Saturday, March 19, 2011

Obamacare and the Constitution

Can your federal government force you to eat broccoli? Sound ridiculous? Not if the individual mandate found in Obamacare continues to be American law. The ridiculous notion that the federal government can force private individuals to buy something they might not wish to purchase should offend every American who understands freedom. Attorney Jack Painter, the founder of the Indian Hill Tea Party, recently presented his legal arguments to a group of students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. I reproduce them here as I found them highly persuasive and illustrative of why so many of us are so strongly opposed to the big government takeover of health care.


Presentation by Jack Painter

Panel Discussion - Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate

University of Cincinnati College of Law

March 14, 2011

Are there limits on what the federal government can tell us to do, and, if so, what is the source of those limits? We face that question because the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to purchase health insurance from a private company or pay a penalty. Intuitively, most of us are uncomfortable with the idea the federal government can force us to purchase private products, but exactly what prevents that?

The source of the Congressional power in question – Article I, Section 8.

The starting point in the constitutional analysis is a principle on which everyone agrees. The federal government is one of enumerated powers, and it can exercise only the powers granted to it in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says Congress has the power to “regulate Commerce . . . among the several States” and also has the power to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers . . . .” The first clause is known as the Commerce Clause, and the second clause is known as the Necessary and Proper Clause.

The Obama administration’s initial justification for the individual mandate – the “substantial effects doctrine”.

Initially, the Obama administration tried to justify the individual mandate under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution based on an established Supreme Court doctrine referred to as the “substantial effects” doctrine. Under that doctrine, Congress may regulate purely local activity if it is economic in nature and substantially affects interstate commerce.

But all the Supreme Court decisions applying this doctrine involve activity, such as controlling and using navigable waters, establishing wages and hours for employees, producing wheat for personal consumption, and turning away motel guests based on race. So the Obama administration has been forced to argue that a failure to act (a decision not to purchase health insurance) constitutes activity or, in the alternative, that Congress’ commerce power reaches beyond activity to cover economic decisions.

Judge Kessler of the D.C District Court accepted this argument when she recently upheld the individual mandate on the grounds that Congress has the power to regulate what she called “mental activity.”

The problem is that this argument doesn’t have any logical limits. For example, a “decision” not to take a job or not to sell your house or not to buy a car would be “activity” that is commercial and economic in nature and could be mandated by Congress.

The Obama administration’s fallback position – Justice Scalia’s “essential to a broader regulatory scheme” theory.

So the Obama administration has shifted to the argument that Congress may do anything essential to a broader regulatory scheme to regulate interstate commerce. Here, the broader regulatory scheme includes mandating that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions. The government says that without the individual mandate, that scheme won’t work because people will wait until they are sick to buy health insurance.

There are several problems with this argument.

· The Supreme Court has never adopted this doctrine. It is based on a statement by Justice Scalia in his concurring opinion in Gonzales v. Raich, where he said “Congress may regulate even noneconomic local activity if that regulation is a necessary part of a more general regulation of interstate commerce.” Justice Scalia based that statement on dicta – meaning a comment not essential to the decision – in United States v. Lopez, where Justice Rehnquist said the Gun Free School Zone Act was not an essential part of a larger regulatory scheme and implied that if it had been, the decision in Lopez would have been different.

· There is nothing in Justice Scalia’s concurring opinion that supports extending his proposed doctrine to inactivity.

· Doing so would permit Congress to mandate any form of private conduct. All Congress would have to do is first adopt a permitted regulatory scheme that won’t work without a mandate and then impose the mandate.

The government’s argument in support of the individual mandate advances a theory of government power that has no limiting principle.

The proponents of the individual mandate argue that applying the “substantial effects” doctrine or Justice Scalia’s proposed “essential to a regulatory scheme” theory to inactivity really does have limits because healthcare is different.

But is that true? As Judge Vinson noted in his decision in the recent Florida District Court case, “the mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce . . . at least not any more so than the status of being without any particular good or service.”

The government responds that everyone will eventually need health care, and because emergency rooms must provide emergency medical care without first inquiring about ability to pay, a decision not to purchase health insurance is necessarily a choice to take a free ride on the healthcare system.

