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April 2012
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The Ridiculousness of the ObamaCare Suit

With the Supreme Court having completed an exceptional three days of oral argument concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (affectionately or derisively known as “Obamacare”) in Physician Hospitals of America v. Sebelius, there seems to me to be some glaring contradictions in philosophy.

Those who support the constitutional invalidation of Obamacare argue that the Constitution forbids the federal government from mandating the purchase of any specific product by citizens. This is simply not true.  It happens all the time.  There is no such prohibition in the Constitution.  In fact, in the 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn, the Court said that the federal government’s authority extends to any activity that “exerts a substantial economic effect” on commerce crossing state lines.

Federally-collected taxes pay for fitness centers in the Capitol Building for the exclusive use by members of Congress.  Federal taxes pay for health insurance for members of Congress.  The same for the President.

Federal tax dollars are used to pay for healthcare for those who cannot afford health care – even if they have never contributed through the payment of taxes.

What makes these examples even more egregious is that in them the government is forcing me to make purchases for someone else’s benefit.  Under Obamacare, the government is simply requiring citizens to purchase their own health insurance coverage.

These are just a few examples from the top of my head.  The fact that some have chosen to challenge Obamacare, but not other programs belies the political nature of the challenge, and establishes that there is no true constitutional concern motivating this attack.

Aside from the above, it is clear that requiring citizens to have their own health insurance clearly “exerts a substantial economic effect”.  How?  Requiring citizens to maintain their own health insurance reduces the economic impact of government coffers.  It likewise reduces the economic impact on other citizens.  If all citizens have their own health coverage, fewer tax dollars must be spend paying for those who are uninsured or underinsured.  Then, perhaps, tax rates could be reduced.

Likewise, if every citizen has insurance coverage, medical costs for others will go down.  I recall being with a friend in the hospital and learning the hospital bills patients $15.00 for a single Tylenol® tablet.  Tylenol tablets cost less than a quarter each.  Thus, thus $15.00 Tylenol® tablet is paying not only for my friend’s Tylenol® but also for 59 Tylenol® tablets for people who cannot afford a $.25 pill.

It is therefore clear that mandatory insurance will have a substantial effect on interstate commerce in any number of ways.  Accordingly, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional – despite its detractors’ ridiculous analogies to buying broccoli.

Is Nancy Brinker the Anna Wintour of Charity?

In the wake of the public derision of Susan G. Komen’s for the Cure’s cutting of funding for Planned Parenthood and its quick reversal, Nancy Brinker, the President and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is coming under fire now for her expenses she charged to the charity.  These charges include first class air travel and 5-star hotel rooms.

Between June 2007 to January 2009, she charged $133,507 to the charity she founded in 1982, while being employed full time by the federal government as  30th Chief of Protocol of the United States, appointed by President George W. Bush.  Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure (formerly, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) after her sister, Susan G. Komen, passed away from breast cancer in 1980.

In addition to her expenses, Brinker earns more than $400,000 per year from the charity.

According to The Daily Beast article, “Employees don’t call her ‘Nancy,’ these people say. They are expected to call her ‘Ambassador Brinker.’”  Brinker was United States Ambassador to Hungary from September 2001 to 2003.   Really?!  ”Ambassador Brinker”?

While it may be true that in the 30 years since the foundation was formed Brinker has raised some $1.9 billion for cancer research, a $400,000+ salary and near $50,000 in expenses while being employed full time elsewhere seems…well…unseemly.

As a result of the founding of the charity after her sister’s early demise, charity may have begun at home.  However, it now seems that charity pays for her homes.  Brinker maintains homes at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., and in Palm Beach, Fla.

Between her two homes, her first class travel, five-star hotel rooms, and her directive that she should be called “Ambassador Brinker” – at her charity – I can’t help but think while writing this that Brinker is the Anna Wintour of charity.

With a contribution of even $500, I can’t help but think that the entirety of my contribution would go to Brinker’s salary rather than helping women with breast cancer.  Unable to get that thought from my mind, I cannot foresee donating to this charity, ever, since it seems less like a charity and more like a business.

