AHCA – A Heckuva Con, Amirite?

ahca
Cool! A new name!

Tea Party Conservatives were elected in a wave in 2010, 2012 and 2014, powered almost solely by grassroots opposition to Obamacare. The primary objections to Obamacare  were not that it didn’t do enough, or that it would not lower costs (although the latter proved to be true). Back then we understood the bigger picture.

The individual mandate, in and of itself, was not the only problem with Obamacare either. It just so happened to be an obvious point of vulnerability in the law, and one that created ripe ground for constitutional challenge. It was a no-brainer. There was no way this massive expansion of federal power was constitutional. But then Chief Justice Roberts happened…

John-Roberts-LF-Chief-Justice-John-Roberts
I can make this work…

The core opposition to Obamacare was supposed to have been (and always was, for some) that it was unconstitutional, that the federal government has no role in commandeering the private insurance industry for the greater good or in providing a guarantee of health care coverage for all Americans.

Throughout Obama’s two terms as president, we were told by the smart and learned folks that we just don’t understand the political realities, that a full repeal cannot be done, at least not in the political climate then existing. In 2015, however, the GOP passed a full Obamacare repeal bill that they knew would be vetoed. They were caged and rabid dogs, supposedly itching to get free and take a chunk of the Obamacare flesh…

The 2016 presidential election was taken over by a new wave of anger. Anger that the conservatives and republicans elected over the past six years had not done enough to fight back against what was seen as a radical progressive agenda. “What good are the intellectuals, with their principles, if they don’t FIGHT?” Failure to repeal Obamacare was the signature example of the ‘failures of conservatism.’

But now that the cage doors are wide open and the rabid dogs are out, we learn that those dogs are not ferocious at all…

dogs car
“We can’t repeal without REPLACING FIRST! What about the chiiiiiildren!!”

The new healthcare bill is a monumental con. It is laughable that anyone on the left can even oppose this bill; a sign of a hopelessly mind-numbing, principle-free partisan political climate so intent on hating Trump that it is blind to see this bill enshrines federal control over the entire healthcare system forever. The left should see this as a huge victory. Sure, it reconfigures some of the Medicaid expansion and trims some of the taxes that went with Obamacare, but the framework stays intact.

Obamacare is being groomed; perfected by statists who never really wanted the federal government out of healthcare, they just wanted their own people running it. Obama delivered government healthcare, and the GOP seems prepared to permanently ratify it in principle.

The inevitable result of government interference in health care is a single payer system covering everything from a case of the sniffles to gender reassignment surgery. Between defense and healthcare, the government will own half of the economy. Who is John Galt?

spicer
“But there will be a Phase 2, and a Phase 3! It’s a phased approach, ya see!”

Republicans control all three branches of government. At no point in the forseeable future will a full repeal be as realistically accomplish-able as it is right now, and that is why we are not going to see it happen. There is no will.

The worst thing this law does is accept the very basic premise that was so wrong with Obamacare: That health care coverage is a right to be guaranteed by the government. The moral high grounders have successfully sold the idea that if we are compassionate, and if we love poor people and old people, we have no choice but to support a government monopoly on 25% of the economy.

Certainly we must insert the government as an arbiter of fairness, because this ‘free market’ (dominated and overwhelmed by Medicaid and Medicare for many years) has failed the poor and the weak. The ‘free market’ has caused unimaginable pain and suffering despite no evidence of people ‘dying in the street’, except for in the one US health care system where people actually suffer while waiting for care: The VA. (A single. payer. system.) 

 

This bill may fail, but even if it does, something very similar will pass after a few rounds of play-fighting and ceremonial concessions.

In the meantime though, let’s appreciate the enormity of what is occurring right before our eyes. The GOP has now changed the debate from whether the government should manage health care to how it should be done. And we’re falling for it! The angry pitchforks have been converted and are true believers in government health care, all in the name of hating Obamacare. 

Well done. Heckuva con.

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People don’t have Presidents

Here are some things you may have heard over the last sixteen years, and may continue to hear for quite some time to come:

1. “He’s not MY President!”

2. “You may not like him, but he is YOUR President now”.

