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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages

In early 1946, a brouhaha erupted between the AFL and the CIO, the state’s rival federations of labor groups. Republican leaders in the state legislature endorsed the upstate-oriented AFL’s proposal that New York license and regulate barbers and cosmetologists. The downstate-oriented CIO, which had members who couldn’t document the required formal education, launched opposition so fierce and threatened political retaliation so severe that the legislation was considered dead. And then, as the 1946 session was drawing to a close and the CIO was concentrating on other things, the “barber and hairdresser bills” started moving through both houses, with almost total Republican support and Democratic opposition. Member of Assembly Genesta Strong, first-termer from Nassau County, dependable, safe and already expected to step aside, was asked to be the official sponsor of the cosmetologist licensing bill.

Governor Dewey’s signing of the bill cemented support for his re-election from the powerful AFL, which had been the whole point. To those in political inner circles, Mrs. Strong had proved herself a reliable team player whose dignity was useful in deflecting potential attack.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.

The Premise

1. It’s a simple premise. No one should have to see six-year-olds with the 2,000 Yard Stare.

2. Real Americans don’t want to see it ever again. If there is a silver lining to any of this, it’s that rank-and-file citizens, inured enough to mass killings that we can’t remember most of the previous twelve in 2012 without difficulty, are now saying, “No More. No.” We don’t know how and we don’t know what, but we have to change some things.

3. I’m writing this a week before you’ll read it, so you will know much more than I know. Developments are unfolding almost hourly, including some that were unrealistic only days ago. The NRA, whose power and influence is based not in cash but in lists, has taken down its Facebook page.

4. Officials at every level of government need to think about what they can do. Or what they have done.

5. For almost 10 years, the Center for Disease Control has been prohibited by law, passed by Congress and signed by the president, from even studying health and safety issues related to guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been prohibited from releasing critical statistics and data related to guns and gun violence. Because some Americans can’t handle it. Because some corporations can’t risk it. Because we’re all distracted. Because.

6. We aren’t being given the information we need. We’ve had options. More than 15 years ago, I wrote political campaign literature used in Nassau County about new technologies that restrict who could fire a weapon. President Clinton was in his first term. The police can use your smartphone data to track your movements. Chips can track your pets. Many water suppliers read your meter by driving up the street with a computer. We’re already in a Surveillance Society, but the one thing we should be able to catalogue, locate and track— military weaponry—is off the grid.

7. There are almost three times as many firearms floating around as there are households in the United States. We couldn’t find all of them. Can’t the ones that are sold from this point forward, and any others that responsible owners are willing to modify, be made as safe as possible?

8. The technology that can alert the police if an assault weapon comes within a certain distance of the front door of a school building is simpler than the technology you might use to order movie tickets on your phone.

9. Simple is as simple does. Legislators in Tennessee have announced that a bill will be introduced requiring every school to have at least one armed staff member. It can be either a “resource officer” (an armed guard) or a secretly armed faculty member. Three governors have publicly endorsed this kind of legislation. One congressman has suggested that all principals should have access to their own assault rifle. Think about some of your old school principals, packing heat. Imagine the costs for prison-like security when it’s known that there’s an arsenal for the taking in every school building.

10. Even the obvious, sensible measures being talked about most wouldn’t stop some of these things, maybe wouldn’t have stopped Connecticut. But they would reduce risk.

11. Doing nothing is not an option if the United States wants to maintain any of what is left of its moral leadership of the Western world.

12. Because there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, one even many ardently progressive gun-safety advocates will have to think hard about. I’m glad that surveys already show that most Americans recognize that this wave of massacres is about more than access to guns, or cuts to mental health programs or an economic reality that produces disaffected, frustrated males.

13. The president has a secret Kill List that includes U.S. citizens. Increasingly, the answer to every international challenge is violence, to the point where politicians have to defend themselves if they don’t call for war.

14. These gunmen don’t relate to the people on the ground. They relate to the drones.

15. And the world increasingly asks, “What has happened to America?”

16. One answer starts with, “No More. No.”