28 June, 2012

SCOTUS Rules ObamaCare Mandate is a Tax--Here’s Why

The short version is this: the states never really took the tax argument seriously, and didn’t prepare an adequate defense.

Here’s the longer version.

The tax argument was something of a Hail Mary pass by the government. They believed that ObamaCare is constitutional because of the Welfare clause, the Commerce clause and the Necessary and Proper clause. But they threw the tax argument in as a last resort, basically saying “just in case you don’t agree with us on these three, we still have this arrow in our quiver.”

The states defense against the tax argument amounted to “Nuh uh. It’s not called a tax in the law, and they never called it a tax before. They can’t call it a tax now.”

SCOTUS’ response was “Nuh uh isn’t a valid argument. And it doesn’t matter what it’s called. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

SCOTUS envisions that the way this will work is that there will be a line on your income tax form that says something like “Provide proof of health care insurance”, and if you don’t, then the next line will be “Otherwise, pay $XXXX”.

While SCOTUS doesn’t say this directly—at least that I’ve seen so far—this is similar to the child care credit. If you provide proof of child care, you get a tax credit for it. Yes, the health care provision works in the opposite direction, in that it’s a penalty, not a credit. But it could have easily been written the other way, to match the child care scenario. Of course the reason it wasn’t is then it would be impossible to argue that it’s not a new tax, which was one of President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) original statements.

The court makes a good point here, and one that it’s really hard to argue against. And maybe the reason the states didn’t prepare a proper defense against this argument isn’t that the didn’t take it seriously, but that there isn’t one.

Still, regardless of what you think of this argument, there’s no doubt that today’s decision is a loss for defenders of personal liberty and freedom in the United States, and a victory for the socialist movement. We must now pin our hopes upon repeal. That won’t be easy, either though. The stamp of approval by SCOTUS will sap quite a bit of the political will for repeal on Capitol Hill. It’s time for the Tea Party to truly show it’s strength, or to quit and admit that the American experiment is a failure.

27 June, 2012

P90X Day 61: Legs & Back

Yes, I know. Yesterday I said today would be Kenpo X. For some reason I was thinking today was Thursday. Tomorrow will be Kenpo.

This workout is just painful. There's no other way to describe it. I think I mentioned last time that I've come to truly hate the pull ups. Every time a pull up set comes, I look at my worksheet to see how many I did last time. These days that's usually followed by shock and anguish. "I did HOW many? I have to do that many AGAIN?" But I do. In fact, except for being completely out of breath at the end of each one, they're really worse in my mind than in reality. For reverse grip chin-ups, I can now whip out 7 or 8 without even taking a break or slowing down. I think I did 17 of them in one set today.

Despite the improvement, I'll definitely be glad when I can start a new round of P90X and set a new baseline for all my pull up numbers. Yes, I'll use my previous ones as a guide, but I may not force myself to better my current numbers the very first week. I want to focus more on form this next time around "quality over quantity". In the beginning of this round of P90X my form was awful on quite a few of the exercises. It's better now on most, but not always perfect, particularly on the last few reps. I'm going to concentrate on better form next time and maybe sacrifice a couple reps for it if necessary.

Since this was a strength training day, of course it ended with the 16 minutes of Hell known more formally as Ab Ripper X. I've complained that in some ways P90X is too short. You only do Chest & Back 5 times for example. But Ab Ripper X appears on the schedule 30 times. And, I think you do Yoga X 16 times. Yoga X contains Yoga Belly 7, which you can think of as Ab Ripper Yoga X. So, in the 90 days, you work your Abs 46 times. That doesn't include the 6 days of Core Synergistics, btw.

Anyway, the point of all of that in the last paragraph, is that you definitely do ab stuff enough to see and feel improvement. I may not have a six pack, but my belly is rock solid. And I'm doing more sit ups in a given week than I can recall doing at any time in my life. Still, I'm happy knowing that I only have to do Ab Ripper X 9 more times this cycle.

Tomorrow, Kenpo X. This time I really mean it.

26 June, 2012

P90X Day 60: Yoga X

Day 60. Two thirds of the way home.

A miracle occurred today. During the two-legged hamstring stretch (you sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you and stretch your hands forward), I touched my toes. Yes, it was brief, and there’s no way I’m even close to being able to hold my toes on that, but I did actually touch them. I probably haven’t been able to do that since I was in college.

So, even on yoga, I am making slow, steady progress forward.

Not much else to report today. For some reason I was absolutely dismal at the Tree pose. Matter of fact, it was quite possibly the worst I’ve ever done at that pose, and I’ve been doing it for six months now. Oddly, I didn’t have the same kinds of problems with the other balance poses. In fact, my Royal Dancer was probably the best one I’ve ever done. And Tree is the easiest of the three. It was very strange.

Not sure why I had so much trouble. I really pushed myself at the end of the movement segment, trying to get my Half Moon and Twisting Half Moon to look somewhat right. The Tree is the first thing after that. I may have just been tired.

