Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thoughts From Reading the King v. Burwell Transcript

I took a little time to read the transcript from today's Supreme Court oral arguments in King v. Burwell.

If you want to read the transcript, you can find it here. It's always a dicey proposition to read anything into how the Justices will rule from their questions/comments at oral argument, but here are a few of my impressions:

1. Justice Ginsburg immediately jumped on the issue of standing from the get-go. After some back and forth, and with what ultimately seemed like a concession from the Government, the likelihood of kicking the case out on a lack of standing seems extremely remote.

2. Justice Kagan seemed to have gotten the better of Petitioner's counsel with her hypothetical about law-clerks and memo writing, but Alito jumped to the rescue with such a good response that even Kagan remarked of Alito "He's good."

3. The real question seems to be where Justice Kennedy is going to land. He seems to want to say that the Petitioner's argument necessarily requires the conclusion that conditioning subsidies on states setting up the exchanges is coercive, and would therefore be unconstitutional. Obviously, this would result in disruption of everyone who got a subsidy in the states where HHS set up the exchanges, and Kennedy seemed loathe to make that leap. Petitioner's counsel responded to Kennedy by observing that the government hadn't made that that argument, and Kennedy says "Sometimes we think of things the government doesn't".

4. Carrying that last point further, the real question seems to be whether Kennedy is willing to interpret the statute in a manner that avoids having to find the statute to be unconstitutional under the avoidance doctrine. I think that Kennedy wants to say it's unconstitutional, but I think he's concerned with the resulting effects of what happens if he makes that finding. Ultimately, I think he'll avoid doing so, and the Government's position will prevail.

5. The Government's counsel took a little bit of a shot at Congress when Justice Scalia pressed him on why the Congress wouldn't just amend the statute if the Court accepts the Petitioner's position. Scalia says "You really think Congress is just going to sit there while ­­ while all of these disastrous consequences ensue?" and the Government's lawyer responds somewhat tongue-in-cheek with "Well...this Congress, Your Honor? I...I..." to which there's some general laughter at Congress' expense.

Ultimately, I think the Government will win this because I think the easy place for Kennedy to land is that there is a little bit of ambiguity in the statute, so you go with the interpretation that doesn't render the statute unconstitutional. That' just my guess, anyway. I would be surprised if the Court did something radical and essentially forced Congress and President Obama to fix the law.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I Really Don't Understand Hillary and the E-mail Thing

Is Hillary Clinton the dumbest person in the world?
Maybe one of y'all can explain this to me.
"Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act."
I don't understand this on any level. Even if you can say that this wasn't illegal, which it clearly appears to be, what's the point of having an unofficial e-mail? I'll tell you: the only reason that you would not use an official e-mail is to hide something. And guess what, campers? That shows a bad intent. In the legal world we call that mens rea. But even if you don't even address the legal issues, from a political perspective this looks like a disaster.

The other thing is that it's not even really hiding something. Even a rookie con-man knows that if you want to keep a secret, you have a false front. Why not have an official government e-mail for the official stuff that is day-to-day, and then have your super-secret, black-site e-mail address for all your nefarious work that you don't want to disclose?

How about don't e-mail at all? Don Corleone managed to run a pretty sizable group of folks and he didn't have to send out family-wide e-mails all the time. But this just having an off-the-book email is such a flagrant disregard for everything, I don't even know where to start.

It seems like Hillary is either really dumb or she doesn't think that the rules apply to her and no one will care if she's found out. I don't think she's dumb.

Embrace Your Inner Don Draper

In the cross-promotion that is standard for Caskey Worldwide Enterprises™, you can find my blog post about men's haircuts over at FigColumbia.

Friday, February 27, 2015

House of Cards: Season 3

Since Season Three of House of Cards came out at midnight last night, I thought you might enjoy this overview of the last two seasons.

h/t David Smith

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

14 Things You Should Know About Guns

My CWP choice - a .45ACP Springfield XDS

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you probably already know them these things. However, it never hurts to spread some knowledge around.

