Friday, May 31, 2013

Obamacare in California: Make people feel like their getting more when in fact they're paying more for less.

Here is a good analysis of the games being played with Obamacare in California.  Proponents argue it's going to cost people buying health care less.  In reality it will cost society more but on the micro level pick winners and losers.
One of the most serious flaws with Obamacare is that its blizzard of regulations and mandates drives up the cost of insurance for people who buy it on their own. This problem will be especially acute when the law’s main provisions kick in on January 1, 2014, leading many to worry about health insurance “rate shock.”

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange.

But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

Lee’s claims that there won’t be rate shock in California were repeated uncritically in some quarters. “Despite the political naysayers,” writes my Forbes colleague Rick Ungar, “the healthcare exchange concept appears to be working very well indeed in states like California.” A bit more analysis would have prevented Rick from falling for California’s sleight-of-hand.

Here’s what happened. Last week, Covered California—the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange—released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange.

“The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

That’s the sentence that led to all of the triumphant commentary from the left. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” exulted Peter Lee.

Except that Lee was making a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. The difference is critical.

Obamacare to double individual-market premiums

If you’re a 25 year old male non-smoker, buying insurance for yourself, the cheapest plan on Obamacare’s exchanges is the catastrophic plan, which costs an average of $184 a month. (That’s the median monthly premium across California’s 19 insurance rating regions.)

The next cheapest plan, the “bronze” comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on (NASDAQ:EHTH), the average cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92. In other words, for the average 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

Under Obamacare, only people under the age of 30 can participate in the slightly cheaper catastrophic plan. So if you’re 40, your cheapest option is the bronze plan. In California, the median price of a bronze plan for a 40-year-old male non-smoker will be $261. But on eHealthInsurance, the average cost of the five cheapest plans was $121. That is, Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.
 Then there's an interesting exchange between the author and critics of his analysis.
UPDATE 1: On Twitter, Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic argues that I’m being unkind to California (1) by not describing the mandates that Obamacare imposes on insurers in the individual market, and (2) not explaining that low-income people will be eligible for subsidies that protect them from much of the rate shock.

For an extensive discussion of Obamacare’s costly insurance mandates, such as its requirement that plans cover you whether you’re healthy or sick, read this post. For a discussion of how Obamacare’s insurance mandates dramatically increase the cost of insurance for younger workers, go here.

Jon is right that low-income individuals will be protected from these rate increases because of Obamacare’s subsidies, but if you’re not low-income, you face a double-whammy: higher taxes to pay for those subsidies, and higher indvidual-market insurance costs for yourself. A better approach would be to offer everyone access to low-cost consumer-driven health coverage.

UPDATE 2: A number of writers did call out California for the apples-to-oranges comparison last week, including David Freddoso, Philip Klein, and Lanhee Chen.

Lanhee, writing in Bloomberg View, does the useful exercise of showing that even for plans with the same generous benefit package that Obamacare requires, eHealthInsurance is significantly cheaper:

To put it simply: Covered California is trying to make consumers think they’re getting more for less when, in fact, they’re just getting the same while paying more.

Yet there are many plans on the individual market in California today that offer a structure and benefits that are almost identical to those that will be available on the state’s health insurance exchange next year. So, let’s make an actual apples-to-apples comparison for the hypothetical 25-year-old male living in San Francisco and making more than $46,000 a year. Today, he can buy a PPO plan from a major insurer with a $5,000 deductible, 30 percent coinsurance, a $10 co-pay for generic prescription drugs, and a $7,000 out-of-pocket maximum for $177 a month.

According to Covered California, a “Bronze” plan from the exchange with nearly the same benefits, including a slightly lower out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350, will cost him between $245 and $270 a month. That’s anywhere from 38 percent to 53 percent more than he’ll have to pay this year for comparable coverage! Sounds a lot different than the possible 29 percent “decrease” touted by Covered California in their faulty comparison.

While Covered California acknowledges that it’s tough to compare premiums pre- and post-Obamacare, at the very least, it could have made a legitimate comparison so consumers could fairly evaluate the impacts of Obamacare.
 I think the last comment summaries it best.  

"To put it simply: Covered California is trying to make consumers think they’re getting more for less when, in fact, they’re just getting the same while paying more."

Obamacare advocates are fine with driving up the cost of individual premium policies because it will force people into the one size fits all approach.

What his analysis leaves out is those who believe the state can best allocate health care resources have the emotional satisfaction of imposing their ideological worldview on the rest of society.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gallup says 75% of Americans say religion is losing influence in US and they think that's a bad thing.

Here's an interesting Gallup survey.  It says 77% of Americans say religion is losing influence in America and that's a bad thing.
More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.

"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.

According to the poll, 75% of Americans said the country would be better off if it were more religious.

I don't think Americans are less religious.  Rather they've just transferred their allegiance to other "faiths".  I think man is inherently religious.  He was made to worship. The question is what will he worship.

What I think is in decline is allegiance to biblical faith.

I'm reminded of what John Adams said:
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.
I believe the Bible is true and it's particularly relevant to our experience in America where our society and culture is rooted in the Bible.  The problems we see manifested in society stem from an erosion of that faith in the lives of Americans.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scalia upset with Scouting decision resigns as Scoutmaster.

Justice Antonin Scalia is upset with the recent Scouting decision on homosexuality according to this news story.  
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who for the past forty-seven years has served as a weekend scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, angrily resigned from that position yesterday, effective immediately.

Justice Scalia quit his post in a terse resignation letter that read, in part:

“Some of the happiest memories of my adult life have been as a scoutmaster. Huddling under blankets around the campfire, and so forth. But now, all of that has been ruined. Ruined.”

Shortly after sending the letter, Justice Scalia destroyed his scoutmaster uniform in the blazing fireplace of his Supreme Court office.

Later, he went across the hall to share his decision with his close confidant on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, telling him, “There’s nowhere I feel safe anymore, Clarence. The military? The N.B.A.? Nowhere. I guess the only place I still feel safe is the Supreme Court. This is still a safe place, isn’t it?” 

Was this a big decision?  Certainly if the goal of an organization is character and moral rectitude. One compromise will invariably lead to others.

SATIRICAL UPDATE:  For those who didn't know the above fictional comments by Scalia above were written in a satirical piece. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The threat to religious liberty and hence freedom is very real and growing in our state and nation.

The passage of gay "marriage" by the Minnesota state legislature is the most significant attack on religious liberties in our state's history.  It certainly won't come all at once but rather incrementally.  Many will pooh pooh such a comment but I believe it is true based on experience in other jurisdictions with same sex "marriage" and the stated intentions of its proponents in the Minnesota state legislature.  Proponents of man, woman marriage will treated as the new racists.

