The GOP-majority Supreme Court saved President Barack Obama’s bacon Thursday with a political ruling that papered over his signature Affordable Care Act. Writing for the majority in the 6-3 King vs. Burwell decision, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the 900-page law was written behind closed doors with little debate or amendment and thus was “inartfully” drafted. It was the court’s obligation, he wrote, to translate bill language limiting the government subsidies to enrollees in “an exchange established by the state” as meaning enrollees in federal exchanges also can get subsidies.
Roberts always has been a consummate politician in his role as guardian of the big bench. The President George W. Bush appointee had good reason to fear how the public might react if the Supreme Court overturned a law that benefits millions of Americans.
Thirty-four states rely on federal Obamacare exchanges. That’s 6 million people, 87 percent of whom bought health care with federal tax credits. Roberts cited a study that predicted that cutting off those subsidies would result in a 47 percent increase in premiums and a 70 percent decline in enrollment.
In coming months, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is expected to announce whose face will replace that of Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. The switchover will honor the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which in 1920 gave American women the right to vote.
The new face will be that of a woman, which is only appropriate. Who will that woman be? Several names have been suggested (see below), and even more will be put forth between now and the time Secretary Lew makes up his mind. Stay tuned for the competition.
Do most people care whose faces are shown on the money they spend? I don’t think so. As time passes and technology grows, cash - of any denomination - becomes less important. One day soon we may all pay our bills just by pressing a couple of buttons on our iPhones or other gadgets.
When is the last time you actively deceived someone, or society in general, about yourself? It might have been nothing but a little white lie. Or it could have been about a college prize you didn’t actually win, or a combat assignment in Vietnam that you really didn’t take part in. Or maybe you can say, “I have never thrown a curve ball at anyone, for any reason.”
Lucky you, you lying dog. The truth is that everyone evades, shades, slants, spins or simply ignores the truth at one time or another. All of these questions come to my mind (and perhaps to yours) when I think about Rachel Dolezal of Spokane, Washington, who recently lost her job as head of the local NAACP branch. She was found to have falsely declared herself as black, when she is actually the white daughter of two white parents.
The resulting news accounts have answered the question, “How did she manage to pull it off?” The more interesting (and larger) question is: “Why do people lie, especially when they don’t have to?” And why - as is the case with Ms. Dolezal and Brian Williams - would they risk destroying their entire careers and reputations if their falsehoods are discovered?
A few weeks ago the City of St. Petersburg delivered to my driveway a bright blue 95-gallon recycling container.
It is part of the so-called Universal Curbside Recycling program that requests residents to sort through their trash to separate newspapers, aluminum cans and other debris. For the “privilege” of participating in this voluntarily program all property owners must pay $2.95 a month. Some folks took their new recycling bins to the recycling center.
St. Petersburg terminated a previous voluntarily recycling project due to lack of participation. The environmentalists then conned city fathers into not only passing an ordinance to nick taxpayers with a mandatory monthly fee, but to provide each household with those ghastly blue containers.
I have never been to Cuba - nor have I thought much about it. Well, except for two weeks in October 1962, when the Cuban Missile Crisis found me on active duty in the U.S. Navy and my squadron expected to ship out for Havana any day.
That is, if Florida weren’t obliterated by a nuclear-tipped missile in the meantime.
But lately, Cuban travel is all the rage, as President Obama’s initiative to relax trade restrictions against Cuba is hotly debated. St. Petersburg College will contribute to that debate with a free public forum titled Cuba: Embargo or Not? 6-8 p.m., June 30 at the Poynter Institute. SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and the Global Action Coalition are co-sponsors of the forum.
New words and ideas keep inserting themselves into the English language. Sometimes the new stuff weeds out the old words, even though the old ones are still useful and accurate. Although these linguistic outrages stain the fabric of our native tongue, it nevertheless behooves us to keep track of the new expressions so that we don’t find ourselves on the sidelines, unable to understand what’s being said or to express our own thoughts clearly. Following are a few examples that have recently hooked themselves into my porous brain.
TAKE. Until recently people reached “conclusions,” made “judgments,” formed “opinions,” and arrived at “decisions.” These words are now being eased out of modern jargon and are being replaced by an umbrella noun. It is “take.”
“Now that tornadoes have wiped out half the homes in the Midwest, what is your take on the recent weather patterns, Mr. Meteorologist?”
The Seminole City Council should quit playing games with the Sunshine Laws. The council’s attempt May 12 to thwart Councilor Patricia Plantamura’s efforts to obtain information from City Hall violated the spirit if not the letter of Florida’s public records law.
Though they have since somewhat made amends for their questionable actions, city councilors showed a troubling disregard for the public’s right to know in voting to put restrictions on her requests for information.
City councilors approved Mayor Leslie Waters’ motion May 12 to authorize the city manager to charge a fee for all public records requests by Plantamura that are not timely or relevant. Smells like discrimination to me.
As the 2016 elections draw nearer, news reporters and TV debate hosts will be coming up with questions to ask the candidates. We should all help out by submitting our own lists of topics any worthwhile presidential contender should be required to speak out on. Following are few of my suggestions.
1. “How do you feel about our foreign policy with Finland?” Some folks would dismiss this question as irrelevant to today’s international situation. They are mistaken. Any eighth grader will tell you that Finland and Russia share a common border. So do Russia and Ukraine, where Russian forces are now gathering in a possible invasion attempt. If Ukraine falls, Finland could easily be the next. Should we send U.S. boots on the ground to Finland, right now? And when is the last time we saw Secretary of State John Kerry visit Helsinki?
