Monthly Archives: June 2012

Justice Roberts’ Switch

Truth Out is carrying Robert Reich’s piece Justice Roberts’ Switch. There may be some interesting points made in the article.  However, just because I like Robert Reich and agree with him on most points doesn’t mean I can’t recognize when he uses a silly argument.

Roberts nonetheless upheld the law because, he reasoned, the penalty to be collected by the government for non-compliance with the law is the equivalent of a tax – and the federal government has the power to tax. By this bizarre logic, the federal government can pass all sorts of unconstitutional laws – requiring people to sell themselves into slavery, for example – as long as the penalty for failing to do so is considered to be a tax.

Robert Reich is guilty of the same syllogistic logic the court usually uses. If a bill to sell yourself into slavery were enforced by a tax, it would be similar in this aspect to the current decision about the mandate which is enforced by a tax.  Just because it is similar in this one aspect of judging its constitutionality, logic doesn’t permit you to draw the conclusion that it must be similar in every other aspect of judging its constitutionality. So you couldn’t rule the slavery bill unconstitutional on the tax argument, but you could rule it was unconstitutional for many other reasons.

Just like you can find some aspects in which a corporation is like a person, that does not mean that you can conclude that a corporation is like a person in every other imaginable aspect. Each aspect has to be judged on its own as to whether or not a corporation is like a person. The path of logic is that you judge an aspect on its merits and then you put it into the like or the not like category. You don’t just start a like category, use logic to find something to put in that category, and then based on this one item automatically put everything you can imagine into the same category without examining each item on its own merits.

If someone told you that corporations were formed by the sexual mating of a male corporation and a female corporation, would you accept this despite your own reasoning just because you do believe that corporations are like people in some ways?

Maybe Plato was assuming that people would get his irony when he described the absurd results of applying Socrates’ syllogisms as described in The Republic. From my experience in college, even professors think that Plato was describing a good logical argument used by Socrates.

In fact “reductio ad absurdum” is a Latin term meaning to reduce a logical argument to an absurd result in order to prove the logic is faulty.  Which doesn’t mean that “reductio ad absurdum” proofs cannot be absurd themselves.

Weekly GOP Address On The Need To Repeal Obamacare

To be “fair”, I am including this weeks Republican address to the nation.

I only watched the first minute or two before I was overwhelmed by the duplicity of this address.

Nobody says that the Supreme Court decision is a seal of approval of Obamacare. The decision merely says that the law is constitutional. It passes no judgment on whether it is good or bad.

The tax that the Republicans are talking about only applies to people who could afford to have health insurance, but refuse to do so. Of the people making less than $250,000 a year to whom the President says this does not raise their taxes, how many fall into the above category? If there are any, we could just call this a stupidity tax. If you are making less than $250,000 a year and can afford to buy health insurance, you would be pretty stupid not to do so, unless you had liquid assets large enough to cover unexpected medical bills that could be in the millions of dollars.

Obama focuses on Colorado wildfires

Here is an unusual weekly address from President Obama. The usual ones are forma set-pieces from the White house.

Of course the press will always turn this into a contest as in the article Obama focuses on Colorado wildfires.

President Barack Obama won a major victory this week when the Supreme Court upheld his health care law, but it was Republicans – and Republicans alone — who were eager to discuss the decision during Saturday’s dueling radio addresses.

Yes, I do get the irony that I have done the same think by adding the link to and quote from the article. Actually, I suppose it is a good thing, for a change, that the article can merely point out the difference without trying to find that in some way the reaction of the two sides of the Supreme Court issue are morally equivalent.

Supreme Court upholds healthcare law as tax measure

The Los Angeles Times and CBS News have the simplest and most concise telling of the story that I have found so far, Supreme Court upholds healthcare law as tax measure.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law Thursday, ruling the government may impose tax penalties on persons who do not have health insurance.

If you want to get ahead of CBS News, see how fast you can read the 193 page decision.

You don’t suppose any of the media will cover the story of how they all read “the body language” of the Supreme Court Justices to mis-predict the outcome?

