Misplaced Values

How much is a human life worth? We live in a world where some countries kill their elderly simply because they are a financial burden on the younger generation. In some countries it is legal to kill children because they have birth defects or other issues. Who decides which lives have value and which do not?

On Monday, CNS News reported:

At the event promoting opposition to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the former First Daughter of President Bill Clinton credited legalized abortion for helping add trillions of dollars to the U.S economy because women who had abortions were more inclined to enter the labor force:

“Whether you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access right, because these are not the same thing, if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency – you have to care about this.

“It is not a disconnected fact – to address this t-shirt of 1973 – that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy. Right?

“The net, new entrance of women – that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”

Thus, no matter what other things Americans may care about, everyone should appreciate the economic value of legalized abortion, Clinton said:

“So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue.

“Of course, I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices – but, if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully, come some of these other arguments that you’ve expressed so beautifully, will be.”

Could one on those aborted babies have grown up and found the cure for cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease? Who did we kill? Could one of those babies have grown up to find the key to nonpolluting green energy, preventing some valuable species from going extinct, or finding a key to longer, healthier living? How much would those discoveries have added to the economy?

The article at CNS News includes an update:

In response to tweets critical of her remarks, Chelesea Clinton declared that “Pro-choice is Pro-life” and that “Reproductive rights have always been about economic rights.”

We have sold our souls for a mess of pottage.

Using The Justice System To Get Revenge

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is again going after Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court after declining to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.

The article reports:

On the same day the high court agreed to review the Masterpiece case, an attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillips’ shop and asked him to create a cake celebrating a sex transition. The caller asked that the cake include a blue exterior and a pink interior, a reflection of Scardina’s transgender identity. Phillips declined to create the cake, given his religious conviction that sex is immutable, while offering to sell the caller other pre-made baked goods.

In the months that followed, the bakery received requests for cakes featuring marijuana use, sexually explicit messages, and Satanic symbols. One solicitation submitted by email asked the cake shop to create a three-tiered white cake depicting Satan licking a functional 9 inch dildo. Phillips believes Scardina made all these requests.

Scardina filed a complaint with the civil rights commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The matter was held in abeyance while the Supreme Court adjudicated the Masterpiece case.

Three weeks after Phillips won at the high court, the commission issued a probable cause determination, finding there was sufficient evidence to support Scardina’s claim of discrimination. In a somewhat strange development, the probable cause finding reads that Phillips violated state law, even though the proceedings are still in a preliminary stage.

The article cites Mr. Phillips’ response to all of this:

  • Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop fame is suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
  • The Commission commenced new proceedings against Phillips on behalf of a transgender complainant just weeks after he prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Phillips’ attorneys say the Commission is engaged in a concerted campaign to destroy him, which is unlawful.

This has the appearance of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission using their power to target a specific person. The article notes that the baker was willing to sell Mr. Scardina a pre-baked cake, he was just not willing to use his artistic ability to support something that was against his religious beliefs. If we look at what is being said here, would you ask a Christian recording artist to record a song that praised the devil? Would you ask a painter who paints religious pictures to paint a picture glorifying the devil? Does an artist have the right to choose the direction of his art?

I believe that Mr. Phillips is correct to sue the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It appears that after the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Commission has decided to use its power to personally harass Mr. Phillips.

People Get Angry When You Take Their Free Money Away

Yesterday The National Review posted an article about some recent activities by the Teachers’ Unions. The headline of the article reads, “Teachers’ Unions Plan to Become ‘More Political, Not Less Political'” This is in response to the recent Supreme Court decision that no longer allows them to take union dues from teachers who do not want to joint the union.

The article reports:

For unions, the stakes could hardly be higher. Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, warns that surveys show “many [teachers] see dues as too high” and “political activity as too leftist”; she also notes that “only half of all teachers voted for Hillary Clinton.” Internal documents from the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, anticipate that the union will lose a whopping 300,000 members. Things look even bleaker for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s other major teachers’ union, which has 15 of its 22 largest state affiliates in former agency-fee states — and already had fewer than half its members paying full dues.

By happenstance, both unions held their big national conventions in July, providing a chance to scour the tea leaves for subtle hints as to how the unions might woo reluctant members, especially the hefty share who take issue with the leftist bent that has characterized the unions in recent decades. Even before the shock of Janus, unions worked in concert with Senate and House Republicans in 2015 to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act in a push to roll back many of the federal educational excesses of the Bush and Obama years, so a shift in approach seemed entirely possible.

It turns out that the tea leaves weren’t that hard to read, after all. At the NEA’s annual convention and representative assembly in Minneapolis, things kicked off on day one with Parkland survivor and woke gun-control activist David Hogg joining NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on stage to exhort the cheering throng, “There’s nothing more powerful in America than a pissed-off teacher.” The NEA also made time to award its Human and Civil Rights Award — given to those who have “demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice” — to recipients including First Lady Michelle Obama and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

No political bias shown here.

The article concludes:

Somehow, the AFT’s new policies leaned further left than the NEA’s. The AFT unanimously endorsed a “public investment strategy for health care and education infrastructure,” which includes: universal health care, “whether single-payer health care or MediCare for All”; free tuition at all public colleges and universities, as well as “funding for wage justice for adjuncts”; universal, full-day, free child care; doubled per-pupil spending for low-income K–12 districts; and “taxation of the rich to fully fund” a raft of education programs. AFT further resolved that they would “call on our endorsed candidates to support these priorities, and toward that end we will embed these aspirations in our questionnaires to potential candidates seeking our support.” Swing-state Democrats, beware.

