A Judicial Valentine

By J.F. McKenna

President Donald Trump got a jump on Cupid this year, handing America a Valentine in the person of a federal judge with, as the Associated Press notes, “a writer’s flair and polished legal pedigree.” The President’s intention is to send him to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13, 2016.

Like Justice Scalia, Judge Neil Gorsuch is not only a writer with flair and an enviable legal background but a jurist for whom the terms “textualist” and “originalist” are no strangers. Having served on the 10thCircuit Court of Appeals since 2006, Judge Gorsuch called his nomination “a most solemn assignment.”

“It is the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” the judge said at President Trump’s announcement Tuesday. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge.”

All in all, quite a judicial Valentine, don’t you think?

Of course, given the sore-loser approach of Senate Democrats, this Valentine in 2017 could translate into a pre-Thanksgiving pink slip in 2018 for Sherrod Brown. The senior Ohio senator’s vote on the Gorsuch confirmation might be a nail in Brown’s political coffin, especially to voters who passed on the donkey for the elephant in 2016.

As soon as the Gorsuch pick was known, Brown announced his opposition. He declared the nominee to be “far outside of the judicial mainstream,” with rulings that deem corporations are people, are hostile toward anti-discrimination and criminal justice protections, and oppose women’s rights to basic healthcare at places like Planned Parenthood. “The people of Ohio deserve Supreme Court justices who will defend the rights of working families over Wall Street and corporate special interests – and Judge Gorsuch’s record doesn’t pass that test,” said a statement from Brown.

Memo to Senator Brown: It’s not too late to change your mind and vote in favor of the 49-year-old from Denver.

As Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said, “His academic record, his background are extraordinary,” Cruz said. “He was a law clerk to Byron White, who is John F. Kennedy’s only Supreme Court nomination – he was a Democrat himself, Byron White – and Judge Gorsuch’s record is such that he has demonstrated the intelligence, the humility, the faithfulness to law that I think Republicans are going to vote for, but I also hope and believe a number of Democrats will as well.”

More important, Senator Cruz vowed that Senate Democrats would not be able to derail Gorsuch’s nomination, telling Fox News that “one way or another, I believe the Senate will confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

To non-lawyers like me, Gorsuch is right in the mold of Antonin Scalia. The first Italian-American to sit on the Supreme Court, Antonin Gregory Scalia embraced an originalist, or textualist, approach to his decision-making.

“The Constitution,” Scalia declared, “is not an organism. It means today what it meant when it was adopted.”  See https://clevelandbusinessreview.org/2016/02/14/a-man-of-words-a-man-of-law/ .

In time Justice Gorsuch will be a “lion of the law,” just as Gorsuch called Scalia.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their Papillions, Lord Max and Prince Teddy. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .



Things Not Otherwise Noted: October Edition

By Doug Magill

Things the local media have not bothered to report recently:

Realtors Already Have Plots to Sell After They Find Gold.
The Curiosity Rover has been working in an area of Mars called Rocknest (what isn’t?) for the last month.  It has performed the first-ever X-Ray diffraction analysis of the soil and has determined that it resembles volcanic sand.  What is truly amazing is that until now the machines required to do such analysis are too large to even consider putting on a spacecraft.  Somehow the NASA engineers found a way to seriously shrink the one on the Curiosity.

Wired.com on the Curiosity Rover.

And Ronald Reagan is Laughing Somewhere.
Derided and dismissed by the liberals in academia, the press and the Democrat party, Ronald Reagan’s proposed missile defense system was supposed to be impossible to implement.  Reagan knew better, and his belief in American capability has once again proven to be sound.  Even though the Obama administration has cut funding and has tried to diminish the effectiveness of the program work has continued and significant successes have been achieved.  Recently the military conducted the largest and most complex test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system ever attempted.  The test involved five separate targets including a cruise missile (For those of you in public universities, that is a low-altitude target).   Four out of five targets were destroyed.

Aviation Week Report on the THAAD test.

We Don’t Know If This Includes Rahm Emanuel.
Of course this has to be California, but a resident of Irvine wants a sign memorializing fish killed in a crash:

Orange County Register Reports on a PETA request.


This Used To Be Taught In What Was Known As Social Studies.
Religious liberty.  It was so important that it was part of the First Amendment.  Yet our president and extra-Catholic Vice President and Secretary of Health and Human Services don’t get it.  Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to explain.

It only takes 16 seconds.


Media Types Really Think They Only Happen After Junkets.
It is known but not discussed in elite media circles that regulations and uncertainty about taxation cause indecision by those tasked with running companies.  Sometimes the results are deferred investment and hiring, sometimes they are immediately felt as layoffs.  Obamacare, tax policy confusion, and the explosion in regulation are devastating some businesses, and communities.

Obama’s Layoff Bomb.


Read Headline.  Collect Paycheck.
Jay Leno is paying more attention to what is happening than most of the mainstream media.

Jay Leno Hammers Obama on Benghazi.


Well, At Least He Has Some Friends.
When in power the temptations of crony capitalism are great.  The democrats seem to have made it a central tenet of their governing strategy, however.  Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, whose controversial columnist wife, Connie Schulz, was fired from the Plain Dealer for spying, has his own buddies who benefit from his access to the President’s stimulus plan.

Top Sherrod Brown Contributor Received Stimulus Funds.