But that is clearly false. Millions of people who do not have health insurance today, including a lot of young adults, will acquire it in the future before they incur emergency medical expenses they cannot afford. And those who remain uninsured at the time they receive emergency medical care will still be legally obligated to pay their bill and won’t necessarily fail to do so. As a result, the most that can be said is that some but not all who fail to purchase health insurance will eventually get a free ride. (According to authoritative studies, the uninsured pay about a third of the aggregate cost of their care out of pocket, and the remaining uncompensated cost is shifted largely to government and has a negligible effect on private health insurance premiums.)

So the principle being asserted by the government is that people shouldn’t be allowed to fail to act if in the aggregate that shifts costs to others. Well, if that’s the principle, what about the failure to go to the doctor for preventative care or checkups? Does that ultimately increase healthcare costs and result in additional cost shifting? If so, does Congress have the power to force people to see their doctors?

Those who say “healthcare is different” also argue that a decision not to purchase health insurance limits the size of the pool of insured individuals and – assuming those not insured are young and healthy – drives up premium costs. But that applies to all forms of insurance, not just health insurance. And that argument also establishes the principle that people shouldn’t be allowed to shift costs to others and again raises the specter of forced doctor visits.

There’s one other problem. The argument that healthcare is different is not a constitutional principle. In the future, courts will never examine the factual differences between programs to see if economic mandates are appropriate. Mandates will be constitutional if Congress deems them to be necessary.

If accepted, the government’s theory would give Congress virtually unlimited power to impose mandates on private conduct.

Let’s assume, however, that Professor Bryant is correct, and the commerce power permits the individual mandate. I’d like to know exactly what Professor Bryant thinks the limits are on Congressional power to mandate private conduct.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the California Irvine School of Law, argues that “Congress could use its commerce power to require people to buy cars.” Presumably, Professor Bryant agrees. He recently wrote that Congress is within its powers as long as it simply requires “the payment of money.”

What are the outer bounds of this federal power? Can the federal government force us to buy broccoli or join a health club? In recent Senate testimony, Former Solicitor General and Harvard law professor Charles Fried defended the constitutionality of the individual mandate and argued that Congress had the power to force people to buy broccoli. What about going one step further to tell us we must eat broccoli or exercise?

The answers provided by Dean Chemerinsky and Professor Bryant are not very comforting. Dean Chemerinsky says, “what people choose to eat well might be regarded as a personal liberty” and thus beyond Congressional control. Professor Bryant stated in his recent Enquirer column that the federal government might not be permitted to force us to exercise.

From what I can determine, their theory is that those actions by the federal government would intrude on personal autonomy and therefore would not be a permissible regulation of commerce. I’d like to know why government intrusion on decisions like whether to go to a doctor and how to pay for it don’t also intrude on personal autonomy.

I don’t know about you, but I find it alarming that the proponents of a broad commerce power can’t convincingly distinguish the individual mandate from forms of government coercion that are clearly inappropriate.

Let me ask this. How many of you in this room are comfortable with the idea that the federal government might be able to force you to buy broccoli, join a health club, or buy a car?

Well, it appears Professor Bryant has some more explaining to do.

The “proper” test under the Necessary and Proper Clause must also be met.

Now let me offer three observations that relate to the “proper” test of the Necessary and Proper Clause.

In McCullough v. Maryland, Chief Justice Marshall said the means chosen by Congress to exercise its commerce power are “proper” under the Necessary and Proper Clause only if consistent with “the letter and spirit of the Constitution.”

This proper test is relevant because Justice Scalia’s proposed essential to a regulatory scheme theory is based on the Necessary and Proper Clause. The substantial effects doctrine seems to be as well, although the Supreme Court has not always been clear on that. Even so, two of the seminal cases developing the substantial effects doctrine, United States v. Darby and Wickard v. Filburn, are explicitly based on both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

First observation – The government’s theory puts the burden of protecting liberty almost entirely on individual liberty rights, and that has serious implications.

My first observation is that Professor Bryant’s view of the commerce power puts the burden of protecting liberty almost entirely on the concept of individual liberty rights, and that has serious implications for federalism and the protection of liberty.

It’s hard to read the Federalist Papers or the Constitution without concluding that the vision of our founding fathers was a sea of individual liberty rights with islands of government power. We’ve debated for over 200 years about how many islands of government power exist and how big those islands are. As the islands of government power have grown, we’ve evolved in the opposite direction towards a sea of government power with islands of individual liberty rights.

If I am correct in assessing Professor Bryant’s vision of the commerce power, Professor Bryant is asking us to fully accept the idea of a sea of government power with islands of individual liberty rights.

So what’s wrong with that?

