Patterico's Pontifications


Congress May Have “Unintentionally” Lost Their Current Coverage by Voting for ObamaCare — What Do the “Intentionalists” Have to Say About That?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:12 pm

The New York Times reports that Congress may have “unintentionally” voted for its own health coverage to change when it voted for ObamaCare:

It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves.

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?

I think it raises a different and more important question: when a bunch of yahoos vote to ratify a law they haven’t even read, how is that law to be interpreted?

I recently published a post titled Why “Intentionalism” Is Not Always Compatible with the Rule of Law. In it, I asked:

If a legislature passes a law that says one thing, but the legislature really meant something else, how should the law be interpreted? According to the plain language of the law? Or according to the intent of the legislature, even if it contradicts the statute’s plain language?

It turns out that my question was not idle or abstract. With ObamaCare, we may be faced with a concrete example. What if ObamaCare says that members of Congress lose their current coverage — even if, as the article suggests, they did not “intend” this?

Do we interpret the law by looking to the clear text, the way those out-of-touch, formalistic lawyers uniformly insist that we do when the text is unambiguous?

Or do we to look to the unexpressed intent of the ratifiers of the law, the way the “intentionalists” would insist we do?

Put simply: if the clear language of the law screws up the Congresscritters’ health coverage, but they didn’t intend this, what governs? The language of the law they passed? Or their unexpressed intent?

I anxiously await the intentionalists’ reply.

P.S. As with the last time I discussed language interpretation, I am implementing a harsh rule for commenters. Comments are expected to be strictly about ideas, with absolutely no personal comments whatsoever. As before, the moderators and I are going to be very, very strict about enforcing this. Comments that do not follow this rule will be summarily deleted. Comments that blatantly violate the rule may earn the offending commenter a time-out or a ban.

Given my restrictive rules, I will accept comments from banned commenters, as long as they follow the rules I have set forth. No personal digs are allowed, no matter how small — but any articulation that hews strictly to the expression of ideas will be allowed.

SEIU President to Resign

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Politico’s Ben Smith reports SEIU President Andy Stern is resigning:

“The President of an SEIU local based in Seattle, Diane Sosne, broke the news to her staffers at 11:35 this morning, local time.

“Last night I received confirmation that Andy Stern is resigning as President of SEIU. He has not yet made a public announcement; we will share the details as we become aware of them,” Sosne wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO.

Sosne offered no explanation for the move, but another SEIU official speculated that Stern had finally tired of the draining job.

“Health care getting done is a good culmination,” the official said.”


The Valley of Juarez

Filed under: International,Politics — DRJ @ 9:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Last week, the AP reported the Sinaloa cartel has won the Juarez drug war:

“After a two-year battle that has killed more than 5,000 people, Mexico’s most powerful kingpin now controls the coveted trafficking routes through Ciudad Juarez. That conclusion by U.S. intelligence adds to evidence that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel is winning Mexico’s drug war. *** Already, the Sinaloa cartel is the world’s largest, and Guzman last year made Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s top billionaires.

His cartel moved in on the city in 2008 in an attempt to wrest it from the Juarez cartel led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. The fighting prompted Mexican President Felipe Calderon to send thousands of army troops to the city, but the fighting has killed more than 5,000 people, making Juarez one of the world’s deadliest cities.”

The losing cartels aren’t expected to give up and the violence is expected to continue. In addition, the drug war is impacting more than Juarez and El Paso. It’s also targeting the U.S. border villages southeast of El Paso known as the Valley of Juarez:

”Most recently, officials and experts believe the cartel is trying to take over of a series of small farming towns east of Juarez. The towns, across the Rio Grande from the Texas farming towns of Fabens and Fort Hancock, had long been under the control of the Juarez cartel and were historically used as staging areas for drug smugglers. But the arrests or killings of local smugglers have left the area vulnerable to attacks by Sinaloa leaders.”

You may remember Fabens from the Ramos-Compean case. Things have gotten so bad there that a Texas school won’t let its team travel to nearby Fort Hancock for sporting events — and if you know Texas, you know how unusual that is. The area is getting more attention from law enforcement on both sides of the border, including the Mexican military:

”The Mexican army and federal police are now heavily guarding the Valley of Juárez after terrorized residents demanded more security.

Officials with the Coordinated Operation Chihuahua confirmed that large contingents of military and federal police were patrolling the stretch of 50 miles southeast of Juárez.

The valley is comprised by rural towns adjacent to Fabens, Tornillo and Fort Hancock. In this area, gang members have burned down homes, businesses and killed more than 50 people in March.

Enrique Torres, spokesman with the Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, said two federal police helicopters have been flying over the farming towns since Thursday.”

… and United States officials:

”U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez said Friday he has asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry to dedicate more homeland security funds to counties on the Mexican border.

The San Antonio Democrat spoke to residents and reporters in the border town of Fort Hancock – where many Mexican families have settled after fleeing drug war violence. Rodriguez’s announcement follows last week’s Associated Press report on the fears created by the drug cartel and subtle intimidation felt in schools and elsewhere in Fort Hancock, a farming community about 50 miles southeast of the violent Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez.
Four other congressmen, including Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, also signed the request letter sent to Perry on Thursday.”