For those who didn’t get quite get the message, AFT president Randi Weingarten told reporters, “We’re becoming more political, not less political.” Let educators, would-be members, and public officials be forewarned.

Somehow they never tell you how they are going to pay for all this free stuff–after a while even the rich run out of money to pay their taxes.

Taking Advantage Of Those Who Can Least Afford It

The Daily Signal posted an article today about another battle in the war on the involuntary taking of union dues.

The article reports:

Sally Coomer of Seattle, who cares for her disabled adult daughter at home, doesn’t like the fact that union dues are deducted from the Medicaid payment she gets for her services under a Washington state policy.

“The money that is taken out in union dues, if it was not siphoned off, could be used to provide for more care,” Coomer told The Daily Signal about the Medicaid stipend given to home care providers.

“A lot of family members forgo careers to take care of family members and are working in situations where they are really financially struggling,” she said.

Washington is one of 11 states where the state governments work with public-sector unions to automatically deduct a portion of the Medicaid stipend and divert it to unions representing state employee unions.

The other states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont, according to the State Policy Network, a conservative think tank that focuses on state issues.

Nine states take money from Medicaid home child care workers: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Taking care of your child at home should not result in having union dues taken out of money you receive for the care of that child.

The Trump administration agrees:

However, the states face pushback from the Trump administration and, potentially, the courts in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down mandatory payments to public employee unions by employees who don’t belong to the union.

The rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would eliminate states’ ability to divert part of Medicaid payments from providers to a third party.

The article continues:

Caregivers may pay up to $1,000 per year in union dues, according to the State Policy Network, which says state governments are “dues-skimming” an estimated $200 million per year from home health providers and $50 million from child day care providers to give to unions.

Coomer’s daughter Becky, almost 28, has cerebral palsy and a disorder that causes seizures. She is blind and developmentally disabled.

Coomer, who has become an advocate for other families who don’t want to be forced to pay union dues, said many home care providers are not aware they have a choice in joining a union.

To qualify in Washington state, family members are required to go to an orientation run by the Service Employees International Union, which represents state government employees.

“At the orientation, they would tell people they are required to sign up,” Coomer said. “I don’t know what benefit we get from the dues. The only time I hear from the union is when they inundate me with a political agenda.”

The proposed new Medicaid regulation, announced July 10, is open for public comment.

Let’s hope that the practice of taking union dues from people caring for family members is ended quickly.

 

Common Sense In The Midst Of Hysteria

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that the Latino Coalition, a “leading, national non-partisan advocacy organization representing Hispanic businesses and consumers,” has released a statement in support of the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The article includes the statement:

“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is an exemplary individual and an extremely qualified legal constitutionalist with a record of ruling against the kind of regulatory overreach that can be chilling to America’s entrepreneurs,” said TLC Chairman and former U.S. SBA Administrator Hector Barreto. “The Latino Coalition urges the Senate to put partisanship aside in order to quickly confirm Judge Kavanaugh. We believe he will protect the rights of all Americans, including the small-business owners who suffer most when government goes beyond its constitutional bounds.”

The article concludes:

Meanwhile, liberal advocacy groups like Think Progress continue to proclaim the various ways in which the sky will fall if Kavanaugh is confirmed, as evidenced by this piece published Monday titled “If Kavanaugh is confirmed, you can kiss the right to vote goodbye.”

Does anyone actually believe the garbage about Judge Kavanaugh being put out by the political left?

Some Thoughts On Brett Kavanaugh

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about some of the reactions to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice. Some of the attacks on this man by the political left are so ridiculous they are funny.

The editorial cites one example of the attacks:

The Washington Post red-flagged the fact that Kavanaugh racked up nearly $200,000 in credit card debt to buy season tickets to the Washington Nationals baseball team and also for “home improvements.”

A big chunk of change, to be sure. But…what? It’s a bit hard to argue Kavanaugh wasn’t gainfully employed. The Post further makes a big deal that Kavanaugh’s most recent financial form shows less than $70,000 in assets. Sound poor? Does that disqualify him from service on the Supreme Court? Do we now have an asset test for all Court nominees?

What’s absurd about the “assets” is they don’t include his six-figure income and generous pension from being a federal judge. Nor does it include the value of his home. We don’t know what those are, but we’re pretty sure the net value of both is well north of $1 million.

It gets worse:

The Post also “reported,” if that’s the word, that Kavanaugh proclaimed himself Treasurer of the “Keg City Club — 100 Kegs or Bust” in his high school yearbook, and referred to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Rehoboth Police Fan Club.”

So, teenage hijinks are now a solid disqualification for service on the federal bench?

Of course, this is all recycled pap from Kavanaugh’s approval process to be a federal judge. It’s mostly all known. Why repeat it? Anything to sully a man’s reputation. After all, recall how both Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were smeared by the left during their confirmation battles. Together, they were two of the most disgusting and unfair spectacles in American political history.

I that is all the dirt they can find on this man, he totally deserves to be confirmed in the next two months!

