Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Court Prepares to Deal Us Another Blow

I guess it's inevitable that I would seize an opportunity to shout out my own opinions about the three day dumb show that we were forced to endure this week at the Supreme Court.  I have heard so much nonsense about what happened there, even from normally brilliant commentators like Randi Rhodes, that I have to at least say what I think is really happening.

First, I would like to deal with a bit of judicial precedent.  I'm not a lawyer, but I think anyone reading the following will get the point.  This involves the notion that the "individual mandate," i.e. the requirement that people buy insurance, is some sort of outrage to the Constitution and the founding fathers.

Here is something that, I am positive, every Supreme Court Justice (well, except maybe for that jackass Clarence Thomas) is fully aware of:

"In July, 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” authorizing the creation of a marine hospital service, and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance."

1798.  Less than ten years after the passing of the Constitution, a Congress still largely made up of the very founding fathers that the Republicans claim to revere, passed a law with an individual mandate to buy health insurance, and it was signed into law by another founding father, John Adams.

This law was never legally challenged; its existence utterly destroys the Republican claims that an individual mandate is some sort of an unconstitutional abomination. 

If you have any doubts about my claim, click on the link above, where you can find the original text of the law.

Now, let me turn to a little bit more recent history, that of Republican Supreme Court appointments in the last half century.

This story starts with Richard Nixon and the Southern Strategy.  Given the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, Nixon attempted to use it to pander to Southern racists by attempting to appoint two far-right wing Southern judges, Clement Haynsworth and G. Harold Carswell, both grossly unqualified, to the seat.  After the Senate turned them both down, Nixon chose an even more extreme character, an Arizona corporate tool with a history of open suppression of the minority vote, William H. Rehnquist.  When the Senate, fatigued with this game, gave in and accepted Rehnquist, Republicans learned a big lesson:  if they were just belligerent and obstructive enough, and if the candidate didn't have too blatant a racist past, they could force the Senate to agree to almost anyone, no matter how indifferent they were to the law they were selected to uphold.

Thus followed a sorry history:  the open admirer of Mussolini, Antonin Scalia, the comically unqualified Clarence Thomas, another Arizona Republican, Sandra Day O'Connor, Alito, Roberts; the entire pack of them sharing one single distinction- an utter disregard for the law and for precedent when it stood in the way of the rich and of corporations getting their way.  In plainer terms, every single one of these Justices was corrupt.

In general, these very intelligent individuals have managed to thinly disguise their real agenda, simply turning the country degree by degree, in an endless series of 5-4 decisions, toward the right.  But like a sleeper cell, they wait away the years, until they have the chance to do the real damage for which they were appointed.  Twice, now, they have thrown off their cloaks and struck death blows to American jurisprudence.

The first was Bush v. Gore.  This still stands as the greatest act of judicial corruption in the history of our country.  As a result, we had eight years of corporate plundering of the wealth of the United States, until our economy collapsed, spiralling down into a near depression.  The basis on which the five-vote majority made their decision was utter nonsense, and yet the weak Democrats allowed them to engage in this vicious attack on all of us without the slightest consequence.

The second treachery was the Citizens' United decision- once more, rendered with the barest pretense of a justification, and which again threw the country into the hands of the ultra rich.  As with Bush v. Gore, no one important enough to matter dared state the obvious- that this was an utterly lawless act of corruption.  Again, the justices involved in this crime escaped without penalty.

Now comes chapter three in this sad litany.  By now, those who were stunned last week at the illogicality, the childishness of the corrupt Justices' arguments should know better.  They know they face no danger of being unmasked by the cowardly Democrats, or of facing the slightest penalty for their corruption, and like any sort of serial criminal they grow more bold and careless with each offense.  At this point, they are openly mocking their opponents, demonstrating that they need no precedent, no persuasive argument, to do what they want, what they were selected to do.  They are set upon remaking this country into a corporate oligarchy, and that is the goal they will further with their decision in this case.

It is time for us to forget the notion that we have the right, through our elected representatives, to try to make this a better country.  America is not ours any more- it belongs to the Koch brothers, and the Mitt Romneys among us, and their servants on the Supreme Court are about to give us another lesson in that fact.

26 comments:

Grung_e_Gene said...

Another devastatingly accurate post about the blatant and venal corruption being foisted upon millions of Americans by the guardians and servants of the Plutocracy...

Poll P. said...

Brilliantly researched, reasoned, and written, and terrifyingly believable. I wish there was a way to put it on Facebook this minute!

Silverfiddle said...

To put it bluntly, your source is wrong. Please go read Eugene Volokh:

http://volokh.com/2010/04/02/an-act-for-the-relief-of-sick-and-disabled-seamen/

Here's a little piece of advice. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do some research before running off with the first piece of propaganda that suits your pinched worldview.

Silverfiddle said...

Here's some more.