Here's an insightful commentary by RR Reno, editor of First Things entitled, "Religion and Public Life in America"  printed in Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

He talks about the nature of the attack here.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They’re seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women—which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress. Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed. There will be many arguments urging Christians to keep their religion strictly religious rather than “political.” And there won’t just be arguments; there will be laws as well. We’re in the midst of climate change—one that’s getting colder and colder toward religion.

Former Georgetown law professor Chai Feldblum—who is also a current Obama appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—has written about the coming conflicts between gay rights and religious liberty. With an admirable frankness she admits, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” Again, the Bob Jones case is in the background, as are other aspects of civil rights law designed to stamp out racial discrimination. For someone like Feldblum, when religious individuals and institutions don’t conform to the new consensus about sexual morality, their freedoms should be limited...

It is precisely the possibilities evoked by Nussbaum and Feldblum that now motivate the Obama administration’s intransigence about allowing places like Notre Dame to be classified as religious employers. In the Bob Jones case, the justices were very careful to stipulate that “churches or other purely religious institutions” remain protected by the First Amendment’s principle of free exercise. By “accommodating” rather than counting Notre Dame and other educational and charitable organizations as religious employers, secular liberalism can target them in the future, as they have done to Catholic adoption agencies that won’t place children with homosexual couples.

A recent book by University of Chicago professor of philosophy and law Brian Leiter outlines what I believe will become the theoretical consensus that does away with religious liberty in spirit if not in letter. “There is no principled reason,” he writes, “for legal or constitutional regimes to single out religion for protection.” Leiter describes religious belief as a uniquely bad combination of moral fervor and mental blindness, serving no public good that justifies special protection. More significantly—and this is Leiter’s main thesis—it is patently unfair to afford religion such protection. Why should a Catholic or a Baptist have a special right while Peter Singer, a committed utilitarian, does not? Evoking the principle of fairness, Leiter argues that everybody’s conscience should be accorded the same legal protections. Thus he proposes to replace religious liberty with a plenary “liberty of conscience.”

Leiter’s argument is libertarian. He wants to get the government out of the business of deciding whose conscience is worth protecting. This mentality seems to expand freedom, but that’s an illusion. In practice it will lead to diminished freedom, as is always the case with any thoroughgoing libertarianism.

Let me give an example. The urban high school my son attended strictly prohibits hats and headgear. It does so in order to keep gang-related symbols and regalia out of the school. However, the school recognizes a special right of religious freedom, and my son, whose mother is Jewish and who was raised as a Jew, was permitted to wear a yarmulke. Leiter’s argument prohibits this special right, but his alternative is unworkable. The gang members could claim that their deep commitments of loyalty to each other create a conscientious duty to wear gang regalia. If everybody’s conscience must be respected, then nobody’s will be, for order and safety must be preserved.
 What should our response be?
First and most obvious—defend religious liberty in the courts. Although I have depicted deep cultural pressures that work against religious liberty, we live in a society governed by the rule of law. Precedent matters, and good lawyering can make a substantive difference.

Second—fight against the emerging legal theories that threaten to undermine religious liberty. This is a battle to be carried out in the law schools and among political theorists. For decades, legal activists on the Left have been subsidized by legal clinics and special programs run in law schools. Defenders of religious liberty need to push back.

Third—fight the cultural battle. Legal theory flexes and bends in accord with the dominant consensus. This Brian Leiter knows, which is why he does not much worry about the current state of constitutional law. He goes directly to the underlying issues, which concern the role of religion in public life.

We must meet the challenge by showing that religion is indeed special. Religious people are the most likely Americans to be involved in civic life, and the most generous in their charitable contributions. This needs to be highlighted again and again. Moreover, we need to draw a contrast with the Nones, who tend to outsource their civic responsibilities and charitable obligations to government in the form of expanded government programs and higher taxes.

There is another, deeper argument that must be made in defense of religion: It is the most secure guarantee of freedom. America’s Founders, some of them Christian and others not, agreed as a matter of principle that the law of God trumps the law of men. This has obvious political implications: The Declaration of Independence appeals to the unalienable rights given by our Creator that cannot be overridden or taken away. In this sense, religion is especially beneficial. As Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both emphasized, it gives transcendent substance to the rights of man that limit government. Put somewhat differently, religion gives us a place to stand outside politics, and without it we’re vulnerable to a system in which the state defines everything, which is the essence of tyranny. This is why gay marriage, which is sold as an expansion of freedom, is in fact a profound threat to liberty.

Finally, we must not accept a mentality of dhimmitude. The church, synagogue, and mosque have a tremendous solidity born of a communion of wills fused together in obedience to God. This gives people of faith the ability to fight with white fury for what they perceive to be a divine cause, which is of course a great force for righteousness—but also a dangerous threat to social peace, as early modern Europe knew only too well.
What most people don't realize is religious freedom is the first freedom listed in the First Amendment.  It's placed there for a reason.  Religious belief and practice are the most central to the human person.  This loss of religious conscience protection then threatens every other freedom.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The rights and wrongs of gay "marriage" and the faulty analogy to the civil rights movement.

With the passage of gay "marriage" law in Minnesota some might think the issue is now decided.  Is that true?  Absolutely not.  It's like saying abortion was decided by the Roe v. Wade decision.  If one thinks that's true then one has been living in a bubble.

In fact, the marriage debate is just beginning.  Ramming through the Minnesota legislature the gay "marriage" bill despite a majority of Minnesotans not supporting it didn't end the debate, it just took it to a new level.  Yes, political debate will continue but it will now be fought out on the cultural level as well.

Here's a great practical article on the nature of marriage from the Culture of Life Foundation entitled, "The Rights and Wrongs of Gay Marriage".  It points out the shallowness of arguments that gay "marriage" is the last great civil rights movement.
Wood’s proposition [Gay "marriage" is the last great civil rights movement.] is problematic for many reasons.  But I want to focus on two.  First, it misleadingly uses language similar to the civil rights movement of African Americans to advance its aims.  In so doing it ignores the grave dissimilarities between the cultural conditions facing blacks in 1940s, 50s and 60s and homosexual activists in the 21st century.