How Things Actually Work In Washington

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article about the confirmation vote that will eventually take place to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Judge. The article explains exactly how things work in Washington. If Judge Kavanaugh has enough Republican votes to be confirmed, he will probably receive a few votes from Democrats in favor of his confirmation. This has nothing to do with his qualifications or what those Democrats believe about his willingness to uphold the Constitution–it has to do with their election prospects in 2018. If there are enough Republican votes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh (and the votes of Democrats will not change the outcome), Democrat Senators from states that voted for President Trump will probably vote to confirm. If there are not enough Republican votes to confirm Judge Kavanuagh, all of the Democrat Senators will vote against him. The good of the country or the man’s qualifications have nothing to do with the way they will be voting. That should give all of us pause.

The article includes a quote from Senator Joe Manchin on the vote:

“I think he seems to be a very fine person of high moral standards, a family person who’s very involved in his community, has all the right qualities. He’s well-educated. And with that, you know, we have to just look at making sure that the rule of law and the Constitution is going to be followed, and that’s going to basically preempt anything else he does.

“Most importantly. . .I intend to hear from West Virginians. And during that period of time, I just announced, I’ll be hearing from West Virginians and their opinion. And I think they have, also, a right. And that’s who I work for. They’re my boss. And we want to hear from them, too, during this process. .”

The article notes:

A new poll released on Tuesday by Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) found that 59 percent of West Virginia voters want Manchin to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

I looks to me like Manchin will do so unless something is discovered that causes one or two Republican Senators to defect.

The same poll finds that 56 percent of Indiana voters want their Senator, Joe Donnelly, to vote to confirm the Kavanaugh. Sen. Donnelly has not, to my knowledge, praised the nominee the way Sen. Manchin has. But Donnelly echoed Manchin when he said, “I work for the people of Indiana and I want them to have a voice in this.”

The article concludes:

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether Sen. Heidi Heitkamp begins to make mildly pro-Kavanaugh statements. The poll I cited above found that 68 percent of North Dakota voters want Heitkamp to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. If that number holds, the pressure on her to comply will be enormous.

Stay tuned.

Get out the popcorn!

America’s Genocide

Yesterday Jason Riley at The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a rarely mentioned item in the debate over President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

The article states:

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination tees up another national debate about reproductive rights, is it too much to ask that abortion’s impact on the black population be part of the discussion?

When the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, polling showed that blacks were less likely than whites to support abortion. Sixties-era civil rights activists like Fannie Lou Hamer and Whitney Young had denounced the procedure as a form of genocide. Jesse Jackson called abortion “murder” and once told a black newspaper in Chicago that “we used to look for death from the man in the blue coat and now it comes in a white coat.”

I don’t know why Jesse Jackson changed his mind. It is very unfortunate that he did.

The article cites the impact of abortion on minorities:

What’s not in doubt is the outsize toll that abortion has taken on the black population post-Roe. In New York City, thousands more black babies are aborted than born alive each year, and the abortion rate among black mothers is more than three times higher than it is for white mothers. According to a city Health Department report released in May, between 2012 and 2016 black mothers terminated 136,426 pregnancies and gave birth to 118,127 babies. By contrast, births far surpassed abortions among whites, Asians and Hispanics.

Nationally, black women terminate pregnancies at far higher rates than other women as well. In 2014, 36% of all abortions were performed on black women, who are just 13% of the female population. The little discussed flip side of “reproductive freedom” is that abortion deaths far exceed those via cancer, violent crime, heart disease, AIDS and accidents. Racism, poverty and lack of access to health care are the typical explanations for these disparities. But black women have much higher abortion rates even after you control for income. Moreover, other low-income ethnic minorities who experience discrimination, such as Hispanics, abort at rates much closer to white women than black women.

Those are chilling statistics.

Many years ago (in the late 1960’s), I sat in the living room at a party that I was invited to because of the person I was visiting (those at the party were way above my pay grade!) and listened to some highly educated people express fear that the black population would overtake their city if the growth of that population was not checked. These were otherwise compassionate people who would have been offended at being called racists (although that’s what they were). This was a major southern city, and the people stating this opinion had no problem with what they were saying. These were people in their twenties who were among our best and brightest and probably became political leaders as they matured. Those statements have always stayed with me, and I wonder if they are happy with what has happened to the black population under Roe v. Wade. It seems to me that the pro-abortion people need to look at the damage abortion has caused to the black community before they start demonizing people who want to stop the genocide.

Surprising Sanity From The New York Times

The insanity of the political left has reached new heights in recent days, so it was a bit of a surprise when The New York Times posted a very rational article last night praising President Trump for the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice. Contrast this attitude with comments made by ABC’s Nightline before the nominee was named (from Newsbusters):

I suppose we should all be grateful that they at least corrected their initial statement.

At any rate, The New York Times article has a very rational suggestion about the hearings on Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment:

Fair questions would include inquiries not just about Judge Kavanaugh’s past writings and activities but also about how he believes various past notable judicial cases (such as Roe v. Wade) should have been decided — and even about what his current legal views are on any issue, general or specific.

Everyone would have to understand that in honestly answering, Judge Kavanaugh would not be making a pledge — a pledge would be a violation of judicial independence. In the future, he would of course be free to change his mind if confronted with new arguments or new facts, or even if he merely comes to see a matter differently with the weight of judgment on his shoulders. But honest discussions of one’s current legal views are entirely proper, and without them confirmation hearings are largely pointless.

The compromise I’m proposing would depart from recent confirmation practice. But the current confirmation process is badly broken, alternating between rubber stamps and witch hunts. My proposal would enable each constitutional actor to once again play its proper constitutional role: The Senate could become a venue for serious constitutional conversation, and the nominee could demonstrate his or her consummate legal skill. And equally important: Judge Kavanaugh could be confirmed with the ninetysomething Senate votes he deserves, rather than the fiftysomething votes he is likely to get.