Herman Cain: Homosexuality is a Choice

Apparently, presidential candidate Herman Cain believes that homosexuality is a choice.  During an interview with Piers Morgan, Cain responded to inquiries with:  ” What does science show? Show me evidence other than opinion and you might cause me to reconsider that…Where is the evidence?”
Part of the rest of the interview follows:

Cain: … I respect their right to make that choice. You don’t see me bashing them. I respect them to have the right to make that choice. I don’t have to agree with it. That’s all I’m saying.
Morgan: It would be like a gay person saying, Herman, you made a choice to be black.
Cain: You know that’s not the case. You know I was born black.
Morgan: Maybe if they say that, they would find that offensive.
Cain: Piers, Piers. This doesn’t wash off. I hate to burst your bubble.
Morgan: I don’t think being homosexual washes off.

In response to this interview, radio personality Dan Savage made the following offer to Mr. Cain:

Dear Herman,

If being gay is a choice, show us the proof. Choose it. Choose to be gay yourself. Show America how that’s done, Herman, show us how a man can choose to be gay. Suck my dick, Herman. Name the time and the place and I’ll bring my dick and a camera crew and you can suck me off and win the argument. Very sincerely yours,

Dan Savage

Love it!

Ryan Dunn

Ryan Dunn died on June 20, 2011.  Any loss of life is tragic.  However, to those who have taken Roger Ebert to task for tweeting about Ryan’s death, I say get over it.

Again, the loss of any life is tragic.  However, this death was likely avoidable.  Having read about this story, many comments complain that it is wrong and unfair to assume that Ryan was drinking or speeding.  Well, as it turns out both are true.  His blood alcohol was .198% – more than double Pennsylvania’s limit.  Police has determined that he was driving at least 120 mph (possibly as fast as 140 mph).

While Roger Ebert’s tweet was awfully close after Ryan’s death, the time to take lessons from tragedy is immediately after it.  Some people say Ebert should have allowed Ryan’s family and friends time to mourn.  This raises a few points.  First, as I wrote above, the time to learn from tragedy is when it happens, not weeks or months afterward.  Second, I think it is unlikely that his family is reading internet articles about his death.  Third, his loved ones certainly do not have to read news stories.

Rather than viewing Ebert’s comments as malicious or ill-intended, they should be viewed as cautionary.  Tragedy can strike anyone.  Neither fame nor wealth insulates you from such tragedies. 

Despite the sadness that accompanies any death, Ryan’s conduct prior to his death was nothing more than selfish.  Reports now claim he may have had as many as 11 drinks before hopping in his Porsche.  It is nothing less than serendipity that he did not injure or kill anyone in another vehicle.  That would have amplified this tragedy about a million fold.  As it is, his [far less talked about] friend, Zachary Hartwell, was killed in the accident.  The relatively little attention paid to Mr. Hartwell’s death is a true tragedy as he was the passenger in the vehicle.

In this day, there is no excuse for Ryan to not have known the dangers attendant in driving under the influence.  Ryan was anything but petit.  For him to have a BAC of double the state limit means he drank a lot.  This emphasizes the selfishness of his actions. 

Some commenters have expressed a hope that the bar or bartender at the bar where he was drinking will be punished.  To me, this is more offensive that Roger Ebert’s comments.  Yes, I realize most states have laws imposing liability on bars or bartenders for allowing patrons to drive if they "appear" intoxicated.  Since such laws began cropping up, I have disagreed with them.

Americans spend billions of dollars a year on lawsuits to assert their individual rights.  I am all for individual rights.  However, along with your individual rights come individual responsibilities.  They are as – if not more – important as your individual rights.  Exercise your rights to drink yourself silly.  That’s great.  However, once you exercise your right to become intoxicated, you must exercise your responsibility to not drive.  It is not the bar’s fault that Ryan elected to drive.  That failure was Ryan’s and Ryan’s alone.  He, above most people, could certainly afford a car service or a taxi to take him home.  There is absolutely no excuse for a person of his fame and wealth to not have spent the money for an alternative ride home. None.

We want our rights, but when we exercise those rights and something goes wrong we, Americans, seek to blame someone else.  We take credit for our successes and blame others for our failures.  This is the failure of America: the abdication of personal responsibility.  The bartender did not force Ryan to drive.  He did that on his own.  It was not the bartender’s fault.  To suggest that the bartender was responsible for Ryan’s demise is foolish.  That is far more offensive than Ebert’s comments.

As far as I am concerned, responsibility should be laid at the feet of Ryan’s friends who were at the bar with him.  Yes, those people who now express their profound love for him and extreme loss at his demise.  Perhaps that love should have taken the form of preventing him from driving.  Love involves difficult decisions.  If anyone should be punished, it should have been those who were with him – not the bar or bartender.  If Ryan was not willing to take personal responsibility, his friends should have.

