Founding Fathers … and Claptrap!

February 15, 2014

Everybody minds and pays homage to the Founding Fathers. And the Framers, those Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s model for deciding cases—original intent—directs justices and judges to determine the intent of the Framers, as it is embodied in the text of the Constitution. Sarah Palin and Mika Brezinski love the Founding Fathers. Ms. Palin says “all of them” are her favorites, and Ms. Brezinski likes Abraham Lincoln, who was born in 1809, 22 years after the nation adopted the Constitution! Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Governor Mitt Romney the Founding Fathers wanted to be sure opportunities existed for the very poor, responding to Governor Romney’s statement that he won’t worry about the poor if he becomes the

Continue reading...

The Robert Caro LBJ Books

February 15, 2014

Are you looking for a little something to read? Maybe a nice little biography suits you? Don’t pick up The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, Master of the Senate, or The Passage of Power, all by Robert Caro! On the other hand, if you want to lose yourself in the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, really understand the inner workings of our government from the 1930s through the 1960s, and appreciate what it takes to obtain and exercise power on a grand scale, dive in!

The Path to Power was first published in 1982. It was a great read, and I knew there would be more volumes. I could not, however, appreciate the fact that

Continue reading...

Heirs, Devisees, and Beneficiaries

February 13, 2014

Heard these terms? Wondered what they meant? Thought they were synonymous, one with the other. Here’s the lexicon:

Heirs are your relatives. Everyone has them! The law provides for them when someone dies without a will (intestate). The distribution goes as follows:  To the spouse; then to the children; then to the parents; then to the siblings; then to the aunts and uncles; then to the cousins. These rules apply if, when you die, you are married and don’t have any children from another relationship. If you do have a spouse and children from another relationship, 50% of your distributable assets go to your spouse, and 50% to your children from the other relationship. (These situations can get complicated,

Continue reading...

On Settling a Lawsuit

February 12, 2014

So you find yourself in a lawsuit. You sued someone, or you got sued; it really doesn’t matter. You’re spending money or, if you’re involved as an injured party in a suit for damages, you await compensation for your injuries. Regardless, you’re stuck in a time-consuming and less-than-pleasant process that may be costing you lots of money, and there is no certainty about the outcome. Maybe you’ll win, maybe you won’t; and, even if you win, you could really lose, given the money you’ve spent, the time you’ve wasted and the opportunities you’ve lost. All in all, not a good situation!

Lawsuits cannot always be avoided, but opportunities to resolve them without a trial are always present. Federal and state

Continue reading...

Decision Making at the Supreme Court, Sans Politics

February 11, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in June 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, case. It is a case for the ages, but it’s also a case that provides a platform for examining how the Court decides matters.

First, courts at all levels value stare decisis, Latin for “stand by the decision.” Underlying stare decisis is the notion that we are a nation of laws; thus, legal principles, once decided, should be applied consistently going forward, without regard for politics, the identity of the parties, etc. Further, we need and expect predictability from the law, for we want to know with a reasonable degree of certainty what is

Continue reading...

Financial Powers of Attorney

February 10, 2014

A Financial Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal documents that give someone else–your attorney-in-fact–the power to act for you. (A Health Care Power of Attorney is different; stay tuned!) POAs seem simple, but while they are not especially complicated tools, they’re more than a “sign here” form.

Option 1:  Is your POA durable? A durable POA lets your attorney-in-fact act even if you suffer from a lack of mental capacity. The law defaults to “the power ends if the principal lacks mental capacity,” so if you are giving someone a POA so he or she can act if you have a stroke, dementia, etc., you’ll most likely want it to be durable.

Option 2:  Does your POA

Continue reading...

Strategic Planning Writ Larger

February 9, 2014

I have been actively engaged in the nonprofit/charitable sector for almost 20 years. (I am presently in disengagement mode, planning to take an extended break.) Through my experiences I learned many things, especially about how nonprofits differ from businesses and governmental agencies.

Large business entities—Microsoft, Chase, General Electric, etc.—work off of strategic plans. These organizations expend time and money figuring out where they want to be at given points in time, and how they will get there. The plans are not static, for sure, but they do not function in the “stuff happens, so don’t bother planning” realm.

The nonprofits with which I have been involved are all much, much smaller than the icons of the American economy. Budgets ranged

Continue reading...

Testing, Testing …

February 8, 2014

My Friends, my blog–Mark Rubin Writes–is alive … almost! The site lacks some features, I’m still trying to navigate and understand what seem like they ought to be simple maneuvers, etc., and I have to connect with “my people” about tweeting and other such stuff. (No, this blog does not feature tech guidance.) In the meantime, I’m tired of waiting for perfection.

Please like my new FB page and, as the spirit moves you, comment on individual posts. Also, I really, really want feedback about the blog, the look and feel, subjects, etc. You’ll see law and related topics during the week, food and fun as the week winds down, and opinions and analysis during the weekend. I started with

Continue reading...

Food Writers Have Foils: barleymash

February 8, 2014

Food Writers Have Foils: barleymash

Food writers often have foils, individuals in their lives off whom they can work. Calvin Trillin is a master of writing about food (and so many other subjects). Mr. Trillan had Alice, his wife of many years who died too soon in New York City on September 11, 2001 (not because of the WTC events, but as a result of a heart problem.) Alice, per Mr. Trillin, “had a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day.” Another charming foil is Miss F, the real star of Domesticity by Bob Shacochis. In Domesticity Mr. Shacochis shares lots of stories about Miss F, most of which end with a recipe.

I do not

Continue reading...

March on Washington + 50 Years

August 26, 2013

It’s hard not to choke up listening to clips from the “I Have a Dream” speech. So much promise, so much death during the 60s, and I cannot help but focus on the fact that the many 1960s martyrs had children, my age, and never got to see their kids grow up! As a product of a pretty stable two-parent household, I cannot imagine the challenges these families faced in turbulent times!
Emotions aside, I’m fascinated by how easily anyone can argue for a nearly full or almost empty cup. On the full side? Exhibit A is President Barack Obama. Elected, and re-elected—in a not really very close election—despite a poor economy
Continue reading...