On a semi-related note, when I started carrying almost two years ago, I was constantly worried about people looking at me and seeing my pistol underneath my jacket. Now, I realize that no one really looks at me that closely. Most people are so wrapped up in their own business, they rarely scrutinize what other people are doing. And after awhile, carrying becomes fairly routine. Since the CWP law was modified to allow for carry into restaurants, I've had to disarm less during the day.

Luckily, I haven't ever been in a situation where I've needed it, and I hope I never do. (Kind of like the smoke detectors in my house)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A wonderful sentence from Shelby Foote

"Steedman, who was 47, Pennsylvania born, a former printer, Texas revolutionist, and Ohio legislator, a great hearty man, broad breasted and broad shouldered, whose face, according to an admirer, was written all over with sturdy sense and stout courage, brought them up on the double and committed them with no more delay other than it took to tell a staff officer to see that his name was spelled correctly in the obituaries."

A single sentence.

The deliberate and slow manner of Foote's writing is wonderful. Here, he's describing a particular point in the Battle of Chickamauga, where Steedman essentially rallies the Federal troops in a valiant counter-attack.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday ATF Photo

Happy Friday. Here's your Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Otherwise, enjoy your weekend, peeps.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

70th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines during the assault of Iwo Jima, 1945

If it hasn't been mentioned, today is the 70th anniversary of the amphibious assault by the United States Marines on Japanese-held Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945. 

U.S. losses amounted to 6800, with 17,000 wounded. 

The Japanese lost almost 22,000 men. Only 216 prisoners were taken. 

Many today question why Truman used The Bomb. They are idiots.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sell me this pencil - Mike Rowe on Credentials and Competency

“Hi there. My name’s Mike Rowe, and I only have eight minutes to tell you why this is finest pencil on Planet Earth. So let’s get right to it.”

Great Characters Make Great Stories

Two sides of the same coin.
John Daniel Davidson has a piece in which he talks about the "literary genius" of Justified, it's good and worth a look, but I think it could be more accurately titled "Great Characters Make Great Stories".
In the world Yost and Leonard spun out of one of those “oddball tales,” Boyd is no more a villain than Raylan is a hero; each man is a kind of shadow of the other, ill-suited to their assigned roles and unfit for the wider world. Cold and remorseless, justified in all his killings, Raylan is knotted up with anger and violence. His moral conscience amounts to allying himself with the law, though he ignores it when it’s convenient and flouts it openly to protect an ex-wife he loves but refuses to be with.

By contrast, Boyd exudes a kind of joie de vivre amid his many depredations while betraying a moral sensitivity far more developed than Raylan’s. He does wrong but doesn’t try to justify it to his conscience. In season three, Boyd kills a man on his crew, Devil, after learning of the man’s plans to betray him. While dumping the body, Boyd quotes something his father used to say: “Once you make up your mind to kill a man, ain’t nothing left to talk about.”
For me, what really makes Justified a great story is the complexity of Boyd and Raylan. Neither man is the classic one-dimensional hero or villain, and their interactions are the best part of the show. It's almost like they are each other's alter-ego, and I could almost see Boyd coming over to the right side of the law as easily as you could see Raylan slipping into a life of crime. Perhaps there's something to be said about how these two characters embody the opposing forces in human nature, and how they struggle against one another.

Similarly, the character of Walter White is probably why I liked Breaking Bad so much. Walter White was a complicated character, and it was fascinating to watch his story unfold. The transition of Walter White from a high school chemistry teacher to drug kingpin was quite a character arc than ended the only way it really could.

Hopefully, Justified wraps up as nicely as Breaking Bad did. Boyd Crowder may be one of the few "bad guys" I'd like to see get away. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Jersey Man Arrested for Possession of a Flintlock Pistol

I think this might have been used by Aaron Burr

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Bryan, I'd like for you to come up with something extraordinarily stupid. Something the pushes the limits of human dumbness.

