June 30, 2012

And Injustice For All

I know, and I knew at the time, that it was foolhardy to hope that the Supreme Court would act in favor of individual liberty and against the expansion of the power of the federal government. I knew it and I let myself hope. That hope made the inevitable result sting all the more. 

The ruling would probably be easier to accept if it didn't seem so utterly nonsensical. If the Court had not tried so hard to find a thread of a reason to uphold. To me the idea that the court upheld the law based on an argument the advocates for the law rejected and argued against is bewildering.

The government argued that the mandate was a fine and authorized by Congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce. The petitioners argued that it was not a Constitutional application of the Commerce Clause. That was the case before the court. A question of the application of Congressional authority to regulate economic inactivity as part of its authority to regulate interstate commerce. The court ruled 5 to 4 that it was not Constitutional.

But then the Court ruled that the Individual Mandate was a tax and that as a tax it was allowable under Congress's Constitutional authority to tax. The law was not written as a tax. It was not argued as a tax. It was not presented to the American people as a tax. The court ruled that it is a tax.

Here's another twist. There is - or perhaps I should say was - a law on the books called the Anti Injunction Act. This law basically said that courts cannot rule on the application of a tax that no one has paid. So under this law, once the Court had determined that the Individual Mandate was a tax, that should have been the end of it. They should not, according to the Anti Injunction Act, have ruled on its Constitutionality. In doing so they have voided the Anti Injunction Act by ruling on the validity of a tax that no one has paid.

Twist part two is that the the Constitution expressly gives the Congress the power to establish and determine the jurisdiction of the Courts. The question this raises is, did the Supreme Court exceed it's judicial authority as Constitutionally established by the Congress? In other words rather than voiding the Anti Injunction Act did the SCOTUS violate the act? And if it did, what does this mean about it's ruling and what can be done about it?

Of course that is just the opinion of someone who goes through life using logic and common sense, and not extensive legal training.

And here'e another stupid legal question. If the mandate is unconstitutional as a penalty under the commerce clause but valid as a tax, and the Congress and the Executive continue to insist that it is not a tax but a penalty does that mean the law is void? They insist it's not a tax and if it's not a tax it's not Constitutional.

Again just me trying to apply common sense and logic to questions of law and it probably makes as much sense as expecting the Supreme Court to decide a case in a way that actually supports individual liberty.

But I can always hope.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:32 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

June 28, 2012

More Relevant Today than Ever

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

June 26, 2012

Day of Reckoning

Thursday is shaping up to be quite day. The Supreme Court will be announcing it's decision on the constitutionality of all or parts of Obamacare. The House of Representatives will be voting on charges of Contempt of Congress for Attorney General Eric Holder.

Regardless of either outcome, I think the odds are it's going to be a no good rotten very bad terrible day.

If the SCOTUS upholds ObamaCare and Holder skates on the cover-up we can call the American experiment in individual liberty officially over.

If it all goes the other way I will not be shocked if/when the administration decides it just doesn't matter. Regardless of what the court rules, they will keep enforcing and enacting ObamaCare. The Obama administration has shown nothing but contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, so why would a Supreme Court ruling change that? As for the contempt vote, I expect nothing more than a "So What."

It could be just a bad day for Obama. It could be if he put the Constitution, the rule of law and the nation ahead of himself. But I don't think he is capable.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:11 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

June 20, 2012

The Devine Right Of The One

There are a couple of quaint old sayings that I think are in desperate need of revival.

The rule of law.

No one is above the law.

The current occupant of the White House seems to believe he is blessed with the Devine Right of Kings. That the Constitution is a suggestion of how government might work that he is free to disregard at his whim.

November can't get here soon enough.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:05 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

The End of ObamaCare

Great News.

It doesn't matter what the Supreme Court decides in the ObamaCare case. It doesn't matter if we elect enough conservatives to Congress to overturn phase one of socialized medicine.

All we need to do is elect a president who will simply decide not to enact or enforce it, and it's gone!

