Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crazytown Gets A Civics Lesson

US District Judge David Carter dismissed the Complaint brought on behalf of crackpot 3rd Party candidate Alan Keyes and others in which they sought a Declaratory Judgment that Barack Obama is not qualified to be President by the alleged reason of his foreign birth. They also asked the Court to, basically, declare the election of 2008 void.

In a masterful 30 page opinion the Judge basically said two important things. The first thing is that the Plaintiffs did not have standing to sue because they could not establish that they had been personally harmed by the election of an allegedly "unqualified" candidate. The Court pointed out that while Mr. Obama received over 90 million votes, Mr. Keyes received the electoral equivalent of the number of people in the Courtroom for oral argument. The harm to the Plaintiffs being entirely speculative, they did not have standing to sue.

Secondly, by waiting until after President Obama had taken the Oath of Office to file their cockamamie lawsuit, the Plaintiffs shot themselves in the foot. Once Obama took the Oath he was the President, the Court ruled. And as President of the United States he could only be removed by impeachment or due to disability. The Courts have no power under the Constitution to void an election or remove a President.

Undoubtedly these fools will appeal. But this is a very powerful Opinion that will be cited in future cases concerning the issue of standing and separation of powers.

So some good did come out of this. I guess.

Hit the link for the story in Salon where you can read the Opinion in full:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

After you hit 21, the only birthdays that really matter are the ones that end in zero. At least that's what one of the Miracle League dads opined yesterday. I don't know about that. 53 was a pretty big one. I had outlived my own dad by then which is not something every body with bad genes gets to do. At least not in Arkansas.

But 54 was pretty low key. NV had her kids so dinner with the grands took precedence over birthday celebrations. Which was fine with me. I knew that I would be pretty tired after running around with the ML kids all day. So sitting in my chair with a drink watching football sounded pretty good to me anyway. After all, I'm not getting any younger.

Birthday greetings have evolved over time. While I only got 3 paper cards this year, I got over a hundred e-mails, text messages and Facebook notifications commemorating this event. One of the birthday e-mails was from a local car dealer. Imagine how warm and gooshy that one made me feel.

Birthdays are far more important to little kids and being wished a Happy Birthday by a kid in a wheelchair or by a child that communicates by signing is especially poignant for some reason. Maybe it is because their complete and utter vulnerability is never far from one's mind. Birthdays are part of a finite time line. Some of these children will not make it to 54. They just won't. It's hard-it's impossible actually-not to count your blessings when you spend the day with these kids.

One of the kids was talking to NV about her dog. " Dad got her for me when my mother died. So I guess she would 3 years old by now." Afterwards NV said to me, " If I ever complain about anything ever again, just slap me."

Well, I won't do that. I don't hit girls. And I have a public record of having very little use for men who do. As in zero. But I understand the larger sentiment. And I agree with it.

Besides, there are worse ways to spend a beautiful Autumn day in Arkansas than hanging around playing baseball all day. Playing golf comes to mind. I got hugs all day from the good looking women that help out down there. And you thought my service to the Miracle League was entirely high minded. Shame on you. I got hearty handshakes from the men along with copious references to my advanced age and feeble mind. And that's as it should be.

Adult birthdays can be milked for at least a couple of weeks. It's a busy world and people got stuff to do. Time doesn't stand still just because yesterday means I lived longer than some folks would have wagered back in my twenties. I've got plenty of free lunches and dinners coming my way. Woo-hoo!

Spending your birthday under a clear blue sky with friends that you like and kids that you love is not a bad way to go about it.

Besides, just like NV says. I got no complaints. None at all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Between writing a review for the paper, doing homecoming at Catholic High, the Race for the Cure and Miracle League, and other things that are none of your business, I have no time for you this Sunday.


Monday, October 12, 2009

What Camel? What Needle?

