Philosophical underpinnings

The trouble with Scalia

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being praised as a conservative icon, brilliant writer, and all around great guy. Also included in the obituaries are descriptions of his friendship with his fellow justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This relationship went well beyond mere collegiality. In fact, they saw each other socially quite frequently, partied together, and took vacations together.

During a joint appearance with the woman he also has called his “best buddy” on the bench, Scalia said, “Why don’t you call us the odd couple?”

“What’s not to like?” Scalia joked at an event hosted by the Smithsonian Associates. “Except her views on the law, of course.”

So, here’s the problem: These two justices disagreed on virtually everything, from abortion and gun control, to gay marriage, capital punishment, and Obamacare. He was a devout Catholic, and she is a secular Jew. Surely, one can be cordial and professional with a person who holds opposite positions on essentially every major political, social, and cultural issue—but why go out of your way to hang out with such an individual?

What would Scalia have to suppress to preferentially spend lots of time with Ginsburg? Would YOU choose to socialize with someone who disagrees with you on so much, even if you both might like the same classical music?

And, then it came to me. For all his brilliant opinions, and all of his conservative bona fides, Antonin Scalia must have viewed being a Supreme Court justice as his day job, and whatever passion he put into his writings was strictly vocational. What incredible emotional detachment! (If that’s what it really was.)

You hear all the time about doctors and homicide detectives who “don’t get emotionally involved” with the death and destruction around them. However, nine times out of ten, that is just pure bravado. And for that amazing one out of ten, he doesn’t get emotionally involved because he can’t. He’s seen too much, and he is now but an empty shell.

We wonder then, was Scalia truly able to separate work from his personal life, or was he actually an empty shell, posing as a happy Renaissance Man? Where did he hide the passion for his legal theories after hours?

 


Getting back to the Constitution

How often do you hear someone say that to fix our country, we "need to get back to the Constitution?"  Sorry, but this is a non-starter...

1.     I reject the notion that "all" the country need do is to get back to the Constitution. Upon a moment's reflection, it should be clear that this is no solution at all.

The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) gives Congress the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." Covers a whole lot, doesn't it?

Article I, Section 8 contains 18 clauses, and here is the 18th: "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." In other words, they can do anything they want.

Amendment XIV, Section 1 provides:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." All by itself, this little gem has given us Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges (same sex marriage).

Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the absurd notion of judicial review, thereby forever ruining the balance of powers, and making the Supreme Court the super-branch. No less an authority than Thomas Jefferson himself was dismayed at this state of affairs.

Given the four precepts described above, coupled with the reality that virtually every court decision expands, rather than limits federal power, no rational argument can be advanced that the Constitution is our saving grace.

 

2.     Perhaps "getting back to the Constitution" is a shorthand for the wish that we get back to some earlier Spirit of the Founders, or Spirit of America. That would be a marvelous idea, but it may be difficult to achieve in the 21st century.

Instead of a Christian country in which only property owners (aka stakeholders) could vote, we now have a "diverse" land in which a heroin addict on welfare, who has to be propped up at the polling place, has the same vote as a productive citizen.

 

3.     As to the military and its legitimate use, getting back to the Constitution will probably not help much. True, Article I Section 8, Clause 11 provides that Congress has the power: "To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water."

However, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 provides that: "The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States."

Thus, the last time war was formally declared by Congress was on December 8, 1941. Of course, any number of bellicose acts subsequent to that date can be counted up. Arguably, there were plenty of them (non-declared) in the build-up to World War II, as well.

 

4.     Kinda makes you wonder how many of the "patriots" endlessly talking about getting back to the Constitution have even read it


Political correctness and public health

This HND piece takes you through the origin of the term PC, compares it to Orwell's "Newspeak," and tracks it as it is now destroying public health. Sally Satel, MD was the first to write about this, back in 2000, and it's only gotten much worse since then.

Lenin and Stalin in their wildest dreams could not have seen how for this outrage would come.

Read the complete article.


Faith versus reason?

Now is as good a time as any to address the false dichotomy between "faith" and "reason."

