Help A Drowning Man


I am awash in a sea of bad information. How did this happen? I’ve spent too much time in the ocean of social media where information is plentiful, but accuracy is sacrificed for speed and volume. How does this happen? The easy answer, of course, is that people are idiots. This knee jerk response is just as flawed as the flotsam vomited out on social media even as you read this. People love outrage. More precisely, they love to be outraged. This is especially true when politics and religion are involved. This causes otherwise intelligent and thoughtful folks to randomly post thoughts, memes and links which are related to reality only by the thin thread of having originated from someone’s mind.

Another answer might be that I spend too much time on social media and should do something else like a read book.  No thank you, Egg Head.  That ain’t happening.  We need to work together.

Phil Robertson is now the millstone around my neck.  If you don’t know who Phil is, then good for you.  You aren’t into social media and perhaps spend your time writing poetry.  If so, you’re probably not reading this anyway. Phil is a “reality TV” star.  His show, Duck Dynasty, is entertaining.  It certainly seems scripted to me, but what do I know?  Perhaps Phil and his family became multi-millionaires while bumbling about like…well…reality TV stars.

I won’t rehash what Phil did.  There’s no point in doing so.  He said things that pissed people off or made people happy.  Outrage ensued.  Many folks–again, otherwise intelligent–have risen to his defense by citing his right to “free speech.”  One poster on Facebook said “What the hell happened to free speech in this country?” The answer is nothing, because Phil’s opinions have nothing to do with free speech.  “But, but, but…he got FIRED!!”  You are correct.  He did get fired.  Free speech, unfortunately, doesn’t prevent that.  “YES, IT DOES!” you screamLet’s read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

[Note how I helpfully highlighted the part about “Congress.”]   Congress has made no law regarding speech which affects Phil at all.  In fact, no government official has done anything to Phil.  Maybe you love what he said about gay people and African-Americans.  If so, you have found some common ground with radical Islam.  Maybe you’re a Libertarian sort who supports everyone’s right to speak his or her mind. I really don’t care.   But, let’s all agree to never invoke the First Amendment again on this issue.  We’ll all feel better.  I know I do.  Thanks.

It’s not only the plain language of our Constitution which cause confusion.  Easily verified claims also drive us to hysteria.  Here’s a favorite example. Occasionally, a meme makes the rounds about Presidential and Congressional pensions. It reads:


Salary of retired US Presidents……………………….$450,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of House/Senate members……………………$174,000 FOR LIFE

Salary of Speaker of the House……………………….$223,500 FOR LIFE

Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders………………….$194,400 FOR LIFE

Average salary of a soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN ……$38,000

Average income for Seniors on Social Security …………………$12,000

I think we found where the cuts should be made! If you agree, pass it on!

Aren’t you outraged?  This is patently insane.  Why would these people get paid for life!?!?!  What kind of country do we live in?  That’s a valid question but not because of this.  The above information–while outrageous–is incorrect in almost every way. None of these people–not even the President–gets full salary for life. It simply is not true. Does this stop folks from being outraged about it? Of course not. Variations of this meme have been posted many times on social media.  The comments are fairly frothing with their condemnation.   Here’s my suggestion:  When you see something that is so inane as to make you want to immediately post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, stop and think.  Since you’re probably on the Internet at the time, do a simple search.  Check the facts.  You’ll be amazed how easy it is to confirm or counter such things.  Again, we’ll all be better for it, and you won’t look like an uninformed ass.

Then there are the half-truths, those items of interest based in reality but twisted into something sort of whole truth.  Here’s a meme making the rounds:


The House of Representatives passed a budget bill cutting pensions for veterans.  (Not “Veteran’s”).   That much is true.  The reduction is actually a reduction of the cost of living increase for certain pensions.  It’s what I call a “Government Cut.”  A “private cut” is where you make less money next year than you made this year.  It only applies to certain veterans–ones deemed young enough to re-enter the work force.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  This seems like a bad idea.  We’ve worn out our military with endless wars.  The least we could do is leave their pensions alone.  On the other hand, don’t worry about veterans actually getting a cut in their pensions.  The private sector, where there are no pensions anymore, is the only place that happens.

This is a prime example of excellent propaganda. Take a grain of truth, twist into something outrageous and scare everyone. Remember that Hitler got elected by scaring the hell out of people. There’s a reason he had a Ministry of Propaganda.  It works.

Finally, there are those debates that rage over opinions.  Most of these involve politics or religion–two topics which civilized people never discuss.  Bear this in mind:  There are two sides or more to each such debate:

  • Obamacare:  POINT–The program is already failing and far too expensive for the country to afford.  Socialized medicine will lead to reduced services for everyone.  COUNTERPOINT–It’s the law.  Give it time, and the kinks will get worked out.  If socialized medicine is so horrible, why do we provide it to our military veterans.  Wouldn’t they be better off buying their healthcare in the market?
  • Phil Robertson:  POINT–He’s free to speak his mind and express his faith.  Leave him alone.  COUNTERPOINT–People are also free to be offended by his comments.  We don’t have to leave him alone.
  • NSA: POINT–The Government is only gathering data. They have no way to do anything with it. COUNTERPOINT: Yet. There is nothing more un-American than spying on your citizenry.
  • TAXES: POINT–Let’s raise taxes on the highest earners. This would quickly fix all our fiscal problems. COUNTERPOINT–Our government has a history of spending every penny it brings in–and more. Until we fix that, more revenue won’t help.

