Sunday, August 31, 2014

Update on the Victimization of Cinfici by Obamacare

           The Commonwealth Foundation, a link to which appears at right, published a story about my victimization by the federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) that I posted about in May ( on its website.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s article quoted me as saying “They are taking my freedom away – punishing me for being responsible and saving for care,” and “I’ll have to postpone some things, probably deferring maintenance around my house.  It’s less I’ll be spending in the local economy.  You can call it a negative stimulus.”  The article has been published as an op-ed across Pennsylvania at Pennlive (the Harrisburg Patriot’s website), at Watchdog Wire, a website that publishes citizen journalism in many American States, and in print and online in the Phoenixville Phoenix

Meanwhile, I called my health insurance company to cancel my policy by the end of August, when the plan was no longer compliant with the federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”), even though those of us who liked our plans had been promised by United States President Barack Obama that we could keep them.  Alas, the company cancelled me a month prematurely without notifying me, leaving me among the ranks of the uninsured, even though the purpose proponents of Obamacare claimed was to provide insurance for the uninsured.  Under the federalization of health insurance law, I could not be reinstated by my insurer.  By the middle of the month, I was relieved to obtain coverage from my new health insurance company.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


           Columns of Russian tanks and other military vehicles have invaded the southeastern Black Sea coast of Ukraine, according to reports citing Ukrainian and Western sources, in an apparent attempt to establish a land corridor with Crimea, which Russia had previously invaded.  Russian forces beforehand had bombarded the Ukrainian coastal territory with artillery.

           There have been previous incursions of Russian forces into Ukraine beyond Crimea, as well as firing of artillery from Russia. Despite earlier Russian Federation denials, Russian troops made up a significant part of the pro-Russian rebel forces and had supplied arms and materiel to the separatists, as I have posted previously. The advancing Russian mechanized column disproves Russian claims that any of its personnel in eastern Ukraine were volunteers.

           The Russian Federation, which is led by an authoritarian Communist, has decided to invade Ukraine out of frustration with the Ukrainian governments advances against the Russophile rebels.  The invasion, like that of Russia's invasion of Crimea, is in violation of a post-Cold War agreement in which it recognized Ukraine's independence and sovereignty and accepted Ukraines borders.  The Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine also exposes the deception of the slogan Crimea is Russia, as if the Russian bear would have been satisfied eating only Crimea.  Indeed, Russia intends to restore the former Soviet Empire, in spite of any treaties or international law.

            In the meantime, the Russian regime is punishing Ukraine for expanding trade with the West.  As was demonstrated by its invasion of Georgia, Russia cannot tolerate freedom or representative government in former Soviet Republics, let alone any friendliness on their part with the West.  Even if Russia’s invasion would not be decisive in conquering eastern Ukraine and absorbing it into the Russian Federation, the indefinite insurgency would destabilize Ukraine by damaging its economy and serve as another warning to former Soviet Republics not to break free from Russian domination. The West and other freedom-loving states around the world must continue to uphold the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of these former Soviet Republics.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Obama Administration Should Make More Effective Use of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

           On Independence Day, I recommended several links for liberty, including one to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom,  The Commission’s purpose is to identify and speak out against religious persecution, as well as to recommend policies to the Executive Branch to advance religious liberty internationally, as American moral suasion and corresponding diplomatic pressure can be effective.  Alas, U.S. President Barack Obama is not making adequate use of the Commission.    

            Later last month, Obama signed the reauthorization into law of the fifteen-year-old bipartisan commission, whose members are appointed by both the President and Congress, but he has failed to appoint an ambassador for religious freedom, as he may do under the reauthorizing legislation.  Naming such an officer would signal a prioritization of religious liberty in U.S. foreign relations.  He has also declined to designate several states as “Countries of Particular Concern” that repress the practice of religion or that fail to safeguard religious liberties adequately, such as Communist Vietnam and several predominately Muslim states.