A praiseworthy statement from The New York Times.

Their Concept Is Correct, The Patriotism Is Lacking

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about some recent comments by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin.

The article reports:

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was pressed on this “dilemma” that Democrats face as the 2018 midterms approach during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Staying united to stop the Supreme Court pick could cost you red state senators. Not fighting it as hard might allow the red state senators to get re-elected and get Democrats in control of the Senate. That’s your dilemma,” host Chuck Todd posited on Sunday.

Durbin conceded that it is a dilemma “in one respect,” but made that case for how it is a trade off Democrats are willing to make.

“It is a dilemma in one respect, but not in another. I will tell you, the men and women that I work with on the Democratic side really take this seriously. They understand it’s an historic decision. It’s about more than the next election,” he said, adding that the issue is about setting the future course for the country.

The balance on the Supreme Court has been slightly left on social issues because of the views of Justice Kennedy. Replacing Kennedy with a conservative justice who believes that the Constitution is the law of the land might change the court for generations. That might change many things. The main thing the Democrats are worried about is Roe v. Wade.

In 2013 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a very interesting comment about Roe v. Wade (article here):

Those more acquainted with Ginsburg and her thoughtful, nuanced approach to difficult legal questions were not surprised, however, to hear her say just the opposite, that Roe was a faulty decision. For Ginsburg, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion was too far-reaching and too sweeping, and it gave anti-abortion rights activists a very tangible target to rally against in the four decades since.

Ginsburg and Professor Geoffrey Stone, a longtime scholar of reproductive rights and constitutional law, spoke for 90 minutes before a capacity crowd in the Law School auditorium on May 11 on “Roe v. Wade at 40.”

“My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum on the side of change,” Ginsburg said. She would’ve preferred that abortion rights be secured more gradually, in a process that included state legislatures and the courts, she added. Ginsburg also was troubled that the focus on Roe was on a right to privacy, rather than women’s rights.

Roe isn’t really about the woman’s choice, is it?” Ginsburg said. “It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice…it wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered.”

What the frantic pro-abortion people are not telling you is that overturning Roe v. Wade would not end abortion–it would simple give the states the right to decide the issue for themselves (in accordance with the Tenth Amendment) as was the case before 1973.

What the hysteria over this judicial pick illustrates is that we have wandered from the intent of our Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers envisioned the judiciary as the weakest branch of government–they were not elected and theoretically had little power–they did not make laws–Congress did. In 1803 Marberry v. Madison established the principle of judicial review, and the courts assumed power they were never intended to have. It is telling that American law students do not study the U.S. Constitution–they study case law.

President Trump has every right to have his nominee for the Supreme Court approved. Hopefully the Democrats will respect that right. Candidates should be judged on their qualifications–not their politics. Democrats pushed through some very left wing judges under President Obama after invoking the nuclear option. The Democrats demanded that the Republicans vote on qualifications rather than politics. It’s time for the Republicans to demand that same courtesy from the Democrats.

Sound and Fury

The following quote is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more, It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Actually it sounds like Democratic Party leaders complaining about the retirement of Justice Kennedy.

The Gateway Pundit reported yesterday:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately pushed back on Trump’s plan to get his nominee to replace Justice Kennedy confirmed before the midterm elections.

Schumer demanded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) abide by the ‘Biden Rule’ when deciding to confirm a Supreme Court Justice.

The ‘Biden Rule’ essentially calls for confirmations to be halted during an election year.

McConnell cited the ‘Biden Rule’ when deciding not to consider Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, before the 2016 election. Thankfully, McConnell opened the door for Justice Neil Gorsuch to be nominated by President Trump.

The Republicans should not acquiesce to the Democrats’ demands. Confirm President Trump’s next Justice nominee as soon as possible.

Schumer laughably said if the Senate confirms a Justice during the election year, it would be the “height of hypocrisy.”

Presidential election years are different from midterm election years. Obama’s second SCOTUS nominee, Elena Kagan was confirmed in August of 2010, an election year.

This is nothing more than political posturing in an attempt to motivate Democrat voters in the midterm elections. We can expect all sorts of scare tactics about the Supreme Court taking away our freedoms to follow the initial hysteria.

Whoever the new justice is, he has the possibility of moving us back toward a republic governed by a Constitution rather than by how certain justices feel on any given day.

 

 

 

A Victory For Freedom, A Possible Victory For Taxpayers

The Associated Press posted an article today about the Supreme Court’s decision that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining.

The article states:

A recent study by Frank Manzo of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign estimated that public-sector unions could lose more than 700,000 members over time as a result of the ruling and that unions also could suffer a loss of political influence that could depress wages as well.

Alito acknowledged that unions could “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term.” But he said labor’s problems pale in comparison to “the considerable windfall that unions have received…for the past 41 years.”

Billions of dollars have been taken from workers who were not union members in that time, he said.

“Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely,” Alito wrote.

Kagan, reading a summary of her dissent in the courtroom, said unions only could collect money for the costs of negotiating terms of employment. “But no part of those fees could go to any of the union’s political or ideological activities,” she said.

The court’s majority said public-sector unions aren’t entitled to any money from employees without their consent.

There are two aspects of this decision that are going to make the political left very unhappy. Obviously this will severely limit the amount of money unions can contribute to Democrat political campaigns (to check union political donations, see opensecrets.org). But there is another issue here–pension funds. The other aspect of this decision is union retirement funds.

