The Government We Deserve. Pew Research Center: "... just 55% of the public knows that the Supreme Court upheld most of the health care law's provisions; 45% say either that the court rejected most provisions (15%) or do not know what the court did (30%). Among those aware that the court upheld most of the law, 50% approve of the decision while 42% disapprove."
Understanding Mitt. Lisa Miller of New York: "... living high on the socioeconomic ladder can, colloquially speaking, dehumanize people. It can make them less ethical, more selfish, more insular, and less compassionate than other people.... 'While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,' [Prof. Paul] Piff says, 'the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.'" CW: this is a six-pager. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the printer version to load, so you'll have to page thru from the linked first page.
Jeff Toobin: Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion on the Affordable Care Act "was a singular act of courage," but "this should have been an easy case."
Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "Conservatives want their judges to consider themselves card-carrying members of the conservative movement, and at the same time they want those judges' rulings, when handed down, to be treated with unquestionable legitimacy even by those who disagree with the decisions.... Having excoriated liberals for calling the court partisan, conservatives are now gnashing their teeth because the court failed to be as partisan as they wanted. That makes the complaints about politics supposedly driving Roberts' decision ring hollow. They wanted politics to drive the decision. They just wanted it to go their way."
Jonathan Chait: John Roberts' legal theory on the constitutionality of the ACA makes no sense (and neither does that of the conservatives justices, who don't even try). But it accomplished what he wanted to do, making it "results-oriented."
Fear of Taxes. Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: Get over it, people. "Taxation ... can be an extremely efficient way to achieve social ends as well as fund the government, and any fair conservative economist would recognize this."
Incidential Economist: "Obamacare is the biggest tax increase in history … if you ignore history. The I/E created a chart to disprove the GOP biggest-tax-increase-ever talking point. ...
... More from Kevin Drum on the "biggest tax increase" story. He adds, "no news outlet interested in accuracy should let it pass without challenge." Good luck with that. Of course, we may not hear this talking point for long on account of Romney's little "tax problem": see the Michael Shear story under today's "Presidential Race" for that.
Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: okay, the Court has ruled on ObamaCare. Are you businesspeople who were clinging to the uncertainty apron all better now? Are you "certain" yet?
** Re: the Affordable Care Act, please read Victoria D.'s comment in today's Commentariat. Letters like the one she received can only help.
Ken Silverstein, in a New York Times op-ed: "Despots and crooks love to bring their money to America, not only for prestige but also because our corporate secrecy laws, like those of Switzerland and Luxembourg, make it almost impossible for law enforcement agencies to figure out who has money sheltered here."
Gene Robinson: "About one-fourth of all households [in the Washington, D.C. area] have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented assault by violent thunderstorms Friday night. Critics have blasted the Obama administration's unfruitful investment in solar energy. But if government-funded research managed to lower the price of solar panels to the point where it became economical to install them on residential roofs, all you global warming skeptics would have air conditioning right now. I'm just sayin'."
"Backpack" Vouchers. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's program to give vouchers to every kid should frighten Americans "because the basic idea of 'strapping public funds to kids' backs' and sending it wherever parents choose is at the heart of Mitt Romney's education platform." CW: and another reminder of why I despise Jeb Bush. He can be polite & reasonable-sounding, but that sucker is a prime mover in the privatization of education -- a key element in the Return to Gilded Age Rules.
Marc Ambinder in GQ: "According to ongoing discussions with Obama aides and associates, if the president wins a second term, he plans to tackle another American war that has so far been successful only in perpetuating more misery: the four decades of The Drug War."
CW: a note to everyone who says "I'm not going to vote for Obama. He betrayed me when he did/didn't do ... whatever": The Bully Pulpit Argument. Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns & Money: "Plans to transform American domestic politics that involve heroic presidential daddies imposing major social change on powerful interests by sheer force of will are indistinguishable from having no plan at all."
Sometimes conservatives grow up. Patrick Gavin of Politico has the story.
Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign threw cold water on a central Republican attack line on Monday, saying that President Obama's health care mandate should be thought of as a penalty and not a tax. That message ... contradicts top Republican Party officials and leaders in Congress, who have spent the last several days eagerly accusing the president of levying a new tax. By straying from the party message, Mr. Romney's campaign offered a fresh example of his difficulty in carrying the conservative mantle on health care...."
Not Going to Talk about Healthcare. Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal: Mitt Romney's "campaign has been giving off clear signals that it doesn't want to make health care a major part of the election."
Not Going to Talk about Immigration, Either. Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Mitt Romney last week told a private group of potential supporters and business and media elites, including Rupert Murdoch, that he was treading carefully around the issue of immigration to avoid looking like a 'flip-flopper.'" CW: interesting post.
Not Going to Talk about My Personal Finances, Either. CW: Haven't had time to read this Vanity Fair story, but it looks good. Here's the blurb: "For all Mitt Romney's touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney's fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate." ...