2. “If you were the only surgeon on earth, and you were asked to save the life of Russian president, dictator and suspected murderer Vladimir Putin, would you agree to try? If so, why? If not, why not?” Obviously, these questions might be directed at GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who is an accomplished neurosurgeon. But the other candidates should also be given a chance to respond, perhaps with such questions as “Does Mr. Putin have health insurance? Is he covered by ObamaCare?”
Suddenly it is June and the voice of the commencement speaker is heard throughout the land. Throughout America young men and women are gathered in a final conclave to hear their elders give advice on how to conduct their lives now that their high school or college days have been completed.
Do you remember who your commencement speaker was? Or what he/she said? I remember one of mine. He was the chairman of the local Wildlife Protection League. The gist of his lecture was this: “Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother.” His words were later set to the tune of a famous Sousa march. I took his advice to heart, and have never harmed a fowl, if you don’t count a few thousand roast chickens I have dined on.
The advent of annual graduation ceremonies at high schools and colleges strikes a note of panic into the hearts of millions of alumni. It asks the question: “Shall I attend my class reunion or not?”
Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings, are held every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Scottish American Society of Dunedin, 917 Louden Ave.
The cost is $3 and $5 for nonmembers. The social club is dedicated to the preservation of Scottish culture, offering Scottish country dancing, line dancing, holiday dinners and parties.
Friday Night Dinners LARGO – Friday Night Dinners are served 5 to 8 p.m., with music by Karaoke DJ Bill Johnson, 7 to 11 p.m., at American Legion Post 119, at 130 First Ave. SW. in Largo. The cost is $7.25 and includes shrimp, four-piece chicken and all-you-can-eat fried fish served with rolls, french fries and coleslaw.
July 4th poolside picnic LARGO – Bring the family, a blanket and a picnic basket to enjoy the Independence Day Poolside Picnic Friday and Saturday, July 3-4, noon to 4 p.m., at Highland Family Aquatic Center.
The cost is $23 for a group of five or $12 for individuals. Do not bring alcohol or glass into the facility. Splash’s Snack Bar will be open.
Kiwanis Midnight Run DUNEDIN – The 36th Kiwanis-Virginia Street Dermatology Midnight Run will be held Friday, July 3 and the morning of July 4, starting on Causeway Boulevard.
The Midnight Run starts at 12:15 a.m., Friday, July 4; the 5K run starts at 11:25 p.m. and the One Mile Run/Walk starts at 11 p.m. on Thursday, July 3.
Registration on the day of the event starts Thursday, July 3, 9:30 a.m., at Causeway Plaza, 2602 Bayshore Blvd. in front of the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch Store and continues until each race starts.
Virginia Street Dermatology and the Kiwanis Club of Top of the Bay sponsor the event.
Senior center jam session ST. PETERSBURG – The Sunshine Center Country Classics band is looking for experienced musicians.
Old country music and some new will be featured in the jam session on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m.
Audience members are welcome to sing solo or with the crowd.
The Sunshine Center is located at 330 Fifth St. N.
For more information, call 893-7190.
West Coast Swing dance lessons SEMINOLE – Free West Coast Swing dance lessons are offered on Fridays, 6 p.m., at Crystal Blue Ballroom, 10527 Park Blvd. N.
Lessons are free for anyone under the age of 30.
Call Renee at 698-0171 for more information.
ROC ‘N the PARK Music Festival and Fireworks Spectacular MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Madeira Beach presents the ROC ‘N the PARK Music Festival and Fireworks Spectacular Saturday, July 4, at the Madeira Beach Recreation Center, 200 Rex Place.
Admission is free. VIP seating is available for $50 per person or $75 per couple. VIP seats include access to an air conditioned building, private restrooms and free food.
Music begins at 4 p.m. with the Bearded Brothers Band. The popular Black Honkeys take the stage at 8 p.m., following a 30-minute performance by the Apallo Band at 7:30 p.m. The Bearded Brothers Band plays from 5:45 to 7 p.m. The Apallo Band will take the stage again at 10 p.m., following the fireworks show.
The fireworks show, set in the Intracoastal Waterway, begins at 9:30 p.m.
Parking is $20 at Madeira Beach Fundamental School, Madeira Beach Marina and a lot on the north side of the Madeira Beach Causeway next to the 9/11 Memorial. Shuttle buses will transport folks from the school all day. Valet parking, next to the Madeira Beach City Hall, is $25.
Lawn chairs are permitted but no coolers. Food and beer vendors will be on site.
Fireworks in Largo Central Park LARGO – Celebrate Fourth of July with one of the best firework shows in Pinellas County Saturday, July 4, 6 to 9:30 p.m., at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.
Bring your chairs, blankets and family to this free event, which will include great food, entertainment and activities for all ages. The fireworks show will start at about 9:15 p.m.
New this year, enjoy a pie-eating contest, watermelon seed spitting contest, T-shirt decorating for $5 and inflatable activities with a $10 wristband.
No dogs, alcohol, fireworks or coolers allowed. Limited on-site parking will be available for $5. Or, park for free and walk from Largo Middle School and Everest University.
The city of Largo would like to thank presenting sponsor, HCA West Florida Pinellas County Hospitals for making the event possible. Pinch a Penny, Biltmore Construction, Pathways Community Church, Gateway North and all Community Event Friends also contributed to this annual event.
Fourth of July events TARPON SPRINGS – Tarpon Springs will celebrate Independence Day with two different events on July 4.
The first, a picnic, will be hosted by the Tarpon Springs Recreation Department at Craig Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include music, a bounce house, a waterslide and other contests and activities.
The second event will be the fireworks display at Sunset Beach, which residents can view from Fred Howard Park. The fireworks are expected to launch at about 9 p.m. and will last about 20 minutes.
Sunset Beach will be closed to the public at 1 p.m. for set-up and the boat launch will be closed all day.