This week, the punditocracy had no Republican primary contest to distract their attention ("The upcoming primary/caucus in some state I've never traveled through because it's a flyover state could be the crucial turning point in the entire race... details at 11:00..."), and so the political pontificators and prognosticators had nothing else to talk about (one would think) except the serious business before the Supreme Court this week -- Obamacare.
Archive of Articles for March, 2012
Of course, I am being deliberately obtuse here. Early on, before the law even passed (I am not interested enough in that factoid to check whether it is true, I should mention), Republican opponents labeled it "Obamacare." Or, sometimes, "ObamaCare." Before we get to that, though, we have to run through a quick history, which is mostly accurate (but not obsessively so), of the use of "-care" to name these things.
While we're all waiting for the verdict from the Supreme Court, I thought it would be worthwhile to dig into the actual origins of the concept of the individual mandate. Now, the idea itself may have been around for much longer than the documentation I could find online, but the real political push behind the idea seems to have started in 1989, from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.
The individual mandate is the least-liked part of healthcare reform. It really has no natural constituency other than insurance companies. There was no call from the public to include this in the final law (as there was with the "public option," in comparison). The Left wasn't in favor of it, and it causes apoplexy over on the Right. President Obama did not campaign on the individual mandate (although Hillary Clinton did, I should point out), so he obviously didn't think it was all that important (or all that good an idea, take your choice) before he got elected. Since the mandate appeared, very few people have bothered defending it in public. Its appearance in the debate was obviously a direct result of demands from the health insurance industry, who will be the obvious beneficiary of the plan.
To put it in plain English rather than mathematical figures, the Republican Party's plan of creating a more competitive race by awarding proportional delegates is simply not working, at least between the two frontrunners. If none of the Republican state contests were proportional, Rick Santorum would be a lot closer to Mitt Romney right now. Proportionality has made for a less competitive race between the two.
Two years ago, Joe Biden was famously quoted for saying to Barack Obama upon the occasion of health care reform legislation finally passing: "This is a big [expletive deleted] deal." In the past week or so, the White House has rolled out a big media push to support Obama's signature legislation. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the subject of whether the law, as written, passes constitutional muster or not.
Mitt Romney's campaign has entered a sketchy phase. Or, more precisely, an etchy-sketchy phase.
Two hundred and forty-five years ago this week, celebrations of a political nature were held throughout the American colonies. The occasion, in 1767, was the first anniversary of the repeal of the hated Stamp Act. While not unique as a reason for celebration or as a piece of enduring American politics, it was likely this was the first time Americans celebrated such a thing together -- as Americans, in other words, celebrating a purely American victory.
Well, OK, that was kind of snarky. Just barely over the halfway point, it's to be expected that predicting the outcomes of the Republican nominating contests has gotten less fun and more of a chore than anything else, so we'll keep things mercifully short today.
An entirely different kind of rare earth is in the news these days: the kind that actually comes out of the ground. A whole group of elements (which aren't actually all that rare) are classified as "rare earth" minerals. Their importance in the modern world is growing by leaps and bounds, because they are a key component of most high-tech devices (such as cell phones, computers, and electric car batteries). Even more critically, they are a key component of high-tech military hardware such as night-vision goggles, guided missiles, and Aegis warships.