On October 19, 2012, I posted the following (here):

In a column in the Washington Examiner in April, Mark Hemingway pointed out that the average union pension plan had only enough money to cover 62 percent of its financial obligations.  Pension plans that are below 80 percent funding are considered “endangered” by the government; below 65 percent is considered “critical.”  Union membership is declining, which means that less people are paying into these funds.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) was created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

According to Wikipedia:

The PBGC was created to encourage the continuation and maintenance of voluntary private defined benefit pension plans, provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits, and keep pension insurance premiums at the lowest level necessary to carry out its operations. Subject to other statutory limitations, PBGC’s insurance program pays pension benefits up to the maximum guaranteed benefit set by law to participants who retire at 65 ($60,136 a year as of 2016).[2] The benefits payable to insured retirees who start their benefits at ages other than 65 or elect survivor coverage are adjusted to be equivalent in value.

In fiscal year 2015, PBGC paid $5.6 billion in benefits to participants of failed single-employer pension plans. That year, 69 single-employer pension plans failed. PBGC paid $103 million in financial assistance to 57 multiemployer pension plans. The agency’s deficit increased to $76 billion. It has a total of $164 billion in obligations and $88 billion in assets.

On 03/23/2010, Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania introduced S3157.

The summary of S3157 at congress.gov states:

Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act of 2010 – Amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) permit multiemployer pension plans to merge or form alliances with other plans; (2) increase Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) guarantees for insolvent plans to increase participant benefits; and (3) increase from $8.00 to $16.00 the annual premium rate payable to the PBGC for each individual who is a participant of a multiemployer plan after December 31, 2010. (The underline is mine)

The bill was referred to committee and died there. So what is my point? The danger to the unions in this Supreme Court decision is that they will not have the money to pay their union pensions. The danger to the taxpayers in this decision is that they will be asked to pay the union pensions.

Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.

 

Following The Law And Not The Judge’s Bias

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban.

The article reports:

The Supreme Court vindicated President Trump’s final iteration of his so-called “travel ban” order in Trump v. Hawaii this morning. The ruling was 5-4. Although the plaintiffs prevailed in the lower courts, the Supreme Court’s rational wing was unimpressed by the arguments ginned up to frustrate Trump’s executive order. The ruling left Trump free to be Trump and interred the Court’s 1944 Korematsu decision upholding Japanese internment by the Roosevelt administration to boot.

It also reminds me again to thank the Senate Republicans who toughed it out to leave the appointment of the successor to Justice Scalia to the winner of the 2016 election. Thanks especially to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. They took a lot of abuse from the media in an early preview of the hysteria we have endured since Trump improbably won.

The law is as follows:

Section 212(f) of the INA is arguably the broadest and best known of these Authorities . It provides, in relevant part, that

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate

The President is ultimately responsible for national security. The buck stops with him. For the courts to undermine the President’s ability to protect America is simply unbelievable. We have reached the point where to some people politics is more important than national security.

A Small Step To Insure The Integrity Of The Vote

Reuters is reporting today that the Supreme Court has ruled today in a 5-4 decision that Ohio has the right to purge its voter rolls of infrequent voters.

The article reported:

The state said the policy was needed to keep voting rolls current, clearing out people who have moved away or died.

Under Ohio’s policy, if registered voters miss voting for two years, they are sent registration confirmation notices. If they do not respond and do not vote over the following four years, they are purged.

Republican President Donald Trump’s administration backed Ohio, reversing the stance taken by Democratic former President Barack Obama’s administration against the policy.

“This decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls and now with the blessing (of the) nation’s highest court, it can serve as a model for other states to use,” Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the court was not deciding whether Ohio’s policy “is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date. The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. It does not.”

Periodically purging voter rolls is common sense. People move, people die, etc. I personally know of one instance where a registered voter decided to check who was registered to vote claiming her home as a residence. She discovered that there were three people registered to vote at her address who she had never heard of.

In September 2010, I posted the following about efforts in Houston to uncover voter fraud:

According to the American Thinker:

“A group of people took it upon themselves to work at polling places in 2008 and observed – and were shocked – by what they perceived to be voter fraud. Their next step was to create a citizen-based grassroots group to collect publicly available voting data and analyze what they found (with the help of donated computers and volunteer helpers). They admit they did not know what they were doing at first but where there is a will there is a way.”

Fox News tells what happened next:

“”The first thing we started to do was look at houses with more than six voters in them” Engelbrecht said, because those houses were the most likely to have fraudulent registrations attached to them. “Most voting districts had 1,800 if they were Republican and 2,400 of these houses if they were Democratic . . .

“”But we came across one with 24,000, and that was where we started looking.”

“Vacant lots had several voters registered on them. An eight-bed halfway house had more than 40 voters registered at its address,” Engelbrecht said. “We then decided to look at who was registering the voters.”

“Their work paid off. Two weeks ago the Harris County voter registrar took their work and the findings of his own investigation and handed them over to both the Texas secretary of state’s office and the Harris County district attorney.

“Most of the findings focused on a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Sean Caddle, who formerly worked for the Service Employees International Union. Among the findings were that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. The other registrations included one of a woman who registered six times in the same day; registrations of non-citizens; so many applications from one Houston Voters collector in one day that it was deemed to be beyond human capability; and 1,597 registrations that named the same person multiple times, often with different signatures.”

Voter fraud is real in America. Purging voter rolls is not the entire solution, but it is a valid first step.

