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Showing posts from June, 2012

Last word on the broccoli argument

The SC decision is still fresh on my mind. So I wanted to get this out there before I lost it. Justice Roberts says congress can tax people if they don't buy health insurance. I don't think he set out any limits in his decision or made the slippery slope argument that he did with congress' ability to enforce the mandate under the commerce clause. But there is a slippery slope argument to be made.

If congress can tax people for not buying insurance, what can't congress tax people for? We can even use the broccoli analogy here. If congress can tax people for not buying insurance, why can't congress tax people for not buying broccoli? Also, if congress can tax people X amount for not buying health insurance, why can't congress tax people an unlimited amount of money for not buying health insurance or broccoli, or tax them 99% of their income for an income tax?

I'm not sure if Roberts addressed these questions. And I'm not sure why they are any less impor…

Justice Ginsburg's opinion

I was advised by the blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money to read her opinion. I've started reading it even though I'm tired. And since she writes so clearly and effectively I wanted to quote some of the passages I am finding helpful:

The Framers understood that the “general Interests of the Union” would change over time, in ways they could not anticipate. Accordingly, they recognized that the Constitution was of necessity a “great outlin[e],” not a detailed blueprint, see McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 407 (1819), and that its provisions included broad concepts, to be “explained by the context or by the facts of the case,” Letter from James Madison to N. P. Trist (Dec. 1831), in 9 Writings of James Madison 471, 475 (G. Hunt ed. 1910). “Nothing . . . can be more fallacious,” Alexander Hamilton emphasized, “than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national government, from . . . its immediate necessities. There ought to be a capacity to provide for futur…

Reaction to Supreme Court's health care decision

I'll try to make this as brief and simple as possible for those of you who don't want to run around the internet looking for a summary and analysis. Here's a good one from the always fantastic Ezra Klein:

The 5-4 language suggests that Roberts agreed with the liberals. But for the most part, he didn’t. If you read the opinions, he sided with the conservative bloc on every major legal question before the court. He voted with the conservatives to say the Commerce Clause did not justify the individual mandate. He voted with the conservatives to say the Necessary and Proper Clause did not justify the mandate. He voted with the conservatives to limit the federal government’s power to force states to carry out the planned expansion of Medicaid. ”He was on-board with the basic challenge,” said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and a former clerk to Justice Kennedy. “He was on the conservative side of the controversial issues.”

His break with the conservati…

Congressional approval and democratic accountability

Leo Linbeck III has a long piece describing why congress doesn't work and why that's bad for our democracy. Here's the part that I wanted to address:

It is ironic to recall that the Founders gave the power of the purse to the House of Representatives because, being more responsive to the people, it would protect their pocketbooks from the extravagances of the executive branch. For the first 100 years, it pretty much worked that way, with federal spending about 4 percent of GDP.

Today the House is a spending machine—it spends $10 billion each day and more than 25 percent of GDP. Money can’t buy love, but it can buy power: in November 2010, Congress had an approval rating of just 17 percent, while the re-election rate in the House was 86 percent.

This disconnect between approval and re-election rates is the clearest sign that the congressional accountability system is broken. But there are several underlying causes:
He goes on to make some decent points about the problems in …

Why Mitt Romney gets away with being a liar

Michael Cohen has a nice article pointing out the many ways in which Mitt Romney is a liar. Basically, if he isn't dodging an issue by not taking a stance he is lying. The vast majority of politicians are full of shit. But I'm not aware of many that lie on the level Romney does.

There are a few reasons he gets away with it. One is that the Republican party is out of its mind. The party is so delusional that it doesn't think its lies are lies. In relation to that, it has media outlets (FoxNews and talk radio) that present and reinforce those lies as truths. Thus the voters tend to believe the lies and they expect the leaders to agree with them and then further reinforce those lies. It's all a big feedback loop.

The party itself and the conservative media are strong forces. But Cohen, via Steve Benan, says that the conventional media is also part of the problem:

"Romney gets away with it because he and his team realize contemporary political journalism isn't e…

Supreme Court f***s it up

No ruling on the individual mandate yet. Though I'm sure they'll fuck that up too. This one was on an indecency case:

The U.S. Supreme Court has avoided the First Amendment issue in a ruling on behalf of broadcasters fighting an indecency finding for broadcasts of the F-word and nudity.

The court ruled 8-0 in FCC v. Fox Television Stations that Fox and ABC did not have fair notice from the Federal Communications Commission that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found indecent.
SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein writes at his blog that the decision is “very narrow” and “doesn’t decide the big questions." Kennedy acknowledged the limited scope of his opinion for the court. “Because the court resolves these cases on fair notice grounds under the due process clause, it need not address the First Amendment implications of the Commission’s indecency policy,” he wrote.

