Wednesday, September 25, 2013

John McCain Should Do the Honorable Thing…..

….and resign, then run for his seat again in a special election if he wants to keep it. He has been one of my senators for almost 10 years and I have voted for him, reluctantly, and not usually as my first choice. He only represents Arizona’s interests for one year out of every six, the year leading up to his next reelection. For the other five years he seems to relish his role as “the Maverick,” and does what he damned well pleases, despite what the people of the State of Arizona tell him they want. He always knows better and seems to be more concerned wth Senate “comity” than doing what is right. He’s exhibit number one as to why the 17th amendment was a bad idea. 

Today, after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is acutely aware that he answers to the people of Texas, not the Senate Majority Leader ( who happens to be with the other party, BTW) spoke for 21 hours against funding Obamacare (actually 21 hours starting yesterday), Senator McCain delivered what might as well have been the Democrat response. Mike Walsh at PJ Media has the basics. Here is the main point:
  • his disgraceful attacks on Cruz, including his reach-across-the-aisle, dog-in-the-manger response today, this should be the end of Senator John McCain as a voice of influence in the Republican party. Ditto his mini-me, Senator Lindsey Graham. Indeed, the entire Old Guard of business-as-usual “comity” fans passeth. When you care more about what the other side thinks, it’s probably time either to switch teams or step down.
  • There is new leadership in the GOP, whether the party wants to admit it or not: Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jeff Sessions, and the others who stepped into the breach to spell the senator from Texas.
  • The Cruz faction in the Senate, and its allies in the House (whose leadership is now up for grabs) must now press their advantage. The louder the Democrats squawk, the more they are wounded; the one thing they’ve long feared is a direct assault on their core beliefs as translated into actions, and the deleterious effects of Obamacare, just now being felt by the population, are the most vivid proof of the failure of Progressivism that conservatives could wish for.
  • Win or lose, the battle is now joined: First the struggle for the GOP and then the battle for control of Congress and the presidency. Cruz just struck at the kings he could reach — the Republican “leadership” — and has most likely dealt them a fatal blow. Now the Tea Party hordes must back him up by eliminating his opponents (who tend to be geriatrics, and thus “leaders” by longevity rather than talent or commitment) through the primary process wherever possible. If he can carry off this coup, he and Senator Paul will very quickly find themselves elevated from back-benchers to commanders.
Finally, this:
  • Any party that cannot successfully sell freedom and personal liberty doesn’t deserve power. The trick will be to explain — by word and deed — that the Democrats’ Manichean choice (Big Brother or the orphanage) is a false one, that less can be more, and that the restoration of a Republic of self-reliant citizens will benefit all Americans — not simply the government class and its clients.
The last bullet point is absolutely correct. If the Republican party can’t recognize that, sell it, articulate it and convince us all that they BELIEVE in it, it’s all over.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jonah Goldberg on the Myth of Live-and-Let Live Liberalism

First, the term Liberalism, as used in the US, is anything but in the sense of classical liberalism. It is statism/progressivism. Jonah does make this point in the National Review Online article here. That said he uses the news that the DC City government is about to issue 66 pages of rules regulating the tattoo and piercing industries to illustrate the point that when it comes to intrusive and largely unnecessary regulation, you are going to find a liberal-run big city, state or national government entity behind it.   From the article:

There is a notion out there that being “socially liberal” means you’re a libertarian at heart, a live-and-let-live sort of person who says “whatever floats your boat” a lot.

Alleged proof for this amusing myth (or pernicious lie; take your pick) comes in the form of liberal support for gay marriage and abortion rights, and opposition to a few things that smack of what some people call “traditional values.”

The evidence disproving this adorable story of live-and-let-live liberalism comes in the form of pretty much everything else liberals say, do, and believe.

Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant, and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. — “What will they do next?”

Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are “they.” Outside of a Law and Order script — or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit — conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta do.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Is There a “Right” to Healthcare?

According to the late professor of Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Duke University, John David Lewis there is not, at least as interpreted by Jared Rhoads at The Objective Standard where he reviews a newly published essay that appears in a Medical Ethics text; Medical Ethics, 2nd Edition, edited by Michael Boylan. The key part from Rhoads’ review:

Lewis describes two basic and conflicting views of rights in America today. One is the idea of rights as entitlements to goods and services. The other is the idea of rights as moral prerogatives to freedom of action.

The first view holds that if a person has an unmet human need—a need that could be satisfied by some good or service—then it is incumbent upon others who are able to satisfy that need to do so. In other words, needs impose duties.