Assuredly, thanks to predictable partisan politics, those who have been saying #1 will swiftly convert to #2 on January 20th, and vice versa. Very few will notice the inconsistency.

Oh come on, you’re just being dramatic!

I have some good news for you. You don’t need to worry about winning this argument. You do not have to determine whether each new President is YOURS or not, because people do not have Presidents. Governments do.

 

As citizens of the United States we are not ruled by our government. We elect servant leaders whose sole function is to carry out the commands given clearly in the constitution. We do not work for our government, nor do we rely on our government to provide direction and moral guidance. We declared independence from Britain specifically to show that we do not need our lives managed by those with fragile claims of supremacy. We are capable of self-government.

This does not mean we cannot respect the President of the United States, or look to him or her for inspiration if they are gifted or skilled in this area. We certainly can. According to Peter, we should.

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1 Peter 2:13-14

But don’t fool yourself. You are not fulfilling this command if you only adhere to it some of the time.

Much of the heartache surrounding presidential elections is a result of how we view the Presidency. We have gotten way off track. We have asked the President to do too much. In an effort to satisfy us past Presidents have taken on more and more authority to give us what we want.

The more opportunities the President has to be everything to us, the answer to our every dilemma, the easier it is to romanticize him and thrust him into a role as national patriarch. We do not need a national father. I certainly do not want one.

It is tempting though, if you are particularly inspired by someone, to elevate them in your mind and to combine them with your idea of a national identity. But we are a nation of individuals and we are way too diverse to form a collective (even if we wanted to). The core of our national identity MUST remain a commitment to individual liberty. It is where we started, and without it, we have nothing.

We should respect the person holding the office in the way that we respect any other minister we have selected and given important responsibilities. We should support them in their lawful activities, and hold them accountable in a civil manner when they overreach. If we are unhappy with the current office-holder, we are in the position to review his performance every four years and vote to retain him or let him go.

We don’t have to expend so much emotional capital lashing out at our elected servant leaders. Please, for your own sake, if you find yourself wishing harm upon any President, or calling them names you wouldn’t repeat in front of your children, just stop. Who have you become?

The solution

Instead of competing with each other to place a KING from our ideological tribe in power to achieve our goals, let’s agree among ourselves to limit the power of the President over our lives. Get to know your Congressmen. They have a more legitimate calling in the constitution to affect your life than the President does. Call them, email them, and attend their meetings. Keep them on a short leash.

The current President is not, and the incoming one will not be, your Daddy, your boss or your coach. Neither is Pres. Obama, nor will Pres. Trump be, your Lord and Savior. Neither are worthy of worship or starry-eyed devotion. They do not own us or control us, and we do not owe them any fealty. They are just men.

Nah.
Oh, Heck nah!

We have a life to live and it is not in the White House, or in Trump Tower. Instead of letting it consume us, let’s make national politics irrelevant again.

President Trump (say the words)

I have to first admit I was dead wrong on one issue. I expected Hillary to win, although I did make it clear I expected it to be very close. Trump’s win was decisive (a blessing for all of us that it wasn’t close) and it is time to say the words: President Trump.

trump-image

I have always opposed the “Not My President” vitriol. I opposed it when liberals did it to President Bush, and I oppose it now as conservatives continue to do it to President Obama. It’s childish and shows a disrespect for our flawed, yet extraordinary, system.

I also made clear that whether Trump or Clinton won, the wrong lessons were likely to be taken from it, and I can see that that is already happening. An electoral victory does not validate bad ideas, and I would have been making this case regardless of the outcome last night.

I will continue to reject what I see to be the greatest flaws of Trump’s platform, which have ordinarily been core tenets of the left:

  1. Racial identity politics (the idea that race determines ideology)
  2. Trade protectionism
  3. Contempt for the media
  4. Personal vindictiveness
  5. Moral relativism (embrace of social decline/de-emphasizing faith/constantly changing positions)
  6. Statism (expansive role of government to fix problems)
  7. Authoritarianism (view of self as savior, lack of humility)

There are several points of his platform which, if I am to assume his sincerity, are positive:

  1. Anti-Interventionism
  2. Immigration (I disagree with his rhetoric, but the position he has evolved to is reasonable, minus refugee fear-mongering and the ridiculous and debt-increasing wall).
  3. Anti-establishment disruption
  4. Stated commitment to originalist justices
  5. Term limits