Most Texas border counties vote Democratic and thus are represented by Democratic Congressmen such as Rodriguez and Reyes. It would be nice if these Congressmen and their Party’s leader, President Obama, recognized their Constitutional duty to protect border states by sending troops to secure the border. Texas requested federal help over a year ago, and Arizona officials have repeatedly called on the federal government to put troops on the border, especially after the recent murder of an Arizona rancher. Secretary Napolitano’s response was to offer a $25,000 reward.

I guess these Democratic Congressmen know who to call on if they want something done and it isn’t Washington.


Increase in E-Mail Spam?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:11 pm

A colleague asked me today if I had noticed more e-mail spam in recent days.

I have. So has he.

How about you?

Obama’s Nuclear Summit Opens

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 8:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama opened his nuclear summit with a bow for Chinese Communist President Hu Jintao and a hug for the Brazilian Socialist Worker Party President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.


One Two More Supreme Court Finalists

Filed under: Judiciary,Obama — DRJ @ 1:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports there is one more name on President Obama’s list of Supreme Court candidates:

“Former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears is also on the short list, a senior White House official tells ABC News.‬‪

Sears, who will turn 55 in June, was the first female African-American chief justice in US history, and when nominated for the state supreme court by then-Gov. Zell Miller in 1992, she became the first woman and the youngest person to ever sit on the court.‬‪

She stepped down from the court last year and currently practices law at Schiff Hardin.‬‪

A graduate of Emory University Law School, Sears was on President Obama’s short list last year. A member of the left-leaning American Constitution Society, she is also a friend of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.‬”

And the AP adds one more:

“An administration official says President Barack Obama is considering federal appeals court judge Sidney Thomas of Montana for the Supreme Court, one of about 10 people under serious review. The Associated Press has confirmed the names of seven of them.

Among the others under consideration are former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, federal appeals court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.”

The process will reportedly continue for weeks. At this rate, there could be dozens of names on the list.


Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 1:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Dozens of Republican Texas State senators, representatives and primary winners have formed the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas. The name may be a mouthful but the idea behind it sounds simple — to promote conservative causes, oppose federal government intervention, and secure the borders:

“Republican Sen. Dan Patrick has organized a new group of conservative politicians to promote conservative causes and oppose federal government intervention.

Patrick – a conservative radio show host from Houston – on Monday announced the creation of the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas.

So far, 57 GOP legislators and five primary election winners have signed on to the group. In the House, the most conservative Republicans – 44 of a total of 73 – are listed as founding members.

A news release from Patrick’s office said the group is committed to five conservative principles including limiting government and protecting borders.”

The number is up to 63 as of Monday afternoon and includes Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan and former Speaker of the House Rep. Tom Craddick. Current Speaker Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) is not listed, suggesting there may be dissension between conservative and moderate Republicans.


A Generation of Talkers

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

At A Brief History, Mike K reviews a recent column by Victor Davis Hansen Hanson on how California has changed, and hasn’t changed, in modern times. Both are well worth your time. Dr. Mike concludes by comparing the tools of past generations with the talkers of today:

“When I applied for a surgical residency, only one professor asked me about whether I used tools or played a musical instrument. That was 40 years ago. I have always had tools around and have made them available to my children. One son has gotten into the use of tools and has borrowed many of mine but I don’t mind. He has a family and a house to maintain. The whole culture of tools is important to me. One of Hanson’s commenters said it well:

This passage reminds me of a book I recently read on the Internet Archive : Mind and hand : manual training, the chief factor in education by Charles Ham. Categorized as a vocational text but it is actually promoting the inclusion of manual training as part of the intellectual development of students. The author does a survey from Egypt to 19th century America discussing how as civilizations became separated from manual labor they have declined. I really recommend chapter 2 on the Majesty of Tools. The guy really raises tools to a higher level. But the curious item is, if you ignore that the author mentions nothing after 1899, it could be discussing today’s society.

For if man without tools is nothing, to be unable to use tools is to be destitute of power; and if with tools he is all, to be able to use tools is to be all-powerful. And this power in the concrete, the power to do some useful thing for man—this is the last analysis of educational truth.

We are now governed by a generation of talkers. They do nothing but talk and, worse, believe that talk will solve problems, even with enemies. Reading and talking are important as it is the way we learn but there are many things that cannot be accomplished except by getting hands dirty. Sometimes that is a metaphor. I didn’t get my hands dirty in surgery but I often came home drenched in blood or had to shower and wash out my underwear after a big trauma case. Not all of life fits between the pages of a book.”

I join Mike K’s concern. When the SAT added a writing section, some colleges placed significant emphasis on these essays because they made it harder for students to guess. In response, the SAT announced there is no “right” or “wrong” answer for the writing section. In addition, some prep sites encourage students to write for quantity rather than quality.

No wonder we get 17 minute answers to everything.


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