Sunday, September 30, 2012

"The Conservative Case for Obamacare" by J.D. Kleinke

Lincoln Agnew

Related in Opinion

IF Mitt Romney’s pivots on President’s Obama’s health care reform act have accelerated to a blur — from repealing on Day 1, to preserving this or that piece, to punting the decision to the states — it is for an odd reason buried beneath two and a half years of Republican political condemnations: the architecture of the Affordable Care Act is based on conservative, not liberal, ideas about individual responsibility and the power of market forces.
This fundamental ideological paradox, drowned out by partisan shouting since before the plan’s passage in 2010, explains why Obamacare has only lukewarm support from many liberals, who wanted a real, not imagined, “government takeover of health care.” It explains why Republicans have been unable since its passage to come up with anything better. And it explains why the law is nearly identical in design to the legislation Mr. Romney passed in Massachusetts while governor.
The core drivers of the health care act are market principles formulated by conservative economists, designed to correct structural flaws in our health insurance system — principles originally embraced by Republicans as a market alternative to the Clinton planin the early 1990s. The president’s program extends the current health care system — mostly employer-based coverage, administered by commercial health insurers, with care delivered by fee-for-service doctors and hospitals — by removing the biggest obstacles to that system’s functioning like a competitive marketplace.
Chief among these obstacles are market limitations imposed by the problematic nature of health insurance, which requires that younger, healthier people subsidize older, sicker ones. Because such participation is often expensive and always voluntary, millions have simply opted out, a risky bet emboldened by the 24/7 presence of the heavily subsidized emergency room down the street. The health care law forcibly repatriates these gamblers, along with those who cannot afford to participate in a market that ultimately cross-subsidizes their medical misfortunes anyway, when they get sick and show up in that E.R. And it outlaws discrimination against those who want to participate but cannot because of their medical histories. Put aside the considerable legislative detritus of the act, and its aim is clear: to rationalize a dysfunctional health insurance marketplace.
This explains why the health insurance industry has been quietly supporting the plan all along. It levels the playing field and expands the potential market by tens of millions of new customers.
The rationalization and extension of the current market is financed by the other linchpin of the law: the mandate that we all carry health insurance, an idea forged not by liberal social engineers at the Brookings Institution but by conservative economists at the Heritage Foundation. The individual mandate recognizes that millions of Americans who could buy health insurance choose not to, because it requires trading away today’s wants for tomorrow’s needs. The mandate is about personal responsibility — a hallmark of conservative thought.
IN the partisan war sparked by the 2008 election, Republicans conveniently forgot that this was something many of them had supported for years. The only thing wrong with the mandate? Mr. Obama also thought it was a good idea.
The same goes for health insurance exchanges, another idea formulated by conservatives and supported by Republican governors and legislators across the country for years. An exchange is as pro-market a mechanism as they come: free up buyers and sellers, standardize the products, add pricing transparency, and watch what happens. Market Economics 101.
In the shouting match over the health care law, most have somehow missed another of its obvious virtues: it enshrines accountability — yes, another conservative idea. Under today’s system, most health insurers (and providers) are accountable to the wrong people, often for the wrong reasons, with the needs of patients coming last. With the transparency, mobility and choice of the exchanges, businesses and individuals can decide for themselves which insurers (and, embedded in their networks, which providers) deserve their dollars. They can see, thanks to the often derided benefits standardization of the reform act, what they are actually buying. They can shop around. And businesses are free to decide that they are better off opting out, paying into funds that subsidize individuals’ coverage and letting their employees do their own shopping, with what is, in essence, their own compensation, relocated to the exchanges.
Back when the idea of letting businesses and consumers pick their own plans — with their own money on an exchange — first floated around Washington, advocates called them “association health plans.” They, too, would have corrected for the lack of transparency, mobility and choice in local insurance markets by allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines. They were the cornerstone of what would have been the Bush administration’s reform plan (had the administration not been distracted by other matters). After the rejection of “Hillarycare” in the mid-’90s, association health plans emerged as the centerpiece of pro-market, Republican thinking about health reform — essentially what would become Romneycare, extended via federal law to cover the entire country. So much for Mr. Romney’s argument that his plan in Massachusetts was an expression of states’ rights. His own party had bigger plans for the rest of the country, and they looked a lot like Obamacare.
But perhaps the clearest indication of the conservative economic values underlying the act is its reception by many Democrats. The plan has few champions on the left precisely because it is not a government takeover of health care. It is not a single-payer system, nor “Medicare for all”; it does not include a “public option,” a health plan offered by a federal insurer. It is a ratification of market ideas, modified to address problems unique to health insurance.
Mr. Obama’s plan, which should be a darling of the right for these principles, was abandoned not for its content, but rather for politics. Neither side is blameless here. The White House could not have been more ham-fisted in the way it rammed the bill through Congress. The Republicans in the House and Senate lashed back with a vengeance, sifting through the legislative colossus for boogeymen like “death panels,” and when they could not find things sufficiently alarmist, they simply invented them.
Clear away all the demagogy and scare tactics, and Obamacare is, at its core, Romneycare across state lines. But today’s Republicans dare not own anything built on principles of economic conservatism, if it also protects one of the four horsemen of the social conservatives’ apocalypse: coverage for the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health, from birth control to abortion.
Social conservatives’ hostility to the health care act is a natural corollary to their broader agenda of controlling women’s bodies. These are not the objections of traditional “conservatives,” but of agitators for prying, invasive government — the very things they project, erroneously, onto the workings of the president’s plan. Decrying the legislation for interfering in the doctor-patient relationship, while seeking to pass grossly intrusive laws involving the OB-GYN-patient relationship, is one of the more bizarre disconnects in American politics.
Obamacare draws fire from this segment of “conservatives” because it fortifies the other side in their holy war. Coverage for birth control and abortion has not been introduced by the law; but it has been neutralized economically across all health plans, as part of the plan’s systemic effort to streamline fragmented health insurance markets and coverage.
The real problem with the health care plan — for Mr. Romney and the Republicans in general — is that political credit for it goes to Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Romney is in a terrible fix trying to spin his way out of this paradox and tear down something he knows is right — something for which he ought to be taking great political credit of his own.
J.D. Kleinke is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a former health care executive and the author of the novel “Catching Babies.”



