Courts should not be writing health care policy

When a federal appeals court ruled last week that people in states that have not set up an exchange were not eligible for subsidies under ObamaCare, a great deal of ink was spilled (and many more kilobytes of text were posted) explaining why this decision was bad. Some people argued that the interpretation of the law was flawed, but many more argued that the decision is bad policy – including people who should know better than to write such nonsense.

Have we become so ignorant of our system of government that we do not understand the three basic branches of government and their roles? The legislative branch writes the laws, the executive branch enforces the law and the judicial branch interprets the law – including whether or not the implementation of ObamaCare (including who gets subsidies) is consistent with the text of the law passed by Congress.

The subsides are either permitted under ObamaCare or they are not. The public policy impact of ruling one way or another does not (or at least should not) matter in the determination of whether those subsidies are legal.

My point here is not to argue the legal merits of the decision. I have not read the decision or the text of the law that was at issue. My point is that the text of the law (not public policy goals) should be the only basis for the court to rule on the legality of the Obama administration’s implementation of the law.

An infinite number of man’s petty laws…

Pastor Tim Bayly often says that when we abolish God’s moral law, we do not wind up with fewer laws. Instead, we replace them with an infinite number of man’s petty laws. That is the dirty little secret behind the death of Eric Garner, who was mobbed and taken down by police for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

Here is what is disgusting about this. New York City is aggressively pro-abortion. As I pointed out last year, 41% of all pregnancies in New York City end via abortion, and 60% of all black babies in NYC die via abortion. But while New York City by aggressively promotes the murder of unborn babies, they are also micromanaging what New Yorkers can eat, drink and smoke. New York City has abolished God’s moral law against murdering unborn babies, but New Yorkers dare not sell cigarettes without paying taxes. That will bring the storm troopers down on you.

If this looks like Cosa Nostra turf protection, that is because it is exactly that. The government wants their money, and they are sending mob enforcers (the police) to ensure they get their cut. If you even argue with you, they will violently take you down. This is legalized, government-run organized crime. But if you want to murder unborn babies, New York City cannot be bothered to stop you. Instead, they will actively encourage this slaughter.

There are important issues surrounding the death of Eric Garner, including how police treat blacks and the use of force. In fact, if you watch the video of Garner being taken down, the use of force to subdue a nonviolent suspect is downright disturbing especially how quickly the use of force ramped up and how he was mobbed by multiple police officers.

But the most important aspect of this story – one that should not be overlooked – is how the police somehow felt it was necessary to violently take down and arrest someone for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Has it really come to this in the Land of the Free? If you sell a legal product without paying the taxes on it, you will violently be taken down and arrested instead of simply fined? This is frightening.

Judy Sharp’s wasteful abuse of tax money

There was an excellent letter to the editor last week about a wasteful abuse of tax money by Monroe County Assessor Judy Sharp, and judging from the hysterical reaction of local Democrats in the comments, it really struck a nerve.

Here is the story: Assessor’s office employees went to Nashville, Indiana for a conference and paid for a hotel to stay there for the night. According to Google Maps, the trip to Nashville takes about a half hour. No one is saying that Sharp’s employees should not be attending conferences to improve their skills, but it is absurd that taxpayers should be on the hook for food and lodging for a trip to a conference in the neighboring county, when many people commute farther than that to work in Monroe County every day.

Nashville, of course, is a popular tourist destination.

Judy Sharp needs to apologize to the voters and property owners in Monroe County for this unnecessary and wasteful use of our tax dollars. She should also reimburse county government for the cost of the trip. Voters have placed their trust in Sharp for six consecutive elections, and this wasteful expense raises questions about whether she continues to deserve that trust or whether it is time to elect someone else.

Finally, it is shameful that the Herald-Times has once again betrayed the public’s trust by covering up this scandal. It is shameful that the H-T’s readership had to learn about this abuse of tax money in a letter to the editor instead of on the front page of the newspaper, especially given all of the scandals in local government surrounding former Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman and former Benton Township Trustee Heather Cohee. How are voters supposed to make an informed decision when the “newspaper” is actively covering up scandals in local government.

