Sick of Mick, more than ever

Here in Aspen, we had a mayor named Mick Ireland. After a while, yard signs popped up saying “Sick of Mick.” A website even popped up, called SickofMick.com (the website is still up).

We finally got over Mick, we thought, but it turns out he was just in remission. Now he’s back.

A 2014 story in this newspaper shows how unpleasant this ailment can be. Mick crashed a private party in the park, ate their food and drink and abused a lady guest with profanities. When an 84-year-old at the party tried to escort him away, Mick took a swing at him.

Mick later claimed on Facebook that he’d been assaulted, contrary to the statements of everyone else at the party. And Mick made no mention that his “assaulter” was 84.

I once criticized Mick’s position on a political issue. He posted my column on Facebook with the comment “Aspen. It’s not for everyone. Maybe you should move on.”

I wondered what kind of mayor tells a citizen to leave town for disagreeing politically.

I soon found out. City Council meetings include a “public comment” period where members of the public are each given three minutes to comment. Another elderly gentleman (not the one to whom Mick lost the fight in the park) rose, limped to the lectern with his oxygen tank in tow and nervously began his little comment.

Mick repeatedly interrupted him, talked over him and berated him. It was beyond rude.

In response to that story, a local told me this: “Glenn, that was typical Mick behavior. I attended one City Council meeting to make some comments accompanied by a then 88-year-old local who is an icon of environmental causes. Mick intentionally made us wait until the last item on his agenda so this 88-year-old woman had to sit and wait until 11 p.m. or later, then drive home alone after. (Mick has an) instinct for the nasty.”

When Mick was finally term-limited out of the mayor’s office, he ran for City Council and was trounced by a newcomer. So, Mick set up a law and “consulting” (his word) business to monetize his connections with the city bureaucracy. He’s been milking that for a few years.

But now he’s back and running for Pitkin County Tax Assessor. That’s right, he wants to decide the taxes of people he hates while recharging the inside connections he exploits in his business.

In a comment in this newspaper, I asked tongue-in-cheek,”What could go wrong?” Mick responded to me with, “Glad to recuse on any property owned by such as yourself.”

Huh? He intends to recuse himself from matters involving me and other people “such as” me? What kind of public servant is so admittedly biased that he’s forced to recuse himself in advance from issues involving the citizens he serves?

Mick’s opponent has posted yard signs around the county with the permission of homeowners. Some of her yard signs have gone missing. Mick has not condemned the thefts.

Another local said in this newspaper: “I have witnessed Mick when he was mayor scream obscenities at a woman on the stairs of City Council chambers, for her opposition. … In this era where many of us are appalled at (Donald) Trump’s behavior, how can anyone look the other way with Mick?”

Mick doesn’t want you to look the other way. He frequently posts gauche pictures of himself in spandex bike shorts and, in a video at SickofMick.com, he refers to himself as an “icon.”

Mick threatened in this newspaper that SickofMick.com is “actionably slanderous and, of course, inaccurate.” But a supporter stated, also in this newspaper, that the website shows Mick “was speaking truth from his usual integrity.”

In other words, the website shows Mick “speaking truth from his usual integrity” except that it’s “inaccurate.” Hmm.

A comment in this newspaper objected to Mick’s campaigner soliciting votes in a condo complex that prohibits solicitation. Mick didn’t condemn the violation but instead snarked that perhaps his campaigner “was Lady Liberty.”

Memo to Mick: Lady Liberty is not a trespasser serving your personal political interests, nor a party crasher, nor a sign thief. Will you show any greater respect for private property as our property tax Assessor?

One other thing. Even after cashing in his political connections, Mick still lives in taxpayer-subsidized housing. That’s the notoriously dysfunctional county program where insiders making as much as $181,000 a year get housing for dimes on the dollar. Taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab.

An interesting twist about the taxpayer-subsidized housing is that because the units are artificially priced very low, the property tax on them is commensurately very low. In short, the lucky residents get them for dimes on the dollar and as a bonus they pay hardly any property tax.

