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The Right Prescription

Who Will Be Blamed for King v. Burwell ‘Chaos’?

By 4.6.15

A Supreme Court ruling against the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, according to conventional Beltway wisdom, will create serious political problems for governors and legislators in the 34 states that declined to set up Obamacare insurance exchanges. Most of these officials are Republicans, the thinking goes, and will thus be blamed for letting petty partisanship deprive their constituents of subsidies while plunging state insurance markets into chaos. Public wrath, we are told, will eventually force them to create PPACA exchanges. However, a new voter survey conducted in the affected states suggests that this is very unlikely to occur.

A Further Perspective

Who Will Remember the Missing Children of Nigeria?

By 4.6.15

The presidential election in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, on March 28, pitted the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, against Mohammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the North. Buhari is a former military ruler who assumed power in a coup in December 1983 and was ousted in 1985.

This is not the first contest between Jonathan and Buhari. Buhari’s electoral loss in April 2011 was followed by three days of Muslim rioting in 12 northern states which left 800 people dead. The March 28 election, which went the other way, didn’t see any rioting by the Christians in the south and power was passed peacefully to the new president.

For many commentators, the smooth transition of power was a cause for optimism for the future of democracy in Nigeria. It is if you believe, as do many in the West, that process equals democracy. That’s why dictators the world over hold elections that they win with 99% of the vote.

Play Ball

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

By 4.5.15

With the Chicago Cubs hosting the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night and a full slate of games on Monday, it is time for my predictions for the 2015 MLB season.

Before I get to this year’s prediction though, let me discuss my best and worst predictions from last season.

My best prediction by far was with the Kansas City Royals. I wrote, “Look for Kansas City to end its 29-year post-season drought in 2014.” OK, I had them winning the AL Central rather than one of the wild card spots and I didn’t think they would get out of the ALDS, but considering the team was in last place in their division on June 1st, the prediction was a prescient one.

The same could not be said of my prediction that the Arizona Diamondbacks would win the World Series. Not only did the D’Backs not win the Fall Classic, their 64-98 record was the worst in MLB in 2014.

So, right or wrong, here is what I think will transpire this season.

'Tis the Season

The Last Easter

By 4.5.15

Absorb the beauty of your Easter service this year: the stained-glass rose window; the woodwork; the vaulted ceilings; the chorus of voices joined together in worship. Memorize the feel of the large, open sanctuary. Enjoy greeting neighbors and old friends, and watching your kids put your tithe envelope in the offering plate. Try to absorb every detail, because soon it will all be gone.

Easter itself won’t be gone of course. Believers will find a way to mark the key celebration of the Faith. But the church building that we take for granted, the openness of the observance, the ease with which you wish coworkers, store clerks, friends and neighbors a “happy Easter” could, and likely will, disappear.

It’s the course we’re on. Our elected champions are proving to have backbones of dried bread exposed to water. They’re strong at first, but absolute mush in the storm.

Special Report

Seder Pointers

By 4.3.15

The Seder dinner, performed with elaborate detail the first two nights of Passover, is the most observed of Jewish holiday rituals. Even Jews alienated from tradition are drawn to this enjoyable family gathering. Like all festive evenings, it is preceded by an afternoon buzz and bustle. The children tend to be jumpy, while mothers predictably warn them to nap so they can stay up late into the night. Here and there a success story emerges about an actual mother who got an actual kid to take an actual nap, but this qualifies as a man-bites-dog news item.

When it comes down to it, few mothers are stern enough to follow through on the threat to make the nap resister lose his privilege to attend the festivities. After all, the purpose of the event is to provide a formal setting for parents to fulfill their mission to pass along to the next generation the narrative of the nation’s origins and the message that God runs the world. The joy and the drama convey the import of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the prelude to the Torah being given to the world through the Jewish People at Mount Sinai.

A Bigger Perspective

The Day God Died

By 4.3.15

I missed Maundy Thursday services this year, which is a shame because of how the events of one day run right into the next in the life of Christ. For Jesus of Nazareth, there was no going to sleep that night. It was all one long ordeal, ending in death.