So I am going to proceed giving President Trump (to be) the benefit of the doubt, but to help me deal with my concerns I’m going to evaluate him by a simple scorecard:

Things that will confirm my opposition to Trump:

  1. Any attempt to infringe upon first amendment media protections
  2. Any attempt to take revenge on any political opponent (Hillary Clinton included).
  3. Failure to appoint a justice from his agreed list.
  4. Any “complete bans” or “moratoriums” on refugee assistance or religious tests.
  5. Creation of any new federal government agency
  6. Increase in the size/scope of any federal agency

Successes that will require me to acknowledge Trump:

  1. Enactment of term limits provisions
  2. Incorporation of ideas from/accepting counsel from limited government conservatives including Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie etc.
  3. Reduction or elimination of any federal department.
  4. Reverse the trajectory of the national debt* (currently 19.7T) (*If he accomplished this, I may even suggest I was TOTALLY wrong about him)
  5. Immigration reform which gets the system under control, but makes it easier for workers to enter legally and contribute to the economy.
  6. Repeal of Obamacare and replacement with MARKET solution, NOT Trumpcare
  7. Establishment of a pattern of humility

I may add to this from time to time, but I will not subtract from it. I will refer to this scorecard from time to time as President Trump takes office and starts ‘doing stuff’.

I am hopeful. I had already decided I was not going to despair with a President Clinton or Trump. The best we can hope for is that the election of undesirable leaders inspires the people to take back the power we have given to those leaders and return some of it to our Governors, Mayors, County Commissioners and School Superintendents, and retain the rest for ourselves as individuals.

I will not hope for Trump to fail. I will never bow down or adore him but I will treat him fairly, acknowledging success where appropriate and criticizing only reasonably. My faith is in God to use men as servants, not to appoint them as rulers, and I thank Him for the free will that he gave to individuals.

May we continue to seek liberty.

 

 

I Voted for Gary Johnson in Texas

This last video of Gary Johnson blowing up at a reporter over a very basic tax question (that any libertarian should be able to answer easily) was awful. I watched it yesterday in horror, and having seen it, I still proudly cast my (early) vote for Gary Johnson this morning in Texas. U.S. Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks during the "Politicon" convention in Pasadena

I’ve already explained at length why I cannot vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I won’t belabor those points here. Neither meet any of my very basic and very forgiving criteria.

Johnson’s weaknesses are clear. He lacks in-depth foreign policy knowledge and he is a poor communicator. He cannot think on his feet and this has led to more than one humiliating interview. Keep in mind that his major party opponents are not necessarily better at interviews than he is, they are just more politically savvy. They either don’t do open-ended interviews, preferring long stump speeches, or they arrange to receive the questions in advance to allow time for preparation and to avoid any embarrassment.

That being said, a president needs to be able to think on his feet and Gary lacks in this area. If I were running his campaign I would cut off all open-ended interviews for the remainder of the campaign.

So why vote for him?

First of all, politics is a hobby and an interest of mine, and the idea of sitting at home on election day is just depressing. But that’s not it.

Gary Johnson is right on almost all issues of limited government and he has a track record which supports that fact. He understands the role of the executive. He is honest to a fault. He has worked tirelessly for the past 5-6 years to advance the cause of liberty. For as much grief as the insatiate and rapacious libertarian base has given Gary Johnson, they would be nowhere without him.

Imagine Darryl Perry as the nominee… The party would be relegated to a by-line in High Times magazine.

darryl-headshot-2015-sq
Darryl Perry – Principled, but frankly, scary

Many have argued Austin Petersen would have been a better face for the party. I respect Petersen. I follow him on Twitter and I’m proud to have him follow me. I cannot deny that he has the correct answer to almost every question from a liberty perspective. I would have voted for him and I will support him in future endeavors, but the reality remains that he would not have been taken seriously due to one glaring weakness: He has never really held a legitimate leadership role of any magnitude, and has very little work experience. His age was never the problem for me, I simply knew how he would be received.

austin-peterson
Austin Petersen – Principled and edgy, but green

It is easy to look back at this election and point to all of Johnson’s ridiculous and humiliating moments. It is harder to identify the invisible hand of the media at work, doing all they can to paint each candidate as they want him or her to be received. The only time Johnson made major national headlines was for major gaffes. 95% of every interview was good ideas, but all you would see in print is the still shot of Gary with a confused or goofy look on his face, and his dumbest quote of the interview.