These few examples show how it works. There are two sides to all theses issues. It just depends on your political prism.

Of course, acknowledging differing opinions isn’t our way. God forbid that we be asked to actually respect another’s views.  We prefer to be right.  In fact, we demand it, even when we are wrong.  I am fortunate to have friends from all walks of life.  Their politics range from Left-leaning Communists to budding Neo-Nazis.  The Right’s take on current events is a combination of moral outrage, moral superiority (always Christian), the U.S. Constitution  (if you don’t like something, it’s unconstitutional) and some nostalgia (such things as whipping children are fondly recalled).  The support Republicans and like all Ayn Rand quotes.  The Left approaches these issues from a different angle, of course.  They are intellectual titans ready to make fun of religion (always Christianity.  They don’t say anything about Islam, Judaism, et al.), cite obscure authors, and engage in relentless name-calling often involving obscene language.  They support Democrats and love to quote Barack Obama, Mahatma Ghandi and hate all Ayn Rand quotes, even though most of them are atheists like Rand.

Here is a typical social media exchange regarding Mr. Robertson, who has eclipsed war, world hunger and random violence as the issue of the day:

  • Original Post:  I stand with Phil!  The Bible says that we will be persecuted for Him! Christians have freedom of speech, too!  Our country is being destroyed!  I will never watch TV again!

[See how our friend has concisely encompassed the significant elements of right-wing rage.  The Bible, persecution, morality, patriotism and broad and incorrect legal principles.]

A response from the Left naturally flows:

  • Comment:  You can stand with that bigoted, homophobic, racist if you like.  I have never seen his show.  In fact, I do not own a television having traded mine for a Navajo Dream Catcher.  Freedom of speech is not an issue here–offensive, racist, homophobic rhetoric is.  The Bible supports all manner of prejudice.  I suggest you read the collected works of Bertrand Russell instead.

[Our Leftist chum has countered with his own salvo.  He engages in name calling that far exceeds anything Mr. Robinson has done but does so from a perch of intellectual superiority. He is above mere TV watching.  He concludes his concise commentary by inferring that atheist mathematician/philosopher Bertrand Russell is a better source for moral guidance than the Holy Bible. Well done.]

This exchange will continue with many additional posts by these and other commentators.  The Right will contend they are right because, well, they are right…or Right.  The Left will froth and name-call, even resorting to the use of vulgarities to make their points.  Ultimately, no one makes any sense and everyone is angry.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have engaged in this foolishness on occasion, especially when legal principles are misstated.  I forget my advantages in this regard:  1) I have actually read the Constitution; and 2) I graduated from law school.  I, too, have been called names.  One Lefty even called me a racist for correctly noting that the ubiquitous George Zimmerman is Hispanic.  I countered with own my stream of obscenities.  It’s easy to fall into this trap.  I do not judge.

Let’s all commit to work as one to make all this easier for me.  After all, wouldn’t the world be a better place if things suited me?  Don’t be a racist, homophobic, liberal, conservative, Communistic Neo-Nazi, Bible-thumping Atheist.

© 2013

Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.


In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.


Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.


It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.


Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.


The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.


That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.


I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.


I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.


You got me on that one.  No clue.


It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.


That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.


Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?


What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.


You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.


Luckily, no.


Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.


No, we’re not.


Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.


Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.


You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.


Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.


First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.


That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.


Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.


How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.




©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013

Friend of Coal

I like coal.  I like the coal industry.  I like the people in the coal industry, all the way from the belt muckers to the CEOs.  Full disclosure requires that I tell you that I work in the coal industry myself.  So did my father.  My grandfathers and other relatives were coal miners.  I grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky, the heart of the Kentucky coal fields.  So, if you think I’m biased, I probably am.

I’m not going to wear you out with numbers.  I could fill this post with statistics about electrical generation and steel production, cheap utility rates and job statistics.  If you support coal, you’ll cheer.  If you’re a coal hater (and there are plenty), you’ll just cluck your tongue and talk about how the miners are too ignorant to know what’s best for them or you’ll quote other numbers about how much greater the cost is than the benefit.  My purpose is not to persuade you to embrace the industry anymore than I would think I could make you change religions in a 2,000 word blog post.  That is beyond my powers of persuasion.