Late Thursday night found Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of Mount Olivet, just outside of Jerusalem. His closest disciples nodded off while their leader prayed fervently. He dreaded what was coming so much that the Gospel of Luke tells us he was sweating blood.

With good reason. A detachment of Romans soldiers in the service of the Jewish temple authorities showed up. Turncoat disciple Judas, whose feet Jesus had stooped to wash only hours earlier, singled the rabbi out with a kiss on the cheek.

Simon Peter has been damned for his cowardice in the events that followed. He denied knowing Jesus again and again before a rooster brought in the morning and is thus called craven. Confused beyond belief is probably a better way of putting it.

Any time Romans laid hands on a would-be messiah, there tended to be buckets of blood shed. In this case, the only bloodletting was comical.

Car Guy

No More ‘Speeding’ For You!

By 4.3.15

Someday — and that day might be closer than you want to know — we’ll look back fondly on speed traps.

Because at least you could speed. Give the finger — via the accelerator pedal — to ridiculous, dumbed-down/one-size-fits-all velocity maximums laid down by bureaucrats whose prime directive always seems to be to suck the joy out of everything, especially driving.

Sometimes, of course, you’d get caught — and fined.

But most of the time you could “get away” with it. (Kind of like the way people used to be able to “get away” with not buying health insurance, if they decided it wasn’t something they needed.)

Tomorrow, you may not be able to “speed” even if you wanted to.

Because your car will not allow you to.

The uber governor — Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter — will see to that.

Special Report

Verdict in Atlanta Cheating Scandal Proves Lord Acton Right

By 4.3.15

British historian Lord Acton’s view that “All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” first uttered in 1887, was vindicated on April 1, 2015, when a jury found that 11 Atlanta educators were guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) arising out of the cheating scandal which engulfed the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) in 2010. The question now is whether or not Atlanta, as well as the entire country, learns the correct solution from the cheating scandal.

Contrary to the views of many, the verdict should not end the discussion about what’s wrong with America’s public education system. Instead, I believe Atlanta and the entire country must take radical steps to heed Lord Acton’s words, reducing the chance that the absolute power of relatively few individuals over $660 billion annually and 50 million children continues to corrupt absolutely. We can make sure there are no repeats of the Atlanta cheating scandal by distributing the power to millions of parents.

Among the Intellectualoids

The Internet and Its Enemies

By 4.3.15

Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet. The Internet Is Not the Answer makes the case that Erich Mielke, head of the East German Stasi, did.

The “Ministry of Propaganda,” author Andrew Keen notes, “was supposed to have gone out of business in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. But, like other failed twentieth-century institutions, the ministry has relocated its operations to the west coast of America.”

That Google, Facebook, and Amazon wield a more effective, and perhaps creepier, intelligence apparatus than the NSA stands as one of the reasons Keen remains not so keen on the Internet after writing several books critical of the digital phenomenon’s effect on life offline. Whereas East Germans sought to avoid surveillance, Americans increasingly feel validated by publicizing the private.   

Foremost among the sins of St. Internet are replacing quality with efficiency and perversely disincentivizing the pursuit of talents valued by the market.  

Another Perspective

Seize the High Ground for 2016

By and 4.3.15

March 7 marked 50 years since 1965’s “Bloody Sunday,” when millions watched on television as state and local police fired tear gas at the crowd and attacked marchers in Selma, Alabama. The national outrage that followed led to a speech by President Lyndon Johnson to a joint meeting of Congress — appealing for Voting Rights legislation. On March 17, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Republican Minority Leader Everett Dirksen introduced the bill.

Although the Democrats held two-thirds of the seats in both houses, these events gave it the momentum to pass, for Republican votes would counterbalance the worry that segregationist Southern Democrats would vote against it.

The bill passed and was signed into law on August 6 by President Johnson.

Forgotten by many, this followed in the tradition of Republicans pushing through the passage of the constitutional amendments —the 13th, 14th, and 15th — between 1865 and 1870 that outlawed slavery, clarified and protected citizenship rights, and prohibited denial of voting “on the basis of race, or previous condition of servitude.”