Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Repealing A Law-Another Teachable Moment

I have noted certain comments on the grove of academe known as Facebook calling for the repeal of Health Care Reform. I have noted certain posters who are irate at the notion that some Repubs are starting to rethink this position. The reason why sane politicians on that side of the aisle are backing off is simple. The numbers aren't there. And even if they were, the current President would veto it.

Pursuant to Article I, Section 7 of-guess what?-the Constitution, it would take a 2/3 majority of both Houses of Congress to repeal this Bill or any other Bill. And even if they could pull that off, you can bet that the current President would veto it. Which would require another 2/3 majority to override his veto.

Not going to happen under any set of facts. Which is why the Repub Attorneys General are going for the home run ball in seeking to have the Federal Courts declare HCR unconstitutional. Even if they lose, which they probably will, they still have a puncher's chance. And it's marginally quicker than the legislative process set out by the makers of the Constitution.

The professional politicians on the Repub side of the line are jammed up. Do they waste political capital on something that they can't deliver as long as a Democrat is in the White House? Will they pimp the loons in their camp and press on knowing that it is a dead letter as soon as it hits the President's desk ?

I don't know. HRC as presently constituted may work or it may not. That's the million dollar gamble both parties are making.

We shall see what we shall see.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

I attended the funeral of a friend last Friday. He was found dead a little over a week before the funeral. I first found out from a friend in law enforcement. Soon thereafter, I got a message from PM's wife asking me why there were police vehicles and an ambulance outside his house.

The initial rumor was that D had taken his own life. Then the longer things drug out with no obituary, folks wondered if the police were investigating the circumstances of his death. Maybe both rumors were true. I did not ask at the visitation. I didn't ask anybody after the funeral. It was pretty obvious that D had met a bad end whatever it was that caused his death.

I had known D for at least 15 years. We sang in the church choir together and we both quit singing at about the same time. Our interaction after our choir days was mainly whenever I saw him out in his garden while I was out running. D and his wife were (are in his wife's case) master gardeners. And D was always out working his flowers in the Spring and Summer.

I would invariably stop and we would shoot the bull. D was a quiet, soft-spoken man. He had a dry sense of humor that occasionally boiled over into the absurd. We talked about the usual stuff guys talk about: politics, women, real estate, sports. Sometimes he would invite me to smell a new plant or flower that he was particularly proud of. Sometimes he would take it upon himself to point out something in the flora that abounded in his back or side yard that especially delighted him. He knew that I didn't know much about the subject and he always explained things without the slightest whiff of condescension.

I only saw him mad once. Somebody had snuck over in the night and stole a bunch of plants from his side yard. It wasn't just the loss of the plants that irked him. He told me that he would have given some to the thief if he or she had wanted them that badly. He just couldn't comprehend how someone could be so lowdown as to steal flowers from a person's yard.

From all outward appearances, D was a content man. He and N seemed to have a good marriage. They enjoyed being Grandparents. They didn't seem to want for money. D had retired from the food service industry and had started a second career as a CEO for a local food bank. As far as I know, he didn't have an enemy on this planet. If I heard the phrase "he was such a nice man" once in the last week, I heard it at least ten more times.

And that is what is so disconcerting about his death, apart from the fact that he's gone that is. You wouldn't expect somebody as beloved, gentle and kind to meet a bad end. That shouldn't happen to people like him.

But we all have our problems. And you know as well as I that we all have a face and a persona for public consumption that is sometimes at odds with those problems. Most of the time it is because it is nobody else's business. Not that anybody really cares anyway. But sometimes we use our public face because we don't want to let on that things are not as they may seem.

His wife told me after the funeral that I should always look for D in the garden as I run past the house. Because he always be there among the flowers that he loved so much and cared for so well.

But I will miss him in the flesh as well. I last saw him a couple of weeks ago pulling weeds in the side yard. I hollered at him as I went past. He hollered back at me. Business as usual.

Now he's gone. And I will never be able to look at that house in the same way ever again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care Reform-An Opportunity To Teach Part 2

One of the few things that one looks forward to in the generally miserable journey that is law school is Constitutional Law. Because that's where you get to the hot parts: Freedom of Speech. Miranda. Abortion. Civi Rights.

Wrong. You start off with the concept of Judicial Review. You learn about the creation of the national banking system. And you learn about the Commerce Clause.

Article 1, Section 8 gives Congress the authority to "regulate Commerce....among the several states." The first Chief Justice was a guy named John Marshall. And he wrote in passing (which lawyers call dicta) that the Commerce Clause gave Congress the authority to regulate any interstate "commercial intercourse" however indirect. This power was plenary and absolute within it's sphere.

Indeed, the Supremes have held that Congress may regulate not only singular acts that have a substantial economic effect on on interstate commerce but also on acts that in the aggregate would do so. This has been case law since forever.

As I understand the argument, or at least one of the positions put forth by the Attorneys General that are seeking to have HCR declared unconstitutional, is that the Commerce Clause doesn't allow Congress to mandate citizens to purchase insurance. Maybe so, maybe no. At least this is a legal argument. Which is a step up from nutbar types spitting on Members of Congress as they go to vote. Or throwing bricks through Members of Congress's windows.

