The Supreme Court

The year was 2009. And things were wacky. The fact that Brett Favre was in the NFC Championship game was, by itself, not at all strange. Brett Favre was a great quarterback having a great year. And he was on the brink of a Superbowl birth. No. The wacky part of that 2009 football season was that ‘ol #4 was wearing the purple and gold for the Minnesota Vikings. And that the game was going to change the rules of football.

You see, the game — and it was a GREAT game — ended in a tie. When the whistle blew the score of that game that would determine who represented the NFC in the Superbowl stood 28-28. The Saints managed to play the Vikings to a tie despite being outplayed the whole game. We’re going to overtime! Now, in the NFL up to and including 2009, the overtime rules were crazy, dumb and outdated. The rule, at the time, was this:

Before overtime started, the teams met at mid-field and a coin toss was conducted. The winner of the coin toss was allowed to declare if they would rather kick the ball or receive the ball. The other team was awarded the decision which end zone they would defend. In almost all circumstances, the winner of the coin toss would choose to receive the ball. The reason was simple; the rules of over time stated that the team to score first would be declared the winner.

This is, of course, stupid.

For example, a team that wins the coin toss gets the ball first and only has to score a field goal to win. And they can do this without the other team even having the chance to posses the ball and impact the outcome. Now, the NFL is not alone in sudden death overtime; hockey also plays extra time with the first score determining the winner. Some soccer leagues also play sudden death. However, other sports are not played in this manner. The NBA plays extra minutes and whoever is ahead at the end of that extra time is awarded the victory. Baseball plays an extra inning; each team is provided an opportunity to bat and if they can score more runs than their opponent during that extra inning, they are the winner.

The NFL’s rule is stupid. And the fact that a game as important as the NFC Championship game is determined by a coin toss only makes that rule more unfortunate. As it turned out, New Orleans won the coin toss, received the ball, moved close enough to attempt a field goal and won the game 31-28. The very next season the NFL changed the over time rules to allow both teams the chance to possess the ball IF the first team scored on a field goal. If they score a touchdown on the first possession, the game is over.

Better – but still dumb.

And here’s the thing; everyone KNOWS that this was a horrible rule. And while the NFL made it better by adjusting for a first strike FG, they still allow sudden death in the event of a touchdown. The rule is a bad rule. It is NOT poorly written or misunderstood. The rule is clear, everyone understands it. But it’s just a bad rule and there hasn’t been a willingness to change the rule.

Now, imagine if the Minnesota Vikings, after giving up that field goal to the Saints, appealed to the refs in the game and made the claim that the decision awarding the win to the Saints wasn’t right. That BOTH teams should be offered the opportunity to score. After all, football should be decided by plays on the field, not the luck of a coin toss. Whats more, there is precedent for such a method and it has been wildly successful. College football has a much better system.

In the college game, when four quarters results in a tie, each team is given the opportunity to score, much like the innings of a baseball game. Rather than have a kickoff, another horribly random play that unfortunately changes the outcomes of too many games, but I digress, the college format dictates that the ball is placed at the opponent’s 25 yard line. From there, each team attempts to drive the ball and score; either by touchdown or by field goal. After each team has had the chance to score, the game is decided by whoever has the most points. In the event of a continued tie; repeat.

Back to our imaginary appeal to the referees after the Saints scored their field goal. The Vikings surly have a case to be made; it is not fair that a team can win a football game by kicking a single field goal based on who wins a coin toss. It is nearly indisputable that the college system is superior. In fact, the college rules not only assure that there will be a winner, in the regular season, an NFL game can end in a tie if no team scores in 15 minutes, but it is superior to the format currently employed by the NHL and most soccer leagues; the dreaded shoot-out. Clearly the rule, as written, is outdated, not fair and has a clear path to a better result.

The referees should absolutely rule in favor of the Minnesota Vikings, award them the ball via Saint’s kick-off and resume play.

Except that’s not how things work.

You see, it is not the job of the referees to write new rules. Their job is to adjudicate existing rules as they are written. It is the role of the owner’s competition committee to write new rules; or not, depending on the will of those owners.

And so we come to my point:

ACB

Amy Coney Barrett

6 – 3

We had a good four years! Perhaps the biggest win for the Trump years was the additions of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett. By elevating these three judges to The Supreme Court of the United States, Trump has solidified a conservative majority in the court for a generation; maybe more. But what does it mean to be a “conservative” when it comes to the Supreme Court?