In the case before the court, three broadcasts were targeted by the FCC: an NYBD Blue episode …

Marco Rubio speaks some truth on immigration

I'm too lazy to look up his biography. But someone in Rubio's family immigrated to the US. So he probably has some sort of understanding of the mindset of immigrants, which is why he can say this:

“Many people who come here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn’t feed our families,” Rubio writes in his book, which went on sale Tuesday. “If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn’t give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn’t a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here.”
That's why I have sympathy for "illegal" immigrants who are technically breaking the law by not coming to the US through the proper channels. There is no fundamental difference between me and a kid born to poverty in Mexico. Neither of us chose to be born in the place we were born. If we were given a choice we'd both choose the US. If I were born into a poor family in Mexico I would probably do…

Romney continues to display foreign policy ignorance

I can't even label this one #always1979 because even Republicans in 1979 didn't think things like this:

I can assure you if I’m President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world…I understand that some in the Senate, for instance, have written letters to the President indicating you should know that — that a — a containment strategy is unacceptable. We cannot survive a — a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran, and we must be willing to take any and all action, they must all — all those actions must be on the table.
He just doesn't have a clue. I'm dying for someone to ask him to explain something like this. At this point I might pay to hear him try to explain it because he is glossing over the Cold War during which the Soviet Union had nukes. And notice, as I've said before, he doesn't explain his thinking. He just makes the st…

Michigan lawmakers find "vagina" offensive

These assholes can't even hear the word without being offended. Yet they want to be able to control what women can do with their own. Rachel Walden has the story:

Rep. Lisa Brown (Democrat) said the word “vagina” on the Michigan House floor, in the context of making remarks opposing a set of anti-abortion bills. As punishment for using the medically correct term when opposing the legislature’s attempt to control Michigan women’s bodies and limit their ability to make their own reproductive decisions, Brown and another female Democratic Rep (Barb Byrum) were prevented from speaking on other legislation. Members of Brown’s district were denied the input of their elected representation, because a bunch of dudes don’t ever want to have to hear about squicky vaginas and how they aren’t actually their property.

Brown had concluded her remarks in opposition to the bill with:

I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?” she said. …

The metric of worth

Conor Friedersdorf reviewed a book about elites by Chris Hayes and he asked readers for their responses to the subject. He posted the response of one reader that I also want to post because I thought it was a very interesting analysis:

The root of this entire thing is the metric of worth. The metric of worth changes as culture changes and it should be done away with altogether, but it's too radical. Instead of acknowledging the huge spectrum of people and creating a dignified place for everyone, we have created a Gladiator Arena where the deserving win and the flawed lose. This is the basis of America.

We stole this land. But that's okay because the vision of the United States was so much more important and better than what the indigenous people were doing with it. Thomas Jefferson wrote all that bullshit about all men being created equal while being a slaveholder.

We accept and reinforce constantly that well, some people are just better, just worth more than other people. A…

Rand Paul supports Romney's foreign policy

I usually bash Rand Paul for being too libertarian and supporting completely ridiculous policies, or non-policies since he thinks the market is perfect and he basically wants not gov't for a lot of things. So I found it as odd as Daniel Larison did that Paul would say this:

"I came away from it feeling he would be a very responsible commander-in-chief. I don't think he'll be reckless. I don't think he'll be rash. And I think that he realizes and believes as I do that war is a last resort and something we don't rush willy-nilly into. And I came away feeling that he'll have mature attitude and beliefs towards foreign policy."
The word that I would think of when I think of Romney's foreign policy views would not be mature. It would be closer to moronic, or old fashioned. Like most Republicans, Romney still thinks it's 1979. I'm unaware of any evidence that Romney differs from most Republicans on any foreign policy issue.

You could argue t…

The Dark Knight Rises opening

Last night I purchased my tickets to The Dark Knight Rises midnight showing. I figured it should be at least as big as The Avengers was. And I'm even more excited for this than I was The Avengers (sorry Joss). So I made sure I would have a ticket.

Not only am I going to watch TDKR, I'm also going to watch the first two Nolan Batman movies that same night. That's right. Almost nine hours of Batman movies. Batman Begins starts at 6. The Dark Knight starts at 8:30. And The Dark Knight Rises at 12:01. I even checked with the theater and they said the people who see the whole trilogy will get first crack at seating for TDKR.

I've seen the first two movies about 10 times each. But I figured it would be cool to see then in the theater again. I think I only saw Begins twice in theater. And even though I saw TDK about 4 times in theater it should be great again. I'm a bit worried that my ass will be numb by the time I get to TDKR. But even if it is I'm sure the awesom…

Romney adviser wants to invade Syria, Iran and possibly Russia

Not surprisingly, that Romney adviser is John Bolton. He was the Bush administration's UN ambassador. And he's as hawkish a neocon as they come. Here's what he wrote:

In the days just after Saddam’s ouster in 2003, conditions were optimal (if nonetheless imperfect) for overthrowing Assad and replacing his regime with something compatible with American interests. We would not have needed to use U.S. ground forces. Our mere presence in Iraq could have precluded Iran — or, what we see today, an Iraq under Iran’s influence — from trying to protect Assad.
Significantly, U.S. intervention could not be confined to Syria and would inevitably entail confronting Iran and possibly Russia. This the Obama administration is unwilling to do, although it should.
So according to him, in 03 we should have tripled down and overthrown Syria along with Afghanistan and Iraq. It would have been crazy enough to think that back then. But he's had 9 years to see how shitty Afghanistan and Ir…

News flash: the economy still sucks

Matt Yglesias has the analysis of the latest job numbers:

The latest jobs report is a total disaster. We got 69,000 new jobs in May which is well below already tepid expectations and is below the labor force trend growth rate. Terrible.

But it gets worse!

“The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised from +154,000 to +143,000, and the change for April was revised from +115,000 to +77,000.” In other words, we gained 69,000 new jobs in May (estimated) but lost 49,000 in revisions. That leaves us with a net increase in employment of just 20,000. Disaster disaster disaster.
A lot of this is already getting fed through an election-year-politics lens, but it's important to remember that this is first and foremost a human tragedy for unemployed and underemployed people, and for employed workers who've been stripped of bargaining power due to persistent labor market weakness. If growth stays dismal and Barack Obama loses the election, he and Michelle and Jac…