This one is from Forbes, and it agrees with your source, but explains it much better:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/4/

A commenter made a salient counter-argument that is echoed in other rebuttals:

However, the most glaring of the convenient oversights arises from the authors’ inability to comprehend the grounds for opposing Obama Care as Unconstitutional. This law only exposes that the grounds are well founded.

The opposition is that the Federal government cannot constitutionally force American citizens to purchase services from “PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS”.

The monies collected in regards to the Act in question were not required to be paid to a Private institution; they were required to be paid to agents of the Federal government.


Further information:

http://constitution.i2i.org/2011/07/03/the-1798-act-for-the-relief-of-sick-and-disabled-seamen-yet-another-progessive-irrelevancy/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2011/01/21/thomas-jefferson-also-supported-government-run-health-care/

Dig a little deeper and what you will see is that the founders taxed merchant shipping companies and used the tax to fund hospitals for seamen, which was a very dangerous occupation at the time.

They were following an older British precedent.

It is noteworthy, that this was not forcing the sailors to purchase something, but a tax on the shipping companies.

It is also notable that the founders did not impose this on the whole country. No such program existed for farmers, militias or any other group, which makes this a unique circumstance that is being taken out of context.

A better line of argument from liberals would be to use this as a precedent for government socialized medicine, where citizens pay taxes in and get government-provided health care in return.

But even that would be a stretch given the limited nature and historical circumstances of the act you cite.

Green Eagle said...

Squirm all you want, Silverfiddle. I linked to the actual text of the law. The meaning is clear, and it doesn't need much explaining. Conservatives scream about stare decisis until the split second it doesn't meet their desires, then it means nothing. Nor is their oft-trumpeted reverence for the founding fathers any more than a pack of jingoistic lies. They want what they want, which is to get all the government services they desire and not have to pay a penny to get them. All of their talk is nothing but endless ad hoc rationalization.

Silverfiddle said...

I'm not squirming, and conservatives are not screaming.

There is no individual mandate in that law. Did you read it? It's not there.

The only precedent is that of government involvement in medical care for limited purpose.

That is why the inept and comically incompetent Obamacare legal team did not use the argument.

But I understand. You libs are grabbing onto whatever keeps you from reeling from your reality-induced vertigo.

In the real world, we deal in real facts, and finally, the progressive schemers must explain themselves, and they are doing a horrible job, because they are in violation of the constitution and there is no logical argument for defending the Obamacare statist monstrosity.

Silverfiddle said...

Also, when you hear people spouting logical fallacies like "it doesn't need much explaining" you know they are in trouble.

This is what's wrong with modern-day progressivism. It has not deigned to explain itself in over half a century, so its logic and debate skills have atrophied.

Think about it. Almost every liberal or progressive argument rests upon Argumentum ad Populum and/or appeal to authority. Both logical fallacies.

Green Eagle said...

Silverfiddle, you are only trying to fill this comments section up with endless blather, to prevent anyone really interested in the issue from discussing it. You are trying to choke off information revealing the nonsense and maliciousness of the conservative position.

Here is the actual text of the 1797 act:

"...the master or owner of every ship or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry...shall pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen...
And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the several collectors to make a quarterly return of the sums collected by them, respectively, by virtue of this act, to the Secretary of the Treasury; and the President of the United States is hereby authorized, out of the same, to provide for the temporary relief and maintenance of sick or disabled seamen."


That is an individual mandate. Now, stop lying or go away.

Dave Dubya said...

It is more than clear the concept of "General welfare" in our Constitution as interpreted by the first generation, included provisions for government funded health care. From 1797 through the Medicare of the twentieth century this is the precedent.

I agree on principle that government shouldn't mandate purchase from private companies. This is why we need Medicare for all, and not corporate welfare by the corporatist leaning Obamacare.

The corporatist court may reverse Obamacare to the point where universal, single payer, Medicare for all will be the only sane and compassionate choice left.

The Right will argue nothing needs to be done. We have the best health care possible. (For the rich)

The majority of Americans will support Medicare for all. Corporate bought politicians are the problem. They serve Big Money, not the people.

Anonymous said...

Medicare for all should be limited to legal US citizens.
Or maybe they should pay a "said" fee at the border" Just see how they made hospitals at the border go into the red mainly for maternity services

Silverfiddle said...

Green Eagle:

The article you cite is patently false: , and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance.

The act does nothing of the kind. Read what you typed:

"...the of every ship or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry...shall pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen...
And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the several collectors to make a quarterly return of the sums collected by them, respectively, by virtue of this act, to the Secretary of the Treasury; and the President of the United States is hereby authorized, out of the same, to provide for the temporary relief and maintenance of sick or disabled seamen."

This is the federal government levying a tax on employers, not an individual mandate!

This sets a precedent... for Social Security and Medicare... Which we already have.