What it’s not is this – A conservative Supreme Court is NOT a court that looks to uphold laws or cases that the partisan right-wing might favor. It is not the role of a conservative Court to see those partisan battle lines and take a side. A conservative Court should not care one single iota if the case being heard is one where a republican President or a democrat President favors the outcome. She should not care a single whiff that the case has the hopes and prayers of a partisan congress or even a partisan electorate writing Op Eds in the Journal or the Times. He should not care that the Senate Majority Leader is stomping on the grounds of the Senate or the Speaker is railing the same in the House.

The role of The Supreme Court of the United States is to adjudicate the law. Before it. As it is written.

Period.

The role of the court is NOT to ascertain what the Founders *may* have thought about certain events today, the changing nature of society today. The court is not to guess what the legislature might say if they could speak today.

The role of the court is to call balls and strikes. Or touchdowns and field goals.

Or overtime rules.

The reason the supreme court is such a hot button topic, and the reason why the liberal left is so emotional about the replacement of RBG by ACB, is that, for them, the court is not a arbiter of rules as written, the court is a process whereby old and archaic laws are to be refreshed, rewritten or reinterpreted. Maybe, maybe, the legislature would have included transgendered rights when they crafted Title VII of The Civil Rights Act back in 1964. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. That’s not important. What IS important is that they didn’t.

Maybe the 2nd amendment would have been written differently if the founders could have conceived a world that we find ourselves living in today. Maybe a just and noble society OUGHT restrict firearms. Maybe. Probably. But all of that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there exists a process whereby legislation can be enacted to reflect current and prevailing views. If you don’t like the laws, change the laws. Elect politicians who will submit the bill, debate the bill and pass it where it will be signed into law by an executive who has also been elected.

And if you are unable to do that, going to the supreme court to get them to change the law from what it actually says into something that you hope for it to say is outside the role of the court.

So yes, Trump getting Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett on the court is a HUGE deal. Because now we will have a court that will interpret laws and not create them. We will have a court that is not trying to ‘catch the country up’ to society that it thinks we live in.

And that right there, is a pretty strong legacy.

Election 2020 – Pino’s Take

Well, it’s over. The great Biden Trump heavy weight bought has come and gone and Biden will be the next President of the United States of America – followed closely by Kamala as Biden is replaced within a year and a half. Going in, I was sure that we were gonna see a blue wave. I’m proud to report that we saw barely a ripple.

While Biden is gonna win his win is much less telling than we all thought it gonna be. There is no mandate. There is no massive shift. In ideology or makeup of the institutions. The House came back to the republicans enough that Pelosi may lose her gavel and the Senate remains firmly in the hands of Cocaine Mitch.

Here in Carolina the republicans retain control of the government even while Cooper will get 4 more years. This as we elect the first black Lt Governor in the state with the Republican Robinson.

So, I’m mixed on Trump. He’s a repulsive human being but he governed as a true conservative – mostly.

And now that we have a democrat in office, covid is cured.

Huzzah!

The 1619 Project: My Thoughts

I suppose that it is long since past the time to listen to the 1619 Project published by the New York Times Magazine. And now with #BlackLivesMatter all in the news, it is more important than ever to to take the time and see what the project is and what it says.

But before I do, I want to take a few minutes and collect my thoughts and write down what I think of the 1619 before I listen to the podcast found here.

The first African slave ship to arrive in what is now America landed in the year 1619. With the arrival of that ship, the practice of chattel slavery in what would become the United States of America began. As I understand it, the 1619 project is an attempt to correct the historical accounting of the founding of the nation more commonly taught as an experiment in liberty and freedom. The author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, tries to tell the story of America through the lens of the oppression of people, I assume this would be non-white people, and how that oppression was used to build the the United States. I expect that Nikole will make the case that this country, the wealth and prosperity it has enjoyed, is due in no small part to the forced labor and the abuse of minority people at the hands of white Europeans and it is this narrative, rather than the idea that we are founded on near religious documents such as The Declaration of the United States of America and The Constitution of the United States of America, that is the true story of our beginnings.