... Alexander Burns of Politico, commenting on the Vanity Fair story: "Romney's larger approach to the 2012 campaign: accepting a certain amount of heat over his lack of detail and transparency, in order to deny his critics and political opponents information they might use to attack him." Strategy translation: if you knew about the skeletons in Mitt Romney's closet, you would not elect him dogcatcher (even tho he's got a kennel on the top of his car), so the closet will remain closed. And we're counting on the press to "respect the candidate's privacy."
CW: so it looks like Romney's entire campaign message boils down to this: "The economy sucks and I'm white."
O Say, Can You Say "Marseillaise"? Steve Benen: Some Republicans -- Karl Rove & the National Review, fer instance -- have been claiming that President Obama will be spending the 4th in Paris attending fundraisers. Not true. "There is, of course, an underlying smear here, with the right falsely trying to connect Obama to France. But I'm curious: if a Parisian fundraiser from American donors is controversial, why aren't Romney's fundraisers in communist China equally problematic?"
Right Wing World
Let's Cuff the Attorney General. Steve Benen: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RTP-Utah) goes on the teevee to raise the prospect of having the House sergeant-at-arms apprehend AG Eric Holder. CW: yes, making the black AG do the perp walk would be a great visual. I have no idea what the sergeant-at-arms would actually do with Holder once he "took control of" him because no one is going to prosecute Holder. Will they lock him up in the basement of the Capitol Building?
"Chris Christie, Still Auditioning for V.P., Calls Reporter an 'Idiot.'" Star-Ledger Editorial Board: "Christie signs laws against bullying while serving a prime example of the problem." The news story is here. CW: Marvin Schwalb has a point. See yesterday Comments on the Commentariat. ...
... But I still think Florida's Rick Scott win the "America's Worst Governor" contest. Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: an analysis has "found that 98.4 percent of the 2,625 people included on" Rick Scott's first list of "potential noncitizens" are eligible voters. CW: and Republican-run Lee County, where I live is the worst! Here's my case: Christie is calling New Jersey citizens "idiots" & "numbnuts"; Scott is disenfranchising the idiots in Florida.
Amanda Crawford of Bloomberg News: in Colorado Springs, the home of the anti-tax movement & a bastion of conservatism, is now experiencing -- in the wake of the disastrous fires -- the obvious downside of Norquist-think: fewer essential public services -- including police. And it is likely to get worse.
New York Times: "Andy Griffith, an actor whose folksy Southern manner charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on albums and especially on television -- most notably as the small-town sheriff on the long-running situation comedy that bore his name -- died on Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was 86." The Times has an "Andy Griffith -- In Performance" video feature here. I recommend "What It Was, Was Football," which was my introduction to Griffith.
New York Times: "The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates."
AP: "The Obama administration is moving toward decisions that would further cut the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, possibly to between 1,000 and 1,100, reflecting new thinking on the role of nuclear weapons in an age of terror, current and former officials say."
New York Times: "A prominent human rights advocacy group accused the Syrian authorities on Tuesday of building an 'archipelago' of at least 27 torture centers where abuse of the government’s opponents points to a crime against humanity." Guardian story here. ...
... AP: "Syrian President Bashar Assad said he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish jet by his forces, and he will not allow tensions between the two neighbors to deteriorate into an 'armed conflict,' a Turkish newspaper reported Tuesday." ...
... Al Jazeera: "International powers have agreed that a transitional government should be set up in Syria to end the bloodshed there but left open the question of what part President Bashar al-Assad might play in the process. Peace envoy Kofi Annan said after talks in Geneva on Saturday that the government should include members of Assad's administration and the Syrian opposition and pave the way for free elections."
AP: "Iraqi officials on Tuesday said at least 25 people were killed and 40 others wounded in a series of blasts in central Iraq as insurgents seek to undermine the Shiite-led government."
Guardian: "US and Pakistani officials have expressed optimism that Islamabad is close to reopening its Afghan border to Nato troop supplies after a seven-month blockade, a move that could significantly reduce tension between the two countries."
AP: "British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will pay $3 billion in fines -- the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history -- for criminal and civil violations involving 10 drugs that are taken by millions of people. The Justice Department said Monday that GlaxoSmithKline PLC will plead guilty to promoting popular antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for unapproved uses. The company also will plead guilty to failing to report to the government for seven years some safety problems with diabetes drug Avandia...."
New York Times: "Robert E. Diamond Jr., the chief executive of Barclays, resigned on Tuesday, less than a week since the British bank agreed to pay $450 million to settle accusations that it had tried to manipulate key interest rates for its own benefit." The Guardian is liveblogging the story; other executives are expected to resign.
Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sharply criticized lawmakers Monday for voting to hold him in contempt of Congress last week, saying Republicans have made him a 'proxy' to attack President Obama in an election year."
New York Times: "... Fermilab physicists said Monday that its Tevatron, now shuttered but once the world’s most powerful physics machine, had fallen just short of finding a long-hypothesized particle. Known as the Higgs boson, it explains why things in the universe have mass, and is a cornerstone of modern physics despite never being seen."