This is simply to say my piece about an industry that is bruised, battered and under constant attack.  I’m neither defensive about, nor ashamed of, the coal industry.  Here’s why:


I like coal miners.  They’re good folks to deal with and fun to be around.  They’re irreverent and funny.  They’re also admirable.  They work difficult jobs under tough working conditions.  Nevertheless, they take great pride in what they do and most really enjoy their work.  Don’t get me wrong–they view it as work, hard work in fact.

Imagine going underground 2 or 3 miles to go to work in a honeycombed, man-made cave.  When you arrive at your work site, the area is dark, and you don’t have enough room to stand up.  Add to that close confines with powerful, mechanized equipment.  It’s tough work, no doubt.

Yes, the hours are long and the conditions are tough, but this isn’t the 1930’s.  Miners are paid well, whether they are in unions or not.  Coal mines are safer now than ever before, although they are not without risks.  Whether you’re a farmer, truck driver, fisherman or a miner, any time human beings work in close proximity to powerful equipment, there are dangers.  The nature of my job brings me into situations where they are mine accidents.  I get to see the pain and grief up close with serious accidents.  If you believe that no one cares, you’re wrong.

It’s always in vogue to patronize so-called blue-collar workers as being the back bone of America or the salt of the Earth or some such other hollow praise.  Miners are like everyone else.  Some aren’t so good at what they do or don’t work hard.  That’s human nature.  On the whole, however, miners impress me with not only their work ethic but their skill in doing their jobs.

Whatever your job, imagine being expected to know the details of hundreds of government regulations.  Everyone in your workplace from the custodian to the CEO is expected to know these rules.  Everyday, someone from the government walks around your office making sure that you comply with these rules.  Everything from lack of hand soap in the restroom to life-threatening dangers will be examined.  Every misstep will cost your employer money.  The pressures are daunting.  This is part of the daily grind of a coal miner, too.

If your image of a miner is walking to work with a pick and shovel, you’re behind the times.  They don’t get paid by the ton anymore, either.  They’re not being randomly attacked by company thugs.  If you want to know what those days were like, read Harlan Miners Speak compiled by something called “The National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners” in 1932.  Like any industry, today’s coal business bears little resemblance to the world of 80 years ago.

Nevertheless, these are hard jobs.  Yet, these men–and women, too–gladly go to work every day.  They are glad to have their jobs.  They don’t take them for granted, either.  Like I said, it’s admirable.  I like these folks.


I also like Eastern Kentucky.  Now, maybe that’s because I grew up there.  Like most small town people who left home, I’ve grown more fond of my home town over the years.  We may see the end of mining in my lifetime.  That will be a sad day for my people.

The coal haters will tell you I’m wrong.  The poor, ignorant mountain people don’t that they’re better off without coal.  Coal is bad and is to blame for all the woes known to the mountains.  Bad schools, bad roads, bad health. Bad coal.  These folks will tell you that if we can just preserve the beauty of the mountains, everyone will be okay.  Goodbye coal.  Hello, Utopia.

Reality, of course, won’t be like that.  When coal is gone, the people will follow.  The industrial base will be gone.  The mountains don’t support farmers or any other industry.  While the Federal Government has spent billions providing aid to the poor, the infrastructure, such as it is, has been ignored.  Money which could have provided modern highways, sewers and water systems, instead  went to fight the War on Poverty.  If there had, in fact, been such a war, Poverty would have won in a blood bath.  Now, we have a drug problem in the mountains that rivals anything in the inner cities.  The answer, of course, is less income, a lower tax base and decreased population.  If anyone proposed that solution for America’s inner cities, he or she would be accused of genocide.

So, the mountains will be pristine.  Perhaps, the former residents can visit from time to time.  But, if anyone believes that life will be grand and everyone will just move on to something better, it won’t happen.  Try to find a job in Eastern Kentucky paying $60,000 to $70,000 a year.  Miners make that kind of money.  For families that have struggled, that can change lives.

I take great umbrage at people who imply that Eastern Kentucky is hell hole.  Small towns there are like small towns anywhere else.  Everyone knows your business.  Life is slow.  It’s easy for some people and a dead-end for others.

The coal fields should be in charge of their own future. Eastern Kentuckians are not simple-minded children who need to be told what is best for them.  Every coal company I know, regardless of ownership, employs people from its area.  Local people who have pride in what they do.  They aren’t ashamed of it and don’t need to be told they’re wrong.  Leave them alone.


We have a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky–The Lexington Herald-Leader.  It’s owned by The McClatchy Company, which is based in Sacramento, California.  Over the past few years, the Herald has laid off employees in Lexington and basically run the paper like its number one priority is to make a profit.  Rarely a week passes without the Herald running some ill-tempered screed about “King Coal,” decrying its absentee owners and that the industry is profit-driven. These are often accompanied by sophomoric editorial cartoons as humorous as a truck load of dead babies.  If the Herald’s editorial board and absentee owners see the irony, they certainly never acknowledge it.  For our paper, there is no greater villain than King Coal.  Every political or legal defeat for the coal industry is trumpeted like the polio vaccine.  One wonders if newspapers in the Detroit area react with glee when there is bad news for the automobile industry.

