Sunday, April 11, 2010

Want to become UT Head Football Coach?

I'm a Tennessee Volunteers fan through and through. I mean that I have grown up here and like everyone wants to win and win big. I would even love to be the head football coach someday. But yet, there is a part of me that would not be inclined to blindly accept the position. I'm wanting to get a new career going in coaching and/or teaching. So I'm keeping my ears and eyes peeled for the various issues and situations that I could be expected to face sometime.

I realize that not everyone is going to be a 4.0 student. I realize that in theory at least the graduation rate is more important than the winning percentage. Yet how come when a student who is not an athlete is likely to be suspended even though she "pull[s] herself up by her bootstraps" rather than draw a disability check for her fibromyalgia and sought an education so she could help others who suffer from the disease. She's the type of student the University of Tennessee should be proud of."

I will let you come to your own conclusions about this matter.

Let's face it, at UTK like many colleges, winning percentage is more important than character or graduation rates. Winning makes people happy and happy people are more willing to open their checkbooks to donate money to the university. If you want to know why candidates were turning down the head coaching position right and left until they happened to get Derek Dooley to accept the position (and threw in a private flight via Pilot corporate plane for good measure), the flight itself should tell you something. Mike Hamilton comes across as a decent man who is good with the financial aspects that is so much part of running a college athletic program these days. There are many moving parts to this job and not everything is going to go smoothly. But I've always wondered whether he is truly his own man or if is he being unduly influenced? Then there is the issue of how the Board of Trustees can never seem to find someone to become President for more than a few months, wastes money and gladly jacks up tuition every year. Are UT students getting a return on their investment? Well, I choose to enroll at Carson-Newman.

So should at some point in the future an opportunity to become UT head football coach were to present itself, I will have to think about it. Thankfully, I'm keeping my options open.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Can The Government Just Do Whatever The Heck It Wants?

In our system of written law, Congress may use a term to mean almost anything, as long as the law itself defines that meaning. When the written law explains the meaning of a term used in the law, standard English usage becomes irrelevant. For example, by the definition in 26 USC 7701(a)(1), the term person includes estates, companies and corporations (in addition to individuals). While no one would call Walmart a person in everyday conversation, Walmart is a person under federal tax law. The legal use of a term is often significantly different from basic English, and therefore reading one section of the law alone can be very misleading. See more about the Rules of Statutory Construction

As a good example, 26 USC 5841 states that [t]he Secretary [of the Treasury] shall maintain a central registry of all firearms in the United States which are not in the possession or under the control of the United States. The law has a far more limited application than this section by itself would seem to imply. In 26 USC 5845(a) it is made clear that the term firearm in these sections does not include the majority of rifles and handguns (while the term firearm in basic English obviously would), but does include "a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length"(most shotguns are at least 18 inches and some like the Winchester Model 9410 are as long as 24 inches), silencers and grenades. The average citizen reading the law will naturally tend to assume that he already knows what the words in the law mean, and may have difficulty accepting that the legal meaning of the words used in the law may bear little or no resemblance to the meaning that those words have in common English. For example, reading the phrase all firearms in Section 5841 in a way that excludes most rifles and handguns is contrary to instinctive reading comprehension. But any lawyer reviewing Sections 5841 and 5845 would confirm that such a reading would be absolutely correct. Reading one section of the law without being aware of the legal definitions of the words being used can give an entirely incorrect impression about the application of the law.

As demonstrated, sometimes the apparent meaning of a simple phrase in the law is very different from the legal meaning. The income tax is imposed on income from whatever source derived. If the law did not explain what constitutes sources of income, then the law would be interpreted using basic English. However, the law does explain what the term means and therefore standard English usage is irrelevant.

Because the Constitution is the LAW (aside from natural law and natural rights which come from our creator), a good place to start in our discussion of tax laws would be right there. Have you read the Constitution lately? Have you read it since your 9th grade Civics class? This might be a good time to reacquaint yourself with the document that controls so much of our lives every day. You will be amazed at the ease with which you can read the document, especially when compared to current legal writings. It becomes obvious at first glance that the Constitution was written to be understood by the common Citizen who was very concerned with the content. Current legislation is usually not read by many people outside Washington, DC, and frequently not even by the legislators who vote on it. Because of the huge volume of legislation drafted each year, it is becoming common for most legislators to have one of their staff people review legislation to look for specific items so the legislators do not have to take the time to read it themselves. These legislators then vote yea or nay based on a staffer's review of certain items in the proposed law.

Laws today are not written to be understood by the common Citizen. They are written by legislators, who are usually lawyers, to be understood only by lawyers. In a very practical way, this is called "job security." I mean, whom better to interpret the law than one who played a role in writing and approving the law? As a result, most legislators go back to being lawyers when their terms are complete. So most legislation is specifically written by lawyers to be understood only by lawyers. Yet the whole concept of "common law" assumes the average Citizen has both read and understood the law. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is very true, but if you can prove you didn't understand how the law applied to you, it is common to get a case against you dismissed. That is how important it is for the law to be understandable! And yet the Internal Revenue Code is so complex and difficult to understand, even the IRS is not held accountable to the view or interpretation it gives you on any specific tax law! The U.S. Tax Court is full of cases where the IRS gave a written, researched opinion of the "law" and later changed its mind, resulting in a civil or criminal tax case against the person who was counting on the accuracy of the IRS in interpreting the tax laws!