So now Mick wants to be the tax man for the rest of us, even as he himself gets a nearly free ride at taxpayer expense.

I’m sick of Mick, worse than ever. Let’s vaccinate ourselves for good.

(Published Nov. 4, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-sick-of-mick-more-than-ever/#fb-comment-box-283843)

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James Madison doesn’t want your dead cat to vote, and maybe not you either

In 1987, the eminent jurist Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court. The American Bar Association evaluated Bork, as they have evaluated nominees since 1956. Despite the fact that the ABA leans left and Bork leaned right, they gave Bork their highest “Well Qualified” rating.

No matter. Bork was “borked” by a senate smear campaign led by failed presidential candidate, failed husband, failed drinker, failed driver and failed swimmer Ted Kennedy, who avoided failure in only one thing in life — getting repeatedly re-elected by foolish voters in Massachusetts who liked his family name.

After Bork was defeated, a replacement nominee was named, Anthony Kennedy. Continue reading

Let’s be gentlemen again

In a physical sense, women are vulnerable to men. That’s because most men are larger and more muscular than most women. Even aside from their larger mass and musculature, men have different hormones. Male hormones not only produce those larger and denser muscles, but also produce aggressiveness and risk-taking.

Political scientists sometimes dispute this and want to believe that the obvious differences between the sexes are a product of different upbringings. But real scientists say that’s bunk. It’s a fact that men’s size and hormones produce significantly stronger lower body strength and, on average, nearly twice the upper body strength.

This is about biology, not sociology.

Women know this. They see the strength of a man in ordinary activities such as moving furniture or playful physical activity.

Sadly, and inexcusably, Continue reading

The 2020 Dem spectacle: Spartacus and the Native American

Democrats have demanded recounts, challenged the Electoral College, shot Republican congressmen playing softball, shot themselves in the foot, yelled obscenities at the president, claimed Russian collusion, assaulted conservative campus speakers and worn pink hats.

But Donald Trump is still president. So Dems are now down to their last resort: Defeating him in the next presidential election.

But with whom? Or as a Dem would say, with who? Joe Biden is too old, Barrack Obama is too 2008 and Hillary is, well, too Hillary.

Ah, but the Dems have nothing if not a deep and diverse bench. Take their junior senator from New Jersey, a fellow who declared in the senate’s nationally televised Supreme Court nominee hearings, “I am Spartacus.”

Well, I suppose “I am Spartacus” has a better ring to it than “I am Slick Willy.” Continue reading

The de-fanged and sickly poodle press

Over 200 bigly newspapers, or at least what passes for that in today’s world of belittled newspapers, assured us a few weeks ago in similar editorials against President Donald Trump published all on the same day that there is no collusion among them to take him down.

They said that they are not the enemy; he is. In fact, they imply that he’s … (you know what’s coming) … a fascist. They say this impervious to the irony that they freely excoriate this so-called fascist daily without consequence other than to drive away their few remaining subscribers.

Don’t call this collusion, they say, because they’re anti-collusion at this particular moment in time and, besides, it can’t be collusion if there are no Republicans in the room. Believe me, there are very few Republicans in any news rooms.

Yes, the fawning poodle press of the Barack Obama era wants to grow fangs and take a bite out of the Republican president. But these days the press isn’t so much a pit bull as a blind, incompetent, incontinent, 17-year-old labradoodle suffering through its last night. Because big media is not just biased, but inept. Continue reading

There are no slam dunks in baseball

On a sweltering Atlanta evening recently, the Colorado Rockies looked like they just wanted to go home. They were down 3-0 in the ninth inning with two outs, one strike and too hot. Nobody was on base and seemingly nobody wanted to be on base.

They had swatted more flies than fly balls. The pine tar on their bats was melting, and there was concern that the wood might be next. Even the Central American players thought it was unbearably humid.

The Atlanta Braves needed just one more weak grounder to send the Rox back to the place they apparently wanted to be — their air-conditioned hotel. It was a slam dunk.

