Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cosmetic Battles

"I got some real honest to God battles to fight, Leo. I don't have time for the cosmetic ones."*

Domestic_violence : Woman shielding her face while stopping the cameraWhen was the last time a political battle began as a matter of principle and...stayed that way? One of my friends observed recently that our political system has become one of dueling bumper stickers. I could not agree more.

The recent scrum involving Catholicism, Obamacare and the stellar Republican candidates is a perfect example. It began as the Obama Administration's effort to create an insurance rule, and ended with a discussion of the societal benefit, or lack thereof, of contraception.

An examination of the constitutional arguments about this rule would be silly. The constitutionality of Obamacare and its mandates awaits not just this year's hearing, but many to come. The law in this area is largley uncharted territory. Johnny R and the Supremes will wade through the mess, rule however they rule and then there might be clarity. Or not. Right now, even seasoned constitutional scholars are scrambling for anything other than educated guesses.

So the discussion evolves into an argument over Catholic doctine (opposed to its members using contraception) and - I hope I'm getting this right - whether adherence to that position represents a "war on women."

You can believe whatever you want about contraception (which, I'm sure, sets your mind at ease). It's a tremedously peripheral discussion. But...a "war on women?"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Chicken on Every Plate, and a Microscope Up Every... UPDATED

"I've got one job on this lousy ship, it's stupid, but I'm gonna do it. Okay?"*

Hello Kitty - Rainbow - Lunch BoxThe story had all of the elements a good short requires. A child victim, thoughtless State bureaucracy and a perplexed mom. To be a country song, all it needed was a dog.

A preschooler's mom sent her to school with lunch. I'd like to think it also contained an I Love You note - it's the romantic in me. A turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, apple juice and some chips. A "State Lunch Inspector" deemed it unworthy and substituted an approved, school-provided lunch of chicken nuggets, broccoli (a traditional pre-schooler's favorite) and apple slices. The young lady arrived home with a bill.

Crazy, stupid, out of control petty government functionary?

Don't bet on it. That inspector was probably a man or woman a lot like me and my cops - diligent, well-trained, following the rules and enforcing properly-enacted laws.

Insane? Uh-uh.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Bottle In Front of Me

"A citation to authority may only mean you've found someone else who is wrong and agrees with you."*

Super-GoofNothing hits the snooze button quite as hard as a tiptoe through some arcane corners of the US Constitution, especially when writing a general interest blog. For all of its majesty, its appeal to better angels, its beautiful (if sometimes impenetrable) eighteenth century prose, to anyone other than a constitutional scholar a discussion of the minutiae evokes a gush of sleep-inducing melatonin so powerful as to induce Van Winkle-caliber slumber. Forgive me.

Our poor constitution had a miserable week. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an interview in Egypt, seemed to suggest it was dated. Administration officials largely dismissed First Amendment concerns in the roll out of an administrative rule concerning contraceptives. And a group of county sheriff's met to discuss their constitutional duty to defend their jurisdictions against Federal Government Tyranny.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pretty in Pink

They called themselves "The Unit." They grew up playing hockey together, starting at six years old and sticking together until they went away to college. They were as inseparable as young men can be. One of them was my brother.

Every one of them lost a mother to some form of cancer, mostly breast cancer. All but one.