This is a good place to make a statement on the type of government that was created by the Constitution. When you hear a politician speak of our government, almost always you will hear the politician refer to America as a democracy. Over the past sixty years or so, Americans have been brainwashed by our politicians into believing that we live in a democracy. WE DO NOT! Our Founding Fathers considered a democracy and dismissed it. They chose to create, instead, a republic. The differences between a democracy and a republic have been discussed and debated at great length by people more knowledgeable than I, so I won�t take much space here to add to their work. Allow me, instead, to make a simple comparison. In a democracy, if the people or their elected servants want to create a law or enact a change, all they have to do is demonstrate that a majority of the people wants the law or change. A majority vote is all that is necessary. In a republic, there might be a vast majority of the people in favor of a particular law or change, but that will not matter unless The LAW allows it. The LAW must allow it or The LAW must be modified before a new law or change can be passed. The Founding Fathers knew public opinion could be manipulated, or even misrepresented. This is the major weakness of a true democracy. So America elects its public servants to enact the will of the people, but only if The LAW allows it! Congress cannot, by majority vote, extend or increase its authority. The United States Supreme Court explains this principle:

"It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United States generally, but those only which shall be made in pursuance of the constitution, have that rank. Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)

"Congress cannot by any definition it may adopt conclude the matter, since it cannot by legislation alter the Constitution, from which alone it derives its power to legislate, and within whose limitations alone that power can be lawfully exercised." Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920)

The Supreme Court of Tennessee agrees further elaborates:

"Privileges are special rights, belonging to the individual or class, and not to the mass; properly, an exemption from some general burden, obligation or duty; a right peculiar to some individual or body.

Since the right to receive income or earnings is a right belonging to every person, this right cannot be taxed as privilege."
Cole v. MacFarland, 337 S.W. 2d 453 (Tenn. 1960)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

We are now at the time of the year when the air is cool and crisp, the sun is shining, the skies are blue and football fills the news. This week, Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nick Stephens has decided he wants to quit the team and try his luck elsewhere for his senior year. First, it was coaches jumping ship and now the players are. Unless there is something I don't know, most of it can be attributed to people wanting to go elsewhere, not being a good fit for the program or personal reasons. In Stephens case, it appears to be that he senses he won't get a fair shake for the starting spot. Competition is a fact of life. While I wish him well on his newest endeavors, if he is going to let the fact that a freshman and a transfer are getting their share of snaps this Spring bother him, perhaps he realized he wasn't cut out for the cut-throat competition that occurs in the SEC.

School will be over in about a month. I will likely get a part-time job (or at least attempt to) so I can have some spending money coming in. I have signed up for 17 hours for Fall semester. If all goes well, I should graduate with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education sometime in 2011. I'm willing to teach at any level and/or coach preferably football. But I can also coach baseball/softball or track and field/cross-country. Of course, if by some fortunate set of circumstances, I were to get the opportunity to interview for a coaching position in the NFL, I would certainly consider it. But given the likelihood that the NFL may be on a lockout at that time, it would be a non-issue. That is on top of the fact that I am not in the know with any coaches at that level. But we'll see. Stranger things have happened.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bengals options in 2010 NFL Draft

Yes, I do have other interests aside from boring politics or history :) One of my biggest interests is football, particularly college, but pro football too. I've followed the NFL Draft regularly since 1989 (when I first had ESPN), the draft in which Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and a number of other players who would go on to become the face of the NFL in the 1990's were drafted. Personally, I would love to work in the NFL in some capacity.

I've been a Bengals fan for 25 years. So I'm particularly interested in who they may draft. I am a "draft the player, not the position" type of person. The Bengals don't have any glaring needs, but do need to fix up at several positions. This year, the talk has been that the Bengals would draft a tight end or receiver. Now that Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones have been signed to free agent contracts, plus the other receivers and tights ends that they have on the roster such as Chase Coffman, it makes this draft being more about solidifying the team more than having to replace the entire wall. I think Coffman (who was on IR last year) and Jones can get the job done. The bigger question is will offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski utilize the tight end as more than just another blocker or diversion? The Bengals particularly in the 1970's and 1980's were known for having tight ends who were legitimate first down threats. It hasn't been the case since Rodney Holman and Tony McGee were Bengals lastly in the early 1990's.

So draft-wise, I think the defensive side of the ball would be the way to go. While the Vol fan in me would love to see Eric Berry in a Bengals uniform, he should go top 10 whereas the Bengals are picking 21. Barring some surprising trade up, I could see the Bengals drafting Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays who would give the Bengals the closet thing they have had to a David Fulcher at the safety position. Depending on how Mays is used, he would need to improve on his angles and tackling to make it at the next level. I expect Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to draft him at #14. Given the way most NFL defenses are crafted these days, Mays would be a better fit at outside linebacker.

Texas safety Earl Thomas is another possibility. Thomas is a purer defensive back than Mays and would be a better fit than Mays. The only thing keeping Thomas from being a top ten pick is his size, but a good football player is a good football player. Size isn't everything.

Another player the Bengals may consider is Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Depth on the defensive line is always desirable and given that the Bengals have a solid one, they can afford to draft for depth rather than just worrying about trading up and losing picks that would be expended for a higher pick.

So I think it will come down to Thomas and Odrick with Mays being a possibility.