Tuesday, January 31, 2017


The women’s march on Washington, with its pink hats and explanatory signage marks a strange and scary development in American politics.

It used to be that Americans were divided between Republicans and Democrats. Or between liberals and conservatives. Or between black and white. Or between young and old. Rich or poor.

In the 1972 movie, “The Candidate” there is a scene in which Robert Redford, weary of repetitious speech making, bursts into a litany of the opposing groups he asks to vote for him. It is truly hilarious.

But pink politics is something new. By dividing the electorate between males and females, it seems that the marchers are demanding that our national sovereignty must be controlled by the female sex.

Admittedly, males have dominated the profession of governance for as long
as history is recorded. It is still true that the vast majority of elected officials in the United States are men.

The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, almost a century ago. In that time, women have asserted themselves at the ballot box and in every facet of society. Many laws which were written to protect women have been scrapped. The so-called glass ceiling has been shattered in the professions, in business, in education and indeed in government.

Socially, the women’s liberation movement, often called feminism, has had a tsunami influence on American culture. Griswold v Connecticut, a U. S. Supreme Court case decided in 1965, declared anti-contraception laws unconstitutional. That was one of the first feminist victories.

As pregnancy became more of an option than the anticipated result of mating, both males and females found themselves ‘liberated’ from the consequence of sexual activity. Women were free to choose a full time business or professional career outside of the home. Men were relieved of responsibility for pregnancy.

The statistics show how the American family has changed through the years.
When Polly and I were married in 1951 there were about 11 marriages and 2.5 divorces for every 1,000 Americans. Today, those numbers are roughly 6.0 and 3.0.

So about half as many people get married, and the divorce rate is higher. The statistics don’t tell the whole story. Marriage has become optional. Men and women pair up and simply live together. Back in our day, that was frowned upon. Now it is just a ‘significant other.’ For many, ‘going together’ is a revolving door. Nobody keeps statistics on all the moving in and moving out that goes on in our cities.

The birth rate reflects the sexual revolution. Like most European countries, the birth rate in the United States is less than the 2.1 required to maintain the population. Only the immigration of people from Mexico has kept our population growing.

The feminist revolution has had deep cultural overtones. Hormonal differences between males and females dictate attitudes, tendencies and preferences, all of which are related to the reproductive role nature has assigned to the sexes.

Because the good Lord has given all human beings free will, we are capable of learning to act as we wish. Despite natural instincts, women can become professional wrestlers and men can learn the profession of manicuring.

The push toward eliminating the differences between sexes, fueled by the mantra of political correctness has given us gay marriage for both sexes, a demand for universal public toilets, and now, a political movement defined by genitalia.

Admittedly, Donald J. Trump is a throw back. But he is not a misogynist. He does not hate women. Quite the contrary, he loves women. Married three of them and bought himself a beauty contest. Hired one to be his campaign manager. If anything, Trump is a sucker for female pulchritude.

There will be a woman President in the United States some day. That is a given which no one denies. I sincerely hope that the day after her inauguration there will not be a mass protest in Washington D.C. attended by men wearing stove pipe phallic symbols on their heads.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


January 26, 2017
Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

I write to urge you, among your first acts as Commander in Chief, to close the book on one of the most disgraceful pages in the history of the United States Army.

On November 5, 2009, Nadal Hasan, a Major and a psychiatrist in the United States Army Medical Corps, shouting “Allahu Akbar”, murdered 13 people and injured 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas.

That massacre was investigated by the Department of Defense, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by the United States Senate. The FBI concluded that Hasan acted alone, and not in concert with any terrorist organization; the Department of Defense report called Hasan’s action “workplace violence”; and the Senate described the mass shooting as the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

In August of 2013, a panel of 13 officers convicted him of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder, and unanimously recommended that he be dismissed from the service and sentenced to death.

Despite that recommendation, Hasan remains incarcerated in the custody of the United States Army to this day. Not only has the Army failed to carry out the judgment of execution, but it has indirectly excused Nasan’s heinous action as that of an “enemy combatant.” Relying on an amendment to an appropriation bill, the Army has awarded the Purple Heart, legally reserved for battlefield injuries, to victims of the Fort Hood Massacre.

It is patently obvious that the Army’s failure to carry out the execution of Hasan can be traced to the Commander in Chief, if not by his direct order, then by permitting the chain of command to assume the wishes of their civilian superior.

President Bush, in the face of the 9/11 massacre, concluded that it was an act of war. For want of any more culpable adversary, he launched a retaliatory attack on Iraq, the nation against which his Father had waged war a decade before.

Barack Obama attempted to redirect the conflict from classical warfare to a struggle for the hearts and minds of the followers of Muhammad. His conciliatory speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, just six months into his first term was aptly entitled “A New Beginning.” For the next seven and a half years,  he tip-toed around the existence of radical Islamic terrorism, hoping all the while that his own Muslim inheritance and his acceptance and admiration of Islamic history and tradition would win enough friends in Mosques around the world to stifle the terrorist fringe.