Lewis explains that this view fails in two important ways. First, because human needs are boundless, the consistent application of the notion that needs impose duties would lead to an endless creation of duties, and to ever-increasing government control over the lives of citizens, precisely because there is no end to the needs that one person may demand that others satisfy.

The other main problem, Lewis explains, is that imposing duties upon one person in the name of satisfying the unmet needs of another inescapably violates the rights of the first person. Applying this to health care, Lewis writes, “There is no right to medical care because there is no right to coerce medical professionals to provide it.”

The correct conception of rights, Lewis explains, is that rights define the scope of an individual’s freedom of action against which others may not infringe. Health care cannot be a right because health care consists of goods and services that are provided by medical professionals—people who have a right to think and act in pursuit of their own happiness and values just as anyone does. “To claim a right to medical care,” explains Lewis, “is to claim nothing less than a right to run the lives of those who must provide the care.”

I agree with this view. We often use the terms “rights” and “entitlements” interchangeably but they are not any more interchangeable than apples and oranges are. The Lewis essay being reviewed is not linkable but Rhoads’ interpretation is consistent with another (or the same? I don’t know.) Lewis essay, found here. Again, the key part:

These two concepts of rights -- rights as the right to liberty, versus rights as the rights to things -- cannot coexist in the same respect at the same time. If I claim that my right to life means my right to medicine, then I am demanding the right to force others to produce the values that I need. This ends up being a negation of personal sovereignty, and of individual rights.

To reform our health care industry we should challenge the premises that invited government intervention in the first place. The moral premise is that medical care is a right. It is not. There was no "right" to such care before doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies produced it. There is no "right" to anything that others must produce, because no one may claim a "right" to force others to provide it. Health care is a service, and we all depend upon thinking professionals for it. To place doctors under hamstringing bureaucratic control is to invite poor results.

The economic premise is that the government can create prosperity by redistributing the wealth of its citizens. This is the road to bankruptcy, not universal prosperity. The truth of this is playing out before our eyes, as medical prices balloon with every new intervention, and we face the largest deficits in human history.

If Congress wants to address health care issues, it can begin with three things: (1) tort reform, to free medical specialists from annual insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars; (2) Medicare reform, to face squarely the program's insolvency; and (3) regulatory reform, to roll-back the onerous rules that force doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies (who produce the care that others then demand as a "right") into satisfying bureaucratic dictates rather than bringing value to their patients.

Carried to its logical conclusion, the idea of unmet human needs being “rights” necessarily says that if I need food, another person is obligated to provide it if I can’t (or won’t). If I need shelter, another is obligated to provide me with it, etc. I would also argue that if this view of rights prevails then for actual Constitutionally enumerated rights such as oh, say, if I can’t afford to pay for a gun when the Constitution says (and it does) I have the right to keep and bear arms then I should be able to coerce the government into (read; the taxpayer, otherwise known as you, if you’re in the ~53% of the population that actually pays any) providing me with said gun. Do we really want to go there?


Read the whole thing(s).

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Just Say ‘No’ to Syria Intervention

I just sent the following to my Congressman and Senators:

I'd like to go on record as being against a military intervention, however limited it may be. I base this on the following reasons:

1. There is no vital US interest at stake, unless you count salvaging President Barack Obama's credibility as a vital national interest, in which case it's already too late.

2. The human toll has already surpassed 100,000 dead from being shot, blown up or hacked to death. Why is it that ~1,400 people being killed by gas suddenly too much? They are not any more dead than the people who were killed by other means.

3. It is far from clear that the anti-Assad forces are all good guys. In fact it seems like the opposition has been thoroughly infiltrated by Al Quaeda and other jihadis who are not our friends and never will be. If we intervene we will, in effect, be providing air support for our sworn enemies.

4. Nobody can help but feel for the innocents caught in the middle of all this but the unintended consequences possible with an intervention will not necessarily lead to fewer civilian deaths and could make the situation even worse.

Please vote 'no' on any resolution giving President Obama any sort of authority to intervene militarily in what is a Syrian civil war. It is hard to stand by and do nothing in the face of the horrors we are seeing, but that is what we must do.


Obama made an unforced error when he made his unscripted, off-the-cuff red line comment but that bell can’t be un-rung. The mistake has already been made. To intervene militarily in this internecine conflict would just compound the error and gain absolutely nothing in return while providing yet one more grievance for our enemies to nurse.

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