Saturday, March 31, 2012

Healthcare, Dante, and the Trojan Horse

A week after Dahlia Lithwick attempted to play the part of dispassionate Court observer, Bob Shrum takes a shot at the same role. And--amazingly--fails in exactly the same way as did Ms. Lithwick. It's uncanny. I dissected the first piece previously. Ms. Lithwick cites two cases--Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission--as evidence of an overreaching Court, but fails to note Kelo v. the City of New London:
...[according to Lithwick] Bush v. Gore in 2000 was a black eye for the court, apparently unmatched until Citizens United in 2010. Where was Ms. Lithwick in 2005, we must ask? Because that is the year of Kelo v. City of New London. Surely, her head is not stuck so far in sand as to make her ignorant of the backlash from the Kelo decision. After Kelo, States began drafting laws to prevent the usurpation allowed by the Court, people engaged in various protests against the Justices who had voted for the decision, and an entire body of writings appeared discussing the issues of the case. And for the most part, the public disagreed with the decision. 80% of the public, in fact. Yet somehow, Ms. Lithwick fails to mention Kelo, skipping from 2000 to 2010, in looking at poorly received cases.
Now we have Shrum, wringing his hands in angst over the prospect of a "Tea Party Court" sending the Affrodable Care Act back down to the Eighth Circle of Hell, where it belongs. And his evidence for this fear? Why Citizens United and Bush v. Gore, of course:
An over-reaching court could shatter the vestigial credibility of an institution defaced by Bush v. Gore and by Citizens United — which incredibly held that there is insufficient evidence that money corrupts politics and thereby loosed a tide of special interest cash that is engulfing the politics of 2012.
Once again, Kelo goes unmentioned, a ruling that determined private property could be arbitrarily confiscated by the government, then transferred to a private concern--not used by the government--for the purposes of generating more tax revenues. Instead, a proper ruling (Citizens United) and a ruling necessitated by a State Supreme Court's willful disdain for state law (Florida in Bush v. Gore) are cited as evidence of a dangerous Court.

And this is exactly why I brought up the Eighth Circle of Hell. For it is the one reserved for people who engage in fraud, for panderers, seducers, hypocrites, and false prophets. And, of course, for evil counselors:
With flames as manifold resplendent all
Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware
As soon as I was where the depth appeared.
And such as he who with the bears avenged him
Beheld Elijah's chariot at departing,
What time the steeds to heaven erect uprose,
For with his eye he could not follow it
So as to see aught else than flame alone,
Even as a little cloud ascending upward,
Thus each along the gorge of the intrenchment
Was moving; for not one reveals the theft,
And every flame a sinner steals away.
I stood upon the bridge uprisen to see,
So that, if I had seized not on a rock,
Down had I fallen without being pushed.
And the Leader, who beheld me so attent,
Exclaimed: "Within the fires the spirits are;
Each swathes himself with that wherewith he burns."
"My Master," I replied, "by hearing thee
I am more sure; but I surmised already
It might be so, and already wished to ask thee
Who is within that fire, which comes so cleft
At top, it seems uprising from the pyre
Where was Eteocles with his brother placed."
He answered me: "Within there are tormented
Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together
They unto vengeance run as unto wrath.
And there within their flame do they lament
The ambush of the horse, which made the door
Whence issued forth the Romans' gentle seed;
Therein is wept the craft, for which being dead
Deidamia still deplores Achilles,
And pain for the Palladium there is borne."
Ulysses and Diomed are Odysseus and Diomedes, of course. Their sins--according to Dante--were great and many, capped off by their creation of the Trojan Horse and their theft of the Palladium from Troy. And the tale linking those two events is worth remembering.

The Trojans knew that as long as they possessed the Palladium, Troy could not fall. Odysseus and Diomedes snuck into the city at night and--aided by Helen--stole the Palladium from the Temple of Athena, killing several priests in the process. Later, they built the Trojan Horse and offered it up as a tribute to Troy, both as a piece offering and as an apology for the theft. Odysseus presented the horse, while Diomedes led the forces hidden inside.

The Constitution has been effectively stolen out from under our very noses. Specific limits on power, on the extent of government authority are being willfully ignored, in the name of necessity, of saving the nation from a crisis caused by government interference.

Now, we have the Affordable Care Act, with the much-discussed mandate. And that, my friends, is the Trojan Horse, offered up as a phony tribute to opponents, but which will--if accepted--lead to the wholesale destruction of the healthcare industry and--ultimately--to the end of the American Experiment. Shrum--like Lithwick--is a standard-bearer for Odysseus, a man many view as a great hero. But Dante knows the truth...

Cheers, all.


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