During the civil rights era, major news journals either ignored or systematically distorted the successes of heroes such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Newsweek didn’t even print a story of the Montgomery bus boycott till five months after it happened. In the gay marriage debate, the only media caricatures are of defenders of traditional marriage: “bigots,” “Nazis,” “on the wrong side of history;” “opposed to marriage equality,” “motivated by hate,” and so on.  (As an example, watch the outrageous behavior of lesbian activist Suze Orman towards Heritage Institute fellow Ryan Anderson on the Piers Morgan show from March 26th.)  In the mainstream media, everything gay is lighthearted and humorous, young and attractive, tolerant and far-sighted.  Defenders of traditional marriage have been cast in the image of Archie Bunker for two decades.

Moreover, when M.L. King, Jr. led demonstrations in Birmingham in the summer of ‘62, he and his supporters were greeted to billy clubs, K-9 dogs, and fire hoses by the unsympathetic police.  When defenders of traditional marriage demonstrate, they are subject to vile language and unseemly gyrations by gay-rights activists, while the good police stand by and munch their Dunkin’ Donuts.

Further, when Ole Miss was being integrated in 1962, riots broke out, hundreds were injured and several were killed.  When the feds threatened to integrate the University of Alabama in ‘63, opportunist politicians such as segregationist governor George Wallace vowed pompously to block the door.  In universities today, senior administrators fall over one another to affirm gay rights, gay pride events, gay student organizations, gay socials, etc.  Campus journalists are routinely vilified for writing pro-marriage editorials. 
Pro-marriage speakers are treated disrespectfully.  Traditionally minded student organizations are defunded or not allowed on campus.  Candidates for faculty positions are subjected to humiliating litmus tests based on their views of homosexuality.

Where’s the parity?  Although homosexual young people are still sometimes tragically subject to mockery and abuse, anyone who thinks the persecutory winds are blowing steadily in the direction of homosexuals hasn’t stepped outside recently.  
Also rebuts the argument that some how homosexuals have a "right" to marry.
Second, Wood claims that homosexuals have a “right” to marry.  Given the intensity of emotions wrapped up in this issue, to deny this is likely to arouse resentment or anger.  And I have no desire to wound anyone’s feelings.  But to claim that a human right exists for two men or two women to marry is just wrong.  Rights are grounded in intelligible claims of what’s due to persons.  And due-ness is assessed in virtue (at very least) of what’s a real alternative for choice.  So although one might argue that homosexuals have a right to certain kinds of civil benefits, we can no more argue they have a right to marriage than I can argue I have a right to gestate children.  Marriage is a particular kind of human friendship, one founded on the mutually and comprehensively self-giving commitment of partners who share bodily complementarity.  Marriage can only be chosen by a man and a woman.

Now, of course, opportunist politicians and judges can step in and redefine marriage to mean something other than it’s meant by all cultures for all time.  They can negate the centrality of bodily complementarity, procreation and natural family, and redefine marriage as any stable erotic relationship between two consenting adults.  But if we concede this type of Orwellian power to change meaning, then the possibilities for future redefinition remain open-ended.  Under the chisel of public opinion, marriage can and will be extended—don’t you doubt it—beyond two persons, beyond adults, and beyond humans.  If we think otherwise, we’re naïve.

So the debate is not really about the meaning of marriage as it’s existed—for all must concede that in the judgment of the dead marriage is as I’ve described it—but about redefining marriage to mean something other than it’s meant.  We go from defining it as an institution of committed persons civilly privileged in virtue of its aptness for the generation of children to a union of adult persons civilly privileged in virtue merely of its erotic character.  The traditional definition was justified under law not on the basis of any kind of animus towards homosexual persons (whether or not animus may have existed in society), but because of the importance of children to the community and the benefit to children of stable unions.  The community extends financial and other benefits and immunities to traditional marriage, not because it judges the type of sex to be morally superior, but because of the salient fact that this type of sexual union, as grounded on bodily complementarity, is apt for the generation of children.  Children are vulnerable.  This vulnerability can be decreased if the stability of their parents’ unions is strengthened.  Legal marriage and the benefits it bestows facilitate stability.

There is no arbitrary discrimination in this.  And society certainly has the right to define the unions that it calls marriage in terms of their relevance for childbearing.  Other unions may cry foul, “we want the same benefits.”  But the cry cannot claim to be grounded on the requirements of distributive justice, that is, on a fair distribution of civil benefits and burdens in lieu of equivalent starting points.  The respective starting points of gay and traditional unions are not equivalent, at least not in terms of the central criterion used till now to designate unions as marriage and extend benefits, namely, the aptness of the unions for generating children.

Society may indeed sanction the redefinition of marriage to negate the relevance of bodily complementarity.  But upon what basis can one rationally argue that the redefinition is a human right, an obligation of justice, that if we don’t go there we (the community) ignore an ethical laceration in the body politic (as we do by ignoring the right-to-life of the unborn), that reason, decency and good will cry out for this redefinition?  At best we can call it a risky social experiment, at worst a betrayal of nature, tradition, reason and revelation.  But a right?
 In an ironic way, advocacy for man and woman marriage could be the next great civil rights movement.  It will involve the right of children not to be denied a mother and a father.  And the right people to live out the reality of marriage - a union of a man and a woman - in society free from its redefinition and free from harassment.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Marriage matters for kids. 90 percent of kids born to cohabiting parents end up living without both parents.

Marriage is huge for kids while cohabitation results in most kids born in those relationships will end being raised by one parent, 90 percent in fact.

Here's one news story on this new study.
Half of all British children born this year will be living with only one parent by the time they reach their teens, a study has revealed.

The study, titled “The myth of long-term stable relationships outside of marriage” undertaken by the Marriage Foundation, found that 45 percent of British teenagers between the ages of 13-15 are not living with both parents and that 9 out of 10 children born to unmarried, cohabiting “partners” will be living in single-parent households by their teens.

The study examined the differing rates of “family breakdown” experienced by married and cohabiting couples using data from the Understanding Society national longitudinal survey of 40,000 British households.

The numbers indicate that half of all cohabiting couples will break up within a year of moving in together. Nearly one-fifth (17 percent) of babies under a year old do not live with both natural parents, and that number jumps to 47 percent by the time the child is 15.

Significantly, the numbers are radically different for the children born within marriage: 93 percent of parents who stayed together were married before they had a child.

“The relative scarcity of ‘long-term stable relationships’ outside of marriage confirms that it is disingenuous and untenable for government to keep airbrushing marriage from family policy papers,” the study’s author, Harry Benson, said. “This should be an important issue for government since the direct costs of family breakdown are estimated at £46 billion,” more than the entire budget for national defense.

Decline of Church in England tied to acceptance of same sex "marriage".

