Quick Hits

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, legalizes gay marriage

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This past week, the Supreme Court of the United States made two historic rulings.  In the first, King v. Burwell, the Court upheld one of the basic tenets of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).  The Constitutional question in the case was whether the tax credits the federal government offered could be given regardless of whether someone purchased insurance from a state-run health insurance exchange, or exchanges run by the federal government for those states that did not set up their own exchanges.  The law itself was a bit vague on this matter, and the Court said that the clause in question should be interpreted in a manner “that is compatible with the rest of the law,” meaning that both the federal and state exchanges would be eligible for the credits.  This is a long-winded, technical way of saying that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, has survived what is hopefully its final court challenge.

The second ruling, in Obergefell v. Hodges, affirmed that same-sex marriage is a human right that has been denied to gay couples in the past.  The case centered around the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which says that no state shall deny the equal protection of the laws to any citizen in its jurisdiction.  Because marriages were being performed and recognized for heterosexual couples but not for homosexual couples, the petitioners argued, equal protection of the laws was being denied.  The respondents argued that the Constitution does not discuss marriage, and thus the Court is in no position to rule on it.  The Court ultimately agreed with the petitioners.  I’ll let this quote from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion speak for itself regarding the Court’s reasoning:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Pete Rose digs his grave further

FILE--Baseball great Pete Rose talks to reporters at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in this June 19, 1997 photo. Rose, whose gambling got him banned from baseball in 1989, applied for reinstatement to baseball on Friday, Sept. 26, 1997, hoping the sport will end his lifetime ban. ``He has requested that baseball reinstate him so he can spend the rest of his life in the game he loves,'' said Rose's lawyer, S. Gary Spicer. (AP Photo/ George Widman)

Pete Rose has put his case for reinstatement and Hall of Fame eligibility in serious question.  Documents obtained by ESPN strongly suggest that Rose bet on baseball as a player, contrary to his insistence that he hadn’t.  It was thought that Rose came completely clean in his 2004 book My Prison Without Bars, but even as late as this year, he has continued to say that he only bet on baseball as a manager.

I defended Rose in a post in 2013, saying that since he has admitted his wrongdoing, it was time to recognize how transcendent of a player he was, and bring him up for a Hall of Fame vote.  Now I’m not so sure.  On its face, the fact that he bet on baseball as both a player and manager isn’t that big of a deal to me, as long as he didn’t bet against his own team.  But since he has continued to give us lies and half-truths, who’s to say we won’t uncover more documentation that reveals he did bet against his team?  Even if he were to say he was being completely honest at this point, I’m not sure that I would believe him.  The uncertainty surrounding his case and the difficulty he has proving a negative will continue to wear away at his Hall of Fame case.   For what it’s worth, there is some ambiguity in ESPN’s documents (for instance, they only say “Pete” in the gambling ledgers, never identifying Rose by his last name), so maybe that evidence will turn out to prove nothing.

Scott Stapp has bipolar disorder

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Good news finally broke in singer Scott Stapp’s bizarre meltdown that lasted for most of the last two months of 2014.  In an interview with People magazine last month, Stapp revealed what many had suspected: he’d been through an intense mental breakdown in which he suffered a psychotic break, made worse by a relapse into abuse of prescription drugs and alcohol.  He finally sought treatment after his wife texted him family Christmas photos, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  He is now on a 12-step program to recover from his substance abuse, with mentors guiding him to make sure he doesn’t fall off the wagon again.

I’d said in my previous post on this matter that I was tired of Stapp’s antics, and this whole affair has done nothing to change that feeling.  While I am glad he’s gotten treatment, I’m beginning to wonder if some of these aren’t cleverly designed publicity stunts to keep him in the public eye and generate material for his albums.  They sometimes seem curiously timed, right when it seems he’s back on the straight and narrow for good.  That said, I have never been addicted to drugs, nor have I been diagnosed with mental health problems, so I don’t know those struggles firsthand.  Maybe it really is that hard for him to stay clean, sober, and healthy.  Needless to say, I hope that no further incidents like this unfold, and he can continue to make more music successfully.

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3 thoughts on “Quick Hits

  1. I like this column. A little of each of your three main interests in the blog: politics, sports and music. The explanation of the Supreme Court’s case is solid. The earlier gay rights case (overruling the criminalizing of consensual homosexual conduct) was based on the right of privacy. This case is different in that it was based on equal protection. It foreshadows future challenges against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    I may be cynical, but I just think Pete Rose is not to be trusted. The ban should continue.

    Good tunes from Tremonti.

    Keep those columns coming.

    • Actually, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the gay rights case that preceded this one, was based on equal protection as well. I think you’re referring to Lawrence v. Texas, which centered around the right to privacy since two gay men were busted for having gay sex in a private residence. The next fight, I think, is making sexual orientation a protected class. There’s been progress there, but it’s not ideal yet.

      Glad you liked the Tremonti tunes. Wasn’t sure you would.

  2. Pingback: Shuffling Singers |

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