Sunday, January 27, 2019

AWOL Again

Been busy this week trying to wrap my arms around teaching government to college freshmen.  The freshmen won last week.

They will not win this week.

Talk amongst yourselves.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I was minding my own business, as I am wont to do, watching a high school basketball game when I got the call the other night.

The voicemail was from a person in the administration at a local college.  They wanted to talk to me about going to work for them as an Instructor in the Political Science department.  That was Tuesday.  As of Friday I was all papered up.  

And Tuesday I will meet my first class.  I will be teaching 3 classes of American National Government for freshmen.  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Done by 1:30 in the afternoon.  This is a good gig for somebody like me that is semi-retired and likes hanging around at Catholic High.

It's also a good gig because it's a good gig period.

And unlike my last foray into the grove of academe this time I have materials, a syllabus already made and somebody else's game plan.  And it's a good one.  I'm not figuring it out as I go unlike last time.  All I have to do is prepare.  Which I can do.

Why me?  Not to discount the element of Random Laughing Chance entirely.  But I happened to hit a lot of their marks.  I'm a lawyer which fits their requirements for accreditation for this course.  I was in the government for virtually my entire career.  I have classroom experience which in my case means I am VIRTUS certified by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock and I have already passed a police background check.  

Right place.  Right time. That and the guy they approached in the first place didn't want to do it and recommended me.  

I confess that while I am slightly nervous, I am mostly excited.  I am slightly nervous because I have taught before.  And I know that it is a lot harder to be a good teacher than anybody who has never done it knows.  While I won't have the discipline issues in a college classroom (at least I hope I won't) that you have in a high school full of boys, you have to bring your A game everyday.  Because the students deserve it.  That and if you don't they will smell blood.  

Also, I am cognizant of the responsibility that I have to pay close attention to the administrative aspects of my duties as well.  A college transcript is a precious thing.  Grades must be scrupulously rendered and recorded.  For better or for worse.  That was the part that I hated about my last gig.  I loved teaching.  I hated giving people bad grades even when they had them coming.  But that's part of the job.  It's just that the stakes are even higher now.  I know that.

But let's get back to the fun part.  

The ancient Chinese curse is that we might live during interesting times.  And boy, are these interesting times.  I can't think of a better time to teach Government 101.  I am confronted with a veritable child's garden of interesting issues.  The current shutdown, impeachment, whether a sitting President can be indicted, Federalism, the limit and extent of the power of the respective branches of the the Government.  Not to mention the call by some fools for another Constitutional Convention.  And that's just off the top of my head.

It has always been both a wonder for me and a concern to me just how little some people know about their own government.  It seems for all the world that the average guy gets his knowledge about these matters from the sewer pipes of social media and cable TV to borrow from Bret Stephens of the New York Times.  

Well now's my chance to put up or shut up.  And I will start Tuesday morning by passing out  copies of the Constitution of the United States of America and the Amendments thereto.  

And away we will go.  

Wish me luck.  

Sunday, January 13, 2019


No blogging this weekend while still trying to get over an ear infection from hell.  

Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I didn't expect to be blogging this weekend.  I was supposed to be in the Chattanooga area visiting my wife's family.  But I got struck down by an ear infection.  And then I got struck down again by what my 17 year old dermatologist believes was an adverse reaction to amoxicillin, a drug which I have taken without incident for years for sinus infections and upper respiratory stuff.  My lips and tongue swelled up and these attractive red lesions presented themselves around my nose and mouth.  

So here I am sitting on the porch instead of scaring small children in restaurants in Appalachia.

I would rather be up there because if I were up there I would not feel compelled to write about the latest inanity to come out of the mouth of the Winner Of The Electoral College(WOTEC).  But these pearls on his part present teachable moments on mine as I have written in the past.  And so I go forward once again in my capacity as hectoring scold, albeit one who looks as if he has been beaten with a pipe.

As you may have heard most of the civilian workforce of what passes for the United States Government are not on the job as I type.  This is because the House of Representatives, which got defanged in the last election, refuses to appropriate money in the latest spending bill for the building of WOTEC's wall on the southern border.  WOTEC for his part has said that he will not sign any appropriations bill that doesn't include the funding.  And he says that he is prepared for the "shutdown" to last for years.  

I don't much believe this.  That would take some stones.  And Nancy Pelosi's are bigger then his.  A sign that the pressure may be getting to him a little popped up in the media last night and this morning.  

According to a story published in The Hill, during what it described as "an incendiary rant" in a meeting with Congressional leaders Friday WOTEC said that he preferred to refer to the absence from the job of 800,000 souls as a "strike" rather than a furlough.

That's right.  A strike.  

Where to begin?  Focus.  

I know something about employment law.  I clerked for a union law firm when I was in law school.  I represented folks that had been denied unemployment compensation as a Legal Services lawyer.  I represented the government in employment discrimination cases.  I currently represent a small business that occasionally has personnel issues.  

So let's start out with something that I haven't seen anyone else mention.  A strike is an intentional work stoppage by employees as the result of a dispute between employees and the employer, to keep it simple.  

The key?  "Intentional work stoppage" as the result of "a dispute between employees and the employer."

The current brouhaha is the result of a political crisis between the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States Government.  It was not initiated by the workforce.  

It is manifestly not a strike.  Indeed, it is against the law for federal employees to go on strike.  

If anything, the crisis at hand more closely resembles a "lockout" like you see from time to time in professional sports.  The owners declare a "lockout" whenever they can't get a collective bargaining agreement signed by the player's union.  Players don't get paid.  They are not allowed access to team facilities for training and whatnot.  They are "locked out" until the crisis is resolved.

So why would WOTEC refer to the furlough as "a strike" when nothing could be further from the truth?  Any of a number of reasons come to mind.  First of all, WOTEC lies all the time about everything.  Secondly, he is not particularly bright and neither is he well versed in basic literacy about how the government works. And so I suppose it is within the realm of possibility that he truly believes that if workers aren't showing up to their duty stations then they are ipso facto ( I get to say that.  You don't.) "on strike."

Here's what I think.  As I alluded to earlier, I think WOTEC starting to feel a little pressure concerning the furlough crisis that he caused by foolishly doing the bidding of his oracle at FOX/TASS and not signing the Continuing Resolution to fund the government a week or so ago.  WHICH HE HAD AGREED TO SIGN.

He did this so as not to rile up "his base."  Well guess what?  Some members of his base need food assistance.  They are counting on getting tax refunds.  Instead of MAGA trash and human poop is piling up in National Parks because the contractors responsible for janitorial services-guess what?-they can't work either.  

So, as is his typical fashion for taking no responsibility for his actions and in an attempt to deflect attention from the crisis that is of his own making, WOTEC prefers to refer to the furlough as a strike.  And after all, everybody hates unions.  

Except it's not a strike.  It's a political crisis caused by him.  

Thus endeth the lesson.

As I finally feel like getting out for a bit and because I have got the envies for a cheeseburger I may go find a bar, have a couple of drinks and watch football.  The one down the hill is pretty dark.  

Which is good.  I would hate for  the other patrons to think they are sitting next to someone with Hansen's disease.

I am nothing if not considerate.