Coal loses the PR war and increasingly the political war, too.  I dare not bore you with the details of all the wrong-headed regulatory pressure brought to bear on coal over the last few years.  Suffice to say that President Obama has followed through on his promise to bankrupt anyone who wants to burn coal.  While the President may be subject to legitimate criticism for not following through on campaign promises, this is one that he has embraced with a vengeance.  When he hasn’t been able to get the legislation he wants, his appointed policy wonks simply decree the changes.  For example, his ill-conceived “Cap and Trade” law was never passed.  Incredibly, this law–designed to end coal consumption–was actually supported  by Kentucky Congressmen.  Not to be undone by this defeat, the Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated regulations with the same goal in mind–the end of coal consumption in the United States.

All this redoubles my support of coal.  Nothing gets my back up like fighting the power.  Something or someone has to be willing to stand between the government and private citizens.  Make no mistake–coal companies are made up of people.  CEOs, attorneys, accountants, superintendents, foremen, scoop operators, miner men, roof bolters, electricians and belt muckers.  Believe it or not, these are people.  When a coal mine closes–which is happening more and more frequently–lives are affected. Some are devastated.

As matters now stands, our government has decided–through appointed bureaucrats–that power plants must reduce certain emissions within the next few years.  These bureaucrats know that coal-fired plants cannot meet these requirements.  The plan is to take coal out of the market.  This isn’t okay with me.

But, what of renewable energy, windmills and solar and the like?  I have nothing against renewable energy.  Nothing.  Bring it into the market now.  Today.  Create all the “green” jobs possible.  Bring them to Eastern Kentucky.  Today.  If the market responds to these alternatives, there will be a place for them.  The United States produces 4,500 BILLION kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.  There is plenty of room in the marketplace.

The problem, and it’s a big one, is that there is no market for these alternatives.  This, I believe, is the reason that Obama wants coal driven from the market.  Get the cheapest, best fuel OUT of the way, and there will be room for less efficient, less marketable alternatives.

I rarely expound on my political views, mostly because it’s a personal matter, but also because I don’t think my  opinion will change yours.  As I said, that’s not the point of this post.  I will say that I will not ever support any politician whose idea of good energy policy is put my friends out of business.  I will fight the power.  As Captain Ahab famously said:

To the last, I grapple with thee.  From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.

Of course, things didn’t turn out well for Ahab, and they may not for me.  But they’ll know there was a fight.


In the 1970’s, my father worked in the coal industry as an environmental consultant for surface mines.  People said then that there was 20 years of coal left.  When I started practicing law 25 years ago, there was 10 years of coal left.  Ten years ago, there was 10 years of coal left.  Naysayers say that now there is 10 years of coal left.  The future, its seems, follows its own course.

Long ago, I gave up predicting the future.  I don’t know what will happen.  I do know that the path we’re on isn’t good for Kentucky or the rest of the country, for that matter.  Utility rates will increase, resulting in more government money spent to subsidize green energy or just to help people pay their bills.  Countries that use coal–China and India to name just two–will have the advantage over us.  Americans are the ones who can lead the way in continuing to improve clean coal technology.  If we leave the market, we’ll be counting on the Chinese to take the lead.  They are decades behind us in coal mining technology.  There is no reason to think they will quickly embrace cutting-edge environmental technology, either.

A friend of mine and I joke that we are stagecoach salesman.  Our grandchildren will look in wonder as we tell them about this burning rock.  Of course, we don’t really believe that (most days at least).  I’m an optimist at heart.  I hold out hope that adults will enter the room at some point and realize that we can burn coal and improve our technology to minimize environmental impact.  We’ve done it in the past.

In the meantime, I’ll fight the fight.  Others will, too.  Oh, and now you know why my blog is called the Coal Troll.

© 2012

John Roberts and the Temple of Doom

I’m a lawyer.  In 25 years of law practice, I’ve read a bunch of U.S. Supreme Court opinions, at least 4 or 5 in their entirety.  Everyone is abuzz about  National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius which was decided on June 28, 2012.  What is that, you ask?  It’s the Obamacare case.  I realize that most folks don’t have the benefit of my education and years of law practice to help them understand what happened.  As a public service, I’ve decided to address these concerns with this primer on Sebelius and what it means.


It’s a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  It’s 2700 pages long.  I’ve never read it and won’t.  I tried to read The Fountainhead one time.  It’s only like 1000 pages long.  I just couldn’t do it.


Good question.  It’s the only court required by the Constitution.  There are no qualifications to be on the Court.  You can be foreign-born, any age and have little or no education.  You don’t even have to be a lawyer, although I’m pretty sure all the justices (We call them “justices,” not judges) have been lawyers.  Geddy Lee, Alex Trebek and Jackie Chan could be on the Court.  So could Snookie.