According to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) the President has Constitutional authority to decide which laws to enforce and which to disregard. An act of Congress is merely just a suggestion that the president can follow or not at his discretion.

President doesn't like Dodd-Frank? It's gone with a a stroke of pen. Not enforced.

Want to get rid of the EPA? Elect the right president and poof, it's gone.

FCC. Gone.

Department of Energy. Gone.

A properly motivated president could get rid of almost the entire government apparatus.

A president could even decide not to enforce those laws requiring elections and choosing a new president.

Which is, of course, why Hoyer and his ilk defending the Obama Amnesty are talking out of there posteriors.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:12 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

June 18, 2012

Shirt. Shoes. No Service.

One of the (I hope) unintended consequences of the federal government arbitrarily setting hiring policy for virtually every employer in the country by establishing a minimum wage, is a higher level of unemployment for the young and the unskilled. If McDonalds or Walmart or the local gas station cannot make a profit on the labor of an employee they will not hire that employee.

Decades ago a gas station was often referred to as a service station. I can remember as a kid seeing commercials on television touting how fast from the time you pulled up to the pump a team of attendants would fill your tank, wash your windshield, check your oil and tire pressure. Service stations had a special hose filled with compressed air and when you drove over it a bell would sound alerting the workers inside that a customer was waiting for service.

The guy pumping the gas and checking your oil didn't make a lot of money. Gas was cheap and service levels were a big point of competition. Then gas got more expensive and the cost of hiring a gas station attendant got more expensive. Thus was born self-serve gas.

Self serve has migrated to other areas as well. It's cheaper for a bank to install and maintain ATMs than to open branches and hire tellers. This is great. It gives customers a convenience and saves the bank operating expenses. Not so great for would-be tellers and builders of banks. The greatest benefit being that coupled with direct deposit I almost never have to set foot inside a bank and wait in line for the next available teller. I'm sure there are a lot of bank tellers who are perfectly nice people. I'd just rather not have to deal them.

My local supermarket installed half a dozen self service checkout lanes. The one person they have supporting the customers who can't figure out how to work them is cheaper than hiring six minimum wage cashiers. Using the self-checkout lanes means you never have to deal with the minimum wage kid who spends half of your time at the checkout talking to her friend three registers over. (The people who can't manage to work the self checkout are really annoying though.)

Then they took it a step further by implementing a scan as you go program. You scan your loyalty card at a kiosk and get a hand-held barcode reader. As you shop you scan items and place them in bags in your cart. When you're done you scan a special code at the checkout that accesses your order. You pay. You leave. 

One great feature is you can go through the express checkout with a cart full of groceries. And they even have special checkout just for people using the scanners that no one seems to use so you never have to wait in line. 

The problem is that most people using the scanners will use the self service checkouts. The kiosk at that end of the store is always full of available charged scanners. The one at the other end of the store where I prefer to start shopping is almost always empty because it's too far for the employees to walk to put the scanners away.

This problem has now been solved. When it comes to scan as you go self checkout for my local grocery store, "There's an app for that." No more getting a scanner from the kiosk, just fire up the iPhone app and start shopping. The last piece of the puzzle will fall into place when I can link the scanner app to my bank account and not have to bother with the 45 seconds it takes to checkout.

Back when unemployment was less than 5%, a comedian, it might have been Dennis Miller but I'm not sure, joked that he missed the days when the person making his latte in the morning was an out of work brain surgeon. I don't like the minimum wage for a lot of reasons starting with the idea of the federal government having that much control over an individual's employment decisions, but I certainly don't miss the days when a trip to the grocery store meant dealing with some teenager who would rather be anywhere else on the planet.

I'll wear my shoes and keep my shirt on, but if I can avoid it, I'll have nothing to do with your service.

And did I mention…

Get Off My Lawn.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:02 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

June 16, 2012

An Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. Obama,

You were elected to serve in the office of President of the United States. A position of significant power and prestige. You are Commander and Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. You hold the unofficial  title of Leader of the Free World.