So the Supreme Court isn’t completely hopeless after all. Despite the poor presentation of the Obama administration, the court did manage to find its own reasons why this law is Constitutional. (I have to walk that last statement back. Upon reading some of the 193 page decision, I see that the tax angle was part of the Government’s case.)

On page 15 of the decision, I found:

The Government advances two theories for the proposition that Congress had constitutional authority to enact the individual mandate. First, the Government argues that Congress had the power to enact the mandate under the Commerce Clause. Under that theory, Congress may order individuals to buy health insurance because the failure to do so affects interstate commerce, and could undercut the Affordable Care Act’s other reforms. Second, the Government argues that if the commerce power does not support the mandate, we should nonetheless uphold it as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax. According to the Government, even if Congress lacks the power to direct individuals to buy insurance, the only effect of the individual mandate is to raise taxes on those who do not do so, and thus the law may be upheld as a tax.

Elizabeth Warren blasts Mitt Romney as she introduces President Obama in Boston

The Boston Globe has the story Elizabeth Warren blasts Mitt Romney as she introduces President Obama in Boston.

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren lambasted Republican Mitt Romney Monday as she introduced his general election opponent, President Obama, at a Boston fund-raiser.

Teeing off on the former Massachusetts governor, Warren told a full house at Symphony Hall: “Mitt Romney tells us, in his own words, he believes corporations are people. No, Mitt, corporations are NOT people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They love and they cry and they dance. They live and they die. Learn the difference.”

Obama also attacked Romney during his 40-minute speech, but his remarks lacked the bite of the line uttered by Warren.

“Mitt, learn this,” she added. “We don’t run this country for corporations; we run it for people.”
“She has been a fierce advocate since before I knew her,” Obama said. “She is going to be an outstanding senator from Massachusetts.”

There is probably more video of her remarks on the web. I just haven’t found it yet.

Political Theater Produced And Directed By Scott Brown

Rachel Maddow offers a critique of Scott Brown’s latest political theater productions. After which Elizabeth Warren talks about real issues.

The Republicans must realize what shaky ground on which they stand with regard to the number one issue on most people’s minds, jobs and the economy. This is why they invent as many other things as they can that they think will divert people from realizing how many people they know who are unemployed.

Elizabeth Warren doesn’t seem to have any trouble focusing on what matters.

It is up to you, the voter, to decide what kind of politics you will reward with your vote. Are you going to let one side off the hook for their disastrous ideas on how to run an economy and a society by letting them divert your attention away from the issues that really matter? Or are you capable of keeping focused on the bread and butter issues that affect you on a daily, if not hourly, basis?

They distract, you decide.

Ford’s Success Rests Upon a Strong Middle Class, Says CEO Alan Mulally

The Yahoo! Daily Ticker has the video and article Ford’s Success Rests Upon a Strong Middle Class, Says CEO Alan Mulally.

Finally, a business leader who understands on which side his bread is buttered. Who better to state this than the CEO of Ford?

Mulally says, Middle class is really being squeezed. Can you think of a well known candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts who has been saying the same thing for years? If you don’t want to believe Elizabeth Warren because she is only a law professor who has studied the middle class for decades, perhaps the CEO of Ford might be more convincing.

The Next Economic Crisis: Student Debt

This video tries to explain an issue that you may not have understood the full impact of.

Van Jones, a leading progressive activist and former member of the Obama administration had this to say:

When I first heard about all these young people graduating with a bunch of debt, first I thought “So?” I graduated with a bunch of debt from law school, and kids have to deal with that. It’s part of life. But here’s what I found out. The cost and price of education is going up, up, up. These young people are taking on extraordinary amounts of debt and they have no protection, no ability to get the banks to work with them on this. So they go into default very fast, and their credit rating is destroyed, and the banks are not helping them.

Apparently a lot of people including our Senator Scott Brown had the same misapprehension as Van Jones did. Brown has said so in public comments he made. Unfortunately, he makes up his mind on 20 or more year old experiences, and is not open to learning anything new in the way that Van Jones is.

Rebuild the Dream has a web page where you can find out how to contact your Senator about this. Maybe you can give Senator Brown the education he cannot get for himself.