 

 

One Decision, But Not Really A Resolution Of The Issue

In 2012, Jack Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig. In 2012. Same sex marriage was not legal in Colorado, and the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the issue. It was a very different time. The State of Colorado charged Mr. Phillips with discrimination, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled today. The Washington Times posted the story today.

The article in The Washington Times reports:

Mr. Phillips had argued as a Christian, he could not be forced to create a custom wedding cake for a homosexual couple, citing his First Amendment rights, though he said he offered to sell one of his standard cakes to them.

Colorado said his refusal broke the state’s public accommodation law prohibiting businesses from refusing service to anyone based on religion, race, sexual orientation and national origin.

During proceedings before the state’s civil rights commission one commissioner complained that freedom of religion had been used to “justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.” The commissioner called Mr. Phillips‘ beliefs “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric.”

Justice Kennedy said those statements undermined the state’s case against Mr. Phillips.

The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of Mr. Phillips. The two judges who ruled against Mr. Phillips were Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Mr. Phillips is essentially a cake artist. The question becomes whether or not a person can be forced to use his art for something he fundamentally disagrees with. Artists are usually commissioned. If the charges against Mr. Phillips were allowed to stand, does that mean that an artist does not have the right to refuse to do a commissioned work? I think that is the ultimate question–does a person running a business have the right to choose their clientele?

Protecting American Women (Even When They May Not Want To Be Protected)

Planned Parenthood goes ballistic any time any changes are made to abortion laws in America. First of all, I need to mention that abortion should be a matter left to individual states. The U.S. Constitution (Tenth Amendment) states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Since abortion is not specifically delegated to the federal government, it should be left to the individual states. However, since Roe v. Wade. the federal government has pretty much taken charge on the issue. With that in mind, a recent Supreme Court case has allowed a change to abortion law that will protect women to stay in place. However, not everyone will see it that way.

The American Spectator posted an article today about the recent change.

The article reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition by Planned Parenthood to review an Arkansas statute requiring a provider of abortion-inducing drugs to have a contractual relationship with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a hospital. The point of the law is to assure that, if a patient has an adverse reaction to some abortifacient, there will be a physician and a hospital available to provide appropriate medical treatment.

No doctor was crazy enough to clean up behind Planned Parenthood, however, so the abortion mill sued. A district court did enjoin the statute, but that injunction was vacated by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Inevitably, SCOTUS found Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma v. Jegley lying on its doorstep. But the justices declined to take this legal orphan in, rejecting it without comment.

Abortion is a serious medical procedure. All medical procedures have risks. I had a friend who had a mole removed and died in the recovery room. The unexpected is always a possibility. Having a doctor with admitting privileges at a hospital on call when an abortion is taking place–whether it is drug induced or surgical–is a good idea. It protects women.

Do Employers Have The Right To Set Conditions Of Employment?

The Hill posted a story today about today’s Supreme Court ruling that employers can include clauses in employment contracts that force employees to settle disputes individually with a third-party arbitrator.

There are a few aspects of this ruling–the most obvious one is that employers can write employment contracts without government interference. Another is whether or not employers have the right to include in employment contracts clauses that include the prohibition of class-action lawsuits to settle disputes over wages and working conditions.  These clauses preventing class-action lawsuits in employment contracts are fairly common. It should also be noted that many companies have mandatory arbitration procedures–that is the proper way to deal with conflicts. Our society has often been too quick to seek legal action as a way to gain instant wealth. Not all class-action lawsuits have merit. We live in a society where people are free to change jobs. If salaries or working conditions are unacceptable, a company will not be able to find quality employees. The system will police itself. There are also federal avenues available to address valid salary or working condition complaints.

The Hill reports:

The EPI ( Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal think tank) found in a survey last year that 53.9 percent of nonunion private-sector employers already have mandatory arbitration procedures.

Software company Epic Systems Corp., accounting and financial firm Ernst & Young LLP and Murphy Oil USA Inc. were the employers at the center of three cases the court consolidated that argued in support of the agreements.

The government, which changed its position under President Trump, had also intervened in support of the employers, arguing that Congress enacted the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925 to “overcome judicial resistance to arbitration.”

The court’s decision settles a deep split among the lower courts. The 2nd, 5th and 8th circuit courts of appeal and the California and Nevada supreme courts had ruled these arguments are fully enforceable, while the 7th and 9th circuits, along with the National Labor Relations Board, ruled the agreements violate the NLRA.

Government does not belong in the business of writing employment contracts or telling employers what to put in them.

Common Sense Comes To The Courtroom

Townhall posted an article yesterday about a recent court decision in Arizona. Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that DACA recipients are no longer eligible for “in-state” tuition.

The article reports:

The state’s attorney general Mark Brnovich welcomed the ruling as his office has continually argued that colleges and universities were violating state and federal laws by allowing DACA recipients to pay in-state tuition rates.

“While people can disagree what the law should be, I hope we all can agree that the attorney general must enforce the law as it is, not as we want it to be,” the statement said.

In-state tuition at Arizona State University is $9,834 for the next school year. Non-resident tuition is $27,618. At Maricopa Community Colleges, residents pay $86 per credit. Non-residents pay $241 per credit.

This decision makes sense to me–if DACA recipients are not actually citizens, how can they be considered legal residents of a state? There is no reason for them to be given preferential treatment over American citizens.