Here you go.
Simone reported that Gordon was arrested last November while heading home after lunch. A Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over Gordon for a traffic violation, but wanted to search his car. Upon discovering a flintlock pistol in the glove compartment, VanGilder said that another deputy wanted to let him go since he knew the firearm was an antique. The Sheriff disagreed. VanGilder was arrested the following morning, and faces up to ten years in prison; three and a half to five years of that sentence must be served before parole can be considered.

To make things more absurd, the prosecutor in the case told VanGilder’s lawyer­–Evan Nappen–who’s in the video; that ballistics test will be run on the firearm.

Ok, I'm not a scientist, but how exactly do you run ballistics on a smoothbore firearm? And even if you could, what's the point? Are they going to match it against all the musket balls pulled from unsolved crimes?

Good luck tracking this pistol via serial number, too.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Slow Day Today - Have Some "Carolina" BBQ

Maybe it's the President's Day holiday, but today seems awfully slow. Accordigly, I'll link this list of top 10 BBQ places in the "Carolinas".

Most Accurate Map of South Carolina

I kind of dislike the use of "Carolinas" to lump North Carolina and South Carolina together, like we're all one place. We're not. If we liked each other, we wouldn't have split up back in the 1700s. Anyway, we haven't been one place for a long time.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Need a College Degree to be President?

This guy never got a college degree.

Personally, I think it would be refreshing to finally have a President who didn't have a degree from Harvard or Yale. I know this is going to stir up the anti-intellectual debate that's been out there since Sarah Palin, who is always going on about the "elite".

I'm actually ok with saying that some people are "elite". Elite means "the best". It means a subset of a group that is superior to the rest. Certain people are smarter than others. Certain people are better than others at various things. For instance, Jack Nicklaus was an elite professional golfer. Hank Aaron was an elite major league baseball player. There's nothing wrong with being elite, or acknowledging that some people are smarter than others. Face it, some people are dumb.

However, we've gotten to a point where people conflate elite with credentialed. Just because you have a degree from Harvard doesn't mean you're an elite thinker. You have a credential, that's it.

So, do you need a college degree to be President? Nope.

Justice Ginsburg Did Some Pre-Game Drinking for the SOTU

Honestly, if I had to sit through the entire SOTU, I'd want to drink during the speech.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Grandad was a Black Devil

1st Lt. William P. Caskey (my grandad)

And he wasn't any ol' devil, either. He was an officer. Specifically, he was actually a 1st Lieutenant, Hq Company, in the Devil's Brigade, which was essentially the first special forces unit created. See those crossed arrows on his lapels? That the insignia of special forces, before there was even the existence of special forces as an independent branch.

The Augusta Chronicle has a story about my grandad, who lived in Augusta after WWII. The piece came out because Congress just recognized the unit with a Congressional Gold Medal.

They were trained during the winter months at Fort William Henry Harrison in Montana in hand-to-hand combat, mountain climbing, ski training, demolition and skydiving, but the Norway mission was canceled before they finished.

“They had this idea they were primitive fighters,” Caskey said.

The team was eventually sent to liberate Rome and invade southern France.

Caskey said his father did some fighting. One of the force’s most famous missions was made into a movie called Devil’s Brigade, a nickname the German opposition gave the force for the baggy parachute pants and black shoe polish they wore under their eyes for their nighttime hit-and-run missions. The group’s logo featured a black devil holding an arrowhead shield and clinching a dagger in his mouth.

In February 1944, the force was the first to land in Anzio, Italy, and surprise a German unit.

“My dad’s brigade quickly jumped off the beachhead and ran several miles into the hills to hold the high ground, but was soon told to retreat because they were overstretching the Army’s limits,” Caskey said.

The Germans reoccupied high land and pinned the force for 99 days without relief.

“My dad said it was one of the worst times of the war because he sat on the beach for two weeks in a hole, unable to move for fear of being shot,” Caskey said.
I knew my gradad fought in WWII, but beyond generally fighting at Anzio with the Army, I didn't know much of anything about what he did or what unit he was in.