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Archive for February 1st, 2011

Now his concern trolling belongs to the World

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Now his concern trolling belongs to the World
America’s Concern Troll goes International.

Determined to become irrelevant in all cultures, noted social critic and military strategist Richard Cohen has decided to critique political movements overseas.

The dream of a democratic Egypt is sure to produce a nightmare.

Egypt’s problems are immense. It has a population it cannot support, a standard of living that is stagnant and a self-image as leader of the (Sunni) Arab world that does not, really, correspond to reality. It also lacks the civic and political institutions that are necessary for democracy. The next Egyptian government – or the one after – might well be composed of Islamists. In that case, the peace with Israel will be abrogated and the mob currently in the streets will roar its approval.

My take on all this is relentlessly gloomy. I care about Israel. I care about Egypt, too, but its survival is hardly at stake.

Screw Egypt’s people, it will still be a place on the map! If you can’t bomb ‘em, what’s the point?

Late, Late Night FDL: Democracy
Leonard Cohen-Democracy

Leonard Cohen-Democracy (Lyrics)

It’s a shame that it still has yet to arrive…

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Another Federal Judge Challenges Health Care Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Another Federal Judge Challenges Health Care Law
On Monday, another federal judge from our nation’s south made a bid to squelch President Obama’s big health care win from last year by arguing that the mandatory health insurance component of the law makes the whole thing unconstitutional.  —KA The New York Times: Unlike a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., concluded that the insurance requirement was so essential to the workings of the Affordable Care Act that its unconstitutionality required that the entire Obama health care law be invalidated. “The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote. The judge declined, however, to immediately enjoin, or suspend, the law pending appeals, a process that could take two years. That left confusion about how the ruling might be interpreted in the 26 states that are parties to the legal challenge. Read more

On Monday, another federal judge from our nation’s south made a bid to squelch President Obama’s big health care win from last year by arguing that the mandatory health insurance component of the law makes the whole thing unconstitutional.? —KA

The New York Times:

Unlike a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., concluded that the insurance requirement was so essential to the workings of the Affordable Care Act that its unconstitutionality required that the entire Obama health care law be invalidated.

“The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote.

The judge declined, however, to immediately enjoin, or suspend, the law pending appeals, a process that could take two years. That left confusion about how the ruling might be interpreted in the 26 states that are parties to the legal challenge.

Read more

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Don’t Blame Workers for the Crimes of the Wealthy
According to The New York Times, “What’s Broken in Greece” is that the cost of labor in Greece from 2005 to 2010 has been, on average, 25 percent higher than in Germany. This “pricing distortion,” the Times asserts, “helps explain why Greece required a 110 billion euro ($150 billion) bailout last spring in order to keep it from defaulting on its debts.” Really? Do labor costs explain why, according to the head of Greece’s equivalent of the IRS, the only people in Greece who pay taxes are “wage earners and pensioners whose incomes are taxed at the source,” since everyone else cheats on his or her taxes? Or why Greece’s tax revenues, at 19.8 percent, are the lowest of all the countries that use the euro, where the average is 26.1 percent? Is everything the fault of workers, even the rampant tax evasion of the rich?

According to The New York Times, “What’s Broken in Greece” is that the cost of labor in Greece from 2005 to 2010 has been, on average, 25 percent higher than in Germany. This “pricing distortion,” the Times asserts, “helps explain why Greece required a 110 billion euro ($150 billion) bailout last spring in order to keep it from defaulting on its debts.” Really? Do labor costs explain why, according to the head of Greece’s equivalent of the IRS, the only people in Greece who pay taxes are “wage earners and pensioners whose incomes are taxed at the source,” since everyone else cheats on his or her taxes? Or why Greece’s tax revenues, at 19.8 percent, are the lowest of all the countries that use the euro, where the average is 26.1 percent?

Is everything the fault of workers, even the rampant tax evasion of the rich?

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Chris Weigant: Democracy’s Drawback

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Chris Weigant: Democracy’s Drawback
America is a strong supporter of democracy worldwide. Except, of course, when we aren’t. That piece of doublethink is the heart of the conundrum in which we now find ourselves in Egypt.

David Axelrod Swipes Mitt Romney On Health Care
Departing White House senior advisor David Axelrod took a jab at the achilles heel of potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a recent interview,…

Adam Winkler: Health Care Ruling Shows Judicial Activism Is Alive and Well — and Living on the Right
Monday’s federal court decision striking down the landmark Affordable Care Act shows how much the political right has embraced judicial activism.


Beck Calls NATO Ally Turkey A “Dictator We’ve Made Friends With”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Beck Calls NATO Ally Turkey A “Dictator We’ve Made Friends With”

Glenn Beck displayed a symbol on a map of Turkey that, as Beck explained, indicated it is a “frenemy” and “a dictator that we’ve made friends with.” In reality, Turkey’s government is a republic, and Turkey has been a NATO ally since 1952.

Beck Graphic Indicates Turkey Is One Of The “Dictators” The U.S. “Made Friends With”

Beck: “The Little Blue Faces Are The — Are Really The Dictators That We’ve Made Friends With.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: The little blue faces are the — are really the dictators that we’ve made friends with. We said — they’re frenemies, really. There’s 125 dead in Egypt in over a week. Egypt is a frenemy.

