FOCUS ON WINNING THE WAR

Obamacare is one of those disasters half of us would just like to go away. The other half either has selfish financial interests or Utopian pipe dreams tied up in such Socialist legislation. Think I am being unfair to the other half? From the beginning we knew Obamacare would not work. Obamacare is economically unsound. So from the beginning we knew what the Democrats wanted was a single payer, government-run healthcare monopoly. Don’t we know how, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Obamacare would have been fixed? Don’t we already know Obamacare needs to be fixed?

So now we have this stinking albatross around our neck. What is the best way to get rid of it? There is no quick and simple answer.  Budget reconciliation does not clearly provide it.

The reconciliation process, created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601–688), establishes the mechanism by which Congress can move controversial legislation without it being subject to a filibuster in the Senate. But to use the authority, Congress must take certain prescribed steps and avoid potential pitfalls. (continued here)

Pitfalls! So it is that Congress cannot include matters extraneous to budget reconciliation in a budget reconciliation bill.

Specifically, section 313(b)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act defines “extraneous” matters as those that:

  • do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;

  • produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

  • are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;

  • increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;

  • increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral; or

  • contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

(from here)

Thus, when Congress tried to repeal Obamacare in 2015 they ran into problems in the Senate.

In October 2015, the House passed H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom, which repealed significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

  • the Automatic Enrollment Requirement,
  • the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF, also referred to as the “Obamacare slush fund”),
  • both the Individual and Employer Mandates,
  • the Medical Device Tax, and
  • the health insurance “Cadillac Tax,”.

The bill also prohibited federal funds for Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics for one year. Instead, the bill designated an additional $235 million for the Community Health Center Fund.

When the bill reached the Senate in January 2016, the Senate parliamentarian reviewed the House-passed bill to see if provisions of the bill met the extraneous matter requirements of the Byrd Rule.  She determined that repeal of the individual mandate and employer mandate, were extraneous policies, and not primarily budgetary in nature.  As a result, they were dropped from the bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amended version of the reconciliation bill that retained the policy of the individual and employer mandates, but eliminated the penalty for non-compliance.

Final passage from the conference committee occurred January 6, 2016 and was vetoed by President Obama two days later. (from here)

So even if the House passes the bill before it, the Senate may weaken it.  Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe the Senate dislikes big government.

So let consider a solution for this problem. Let’s begin by properly defining the problem. How did Obamacare happen? Democrats, politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions, got control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Therefore, to repeal Obamcare, we need control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we are not quite there. So, the solution is getting there, getting enough Conservative politicians to pass Conservative legislation.

Why do the American people elect politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions? That is both a problem of the heart and the heart of the problem. To the extent we can do something about it, it is an education problem. Before the Democrats created budget-busting boondoggles like Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare, they took over the education of our nation’s children. So it is we have public funding of schools starting in kindergarten and ending with the completion of doctoral programs. Inevitably, people educated in socialist institutions by people who make their living off socialist institutions have difficulty seeing what is wrong with Socialism.  Inevitably, when the absence of instruction suggests such things don’t matter, children raised in secularized institutions have a difficult time relating to God and God-given rights. Therefore, if we don’t want everything run by our government, we must privatize our education system.

Are you familiar with school choice? Even if you are, you may find it useful to visit What is School Choice?  This is an article provided by Focus on the Family, which some would call a right-wing Christian organization. Here is how that article begins.

School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children’s education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home.

School choice also protects parents’ constitutional rights to direct their children’s upbringing in accordance with the values, principles and religious convictions they hold dear. (continued here)

Think about it. Has the notion of the People running the own lives — educating their own children as they see fit — become as scary to our government as it was to the British Crown in 1776?

So what do we do with President Donald Trump’s and Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill, the American Health Care Act? I suggest we help Trump and Ryan pass the bill.  It is not perfect, but we need to keep our allies strong.  Trump and Ryan need the win, and half a loaf is better than none. At this point, half a loaf is all we can expect.

Why must we keep Trump and Ryan strong? Although we must fight our school choice battles predominantly at the state level, we must keep strong advocates for school choice in charge of the Federal Government. Otherwise, Democrats will win the fight to federalize the education of our nation’s children with programs like Common Core. See the following.

Is Common Core is a commie plot? Who knows?  The point is that the Constitution does not authorize a Federally run educational bureaucracy. Even if the Constitution did authorize Federal spending on education, do we actually need massive numbers of bureaucrats to educate our children? What possible good could they do?

A STRANGE DEBATE

Let’s Enslave The Heathen is to say the least a strange post. John Branyan apparently enjoys tormenting the heathen. So he followed up with Let’s Enslave Anyone Who Can’t Answer. What was the question?