Dallas area televangelist Kenneth Copeland made an appearance at one of the Big Box churches last Sunday. For the uninitiated, Copeland is one of the more successful of the Prosperity Gospel hucksters whose ranks have thinned with the recent passing of Rev. Ike. According to the account in the local paper, " If you have enough faith to move mountains, Copeland suggested, God can give you the desires of your heart: vigorous health, limitless wealth, unending happiness and eternal life..."
None of which Jesus says in my Bible.
And God knows he can speak with authority about limitless wealth. He has an 18,000 foot "parsonage', he owns a cattle ranch, he has a fleet of luxury vehicles and his own jet airplane. He also has the Senate Finance Committee and the IRS after his ass along with some other of his ilk. The account in Sunday's paper says that he has pretty much stiffed the Committee in its requests for answers to it's questions and so we may assume that Subpoenas will soon issue forth like manna from...oh, never mind.
I am conflicted when it comes to these TV preachers. On the one hand, I don't view them particularly as ministers. You never see them marry or bury. You don't see them holding an elderly person's hand in the nursing home. You don't see them talking down someone who is on the brink of despair. Nope. Can't make any money hanging around hospitals unless you are a doctor or a runner for a lawyer.
Do I view televangelists as criminals? Crooks, yes. Criminals, not so much. It is not illegal to ask people for money. And as long as you don't misrepresent where the money is going it is not illegal. And as far as I can see, Copeland pretty much makes it clear that the money is not going to fund a school in Honduras. It's going to his ministry. Which means it is going to him.
And I don't worry so much about upper middle class types in West Little Rock giving Kenneth Copeland a "love offering" as the paper reports they did. In tasteful buckets adorned with the church's logo. If they are stupid enough to waste their money in this fashion so be it. But I worry about the more vulnerable among us who don't really need to be donating precious resources to a man who by all accounts is already fantastically wealthy.
And Copeland should too. But this would require a sense of shame. And any man that flies into town on a private jet to invoke the Gospel in order to induce knuckleheads to give him buckets full of money is not likely to suffer over much from that condition.
Is this a great country or what?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

My friend George put up a post on Facebook earlier this week. I grew up with George. Played ball with him. We are two different people but we get along despite our differences. One of the differences is that George evidently listens to Rush Limbaugh because his post sounded an awful lot like some of the nonsense that Limbaugh puts out to the faithful on Twitter.

Anyway, George's post was to the effect of " Why is President Obama questioning the finest military minds of our era while our soldiers are dying?" The reason I suspect this post has its origin in a Limbaugh tweet is that you have to assume at least 3 things to ground the question in any sort of reality. Which is SOP for Limbaugh. Let's talk about them. Or I'll talk about them. You can read it if you like.

1) President Obama is meddling. Of course, this is not true. Pursuant to the Constitution, he is the Commander-in-Chief. And Presidents have long clashed with the military.

2) Generals David Patraeus and Stanley McChrystal are the finest military minds of our era. These two gentleman are certainly fine soldiers, patriots and military leaders. But these sorts of decisions are best left to history and not in the fog of war. In any event, that sort of hyperbole is best reserved for that day when George S. Patton and Omar Bradley return from the dead and take over the Command.

3) Which leads you-or causes you to stumble toward- the conclusion that this is why soldiers are dying in the field. Of course, this is not true. Soldiers would be dying in the field even if Obama blindly signed off on every recommendation from the brass.

But the folks that follow Limbaugh are not deconstructionists. They are, after all, dittoheads.

So I asked George if he thought soldiers wouldn't be dying in the field if Obama agreed with McChrystal. I also told him that I was reading a book by James MacPherson called "Lincoln at War-Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief and how, in the Foreword, MacPherson wrote that Lincoln understood that that military action cannot be considered in a vacuum. Military decisions cannot be divorced from politics. Politics make the policy and policy drives the decisions.

George merely disagreed. But one of his friends responded to our entirely civil conversation by calling me a "dickweed" and saying that Obama was basically ruining the country and he urged me to buy guns, gold and ammo.

Now this was just one guy popping off. But I haven't heard so much paranoid and apocalyptic discourse since Y2K when the phones and computers were supposed to crash at midnight New Year's Day and it was predicted that welfare cheats from the Delta were going to invade Huntsville.

A friend of mine is of the opinion that a quarter of the electorate is insane. I don't know about that but to suggest that President Obama shouldn't be questioning the advice from his military subordinates suggests a basic political and historical illiteracy-remember Sarah Palin suggesting that sharp questioning from reporters violated her 1st Amendment rights to free speech?-that I find disturbing.

Maybe I'm making too much of this. After all, a recent editorial piece by conservative columnist David Brooks cited statistics that tended to show that the influence of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in actually affecting the vote was highly overrated. I sure hope so. Not so much because I disagree with their point of view-which I do-but that they are irresponsible.

All I know is that I am glad that Abraham Lincoln didn't have to arrive at his gut wrenching decisions about military matters in the age of Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle where people shout at Congressmen and references to Obama as a "nazi" are taken at face value.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Say That Again? I Won WHAT?

I am as surprised as the next guy that Barack Obama one the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he is the Commander-in-Chief of a country that is prosecuting 2 wars simultaneously and our drones and missiles have occasionally whacked guys in Pakistan who is at least a nominal ally. And, as one wag suggested, we attacked the moon this morning.

