Category Archives: Politics

Trump & ObamaCare — What Went Wrong

As you know, President Trump’s plan to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare failed yesterday. Although this is a diversion from our usual focus on The Controversy between evolution and creationism, it’s a good subject for the weekend.

We touched on the topic several years ago, in The Curmudgeon’s Health Care Reform Plan. That was a few months before ObamaCare became law. The ideas we presented there still make sense for reducing the cost of health care.

Now that Trump’s attempt has gone nowhere, it’s appropriate that we stir things up by giving you our Curmudgeonly view of the fiasco. We know that most of you won’t agree with us, but we’re used to that.

First, the “repeal” part of Trump’s plan makes sense — at least to us — because ObamaCare is a failure. Repealing it could have been done easily. The real problem was the “replace” part. It doesn’t surprise us that the Republicans in Congress couldn’t reach any agreement. To put it bluntly, there is no Republican way to replace ObamaCare with some other federal program. The free market is the answer.

There are several ways to make medical care less expensive. Apart from those in our earlier post, which still make sense, the government could also make health insurance more affordable by allowing an income tax credit — not a mere deduction, but a dollar-for-dollar credit — for health insurance premiums. Also, health insurance could be made more affordable by eliminating federal requirement that such insurance should cover pre-existing conditions. That’s not insurance, it’s welfare, and insurance companies shouldn’t be forced to provide it. States already have programs that deal with the medical needs of those who can’t afford it.

Trump’s failure is because his proposal wasn’t sufficiently Republican. He asked his party in Congress to create a national program that would somehow be better than the mess created by Democrats. That is absurd. Instead of “repeal and replace,” the Republicans should have worked on repeal and reform. There are plenty of ways to reduce medical costs — but constructing a gigantic national program isn’t one of them.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Arkansas Has a Bible Bill

Things weren’t crazy enough when we wrote Arkansas Creationism Bill for 2017. The legislators of that state appear to be in a contest to see which of them can introduce the holiest bill.

We learned about this at the website of Christian News Network (the other CNN), which “provides up-to-date news and information affecting the body of Christ worldwide from an uncompromising Biblical worldview.” Their headline is Arkansas Rep. Introduces Resolution to Make Bible State Book. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A Republican representative in Arkansas has introduced a bill to make the Bible the state book. Rep. Dwight Tosh, R-Jonesboro, presented H.R. 1047 on Monday, and the Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs Committee advanced the resolution on Wednesday.

The article is dated 11 March, so they’re probably saying this happened last Wednesday. Here’s a link to the bill: HR 1047. It’s not very long, so we’ll give you the whole thing, in all its brilliance:

HOUSE RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE DESIGNATION OF THE BIBLE AS THE STATE BOOK.

Subtitle SUPPORTING THE DESIGNATION OF THE BIBLE AS THE STATE BOOK.

WHEREAS, the Bible is considered by many to be a book of truth; and

WHEREAS, the system of law contained within the Bible forms the basis upon which our modern civilization is structured; and

WHEREAS, there are multiple designated state symbols in Arkansas, but there is currently no designated state book; and

WHEREAS, the Bible is widely read throughout the State of Arkansas,

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:

THAT the House of Representatives supports the naming of the Bible, published in any recognized version, as the official book of the State of Arkansas.

Isn’t that wonderful? We’ve written about some previous attempts to do the same thing in other states — see Louisiana’s Bible Bill (which the bill’s sponsor later withdrew), and also Mississippi Has Two Proposed Bible Bills (they didn’t pass), and also Bible — Official State Book of Tennessee? That one passed the legislature, but the governor vetoed it because it wasn’t sufficiently respectful of the bible, and the legislature failed to override the veto — see Tennessee Bible Bill Veto Override Vote Today.

Now it’s Arkansas’ turn. Let’s return to the Christian News Network, which tells us:

Public reaction to the proposal, which now heads to the full House, is mixed. “It would be awesome! A true book to live by. Words that are living and creating life and healing, and most of all salvation,” one commenter [sic] wrote.

“Yes. It should be taught in school. When I was in grade school we had two missionary ladies that came once a month and taught from the Bible. If you had your Bible verse memorized, [you] got a small Gideon Bible. No kids caused trouble and were taught respect,” another said.

“Why would we need to have the Bible as a state book? Why stir up an unnecessary controversy?” a third asked. “Christians and Jews will always cherish the Bible. Some will always hate the mention of it. Arkansas doesn’t need a state book.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with government; keep it out! Keep the church and state separate, or you’re unAmerican,” another wrote.

That’s about all they have to say. This is the legislature’s page for the bill’s sponsor: Dwight Tosh. He’s a retired Arkansas State Police Captain.

You can follow the progress of the bill here: HR1047. We’re not sure of the terminology, but it seems to have been passed by a House committee. The next step would be a vote by the entire House. However, according to our information, the legislature has already adjourned, so we don’t understand what’s going on. It’ll get clarified in due course.

By the way, we didn’t see any discussion of the Constitutionality of such a bill. The Arkansas Constitution says, in Article II, Declaration of Rights, Section 24:

Religious liberty. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other.