Communist Dog, Barack HUSSEIN Obama

Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim socialist, anti-American, job-killing quisling, whose Anti-Christ goal is to strip Americans of their guns as prelude to surrendering the United States to a One World Government headed by Arab shieks.

Want proof?

Communist Dog, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Part II
(Added, September, 28, 2013)

Obama wins Catholic vote by 15%. Slightly behind with white Catholics; overwhelmingly ahead with latino Catholics

Archbishop John J. Myers stands outside Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. The archbishop has urged followers to assess the presidential candidates for their views on abortion and gay marriage.
EnlargeMel Evans/AP
Archbishop John J. Myers stands outside Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. The archbishop has urged followers to assess the presidential candidates for their views on abortion and gay marriage.

What Winning The 'Catholic Vote' Means Today

September 29, 2012
Since 1972, every single presidential candidate who has won the popular vote has also won the Catholic vote. But with Catholics making up one in every four voters, pinning down what exactly the Catholic vote is becomes tricky.
Catholics no longer reliably vote for any one party, but historically, they have voted Democratic. In 1928, the first Catholic ran for president: Democrat Al Smith lost to Herbert Hoover. Dr. Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, told weekends onAll Things Considered host Guy Raz that the link between Catholics and Democrats has to do with their position in the workforce.
"Part of it really is this alignment between the labor union movement and Catholics, who were really, up until the '70s, still really concentrated in Catholic enclaves in bigger cities; still working class ... in manufacturing jobs," he says.
A turning point came in 1972, when Republican Richard Nixon won the popular vote — and the Catholic vote — over Democrat George McGovern. Jones says the shift started gradually, with fewer Catholics voting Democrat in prior elections.
"So, we had begun to see kind of a slide. But it's not really until 1972 that we really see this division with Catholics really going Republican or Democrat depending on the election and looking really like the bellwether constituency that really goes with the general population," he says.
By the early '70s, Catholics had already been in the U.S. for generations.
"By the time we get to 1972, we have nearly a century of Catholic integration," Jones says, "with Catholics having upward mobility in terms of education, in terms of income and, I think importantly, moving out of Catholic enclaves in larger cities like New York and Chicago."
Now the mere size of the population indicates the unpredictability of its vote, Jones says.
"But I would say there are at least two key Catholic votes in the country, and they divide pretty cleanly by ethnicity," he says. "White, non-Hispanic Catholics, for example, in the last election supported John McCain over Barack Obama. However, if you look at the Latino Catholic vote, nearly three-quarters of the Latino Catholic vote supported President Barack Obama."
Obama received more Catholic votes in total, with the Latino vote putting him over the edge. In this election, both vice presidential candidates are Catholic. Further complicating their pitches is that many Catholics have different positions than the Church has.
Take contraception, Jones says, which the Catholic Church officially opposes even though the majority of Catholics don't have a problem with contraception, according to a Gallup poll. Another example is abortion. Catholic voters are divided on the issue, a 2009 Pew Forum report shows. The same is true for gay marriage, which the majority of Catholics support, according to a Public Religion Research Institute report.
President Obama is surging past Romney among Catholics. The latest Pew Poll gives him a 15-point lead among all Catholic voters. That's up from the two-point lead he had in June.
While the two candidates are virtually tied among white Catholics, Obama has a strong lead over Romney with both African-American and Hispanic voters overall.

Holy Kitchens

Mahatma Gandhi: "God would not dare appear to a hungry person except in the form of bread."