All is fair in a free press media, so I’m not complaining, just pointing out that Gary Johnson weathered this storm as well as could be expected. I do not believe any other libertarian party candidate would have withstood the scrutiny as well.

Johnson’s two-term governor experience brought legitimacy to a ticket which is still likely to gain a record number of votes for the libertarian party this year. No one (NO ONE) calls Gary Johnson a liar. Even those who want to crush him can only resort to calling him a stupid stoner. Factually, there is no evidence of dishonesty or corruption.

I do not believe Gary Johnson is the future of the libertarian party, nor any independent liberty-minded movement or party. He is the present. He has paved the way for the future whether that involves Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Mike Lee, Austin Petersen or some newcomer like Mark Cuban.

I am proud to have voted for Gary Johnson this year. I encourage those of you on the fence to do the same. I am grateful to him for his service to the cause of liberty, and I am confident he is going to make the MOST out of the rest of his life.

live free

 

We don’t all talk like this

The most disheartening thing to come out of the recent revelation of “The Trump Tapes” (which I suspect will be referred to as ‘Volume 1’ before long) is the roll-out of the “Men talk like this” defense.

I am confident that in my past I have said things in private that I would be ashamed of if they had been recorded and released publicly. I understand the idea of “Locker Room banter”, and when I was young and single I cannot say I never engaged in it with my closest trusted friends. I am not a perfect man but I continually strive to be one, understanding I will always fall just short. My locker room banter was nothing like this though…

Ever since I have started hearing from shameless apologists like Rudy Giuliani (whom I once admired) I have felt absolutely compelled to express a vigorous defense on behalf of myself, and many men much better than myself.

All men do not talk and act like this. 

There are bold distinctions between locker room banter (so called “guy stuff”) and the horror we saw and heard in the Billy Bush video.The locker room banter I mentioned above is often young men satisfying their curiosity, asking questions about stuff because the reality is that they have no experience and hope to learn something. It is often vague and based partially in fantasy (i.e. regarding celebrities), and when it is more specific it is usually framed in the clear implication that any sexual contact or activity would be with a willing partner.

What Donald Trump discussed in that video, is using a position of power to take advantage of women, whether married or not, with or without consent. This was in his heart in 2005 when he was 60 years old and had recently entered into a new marriage. But Trump issued a statement (which came only after someone convinced him this was serious) in which he said “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am”. When did the change occur?

I can look anyone directly in the eye with my hand on a bible and tell you that I have never uttered words like this, and never will. More importantly, I have never acted like this. One of the reasons this was so disturbing to so many is because we know that Trump has had every opportunity to act this way. He is well known, rich and powerful enough, that we know he is actually capable of pulling this stuff off. He said he did! This is horrifying because we BELIEVE him when he says what he has done.

Trump surrogates are out in force today defending Trump and suggesting the issue was with his words. The words are not the problem. This is not something you can brush aside with complaints about ‘political correctness’ or ‘biased media’. The issue is that Trump exposed himself not just as a lousy political candidate (even men who share his morals work harder to maintain a squeaky clean public facade), but as a really bad man.

To further illustrate the shocking role reversal between the parties right now, a democratic commentator this morning on “This Week” with George Stephanopolous had to address the desperate argument of some apologists including Rudy Giuliani that “Christians are supposed to forgive sinners”. This is, of course true.

Only, the pitiful forgiveness argument ignores how forgiveness actually works. Forgiveness in the Christian sense is given to those who repent. As the commentator explained:

First, you have to express authentic, genuine regret. Second, you have to repair the damage of what you have done through your actions with the individuals that you damaged. Too, you have to reform your behavior so that there’s proof of it and, fourth, you have to accept responsibility and take responsibility for your actions and be held accountable for those.

Trump could barely eek out his “apology” which stressed how LONG AGO this was, and addressed only the comments, not the conduct, before turning the tables and essentially arguing that “Bill is worse! Bill is worse!”.