You are not a king anointed into power with divine right from god.

In the American system of government you are not all powerful. This country was founded on the notion that there would no all powerful ruler. Power is divided and held in check by the Constitution of the United States. A priceless enumeration of ideas you have criticized as just saying what the government can't do and not what it must do.

One thing the document says is that laws in this nation are made by the Congress and signed into effect by the President. Those laws are then enforced by the Executive and adjudicated by the Courts.

As President you do not have the authority to decide what the law will be. Your edict to end deportation of some illegal aliens greatly oversteps the authority granted to the President by the Constitution.

I am sure given your consistently expressed disdain for the Constitution and your repeated disregard for its principles this criticism means nothing to you. Just as you have demonstrated that the Constitution means noting to you. It does however mean a great deal to a great many of the nation you believe you rule.

You swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. You have failed utterly and willfully to do so. You are entirely unfit for the office you hold.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:14 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

June 10, 2012

Angry Words

It has been very quiet around here lately. I posted nothing for the entire month of May. I thought I should at least offer up an explanation why.

It is not that I have been too busy to blog, though I have been very busy. No one has deeply offended me in the comments and I have not been deeply offended by the utter lack of comments. I have not been ill other than a cold that knocked me on my ass for a couple of days. The real problem has been one of Angry Words. My Angry Words.

When I first started this project I wrote that my posts fell into two broad categories: This Amuses Me, and This Pisses Me Off. In those early days I wrote something almost daily and though I denied it in public secretly cared about things like site traffic and comments and links. It was never about being big enough to attract advertising and make money, it was just wanting to know that someone was out there reading what I wrote. Equal measures of wanting to make an impact and vanity.

Lately, I had settled into a routine of posting something every weekend. Which fit my life better and often gave me more time to think and edit before posting. But it also brought to light a pattern I did not like. I would spend some time during the week reading the news and a list of my favorite political blogs looking for something to write about on the weekend. In essence, I was spending time surfing the web looking for something to piss me off.

So I spent my "spare time" in the month of May pondering that and I learned a few things. One is that looking for something to make you angry is a pretty stupid and fundamentally unhealthy way to spend your time. Anger, like any other emotion, can be a useful tool. It is a signal to our consciousness to take action. It can also be a problem if it is not controlled and directed properly. Channeling anger into a few largely unread words on a web page is harmless, but when the anger becomes more important that the words it starts to become a poison.

I also learned that it can be very difficult to become angry when you're trying! Certain friends, most notably my friend Jack, would from time to time send me things they thought I might want to write about. I am deeply grateful for the thought and the support. Jack somehow wound up on the email lists of AFSCME and MoveOn.org so some of the things he forwarded were real potential winners in the "This Pisses Me Off" contest! But it stopped working. Garden variety Democrat/Socialist talking points didn't seem to be enough to get my fingers flying on the keyboard. Maybe it was a sense of futility or the romance of tilting at windmills beginning to fade, but maybe (and more frighteningly) it just wasn't enough. Like an addict I needed more or stronger hits of the drug.

One day in late April or early May I was looking for something to write about and started getting angry that there was nothing that seemed to make me angry. I saw lots of things going on in the world that concerned or annoyed me, but nothing that roused me to the point of screaming into the wind. So I stopped. I stopped looking and started gazing at my navel for a while. Blogging angry is like playing with Sparklers on the 4th of July. It's fun and they burn brightly for a while. Then it goes out and you're left with a wisp of smoke and this burned out piece of trash. After a while it's just not enough. After a while it stops being fun and trying to make it fun again feels forced.

I haven't decided what the future of Hold the Mayo will be or if it will even have a future. It is as difficult to imagine giving it up in the middle of a presidential election as it is to imagine continuing. I know that if I continue it won't be with a focus on "This Pisses Me Off."

Or maybe I'm just tired. Or maybe I'm just getting old!

Stay tuned.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

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