Theist: “Give me a reason to release you, Slave!” (from here)

Of course, the heathen (atheists in particular) cannot give a straightforward answer. That’s the point I sought to make in HOW SHOULD WE DECIDE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG? — UPDATED. Without God setting the measure, the difference between right and wrong does not amount to much. When we set the measure, what the difference between right and wrong comes down for us is our feelings.

So what did violetwisp do when she tried to respond to on her blog? In christians run scared on slavery, cites Bible verses that supposedly show that God approves of slavery. That, somehow, is the answer.

The answer for the most frightened Christians out there is simple: DIVERSION!! Join the ranks of the terrified John Branyan by pretending you don’t understand simple explanations about co-operation, empathy and the logical evaluation of the outcomes of actions. Ignore what you see in the world around you, ignore what goes on throughout the animal kingdom and start claiming that without an invisible god’s morality stick, atheists want slaves! (from here)

Of course atheists want slaves. Doesn’t everyone? Not exactly. Managed properly, slaves can be a lot of work. So it is that mrsmcmommy responded to a comment on slavery with this post: The Slavery Post.

So, if the topic of slavery has been covered well by others, what else do I have to contribute?

Well, I still need to put my signature spin on it. I still need to do something surprising and a maybe a little half-baked–like suggesting that the biblical version of slavery is a lot like parenthood. (from here)

What observes is that some people, like children, need someone to be in charge of them. We often forget just how difficult it was just to survive during ancient times. Some people needed help, and during ancient times slavery provided the only health, education, and welfare systems available to the poor. Nevertheless, the slave master relationship is rife with the potential for abuse. So what the Bible did was regulate slavery so as to prevent abuse.

Do the rules in the Bible mean God approves of slavery? No, but the Bible provides the rules for us, not God, and God is merciful and patient with us. He gives us time to allow our hearts to soften. Here is example. When the Pharisees asked about divorce, Jesus explained why, even though God hates divorce, the Old Testament provides rules for it.

Matthew 19:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Slavery has been the norm throughout most of human history. If Christians had not decided to abolish slavery, slavery would be much more common than it is today. That’s right! In spite of logic and empathy, some people still make slaves of other people.

The notion that we would have stopped making slaves out of each other just because of logic and empathy is in fact arrogant. It implies the ancients were not just as capable of logic and empathy, but none of their idols, gods of their own making, condemned slavery.

Slavery ended only because Jesus commanded us to obey the Golden Rule, and there is no place in that rule for slavery, not when God has told you that every man, woman and child (born and unborn) is your neighbor. Not when you know that every man is made in the image of God.

HOW SHOULD WE DECIDE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG? — UPDATED

The Temptation of Christ
Ary Scheffer, 1854 (from here)

UPDATE:  violetwisp continued our debate here.

I visited The Lions Den today, and I read Thought for the day. Here ColorStorm put up a very simple proposition.

It does not require the mind of an Einstein, a Tesla, a molecular biologist, a heart surgeon,  a carpenter, or a lawyer, to know there is a God.

All one needs is to be alive.

Then again, ask any two year old, as the divine code is imprinted on the conscience. It’s too bad the so-called scientists hide their knowledge of this between their sandwiches of theory and endless detours, which provides no nutrition, for the bread of unbelief is quite stale.

Audacious, don’t you think? Then I looked at the comments. I don’t know why, but violetwisp was the only person to take issue with ‘s post. Usually, he attracts a small horde of doubters.

  • violetwisp says:

    So what you are saying here is that only stupid people believe in your god? But that scientists, who are aware your god exists, are telling people lies about two-year-olds who all really follow your god? It’s kind of confusing ….

So I asked a question.

  •   Citizen Tom says:

    @violetwisp

    You seem very concerned about proper behavior. Why? How do you know what is “socially acceptable”? How do you define what is “socially acceptable”? Is it right makes might, or is it might makes right? If it is right makes might, then what is the difference between right and wrong? Who or what decides the issue? Why should a little child ever bother to care?

Unfortunately, did not bother with a reply. Why? Think about that long and hard.

Supposedly, we can form a rigorous ethical system without believing in God, but I am not familiar with one. Instead, what I have seen is that most Americans, including atheists and agnostics, tend to adopt a subset of Christian ethics? Why only a subset? Well, all of us find it very difficult to give up our own preferred sins. What sins should other people give up? Well, if they give up our preferred sins we will most definitely feel slighted.

So why didn’t reply? Well, it is much easier to attack what others believe than it is to defend our own beliefs.  The Bible is out there. Anyone can read it, and the Bible has numerous detractors.  So it is not difficult to become familiar with what the critics have said and rail against the Bible, and that is something many atheists and agnostics enjoy doing.  What we don’t often see, however, is Christians attacking what atheists and agnostics believe. Why do most Christians have so little interest in the subject?

