In January, House Republican Chris Smith introduced HR 3, the so-called No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. And yesterday, a Florida federal judge ruled that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional.

Both are examples of the unintended consequences of well-meaning legislation.

Yesterday’s ruling against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare” or the health reform law) was the second to cite the individual mandate as the chief sticking point. Simply put, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t grant Congress the authority to require Americans to buy a private product or service. (Most state constitutions do, which is why we have to have auto insurance if we drive.)

Proponents of Obamacare either scoff at A) these rulings as mere “judicial activism” or B) the idea that someone would want to refuse to buy health insurance. Or both.

But they haven’t considered the implications of this law, if these judges’ ruling are overturned. It would mean that Congress can require private citizens to buy ANYTHING.

Do you like the idea of a future Congress beholden to Big Oil pushing a law requiring we buy a certain amount of fuel? It’s not outside the realm of possibility if Obamacare’s individual mandate stands.

Lawmakers don’t do this nearly enough, but they really ought to slow down, look at the logical end of their bill(s) and consider this question: “If my bitterest political enemy got ahold of this legislation — or the precedent it sets — what harm could he do with it?”

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EXHIBIT 2:

Chris Smith’s a pro-life, anti-abortion congressman, and his bill is an attempt to squeeze the funding for this practice that’s wiped out over 50 million young Americans (at the behest of their own mothers).

I’m not against that. I frankly find it offensive at best that some of my tax dollars are funneled into abortions, a medical procedure that is almost never, EVER medically necessary. So any legislation that starves this grisly industry of public money is a good thing in my book.

However, just like Obamacare, there’s some nasty unintended consequences in this bill.

See, federal funding for abortion has long been restricted only to cases of rape and incest. Smith’s bill would narrow that restriction to include only “forcible rape” as defined by the FBI — that is, rape that occurs under the use or threat of physical harm.

The bill doesn’t actually legally redefine rape as some fear it does. But come on! Rape is rape because it’s forced! Regardless of how it happens!

This is a bad bill. Just as the health insurance mandate sets a dangerous precedent for unwanted government intrusion down the line, so too does this well-meaning attempt to constrict the holocaust of abortion have a negative effect on the equally horrible epidemic of sexual assault.

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 Just yesterday, while driving to a meeting, I passed by an Amtrak train parked at the Atlanta station and wondered, “Will Obama mention high-speed rail again in his State of the Union address tonight?”

Sure enough, he did. And I have to wonder why he’s so insistent on this multi-billion-dollar investment.

It’s not that high-speed rail isn’t a good idea that hasn’t proven its worth and viability elsewhere. It’s worked great in Europe and Japan, for instance, making even their most distant portions of the regions traversable by rail.

That’s precisely why it probably won’t work in the U.S. — we’re too big! Those other regions and nations are teeny-tiny compared even to many of our states. Our most distant regions” are too distant to support the expense of building and maintaining the rail lines for the meager number of passengers who’ll opt to use them. The lack of profitability is the chief reason high-speed rail hasn’t happened here.

“That hasn’t stopped China,” some would counter. That’s true. China also doesn’t let little negotiable things like freedom and human rights get in the way of progress. In fact, China illustrates the only way a high-speed rail network can happen in a huge nation — through government control and/or subsidies.

Y’know, the same system that props up our all-but-moribund Amtrak lines.

I’d love to see high-speed rail work Stateside. Traveling by train is wonderful. But the truth is: what’s good for Europe isn’t always good for America.

Yesterday, almost straight down party lines, health care reform got repealed in the House of Representatives.

Readers know I’m not a fan of the law, so I’m rather OK with this largely symbolic development (after all, it’s not like this little repeal is going to pass the Senate AND escape being vetoed by President Obama). And this is actually good form on the part of the Republicans to actually attempt to deliver on a major campaign platform.

However.

For all my vehement objections to the health care law’s immoral aspects and the super-partisan, closed-door, zero-involvement-from-the-minority-party nature of its creation, I still just as forcefully say that some sort of health care reform is still needed.

Republicans need to step up to the plate with their ideas for health care now that both parties are forced to listen to each other for the first time in this century. And they need to do it soon.

It’s time.

2010/03/18

I’ve been sitting on this blog for a while now.

I’ve been wondering what tack I should take, since I hear that the most successful blogs tend to have a razor-sharp focus on a particular subject. But I don’t want to be stuck on a single subject.

The other issue is that I didn’t want to jump directly into some heavy subject right away. Yes, I want to write about Truth. Contrary to what our morally relativistic culture would have you believe, absolute truth does exist. And it behooves us as thinking beings to strive to know that absolute truth to the best extent that our finite minds can grasp it.

Yes, I want to write about Justice. Plainly put, some things are just right and some things are just wrong. The element that steers matters toward the “right” side of the scale is Justice. That’s what I’m about.

Yes, I want to write about the Way. Not the “American way,” but the Way referred to in the New Testament. And I wish to do so in a thoroughly non-religious fashion.

Finally, I want this blog to also have a fun side, as evidenced by its title’s evocation of the introduction to the old “Superman” TV Show (see 0:35-0:45):

I like comic books and superheroes. Always will. So I’ll frequently write about them as well.

I hope you’ll stick with me as I feel my way through this new venture.

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Now. The reasons why I finally decided to quit waffling and just do this.

1) The graphic design programs I was working on just crashed. I needed something else to do for an hour or so while I burned off my frustration.

2) I keep hearing about new nonsense coming out of Washington D.C. surrounding this health care reform bill.

First: somehow, a nearly trillion-dollar new government program is supposed to reduce the federal deficit.

What?

The reason it can do this, apparently, is that the taxes and other revenue-building tactics begin years before any benefits start to pay out. Oh.

Second: I’m starting to notice that the health insurance industry is not very vocal in its opposition to this reform bill. That’s really got my alarm bells ringing. Some of my left-wing fellow Americans are noticing, as well.

Third: Meanwhile, my right-wing American neighbors across the nation are railing against something called a “deem-as-passed” procedure that could sort of pass a not-finalized, not-voted-on health reform bill. Is that even legal? ‘Cause it’s certainly not right.

I could go on, but I really don’t want to get any further into it.

3) I read some great comic books this week, including one starring my favorite superhero, Aquaman.

Back in grad school, I used to write a little comic book review column on Usenet forums called “This Ain’t A Library, Kid!” I’m wondering if I ought to start something like that again. For now, though, I think I’ll leave it at quoting my favorite line from a comic this week:

…..

…actually, it’s a tie.

“The sea covers 70% of the Earth’s surface…the land, only 30%. Why would I ever wish to settle for less?”Aquaman, replying to a devil’s offer to rule the surface world in The Brave and the Bold #32 (April 2010).

“Who can stop me? WHO?!”Gamora, “deadliest woman in the galaxy,” in combat against endless hordes in Guardians of the Galaxy #24 (April 2010).