           Conservatives and all those who recognize the fundamentality of religious liberty should call upon Obama to make full use his power of the to raise the standard of the freedom of religion throughout the world by naming an ambassador for religious freedom and following the recommendations of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, especially by singling out all states its recommends as “Countries of Particular Concern.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

United States President Barack Obama’s Weak Response to the Islamist Threat in Syria and Iraq

           Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq have seized large swathes of territory, declared a caliphate it intends to extend to the entire Islamic world, committed atrocities in attempts to force conversions, created a large refugee crisis, and have expressly threatened the United States directly, yet U.S. President Barack Obama has been slow to respond adequately to the threat.  Indeed, his weakness has invited it and has already signaled to the enemy they can outlast the Americans.
            Obama failed to aid the non-Islamist rebels in Syria adequately in quickly enough to prevent al-Qaeda and other Islamist militants from taking over the opposition to the pro-Iranian terrorist-sponsoring regime of Bashar Assad.  After failing to secure a satisfactory status of forces agreement, he pulled American military forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011, leaving the Iraqis to fend off the jihadist threat by themselves.  The Obama Administration began to sell some significant weapons to Iraq a few months ago, but provided inadequate additional support and authorized no military mission, despite the obvious threat from the Islamists who were rapidly gaining territory in Syria and especially Iraq since last year.  Only recently were American advisors sent to the war zone. 

            Obama finally justified limited American airstrikes on Islamists in Iraq by aircraft and drones, at the request of the Iraqi government, because of the stated concern for U.S. diplomatic and other personnel in Iraq and the moral obligation to prevent genocide and other atrocities, instead of because of the more significant Islamists’ threats to American security.  The enemy was thus given sufficient time to change its tactic from attacking like a conventional army to guerilla tactics, thus making it a more difficult target.  Although the Commander in Chief put no time limit on the mission, he ruled out combat troops.  The Administration is only now beginning to send weapons to the autonomous Kurdish government through the Iraqi government. 

           The Obama Administration’s delay in providing adequate aid to non-Islamist Syrian rebels and the Iraqi government or the Iraqi Kurds, the focus on limited interests, the pinprick nature of the U.S. military response that exposes American servicemen to minimal risk, and the ruling out of combat forces after the premature departure of American combat forces from Iraq, combine to send a signal to the enemy that Americans have no stomach for war and if it murders enough American soldiers, the public will demand a withdrawal – a strategy Islamists already have used successfully a few times.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Cambodian Tribunal Convicts Communist Khmer Rouge Leaders of Crimes Against Humanity

A United Nations-backed Cambodian tribunal convicted the two surviving Communist Khmer Rouge leaders, including a former President and Prime Minister and another senior official, for crimes against humanity.  The octogenarians were sentenced to life in prison. 

The Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodian) seized power after the Fall of Saigon, South Vietnam in 1975, making Cambodia, like Laos, one of the “dominoes” that fell to the Communists after South Vietnam fell into their hands, after the liberal Democratic United States Congress cut off aid to the South Vietnamese.  The Maoists, backed by China, brutally ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979, imprisoning and torturing multitudes of fellow Cambodians, murdering and overworking or starving to death nearly two million people, which represented a quarter of the population of Cambodia.  They emptied Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh to create an agrarian socialist utopia.  Many of its citizens were targeted for destruction for their bourgeois lifestyle, marched into the countryside and buried alive in mass graves they had been forced to dig in what became known as the “Killing Fields.”  Most of the Khmer Rouge’s victims were innocent civilians, including Buddhist monks, religious and ethnic minorities, anyone found to possess private property, and those suspected of being sympathetic to the West or educated to any degree, such as anyone wearing eyeglasses.  

Khmer Rouge General Secretary and Cambodian Prime Minister Pol Pot had been captured in 1997 by rebellious members of his party after he had ordered the murder of the Prime Minister.  After a show trial, he was sentenced to lifelong house arrest in 1998, but died under mysterious circumstances shortly afterward, before any tribunal could try him for crimes against humanity. 