This story ties the decline of the Church in England to the redefinition of marriage in Britain.  I think that's spot on.
Although the Church of England opposes the homosexual marriage bill, its influence in the country seems to be waning along with church attendance: Figures for 2011, released May 7, show a weekly average attendance of 1.1 million Anglicans, down from 1.2 million in 2001.

U.K. census figures show an even starker reality. The proportion of people in England and Wales identifying themselves as Christian dropped to 59 percent in 2011, down from 72 percent in 2001. Meanwhile, the number of people claiming no religion nearly doubled.
I think the same conclusion applies to the United States and Minnesota in particular.  The redefinition of marriage in Minnesota clearly falls at the feet of the church in Minnesota.  Both for embracing an unscriptural understanding of marriage by some and the failure of others to be "salt" and "light" in society.  When Christians fail to be salt, the consequence as Jesus in Matthew 5 points out is being trampled on the ground.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The spin game. Republican Fitzsimmons held out as champion of religious freedom. He really wasn't.

One of the subplots in the House vote on gay "marriage" was an amendment offered by Representative David Fitzsimmons, conservative republican legislator from a conservative suburban district.  His amendment was offered as a supposed protection of religious freedoms for people who don't agree with same sex "marriage".  (Over half of the population of Minnesota.)   Interestingly, he didn't ask for input from groups like Minnesota for Marriage or the Minnesota Family Council which were repeatedly raising the religious liberty concern.

It turns out his amendment was cited by some representatives as a reason for voting for the bill.  It turns out his amendment really didn't add to religious liberty protections and in fact added confusion to the statutory language.  The fact that the pro-gay "marriage" forces were fine with it is also very revealing.

After the vote we sent to House legislators an analysis of the Fitzsimmons amendment from an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney which says in part:
The Fitzsimmons amendment is woefully inadequate.  If passed, countless Minnesotans, as well as religious organizations and for-profit businesses, who hold sincere religious beliefs regarding marriage and human sexuality would be given a choice to either forsake their conscience or close their businesses.  This amendment fails to account for all businesses or individuals who possess equally legitimate beliefs about marriage, leaving them vulnerable to government discrimination and coercion.

I. Changing “marriage” to “civil marriage” neither alleviates nor changes the impact this bill will have on Minnesotans’ free exercise of religion.

a. Adding “civil” before “marriage” wherever it appears in Minnesota statutes is mere semantics and a distinction lacking a difference.  HF 1054 defines “civil marriage” as “wherever the term ‘marriage,’ ‘marital,’ ‘marry,’ or ‘married’ is used in Minnesota statute in reference to the rights, obligations, or privileges of a couple under law.”  Thus, regardless of many Minnesotans’ sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, they will be forced to recognize as marriage those relationships that are inconsistent with their religious beliefs. A religious group or a for-profit business in the wedding industry will have the same conflicts of conscience if the State redefines marriage or “civil marriage.”  

b. For example, a conflict could easily arise for a videographer recording a same sex ceremony, a counselor who wants to refer to another counselor a same sex couple seeking relationship advice, or a business defining its marital employment benefits.  Placing the term “civil” before “marriage” does not impact or alter the definition of marriage that many Minnesota citizens view as a relationship that only a man and a woman can enter into as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children that they might have.  If enacted, the religious liberty of many Minnesotans will remain unprotected.  

II. The Fitzsimmons amendment explicitly limits the religious freedom of religious organizations. 

a. The Fitzsimmons amendment fails to protect even religious organizations in all that they do, and instead explicitly excludes from protection specific actions these entities might make if the actions are deemed to be “secular business activities.”  Notably, the amendment leaves undefined what these “secular business activities” might include.  So, is the summer camp run by a Jewish synagogue a “secular business activity?”  What about an adoption agency or homeless shelter run by Catholic Charities?  Is a counseling center operated by an evangelical church religious or “secular?”  The exception created here is not only unconstitutional, but the ambiguity could expose these religious organizations to litigation to determine which of the religious organization’s actions are entitled to protection.  Such a test subjects these religious entities to a judicial determination of their actions’ religious bona fides, and leaves to judicial interpretation whether a particular action of a religious entity should receive First Amendment protection.
b. Furthermore, the proposed amendment is inadequate because it fails to protect the rights of religious organizations to recognize and/or participate in only those relationships consistent with their religious beliefs.  Religious groups frequently define their mission to serve others as far broader than just conducting a service or ceremony within the four walls of their house of worship.  Because marriage implicates many more individuals and entities than just those who may be involved with the marriage ceremony, this leaves vulnerable to litigation religious organizations that cannot recognize same-sex marriage, such as counselors, adoption agencies, or social workers.  Additionally, this amendment would likely force religious organizations to provide marital employment benefits to relationships inconsistent with their religious teachings. 

III. The Fitzsimmons Amendment fails to address HF 1054’s failure to protect Minnesota individuals, religious organizations, non-profits, or for-profits from being sued for discrimination based on “marital status.”

a. The lack of religious freedom protections for all Minnesotans in this bill suggests an intent to legislate discrimination and intolerance towards those who believe marriage exists solely between one man and one woman.  If this bill is enacted, such individuals will be persecuted and face legal action for alleged discrimination because this bill changes the legal definition of marriage and thus "marital status" under Minnesota's Human Rights Act.  We should not pass laws that fail to respect the religious freedom of all citizens.  As the Sixth Circuit recently noted in its decision upholding the rights of students to abide by their conscience, "Tolerance is a two way street."  Individuals, for-profits, non-profits, and religious entities that have sincerely held beliefs about marriage could likely be sued for discrimination based on “marital status” should this bill be enacted without language explicitly exempting them because Minnesota’s Human Rights Act bans discrimination on the basis of marital status in the employment, public accommodation, and housing contexts.

IV. The Fitzsimmons amendment leaves many Minnesota individuals and businesses unprotected.

a. The Fitzsimmons amendment fails to recognize that the First Amendment applies to all individuals and businesses that have sincerely held religious beliefs.  In particular, the Fitzsimmons amendment unconstitutionally fails to protect for-profits that are often run by individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.  This includes those entities in the wedding industry, such as a photographer, baker, or florist, who could be coerced to participate in and advance a message about marriage that violates their conscience.  It also includes those businesses run by individuals with sincere beliefs regarding marriage, such as a non-religious, for-profit adoption agency or a marriage retreat center, that would remain unprotected under the Fitzsimmons amendments for simply seeking to place children in homes with both a mom and a dad.
b. This amendment fails to extend even the bare minimum protections of the First Amendment, and instead designates which entities and employees may receive protection.  Yet the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the First Amendment applies to all individuals and businesses, and federal courts—including those in the 8th Circuit—have recently affirmed that even for-profit business entities may not be coerced into providing benefits or services contrary to their values or conscience.  HF 1054, even with the proposed amendment, would force many Minnesota businesses and employees who hold sincere religious beliefs regarding marriage and human sexuality to either forsake their conscience or close their businesses.
As you can read, the Fitzsimmons amendment was not what it was purported to be. 