Quick thought on the immigration crisis

Our War on Drugs, in addition to being the driving force behind the frightening militarization of police, has to a large extent created the refugee crisis by fueling the violent drug cartels in Central America with artificially inflated prices. We can mitigate the immigration crisis, reduce violence, and protect civil liberties by ending the failed War on Drugs.

Immigration politics: A double dose of double standards

One of the things that makes people get fed up with politics is the mindless partisanship, to the point that political actors will change their positions on issues if it benefits their party or harms the other party. We are seeing this right now with the debate over whether President Obama should visit the southern border of these United States in relation to minors coming in from Central America. Both parties – including Obama – have been hypocrites here.

A decade ago, President Bush was blasted by Democrats for only flying over the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Republicans rightly argued that Bush going to New Orleans would only have served to be disruptive. All of the security needed to protect the President would have been a hindrance on disaster relief efforts. In the same way, Obama going to the border today would only serve as a hindrance to taking care of immigrant minors being detained.

Republicans, seeing an opportunity to damage Obama (and to get some payback for the attacks on Bush in 2005) have abandoned their pragmatic principle and are blasting Obama for not going to the border. Democrats, meanwhile, are defending Obama for being pragmatic in a reversal of their attacks on Bush after Katrina. Average Americans see this transparent hypocrisy from both parties and shake their heads in frustration.

It is either a good idea for the President to go to the scene of a humanitarian crisis, or it is not. (It is a bad idea.) Whether it is a good idea or a bad idea does not depend on which party controls the White House and which party can score some political points. Voters are smarty enough to know when sincere arguments are being made and when the only reason behind a policy position is partisan politics – especially when the people making the arguments were taking the exact opposite stance ten years earlier. Let’s end this silliness and be serious.

A post where I actually defend Hillary Clinton

The conservative Internet is excited about Hillary Clinton’s potential vulnerability in 2016 surrounding her criminal defense of a man accused of raping a child. It is a misplaced excitement.

Clinton was a public defender at the time, and it was her job to defend the accused. She was morally, ethically and professionally obligated to defend him. Even people accused of the worst crimes are entitled to a defense under our justice system. One need only follow the news about people convicted of crimes they did not commit to understand why it is important that criminal defense attorneys (and especially public defenders, who represent people who cannot afford an attorney) need to represent their clients to the best of their ability.

Defense attorneys (especially public defenders) are a critical component to our criminal justice system. They should never be attacked simply for doing their job. When politicians or political activists attack criminal defense attorneys for defending accused criminals, they show that they either do not understand the nature of our adversarial system or that they simply do not care about due process. That is worrisome, especially if those people are forming public policy.

Clinton apparently believed the man she was defending was guilty, yet defended him anyway. Was she wrong to do so? No. It is not a public defender’s job to determine the guilt or innocence of a client. That is for the jury to decide. It is the public defender’s job to represent that client to the best of her ability. What if Clinton sabotaged her own case, believing the man was guilty, and she was wrong? Would “law and order” conservatives then be silent at her vigilantism?

If we really believe in limited government, and if we really believe in civil rights and due process, we should not be attacking Hillary Clinton for doing her job. We should be praising her for being willing to get into the muck that most of us could not imagine getting into ourselves. We should be praising her for taking a role in our criminal justice system that is reviled, but critically important to seeing justice is actually done.

I will never under any circumstances vote for Hillary Clinton for anything. I vehemently disagree with her political ideology and her political agenda. I sincerely hope she never becomes President, and I am sure that I will harshly criticize her as she moves closer to running for President in 2016. However, this is not an area where I can condone attacks on her. The principle here is far more important than any short-term political gain we can achieve by attacking her performance in a 1975 criminal case.