Well, let’s look at what those islands of liberty rights are. They fall into three categories. First, minor limits on federal power under the commerce clause, like those recognized in United States v. Lopez (Congress cannot prohibit guns near schools.) and United States v. Morrison. (Congress cannot regulate gender-motivated violence.) Second, the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. And third, so-called “unenumerated rights” that the Supreme Court has read into the Constitution through the Fourteenth Amendment under a doctrine called “substantive due process.”

Because the limitations on the commerce power are so minor under Professor Bryant’s theories, the islands of liberty rights really consist of the second and third categories - the Bill of Rights and unenumerated rights.

That means the limits on federal and state power – the fences around their power, if you will – are effectively the same, and as a result the federal government has virtually the same powers as the states. That is inconsistent with the idea stated by Madison in Federalist No. 45 that the powers of the federal government are “few and defined”, unlike the powers of the states, which are “numerous and indefinite.” (The Supreme Court reaffirmed this famous statement by Madison as recently as United States v. Lopez.) It is also inconsistent with the plain meaning of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

It also means our liberty is at risk since existing individual liberty rights don’t provide much protection from the possible intrusions on personal autonomy mentioned above. The Bill of Rights enumerates specific rights, like freedom of speech, but it isn’t well suited to protect us against the types of personal mandates we’re discussing, presumably because the framers of the Constitution never envisioned them. That means we have to rely on the so-called “unenumerated rights” that have been recognized by the Supreme Court under the doctrine called “substantive due process.” But those “unenumerated rights” are fairly narrow. One line of cases recognizes a right to privacy and protects only “fundamental” rights, like the right to abortion. Another line of cases, based on Lawrence v. Texas, recognizes a right to liberty itself but at best protects only conduct that is not harmful to others, such as certain private sexual conduct. Based on this Supreme Court precedent, there is a real risk the courts will conclude that our failure to eat broccoli or exercise indirectly harms others by raising healthcare costs and is therefore not a protected right. I believe that’s why Dean Chemerinsky and Professor Bryant hedged on whether the federal government could impose those mandates.

Second observation – The individual mandate is unprecedented, and government mandates like it are vastly more intrusive than mere prohibitions.

My second observation is that the individual mandate is unprecedented, and government mandates like it are vastly more intrusive than mere prohibitions.

To understand this, it helps to categorize government coercion, whether state or federal, into three categories: prohibitions of chosen activity, regulations of chosen activity, and mandates.

· A prohibition of chosen activity occurs when the government says “You can’t do X.” This happens, for example, when a law says you can’t drive above the speed limit or steal from your neighbor.

· A regulation of chosen activity occurs when the government says “If you choose to do X, you must do X in a certain manner.” For example, if you choose to build a house, you must comply with building codes. Or the government says “If you choose to do X, you must do Y as well.” For example, if you choose to drive a car on public roads, you must purchase auto insurance.

· A mandate occurs when the government says flat out “You must do X”, and the coercion has nothing to do with chosen activity. It applies merely because you reside in this country or are a citizen.

The individual mandate falls into this third category of coercion. The federal government coerces you to act in specific ways (purchase health insurance) merely because you are a citizen. You cannot make a choice to forego certain activities and avoid the government coercion.

This is unprecedented. Until now, the only time the federal government has imposed such a flat out mandate is in the case of military conscription, jury service and census participation. Unlike the individual mandate, those mandates are all contemplated by the explicit language of the Constitution. (Military conscription is based on the power to declare war and raise armies found in Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 11 and 12; jury service is contemplated by the Sixth Amendment, which mandates a right to trial by jury in criminal trials; and the census is specifically called for in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3.) Those mandates are also all essential to the very existence of the federal government and therefore considered fundamental duties of citizenship. No one seriously argues that the private purchase of health insurance is essential to the very existence of the federal government and therefore is a fundamental duty of citizenship.

Mandates like the individual mandate are also vastly more intrusive than mere prohibitions. Imagine I tell you 100 things you may not do tomorrow. For example, you may not run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. While your liberty would be restricted, there would still be an infinite number of things you could do. Now suppose I tell you 100 things you must do tomorrow. You must run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. These 100 mandates could potentially occupy all your time and consume all your financial resources.

Some people claim the individual mandate isn’t unprecedented by citing various kinds of government coercion. You should pay close attention, though, to the examples they give. All of them involve what I call regulation of chosen activity. In other words, the government says, “If you choose to do X, you must do X in a certain way or must also do Y.” For example, if you choose to build a factory, you must install certain pollution control devices. These are not flat out mandates like the individual mandate.

