Will the ‘nuclear option weaken the Senate? Don’t believe it.

The ’nuclear option,’ so named because it is believed to be catastrophic to U.S. Senate tradition and function, would remove the filibuster requirement for Supreme Court nominees. But why should Senate tradition, which in this case is not very old, be worth preserving? One case for retaining the filibuster is here.

The French word flibustier at the origin of our term filibuster appropriately means ‘buccaneer’ and by extension ‘crook.’  Until recently the filibuster rule permitted a senator to delay a floor vote only so long as he was speaking from the rostrum continuously – no bathroom or other breaks permitted. He could, however, be relieved by another Senator. This tactic could in principle gain other Senators time in which to round up votes.

But the current rule does not require speaking to an empty chamber reading from Dr Seuss. Now when the minority simply signals ’filibuster,’ a cloture vote to end debate is not permitted and the bill being debated is shut down. Pace filibuster apologists, this hardly extends debate or encourages deliberate consideration of different points of view. It simply ends debate, giving the minority party veto power, like a buccaneer on the high seas invading another vessel. If the goal is to enable extensive debate and further reasonable compromise, other and better rules can be substituted. However, to think that rules can encourage thoughtful compromise is rather naive.

The Senate is all too often the place when good bills go to die. If they do not die, the requirement of a filibuster-proof supermajority makes them emerge diluted and loaded with pork. Remember the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, and the Florida flim-flam provisions in Obamacare? Since the nuclear option exercised today does not apply to legislative filibusters, we can anticipate with dread what Senate ‘tradition’ will do to tax reform and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. The Senate’s indulgence for its ‘traditions’ seems to suggest a culture of self-importance. Senatorial egos suggest the same.

Don’t believe the pleas to retain the filibuster for judicial nominees. In fact let’s remove the filibuster for garden-variety legislative bills. If we insist on preserving tradition, – why? – let’s bring back the old-fashioned filibuster as detailed here and enable the solons of the Senate to block cloture votes only while they are speaking from the rostrum.    

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

The Muslim travel ban and unconstitutional religious discrimination

Words matter. The terminology chosen by the Left and its allies such as Big Media can create and then reinforce the way the public thinks about a particular issue. In the phrase the “Muslim travel ban” only the word “travel” is accurate. The President’s executive order does not deal with Muslims as a group, but only with citizens of several countries who cannot be screened for radical or terrorist ties. Nor is it a ban, which properly means a prohibition with the presumption of indefinite duration. It is simply a temporary pause, not a flat-out ban.

Similarly with “unconstitutional religious discrimination.” The Left has long tried to hoist its progressive policies under the banner of fighting “discrimination.” Having successfully redefined segregation to mean not just legally enforced separation by race, but also the communities formed by personal choices, the Left now does the same with “discrimination,” so that any differences far beyond race are discriminatory, thus illegitimate and subject to governmental discipline. What is illegitimate to the Left then must ipso facto be found to be ‘unconstitutional.’ So now bush-league Federal judges with an absence of a constitutionally presumed ‘judicial temperament’ and respect for the separation of equal powers rush to overturn innocuous executive orders with which they disagree.

It matters not that non-citizens abroad have no constitutional rights or standing. Apart from the vaticinations of courts, that is. Federal legislation specifically grants the President broad latitude to regulate immigration and travel into the U.S. of any class of aliens for any reason. (Naming a class of aliens is of course ‘discriminatory’ to the Left. This would include any sect of Islam that espouses total and permanent jihad on the West.) Even in the absence of this legislation the President’s constitutional duty and ability to do so is clear. Any court cognizant of its duty to interpret the law, not rewrite it, would agree. This is not difficult.

Nor does it matter that the widely reported “unconstitutional religious discrimination” is a figment of the fevered imagination of the men in black who push judicial supremacy. In this case the judiciary asserts supremacy over the executive. In the case of the ‘marriage’ of homosexual people it trumped the legislative power and wrote its own legislation.

The attorney and astute commentator John Hinderaker identified the current blocking of the travel order as a ‘liberal coup.”  I could not agree more. The progressive takeover of the courts must be reversed. The perception of the voters is increasingly ratified that though candidate Trump was deeply flawed, the election of Mrs Clinton and her choice of Supreme Court justices would have inflicted calamitous and permanent damage to American culture and institutions.    

Troglo  (L. H. Kevil)

How do we make international trade fair?

Since the desire for “Fair Trade” is the supporting mantra behind each and every threat by government to use tariffs, quotas, or other trade restrictions, shouldn’t fair trade be defined and defended?

There is fair trade whenever trading partners reach agreement on mutually determined prices, terms, and other conditions, whether such partners are individuals, agents, firms or co-operatives.

If such entities attempt to, but can’t reach a mutually acceptable exchange, it is most often due to one or both participants in the bargain determining that  terms of the proposed trade transaction are unacceptable or unfair. Only the parties to the trade transaction can determine what is fair, for them and them alone.

Can government produce fair trade?

I probably don’t need to answer that question, as you likely intuitively already know the answer. I’m sure you wouldn’t hire a representative from the retail grocer association to have the power to determine the price of your groceries, instead of allowing free market competition among grocers to be the primary price determinant. Why? Because the association represents the interests of its member stores and would make every attempt to enhance the grocers’ profit margin, all to your disadvantage.

You shouldn’t want government to interfere with your international trades for the same reason.

When we ask government to govern trade negotiations by means of tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions, it always pursues someone’s interest. It may pursue the interests of consumers, or producers, or distributors, or retailers. If this pursuit results in a change in price or other terms than would otherwise be negotiated via voluntary exchange, the intervention by government would result in favoring one interest to the transaction and disfavoring the others.