But there are no slam dunks in baseball. Continue reading

We ask too much of the Supreme Court and too little of ourselves

Remember the latest scandal at the Supreme Court?

It’s understandable if you don’t. It occurred back in the 1960s when Justice Abe Fortas resigned after it was discovered that he’d accepted a fat yearly “retainer” for life from an indicted Wall Street financier. He then, allegedly, lobbied President Lyndon Johnson, who’d appointed Fortas, to pardon the financier. But the lobbying part was never proven and the financier was never pardoned.

He also received big fees for speaking engagements funded by potential Court litigants. (No, the Clintons didn’t invent the scam of selling influence in the guise of giving implausibly expensive speeches. They just perfected it.)

In the half-century since Fortas, the Court has been scandal-free. The justices are extremely able and decent people. You may disagree with their decisions sometimes, as I do, but it’s one branch of American government that works.

To understand the Court, it’s helpful to understand the setting. Only nine justices serve at a time (or less if a vacancy is unfilled) and in the history of the Court a total of only 113 have served. They’re terrific lawyers. In private practice, they could make a multiple of their government salary.

They chose instead to serve their country on the Court because they love that service, love their country, love the Court and sometimes love their colleagues. One of the great friendships on the Court was between liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the late, great conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

In the courtroom, lawyers sit at counsel tables just a few feet away from the elevated bench where the justices sit. I remember sitting so close in front of Scalia that I thought I could smell his sulfuric wit.

The lectern where lawyers present their arguments is between the counsel tables and also just a few feet in front of the elevated bench.

The bench is in three sections. At the center section is the chief justice and the two senior-most justices. On each flank is a section for three other justices. The two flanking sections are angled inward to partially encircle the lectern. Behind the bench are massive marble columns.

The effect is that a lawyer standing at the lectern feels like he is in a mausoleum surrounded by black-robed giants looking down on him. The lawyer is outnumbered, out-dressed and, in my case and most others, outsmarted.

It’s intimidating, partly by design. The power of the judiciary rests on respect.

The reason the Court has maintained its power over the years, however, is not just that they bask in the trappings of it. It’s also because they are careful not to overuse it.

As judges, they are charged with deciding the case in front of them, no more and no less. Usually (not always) they avoid inventing a new law but instead apply the law that is plainly in the Constitution or in legislation enacted by the people’s representatives.

They are very reluctant to overturn existing cases. They know it’s disruptive and unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game. The odds of Roe v. Wade — or anything else — being overturned are remote.

This system has worked well for over two centuries. But over the past few decades the job of these justices has gotten harder. To their detriment and ours, we now ask too much of them.

We now ask the Court to decide, for example, whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant and whether contraceptive benefits should be mandated for Catholic nuns. Those issues wound up before the Court because Congress refused to decide them. Instead, Congress delegated the decision to unaccountable administrators at the EPA and unelected bureaucrats at the IRS.

These are not issues of law, but issues of policy. Congress dodges them for craven political reasons. They want to avoid disappointing one or another of their constituent groups. Congress does this because it works — for Congress.

The people are not blind to this game. That’s why they overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress as a whole. But they still allow themselves to be seduced by their own representatives over and over at election time. Being seduced is destructive but seductive.

It’s a failure of democracy, and it’s our own fault.

Congress’s abdication to the Court now risks the Court’s reputation upon which its authority rests. The current justices — and also newly nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh — are extremely talented judges and very decent human beings. But they are only so-so policymakers and, moreover, they are unaccountable to the people.

Let’s restore democracy. A good start would be for the Court to invalidate vague legislation that illegitimately delegates policy-making to unaccountable administrative agencies for review by unelected judges.

That would force Congress to make the hard policy decisions. That’s Congress’ job.

And it would force us to hold Congress accountable for those decisions at election time. That’s our job.

P.S. Noted lawyer and author Peter Wallison, who was White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan when Reagan nominated Scalia, informs me that these issues are considered in depth in his upcoming book “Judicial Fortitude.”

(Published Aug. 12, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-we-ask-too-much-of-the-supreme-court-and-too-little-of-ourselves/)