Archive for June, 2012

NEWS LINKS: Republicans plot strategy on ObamaCare repeal

by Staff Monkeys

GOP leaders and Mitt Romney’s campaign were making plans Friday for how to repeal ObamaCare now that the Supreme Court has rebuffed efforts to stop the key parts of it. Republicans and Democrats traded charges during the day about which group is being unfairly helped by the other side’s desires. It appears that Romney will make repeal of ObamaCare a centerpiece of his fall campaign, despite the fact that his own health care plan in Massachusetts was the model for the current law. Why would those who favor a free market trust either side in this debate?

  • Republicans have found an usual ally in attacking Barack Obama. They’ve been able to get Hillary Clinton to say, “Shame on you, Barack Obama.” Well, they didn’t really get her to say it, but they found video of her saying it to her current boss when she was running against him four years ago.
  • For those who follow college football — which includes some of the monkeys here in the bunker — there was big news earlier this week when the current national championship system was scrapped, replaced with a four-team playoff. Other major conferences were spooked into accepting a playoff by the indignity of watching two SEC teams play for the championship last year.

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If politics sends you into fits of rage, is it worth what it’s doing to you?

by David McElroy

I used to let myself get far too angry about far too many things, especially online. (This is the way I frequently felt.) Even when I was right, the angry way I acted often made me wrong. Even worse from my point of view, the rage I felt toward others was eating at me inside. I was hurting myself.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about why I got so angry and looking into family issues that contributed. (One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the many times my father would be yelling at me so angrily that I’d watch the veins of his neck swell as he yelled.) I had to retrain myself in a number of ways and change some of my ways of thinking — or at least learn how to manage what I was feeling instead of being destructive.

I still get angry with idiots — and sometimes with non-idiots who just rub me the wrong way — but I’m able to remind myself about my priorities and ask whether anger does any good. It’s very rare that I let myself get as angry and combative as I used to.

I’m happier with myself and I think other people are happier with me.

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by David McElroy

Many of the people who read this site are pretty unhappy about Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling about ObamaCare, so let’s take a look a some cartoons poking fun of  the health care proposal that most of us love to hate. We’ll start with a look at the potential future for some of us who aren’t inclined to follow the new law.

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NEWS LINKS: Two thirds favor Obama to defend against aliens

by Staff Monkeys

If Barack Obama wants an issue where he has a strong advantage to hold over Mitt Romney, he needs to start talking more about the alien menace. No, we’re not talking about people who are worried about immigrants. We’re talking about the real worry in the world — space aliens. A new poll shows that a clear majority of Americans prefer Obama to defend them against the Greys from the Mother Ship.

  • It seems as though everyone has a different idea of which news outlets are biased and which are fair. Now there’s an easy-t0-understand explanation. The bias is frequently not in the news itself, but in what you believe about yourself and what you believe about the source of the news. Tests show that people react very differently to identical reports depending on who they’re told the reports are from.
  • Republican governors say they’re going to ignore further preparations for implementing ObamaCare, even after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding its legality. They plan to wait until after the fall election, sending a clear signal that they hope a Romney win combined with a GOP Senate takeover would allow Republicans to kill the plan before it goes into effect.

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Face the facts: U.S. Constitution is dead document with no meaning

by David McElroy

The U.S. Constitution is dead. We might disagree about when it died or what to do about it, but it’s time to admit that the piece of parchment that our civic religion taught us to revere is cold and dead.

The body of the Constitution is still trotted out from time to time. A few quaint parts — mostly a few among the Bill of Rights — that courts still want to pay attention to get some lip service. Other parts are blatantly ignored. Yet other parts are “reinterpreted” to mean whatever the people in power need them to mean. But the document itself as a whole — the meaning of the words as the writers and ratifiers understood them — is empty. It’s like some sick civic version of the bad old movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

For many conservatives and libertarians, there is no more cherished political idea than that of “returning to the original meaning of the Constitution.” It’s time to be honest and blunt about this. It would make just as much sense to talk seriously about looking for dinosaurs today. They’re extinct. They’re not coming back. And neither is the actual meaning of the Constitution.

The fantasy of bringing back the Constitution in its actual meaning keeps being shot down, time after time, but people hopefully return to it like an abused wife returning to a husband who beats her. Those of us who believed a return to the Constitution could change everything keep being disappointed. The latest example was Thursday when the Supreme Court let the worst parts of ObamaCare stand.

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‘Just do exactly what we say to do; it’s for your own good, you know’

by David McElroy

When I was younger, one of my neighbors came over and said he had something important to talk about.