Lots of Commerce Clause cases go off on the cumulative effect of a decision not to obey a Federal law. Which are passed by Congress and stuff. My favorite is Katzenbach vs. hell, somebody. Back in the Fifties. Involved a bbq joint in Alabama called Ollie's that wouldn't let black folks eat there. The Feds sued. The Supremes,relying on precedent going back to Marshall, said that the potential of every bbq joint in Alabama taking this position would be enough to violate the Commerce Clause. So there you go.

The Ollie's bbq case ( And, coincidentally, I have eaten there) stands for a plausible interpretation that the Government can penalize those that don't buy insurance because the cumulative effect of enough people refusing to do so would affect interstate commerce. Remember, Ollie's didn't DO anything. It REFUSED to serve black customers.

Now I don't sit around all day and practice Constitutional law. But neither do you most likely. And I have no idea how the Supremes are eventually going to come down on this. But all this talk about Health Care Reform "shredding the Constitution" is nonsense. Most commentators that I have read have opined that the AGs arguments are a stretch at the least. Indeed, the Attorney General of Arkansas has stated that he would not join in with the other AGs for the reason that their legal argument is both frivolous and primarily political in nature. To that I would add that their lawsuits may not even be ripe for adjudication. The damn law hasn't been finalized yet. Hell, they filed their suits before Obama even signed it!

The United States Government has been promulgating and enforcing laws pursuant to the Constitutional mandate that the power to regulate interstate commerce resides strictly in the Congress since the earliest days of the Republic. Whether one agrees with it or disagrees with the new law, it is the law. It just won't go into effect until the Congress quits tinkering with it.

Really. No kidding.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform-An Opportunity To Teach Part 1

As I understand the main thrust of one of the main arguments against the health care reform bill signed into law today by the President concerns the fact that it mandates every citizen to purchase health insurance. The government is basing this requirement on the power of the United States Congress, who like voted on this bill and stuff, to govern commerce between the States.

It's in the Constitution at Article 1, Section 8. You can look it up. Really it is.

We will talk about the legal arguments down the road. It's been a long day. I'm tired.

Let's start off by talking about the paranoid argument that mandating the acquisition of insurance is an undue encroachment upon our liberties. Or as one commentator on Facebook, that font of wisdom, put it, " The more the government takes over the less we are free." Or something like unto that.

Message to Crazytown: The notion that the government-hello!-exacts taxes is not exactly new. The government requires you to get insurance in order to drive a car. The government requires you to pay property taxes which funds the public schools even if your kid is not enrolled there. The government takes out taxes for Medicare from your paycheck. It requires businesses to pay Unemployment Insurance. And Worker's Comp.

Uncle Sam is up to his eyeballs in health care already. He regulates drugs, medical schools, the Health Care Finance Authority and the VA. That's just off the top of my head.

Did you birthers and Tea Party types just wake up to what has been going on since FDR and the Johnson Administration? Last time I consulted the history books there were Republican Presidents and Republican majorities of Congress that didn't get rid of these programs when they were in charge. And they have always pimped people like you.

Let's go all in. Let's abolish all of these programs. I dare you.

Good luck.

An arid dissertation on the Commerce Clause is forthcoming.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

As many of you know, I have been a fan of college basketball for as long as I can remember. The NCAA tournament is going on right now. Like everybody else I have talked to about this, my tournament brackets look like smoking rubble. I seem to say this every year but this year I mean it. I have never seen so many crazy upsets in the first round games in my life. Anybody that knows anything about basketball would not have-hell, did NOT-pick the Ohio Bobcats to beat Georgetown who back in January looked about as good as anybody in the country. But I confess that I really haven't kept up as I normally have. I kinda got a late start with all the stuff with Mom.

This year's Cinderella is shaping up to be the Gaels of St. Mary's of California. They beat a pretty good Richmond team and today they beat a damn good Villanova team albeit one that struggled late in the year. The Gaels are fun to watch. They are very disciplined on offense and way scrappy on defense. And I can't say that they won't beat either Baylor or Old Dominion in the next round.

But as much fun as college basketball is honesty compels me to yet again lament that DI men's basketball is easily the dirtiest of all intercollegiate sports. The cheating that goes on in basketball easily surpasses football. And one of the rules that is supposed to help the "student athletes" like most rules is gamed by the players. At least by the ones who think they have any chance at playing in the NBA.

A few years ago, the NBA and the NCAA agreed that no player can play in the NBA until after he has played at least one year of college ball. The idea was that perhaps once a player got to campus he might take a shine to academic pursuits and stick around. The reality of the situation is that the NBA players union was scared to death that there might be other LeBrons out there that would take away a roster spot for one its members. And the colleges were assured of having these guys around playing for free for at least one year.