That’s hard to say, really.  I’ve never been there and probably won’t ever be.  I know people who have, and it’s pretty intimidating.  That said, they only hear cases that they want to hear.  You have to petition for a Writ of Certiorari to be heard.  It’s hard to pronounce and even harder to do.  Don’t even try.


Well, there are 9 of them, although the Constitution sets no limit.  If I were in charge, I’d change it to like 27 to make it a free-for-all.  To the best of my knowledge, these are the justices:

  • John Roberts:  He’s the Chief Justice.  Smart dude.  Good writer.  He’s now a scurrilous lackey for the President.
  • Anthony Kennedy:  He’s the wildcard.  Hard to say if he’s liberal or conservative.  I had lunch with him one time.  Okay, maybe not with him, but really close to him.  He seemed like a fine fellow.
  • Antonin Scalia:  Another really smart guy.  Extreme ultra-conservative.  Excellent writer, but a little testy.  Kinda like if your grandfather was a genius and started writing legal opinions.
  • Clarence Thomas:  Come on, you know him.  Gets a lot of flak for not asking questions during oral arguments.  As a lawyer, I like that.  Don’t interrupt my brilliant presentation with your inane questions.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  The tiniest Justice.  Almost elfin.  Wears fabulous neck wear with her robe.
  • Stephen Breyer:   Liberal dude.  His opinions are whiny.  I don’t like that.
  • Alito or Alioto or something like that:  Sorry.  Couldn’t pick him out of a police lineup.
  • Sonia (maybe?) Sotomayor:  Again, don’t much about her.
  • Elena Kagan:  Really liberal.  That’s about it.  Looks like a heavy Rachel Maddow.

They all went to really good law schools.  So, if you went to a state university like I did you got no shot.  Sorry.  Besides, I wouldn’t be any good.  My penchant for foul language would disrupt many an oral argument.  Plus, I’m not that strong a reader.


In a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld most of  Obamacare.  Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion.  He’s supposed to be a conservative but now is viewed as a wild-eyed liberal.

As an aside, I know that “Obamacare” started as a derisive tag for this act, but it’s really catchy.  It has a certain flow to it.


Honestly, I haven’t read the whole opinion.  Actually, there are multiple opinions.  All Supreme Court  rulings have a syllabus at the beginning that summarizes the ruling.  That’s usually good enough for me.  Eventually the opinion will be published and then will have “head-notes” included.  These are like bullet points at the beginning that tell you the highlights.  Sort of like Cliff Notes.  For most lawyers, head-notes will suffice unless you’re some kind of egghead. Or a law professor, but they aren’t really lawyers anyway.

The opinion has something to do with the Commerce Clause of the Constitution which gives the Federal Government the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.”  You’ll have to trust me on this one, but that little clause gives the government the power of Thor.  BUT, it doesn’t give it the power to make you buy health insurance.  Now, if you belong to an Indian tribe, you may be SOL, but I don’t know for sure.  Chances are that they can force the Indians to do anything.

What they CAN do is tax you for NOT buying health insurance.  So, Obamacare can tax your ass for not buying insurance.  That’s it.  Learn to live with it. Oddly enough, the Indians are exempted from this part.  Go figure.

I don’t know if they’re crazy (the Supreme Court, not the Indians).  They might be.  Justice Ginsburg looks a little crazy.  Thomas is quiet which is certainly a sign of craziness, but he was against the ruling.  If he’s crazy, it’s for other reasons.

Justice Roberts wrote the bulk of the Court’s opinion.  He doesn’t seem crazy to me, but he could be. Sometimes people who don’t appear to be crazy are really super-crazy.  He could be the Ted Bundy of the Court.  I’m not suggesting that he’s a serial killer nor am I suggesting he’s not.  Draw your own conclusions.


We can’t.  He’s appointed for life and would have to be impeached.  It won’t ever happen.  You have more chance of making out with Salma Hayek.  Or Bradley Cooper.  Or both.


No, unless you now qualify for Medicaid, which may be expanded if your state wants to expand Medicaid, which it doesn’t have to, by the way.  If you qualify for Medicaid, your life might suck so much that you don’t really care about staying healthy anyway.


Basically, the government can tax you now for not having health insurance (unless you’re an Indian).  Some now fear that they will be taxed for not eating broccoli, although I’m not sure that’s in the Act.  It could well be, of course.  Justice Roberts reaffirmed what we already know:  The government can tax you into the poorhouse.  I didn’t need him to tell me that.


Because you can afford health insurance but won’t buy it. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have health insurance if he could afford it?   It’s the Idiot Tax.  If you can’t afford the tax, you go to a gulag full of sick people.  It will really suck.  Okay, I made up that part, but they could tax you for not going to the gulag.  THAT would be perfectly legally.


Of course.  Taxes are bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  This tax is really bad, because it brands YOU as the problem.  You not only get taxed, but you’re also identified as a selfish jackass.