Others argue that the power to mandate private purchases is really no different or more intrusive than the power to impose taxes. Both are claims on the fruits of your labor and therefore infringe on liberty. In one case, the government forces you to give money to the government. In the other, it forces you to give money to a private business. Either way, you are out-of-pocket the money.

But that argument ignores the differences between the two:

· We justify the infringement on liberty caused by taxation on the theory that taxes are essential to the very existence of government and, therefore, the payment of taxes is a fundamental duty of citizenship. That justification doesn’t apply to the individual mandate.

· And the framers of the Constitution clearly recognized this unique justification for taxation. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and the Sixteenth Amendment explicitly give Congress the power to impose taxes. If the Constitution were as explicit about Congress’ power to mandate private purchases, we wouldn’t be debating the issue today.

· In any event, the fact that we gave the federal government the power to impose taxes doesn’t in itself mean we gave it carte blanche to mandate the purchase of products or the payment of money to others. In fact, the history of the taxing power illustrates that one government power doesn’t automatically beget another. Even though the original Constitution explicitly permitted various forms of taxation, a constitutional amendment was still necessary for the government to tax income from dividends, interest and rents.

There’s one other important distinction worth noting. To one degree or another, there is an element of choice in taxation that often makes it a regulation of chosen activity rather than a flat out mandate. You have a choice whether to purchase and continue to own real property and therefore pay real estate taxes. You have a choice whether to invest in tax exempt bonds and avoid taxes on investment income. And you have a choice whether to spend your savings and avoid some or all of the estate tax. Admittedly, these choices have practical limitations, but they are still choices. In contrast, the individual mandate doesn’t involve any chosen activity. It applies merely because you are alive.

Third observation - Ultimately, the types of mandates at issue are inconsistent with the fundamental idea that underlies the theory of rights in the Declaration of Independence.

My final observation is that Professor Bryant’s vision of government is inconsistent with the fundamental idea that underlies the theory of rights in the Declaration of Independence - the idea that we own ourselves and, therefore, have the right to be left alone as long as we honor the equal right of others to be left alone.

Professor Bryant suggested in his Enquirer article that the idea of a right to be left alone supports the individual mandate. After all, he argues, people who fail to purchase health care insurance are imposing higher costs on others and violating their right to be left alone.

But since when do higher costs for things I choose to purchase violate my right to be left alone? And if that does violate some right I have, why is the solution to impose economic mandates that further intrude on my personal autonomy?

And Professor Bryant seems to assume that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act eliminates subsidies to people who currently don’t purchase health insurance. In fact, it just changes how subsidies get paid and apparently expands the number of people eligible for subsidies. Currently, uninsured consumers receive subsidies (largely from taxpayers) but only if they don’t pay their hospital bill. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, people who meet certain tests and are below 400% of the poverty level receive subsidies (entirely from taxpayers) to purchase health insurance.

In any event, the point is that if the government can force us to pay money to a private company for the rest of our lives, and by logical extension, force us to buy a car or join a health club and perhaps force us to eat broccoli or exercise, we have strayed far from the vision of liberty at the heart of our system of government.

Does the individual mandate pass the “proper” test in light of the above analysis?

My analysis of the individual mandate can be summed up as follows:

  • The government’s argument in support of the individual mandate advances a theory of government power that has no limiting principle.

  • If accepted, it would give Congress virtually unlimited power to impose mandates on private conduct.

  • Such a broad federal power would effectively eliminate the distinction between federal and state power that is fundamental to the structure of the Constitution.

  • It would also lead to improper infringements on liberty because the Bill of Rights and the so-called unenumerated rights currently recognized by the Supreme Court have limited application.

  • In any event, the individual mandate is unprecedented, and government mandates like it are vastly more intrusive than mere prohibitions.

  • Ultimately, the types of mandates at issue are inconsistent with the idea of self ownership that underlies the theory of rights in the Declaration of Independence.

Given these conclusions, is the individual mandate “proper” under the Necessary and Proper Clause? Specifically, is it consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution?

There are no Supreme Court decisions addressing whether economic mandates like the individual mandate meet this test, but that’s because they are novel and have never existed before.