You have aptly characterized his strategy as weakness. It is patently obvious that his attitude toward Nidal Hasan has been influenced by a fear that the recommended execution would trigger a frenzy of retribution by the most radical of the Islamic Terrorists.

By electing you, the American people have sent a signal to the world that Islamic Terrorism will be treated as exactly what it is: an irrational religious cult which is committed to achieving domination of human society by every form of criminal force and terrorism.

Calling it by its true name, Radical Islamic Terrorism, you have identified the culprits as criminals, enemies of civilized society, who are not to be reasoned with or placated , but who must be eradicated from the planet.

Internationally, they cannot be allowed to establish a Caliphate, or permitted to sit among the nations of the civilized world as an equal. Domestically, they must be summoned to the bar of justice for every violation of the laws of the United States, and subjected to the full measure of criminal punishment permitted under our Constitution and our laws.

You, Mr. President, can set a stirring example of this classic American response to domestic terrorism by allowing Nidal Hasan to be dispachted in the manner provided by law.


Thomas E. Brennan 
Thomas E. Brennan                                                                       

Former Chief Justice of Michigan

Saturday, January 21, 2017


I have often thought that there is a relationship between politics and the binary code. Binary code; that’s the seemingly endless string of  0’s and 1’s that computers use to store and communicate information.

All human decision making; perhaps all human knowledge, comes down to the 0’s and the 1’s. Yes or No. Aye or Nay. Up or Down. True or false. It is or it ain’t.

Which is why the so called “two party system” came into being. It wasn’t invented or decreed. It wasn’t adopted like the the Constitution. It just happened when Vice President Thomas Jefferson ran against President John Adams in 1800.

The legacy of that election, often called the ‘revolution of 1800’ has been a national Congress in which both Houses are divided by an aisle down the approximate center, separating the majority from the minority.

Procedural rules in both houses protect the right of the minority to participate in the legislative process. Any truly deliberative body needs to hear both sides.

The Catholic Church never confers sainthood until it has heard from a “Devil’s Advocate” in opposition. Vigorous debate is the best insurance against bad decisions.

In the United Kingdom, it is customary for the party which is not in power to organize a “shadow government” consisting of unofficial department heads corresponding to the members of the ruling Party’s cabinet. Their function is to critique the work of cabinet officers.

The bottom line is that in civilized nations there is such a thing as ‘loyal opposition’ which is both honorable and useful. Members of the minority party take the same oath of office, and are bound to support the same Constitution as members of the majority.

We commonly talk about, and approve of, efforts by Representatives and Senators to “reach across the aisle” to assemble bi-partisan support for legislation. That involves nothing more nor less than listening to objections, debating alternatives and arriving a better conclusion because the loyal opposition has concurred in the final product.

The whole process is civilized, intelligent and proven by human experience.

All of which brings me to the misguided comments of Congressman John Lewis of Georgia: 

“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people,” Lewis told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a segment for “Meet the Press.” “It’s going to be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Lewis argued that the efforts of hackers suspected to be Russians, to discredit Hillary Clinton, tilted the election in Trump’s favor.

“That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open, Democratic process.” Sorry, Congressman, it was exactly what happens in free elections. Your side reveled in disclosing a statement by Mitt Romney at a private meeting;
the infamous 47% remark. You really can’t complain when Wiki Leaks reveals that the DNC was siding with Clinton against Bernie Sanders.

All of which wouldn’t matter much if it were not for Lewis’s background as a civil rights protester and his call to organize protest against the 45th President of the United States.

There is a place for loyal opposition in American politics. It’s a good thing; a useful component of our democracy.

But the attempt to marshal civil disobedience against the duly elected Chief Executive of the country is not only irresponsible, it is downright treasonous.

The thugs who rioted during the President’s inauguration broke the law, destroyed property and endangered lives. That 217 were arrested attests to the fact that there was serious mischief being done.

The thousands of women who marched today were peaceful. Despite their lack of any agenda, they had the right to march and express their unhappiness.  But I sure hope they don’t listen to Representative Lewis’s call for civil disobedience. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I wrote a blog about health care back in 2009, called TOO MANY DOCTORS?. Here it is: http://oldjudge.blogspot.com/2009/07/too-many-doctors.html.

My argument then, and still today, is that affordability is a subjective standard, best served by unleashing the free enterprise system.

On reflection, I must say that there is one big problem with free enterprise. It can best be described as REALLY free enterprise.

REALLY free enterprise, like basic free enterprise, begins with the idea of human liberty; nothing more nor less that human beings pursuing their own happiness by making their own decisions.

But REALLY free enterprise includes the freedom to act in concert with other people. Thus associations, corporations, partnerships, unions, churches, clubs, political parties – you name it – every manner of combining the efforts of more than one person, involves free people freely associating to pursue happiness together.

And the problem is that the freedom to associate often gets in the way of individual freedom.