Nothing as far as I know.  But I’m sure there’s something about them in the 2700 pages of the Act.  Like our members of Congress, I have no intention of ever reading the whole act.  Here’s how it probably will work:  You’ll contract some deadly disease like Ebola virus.  At this point, the only decent thing to do is go ahead and die.  If you refuse to die, the Death Panel will tax you for staying alive until you do the patriotic thing and give up.  If that doesn’t work, they’ll invoke the Patriot Act on you and send Navy Seal Team 6 to your house.  And that will be that.


I think so.  I think it’s like the Supreme Court.  There are no real qualifications. Well, except you have to be alive, of course. Maybe.


Possibly, but it depends on how sick you are.  If you’re kinda sick, it’s okay.  If you’re extremely sick, that’s bad (see the comments on the Death Panels above).  Of course, it’s always bad to be extremely sick, but you might have health insurance now, unless you’re an Indian.


Of course.  Since everyone will be insured, there will be less incentive to stay healthy.


There is some good news.  The so-called Slacker Mandate allows you to stay on your parents’ health insurance until age 26.  Make yourself comfortable in the basement and get as sick as you want.


Good news:  They’ll have to insure you.  Bad news:  I was uninsurable for a while and bought my coverage through a high risk pool.  Good luck affording that.


Only if you are insured under the Slacker Mandate, in which case you must use them even if you are not in a relationship. Plus, you’ll be forced to use them with random uninsured people chosen by the government.


It’s simple, really.  Since more people will be insured, the risk will be spread around which will offset the increased cost of insuring pre-existing conditions and more people.  The insurance companies will pass this savings on to YOU, rather than just pocketing the increased profits.

Oh, hell, I just read that somewhere.  I have no idea how it would decrease costs.  My health insurance premiums go up every year.  Why would that change? If you know, tell me.


Sorta.  Sadly, the Constitution doesn’t have a Popularity Clause allowing the Court to throw out unpopular laws.  We can, however, vote.  Now, don’t get confused.  You can’t vote against Justice Roberts.  Remember, he has a job for life.


You’d think that would work, but it won’t.  The last amendment took over 200 years to get approved.  So, you’ll long be dead by then unless Obamacare results in us all living to be 300 years old.  If that happens, we’ll probably be okay with it.


Of course not.  We’re Americans.  You can use its catchy acronym:  PPACA.  Here are some other alternatives:  Barackacare; Robertscare; Obamalamadingdongcare; Osamacare; ObamaScare; Yomamacare; YoYoMaCare; and Whocares.


It’s either the greatest opinion in the history of jurisprudence or the end of the republic.  The Court struck a blow for better and more affordable healthcare or eviscerated the Constitution.  We’re on the road to Communism or joining the 21st Century.  It is the single greatest moment ever (Barack Obama’s view only) or the last puzzle piece needed to establish a worldwide caliphate (Glenn Beck only).  I have no idea.


That’s one possible solution–or you can join an Indian tribe, if that’s allowed.  Here’s the rub:  Almost every other country has some form of socialized medicine, plus they suck in all kinds of others way.  For example, they won’t have football.  Also, they may not speak English.

Greece has really good health care, but everything else about Greece sucks.  France, too, but, hey, it’s France.  What are you, a Commie?  I’m not sure what you should do.  People in Monaco live to be around 90.  They must be good.

Our government already provides about 65% of all the health insurance anyway.  Let’s just stay here and see what happens.  Plus, we have football.  Don’t forget that.


Yes, that’s what I’m saying.  At least there’s no hope of going back to Ron Paul’s childhood where doctors made house calls and you paid your surgical bills with chickens or pelts.

While everyone was chewing off their arms over Obamacare, the Supreme Court quietly delivered its opinion in United States v. Alvarez.  That involved a law which makes it illegal to lie about having military medals.  In other words, you can’t buy a Purple Heart off eBay and go around pretending to be a war hero.  The law is unconstitutional, because we have the right to lie.  Outraged, are you?  Don’t be.  If the government can criminalize lying, it can also decide which lies to criminalize and, ultimately, what is true and what isn’t.  That’s a blow for freedom.  All is not lost.  A good thing happened on the same day as a bad thing, assuming you think a bad thing happened at all.  That’s exactly what they want you to think.

Now, those of us willing to plumb deeper into the depravity of the Supreme Court note the “coincidence” of Alvarez holding that lying can’t be a crime on the same day they found that Obamacare is a tax.  The President, of course, said it wasn’t a tax, which means he was lying.  But lying isn’t a crime now, is it?  Hmmmm.  Well played, Mr. President and your lap-dog, Chief Justice Roberts.


Most–if not all–of what the government does is perfectly fine under the Constitution.  That doesn’t mean I like it, and it certainly doesn’t mean I support it.  In fact, most of what the government does is imbecilic. I’m not all that worked up about Obamacare, but I have a bunch of other stuff stuck in my craw.  I’m not counting on John Roberts and his cabal of Fellow Travelers to unstick my craw, either.  I’m voting.  You should, too.