Does this sound like taking accountability?

I spend my life focused on how to keep my family together, healthy and happy. I have learned that it is impossible for me to do it on my own. The best way I have found to keep myself on track as a man is to surrender myself to God and to aim for the example set by Jesus.

To my sons: Physical attraction is normal and you should never be ashamed of it. It’s even OK to talk about with friends in a respectful way. You should date women, enjoy their company, and adore them.

boy-giving-girl-flowers-web-resized-600

It is not cool, normal or moral to use a position of influence or power to enable physical contact with a person who is not a willing participant. Marriage is very important and very fragile. There will be constant challenges and temptation which do not end even after many years of marriage. The strongest men are faithful to their wives. To covet a married woman, or interfere with her marriage is disgusting and deplorable. It ruins lives.

The words we use reveal what’s in our heart.

Luckily I don’t need to withdraw my support for Donald Trump because I have never supported him. Nothing I have ever seen of Trump leads me to believe he is anything other than a Commodus, entitled and defective in character, never having picked up any morals because there is nothing to be gained by them.

I didn’t need a new video to figure this out.

I just wanted to clear the record and refute the dangerous idea that “we all talk like this.” I personally know way too many men who have put forth extraordinary effort to be good men and good husbands for us all to be cheapened by Trump’s latest excuse.

 

 

 

Gary Johnson – A Clear Choice in 2016

I have always been pretty attentive to politics. I have voted in every major election since I turned 18 (including Bush, Bush, Mccain and Romney) and most mid-term and local elections as well. I have always enjoyed the debate, the process and the sense of doing my part to contribute to the character of this country.

As a lifelong conservative, my views have shifted over the last 10 years from traditional mainstream republican views, to a more nuanced and ‘liberty-minded’ conservatism. This transition has been due in part to getting older and adding depth to my view of the world, but also to my experience in law school (particularly constitutional law).  It is difficult to study the constitution in any depth without emerging at least slightly more of a libertarian than when the study began.

This newly-formed libertarian streak led me directly to the doorstep of the candidate who I believe in more than I have any other in my lifetime; Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and financial support, his message did not catch on. (I’m still holding out hope for 2020).

This year I have experienced the profound sense that something has gone terribly wrong in the process, and I do not believe it is as simple as blaming the one candidate who has dominated the headline of every newspaper and broadcast for the last 13 months. That candidate is a symptom, not a cause. There is a deep divisiveness and hatred that is reaching a boiling point and is being given the spotlight and used as a tool in the national discussion.

I am not going to engage in the illusion of choice between two equally bad ideas. I whole-heartedly support Gary Johnson  and I look forward to casting my first vote for a Libertarian candidate for President in November of this year.

live free

I won’t provide a laundry list of policy positions here and defend them one by one. If you are at all interested in any of my specific rationale, you may want to visit my detailed thoughts on an assortment of issues. (Click for index). 

But these details are not important to understand my support of Gary Johnson. This is a big picture decision coming down to the honesty and character of the candidates, and my best understanding of the role government should play in our lives.

The two major party nominees have made their cases. They have taken different approaches but their view of government is the same. Both of them see Government as the Alpha and the Omega. Both play on our worst fears and guarantee us that only they can rescue us. Both favor a planned economy. Both will increase the size of government. Neither will reform social security which is disastrously insolvent. Neither appreciate the limits on the executive branch which are foundational to our constitution and our liberty.

Ah yes… Liberty. When is the last time you heard either major party candidate even use the word?

Gary Johnson is a successful entrepreneur, a two-term governor elected as a republican in a blue state, an iron-man runner and mountain climber, a student of the constitution, A Christian, a quirky yet honest and humble guy.

Let him introduce himself:

If you value my opinion, I’d like you to consider Gary Johnson as well.  I am happy to discuss any details about Gary Johnson, or any other questions you might have. Just comment below.

You also may feel free to tell me “You’re wasting your vote”, or “A vote for a 3rd party is a vote for _______”, but please understand I have given that suggestion a great deal of thought and I am well prepared to discuss in detail why it is utter nonsense.

It is time to try a new approach; the approach envisioned by our founders. It’s time to Live Free!

 

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