Again, while Ryan’s passing is tragic, with some luck, others can learn from this tragedy,  That is what Roger Ebert was trying to express.  Although sad and regrettable, it is nonetheless difficult to view Ryan’s conduct as anything but selfish and reckless.

Apple Sued Over iBooks Mark

A week after Apple was sued by iCloud Communications for the name of its upcoming cloud service, iCloud, NYC publisher John T. Colby is claiming that he has used the name long before Apple popularized the it.  In fact, he has sued Apple over the name.

According to Bloomberg:

Colby bought in 2006 and 2007 the assets of various entities owned by New York publisher Byron Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 hardcover and paperback books under the “ibooks” name starting in September 1999, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan today.

Not surprisingly, no comment from Apple.

Can Palin Be Taken Seriously?

No, seriously.  While we appreciate that John McCain saw fit to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, the fact remains that Sarah Palin lacks any creditials that would qualify her to run for President.  Indeed, what a sad day it would be if she were to be elected President.

Worse, the republican base that has been kidnapped and brainwashed by FoxNews will vote for this unqualified potential candidate simply to vote against the democrat incumbent – or any democrat, for that matter.

Let’s look a few things that woud, without a doubt, disqualify most other Americans for future employment:

  • Palin believed that her ability to see Russia from her backyard gives her the credentials to manage America’s foreign policy [source];
  • Palin stepped down as governor of Alaska with one year left of her term citing she did not want a year of being a lame duck [source];
  • Palin, in 2006, expressed her support for abstinence-only sex education [source];
  • Palin actually appears/stars in "Sarah Palin’s Alaska" on TLC [source]; and
  • Palin recently arrived in Washington D.C. riding second on a motorcycle decked out in leather and heels [source].

Is this who we want as President?  If she really wanted to lead this country, perhaps she could have served her full term as governor of Alaska, dedicated her time to learning something about politics and the world instead of huntin’, fishin’ and 4-wheelin’ in Alaska.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for huntin’, fishin’, 4-wheelin’, etc.  However, those are not activities that any potential future commander-in-chief should engage a mere 18 months before an election.

However, can Palin expect to adopt, implement and enforce policies when she could not enforce abstinence in her own home?  Palin’s daughter, Bristol, became pregnant out of wedlock [source].  If she cannot enforce abstinence in her own home, how can she enforce abstinence (or any other policy) nationwide?

Really, a photo op of riding into D.C. on a motorcycle.  If you like to ride motorcycles, that’s great.  However, to roll into the capital on the back of a Harley for a cheap photo op is repulsive.  It is pandering.  It is insincere.

Finally, after running for office in Alaska, Palin steps down as governor citing not wanting to be a lame duck.  Invariably, she would have a lame duck period as President.  Would she just quit after winning a second term to avoid having 4 years of lameness.  [Let's face it:  it would be 8 years of lameness.]

I just don’t understand how this woman is taken seriously at all.  If the press would stop covering her, she would simply disappear.  She has no credentials.  She has no viability.  Why is she still here?

Survivor Silliness

Rob Mariano, 4-time Survivor player, won this season’s Survivor: Redemption Island in Nicaragua.  Well, whooppee for him.  It seems to me that this win is particularly unimpressive.  I mean – let’s face it – this is his fourth season on Survivor.  Add to that two seasons of The Amazing Race.  I guess practice does make perfect.  However, given it’s his fourth effort at winning Survivor, regardless of how well or not well he may have played this season, the win seems a little lame.

Doesn’t anyone else think that if after 4 attempts at this game if he had not won, that would have been sadder.

God, I hope that America has had enough of him and he doesn’t appear on any more reality TV.

Bin Laden Taken Down

Apparently, Obama’s rare Sunday night speech will announce that Osama bin Laden has been killed by U.S. or coalition forces.  No link yet since the speech hasn’t taken place.

WSJ

So much for the theory that Obama was an al-Qaeda sympathizer…

Coincidence?

Do we think that this taking place right in the middle of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” is a coincidence?  I don’t.

What Good Are Friends?

I recently learned that I have a friend who works for ConstantContact and another who works for large news/legal software company.  One of their titles is "Head of Global ____". 

I asked both about the possibility of obtaining a discount for their companies’ services.  In one case, I was told no.  In the second, I was referred to a generic sales rep, who said no additional discounts could be obtained.

So, I ask:  What good is having friends in high places?

I’ll remember that when I am asked for contributions to their pet causes.  I’m just saying…