Wrong veggie chosen to fight health law

The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld health-care reform, President Obama can get to the next logical order of business: compulsory broccoli purchases.

Absurd? Tell that to the Supreme Court, which cited the vegetable no fewer than a dozen times in its ruling last week on the Affordable Care Act.

Not so long ago, when no legal scholar believed the health-care law faced a serious constitutional challenge, the broccoli question sprouted as conservative reductio ad absurdum: If the federal government could force us to buy health insurance, why couldn’t it make us buy broccoli?

Inexplicable hostility to broccoli has a history in Republican politics. George H.W. Bush famously provoked the wrath of California farmers with such statements as, “I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

It was Justice Antonin Scalia who brought broccolism into the upper echelons of the judiciary, posing the broccoli question during oral arguments on the health-care law. By Thursday, the whole highest court in the land was seriously grappling with the issue.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion made the lion’s (rabbit’s?) share of the mentions while attempting to explain why broccoli is not the same as health insurance — a fact that’s ceased to be obvious in rarefied legal circles.

In the process, the justice suggested a range not only of preparation possibilities — steamed, deep-fried, raw — but also emotions. While she described conservative fears of “the broccoli horrible,” she also allowed that a person might have “a craving for broccoli.”

That raises a question: Was broccoli really the most horrible vegetable conservatives could come up with? And would they have managed to topple Obamacare if their worst-case hypothetical produce mandate had been a more unredeemably revolting and offensively elitist vegetable — like, say, kale?


Fri, 01/20/2017 - 09:01

Outside Editorial: A more presidential Donald Trump is unlikely, but necessary

The following editorial first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

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Fri, 01/20/2017 - 09:01

Letter: The Homeless Ordinance

As I understand it, on Monday the assembly will be voting on an ordinance to permit the police to evict people camping in the downtown and make them move to a camping area in the Thane avalanche zone. I think that’s mistaken public policy. I’ve just hand delivered a 5 page letter to the CBJ in opposition. But what’s really needed isn’t my opinion. It’s a newspaper’s reporting of the facts. That said, if someone’s camped out in a doorway, it couldn’t be a more clear cry for help. And underneath that gruff scary homeless person is so often someone suffering the terrible diseases of mental illness and addiction.

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Fri, 01/20/2017 - 08:51

Win Gruening: Homeless Not Helpless

When Mayor Ken Koelsch recently proposed a city ordinance prohibiting camping in downtown Juneau to help resolve on-going issues with our homeless population, there was significant public reaction.

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Fri, 01/20/2017 - 08:50

My Turn: A Good Time for Kindness

Some time ago, the snow was mounded everywhere, deep and wet. As I gazed from my window, contemplating shoveling, I saw a neighbor plowing out the nextdoor driveway and mailbox — and then chug over to our mailbox, and plow it out as well. Such a welcome and unrequested act of thoughtfulness, of kindness: it lifted my spirits!

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