This is the bogus argumentation unconstitutional progressives are reduced to. Sad... Very sad...

Green Eagle said...

Silverfiddle, I have finally decided that you are not dishonest, you are just really stupid, and are incapable of understanding plain English.

Silverfiddle said...

So quote the specific excerpt from the law that mandates seamen buy health insurance.

Green Eagle said...

Silverfiddle, how can you be so oblivious? The 1797 law requires that employers collect the money out of employees' wages and then send it to the government. That's exactly the way FICA payments are made today, and it is also exactly how payments would be collected from workers under the new health care law. Come on, quit playing dumb. The United States has the worst medical care delivery system in the industrialized world, and this is true totally because government has abdicated its responsibility to the people, and has allowed medical care to become nothing but a source of profit for the rich. Anyone with a brain is disgusted with that fact.

Anonymous said...

it's so bad that the PM of Canada came here for Heart Surgery and Canadians come here for MRI's. What are they do do in the future?
The high unemployment helps Obama implement single payer.
This is a deliberate strategy.make PEOPLE FEEL HOPELESS AND GIVE THEM HEALTH CARE SO THEY DON'T FEEL TOTALLY HOPELESS.

Silverfiddle said...

Silverfiddle, how can you be so oblivious? The 1797 law requires that employers collect the money out of employees' wages and then send it to the government. That's exactly the way FICA payments are made today, and it is also exactly how payments would be collected from workers under the new health care law.


Wrong and wrong.

The law does not require it. It simply permits it if the employer so chooses.

You are correct in that this is how Social security and medicare work, which was my original point. This is not an individual mandate, but it is a tax that pays for hospitalization of people in one profession, a far cry from your idea of socialized medicine.

You are wrong about the new health care law. It forces people to buy insurance from private employers, but single payer would work the way you describe, but that is not Obama's scheme. It probably is his end game, once his Obamacare drives all insurance companies out of business.

Maybe you were confusing "Single Payer" with "individual mandate?"

Green Eagle said...

"The law does not require it. It simply permits it if the employer so chooses."

The law, which I quoted above says:

"...the master or owner of every ship or vessel of the United States....shall pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed...it shall be the duty of the several collectors to make a quarterly return of the sums collected by them, respectively, by virtue of this act, to the Secretary of the Treasury"

This law absolutely requires it. How can you be so indifferent to the truth as to lie about something when the truth is there for all to see a couple of paragraphs above? This is an act showing disrespect to me and all of my readers. You are just about at the end of your rope here, buddy.

Silverfiddle said...

It's a tax on the ship owner, not the seamen.

The tax money goes into the treasury, and the federal government runs hospitals (or pays private hospitals) to care for seamen.

That is not an individual mandate as spelled out in Obamacare. Under Obamacare, each individual must purchase health insurance from a private insurer.

What the 1798 law you cite sets a precedent for is a government-run, single-payer system.

See the difference?

Even then, this was for a specific purpose that had roots in British history. It is notable that the law didn't direct this at the public at large, but rather one group of people, and they were following custom and historical precedent.

Silverfiddle said...

But to get to your actual point:

That from and after the first day of September next, the master or owner of every ship

or vessel of the United States
, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry, render to the collector a true account of the
number of seamen, that shall have been employed on board such vessel
since she was last entered at any port in the United States,-and shall pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed;


The law requires the ship owner to pay the tax.

which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen.

It authorizes the ship owner to dock the seaman's paycheck, but does not legally require it.

That is an important legal distinction. And that is also what makes if fundamentally different than social security and medicare. The law there demands that the business owner dock the worker's pay.

Green Eagle said...

This is awfully technical, but you are wrong here, Silverfiddle. You need to check into the legal meaning of the word "shall." As an architect, I learned what this word means in contracts. It has a special significance.

Green Eagle said...

I told you, Silverfiddle, no comments from you until you apologize for calling Nazis liberals.

Silverfiddle said...

which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen.

This statement is what I was referring to. It gives the ship owner the option of remunerating himself by docking the workers pay in order to pay the tax, which we both agree is mandatory.

Anyway, I'll stay away. It's clear you are not accustomed to interacting with people who disagree with you.

I sincerely wish you all the best. I do not demonize those I disagree with.

You bust on religion, but you really need to look at your liberal/progressive belief system. It is your religion, complete with Orthodoxy and Dogma which shall not be questioned.

I worship a God. You worship a state.

Green Eagle said...

I am not accustomed to interacting with Nazi apologists, Silverfiddle. What's more, I will not do that.

'Bye until you learn to act civilized.

Silverfiddle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Silverfiddle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Green Eagle said...

I mean it. Silverfiddle. I will not allow the kind of deliberate, malignant lying on my blog, which involves equating Nazis with liberals. Until you are ready to confess that you have come here and deliberately spread one of the most vicious untruths that anyone could imagine, there is no room for you here.