There is precedent, however, that mandates on state governments are not proper. In the 1990’s, the Supreme Court held that certain federal mandates constituted an unconstitutional commandeering of the state legislatures. These included forcing state governments to take nuclear waste and mandating local sheriffs to run background checks on gun buyers. These cases were ultimately grounded in the Tenth Amendment, but that Amendment recognizes not just state sovereignty but also the popular sovereignty of the people.

Professor Randy Barnett of the Georgetown University Law Center makes a strong argument that the individual mandate fails the “proper” test, and I find it persuasive. If you’d like to read his argument, it’s part of a law review article he wrote that I’ve posted at

He also points out that refusing to extend the commerce power to inactivity will not overturn any Supreme Court precedent and will affect only this one law. And extending the anti-commandeering doctrine to the people may be novel, but the individual mandate is itself novel, just as certain federal mandates on the states were novel before they were struck down.

The stakes are high.

To sum up, I believe the individual mandate crosses a threshold with significant implications and that it is time to acknowledge that and turn back. As Judge Vinson said in his opinion, “It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as a result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.”

I urge you to keep an open mind as you reflect on these issues. When there is broad public opposition to a law because people think it improperly intrudes on their lives, it is incumbent on our elected representatives and those of us in the legal profession to pay attention. The legitimacy of our system of laws depends on the consent of the governed. If we lose that, we put our legal system at risk.

Given the importance of this issue, vigorous debate is critical. I’d like to thank Professor Bryant and Dean Bilionis for giving me a chance to participate in this discussion and be part of that debate.


Jack Painter lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a corporate attorney. He is the founder of the Indian Hill Tea Party and on the board of the Ohio Liberty Council. He can be reached at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Debe Terhar, Etc.

Congratulations to Green Township's own Debe Terhar on her election as the new President of the Ohio Board of Education. Debe, in her first term, is taking the state by storm. I am so proud of Debe for stepping into this important role and making a difference. Debe is a committed conservative and her work in the education arena is good for the state. Along with her husband, Lou, they ran an outstanding campaign to win this seat for the Republican Party. Finding great candidates for public office should be the priority of any Republican organization and Debe Terhar is a success story for our party.


The 2011 election cycle will include races for the Hamilton County Municipal Court. There are 9 judges who face the voters this fall. Municipal Court seats in Hamilton County are broken into 7 districts with 2 judges being elected in each district. Of these 9, the GOP has 5 incumbents who will seek re-election. These outstanding judges will interview for our endorsement in the coming weeks and all of them are off and running. They are:
  • Judge Lisa Allen
  • Judge Bernie Bouchard
  • Judge Brad Greenberg
  • Judge Russell Mock
  • Judge David Stockdale
The Democrats have 4 incumbent judges who have received their endorsement in the past and they are:
  • Judge Cheryl Grant
  • Judge Matthew Fellerhoff
  • Judge Fanon Rucker
  • Judge Tyrone Yates
This should be an interesting election cycle.


My thoughts and prayers are with the good people of Japan. I texted REDCROSS to 90999 to make a small contribution. How can you not? Americans have always been generous in the face of tragedy and for our close ally and friend, Japan, we should continue that generosity.


The criminal who killed two innocent people downtown on Tuesday night in a fiery crash at 9th and Sycamore should get the full measure of justice. The coward ran from police in a high speed chase that resulted in him violently crashing his vehicle into a taxi cab killing two innocent people. To see the disturbing police video and to hear Chief Streicher's news conference, click here.


Cincinnati City Council passed pension reform yesterday. Kudos to the members who had the courage to make the tough decision to fix this problem. Taking things away from people when you are an elected politician is quite a challenge. We need more courageous government action from elected officials in both parties if we are to fix the state and the country.


President Obama is a failure as President. I hope the voters make the right call and remove him from the presidency in 2012. Although many of my fellow conservatives feel his ouster is inevitable given his total lack of leadership, President Obama is well-positioned to win re-election. Incumbent presidents are historically tough to defeat. This president will raise and spend an obscene amount of money--something our candidate must be prepared to do, too. The latest failure of this administration is their decision to not be serious about spending reform and spending reductions. I think it is terribly interesting that the country is clamoring for more fiscal sanity and the Democrats propose a very modest $6 billion cut in federal spending. The Republicans are proposing over $60 billion. Put me in the camp that says that number ought to be over $100 billion. Cut, cut, cut. President Obama continues to demonstrate a horrendous lack of leadership on spending.