Well, the left is now trying to give him some cover. A University of Minnesota law Professor Richard Painter has written a piece for the St. Michael Patch describing Rep. Fitzsimmons as a "hero for religious freedom".

A closer look reveals that really isn't the case.  As a result he has "some explaining to do" to his constituents as Desi Arnez used to say to Lucy after she made a mistake.

Professor Mike Adams responds to Jason Collins and his coming out.

I came across this  response by Professor Mike Adams to the very public coming out of Jason Collins, the NBA player.  Its Adams' response to Collins if he were president and had a conversation with Collins and then talked to the media.
People often write to me expressing their dissatisfaction with President Obama and his policies. They also like to write to me asking how I will do things differently if I am elected president in 2016. For example, they ask whether I would have taken the time to call Jason Collins after he "came out" - becoming the first openly gay active player in the NBA. The answer is a definite "yes." I would have called him immediately. And here is what I would have been able to say to the White House Press corps if later asked about our conversation:
Adams expresses disapproval that homosexuals aren't content to live their lives but want to force their views on others in all areas of life.
"I told Jason I could have been much prouder of him. One of the extraordinary measures of social regression that we have seen in this country has been the insistence that the interests of the LGBT community be interjected into every aspect of American life. Now, the agenda is even present in kindergarten sex education classes in Massachusetts. At first, it was placed there by those who insisted that such educational classes would be fully optional for objecting parents. Now, parents who show up at these schools objecting to the sexualization of their children are threatened with prosecution for trespass. None of this would be happening if homosexuals were content to live their lives privately and peacefully without imposing their agenda upon those who respectfully disagree with them.
 That the GLBT community isn't content with equality but are demanding aquiescence.
"I reminded Jason that everyone deserves full equality. But I also reminded Jason that the so-called LGBT community already has full equality, not just partial equality. For example, he had a right to marry his fiancé of seven years. But just because he decided to relinquish that right, it does not mean the courts need to create a new right for him to exercise. The polygamists tried that in the 1800s and the Supreme Court rightly said ‘no’ to their legal arguments. Given that there is far greater historical acceptance of polygamy than so-called gay marriage, he has no broad right to marry anyone he chooses. So I urged Jason not to use his newfound platform to push this issue. I will have more to say about substitutionary rights - the idea that when you relinquish a right, you get to select a new one - in a future press conference. But now back to Jason.

"I also told him that I was disappointed that the LGBT community was no longer seeking tolerance, but instead seeking acquiescence to the notion that their lifestyle is every bit as healthy as the traditional American family. Of course, that is simply absurd. I reminded him that even Elton John recently recognized that his adopted son would suffer because he had no 'mummy.' I urged Jason to avoid gay adoption as it was not in the interests of the child - although it might be an effective publicity stunt once his first round of media adoration has subsided.
 That we shouldn't judge people based on their sex life rather their character.
"Given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who's been mediocre at best in one of those major sports to suddenly say 'This is who I am. I'm proud of it. I'm still a great competitor. I'm still seven foot tall and deliver a hard foul' was simply a distraction. I think for a lot of young people out there who are confused and who are struggling with these issues, to see a role model like that who is interjecting sex into sports, well, it's just not a good thing. I think America should be concerned that this is just one more stunt reinforcing this ongoing illusion that we do not treat everybody fairly, and that we judge people on the basis of their sex life rather than their character and their job performance. We can't judge them on the basis of those things if they keep interjecting sex into the workplace. That just isn't right. So, I'm very displeased with Jason and I told him that...

"I told Jason, what is most notable about his recent conduct is his lack of courage. He lived a lie and misled a nice woman for seven years. Only after it became politically correct to be gay - and when anyone on the NBA was assured a six-digit fine for criticizing him - did he come forward. I've never seen a seven foot man act so small.

"Jason has taught young people to do easy things, not hard things, in order to win the affection of others. He has taught them that they are to be judged, not by the content of their character, but by the many colors of the banner of sexual political correctness. That will be the legacy of Jason Collins. I wish he had thought of the long term consequences of his decisions before he made them. Whether we like it or not, an athlete is a role model. Others are watching. And that is something I plan to talk about again in my next White House Press Conference.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Scandal in the Obama Administration. Chicago style? And the buck stops where?

Here's an interesting exchange on FOX News' "Political Insiders" segment, featuring Pat Caddell and  Doug Schoen former Democrat political pollsters and former Rep. John LeBoutillier (R-NY) on the three major controversies swirling around the Obama Administration.  They think the Benghazi scandal is bigger than people think and the IRS scandal and invasion of the privacy of media and other opponents of the Obama Administration are just starting to come to light.

If so, it looks like things could drag on for a long time.  Some have noted that the Obama Administration's response is reminiscent of the Nixon White House.  Not that these scandals will rise to the level of Watergate but the response is similar -- refuse to be forthright, attack one's political opponents, etc., etc.

Also given where Obama learned his politics, Chicago, one wonders if the corruption endemic in Chicago politics has made its way into the White House.  If so, I'd expect a lot more stuff to come dribbling out.

And ultimately, will it implicate the man at the top, President Obama.  Only time will tell both the severity of the activities and whether President Obama had any personal knowledge of what went on.

President Obama has said in the past "the buck stops here" to borrow the famous Harry Truman line.  Certainly he's ultimately held accountable for what happens in his administration whether he had first hand knowledge or personally directed particular activities.  However, who one hires and the tone and values set by the top person and his close associates usually filter down through a particular organization.  What these scandals tell us about President Obama will be very interesting to say the least.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A good reminder: As Christians who are we to care for? The weak and vulnerable in our midst.

I came across this brief commentary by the late Derek Prince.  He talks about caring for the widows and orphans in our midst.  The weak and vulnerable in our midst.