You Think The IRS Is A Pain Now?
Very few in the media have bothered to try to understand what the reporting requirements (and subsequent loss of privacy) are for Obamacare.  The enforcement agency is the IRS, and yes they will be hiring a lot more agents who will be tasked with enforcing the controversial law.

Byron York on IRS Requirements in Obamacare.

Take a Look and Envision the Swearing Around Tax Time.
At least someone has tried to project what the paperwork will look like.  Here is what one organization thinks you will have to fill out for Obamacare.

Obamacare Tax Form Required by the IRS.


Things We Already Know But Are Worse Than We Thought.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has endorsed both Barack Obama and Sherrod Brown.  What is little known is how biased the paper really is, as it runs lots of Politifact articles about Josh Mandel, but few about Brown or Obama.

The Plain Dealer In The Tank For America’s Most Liberal Senator.

Doug Magill is a freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

Zoot Suits Solyndra While the Grail Remains Elusive

By Doug Magill

“Bad, wicked, naughty Zoot! She has been setting fire to our beacon, which I have just remembered – is grail-shaped … It is not the first time we’ve had this problem. “  Monty Python and the Holy Grail

In the classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the fetching Zoot and her sister, Dingo, along with a number of equally blond and attractive teenage girls tempt Sir Galahad to forgo his vow of chastity during his journey to recover the Holy Grail.  Unexpectedly rescued by Sir Lancelot, Galahad is indecisive about leaving such a charming locale.  He argues for his return, claiming that he really isn’t in danger and can use a bit of peril anyway.

Such is the world of fantasy imitated by the feckless politicians pursuing the Holy Grail of renewable energy which seems every bit as elusive as the fictional one.  And yet they desire to keep returning to that world of make-believe.

On the day that the CEO and the CFO of Solyndra plead the 5th in front of a Congressional committee, the Plain Dealer ran an article in the business section claiming that “the realization that Ohio’s economic recovery will depend on smart energy policies is driving a growing political debate.”

The mind reels.  Realization, what realization?  And by whom?  Certainly not by Ohio’s business executives.

I don’t know the reporter who wrote the article, but he clearly doesn’t understand business, or business people.  And neither does the mayor of Cleveland, who claims that not pursuing renewable energy will “sacrifice the region’s manufacturing future.”

To think that renewable energy is the solution to Ohio’s economic recovery is staggering in its simplicity and naivete.  The complexity of Ohio’s economy cannot be reduced to talking points about what is politically correct.  There are enormous tax and regulatory issues that affect manufacturing investment as well as the abysmal educational environment and the unwieldy overhead of our greedy public-sector unions.  Add to that the uncertainly of a business-hostile president and his attempt to impose crushing taxation on successful entrepreneurs (the officers of sub-chapter S corporations will be enormously affected by his proposals), smothering environmental regulations, an anti-competitive NLRB, and the horrendous projected increases in costs due to Obamacare.  It is understandable why no one wants to invest or expand right now.  Anywhere.

And still, grail-shaped beacons of renewable energy attract the hapless Galahads of government, in the form of politicians and bureaucrats who do not understand business and wish to expend our tax dollars for their own amusement and self-aggrandization.

There are a lot of successful manufacturing companies in Ohio that are willing to expand given the right environment.  And renewable energy policies are not driving factors.

What is underneath all the flash and sparkle of the renewable-energy crusade is an ugly conceit: that someone in government is smart enough to decide what investments should be made.  Frankly, it is appalling that after all this time and so many debacles with our tax dollars that our elected leaders, abetted by the media, still don’t get it.

Investments are made by individuals with a dream, a vision, and the willingness to work hard to make it happen.  The government needs to lose the arrogance of thinking it has a role to play in investment decisions.

Solyndra failed because its cost of manufacturing per watt of output was significantly higher than any of its competitors ($.84 for First Solar in 2009, vs. $6.29 for Solyndra).  And its sale price per watt ($3.42) was so far below their manufacturing costs that the company’s demise was inevitable.  Which is what the Department of Energy was told early in the year in the midst of restructuring the $535 million loan – at a lower interest rate than any other company was getting.

But in the fantasy world of government investment, connections matter more than competency.  Solyndra’s investors were significant donors to the Obama campaign – and to Senator Sherrod Brown’s campaign as well.  And in the last year visited the White House almost 20 times.

The  business that was being transacted had little to do with making money for the company’s investors, and a lot to do with paybacks for government loans.

This is what inevitably happens when government tries to manage business, and the economy.  At least Congressman Darrell Issa gets it.  His subcommittee is reviewing the Solyndra fiasco, but is also questioning why the federal government is at all involved in loan guarantees to businesses.

A great question.  One that Mayor Jackson should ask as well.

Northeast Ohio has much to recommend it, and individual businessmen can make the case better than bureaucrats and politicians.  Cleveland Heights just landed an Israeli security company, Ohio City is seeing renewed investment, a Twinsburg company is seeing opportunities in the vehicle natural gas conversion market, and Kent State just initiated a significant push for a stronger research and development focus for the university.  These are just some of the activities that will help us grow and prosper.  All of them are significant, have great potential for the region, and promise something more than mythical renewable-energy initiatives.

For now, the Solyndra executives and the energy department wonks that enabled Solyndra have to find a way to find redemption.  As Robert Byrne once noted wryly, “In order to preserve your self-respect, it is sometimes necessary to lie and cheat.”

Sounds like an Obama administration mantra.

Doug Magill is a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  he can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net