I remember the phenomenon very well from my days spent launching the Thomas Cooley Law School. The American Bar Association is a fine organization, completely voluntary, which lawyers all across the county join for the purpose of improving their profession.

But the common economic interest of lawyers often tempts them to close the front door of their profession. It’s a common practice in all trades and occupations. Licensure statutes are always popular with licensees, whether plumbers, builders, barbers or nurses. The theme is “you don’t get to do it unless you are one of us.”

In business, many people seek to “corner the market.” It’s call having a monopoly. It’s a natural selfish instinct.

In the final analysis, the ultimate monopoly is the exclusive use of force to accomplish things. It’s called sovereignty; people power; the power of government.

Historically, logically and necessarily, under the common law, it is a proper function of government to regulate monopolies.

Now, here is where it gets sticky. Under the Constitution of the United States of America, we are a federal nation; that is to say’ the power of government, the right to use force to accomplish things, is divided between the States and the national government.

That division can be stated very simply: the national (we call it the ‘federal’) government gets to use force to do all those things, and ONLY those things specified in the national Constitution. The States get to use force to do everything else.

That is what the Tenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, the last Right of the Bill of Rights, tells us. Whatever power has not been expressly given to the national government stays in the States or the people themselves.

Health care basically consists of two things; knowing what to do and doing it. Diagnosis and prescription. Knowledge and service. Heads, hands, and hearts. Making it affordable in a free country requires removing every unnecessary obstacle to the recruitment, training and authorization of health care professionals.

And it requires reducing the responsibility for health care to the lowest common denominator. The cheapest health care is that which is self administered: diet, exercise, rest. Learning how to take care of yourself. Knowing when you are sick and what to do about it.

The next cheapest source of health care is your family. The folks who love you. The people who live under the same roof that you do. Right after that comes the guy next door. The folks in the neighborhood. Your town. Your city. Your State.

The most expensive health care is that which is farthest away. Like the brain surgeon in Switzerland. Or the bureaucrat in Washington, D. C.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


The Greatest Generation invented the term: R and R meant Rest and Recuperation. Or Rest and Recreation. Or Rest and Relaxation. It didn’t matter. It was just R and R. Or maybe even “Rock and Roll.” Everybody knew what it meant.

But times change and words change and even slang and abbreviations change. Google R and R today and you might find an article about “Repeal and Replace.”

Nancy Pelosi says the only good thing about Repeal and Replace is that it is alliterative. I don’t often agree with Nancy, but I’m with her on this one.

After all the thundering promises to repeal Obama Care, Congressional Republicans have jumped on board the Pander Train and promised to enact a new National Health Care Law to replace the discredited ACA.

Early in his campaign, Donald Trump had a simple answer to the Obama Care question. He said: “Just let the Insurance Companies sell across state lines.”

Hello. What a drastic idea? For more  than 200 years, health care has been a matter solely within the jurisdiction of the States. Every State has some sort of regulation of health insurance companies. Some, like Massachusetts, have a system very similar to the Affordable Care Act.

The result over the years has been that some States have more inclusive, more affordable, more desirable health care providers than other States.
But they also have licensure requirements that keep foreign companies out or put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Mr. Trump is a businessman. He understands the free enterprise system. He knows that “affordable” is a slippery word. It is certainly not a standard that can be written into the law. What is affordable for one person is exorbitant to another.

The Republicans in Washington have lost their nerve. They are backpedalling on their brave and bold promise to repeal Obama Care.

And why? Simply because there are some features of the law that are popular and they don’t want to be pegged with killing things like coverage for pre-existing conditions, extended parental coverage for children to age 26 and the large number of people who are simply getting health insurance as a welfare benefit.

Surely there are many in Washington who hope that the law can be replaced with support from both sides of the aisle. After all, Bill Clinton said the law is crazy, didn’t he? And Hillary conceded that it needs amending. The D.C. establishment of store bought politicians – the “swamp” as Trump calls it – will be working hard to mesh the ideas of “fix” and “replace” in order to claim a bipartisan solution.

The real tragedy is that nobody is speaking for the Constitution. Both Parties are committed to a national health care system, dictated from Washington, D.C. and mandatory from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and Washington would be appalled. There is nothing in the Constitution suggesting that health care is a proper function of the national government.

Health care in America, before Obamacare, was the envy of the world. It was built on the free enterprise system; the sum total of the free choices of a free people.

Health care is a human necessity, like food, clothing, shelter and liberty.

Like these other essentials, health care cost varies from State to State, often from town to town. The history, the weather, the culture, the terrain, all these things affect affordability.

One size does not fit everybody. The last thing we should want to do in America is to kill the spirit of initiative and enterprise. The Republicans have the gavel in Congress. They should repeal Obamacare, every word of it. Make it effective in two years to give everyone time to adjust.

Then forget about replacing it with another federal program. Just let the fifty States do what they are supposed to do under our Constitution.