Holy Kitchens Series - True Business (SIKHISM)

I became aware of "Holy Kitchens" through an NPR Splendid Table interview on September 30, 2012. 

15:50 – 23:23  Vikas Khanna

Indian chef Vikas Khanna joins Lynne to talk about his culinary journey.

Uploaded by VikasKhannaGroup on Feb 11, 2010
Holy Kitchens is a series of Documentaries based on Vikas Khanna's journey to discover the spiritual
foods in the World's Holy Kitchens.

Holy Kitchens' Webpage:


I have long considered Christianity - particularly Catholic Christianity - to be a convivial conversation around a sacramental table. At this table, God does appear to "the hungry" in the form of bread.

Judaism (generally) and Christianity (specifically) are the only great religions of the world that use a toxin as a sacramental substance. 

Around the World in 80 Faiths: The Indian Subcontinent

(Sikhism at 40:00 min) Buddhist Hindu Jain


My Last Minute Vote Decided An Orange County Election

In the mid-1990s, friend Richard Simpson ran for School Board in Orange County, North Carolina.

Minutes before the polls closed, Richard phoned to ask if I had voted.

Oh my God! 

For the first time in my life, I had forgotten to cast my ballot!

Dropping everything, I ran out the door and sprinted three blocks to the polling place.

Dashing across the parking lot -- my destination now in view -- I saw an election official inside the building, walking toward the glass entranceway, key in hand, ready to "lock up."

The clock was "in his favor," but spotting me 30 yards off he granted last minute reprieve.

The next day, "Orange County News" headlined: "Richard Simpson Wins Board Of Election Seat By One Vote."

Worst Bible Passages?

Image result for the violence of scripture
"The Violence Of Scripture"

Worst Bible Passages?

       No. 1: “A man might have a son who is stubborn and refuses to obey. This son does not obey his father or mother. They punish the son, but he still refuses to listen to them.  His father and mother must then take him to the leaders of the town at the town meeting place.  They must say to the leaders of the town: ‘Our son is stubborn and refuses to obey. He does not do anything we tell him to do. He eats and he drinks too much.’ Then the men in the town must kill the son with stones. By doing this you will remove this evil from your group. Everyone in Israel will hear about this and be afraid."  Deuteronomy 21:18-21 

Alan: I believe there is no passage in the Quran as bloodthirsty as this one. Whereas the Quran enjoins the slaughter of infidels, this excerpt from Deuteronomy not only authorizes, but commands the slaughter of one's own children. Furthermore, the obligatory slaughter of one's own children is invoked for behavior that is not only normal but necessary in the developmental psychology of adolescents. According to this Deuteronomic command, I - and everyone I know - would have been killed as teenagers, first being denounced by our own parents. 

        No. 2:  “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you           may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.  Leviticus 25:44-48
         No. 3: St Paul’s advice about whether women are allowed to teach men in church: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

         No. 4: In the following verse, Samuel, one of the early leaders of Israel, orders genocide against a neighbouring people: “This is what the Lord Almighty says... ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

         No. 5: A command of Moses: “Do not allow a sorceress to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

        No. 6: The ending of Psalm 137, a psalm which was made into a disco calypso hit by Boney M, is often omitted from readings in church: “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:8-9)

        No. 7: Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them: “So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home... When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. (In the preceding verse, the man offers his virgin daughter to the mob along with the concubine.)

        No. 8: St Paul condemns homosexuality in the opening chapter of the Book of Romans: “In the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:27)

       No. 9: In this story from the Book of Judges, an Israelite leader, Jephthah, makes a rash vow to God, which has to be carried out: “And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’” (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

       No. 10: In the following account, the Lord is speaking to Abraham, commanding him to sacrifice his son: ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ (Genesis 22:2)

       No. 11: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)

       No. 12: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

       No. 13: "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."  Deuteronomy 28-29
Seldom Sermonized Bible Quotes

Alan: It is not my intent to reduce the Bible to absurdity, nor vilify it with guilt-by-association. 

It is an irrefutable fact that the Bible is an extraordinary document, rich in wisdom. history and literary merit. 

Not least of the Bible's many virtues is ancient Jewry's frank representation of the tribe's most notable personages, with little or no "nipping and tucking" to cosmeticize "the unattractive." 

This consistent refusal to "cover up" the tawdriness and vility of central characters in Jewish history --- indeed, King David himself is described as a peeping Tom, an adulterer and a murderer --- puts the Bible "in a league by itself."

It is my intention to encourage Christians to mature; to move beyond the comforting certainty of biblical inerrancy.

"Mistakes In Scripture: What Happens When The Bible Gets The Bible Wrong?"

"Disturbing Divine Behavior:
Troubling Old Testament Images Of God"

What happens when we no longer believe that the apogee of justice 
is for "the good guy" to slay "the bad guy?"