Psalm 146:9

The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.     NIV

     One of the things that the Bible consistently emphasizes is this – that the Lord cares for the alien, the stranger, the outcast and the unprotected, particularly the fatherless and the widow. And God challenges us to share that concern.
     In the New Testament, in the epistle of James, pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is defined as this: “To visit the widows and the fatherless.” You know, a lot of things that we think are religious don’t mean much in the sight of God, and some things we neglect are very important in the sight of God. God cares for the alien. He cares for the widow. He cares for the fatherless. And if God has imparted His nature and His compassion to you and me, we are going to have the same kind of care, the same kind of concern, that God has. And that’s going to be the kind of religion that’s acceptable with God.

     It’s not just a question of religious activities. It’s not just going to church or singing hymns, but it’s sharing God’s concern with Him. He cares, and we need to care. Today there are countless opportunities for us in this blessed land of America to show our care and our concern for those in this or other lands who are less privileged than we are. God cares, we need to care.

This involves personal involvement not just expecting the government to do it through welfare programs.
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sexual sickness and confusion.

In the free for all of sexual behavior in our modern day, confusion abounds.

This column discusses the confusion of the 60s and then today.  It discusses the apparent  "acceptance" of adult - student sexual behavior in the 60s.  Now we come down on it hard.  Yet today, teen sexual behavior is elevated to a seemingly unfettered, constitutional right.
Was the widespread sexual contact between students and teachers at Horace Mann in the 1960s and ’70s a crime, or just a sign of the times?   
The latter, says Gary Alan Fine, a 1968 Mann graduate. Of the allegations that have recently rocked the prep school, he told The New Yorker: “This was the late ’60s, and what we now think of as rape or sexual assault didn’t quite mean the same thing in that age of sexual awakening.”

What some teachers did “was wrong, absolutely,” Fine allowed, “but there are degrees of wrongness, and what was wrong in 1966 is today much more wrong. I can’t imagine that in the late 1960s anyone would have been terribly surprised had they learned that some faculty were having sexual relations with students.
Today we're throwing kids to the wolves by saying whatever you do sexually it's fine.
As Kay S. Hymowitz, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, explains, “The sexual revolution was fought and won, if that’s the right word, by young people, many of them barely past adolescence. They were fighting for freedom from traditional limits on sexual behavior.”

But this, she says, also led to the idea that “kids, or at least adolescents, were full individuals and sexual beings. Part of their growing up was ‘exploring their sexuality.’ What was once defined as an adult pleasure became not just available to teenagers, but important for their fulfillment . . . The boundaries between kids and adults was blurred.”

Not a good idea, says Hymowitz, author of “Ready or Not: Why Treating Children as Small Adults Endangers Them.”...

Theodore Dalrymple, British psychiatrist and author of “Our Culture, What's Left of It,” notes that some of Savile’s groping of teen girls was visible on TV.

It seems hard to believe that in our current era — where a creepy glance by an older man at a girl can get him reported to the authorities — such behavior could have gone on in full view of a national audience.

On the other hand, the show “Britain’s Got Talent” last month featured an 11-year-old singing about a one-night stand, with the lyrics, “You’ve got one night only, that’s all you have to spare, let’s not pretend to care, come on, big baby, come on, we only have ’til dawn.”

Dalrymple notes, “We live in very peculiar times when on the one hand we are extremely puritanical [about these incidents from decades ago] and on the other we live in sort of Gomorrah. It’s a very odd situation.”

Indeed, our elites fully believe that teens are capable of making decisions about sex to the extent that the Food and Drug Admistration has just made the Plan B “morning-after pill” available without prescription or parental notification to 15-year-olds — again sending the message that teenage girls are adults when it comes to sex.
Whether in the 60s or today our kids are the prey of the sexual revolution.  It just takes different forms.
As Hymowitz notes, “We’re really in a state of profound confusion about teens: Are they children or are they almost-adults? When it comes to sex, we assume that kids are engaging in a natural form of self-expression. But that can’t be entirely squared with the fact that we also know that kids are still unshaped, overly influenced by peers and impulsive.”

Maybe 30 years from now, some parents will wonder why we encouraged teens to perform sexually explicit songs on stage or why we gave them unfettered access to “emergency contraception.”
The source of the problem?  Moral relativism and the removal of God from society. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fox in charge of chicken coop? IRS agent in charge of tax exempt audits now in charge of Obamacare enforcement in IRS.

Sarah Hall Ingram, the person responsible for over seeing tax exempt organizations during 2009 to 20012 the time when Tea Party, evangelical and Jewish groups were being targeted for audits, is currently in charge of enforcement of Obamacare in the IRS.  She also received significant work bonuses during this time.
Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS executive in charge of the tax exempt division in 2010 when it began targeting conservative Tea Party, evangelical and pro-Israel groups for harrassment, got more than $100,000 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012.

More recently, Ingram was promoted to serve as director of the tax agency's Obamacare program office, a position that put her in charge of the vast expansion of the IRS' regulatory power and staffing in connection with federal health care, ABC reported earlier today.

Ingram received a $7,000 bonus in 2009, according to data obtained by The Washington Examiner from the IRS, then a $34,440 bonus in 2010, $35,400 in 2011 and $26,550 last year, for a total of $103,390. Her annual salary went from $172,500 to $177,000 during the same period.

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The 2010, 2011 and 2012 bonuses were awarded during the period when IRS harrassment of the conservative groups was most intense. The newspaper obtained the data via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., described the Ingram awards as "stunning, just stunning."

Ingram has some history as a government lawyer receiving controversial bonuses. According to The Washington Post, she received a $47,900 bonus for distinguished service in 2004 from President George W. Bush.

Earlier Thursday, The Washington Examiner reported that the IRS paid out more than $92 million in bonuses during the four-year period of Ingram's awards to her and nearly 17,000 other agency employees. Those bonuses averaged more than $5,500 per employee.

Go here for a spreadsheet of the salary and bonus data for IRS employees getting bonuses between 2009 and 2012.
Talk about putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

Discussing the shallowness of "marriage equality".

Marriage equality is the big buzz word in the campaign to redefine marriage in Minnesota and elsewhere.  A closer look reveals it's a platitude,  buzzword without any substance backing it up.

In a nice commentary discussing the term and it's shallowness, Regis Nicoll notes:
How Mr. Sanders missed the memo is anyone’s guess, because marriage, which until quite recently didn’t need to be qualified as “traditional,” is a heterosexual institution by nature and definition. At the same time, marriage is, and always has been, for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

That’s right: Any person, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight, can get legally married in any of the 50 states. Although common restrictions apply, concerning the ages, kinship, and genders of the interested parties, there is no restriction on sexual orientation.

Thus, contrary to the charges of “marriage equality” proponents, a homosexual is treated equally under the law to a heterosexual. Both are free to marry and both are subject to the same rules and conditions.