If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I take a very skeptical side-eye to this idea. It’s not that I deny the fact that slavery existed in America, that slavery is brutal and inhumane, that the legacy of slavery still echos today. I don’t deny any of that. I just don’t happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts of being a slave state. I happen to feel that America was founded on the concepts stated in those documents. Concepts such as negative rights, limited government, the sovereignty of the individual. I believe that the founders did envision “a more perfect union” when they were gathering and thinking and legislating.

I have a healthy suspicion of the NY Times, its reporters, their bias. I don’t believe that they are neutral observers reporting news and facts as they happen and leave the analysis to us, the gentle reader. Rather, the Times has an agenda and that agenda is more closely aligned with far left ideology, think Karl Marx, than an ideology based on the concept of individual liberty. With this in mind, I fully expect that my listening of the 1619 Project will find errors in facts, a rewrite of history to support a “going in narrative” and an arc meant to reinforce a policy agenda already formed rather than an honest curiosity driven questioning of events years gone by.

To be fair, I listen to a majority of opinion from the right. I listen to Ben Shapiro, The Federalist, CATO. I read Reason and Mises. I also try to balance this with The Slate’s, ‘The Gabfest’ and am a regular reader of Slate and up until they went behind a paywall, The Atlantic. Of my sources of analysis, it is Ben that is the harshest critic of Nikole and her project.

I believe that America is that noble invention. I believe in the nobility of the self and the state that allows the expression of the individual liberty we all ought enjoy. In fact, liberty being the natural state of man, I happen to think that the restriction of that liberty, to deny a man the ability to express fully his own liberty, is nearly so, more so, a sin against nature as it would be to take his life.

I believe that we are all members of humanity; a humanity that itself an best be described as a ‘fallen humanity’. That while we are created in the image of God, we have not, cannot, live up to the expectations of a perfect life. That life, that perfection, is not meant for this world; that is the domain of the next. I believe that man can be wicked, man can be cruel. I find that, in the end, we all strive to make a life for ourselves better and that often, as is our nature, we see the world and the resources in it as a finite pie. We see the struggle for a better life as a zero sum game. Think a sporting contest between two players or teams. A score for your team, or a reduction of a score of your opponent is the same. A touchdown is a 7-point advantage for you and represents an exactly opposite 7-point disadvantage to the opposition.

A zero sum game. A game that ends 21-7 represents a 14-point advantage for your team and a 14-point disadvantage to the other team. Plus 14 for you and minus 14 for them. (+14) + (-14) = zero. A zero sum game.

This belief leads to all forms of evil. Slavery being one. In that regard, the United States is not unique. Slavery has existed since time immemorial and in every society and civilization in the world. In fact, slavery continues today. The noble intentions of our founding should not be replaced or rejected simply because people are sinful, a sad state that we cannot escape, but should be celebrated BECAUSE, or in spite of the fact, that we are sinful. It is the acknowledgement of our failings that is the genesis of our nation.

I suspect that Nikole and 1619 will try to refute that. I suspect that I will not enjoy that argument and will likely reject it as wrong.

An Opportunity For Reflection

It’s crazy out there man. Just walk outside, walk around outside and walk around where people are. Since February it’s been the covid. Since last week it’s been about George Floyd.

It’s crazy out there.

Grocery shopping is mostly the same. But only mostly. Increasingly I am getting scolding looks for not wearing a mask when I’m at the store. But so far that’s been it; an occasional glance or a slight frown of disapproval. A couple of times I’ve noticed an actual physical recoil. For example, as I’m making my way out of the aisle to move about the one of the two main horizontal aisles I’ll forget to look and all of a sudden I have intruded the personal space of someone. And to be sure, I have. I am absolutely overly close to that guy and I absolutely am the one that moved into his space. Before, before covid, this happened no more or less than it does today. But today is different. Today the guy recoils. It’s as if I have the plague. And maybe that’s truer than we know. Anyway, grocery shopping is mostly the same.

Work is WAY different. First, I don’t go work anymore. I go to the corner of my room, to my ‘office’ and from there I do my job. I haven’t been to my real office in weeks. Months. I don’t see my co-workers, I don’t see folks getting coffee or lunch. I don’t stop for a beer on the way home. The dogs love it though.

It’s crazy out there.

And then the world blew up.

A cop in Minneapolis, responding to a call regarding a counterfeit $20 bill, apprehended George Floyd, a black man, arrested him, placed him in handcuffs and while he was laying on the ground, not resisting or posing any threat to either 1. run or 2. to the officer, placed his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd and held it there, for 9 minutes, until Mr. Floyd died.