OK, let’s look at the map, at our friends, our frenemies, and our enemies. Do you see very many friends, the little yellow ones? [Glenn Beck, 1/31/11]

Beck Map Displays “Frenemy” Symbol On Top Of Turkey. From Glenn Beck:

Chalk board map screen grab

Reality: Turkey Is A Republic And Has Been A NATO Ally Since 1952

State Department Lists Turkey As A Republic. From the State Department’s “Background Notes: Turkey”:

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: October 29, 1923.
Constitution: November 7, 1982. Amended in 1987, 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2010.
Branches: Executive–president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet–appointed by the president on the nomination of the prime minister). Legislative–Grand National Assembly (550 members) chosen by national elections at least every 4 years. Judicial–Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Council of State, and other courts.
Political parties with representatives in Parliament: Justice and Development Party (AKP) (336 seats), Republican People’s Party (CHP) (101 seats), Nationalist Action Party (MHP) (70 seats), Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) (20 seats), Democratic Left Party (DSP) (6 seats), Democrat Party (DP) (1 seat), Turkey Party (TP) (1 seat), seven independents, and eight vacant seats.
Suffrage: Universal, 18 and older.
National holiday: Republic Day, October 28-29. [State.gov, accessed 1/31/11]

State Department: “Turkey’s Primary Political, Economic, And Security Ties Are With The West” And “Has Made Important Contributions To The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) In Afghanistan.” From the State Department’s “Background Notes: Turkey”:

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Turkey’s primary political, economic, and security ties are with the West, but the AKP government has also sought to strengthen relations with its Middle Eastern neighbors and Central Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

Turkey entered NATO in 1952 and serves as the organization’s vital eastern anchor, as it controls the straits leading from the Black Sea to the Aegean and shares a border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. NATO’s Air Component Command Headquarters is located in Izmir and NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps-Turkey is headquartered in Istanbul. Turkey has made important contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, commanding ISAF four times (2002, 2005, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011). Turkey currently commands Regional Command Capital and has set up two Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Wardak and Jowzjan Provinces, with approximately 1,700 troops stationed in Afghanistan. [State.gov, accessed 1/31/11]


FL Sheriff: Corrupt Alaska Mogul Sexually Battered Child, Lives On Boat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:37 am by HL

FL Sheriff: Corrupt Alaska Mogul Sexually Battered Child, Lives On Boat
Bill Weimar, the Alaska halfway house mogul who went to prison for attempting to bribe state politicians, is being sought by Florida police for allegedly sexually battering a child under the age of 12. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office this…


MEK Event Sponsor: Iranian Group Is Not A Terror Organization
The D.C. insider whose firm sponsored an event in support of an Iranian opposition group which is currently considered a terrorist organization by the State Department admits that the group, known as the MEK, is unlikely to be the successor to the Khamenei regime. Neil Livingstone, the Chairman and CEO of Executive Action, LLC, told TPM in an interview that his group was supporting the MEK for the sake of “the Iranian opposition in general.”


The Teabagger Congressman in ‘My Name is Oil’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:34 am by HL

The Teabagger Congressman in ‘My Name is Oil’


White House Gives Up on Mubarak

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:33 am by HL

White House Gives Up on Mubarak
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, “seeking to salvage his 29-year rule, made his first offer to discuss reforms with opposition groups, as protesters gathered for a massive march to force him to resign and his Western allies discussed plans for his exit,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Participants in a private meeting Monday morning at the White House’s Roosevelt Room said a long discussion of Mr. Mubarak’s future left them with the understanding that the White House sees no scenario in which Mr. Mubarak remains in power for long. White House officials said they made no explicit predictions about Mr. Mubarak’s future.”

As the Daily Beast comments, “We’ll look forward to reading the behind-the-scenes account on WikiLeaks one day.”

Bush Daughter Backs Same Sex Marriage
Ben Smith: “Here’s a pretty vivid illustration of the generation divide playing out inside the Republican Party. George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign played same-sex marriage against John Kerry; his daughter’s now a spokeswoman for the cause.”

Whitman Spent $178 Million
The Sacramento Bee reports failed California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s (R) spent a record-breaking $178.5 million spent on her campaign — $43.25 for each of her votes in the general election — which she lost to Jerry Brown (D) by 13 percentage points.

Does Carney Lack Clout?
Incoming White House press secretary Jay Carney doesn’t report directly to the president, Lloyd Grove reports.

“He’s not an Obama insider — hardly an advantage when toiling for an insular politician who is naturally wary of newcomers and relies on a tight circle of advisers and intimates. Some White House veterans, including at least one former presidential press secretary, worry that Carney won’t receive the necessary access to Obama, and other policymakers at key meetings, to speak from the podium with the authority that Gibbs unquestionably enjoyed.”


