Obamacare and confidentiality

One of the features of Obamacare is to require electronic medical records, which will supposedly save lots of money by allowing doctors of all types to plug into your medical history.  That creates, though, a vast network under government control that violates the principle, enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, of physician/patient confidentiality.  And the required medical records include “social questions,” asking every American detailed questions about things like your sex life and whether or not you have ever taken drugs.  Privacy activists, from both the left and the right, are alarmed. [Read more…]

Defining who gets Constitutional rights

A Senate committee approved a “media shield” bill designed to protect journalists from having to reveal their sources and giving them protection from government surveillance.  In doing so, the bill defines who gets to be a journalist.  To get these protections, you have to be a paid, professional employee of a recognized news organization.  Bloggers aren’t protected.  I might be because of my past work for World Magazine.  But not, presumably, Matt Drudge, who has often broken stories from confidential sources, including President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Beyond this particular law is a bigger question.  The Constitution guarantees freedom of “the press.”  Is that to apply only to professional journalists?  Or to those who own printing presses, namely, newspaper companies and publishing houses?  At the time of the Constitution, individuals like Ben Franklin–who could hardly be considered a professional news reporter– ran their own printing presses, printing their political opinions and commenting on the news of the day.  The internet in effect allows just about everybody to have their own printing press.  Shouldn’t freedom of the press extend to what you write on a blog or your FaceBook page?

And might other Constitutional rights be restricted by defining who they apply to?  Isn’t this already happening in the way some are construing civil liberties?  “You have the right to keep and bear arms.  That is, you have the right to join the National Guard and to keep your arms in the local armory.”  “You have freedom of religion.  No one will stop you from going to church, and we won’t make your church pay for morning after pills.  Just don’t act on your religious beliefs in the way you run your business.”  “You have freedom of speech, which entitles you to use pornography.  But don’t criticize homosexuality in public.” [Read more…]

U.S. & Russia agree on Syria plan

So should Vladimir Putin get the Nobel Peace Prize?  Does this get President Obama out of the mess he was in, turning a fiasco into a victory?

The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control, a rare diplomatic victory in a brutal civil war that appears to head off a punitive U.S. military strike on Syria in the near future. [Read more…]

Seceding from the state

The Civil War established the principle that states are not allowed to secede from the Union.  But it also established the principle that counties can secede from a state.  West Virginia was formed when certain counties in Virginia refused to go along with the rest of the state in joining the Confederacy.

That has been the only time a state split up, though there have been other attempts to do so, which, if they had succeeded would have given us states named Shasta, Chesapeake, Absaroka, West Florida, Texlahoma, Montezuma, Rough and Ready, and Yazoo.

Today there are secession movements–usually rural conservatives wanting to break away from the dominance of urban liberals–in Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, and California.  (The Maryland breakaway would be called Augusta.  The one in California would be Jefferson.  Does anyone now what the others in California and Michigan would be called?) [Read more…]

Colorado throws out anti-gun lawmakers

Citizens of Colorado voted for the right to smoke marijuana, but they have also voted or the right to own firearms.  In a recall election, this blue state ousted two state legislators who pushed anti-gun laws.  Might this be another example of a leftwing/rightwing alliance for civil liberties? [Read more…]


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