Consider.  Google the following

What is there to attack? Is there anything of substance or just speculation?

Have atheists and agnostics undermined your belief in the God of the Bible? Have you asked them what they believe?  Have you looked up what some of them say they believe? Are you comfortable they know what they are talking about?

Before you give up on Christianity, please read the Bible carefully. That includes reviewing some good commentaries and participating in a Bible study with other Christians. Does that seem to much to ask? Then consider.

  • Have you watched a child grow? Have you visited the country, gotten far away from the city and looked into the night sky on a clear night? We live in a world — in a universe — that only God could have made. Creation is evidence that God exists.
  • Have you ever been wronged? When you were a child? How did you know what had been done to you was wrong? When you wronged another, did your conscious complain? Each of us have a moral compass. That too is evidence of God.
  • If the Bible is true, have you considered what you are giving up by not reading it? Even if you seriously doubt the Bible, don’t you want to understand why so many believe? Don’t you want to understand why America, a land founded by people who did believe the Bible, is so unique?

The Bible exists as only one of the proofs of God’s existence.  If you doubt God exists, then study the matter carefully. You may very well be surprised to find that there many gifted and intelligent Christian philosophers.  These men and women have carefully examined the issue. Because they thought so carefully about whether the God of the Bible exist, they believe. God sent these men and women to help us understand so we can believe too.

Hebrews 11:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

We base our faith on evidence, not just what we want to believe.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLLECTIVE AND A COMMUNITY?

Charity without love is not charitable.

More than we know we do combat with words.  Consider the etymology of these ideological words. Consider what happens when the words “collective” and “community” become wrapped into isms.

Collectivism has strong associations with communism.

collectivism (n.)Look up collectivism at Dictionary.com
1880, in socialist theory, from collective + -ism. Related: Collectivist (1882 as both noun and adjective); collectivization (1890).

It seems that some would have us believe that the mere act of organizing people into a group with a common interest is communistic.

The word “community” has multiple associations with isms.

Like communism, communitarianism also emphasizes the community over the individual.

communitarian (n.) Look up communitarian at Dictionary.com
1841, “member of a commune,” from community + ending from utilitarian, etc. The adjective is attested from 1909.

Communitarianism is not the same as communism, but it does emphasize the interests of the community over the individual.

Like Communitarianism, communism is related to community via the word “commune“.

communism (n.) Look up communism at Dictionary.com
“social system based on collective ownership,” 1843, from French communisme (c. 1840) from commun (Old French comun; see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). Originally a theory of society; as name of a political system, 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels’ “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Compare communist. In some cases in early and mid-20c., a term of abuse implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]

We even have something called communalism which is similar to communitarianism. Instead of a strong central government, however, both communitarianism and communalism emphasize creating a federation of communes, just not for the same reasons.

communalism (n.) Look up communalism at Dictionary.com
1871 (in reference to Paris), from communal + -ism.

Thanks to all these mushy isms, it is a little difficult to speak of the difference between a collective and a community.  Nevertheless, people form collectives deliberately for a specific purpose. Whereas people form communities by living together and forming strong ties with each other.

Therefore, only when we speak of a community does it make sense to apply this verse.

John 13:35 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When we form charitable organizations, because there is a personal relationship it makes sense to provide charity at the community level.  Unfortunately, our political leaders have created new and improved charities.  They have used the state, especially that great collective we call the Federal Government, to give away our tax dollars using expensive health, education, and welfare programs.  Hence we have politicians spending other people’s money on people they don’t even know. The result has been phenomenal fraud, waste and abuse.

Ideally, because the personal relationship between those who give and those who receive charity is so important (It is about love, after all.), charity should only be the function of local, private organizations. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve government, and that should be local government. Only when we have no other alternative should we involve either the state or the Federal Government.

What is the big issue of the moment in Washington DC? It is Obamacare.  What is Obamacare? It is about whether the average American will be able to make his or her health choices without overriding interference from nameless bureaucrats. It about disconnecting the desires of people who pay the bills from the people who provide health care services. It is about giving politicians power just because they want it. It about turning our whole healthcare system into a wasteful and inefficient government-run charity rife with fraud, waste, and abuse.

Please let your senators and congressman know you want Obamacare repealed. You want them to do the same thing they did when they knew Obama would veto their repeal bill. Then you want them to replace Obamacare with laws that allow us to use our own money to make our own decisions. Do we really need their help to provide charity for our neighbors, the people in our communities. No. Not if we actually care about each other. If we don’t, there is nothing they can do anyway. If we don’t care, they won’t either.