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:33 am by HL

Presented By:

Thank AIPAC For Placing USA On Wrong Side In Egypt
If one needs additional proof that the “pro-Israel” lobby and the policies it dictates to US policymakers are bad for both the U.S. and Israel, look no further than what is happening in Egypt. The regime that the Israeli government…


How a Story Seduced the Right Wing
The two other Michaels participating in this book club have offered two reasons for the growth of right-wing paranoia. Michael Maiello argued that economic frustration has led people to conclude that someone is stacking the decks against them, while Michael…


Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson ?Borrows Heavily? From Family Research Council To Invalidate Health Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:32 am by HL

Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson ?Borrows Heavily? From Family Research Council To Invalidate Health Law

FRC President Tony Perkins

The most surprising part of Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling was his argument that the individual mandate was not severable from the health care law as a whole and must therefor bring down the entire Affordable Care Act. “In sum, notwithstanding the fact that many of the provisions in the Act can stand independently without the individual mandate (as a technical and practical matter), it is reasonably ‘evident,’ as I have discussed above, that the individual mandate was an essential and indispensable part of the health reform efforts, and that Congress did not believe other parts of the Act could (or it would want them to) survive independently,” Vinson writes.

But a closer read of his analysis reveals something peculiar. In fact, as Vinson himself admits in Footnote 27 (on pg. 65), he arrived at this conclusion by “borrow[ing] heavily from one of the amicus briefs filed in the case for it quite cogently and effectively sets forth the applicable standard and governing analysis of severability (doc. 123).” That brief was filed by the Family Research Council, which has been branded as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

“The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as ‘the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,’ but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians,” SPLC says. Indeed, so-called FRC “experts” (who most recently lobbied to preserve Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) have argued that “gaining access to children” “has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement” and claimed that “[o]ne of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets of a new sexual order.” FRC President Tony Perkins has even described pedophilia as a “homosexual problem.”

Here is how Vinson lifts FRC’s argument:

Vinson’s opinion:

Severability is a doctrine of judicial restraint, and the Supreme Court has applied and reaffirmed that doctrine just this past year: “‘Generally speaking, when confronting a constitutional flaw in a statute, [courts] try to limit the solution to the problem,’ severing any ‘problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact.’” […]

The question of severability ultimately turns on the nature of the statute at issue. For example, if Congress intended a given statute to be viewed as a bundle of separate legislative enactment or a series of short laws, which for purposes of convenience and efficiency were arranged together in a single legislative scheme, it is presumed that any provision declared unconstitutional can be struck and severed without affecting the remainder of the statute. If, however, the statute is viewed as a carefully-balanced and clockwork-like statutory arrangement comprised of pieces that all work toward one primary legislative goal, and if that goal would be undermined if a central part of the legislation is found to be unconstitutional, then severability is not appropriate. As will be seen, the facts of this case lean heavily toward a finding that the Act is properly viewed as the latter, and not the former.

Family Research Council:

Severability is fundamentally a doctrine of judicial restraint. “Generally speaking, when confronting a constitutional flaw in a statute, we try to limit the solution to the problem.” […]

The question of severability is a judicial inquiry of two alternatives regarding the nature of a statute. One possibility is that Congress intended a given statute as a bundle of separate legislative embodiments, which for the sake of convenience, avoiding redundancy, and contextual application, are bundled together in a single legislative enactment. This makes a statute a series of short laws, every one of which is designed to stand alone, if needs be. The second possibility is that a given statute embodies a carefully-balanced legislative deal, in which Congress weighs competing policy priorities, and through negotiations and deliberation crafts a package codifying this delicate balance. Congress is thus not voting for separate and discrete provisions. Instead, Congress is voting on a package as a whole, any modification of which could result in the bill failing to achieve passage in Congress. As both Plaintiffs? briefs and the following argument shows, the Individual Mandate falls within the latter category, not the former.

Vinson’s conclusion is peculiar because the courts usually defer to Congress on questions of severability. In fact, even Judge Henry Hudson — the Virginia Judge who also found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional — left the whole of the law intact noting, “It would be virtually impossible within the present record to determine whether Congress would have passed this bill, encompassing a wide variety of topics related and unrelated to health care, without Section 1501…Therefore, this Court will hew closely to the time-honored rule to sever with circumspection, severing any ‘problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact.’”

As Chief Justice John Roberts noted in Free Enterprise Fund et al. v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, “Because ‘[t]he unconstitutionality of a part of an Act does not necessarily defeat or affect the validity of its remaining provisions,’ Champlin Refining Co. v. Corporation Comm’n of Okla. , 286 U. S. 210, 234 (1932) , the ‘normal rule’ is ‘that partial, rather than facial, invalidation is the required course.’”


Jon Huntsman to resign from Obama administration

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 1st, 2011 5:31 am by HL

Jon Huntsman to resign from Obama administration
U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) has sent a resignation letter to President Barack Obama in possible preparation for a presidential bid against his boss. He will step down from his post in April.

Behind the numbers: Can a Mormon win?
Amid swirling attention on U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman’s (R) potential candidacy, there is sure to be renewed focus on whether Americans (but first Republican primary voters) are ready for a Mormon president.

Legislative proposal puts abortion rights supporters on alert
A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women’s groups who say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered “forcible.”