The unfortunate result that nobody apparently thought of on the front end is that the kind of players who at least think they have Kobe like skills figure out pretty quick that they only have to go to class for a semester because they are gone after the NCAA Tournament in April. Poof! John Calipari specialized in recruiting these "one and done" types at Memphis and has said that as far as he was concerned he was going to continue the practice at Kentucky. Which if it were anywhere but basketball crazy Kentucky the President might at least tell Cal to not try to make it look so obvious that when it comes down to it, the Wildcats just don't much care about academics. They care about winning whether they use mercenaries or real "student-athletes."

But enough about all of that. There isn't a system around that can't be gamed. Ask the IRS. Ask the guys who wrote the new Bankruptcy Code. Ask me.

But wait. Rumor has it that the 3 freshmen that start for Kentucky are thinking about coming back. The sensational John Wall has the highest GPA of anybody on the team. Which either means something or nothing.

What it means is that if the do come back, Kentucky wins the NCAA next year, barring injuries or arrests. And John Calipari will have to figure out which "student-athletes" that remain on the roster will have to go to make room for next year's "one and done" mercenaries that he is bringing to the Grove of the Academy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This is Nature's Way of Saying Do Not Touch

Radar online now reports that Jesse James' lady friend is a bi-polar white supremacist that uses her son's name for a stage name for her stripper act.

This woman makes Rielle Hunter appear relatively stable by comparison.

Hit the link:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things Get Ugly Between Two Legends At Charity Event -Agassi-Sampras-

The backstory: In his excellent autobiography "Open," Andre Agassi describes Pete Sampras as a tightwad and tells about a time he saw Pete tip a valet a mere 2 bucks once. He claimed that was all the money he had.

Agassi, a generous man, who has given a small fortune to numerous charities including his own foundation for underprivileged children in Las Vegas, describes himself as being aghast at Pete's chintziness.

Now watch as the tension rises between the two to the considerable discomfort of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who were playing doubles with them at a freaking charity event.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

I got up way too early yesterday morning. So I decided after awhile that I would go eat breakfast at a restaurant down the road from me a ways. As I was finishing up I notice a young couple come in. Both couldn't have been a day over 25. After a few minutes I heard rapid clicking behind me. Another young woman came blowing over to their table and pulled up a chair across from the young woman who got there first.

She was wearing a sleeveless top, a miniskirt and heels. Her hair was still wet from the shower. Now understand that yesterday was your typical early Spring day in Little Rock: 45 degrees, overcast with the wind howling out of the North at about 10 mph. Woman # 1 was wearing a sweater, jeans and Birkenstocks with thick wool socks. She could not have had a more incredulous look on her face if her friend had not shown up in the nude. Which she practically did. look really great but aren't you freezing?

W#2-Well, I'm going to a bridal shower that starts at 11. Tomorrow's the first day of daylight savings time. To me that means it's Spring. And you wear Springy clothes in the Spring. I figure other girls will be dressed up so I went ahead and went with this.

W#1 drew her arms across her chest as if to ward off the cold.

"You're nuts," she said.

Maybe Little Miss Fashion Plate was rushing the season a bit but I for one was deeply appreciative of her appearance in scant attire seeing as how I haven't seen an attractive woman dressed thusly since about last September or so. Her sighting along with the fact that Spring Training is in session give me reason to think that the long cold winter of 2009-2010 may indeed be over.

And it was a terrible winter. If it wasn't cold it was wet. If it wasn't wet we were graced with snow and ice. We buried Mother on one of the crappiest days of an entirely crappy Advent. It rained buckets. The wind was awful. And while we were under the funeral home tent I swear I heard thunder.

Thunder in December in rural Arkansas is never good.

Spring is my favorite time of year despite the fact that I am pretty much allergic to everything that floats in the air. As Fashion Plate correctly noted, Daylight Savings Time begins today. This means that I can fool around on the driving range longer shooting the shit with whoever is out there with me. It means baseball will be starting soon. It means the NCAA basketball tournament starts this week. It means color will return to the trees and lawns and birds will be singing.

It means folks around here will be walking their dogs past my house around 8 pm even. It means Kavanaugh will be filled with runners, bikers and young folks pushing strollers. Golf tournaments to benefit charities. The restaurants with patios will be jam packed with patrons.

It means that Easter, the only serious event in the Christian calendar, is at hand.

And it means that women everywhere will be uncovering the body parts they have had under cover the last 4-5 months which of course I very much approve of.

And so I thank the attractive if slightly dingy young woman who graced us with her half dressed presence at the restaurant yesterday morning.

She is proof that Spring is at hand, if not quite as "at hand" as she made it out to be. The reemergence of her type, even though best regarded strictly from afar, gives me the strength to press on.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fearless Prediction

I betcha Glenn Beck urges the idiots that follow him not to cooperate with the Census. After all, telling a government worker how many toilets you have in your home is just giving the socialistic Obama Administration more of a foothold.

Just you wait. I betcha he does this.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Program Note

Not that the literary world will miss it but the usual Sunday post will not run tomorrow. I will be tied up this weekend with LR Marathon activities.

Talk among yourselves.