 

 

The Supreme Court Gets One Right

The Attleboro Massachusetts Sun Chronicle is reporting today that the Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Robert Kosilek to have the taxpayers pay for his sex-change operation. Robert (now being called Michelle) is serving a life sentence for killing spouse Cheryl Kosilek at their Mansfield condo in 1990. He then placed her body in her car and drove her to Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, and took a taxi home. He then reported her missing.

The article reports:

The inmate has waged a lengthy fight for the surgery she says is necessary to relieve the mental anguish caused by gender-identity disorder.   

Last year, a divided federal appeals court in Boston overturned a first-in-the-nation court order for the state to provide the sex-reassignment surgery. Courts around the country have found that prisons must evaluate transgender inmates to determine their health care needs, but most have ordered hormone treatments and psychotherapy, not surgery.

It does not concern me whether or not Robert has the operation he desires. What does concern me is that a murderer expects the taxpayers to fund optional surgery. It is obvious that Robert has some serious issues, whatever they may be, but I do not think it is up to the taxpayers to resolve them with extreme elective surgery. I am also not convinced that anything will resolve these issues. It is one thing to want a sex-change operation, it is quite another thing to murder your wife and try to get away with it. This is one case in which I wish Massachusetts had the death penalty. Mr. Kosilek needs to be shown the same amount of mercy that he showed his wife.

Preserving The Integrity Of Our Elections

There have been some real questions as to the integrity of American elections as of late. Many private organizations who have examined voter rolls have found thousands of people in some areas who are registered to vote but who are not legal voters.

Judicial Watch has been one of the groups working to restore integrity to our elections. In a recent newsletter, Judicial Watch cited a Pew Report published in 2012 that stating:

“nearly 2 million dead people are still registered to cast ballots, about 3 million eligible to vote in two or more states and millions more that are inaccurate, duplicate or out of date. The alarming figures were published recently in a report issued by the non-partisan Pew Center on States. It reveals that approximately 24 million active voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or have significant inaccuracies. The problem, apparently, is an outdated registration system that can’t properly maintain records.”

Texas has been fighting a battle to keep its elections honest. Fox News is reporting today that the Supreme Court has allowed Texas to enforce its new voter identification law in the coming election.

The article reports:

In a rare weekend announcement, a majority of the high court’s justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit Texas from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo ID to cast ballots. Three justices dissented.

The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold.

The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday.

Quite frankly, I don’t believe the judge’s numbers. We live in a world where identification is required for almost everything. If you are collecting Social Security, you needed identification to sign up, so the elderly population would have the necessary identification. If you are collecting government assistance, you needed identification to sign up, so poor people would have the necessary identification. If you have ever boarded an airplane, cashed a check, bought alcohol or cigarettes, rented a video, entered any federal building, visited a doctor, picked up a prescription, or entered a hospital, you have had to show identification. Most Americans have done at least one of those things at one time or another.

We need honest elections. I cannot figure out why there are people in our government who are refusing to acknowledge that fact.

What Happens Next?

On Thursday, CNS News reported the following:

U.S. District Judge Ronald White concluded Tuesday that the IRS rule altering the Obamacare law and providing billions in subsidies is “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion“:

“The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.”

The subsidies were a major part of ObamaCare. I am sure this case will be making its way up to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, there will be more uncertainty about ObamaCare, and people and businesses will be waiting to see what happens before wanting to spend any extra money they may currently have.

The article concludes:

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) also praised Judge White’s decision, saying that the Obama Administration is trying to fix a legally-dubious law using waivers and exemptions:

“Today’s decision is a reminder that the President’s broken promises of affordable, accessible health care are the result of broken policy. The Obama Administration has tried to make the law work with waivers and exemptions, but the courts continue to confront the legality of this legislation that was rushed through a Democrat-controlled Congress.”

“While it will undoubtedly take time for Oklahoma’s case to play out in the federal court system, I am confident in Attorney General Scott Pruitt and that our state’s argument will prevail.”

Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a wave of court losses for Obamacare.

Currently, over a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare – and Obamacare has lost 91% of the cases decided to-date, (71 losses out of 78 decisions), according to the latest tally by The Beckett Fund.

Stay tuned and get out the popcorn.

The Unspoken Legacy Of President Obama

On Monday, The Daily Signal posted an article about President Obama’s legacy. It’s something that the press has not really highlighted.

The article reports:

In President Barack Obama’s second term, the Senate has confirmed more than twice the number of judicial nominees than were confirmed in President George W. Bush’s second term. This is due mostly to the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., succeeded in eliminating the filibuster for judicial nominees (excluding the Supreme Court, at least for now) in November 2013..

The chart below illustrates how the elimination of the filibuster has impacted the nomination process:

Infographic by John Fleming

I am not a big supporter of the filibuster, but I am also not a big supporter of stacking the courts with judges with a political bias. That is what has been going on. Since many of the problems with ObamaCare will be decided in the courts, the Obama appointments to the lower courts could easily move America further to the left than Congress would have been able to do. Our Constitution was designed to create a representative republic. The idea was that laws would be made in Congress. People could hold their Congressman accountable and vote him out of office if they did not like the laws he supported. (Actually, that is not totally true. Initially, the House of Representatives was elected by the people, and the Senators were appointed by the state legislatures. In 1913, Congress passed the 17th Amendment, which called for the direct election of Senators. Up until that point, the state legislature could recall their Senator if he was not supporting bills that were in the interest of their state. The direct election of Senators changed the balance of power in the U.S. government and seriously diminished the power of the states against the much larger federal government.) Unfortunately, we have now reached a point where our courts are making laws. As the courts lean left, we may find ourselves living in a country with a very different form of government than what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

It Really Is Time For Harry Reid (And Most Of The Rest Of The Senate) To Go

Yesterday the Washington Examiner reported that the Senate has made plans to accomplish something when it returns from recess. They are not planning to take up the immigration bill the House of Representatives just passed, they are not planning to deal with America‘s deficit spending in any way, and they are not planning to deal with any of the bills the House of Representatives has sent them to encourage job growth. So, what are they planning on dealing with first thing when they get back from vacation? They want to make sure that the Republicans can’t raise campaign contributions from corporations the way Democrats raise campaign contributions from unions.