One word of caution.  The call now is for “Repeal and Replace!”  Another gaggle of Congressional idiots will draft the replacement.  Oh well, that will just give us another crisis to get hair-lipped over.

© 2012

Hatin’ on the Hate

Haters keep on hatin’, cause somebody’s got to do it.  So said the eminently hateable Chris Brown. I’ve thinking about hate lately, mostly because I’ve been hearing a lot of it  for some reason.  Montgomery Burns once said “I know you all hate me.  Well, I hate you more.”  That’s how most of us approach the subject.

Rod Smart was a football player in the ill-fated XFL. His nickname was “He Hate Me,” as in “He Hate Me. She Hate Me.  Everybody hate me.”  He wore the name proudly on the back of his jersey. No one remembers much about the XFL (“NO FAIR CATCHES!”), but a lot of football fans remember He Hate Me.

Rod Smart. His jersey said it all.

I doubt that a lot of people really hated Rod Smart, but maybe they did. He lived in America, and we are very good at hating people, things, institutions, events–you name it.  He also played sports, and sports draw a lot of hate.  Even if we’re okay with Rod Smart, we hate a lot of other things.

I hate Jim Carrey movies. And kale greens. And hangnails. And the sound a fork makes scraping a plate. And lots of other things. I try not to hate people, but sometimes I do. It usually passes. Right now, I’m pretty sure I hate Jerry Sandusky.  If you’ve seen the video of those assbags harassing that school bus monitor, you probably hate those kids.  I know I do or at least I did while I watched the video.

I hated a girl I dated.  Well, I didn’t hate her while we were dating.  I liked her then.   She hated me while we were dating; thus, we broke up.  After that, I hated her. Then we got back together, and I didn’t hate her as much.  Then we broke up again.  Hate. I’ve still got some work to do on that one, I guess.

When I was kid, people would say: “I don’t hate him. I hate his ways.”  Nowadays, I hear people say: “God loves the sinners, but hates the sin.” Really? Let’s cut to the chase. If you hate how someone acts, there’s almost no chance that you don’t hate the person. Here’s one I’ve heard 1,000 times:  “I don’t hate gay people. I hate their lifestyle.” Translation: “I don’t hate you. I just hate everything about you.” Wow.  I’m sure that makes gay people feel much better.

As Americans, we’re allowed to hate.  We do have hate crimes, but they’re pretty vague and rarely used.  Plus, they only cover small areas of hate–race, religion, sexual orientation and the like.  There are so many other things and reasons to hate.  In addition, hating itself really isn’t a crime anyway.  You have to commit some other foul act in conjunction with your hate. General hating is still perfectly legal.

We hate sports teams. I am a University of Kentucky fan. It’s socially acceptable for me to hate the University of Louisville. Okay, maybe not the entire University. Just its sports teams. If I hate the Dean of Students or some English professor, that would just be weird. Rick Pitino, however, is fair game.

When Pitino coached at UK, we loved him. U of L fans hated him. One day, he showed up as U of L’s coach. We hated him. They loved him. Hate is funny like that. It’s very arbitrary.

We hate food. I hate lots of food. Most people do. Pickles? Hate ’em. Raw tomatoes? Hate.  Mayonnaise, Diet Coke, malted milk balls:  hate, hate, hate.  My son hates hamburgers, for God’s sake. You hate some foods. You know you do. Think about them.  Feel the hate.

Do you hate any music?  Sure, you do.  I hate rap.  I hated disco back in the ’70’s but now I’m okay with it.  That means that one day rap might be okay with me.  For now, though, it’s hate all the way.

Do you hate your job?  Well, no one cares, because almost everyone else hates their job more than you hate yours.  Just ask them.

Some folks hate poor people. Others hate the rich. I don’t know anyone who hates both, but I’m sure someone does. Does anyone hate the middle class? Yeah, I’m sure someone does. Maybe you do. If you do, explain yourself.

We hate religion. Okay, not ALL religion, just other people’s. We’re right. They’re wrong. Of course, we all have a small nagging thought that maybe they’re right and we’re wrong. We hate that even more. If you’re a Christian, you have to think that all non-Christians are just flat wrong. That aggravates you. Sometimes, it makes you hate another religion, especially if that religion hates Christianity. Atheists hate all religions, except their own.  Of course, most people won’t openly say that they hate other religions.  That’s just not kosher, which is okay to say even if you hate Jewish people.

Let’s take the vile, reptilian God Hates Fags troglodytes from Kansas. When I see them or even think about them, I hate them. Oh, it will pass, but I hate them for a few minutes. I’m betting most Christians hate them, too, if only for a minute or two.  Atheists, I’m sure, hate them.  They’re very hateable. If God hates anything, it’s those turds.  Of course, it’s unlikely that God hates anyone, except maybe Job.  Then again, there were also all those smitings, too.  Hmmm.  I may have to think about that one.