Ask any believer to defend his faith, and he will probably relate certain personal experiences that convinced him that God was working in his life. There would seem to be no way that these events could have occurred randomly. Of course, this contention can't be proven, so at some point, he just has to believe.

Ask an atheist how he knows that Timbuktu exists. He read about it in a book, he saw a picture of it. Thus, he had to believe that the book was true, or his teacher was correct, or what he calls Timbuktu, is actually Timbuktu. More than that, he has to believe that the definitions of the words in the book are true as he is taught, not to mention the significance of the letters and numbers, themselves. In addition, during any conversation, he has to believe that the words he speaks are also the words he (and others) hear. None of this can be "proven" rationally.

Even if he were to visit this town himself, ultimately, he would have to believe the signs in the town identifying it as such. At some point, he has to accept a basic item on faith.

In fact, the very paragon of rationality—Euclidean geometry—relies on several key assumptions, which can never be proven. i.e. they are taken on faith, right?

Since there is no such thing as non-antecedent reasoning, there is ultimately no difference between faith and reason.

Q.E.D.


First, they came for...

If I had told you ten years ago that a family seeking asylum from religious persecution would be turned away from the US, you would have thought I was nuts. But, it's finally happened—and no surprise to a Christian family.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children. They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs. Too bad they picked the United States, huh?

I expected this sort of thing from Scumbag Eric Holder and his cohorts at Justice, but did not anticipate that the (increasingly pointless) Supreme Court would refuse to take this one up. Consider that our country was virtually founded on the notion of religious liberty. Oh yes, there were warnings more than 50 years ago, but people like Robert Welch were crazy, right? Just like Sarah Palin was stupid for saying that Russia would invade Ukraine.

Jesus spoke about the brood of vipers, only this time they are not hiding, like the Pharisees, under a cloak of religion. No, they are operating completely in the open as Commie atheists.

It is not depressing that scumbags will be scumbags. No, it is depressing how many useful idiots (as Stalin and Lenin called them) we have here today.


Forbidden topics in health care–Part one

By popular demand, we are making this a regular feature on HND. The first installment deals with the elusive matter of just what constitutes "best" health care, and just hits the tip of the iceberg on what's wrong with Electronic Health Records (EHRs). As the story points out, "While there is nothing wrong per se with the transition to EHRs, there are dozens, nay hundreds, of issues in health care reform that should have taken precedence."

Read the complete article.


Watching the Affordable Care Act unfold (or maybe unravel)

This HND piece provides a relatively gentle critique of a few of the more troubling aspects of the ACA--aka Obamacare.

Those of you unaccustomed to the rarefied environments of academia, think tanks, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) might be shocked as to how our "betters" craft the policies that so affect us. And, you'll likely be angry that no contrary thoughts seem to enter the echo chamber of so-called ideas.

While we single out Harvard, the AMA, and RAND Corporation in this particular essay, rest assured that the situation described is virtually identical in any situation whereby big money, narrow-mindedness, and downright mendacity prevail.

Read the complete article.


Meds aren’t always the answer

This HND piece takes a hard look at psychiatry and its over-reliance on psychotropic medications. We put up some good quotes from psychiatrist-reformers Peter Breggin and Thomas Szasz.

Some Szasz...

It is customary to define psychiatry as a medical specialty concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. This is a worthless and misleading definition. Mental illness is a myth. Psychiatrists are not concerned with mental illnesses and their treatments. In actual practice they deal with personal, social, and ethical problems in living.

Some Breggin...

[I]nstead of meeting the normal needs of our children we are suppressing them with drugs. And the child is being deprived of the most important learning process of childhood—learning to grow in personal responsibility and self-direction. Instead the child is taught to believe, 'I have ADHD' and 'I need a pill to help me control myself.'

 

Much more in the complete article.


Physician, heal thyself...with marketing

With Obamacare threatening to lower the reimbursements to docs even more, it is well for medical practitioners to remember the adage that "Every job is a sales job." This HND piece examines a few ways that doctors can jump-start their marketing.

At some point, the public is also going to realize that unless the economics of going into practice makes sense, the quality of their "provider" will suffer. By then, though, it might be too late.

Read the complete article.