That cop, for no reason, choked George Floyd until he was dead.

And the nation is now on fire. The anger, the frustration and the rage that has been felt by the communities across America have led to reasonable, legitimate and mostly peaceful protests. Black Americans have taken to the streets to voice their anger, their rage, their fear and their frustration over the continued abuse at the hands of their cities and towns, their states and their nation and yes sometimes their police. They are rising up and voicing their opposition to years, decades, generations – centuries, of oppression and abuse and fear.

These people are afraid. And they are tired of being afraid.

And they are right.

These protests are full of emotion. These protests are raw emotion. They are all about emotion; rage, fear, resentment – even a reckoning. And as so often happens when emotions are running high, outcomes that we don’t wanna see can spill into the open. These righteous protests have devolved into riots. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that these righteous protests have been followed by unrighteous riots. To say that America is burning is not a metaphor. Turn on any news channel and you’ll see one city after another, one state after another, on fire. Police fighting citizen; neighbor burning neighbor.

America is burning; it’s crazy out there.

It’s natural, I suppose, to ask yourself, ‘what can I do?’ And there might be obvious answers to that question – I suspect that my younger self had those answers anyway. I’m older than I once was (and younger than I’ll be that’s not unusual) and now I wonder not so much if I am wrong, but I wonder if I ever was right? I know that I don’t have all the answers. I’m now left with wondering if I have any.

It’s been awhile since I have visited this place here at Tarheel. And longer since I have routinely posted like I did all those years ago – kids and ever increasing responsibilities contribute to this decline. But with all that’s been going on I find myself failing back on an old addage I’m fond of:


How do I know what I think until I am able to see what I say?

So, I’m back here old friend. At least for today.

So, what do I think about race today? What do I think about the issues that America faces with respect to race? That’s a question with an answer much larger than a single post here. To be sure. But I do feel compelled to rough it out, to sketch the broad outlines.

I think that America has a lot of hurt in us. And I don’t think that I’ve always felt that way. I think that we’ve got more work to do than I was willing to acknowledge in the past; though I am still optimistic about where we find ourselves. I firmly believe that we’ve made remarkable progress in my lifetime. Gone are the days of codified racism; lunch counters to buses to restrooms to water fountains are all relegated to the history books. Opportunities, if not outcomes, are available and open to all of us. Who can’t become a doctor, a teacher, an attorney? A President?

But. Outcomes. There is very little solace in equality if we don’t equally feel equal. And the outcomes are definitely not equal. I can’t help but feel if it might be THAT fact that is driving the rage today. I don’t know.

Okay, but, so what DO I know – or, perhaps more correctly, what do I think I know today? I think I know that we don’t agree on what racism means. I think that the division in America is politically driven. I believe that policies in place absolutely affect the outcomes that we see today.

I believe that data is critical in this debate. All data – the more of it the better. I believe that we have to have a conversation about what’s going on around here and that we have to allow for that debate to be honest and fear free. Free from the fear of being labelled ‘a hater’ or ‘a racist’. I believe that the free market is the single greatest anti-poverty machine the world has ever seen. I believe that America, the concept that we call America, the promises given to us through the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States are darn near holy documents.

I believe that we are fallible; we are a fallen humanity complete with the failures, sins and ugliness commensurate with being human. I believe that we are still the greatest nation on earth.

And finally. Finally, I believe that deep down, we know, we ALL know, that the world is watching us. Watching us and holding its breath. The world is holding its breath because the world knows, the world knows that if America fails here, there is no hope anywhere else.

At least I think I know.

So, tonight and into this week I’m gonna go back and see what I’ve said. I have a category labelled ‘Race’ and I’m gonna go back through and read what I’ve said. And reflect on what I’ve said and then see if I feel differently.

On Definitions

I hope to write more in 2020. Race will be a significant topic of my posts., therefore, I think it’s important that we get on the same page in terms of definitions.

Racism – A person who believes that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Bigot – A person who regards or treats the members of another group (such as racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Discrimination – The prejudicial treatment of a person or persons based solely on their membership in a certain group or category. Discrimination is actual behavior.