“I have good news,” he said as he waved a piece of paper. “I’ve just signed the neighborhood constitution. It’s going to keep you safe and free. You’re not going to have to worry about a thing, because I’m going to take care of you. Best of all, I’m protecting you against attacks from space aliens.”

I’d never considered the notion that I needed to worry about being attacked by space aliens, but the more I thought about it, well, it seemed like a good idea to have someone protect me from them. And Mr. Madison seemed so sincere, so I figured he must be right.

Not much changed at first. I went on living my life and kept to myself. Every now and then Mr. Madison would tell me that I needed to change something about my house or my yard, but it was no big deal. Mostly I was relieved because the aliens hadn’t attacked.

Mr. Madison couldn’t do all of the protecting and ordering himself, so he deputized members of his family to help out. He only appointed the best, of course, so they had my best interests at heart. That’s what they told me, anyway.

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NEWS LINKS: TSA’s air-safety rules not based on any recognized science

by Staff Monkeys

For those of us who have followed the TSA follies of the past decade, this is no surprise, but Scientific American has a terrific article outlining all of the many ways in which the TSA rules allegedly designed to make us safer are based on little more than bureaucratic whim.

  • In Evansville, Ind., a police SWAT team broke into a house — despite the fact that the front door was open — because an anonymous person posted vague threats against the police department and the IP address was reported to be from the house. It turned out that nobody there had done anything wrong and the assumption is that someone nearby used an open WiFI connection to post the comment.
  • Speaking of police departments, more publications are finally starting to notice the increasing militarization of police departments. Wired has a good roundup that will be news to many people, but not to anyone who’s been reading here long.

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Liberal NPR, PBS? Why should tax money pay to influence culture?

by David McElroy

The public media community around the country is outraged by the recent firing of two top staffers from Alabama Public Television. The commission that manages the network fired the executive director of APT along with his top assistant. Publicly, both sides just said there was a disagreement about the future direction of the network, but there was much more going on.

Conservatives who control the commission had asked for the network to consider showing a controversial 10-part series by a Texas minister named David Barton who considers himself a historian. (His only educational credential is a degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University.) The American Heritage Series presents this man’s view of the United States as a Christian nation and tries to debunk any notions that the Founding Fathers weren’t dedicated Christians.

The professionals at Alabama Public Television reviewed the material in Barton’s series and outlined why it was a bad idea and possibly illegal. The matter was supposed to be discussed at a commission meeting, but the commission went into executive session and fired the two instead.

At first blush, it seems that the story is simply that conservatives were unjustly trying to push their views onto the professional staff and fired them when they wouldn’t go along. That’s obviously what happened, but there’s a bigger issue here to me.

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NEWS LINKS: TSA agent spills grandpa’s ashes, laughs about it

by Staff Monkeys

An Indiana man on the way home with his grandfather’s cremated remains never thought he would have trouble at the airport, but he never counted on the TSA. The container was marked, “Human remains,” but the TSA agent opened the container and used her finger to sift through the ashes. She then spilled about a quarter to a third of the ashes on the floor, and the man was left trying to scoop up ashes and bone fragments. The agent simply laughed, he said.

  • Democrats planning the party’s convention are having so much trouble raising money that they’ve canceled a kick-off event in favor of something far smaller and cheaper. The convention fundraising goal is $36.6 million, but only $10 million has been raised so far.
  • Gay rights advocates picked the wrong guy to represent their interests in San Francisco, it seems. A long-time gay rights activist has been arrested on child porn charges after images of very young children being sodomized were found in his email account.

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If president can just ignore laws, what’s the purpose of having laws?

by David McElroy

When Barack Obama issued an order last week that will allow some undocumented immigrants to say in the United States without fear of prosecution, people generally supported it or opposed it based on the way they see the issue of immigration. Those who favor fewer restrictions on immigration welcomed the order. Those who don’t really like immigration denounced it.

The more I think about it, the more I think the immigration debate is completely secondary to the real issue. No matter whether you favor immigration or oppose it — for whatever your reasons — you should be afraid of this order, because it’s a very blunt statement by a sitting U.S. president that he can ignore laws that he doesn’t like.

Tomorrow, we expect the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its ruling about the constitutionality of key provisions of ObamaCare. If the court strikes down the law as unconstitutional, what’s to stop Obama from using the same principle he used with immigration and simply say he won’t abide by the law as interpreted by the court?

Now let’s look at the opposite case. Let’s say that the court upholds ObamaCare on Thursday. Then let’s say that Mitt Romney is elected president in November. Why couldn’t he simply issue an order for his administration to ignore the health care reform laws if he wanted to? How would that be any different from what Obama has done?

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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