication of the book using the corporate treasury funds.
Several months later, the Court heard a second oral argument on the same case.  In the second round, then-Solicitor General (now Supreme Court justice) Elena Kagan was asked about the potential that the Federal Election Commission could ban books.  Kagan responded that the FEC had the power to ban books, but has never and most likely would never use that power.  A somewhat shocked Justice Antonin Scalia tersely responded, "We don't put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats."
After the oral arguments, Kennedy voted with the originalists on the court.  The majority opinion, written by Kennedy, was laced with statements that suggested he was greatly affected by the back-and-forth over book-banning.  "When Government seeks to use its full power,"wrote Kennedy, "including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought."
When ObamaCare goes to the Supreme Court, the Scalias and Robertses of the bench will no doubt pin down the administration lawyers on the individual mandate.
If the government can force citizens to buy health insurance, what will stop the Congress from mandating the purchase of cars, homes, food, or any number of products or services?  There is no good answer to that question because, if we must buy one product, there is no sufficiently definable limit on congressional power regarding our personal purchasing decisions.  We can hope Justice Kennedy will be greatly affected by that argument as well.
But to depend on Anthony Kennedy is a little like a soldier who takes cover behind a sapling during a firefight -- the sapling may stop the bullet, or it may not.  Which is why the second prong, the legislative repeal of ObamaCare, must continue.
Even if the Supreme Court declares the individual mandate unconstitutional, there is no guarantee that the justices will throw out the entire law.  The American people would be left with the taxes, regulations, massive Medicaid expansion, and other harmful provisions of the health care law.  If that is the case, the defeat of ObamaCare through the republican process is our only avenue.  The 2012 elections will be our best shot (and maybe our only real chance) of stopping the law.
Obama and the wordsmiths at the White House think themselves quite clever dubbing ObamaCare "Obama cares."  The truth is that Obama doesn't care.  It's incumbent upon the rest of us to stop this destructive law before it's too late.