Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Obamacare and Romneycare Share a Lot in Common

The Wonk Room (here) provides this handy-dandy table comparing major provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act and the Massachusetts Health Law, which shows the challenge Mitt Romney faces in trying to distinguish "Romneycare" from "Obamacare":

Major ProvisionsAffordable Care ActMassachusetts Health Law
Individual MandateYesYes
Employer ResponsibilityYes — but not required to provide coverageYes — required to provide coverage
Affordability CreditsYesYes
Standard Benefit PackageYes — w/o abortion servicesYes — w/ abortion services
Establishes ExchangesYesYes
Prohibits Insurance Company From Canceling CoverageYesYes
Bans Denying Medical Coverage For Pre-existing ConditionsYesYes
Medicaid ExpansionYesYes
Medicare CutsYesNo Authority

Happy Trails Paul Scholes

The great Manchester United midfielder is retiring after 17 years as a professional. Scholes was part of an amazing collection of home-grown talent, rising from the ranks of the Man.U. youth squad along with David Beckham, Gary and Phil Neville, and Ryan Giggs. With the retirements of Scholes and Gary Neville this season, only Ryan Giggs remains in the Red Devils squad. As an Arsenal fan, the greatest compliment I can pay Scholes is that I wish he had been a Gunner. During the course of his career, he converted himself from a scoring midfielder to a distributing midfielder, all the while playing at the highest level. Never one to gloat or grab the spotlight for himself, Scholes was a player's player, who would have featured in any side in the world. He is among the true greats of the modern footballing era.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Tea Party Wants to Curtail All Federal Spending (It Does Not Like)

According to a story from today's L.A. Times (here), "Republicans are under enormous pressure from 'tea party' conservatives to curtail spending."

I think it would be more accurate to say that 'tea party' conservatives want to curtail spending that does not benefit tea partiers. In case you needed a stark reminder (Rep. Ryan clearly does), see the poster below: <

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Metric Century Saturday

A challenging 62.5-mile ride with the Wilkes-Raynor group today, after interval training in the Eagle Creek Park yesterday evening. Collapsed when I got home. Then, I received a message from Dr. Raynor about a 50-mile hill ride tomorrow, including Observatory Hill and several other really tough climbs south of Mooresville. At first, I thought he must be kidding, but, like several of my cycling buddies, he really does seem to enjoy suffering. I don't, so I'll be on a recovery ride tomorrow, closer to home. I'll ride with the gang again on Monday, to finish up the holiday weekend with somewhere between 150-200 total miles.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Life after Death and the Green Cheese Content of the Moon

An excellent column by Sean at Discover Magazine's blog (here), explains why the notion of life after death is incompatible with our scientific understanding of how the world works. He recognizes, of course that "everything we know about quantum field theory could be wrong. Also, the Moon could be made of green cheese."

Hat tip: The Browser.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Don't Particularly Care Whether Judges and Lawyers Read My Scholarship

Over at Concurring Opinions (here), my colleague and friend Gerard Magliocca has just posted on the perennially controversial issue of the relevance of legal scholarship for the legal profession. Having butchered the comment I posted in the string following Gerard's post, I thought I would rephrase and expand on my remarks here.

Plenty of legal scholarship has been, and continues to be, written primarily for the benefit of practicing attorneys and judges. Personally, I find most such scholarship to be uninteresting, perhaps for the same reasons that legal practitioners find it useful. In any case, the subset of legal scholarship devoted to the practical affairs of judges and lawyers seems to have been shrinking, as a percentage of the entire corpus of legal scholarship. An increasing percentage of the literature is not written primarily to educate and/or influence lawyers and judges. Unsurprisingly, then, that they find the literature less relevant to their day-to-day work. It's not supposed to be relevant (at least not directly).

My sense is that Justice Roberts understands that point, but Judge Harry Edwards does not. The former considers much of legal scholarship to be irrelevant to his work on the Court, but does not denigrate it as the later has. I find bemusing the presumptuousness of judges and practitioners who believe that they comprise the only legitimate audience for legal scholarship.