For instance, while a straight man is free to marry the woman of his dreams, he is prohibited from marrying his brother to become his insurance beneficiary, just as a homosexual is prohibited from marrying his or her same-sex partner for tax or insurance purposes.

In the interest of special interests
The fact that most homosexuals choose not to marry, under the restrictions that apply to everyone, doesn’t insinuate inequity for homosexuals. Their situation is like that of a social organization that wants to be treated as a church by the IRS but chooses not to conform to the definition of a church.

Indeed, the rejection of marriage as it has been known from time immemorial demonstrates that the agitations over “marriage equality” are not about equal access, for that already exists; it is about redefining the institution for special interests.

Imagine if, in the name of “tax equality,” Bill Gates were to propose that “nonprofit organization” be redefined so that he and Microsoft could enjoy the same tax benefits as Rick Warren and Saddleback. He would be rightly excoriated.

The same would happen to a white male wanting affirmative action benefits by redefining “ethnic minority,” or a civilian who would change designation of “military veteran” to gain VA benefits. But when a LGBT activist argues that marriage should be changed to serve the special interests of the homosexual community, he is upheld as a champion of civil rights.

While equality exists in marriage, and always has, it does not exist in “marriage equality,” particularly in the way differing opinions and those who hold them are treated.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scandals hits the Obama Administration. Another Watergate?

It seemed like only a matter of time.  Two terms presidents invariably run into scandals which weaken their credibility and moral authority.  With Nixon it was obviously Watergate.  Clinton it was the Lewinski scandal.  And now with Obama it could be the trifeta Benghazi, IRS and AP. 

And now people are raising the specter of Watergate. As this article points out, "Not a Crook -Yet The Obama administration seems more Nixonian by the day."
The comparisons of the Obama and Nixon White Houses are suddenly coming—pardon the expression—fast and furious, and why not? The IRS investigations; the administration’s fixation on leaks and leakers and its obsession with enemies; the cover-ups, the blame-shifting to subordinates, the defiant chief executive, even the sweating, pathetically dissembling press secretary; it all has the odor of that earlier time. Again, it’s all happening early in the second term, following a triumphant reelection. Again, the operative terms are arrogance, contempt for law, and thuggery.

The growing awareness of administration malfeasance is evident in the numbers on Google: more than 59 million hits for “Obama and Nixon” and 24 million–plus for “Obama and Watergate.” For those interested, the 44th president’s face can already be found morphing into the 37th’s. Then there’s the rising tide of commentary. “Obama knee-deep in Nixon-esque scandal” runs the headline of columnist Joe Battenfield’s piece in the Boston Herald, which notes that Obama’s campaign slogan would have been more appropriate if it were not “Forward” but “Backward”—“All the way to, say, 1972.” “Benghazi, IRS—Son of Watergate?” asks Cal Thomas. “In IRS Scandal, Echoes of Watergate,” observes the Washington Post’s George Will.

Such talk is mostly confined to the Right so far, but a handful of principled liberals have also weighed in. “There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that,” said U.S. Representative Michael Capuano of Massachusetts of the IRS’s going after the Tea Party. “Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing.” Former Michigan Democratic congresswoman Lynn Rivers echoed him: “For anyone over 50, this news couldn’t help but stir memories of Richard Nixon’s Political Enemies Project. . . . To use Dan Rather’s ‘duck test,’ the IRS probe of ‘hostile’ ideological groups looks like, swims like, and quacks like government dirty tricks.” One of the heroes of Watergate weighed in, too. “This is outrageous, and it is totally inexcusable,” Carl Bernstein raged about the revelation that the Department of Justice had secretly seized the phone records of Associated Press journalists. “There is no reason that a presidency that is interested in a truly free press and its functioning should permit this to happen.”

Thus it is that questions that once seemed unfathomable take on unexpected plausibility. Where and how far will it all go? Is it remotely conceivable that where Richard Nixon led, Barack Obama might follow? The answer, of course, depends primarily on the nature and severity of the crimes committed—if, indeed, they are crimes—and whether presidential culpability can be established.
But such an observation instantly gives rise to two other considerations. Lest we forget, while Democrats led the congressional inquiries into the Nixonites’ misdeeds—Sam Ervin’s committee in the Senate, Peter Rodino’s in the House—in the end, it was principled Republicans, led by Barry Goldwater (who told Nixon he could count on no more than 15 Republican votes in the Senate), who forced the president’s resignation. Can we expect such nation-above-party behavior on the part of today’s Democrats? Can you imagine Patrick Leahy ever deserting Obama? Or Al Franken? Or Barbara Boxer?
 Then there's the response of the liberal media.
Then there’s the role of the press. Unsurprisingly, the media on the far left have circled the wagons in defense of the president. “Desperate for a Scandal, Fox’s Dobbs Attacks Obama’s ‘Inner Nixon,’” read a dismissive headline on Media Matters for America, while DailyKos has harped on previous “GOP-Fabricated Non-Scandals” that went nowhere. And it’s true that, whether it was the president’s associations with his racist pastor or the Fast and Furious boondoggle, such allegations have gone nowhere—but primarily because the press has protected Obama. So it is a given that the media will again play a key role in determining whether the current scandals are pursued to their logical conclusion or are allowed to fizzle out.
Benghazi? With a few notable exceptions, such as CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson and CNN’s Jake Tapper, reporters shrugged off the administration’s cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the attack, when it might have harmed Obama’s presidential fortunes. They have at last been forced by whistleblowers to start asking obvious questions, but their impulse to protect Obama is presumably undiminished. The IRS scandal? Reporters have as little sympathy for the Tea Party as other liberals do, but this story can’t be ignored, at least for the moment. Even administration apologist Joe Klein opines: “I don’t think Obama ever wanted to be on the same page as Richard Nixon. In this specific case, he now is.” But the “specific case” wording is telling; Klein’s piece is generally tepid, arguing that the IRS matter is an exception to what has been a generally scandal-free administration. It is a line that many in the media are apt to adopt.

As Bernstein’s outburst makes clear, the media generally saves its greatest outrage for government attacks on . . . the media. Thus, the DOJ/AP episode may be the most dangerous to the administration of the mushrooming scandals. It’s likely that a prominent head or two will roll, perhaps even Attorney General Eric Holder’s. Reporters are nothing if not creatures of the pack, and the pack has been dissed here, big-time. How hard will they go after the president? Probably not very. Think battered-woman syndrome: he may be an abuser, but he’s still their man—the one they covered for when he was caught with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, the one they played along with on the faux war on women and the anti-Islam video as the cause for the Benghazi attack. With Nixon, by contrast, once the media picked up the faintest scent of blood, they were relentless and increasingly joyous in pursuit.