Our legal community lost a very good man this week with the passing of Frost Brown Todd attorney Dick Goehler. Dick was the consummate professional. He was an outstanding attorney and friend to many. In addition to his contributions to the legal profession, Dick Goehler was a committed Republican who stayed active with our local party by serving on our Judicial Screening Committee and actively supporting many candidates. His loss is immense and he will be greatly missed. To read more about Dick Goehler, click here.


I'm a recent convert to all things produced by Apple. I don't go far without my Macbook and I've vowed to never go back to a Windows-based computer ever again. Why? Because they work--all the time. I have an iPad and now, recently, made the switch to the iPhone. These super high quality products simply blow away the competition. Apple is doing it right.


Our Republican HQ is nearly completely remodeled. We are thrilled with the result. Although the space is smaller, it is cleaner, fresher, and more conducive to productive work. We're getting the party ready for 2012.


George Will wrote a somewhat biting, yet interesting, column about our current crop of 2012 candidates. He was harsh on Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich for some of their rhetoric. Will writes that there are really only five legitimate candidates currently considering a run: Daniels, Huntsman, Pawlenty, Romney, and Barbour. All are governors or former governors. I disagree with George Will on Gingrich and Huckabee as both have many strengths. But, I like George Will and I specifically like that he urges candidates to be sensible in their rhetoric. I don't think that kind of high-mindedness exists on the other side. Remember what the Democrats did to George W. Bush? I haven't forgotten. To read George Will's column, click here.


On our Redlegs...I have an outlandish idea. Why not start Aroldis Chapman on Opening Day? I know purists (of which I think I am one) will argue why such a stunt is a terrible idea. But, I go to Opening Day every single year and I would love to know that the opening pitch on Opening Day for the defending National League Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds would be 106 MPH.


It's not too late to participate in our NCAA bracket challenge. Here is the information you will need:

The law in our neighboring state of Indiana on collective bargaining is similar, if not exactly like, the law proposed in Ohio's Senate Bill 5. Have you watched what's happening in Indiana? It is a state with a booming economy drawing jobs in the thousands and launching its governor to one of the highest approval ratings in the country. Indiana is a successful state. And its "middle class" is thriving. The doomsday scenario being threatened upon the passage of SB5 will not materialize. I am convinced that the average public sector employee will not suffer the pain threatened by some loud voices within the union ranks.


It's my blog, so I'm allowed to offer my two-bit opinion about all sorts of things. So, here goes. The United States should stay-the-heck-out of Libya in every way imaginable. I've heard both sides of the argument in the media and I don't see a vital national security interest in putting our pilots in harm's way. The slaughter there is unfortunate and heart-wrenching and Quaddafi is a bad guy. But, we can't solve every world problem with American power. I applaud President Obama for staying out of this fight. I might be in a minority within our GOP on this one--but I'm entitled.


The Muskies will face two Big East teams to get to the Sweet 16. Despite my sometimes-ribbing of Muskie fans, I'll be rooting for them in this tournament. I always do. Having two good teams is great for the city, for morale, and for our image nationally. I'm rooting for these Muskies. But...


The UC Bearcats make a return to the NCAA Tournament this year. My beloved Bearcats face a tough first-round match up tonight against Missouri. The tougher match up will be for me as I battle the urge to fall asleep after the first half.


I'm not Irish today. I'm Greek every day. And darn proud of it. This doesn't mean I won't enjoy a green beer at the annual Friendly Sons of St. Patrick's Dinner tonight. Putting on the tux and enjoying the camaraderie of the Irish is always fun at that annual event.


A long blog posting this morning. Have a great St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2011 Hamilton County GOP Bracket Challenge

Again in 2011, the Hamilton County GOP is hosting an online NCAA bracket challenge.

Will Lisa Caldemeyer, our 2010 winner, repeat as champ?

You will need to establish a CBS Sportsline account with your OWN User ID and Password. Once passed that, you will be prompted for a password to get into our bracket. That password is: elephant.

Join in the fun at:

(the above link is new on 3/15!)

Please use the above link and make sure that the bracket you're using says "2011" in the title.

The winner will be invited to lunch with Chairman Triantafilou!

This is being done for entertainment purposes only.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Gov. Kasich, etc.

Gov. Kasich is leading. And leadership means making the tough calls. In the coming days, Gov. Kasich will unveil his reform agenda and his budget. The budget must trim over $8 billion to come into balance. Failed governor Ted Strickland left a terrible, terrible mess for us to clean up and it is not going to be easy. Already, we have seen the price our party takes for exhibiting leadership and for making some very difficult decisions. I have great faith in Gov. Kasich to turn around our state. Radical change is needed or our economic slide will continue. Gov. Kasich is just the man.