Politics and religion are often compared.  We all know that those are two topics that you just don’t bring up in polite conversation.  They both engender a bunch of hate or, at the very least, hatefulness.  Why? Because it allows us to hate entire groups of people based on little more than their associations or views.  Politics is the ultimate hatefest. It’s the last bastion of irrational prejudice. You can hate an entire political party, yet be a welcome member of society. Try that with an entire race or religion, and you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time alone.

Politicians are the most hated folks on the planet. Do you hate President Obama? If you answered “no,” there’s a good chance you hate Mitt Romney. If you hate both of them, then you might love Ron Paul. If you hate Ron Paul, then you probably love Ralph Nader.  Obama and Romney both might be right fine fellows, but they’re hated because they are in the wrong political party.

There is an important difference between hating something or someone and actually expressing that hate.  No one cares if you openly hate a sports team. Irrationally loathing someone because of their uniform is no big deal.  Same goes for politics, obviously.  But, we have to be careful about expressing hate for the wrong reasons.  You go from being a rational hater to a dangerous misanthrope.

We can easily hate someone who is in the wrong group, whether it’s a political party, church, or sports team. It’s different when we personalize it to, say, our next door neighbor. Tell people that you hate Obama, and a lot of folks will high-five you. Tell them you hate the kid who mows your yard, and they’ll be creeped out.

Now, you shouldn’t hate Obama because he’s black, although surely some do. That’s just wrong. If so, you better keep that to yourself. Here’s the good news: you can hate liberals, regardless of their race. Hate all you want. By extension, you can hate anyone who is a liberal, regardless of race, creed or national origin.  One caveat:  Be careful about how vociferously you express your hate of the President.  Don’t write him letters about it.  The FBI will visit you.  They hate that shit.

Let’s take Romney as another example. He’s a Mormon. My grandparents were Mormons. So were my Mom’s sisters and their children and grandchildren. I’m not a Mormon, but I think Mormons are fine folks. Some people disagree. They think it’s a cult of heretics where everyone has 10 wives. Mormons have been hated. Probably still are in some circles. You can’t say: “Man, I hate Romney because he’s a Mormon.” But you can say: “I hate that Romney. Damn Republican!” Odd, isn’t?

So, you can hate a religion, but you should keep it to yourself.  Same with race.  Politics, though, is different.  Hate all you want and do it in public.  No one cares, except the people who will hate you as a result.

You really can’t hate some things.  Animals, for instance.  I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone who says he hates animals.  Okay, cats are an exception.  People will say they hate cats, but cats are smug, and some hate that in a pet. Otherwise, if you hate animals, you’re going to fit a serial killer profile.  Some people love animals but hate humans.  As a result, animal hate is dangerous territory, indeed.

Here’s a little experiment:

  • Create a group on Facebook called “I Hate the President.”  Make the profile picture the worst thing you can find of the President.  Maybe this one:

  • Then, create a new group called “I Hate Romney.”  Use this ridiculous image:

  • I assure you that some people will like these pages.  In fact, some people will become enthusiastic members of your group with their own outrageous postings.
  • Now, create a page called:  “I Hate Rescue Dogs.”  Not only will no one like it, everyone will hate you.  You’ll probably be subjected to all manner of investigations and be banned from Facebook.  You will be unfriended. Your student loans will be declared in default, your mortgage foreclosed and the IRS will audit you.  Even the ACLU will turn on you by representing the rescue dogs in a class action against you.  The Southern Poverty Law Center will declare you to be a hate group.

The lesson?  Hate people if you want.  Leave the animals alone.

It’s still unacceptable to hate your family. I find this odd since some people’s families are dangerous criminals or worse. Folks will say “Don’t forget to call dad on Fathers Day!” What if your dad is Charles Manson? Or just a total bastard? I know people who hate their families, but they keep it quiet. If you do, you should probably just keep it to yourself.  Think about this:  With all the hateable people in the world, how can some people not hate their families?

I’ve heard it said that hating someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. That’s true for me. So, I try not to do it. I’m not always successful. Sometimes, I will hate the entire UK basketball team for a fleeting moment or two.  Then, I love them again.  I think my children hate me on occasion, and it’s tempting to hate them back.  So far, I’ve resisted, but it’s a struggle. I used to be an angry young man, who hated a lot of stuff.  Then, I realized that all that stuff didn’t hate me back–or really even know I existed.  This realization freed me up to spend more time thinking about me.  One good thing about being egocentric is that there isn’t much room in my head for dwelling on others, what with all the things going on with me.

Sadly, there are few things that I’ll confess to hating, and I don’t think those will change:  Jenny from Forest Gump; gum on my shoe; migraines; Winter; poke sallet; toothaches; door to door salespeople; port-a-potties; being hit in the face; Aunt Bee; the two warts on the back of my right hand; Christian Rock music; and people who hate too many things.

So, that’s my screed on hate.  I’ve professed myself an expert. Don’t you hate it when people do that?

© 2012