Although the conviction and sentencing of the two surviving Khmer Rouge leaders is regarded by the Cambodian people as “too little, too late,” there is finally a degree of justice and the establishment of a legal and historical record of their crimes against humanity and genocide.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Conservative Commentary on the Recent United States Supreme Court Term, Part II

On one of my posts on Independence Day, I analyzed several cases on interests to conservatives that advanced liberty or good government in Part I of this two-part series.  This post is devoted to the last such decision announced by the Court, in which it ruled that the federal government cannot force closely-held corporations to violate their religious beliefs to provide insurance coverage that includes abortifacients.

            The plaintiffs, two Protestant Christian corporations, objected to an Obama Administration regulatory mandate imposed under the federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) that required them to provide insurance benefits that included certain contraceptives that also are abortifacients.  Their owners do not object to contraception, but to certain contraceptives that also may cause abortions by preventing the implantation of the fertilized embryo, which is not “contraception” because it occurs after conception, which is the beginning of an individual human life.  The Court ruled that religious owners of closely-held corporations, even if for-profit, religious people, under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, are not compelled to violate their beliefs because they follow their vocation to engage in commerce and incorporate to protect themselves from liability.

            Abortion, as an evil, is a moral issue, not strictly a religious one.  Religion and morality are distinct and, as secularists and atheists argue, even non-believers can accept at least certain morals, but religion was at issue in this case because it informs our understanding of morality and compels believers to act morally.

The contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate imposes a substantial burden on business owners, insofar as they would have to pay expensive fines for non-compliance in order to follow their religious conscience.  A substantial burden was necessary for conscience protection under the statute.  Another element of the law is the requirement that government use the least restrictive means to achieve its purpose, which the federal government failed to use in imposing the mandate.  The Obama Administration was unable to prove a compelling interest in requiring insurance coverage for relatively inexpensive drugs (e.g. the four abortifacients to which the plaintiffs objected), as the Administration undermined its argument for a compelling interest by the many exemptions to Obamacare it has granted, or how imposing such a mandate would be the least restrictive means, considering it had granted many exemptions to the mandate in question.  In fact, the Administration’s “accommodation,’ given to the non-profit corporations – as inadequate as it is – proved it was not using the least restrictive means in regard to for-profit corporations. 

The case was not about equality, as the mandate does not cover contraception for males.  Regardless, the ruling upholds the fundamentality of religious liberty.  Business owners who incorporate and retain full ownership of their companies cannot be forced to abandon their practice of religion in the free market.  In other words, incorporation under the laws of a state does not equate to the forfeiture of religious liberty in commerce.  

            The ruling was narrow, as was the dissent.  The Court made clear the ruling only applies to corporations that are so closely-held by their owners as to be indistinct from them, not to publicly-traded companies, and only in instances where government cannot show it had no other recourse to accomplish its purpose. 

The liberal dissenting Justices made much of the fact that the plaintiffs were for-profit corporations, as if their only motivation is profit, as if such corporations do not do good, and as if being non-profit necessarily, ipso facto, makes an entity good.  In both this case and a recent related one in which the Court granted an injunction to a college from the same mandate, the liberal minority would have the government judge religious beliefs, deciding how sincerely held the beliefs are and whether they are reasonable and even making theological arguments about them, instead of empathetically protecting their religious practices, which was the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The minority liberal Justices were skeptical of the plaintiff’s religious beliefs and moral concern about the beginning of life at conception, not implantation of the embryo, as most liberals cannot recognize the humanity in those human beings that look different, whom they dehumanize as only “potential” humans, contrary to scientific understanding that a human life begins at conception, even though the law was meant to protect even those religious beliefs with which they disagree.  

Nevertheless, the dissenting Justices’ emphasis on the plaintiffs as for-profit, as opposed to non-profit corporations, suggests that non-profit corporation plaintiffs, religious or not, are likely to win their cases that have been appealed to the Supreme Court in which they object by various degrees to the Obama Administration’s contraception/abortifacient/sterilization insurance mandate because the accommodation granted to religious organizations by the Administration is inadequate.