Example: If government implements a tariff to favor US producers, to protect them from what it determines to be “unfair competition,” it disfavors US consumers by making their purchases more expensive, harder to get, etc.

By this reasoning we must conclude that government can only produce UN-FAIR trade.

The only way that government can pursue the interests of all is to refrain from intervening in international trade.

#separationofeconomyandstate    Bruce-thumbnail

Bruce Hillis

Protesters dissatisfied with election results should redirect their protests


The recent election has produced much angst as well as a substantial amount of misdirected response.  All seemingly due to what many citizens believe is an unfair federal election process that ignores the total popular vote of all U.S. citizens.

Correctly understood, there are no federal elections. There are only state elections.  State elections choose U.S. senators and congressmen to represent the interests of the people of their state in the U.S. Congress.  These state elections also choose electors to represent that state in the selection of the President and Vice President.

Many citizens may believe that since everyone votes for the President on the same day that it is a national or federal election.  Not so.  Although “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” is set by federal law as the date for electing those who will select the President, there are only fifty state elections – not one big federal election for all fifty states.

I can’t imagine that citizens of a state would want citizens of another state  to vote in an election to choose their United States Senator or Representative, so why should anyone want citizens of another state to be able to vote in an election to influence their state’s choice for President?

If citizens believe that their votes and voices are not being heard in their state; or that their state does not adequately represent their interests, they should take their complaint to their respective state Capitol; or simply move to another state more compatible with their interests.

Such is the beauty of federalism and the freedoms secured by our founders.   Bruce-thumbnail

Bruce Hillis

When you hear “public option,” think of the disastrous NHS

The National Health Service of Great Britain is the granddaddy of socialized medicine. We had no complaints when we were in England during the early seventies. But then, although opposed to the omnipresent miners and postal workers strikes, we were naive and about to emerge from leftism like a diver from the deep at the surface finally able to breathe fresh air. The NHS, single-payer to usns in the US, the very model of an entitlement never to be reformed or abolished, started by the Labour government in 1948, reminds us that whenever government talks of ‘free,’ there will be shortages and a substantial cost. The only question is who will bear that cost.

The last few years there have been many reports of patients dying on gurneys in British hospital corridors, the victims of mismanagement of local hospitals, which in turn derives from the faulty design of the NHS. No matter where designed or implemented, central planning governing the allocation of scarce resources will fail. Just as there was a shortage of toilet paper in the Soviet Union and now in Venezuela, so now the NHS cannot handle the burden of excessive demand for too few resources. In short the NHS has gobbled up most of the available resources in the UK treasury, just like Medicaid in many states.

What is the answer? Horrendously, it is to cut back on elective services to the obese and smokers. Details  here. We can only ask who will be next. Climate-change skeptics? Believers in traditional marriage? For the US, will the failure of Obamacare lead to single-payer? Do we have the political will to prevent this from happening?  We pray that we do.Troglo

Troglo  (L. H. Kevil)

The EpiPen follies – the latest failure of Big Government

Livid liberals have rent their garments over the high price of EpiPens, convenient devices designed to deliver a dose of epinephrine to children and others suffering from anaphylaxis, potentially very severe reactions to allergies or bee stings. The cost recently was increased to $600 for a kit of two. It was $100 when Mylan, the evil corporation in question, acquired the product. The news media have ramped up the feeding frenzy by breathless reportage highlighting a poor family or two and attacking “Big Pharma.” That they did not report the alternatives shows they are less concerned with the substantive issues than with the subtext that free market greed has once again failed us – when will we get single-payer, 100% Federally controlled , reliable, caring, socialized medicine, their whining seems to imply? The fly in the ointment is of course that in medical matters we have nothing approaching a free market and have not had for a very long time.

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (signed by Obama Nov. 2013,) was passed after heavy lobbying by Mylan. (We note that the CEO of Mylan is the daughter of W. Va. Senator Manchin, a Democrat. Look away, no smoke here.) This legislation encourages the use of “auto-injectors” through financial incentives to states enact laws to require the devices This term really means EpiPens, as they are by far the best known auto-injectors currently available. There was no competition after Mylan’s only competitor issued a voluntary recall over miscalibration of the dosage.

But there is an auto-injector alternative, which is unsurprisingly little reported:

But EpiPen isn’t the only epinephrine injector on the market; the authorized generic of Adrenaclick (epinephrine auto-injector), is a cheaper option—we found it for $142 at Walmart and Sam’s Club using a coupon from GoodRx. While generic Adrenaclick isn’t the same technology and is used differently than EpiPen, both auto-injectors contain the same drug, epinephrine, available in the same dosages, says Barbara Young, Pharm.D., of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. (Source: Consumers Reports. Full article here.)

It should surprise no one that a home-brew substitute for the EpiPen can be made for less than $10. Just buy a vial of epinephrine, a syringe, and a case like an Altoid tin. Full, physician-approved instructions here. Using a syringe should not be a problem. Many inject their diabetic dogs. Many diabetics inject themselves daily. Just avoid injecting into a vein. EMTs administer epinephrine this way.

Failure of the free market? No, failure of Big Government, for legislation mandating EpiPens instead of substitutes regardless of costs and largely restricting the use of syringes in schools to licensed nurses. Thus we have $10 worth of product transformed into $600 of expense thanks to compassionate government. Not to speak of another government failure for a tax regimen leading many companies, including Mylan, to move headquarters abroad in a corporate inversion. (Inversion has been on the mind of the Obama administration for quite a while.)


Troglo (L. H. Kevil)