Does that mean anything? Who knows? The state Constitution also says, in Article 19, Miscellaneous Provisions, Section 1:

No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

Hey — if it’s okay to make the bible the state book, we suggest that they go all the way. One of those brave lawmakers should introduce a resolution declaring Yahweh to be the state deity.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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War Between Pot-Farmers & Environmentalists?

We sometimes say, and many of you disagree, that Both U.S. Political Parties Oppose Science. Yes, many creationists are now Republicans, but the Democrats have their own science problems. Our last post on this topic was only a week ago: 2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in US Senate.

Today we found something at PhysOrg that has potential to make our point. It’s titled Legal marijuana sales creating escalating damage to the environment.

Think about that for a minute. Environmentalists tend to be on the liberal side of the political spectrum. Such people often favor the legalization of marijuana. There may be an intra-party conflict here. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Marijuana sales have created an economic boom in U.S. states that have fully or partially relaxed their cannabis laws, but is the increased cultivation and sale of this crop also creating escalating environmental damage and a threat to public health?

Egad — for many people, that’s a difficult question. Then we’re told:

In an opinion piece published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lancaster University in the U.K. have called on U.S. federal agencies to fund studies that will gather essential environmental data from the legal cultivation farms and facilities.

This is the article they’re talking about: High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation. You can read it online without a subscription, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg, which tells us:

State-by-state legalization is effectively creating a new industry in U.S., one that looks set to rival all but the largest of current businesses. In Colorado alone, sales revenues have reached $1 billion, roughly equal to that from grain farming in the state. By 2020 it is estimated that country-wide legal marijuana sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League.

But [the authors of the article] … say that this expanded cultivation carries with it serious environmental effects. Their article points out that cannabis is an especially needy crop requiring high temperatures (25-30 °C for indoor operations), strong light, highly fertile soil and large volumes of water – around twice that of wine grapes. In addition, the authors state that the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil.

You see the problem, don’t you? Hold on, there’s even more:

For example, a study of illegal outdoor grow operations in northern California found that rates of water extraction from streams threatened aquatic ecosystems. High levels of growth nutrients, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, also found their way back into the local environment, further damaging aquatic wildlife.

Controlling the indoor growing environment requires considerable energy with power requirements estimated to be similar to that of Google’s massive data centers. No significant data has been collected on the air pollution impacts on worker’s public health inside these growing facilities or the degradation of outdoor air quality due to emissions produced by the industrial scale production of marijuana.

It looks like this is a fertile area for research, so to speak. The PhysOrg article continues:

The continued expansion of legalization by the states does offer significant opportunities for the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund research into legal cannabis cultivation to protect the environment.

Now the pot-growers are going to have to deal with government regulations. When that happens, they’ll start sounding like Republicans.

Our last excerpt is a quote from William Vizuete, one of the authors of the published paper:

There are also significant potential public health issues caused by emissions from the plants themselves rather than smoking it. These emissions cause both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Okay, dear reader. Now we’ll see whether there’s a political party that is consistently pro-science. Your Curmudgeon boldly predicts that the pot-growers will behave like the oil companies — they’ll deny the science. But maybe not. We’ve been wrong before.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in US Senate

A month ago we wrote 2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in Congress. That was about House Resolution 44 which was introduced into the US House of Representatives. All its 19 co-sponsors are Democrats.

Now our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have just posted: Darwin Day resolution in the Senate. Here are some excerpts:

Senate Resolution 59, introduced in the United States Senate on February 10, 2017, would, if passed, express the Senate’s support of designating February 12, 2017, as Darwin Day, and its recognition of “Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.”

We briefly looked at the text of the Senate resolution. It appears to be identical to the one in the House, which we gave you in our earlier post. NCSE continues:

Sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), S. Res. 59 is the third Darwin Day resolution ever to appear in the Senate.

Blumenthal’s resolution has only one co-sponsor so far, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, and he too is a Democrat.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress, so neither resolution is likely to pass. But even when that wasn’t so, such resolutions never passed anyway.

We’re hoping for at least one Republican to co-sponsor one of these resolutions, so this isn’t a total embarrassment, but that doesn’t seem likely. The situation is absurd, because not every Republican is a creationist, and not every Democrat is a solid supporter of science — see Is Your Political Party Really Pro-Science?

Politicians in both parties, like the population as a whole, are mostly ignorant of science. They’re driven by ideology, and they support science only when it seems to justify the their party’s position on specific issues — like abortion, environmentalism, national defense, “social justice,” etc. Also, each party opposes the science that challenges its sacred ideology. The sad truth is that science in general has no political friends. All we have are temporarily convenient alliances — and depending on one’s science, we don’t have the same allies.

Unfortunately, many scientists are unaware of the motives of politicians, so they’ll support a party that seems to support their endeavors, while overlooking that party’s anti-scientific positions on other issues. The Darwin Day resolutions make the Republicans look like idiots. That’s their purpose. But tomorrow, when the issue is something like fracking or increasing the number of nuclear power plants, the positions of the parties will be reversed. So don’t be naïve, dear reader. Bear in mind that political parties are driven by ideology, not science.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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