I wasn't exactly an aficionado of Hawaii Five-O, but I watched it every once in a while. The plots were uncomplicated, but not so simplistic as to be boring. The dialogue seemed intelligent. But I especially enjoyed one episode with Rich Little as a revenge seeking ex-drug addict. Each new killing was a stylistic re-enactment of some classic movie.
In real life, Rich Little was widely known as a mimic, an impersonator of well known figures: politicians and celebrities. His impressions were hilariously on-target, and usually quite witty. In this one episode role, he used this talent, having his character mimic movie stars from the past as he dispatched another victim.
The director, star Jack Lord himself (I looked it up), creatively interspersed clips from the classics with Rich Little's in-character matching impressions. It was amusing, entertaining, and kind of surprising. Most startling was how easily Little was able to fit into the tough guy role demanded by his portrayal. His audience, in this case represented by me, had grown used to his soft-as-soft-could-be humor. His comedy was not biting or harsh. Even when he mimicked President Nixon, our bête noire of those days, it was hard to detect any meanness of spirit. So his vengeance seeking killer character was remarkable. He made it believable.
As Rich-the-killer confronts one of his victims, pointing his machine gun, he says he'll spare the guy if he begs. So the guy begs. Don't kill me, I don't want to die. Little says, you didn't say please. Please, please, yells the guy. Little mows him down. "You didn't say 'Pretty Please'." Fade to commercial.
As I watched the union-busting drama of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker reminded me just a little of Little, so to speak. Gentle demeanor alternates with killer-hard action in continuous cycle.
First Walker is completely harmless. I'm only trying to balance a budget and it's such a hard, hard task. Won't you please help me out? Unions give him every budget concession he asks for. Then Walker is out for blood. That isn't enough. I want you to give up all negotiating rights for all time as well. Walker completely supports the right to protest. He tries to lock protestors out of the capitol.
The Governor insists that outlawing union rights to negotiate was a fiscal measure, and so Democrats take a hike. A fiscal measure requires more state Senators to be present for a quorum than other measures. So its not a fiscal measure after all, and Republicans pass the union busting as a non-fiscal measure with only 2 hours notice. The public turns against the Governor, but the Governor knows the non-activist silent majority actually support him. He has letters and email messages of support to prove it. Newspapers get hold of the letters and messages and most of them harshly oppose the Governor. Oops.
At the heart of the controversy is the right of the union to represent members. No money is at stake in the budget the Governor is balancing. He simply wants to do away with the unions. But other technical problems keep creeping in. The two hour notice of the legislation is one of them. It seems the law pretty clearly says that a 24 hour notice is required for passing such a law. Republicans say that two hours meets the requirement if a longer notice is not practical. Explaining that one will be a neat trick. So a judge says that's enough. She stops the law from going into effect until she can review the 2 hour notice business.
Or does she?
The actual wording of the court order says the the Wisconsin Secretary of State can't publish the law until the judge looks it over and hears arguments about the short notice. And, like a group of little Antonin Scalia clones all on meth, the Republicans decide that the judge's original intent was not REALLY to stop the law. She just didn't want the Secretary of State to go through all that trouble. So they direct another agency, the Legislative Reference Bureau, to publish the bill. That agency protests it doesn't have the authority to do it, but finally buckles and does it anyway. The Governor and Attorney General declare the law is in effect and they will enforce it.
The judge isn't having any. She issues another order to "clarify" the original. "Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of (the law) was enjoined." So there.
Too late, says the Attorney General. You can stop a bill, but you can't stop a law that's already in force. And this break-the-union bill is already the law. Uh huh. That what he says. The Governor agrees and will enforce the law-that's-not-a-law-but-kind-of-is-because-we-say-so. It's a breakthrough in jurisprudence. The court order doesn't count for an important new reason:
The judge didn't say Pretty Please.
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This would overwhelm the judiciary and shift power from the legislative to the judicial branch thereby upsetting the checks and balances necessary for good governance, even on a state level.
Indeed, even in such cases as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Act and the clearly unconstitutional Affordable Health Care Act, these bills would or at least should have been declared null and void under judicial review before they ever became laws, under this precedent.
Now members of the legislature should know better and not put forth bills for an executive signature when they know they are contrary to the state or federal constitutions.
That said, when such an egregious bill is signed into law, THEN is the time to issue an immediate challenge in court to undo it.
The checks and balances of the supposedly co-equal branches of government is sent into a possible constitutional conundrum otherwise, not that our elected representatives really pay any heed to the constitution anymore though, whether on the state or federal levels.
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