I confess that some of my scholarship (for instance, my work on the Takings Clause) is intended to influence or educate (however ineffectually) lawyers and judges. But they are not the intended audience for much of my work. Much of what I publish is intended to influence or educate law-makers and regulators; and sometimes I am just working through problems and puzzles with my colleagues in academia. Even if some judges and lawyers cannot understand why I might want to do that, such scholarship has significant social value, contributing to the stock of useful knowledge in the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The (Latest) Lance Armstrong Doping Story

Several friends have asked  me about this story since the 60 Minutes episode (which I didn't see) aired this past weekend, featuring Armstrong's former teammate, and convicted liar and doper, Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton, whom I'm told has a tell-all book coming out, alleged that he witnessed Armstrong dope. The problem, of course, is that Hamilton has no credibility. Neither does Armstrong's other former teammate, Floyd Landis, another convicted liar and doper. One former teammate who does have credibility, George Hincapie, isn't saying what he told the grand jury.

During an era of  rampant - nearly universal - doping in professional cycling, I would be surprised if Lance Armstrong did not dope. But he cannot be convicted in a court or law - and should not be convicted in the court of public opinion - only on the testimony of those who have been proven to lie and cheat, and seek to profit from telling what they now say is "the truth." I'm content to wait until we learn what Big George said.

One further issue question is what happens if Armstrong is legally convicted of having doped. Can the Tour de France strip him of his titles, even though he never tested positive before, during or after the race? If they do strip his titles, who gets them?  Those who finished second in those years? Ullrich (known doper)?  Beloki (known doper)? Basso (known doper)? Zulle (known doper)? Perhaps they can give all seven titles to current Radio Shack rider Andreas Kloden, who finished second to Armstrong in 2004 and has not (yet) been found to dope.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Climate Science Is Less Murky than Climate Politics

The US National Research Council released a new report last week. America's Climate Choices (2011) offers a much-needed reminder that rampant climate denial in Congress is not about sound science but mere political posturing or wishful thinking. The complete report can be read here. Below is a brief synopsis of the report.

America's Climate Choices, Report in Brief

Daniels Not Running for President

The New York Times is reporting that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has decided against running for president. I take this to mean that he does not believe he can defeat the incumbent in the general election. For a long time, I believed that Daniels could not win the Republican nomination. I changed my mind about that in recent weeks as the Republican field began to form, and as Daniels burnished his social-conservative credentials by signing a controversial abortion law defunding Planned Parenthood in the state of Indiana.

To what extent was Daniels' decision determined by the recent killing of Osama bin Laden? I believe that event secured reelection for President Obama, absent the occurrence of some equally dramatic disaster between now and election day.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nowe Maestro w Indianapolis

As long as I already broke my hiatus earlier today, I might as well do it again to say how impressed I am by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's new musical director,  the 28-year-old prodigy from Poland, Krzysztof Urbanski. He has not even officially taken the reins yet, and already the orchestra is sounding better than it ever did under previous director, Mario Venzago.

Today's concert featured two pieces by Mendelssohn, surrounding an absolutely brilliant performance of Scriabin's extraordinary violin concerto by Hungarian virtuouso (and former winner of the Indianapolis International Violin Competition), Barnabas Kelemen.

At the post-concert reception, hosted by the Polish Cultural Society of Indiana, a story was told about Maestro Urbanski's ability not just to conduct without a score, but to actually rehearse complex pieces, ranging from Dvorak to Lutoslawski, completely from memory. That's impressive, but no more so than his apparent musicianship. The ISO has done brilliantly in hiring its new music director. The orchestra and its audience should benefit greatly for the next several years.

Giving Up on United Airlines and Mileage Plus

I'm breaking my hiatus, momentarily, to publicly register my dissatisfaction with United Airlines' Mileage Plus program, of which I have been a member for more than a decade. It was once fairly easy to use miles obtain upgrades on United flights, including to Europe. Now, it is nearly impossible. Even when seats are available, they charge a ridiculous premium on top of the already over-priced upgradeable coach fare. United upgrades are no longer worth the effort and cost. Consequently, I will be cashing in my miles for whatever crap I can get, then cancel my Mileage Plus membership and my United Visa Card.