I understand that in today’s usage, the words above have different meaning. Much of what might be categorized as either bigotry or discrimination is referred to as racism. Additionally, racism today is often meant to mean systemic, as imposed by the state, government or society. This means that members of some minority groups are incapable of racism because there is no systemic examples of such. While I acknowledge that such systemic did, and may continue to, exist, that is not how I typically use the term.

Happy New – 2010: Onward!

2020 is here. For many people this begins a new decade, but for everybody it begins a new year. Rebirth, renewal and refresh are strong human needs. And we’ve long used the time at or near the winter solstice to mark the time we celebrate this.

So, I do.

Happy New Year!

Take time to reflect, to look back, to measure and to look forward. Plan, promise and prepare.

No, go do!

Ellen Cancelled

So, turns out that Ellen is a football fan. Who knew?

And, it turns out that the Joneses, ya’ know, the owners of the Dallas Cowboys, are friends with Ellen. Who knew.

So, what happens when someone goes to a Dallas Cowboys game in Texas? Well, they may see Dubya:

Ellen DeGeneres will not be Twitter-shamed for who she spends time with.

The daytime-talk-show-host-turned-media-mogul used the platform late Monday night to discuss hanging out with former President George W. Bush this weekend at a Dallas Cowboys football game.

There was a bit of an uproar when the pair were spotted — accompanied by Bush’s wife Laura and Degeneres’ wife, actress Portia de Rossi — in a stadium suite enjoying the Cowboys taking on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday (the Cowboys lost, btw) in Dallas.

What kind of world do we live in when folks can’t go to football games with other folks?

This is not a small part of why we are where we are. The nation and its politics have become “Inglorious Bastards” where we are all hunting Nazis. And you HAVE to hunt Nazis because you can’t compromise with a Nazi.

An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends

Dear Conservative,

Remember who you are. You are a lover of liberty and of country. And that love requires certain tolerances. Namely, that you tolerate difference of thought, of opinion and of solutions to a wide range of perceived problems.

This will be hard to do. It will not be easy; but you have to do it.

And it will be made harder by the thoughts, the words and the actions of those that you disagree with. They will do and say things that will take you down a path you don’t wanna go. They will tempt you to abandon the liberty and the country to love.

We ARE a nation of immigrants. You can trace your family tree back to somewhere else. And you are right to celebrate that. It is right to take immense honor that it is uniquely American that we are the only country in the world where you can come and then ‘become’. If you come from Germany, you can become American. If you come from China, you can become American. From Romania, from Argentina or from Ethiopia; you can become an American. All knowing that you cannot go anywhere else and become. You cannot become Mexican, or Norwegian or Zimbabwean.

This is what makes us great.

Which is why it is so painful when you cheer statements suggesting select congressmen go back to where they came from. Which is why it is so frustrating to hear you chant, ‘send her back’. You are better.

And yes, it is hard. As they try to silence you, give them a voice. As they insult you, give them respect. As they seek to alienate you, let them have their opinions.

They will try to suppress you. They will call you racist in an attempt to silence you. They will label you as misogynist in an attempt to silence you. They will call you xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and you-name-it-phobic. Yes, they have and yes they will continue to do the same.

Carry on. Bear the burden and carry on.

Our liberty and our country depends upon it.

Chance of Recession: April 2020

Probability of US Recession

Probability of US Recession

Back in the day when Mark Perry was running Carpe Diem at his private location, I would follow his recession data. A fun leading indicator is the nugget he uses: The treasury spread data found at the NY Fed site.

Prepare yourself. Winter is coming.

Bedrock Principles

Noble Intentions

For awhile now I’ve been writing about, listening to, debating the merits of, politics. In many ways it’s enjoyable. In many ways it’s important. But in many ways it’s frustrating. Frustrating because all too often the debate devolves into a ‘fight’ about intentions and not a discussion of the merits of the policy.

How do you debate someone concerning the minimum wage when all they do is retort to your position, “Yeah, well, you just hate the poor. You’re a greedy racist that doesn’t care about the people who are marginalized!”

Here at Tarheel Red I have as a Bedrock Principle something I call Noble Intention.

I try to assume that the going in position of people is that they are operating from a place of noble intentions. That by arguing for a raise in the minimum wage they are NOT being racist or trying to hurt those with little experience. That what they ARE doing is advocating for people who might need a few more dollars in their pockets. That they are earnestly looking out for the little guy.

I hope that I get the same consideration.