Tomorrow, good old Kenpo X. And Friday is X Stretch, but I may slip in an extra Cardio X on Friday as well. I’m going out to eat with my wife, and I’d like to have a few extra calories to spare.

Polling the President—June 2012

It’s that time again. Time for my monthly look at President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) polling figures.

As always, I’ll start with the RealClearPolitics averages. Today, his approval/disapproval number stands at 48.3/47.5. Last month, he was +0.6, today he’s +0.8. That counts as statistical noise, but does include a rather bizarre +9 poll from Bloomberg. Exclude that poll, and it’s a bit of a dip from last month. We’ll see where things stand next month. This is almost exactly where he stood one year ago. But one year ago was the start of a summer swoon for the President. Two years ago the same happened. A third summer of discontent will send the campaign into a panic.

Right Track/Wrong Track contains considerably less good news for the President. Last month the spread was –24.7. Today, the numbers are 31.3/61.5, which is a –30.2 spread. We’re approaching 2:1 on people thinking we’re headed the wrong direction. Those are dismal numbers for a President seeking re-election.

Next, I move on to the Consumer Confidence Index from The Conference Board. Consumer confidence continues to fall. It dropped from 64.4 in May to 62.0 in June. Again, as I keep saying, the only good news here is that these numbers are better than the mid 40 numbers we were seeing last summer. But we’re headed in that direction again. So far there’s little reason to suspect that the July numbers will be any better than June, but they may not be much worse either. Next Friday’s BLS report may give us the biggest indicator as to where consumer confidence will be headed.

Now, on to General Election numbers. The polling average for former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) vs. President Barack Obama (D-USA) are as follows: Obama 46.8, Romney 44.2. Both numbers are higher than last month, and the spread for Obama has increased from 2.0 to 2.6. This is one area where things have gotten a bit better for Obama. And this is the most important average of the bunch. However, this includes a +13 Bloomberg poll. Excluding the Bloomberg poll yields an average spread of 1.3, down pretty markedly from last month. If Bloomberg releases another poll like this next month that is such a significant outlier, I will exclude it from my numbers. For now, though, it stays in.

In addition, the daily tracking polls are looking bad for the President. Romney has led in Rasmussen’s poll for the last 18 straight days. In Gallup, Romney has only trailed one day out of the last 12. You’d have to be an incredible optimist to think this qualifies as good news for the President.

While I personally think that in the end, things will go Romney’s way, the polling hasn’t shifted in his direction as much as I’d expected. But June definitely shows a shift in Romney’s favor. I have been pointing out for several months that the polling numbers were a mixed bag for the President. That is not true this month. The only one that’s not bad news is the General Election average. And the only reason it’s not bad news is the Bloomberg outlier.

Just last month, I said that based upon current polls, I’d give Obama a slight edge in November. That’s been true for several months. I’m officially shifting that to “toss up” as of now. July may be the turning point in the campaign. Either Romney’s momentum fades, or he capitalizes on it, and starts to look like a favorite. A July fade for either campaign will stack the odds heavily against them.

Starting next month, I’ll include some head-to-head numbers in battleground states. Right now, these are the only bright spots for Obama. But just like everywhere else, the trend is in the wrong direction. I will likely do two updates each in July and August, then go to weekly ones starting in September.

25 June, 2012

P90X Day 59: Shoulders & Arms

Another workout that I haven’t done since week 3. If you recall (and you probably don’t since I haven’t mentioned it in 6 weeks), I had trouble finding the proper weights for most of the exercises in this workout. In fact, I think after week 3 I was still searching.

Well, this week I finally found the correct weights for most of them. And, an amazing thing happened. I enjoyed this workout. First time. Sadly, I will only do it one more time before the end of P90X. Well, at least I’ll know for the next cycle.

Yoga X again tomorrow. I’m going to twist my body into a position and get stuck there permanently before this thing ends, I just know it.

24 June, 2012

P90X Day 58: Plyometrics

Jump, squat. Jump, squat. Hop. Spin. Hop. Spin. Hop. Hop. Hop.

Now repeat for the next 45 minutes.

Ok, you’ve just done Plyometrics.

No other workout wears me out as much as this one. I feel like I need two showers afterwards, and that my clothes should just be burned. But, it is fun. And it’s fun seeing yourself get better at doing the workout as time goes by.

I still have my hands on my knees after about 15 minutes, but at least now I know that I’m going to make it through the whole way. There were days early one where I’d reach the half way point and think to myself “Oh my God. There’s still 30 minutes to go???” Not any more. I just happily plug along until there’s about 10-15 minutes left, and I’m amazed that it’s almost over.

Today did show me the importance of wearing the heart rate monitor though. There was one period about halfway through where I eased up just a little bit. And after the set, I knew I had, and needed to push it harder. But was amazed that my heart rate was about 15 bpm lower than it usually is at that point. I had eased up even more than I realized. Made me push myself more the rest of the way.

Tomorrow, Shoulders & Arms. Haven’t done this one since week 3 either.