ObamaCare: Of Hypocrites and Heroes

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What do you call someone who opposes the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, standing instead for free markets, private charity and personal responsibility in healthcare?

What do you call that person when, in a tough situation, he acts in accord with his beliefs, relying on private charity to help him pay the bills associated with an expensive health emergency?

I can think of a lot of names for someone like that. “Hypocrite” is not among them. Some ObamaCare supporters seem a little mixed up on the subject.

Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona and founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, opposes ObamaCare and declined to sign up for subsidized health insurance under its provisions.

When he suffered a heart attack in January, his family set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for his care. As I write this, the campaign has nearly met its $30,000 goal. By the time you read this, it will probably have surpassed that goal.

Donors to the fundraiser have the option of commenting, and a funny thing happened on the way to the goal: Lots of people made small donations for the sole purpose of publicly chiding “Sheriff Mack” (as his friends and fans still call him though he’s no longer in office) for his opposition to ObamaCare.

The remarks range from “agree to disagree, but I’m happy to help you” at one end to strident and, in some cases, nasty at the other. “Hypocrite” seems to be among his detractors’ favored terms.

But hypocrisy involves “insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have.” And in this, as in so many other instances, Sheriff Mack is the exact opposite of a hypocrite.

Sheriff Mack believes that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. He also thinks it’s a very bad idea. Many Americans agree with him on both counts.

He declined to accept subsidized insurance under the ACA, and when he found himself in a catastrophic health situation he asked for assistance.

Not from the government. Not at the expense of unwilling taxpayers. Only from those who were willing to voluntarily help him. Just as he advocated for before he was the one who needed that assistance.

Sheriff Mack is well-known to libertarians for his previous stands against gun control and other violations of Americans’ rights by the federal government. In fact, he once ran for Congress on the Libertarian Party’s ballot line. Not all libertarians agree with him on every issue, but most of us respect him for his principled actions even when we disagree.

He practices what he preaches. Every time. No exceptions.

He’s not a hypocrite. He’s a hero.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Forced “Consent”: Just Say No to Court-Ordered Cosmetic Surgery

The Circumcision
The Circumcision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Four-year-old Chase Ryan Nebus-Hironimus looks like a happy, healthy, normal kid in a playground photo published in the New York Daily News. One wonders how happy he is to find himself at the center of a court battle over whether or not doctors should cut off part of his penis. His parents,  Heather Hironimus and Dennis Nebus, disagree on the question of circumcision.

Hironimus’s argument is simple: There’s no medical or religious reason for the procedure. It’s cosmetic, it entails risks, and she’s not interested in putting Chase through it.

Nebus’s argument is, likewise, simple: It’s “just the normal thing to do,” he says.

Palm Beach County, Florida Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen agrees with Nebus. He’s threatened to jail Hironimus unless she signs a consent form for the procedure.

In Judaism, infant circumcision is a required religious practice.

In America among non-Jews, it’s become, as Nebus says, “just the normal thing to do” for several reasons. In the 19th century, quacks sold circumcision as a way to discourage masturbation, which was considered immoral and unhealthy. By the late 20th century, it had become just one more nearly automatic and usually unquestioned hospital procedure to charge new parents a few hundred bucks for.

And of course the patients can’t articulately object. They’re hours or days old. Sure, they scream as they’re physically restrained and have their foreskins torn away without benefit of anesthesia. Sure, some of them bleed to death from nicked arteries or sustain serious infections from the intentional creation of open wounds. But they didn’t — couldn’t — say “no.” So it’s all good, right?

The practice is common and accepted enough in America that even most libertarians don’t get too uptight about it. That apathy, in my opinion, bears re-thinking. But we don’t have to go there, here.

Chase Ryan Nebus-Hironimus is not an infant. He’s not an adult, but he’s probably old enough to have formed, and be able to express, an opinion on whether or not he’d like to be put under general anesthesia and have part of his penis cut off because it’s “just the  normal thing to do.” Has Judge Gillen asked for and considered his opinion?

There’s an additional and dangerous secondary issue here: Gillen’s threat to jail Heather Hironimus unless she “consents” on her son’s behalf.

That threat is a grotesque abuse of power and a bizarre re-definition of the concept of “consent.” It’s one thing to order the procedure over Hironimus’s objection. It’s another thing entirely to require her, on pain of imprisonment, to pretend she approves.

Jeffrey Dana Gillen isn’t up for re-election until 2020*, but Florida’s legislature or Supreme Court can, and should, remove him from the bench.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

* The original version of this op-ed listed 2021 as the date of Judge Gillen’s next election. It has been corrected to 2020 (his term expires in 2021, but he will be re-elected or defeated for re-election in 2020).

Hillary Clinton: Shades of Watergate

English: Richard Nixon boarding Army One upon ...
English: Richard Nixon boarding Army One upon his departure from the White House after resigning the office of President of the United States following the Watergate Scandal in 1974. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s become far too fashionable, over the decades since disgraced president Richard Nixon’s resignation, to tack the suffix “-gate” onto political scandals. The usage no longer conveys much useful information. In most cases, it’s mere cliche.

Not so when it comes to the revelation that, as US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton essentially privatized her work email. This is definitely Watergate-level stuff.

Clinton’s actions went far beyond those of Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin, who as governors got caught conducting some official business over personal web mail accounts. Clinton ran all of her office email through her own private server, registered under a fake name and physically located in her New York home.

It wasn’t the Watergate break-in per se that cost Nixon his presidency. It was his attempt to cover up his own role afterward, by erasing taped conversations, that got articles of impeachment moving through Congress.

Those articles were drawn up by the House Judiciary Committee, with advice from a legal team including among its members young Yale Law School graduate Hillary Rodham. Two years later, Ms. Rodham married Yale classmate Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton knew better.

She knew the Federal Records Act required preservation of her official emails on State Department Servers. Neither she nor her staff took steps to comply with that law during her time in office.

She knew that absent such preservation, her official emails would fly under the radar of Freedom of Information Act requests. That was probably one of two reasons why she did what she did.

The other likely reason was that she knew her conduct as Secretary of State could, at some point, come under legal scrutiny and wanted to maintain control of her emails to frustrate such scrutiny. Just like Richard Nixon with his tapes.

After she left office, the State Department requested copies of her official emails. It received only those her aides, as directed by her, decided to turn over.

On March 4, the US House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Libya, subpoenaed Clinton’s emails relating to that attack.

Will the investigators get those emails without a fight? Will they get all the relevant emails, or just those convenient to Hillary Clinton’s version of events? And most importantly, how will they know whether or not they got everything?

As a libertarian, I oppose letting political officials keep secrets at all. It’s just too dangerous. It threatens our freedom. Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are heroes of mine for exposing the illegal and immoral activities of politicians and bureaucrats.

But one need not share my radical opposition to government secrecy to understand that Clinton’s actions go beyond the pale. She didn’t just keep government secrets. She took drastic measures to keep those secrets under her personal control, immune to discovery even by the very government she served.

This kind of behavior cost Nixon his presidency. It should cost Clinton her shot at the White House.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.