The article reports on S.J. Res. 19, which seeks to undo the Supreme Court‘s 2010 Citizens United decision:

The Supreme Court said in its decision that political contributions are protected under the First Amendment.

However, the proposed amendment, which was authored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., not only gives Congress the power to limit spending on federal candidates, but it also bars the judicial branch from overturning any future campaign finance laws authored by legislative branch.

Other than the obvious problem with priorities, the Senate is planning on limiting the actions of the Supreme Court. I believe that would be unconstitutional. We have three separate but equal branches of government. The Senate does not control the actions of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, we are being overrun by illegal immigrants on our southern border. The young children are bringing diseases, and the older children are joining violent Latin American gangs already here. Americans (particularly those on our southern border) have been negatively impacted by the invasion. Wouldn’t you think the Senate might consider that more important than protecting Democrat fund raising?

 

Another Significant ObamaCare Court Case

Yesterday National Review Online posted an article about a current court case that represents a significant threat to ObamaCare. Halbig v. Sebelius (since renamed Halbig v. Burwell, for the current HHS secretary) was argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court in March. The case involves the government subsidies paid by the exchanges included in ObamaCare.

The article states:

If the Supreme Court ultimately finds that the Obama administration violated the law in doling out those subsidies, it could force a wholesale revision of Obamacare. In January, The Hill quoted a key Obamacare supporter as saying that Halbig was “probably the most significant existential threat to the Affordable Care Act.” Jonathan Turley, a noted liberal constitutional-law expert at George Washington Law School, recently agreed, writing in the Los Angeles Times that Halbig “could leave Obamacare on life support.”

…The Halbig plaintiffs — individuals and small businesses in six states that didn’t establish state exchanges — argue that the Obama administration is breaking the law by offering those tax subsidies in all 50 states. The plaintiffs argue that if the subsidies hadn’t been offered in their states, they would have been exempted from the individual-mandate penalties of Obamacare because they couldn’t have afforded to pay for health coverage.

I have no idea how this case will be decided. The writer of the article believes that if the case is decided against ObamaCare it will force Congress and the President to make positive changes in the law (particularly if a Republican Congress is elected).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is expected to rule on this case within the next week.

 

Facts Versus Spin

We have all heard the whining and moaning about the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby. Some of the media has painted a picture of Hobby Lobby that makes you wonder why anyone would work there. As usual, the picture the media has painted has little to do with the reality of the situation.

On Monday, The Corner at National Review posted an article citing actual facts about Hobby Lobby and the benefits it provides for its employees.

The article includes some of the comments the political left has made about the decision:

“This is going to turn the dial back,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz warned on MSNBC. The Democratic party’s national chairwoman added: “Republicans want to do everything they can to have the long hand of government, and now the long hand of business, reach into a woman’s body and make health care decisions for her.”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision unfortunately jeopardizes basic healthcare coverage and access to contraception for a countless number of women,” said Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

Consequently, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that his party now must “fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage.”

The article also includes some facts about Hobby Lobby:

Imagine that a woman starts work at Hobby Lobby tomorrow morning — July 1. She joins Hobby Lobby’s health care plan. It includes access, copay-free, to the following categories of FDA-approved birth-control:

  1. Male condoms
  2. Female condoms
  3. Diaphragms with spermicide
  4. Sponges with spermicide
  5. Cervical caps with spermicide
  6. Spermicide alone
  7. Birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill)
  8. Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill)
  9. Birth control pills (extended/continuous use)
  10. Contraceptive patches
  11. Contraceptive rings
  12. Progestin injections
  13. Implantable rods
  14. Vasectomies
  15. Female sterilization surgeries
  16. Female sterilization implants

That really doesn’t sound like she is being denied healthcare. The article reminds us that Hobby Lobby offers medical coverage for 16 different kinds of birth control for its employees. The legal case was to exclude four methods that are seen to cause abortions. Again, there is no ban on employees using these four methods, but Hobby Lobby will not pay for them.

The article concludes:

Those who are screaming themselves hoarse after the Hobby Lobby decision would agree that Yeshiva need not serve unkosher food, and PETA need not include calf meat on its menu. Yes, somehow, Hobby Lobby is evil because it pays for 16 kinds of contraceptives, and expects its employees themselves to purchase four others that might kill human babies.

At its core, the Left’s moaning over Hobby Lobby is less about access to medicine and more about access to free stuff. 

I disagree with the writer’s conclusion. This is not about free stuff. It’s about convincing the low-information voter that there is a ‘war on women’ in conservative politics and that they need to vote for Democrat candidates. There are very few Americans who will do their homework and get the facts on this case–most will rely on news that quotes the type of statement quoted in the beginning of this article as fact. Would it be fair to say that Democrats regard women’s healthcare as the right to kill babies and that right must be protected?