When I talk to Tea Party leaders, I typically ask for one thing: give our leaders the backing they need to make the tough calls. Don't get swayed by the public opinion that sways the traditional political parties who exist to maintain power. Stand with those elected officials who will make the unpopular choices to take things away from people. We are entering an era in American politics where government must take things away and oftentimes government will take things away from some who will vocally tell us we can't. These are very difficult political choices. But, if we want a government we can afford, we must ultimately make sweeping changes. Will we pay a price at the polls? Maybe. Will we save the state and the country? If we do what we must, I'm sure of it.


The personal attacks and heated rhetoric were wrong when we did it at President Obama and Speaker Pelosi during the Obamacare debate. The public sector unions are doing it now and it is wrong now, too.


Speaking of personal attacks, I have been disappointed by some of the petty, insulting name-calling that I've seen on social media and other places in this collective bargaining reform debate. Some people who I respect have lost that respect as they use vile personal attacks on political leaders with whom they disagree. Emotion clouds the judgment. It shouldn't. Dignity should always prevail--in victory and defeat. Some of my friends have forgotten that. Criticize us on policy all you want to. Name-calling and personal insults are useless and only stand to strengthen our resolve. Compromise and negotiation are made more difficult when it becomes personal.


We unveiled our Cincinnati City Council slate for 2011. I'm proud that our Nominating Committee recommended the endorsement of Leslie Ghiz, Wayne Lippert, Catherine Smith Mills, Amy Murray, and Charlie Winburn. These five members can make a difference at City Hall.


If you are not part of the process, don't complain. If your political involvement only includes sitting at your computer and complaining via the Internet, you're not contributing to the solution. If you don't like what's happening in your city, township, county, state, and nation, get off the sofa and get involved! Plato is famously quoted as saying, "[T]he punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men." Are you a better man or woman? Get involved.


ESPN is reporting the tragic death of 16 year old high school basketball player Wes Leonard. This young man, from Fennville High School in Michigan, tragically collapsed and died after a high school basketball game on Thursday evening. A star of the basketball and football team, Wes Leonard suffered a cardiac event suddenly causing his death. To learn more about this tragic story, click here. Why mention this on a political blog? Because it should remind all of us that life is fleeting and precious. The things we do in politics are meaningless and our differences petty when we consider how quickly life can end. If this young man's tragic death makes us all take one step back from the angst, then maybe one small good will come from this tragedy. Keep Wes Leonard and his family in your prayers.


NAACP President Christopher Smitherman appears to be running for Cincinnati City Council. He'll have some work to do to earn my vote. He might start by telling his followers the truth about what has transpired at the Board of Elections. He might also educate Cecil Thomas on court procedure. Calling for the arrest of Board of Elections members for violating a non-existent court order is the type of false hyperbole that has thrust Mr. Smitherman into the spotlight, but leaves responsible leaders in our community with serious doubts about his ability to contribute to the greater good. Smitherman is a gifted and bright guy, but he needs to find a more adult voice as he attempts to re-enter government service.


LaRosa's is the city's best pizza.


The Bearcats are likely to return to the NCAA Tournament. That little progr'm on Victory also is headed there. It should be a fun March.


The defending National League Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds are a few short weeks from starting up the regular season. And I can't wait. As I've pointed out on this blog before, a good baseball team lifts the spirits of this city like nothing else. Baseball is played 162 times per year which means that a good team can entertain us in the spring, summer, and into the fall. Following the team on a daily basis is a wonderful sidelight to the daily grind of life. Go Redlegs!


Those angry about SB5 call party headquarters. Those angry at the few Republicans not supporting SB5 also call party headquarters. Those angry at both call party headquarters. In the end, the party gets blamed by everybody for everything at some point. And I love it. Because we're in the middle of the public debate.


I respect the position taken by BYU in dismissing Brandon Davies. Our modern society is too full of people lacking standards and lacking discipline. There was no "bait and switch" with him. He knew the rules, he broke them, and he's out. If you don't want to live by the rules, don't go there. A good lesson in 2011 for every kid: a rule is a rule. Even if it prohibits a cup of caffeinated coffee.


The construction at the party HQ continues and is nearly completed. We will be having a grand reopening party when it is all finished.


Have a great weekend.