After all, he hasn't even been President a year. And while I can understand that the Nobel Committee appreciates the fact that since Obama has taken office the United States has, shall we say, adopted a less bellicose approach to diplomacy. It's not like he's really gotten any results yet. I take his selection as nothing more complicated as a long distance diss to W from Oslo as much as anything.

Predictably, the wingnuts who rejoiced at Obama's failure to bring in the Olympics last week are aghast at this morning's events. I mean, it's bad enough that he got elected President without even being born in this country. Now they are hauling off and giving him a prestigious award like he's a legitimate world figure or something. Equally predictably Obama's acolytes are all gaga over this unexpected gift from the left of left field.
Let me spread the balm of perspective upon all of this. First of all, the Nobel Peace Prize, like the Olympics is over-rated. I mean, they gave one to Henry Kissinger for chrissakes. And to the loons that are apoplectic over this recent turn of events I say "Stuff it." It's their prize. They can give it to whoever they goddamn well want. Show a little class and at least congratulate the man for being-I think-the 4th sitting President ever to receive it.
It honors our country which you purport to love. Whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

There's No Fool Like An Old Fool

I don't know what planet I was on last weekend but I somehow missed the news that golfer Greg Norman and tennis legend Chris Evert had split the sheets. After 15 months.

If you will recall, Evert was married to former pro skier Andy Mill who was laboring under the impression that he was Greg Norman's best friend when his wife and Norman started carrying on. Norman had to pay his ex-wife $100 million-that's right-$100 million to go away. Their modest and understated wedding only cost another $500,000.

And now this. The British tabs said they couldn't agree on anything much less a place to live. Norman's adult kids are said to despise Chrissie. As for Andy Mill, he said something to the effect that while he would have taken a bullet for Greg Norman, he didn't anticipate that it would be actually fired by Greg Norman.

As my brother John is wont to say about similar, albeit less expensive, forays into doomed relationships, " This situation was not managed well." Ummmm nooooo.

My advice to Norman? Stick with the golf and the wine business. And next time you feel an itch you need to scratch, talk to your accountant.

There are cheaper and less tawdry ways to find girls.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Despite the lobbying of the President and the First Lady, the bid entered by the City of Chicago to host the next Olympic games was rejected in favor of Rio de Janeiro. For which the good folks of the Chicagoland area should say two words. Thank God.

There is no more relentlessly hyped, thoroughly corrupt, PED infected and civic bankruptcy inducing event on Earth. Michael Jackson's funeral was tasteful and cathartic by comparison. Next to the Olympics the Super Bowl is a modest schoolgirl. Chicago, or New York or whoever else in this great land of ours thought they wanted to host this headache, should thank their lucky stars that Rio successfully out bribed the other cities that sought the hand of the faux royalist grifters that make up the International Olympic Committee.
Don't get me wrong. I love Chicago. But I cannot imagine what an unmitigated cluster it would be to get the various venues up and running by the time of the drag show known as the opening ceremonies. Between the corrupt politicians in the City and State and the Unions, people would be turning themselves into pretzels trying to get a piece of the action.
I get up there every 3-5 years or so. The construction out on the Dan Ryan Expressway is a continuous buzz of activity. The only place I have ever seen where the road work is similarly unending is I-55 through Jackson. They have been working on that stretch of road for 20 years. I don't get it.
Or take Millennium Park in the heart of the Chicago Loop. Sure, it's a beautiful place. But my buddy up there said the cost over-runs eventually hit 500 million. Imagine how the cash register would ring when the unions put a gun to the head of the IOC.
As if the prospect of all of the above were not sufficiently alarming, just think of the security angle. For a big city Chicago, by and large, is pretty safe. But whenever the Olympics are held the host city immediately becomes the target of nuts and terrorists. And then you have your tin-horn potentates that will come to town bringing with them their own entourage of acolytes and security types. As if dealing with the Mob weren't headache enough.
No Chicago you are far better off obsessing about the Cubs and the Bears. Better to leave this ersatz spectacle to the folks that don't have much else to do. On the other hand, running the Marathon south of the border should be interesting. It won't be hot and humid or anything. I'll watch that.
But I have a question, Chicago. Greasing palms is second nature to you people. It's how things get done over there.
How did y'all get outbribed by Rio? Mayor Daley is spinning in his grave.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Program Note

The blogosphere will no doubt be the poorer for this but the usual Sunday piece will not run until Sunday night or Monday. Between work, shooting a high school football game, Miracle League, attending the wedding of one of my best friend's daughter, and going to see Mother at the nursing home, I am covered up this weekend.

Any of you contributors that feel led to jump in, please do so.

Write if you get work.

Bye. Off to the stadium.