As George Will writes: “Episodes like this separate the meritorious liberals from the meretricious. The day after the IRS story broke, The Post led the paper with it, and, with an institutional memory of Watergate, published a blistering editorial demanding an Obama apology. The New York Times consigned the story to page 10.” So it’s also the case that, amid all the stunning events of the past few days, the story that will likely prove the most relevant is this one, courtesy of “Top CBS, ABC, CNN execs all have relatives working as advisors for White House.”
 It remains to be seen how this will play out but the way the IRS story is going, it looks like involvement could move up the org chart.  If nothing else all of this will only increase the alienation millions of Americans feel towards their government.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A sad day for Minnesota. Not a time for celebration.

With the passage of the redefintion of marriage, the liberal media and political elites and gay activists are in celebration mode.  Love and equality.  It's a great day they say.  Unfortunately, they just don't get it.  
To celebrate Gov. Mark Dayton’s expected signing of the same-sex marriage bill, Mayor Chris Coleman and the city of St. Paul will be throwing an outdoor concert Tuesday evening at Ecolab Plaza downtown. 
The governor will sign the bill during a ceremony that begins at 5 p.m. at the Capitol. The concert will follow a procession led by the Minnesota Freedom Band from the State Capitol to Ecolab Plaza, 375 N. Wabasha St.
This is ultimately, the sexual revolution coming to fruition.  It seeks to enshrine in our laws social endorsement and acceptance of radical individualism and sexual expression.  It's all about having sex with whomever you want and having the state and society affirm it.

Why should it stop with homosexual relations.  There is now no rational basis for saying it should.  If the individual decides, then there are no limits.  Why not multiple parties - polygamy and polyamous relationships.  Gays have gained their stamp of societal endorsement.  Others will, are lining up behind them.

Of course this misses the point of marriage.  It's about the unique bonding - physically, sexually, emotionally - of a man and a woman.  It's about caring for the most vulnerable among us our children.  It's about ensuring children are connected with their mother and their father.  It's about the stability and well-being of society.  The next generation.  All this is jettisoned in the manipulated name of love and equality.  Terms which are distorted when used to promote same sex unions and the push for marriage redefinition.

The prime movers in our society - our elites - and many throughout are living under many delusions.  None more serious and consequential than the notion that marriage is a social construct we can recreate rather than the image of our Creator God.  Sadly, the truth of revelation and human experience says we will reap what we sow.  Maybe not today or tomorrow but it will come and in fact you can already feel the winds blowing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Is Obamacare a waste of money? Will more health insurance significantly improve people's health? Study suggests not.

The assumption behind the push for Obamacare and making sure millions of Americans had health insurance was the assumption it would improve health care and the ultimately the health of the uninsured.  A study out of Oregon suggests that's not the case.

Robert Samuelson reports on study of Medicaid patients who started getting health insurance versus those who didn't.  While they got more health care, though not dramatically (Uninsured people already receive health care.), they health didn't necessarily improve.

He writes:
Oregon's expansion of Medicaid -- the federal-state insurance for the poor -- unwittingly solved this problem. In 2008, the state decided to increase enrollment by 10,000. But there were 90,000 people on the waiting list, so the state adopted a lottery to decide who would receive coverage. The result was two similar groups of poor, one with insurance (Medicaid) and one without, that could be compared. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the study.

The most overlooked finding is that the uninsured already receive considerable health care. On average, the uninsured had 5.5 office visits annually, used 1.8 prescription drugs and visited the emergency room once. Almost half (46 percent) said they "had a usual place of care" and 61 percent said they "received all needed care" in the past year. About three-quarters (78 percent) who received care judged it "of high quality." Health spending for them averaged $3,257.

True, when people were covered by Medicaid, many of these figures rose. The number of office visits went to 8.2; the number of drugs, 2.5; the share of patients with a usual place of care, 70 percent; the proportion receiving all needed care, 72 percent. Preventive care also increased. The share of patients receiving screening for cholesterol moved from 27 percent for the uninsured to 42 percent; the share of women over 50 having mammograms jumped from 29 percent to 59 percent; the share of men over 50 getting PSA tests for prostate cancer doubled from 21 percent to 41 percent. Spending rose to $4,429.

Unfortunately, the added care and cost didn't much improve people's physical health. The study screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and the risk of a future heart attack or stroke. There were no major detected differences between the uninsured and Medicaid recipients. There was more treatment for diabetes, though no difference between the two groups on a key indicator of the disease.
 This is supported by a previous 2007 study of Medicare.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the uninsured typically received 50 percent to 70 percent of the care of the insured. A study in 2007 of the 1965 creation of Medicare -- insurance for the elderly -- concluded that it had "no discernible impact on elderly mortality" in the first 10 years but improved recipients' financial security by limiting out-of-pocket expenses.

Samuelson takes Obamacare advocates to task:  "They were too busy flaunting their own moral superiority. Universal health insurance is a legitimate goal, but 2009 -- in the midst of a major economic crisis -- was the wrong time to pursue it. Predictably, it polarized public opinion and subverted confidence for what seem, based on the available evidence, modest likely public health improvements. The crusade for universal coverage has been as much about advocates' sense of self-worth as about benefits for the uninsured."
And the end result is likely wasting billions upon billions of dollars to implement another big government boondoggle.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Exploiting teens, pawns in the sexual revolution.

The FDA is making the drug Plan B available to 15 year olds over the counter.  
In a surprise twist to the decade-plus effort to ease access to morning-after pills, the government is lowering the age limit to 15 for one brand - Plan B One-Step - and will let it be sold over the counter.

Today, Plan B and its generic competition are sold behind pharmacy counters, and people must prove they're 17 or older to buy the emergency contraception without a prescription. A federal judge had ordered an end to those sales restrictions by next Monday.

But Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a different approach: Plan B could sit on drugstore shelves next to condoms, spermicides or other women's health products - but to make the purchase, buyers must prove they're 15 or older at the cash register.
This is of course outrageous and another example of the bitter fruit of the sexual revolution.  Teens are pawns in this sexual revolution.  They receive no wisdom from the broader culture and our cultural elites on the nature and purpose of sex other than do whatever they want.  Then they're told to avoid one of the consequences of their sexual activity a possible pregnancy.  They of course can still contract sexually transmitted disease and bear the emotional and inner scars of sex outside of a committed, lifelong married relationship.  A form of child abuse and exploitation.