The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

The Wires

The Ledes

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El – built on private Palestinian land without permits – should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu’s opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 30

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically-correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

Contact the Constant Weader

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Sunday
Apr012012

The Commentariat -- April 2, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer, commenting on Bill Keller's New York Times column, asks the question, "Are Hate Crimes Worse than Other Crimes?" Most of you probably won't agree with my answer, but, hey, that's why they're called "opinions." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

** Paul Krugman: "... on Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.... The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan ... isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes."

** E. J. Dionne: "Right before our eyes, American conservatism is becoming something very different from what it once was. Yet this transformation is happening by stealth because moderates are too afraid to acknowledge what all their senses tell them."

Jeff Toobin, who was the principal alarmist -- "a train wreck" -- about the Supremes' questioning of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, now writes his commentary in the New Yorker: "Acts of Congress, like the health-care law, are presumed to be constitutional, and it is—or should be—a grave and unusual step for unelected, unaccountable, life-tenured judges to overrule the work of the democratically elected branches of government.... The awesome, and final, powers of the Justices are best exercised sparingly and with restraint. Their normal burdens of interpreting laws are heavy enough. No one expects the Justices to be making health-care policy any more than we expect them to be picking Presidents, which, it may be remembered, is not exactly their strength, either." Read the whole post.

Dan Barry, et al., of the New York Times write an extensive report on the killing of Trayvon Martin. If you've missed some of the particulars, this will bring you up-to-date.

Keith Laing of The Hill: "Transportation advocates are losing hope for passage of a highway bill before the election following Congress's decision this week to pass another short-term funding extension. Instead of approving the multi-year transportation bill that passed the Senate, lawmakers adopted a temporary extension of legislation that already funds road and transit projects. The short-term measure, signed Friday by President Obama, extends federal transportation funding until June 30." ...

... Brad Plumer of the Washington Post: "... a growing number of states — from California to Florida — have been bringing in private capital to bankroll their transportation needs. But is privatizing infrastructure really such a good idea?" Plumer reviews the pros & cons.

Susan Page of USA Today: "President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.... Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points. The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group." ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "This may be a case of history repeating itself. The last Democratic president to stand for reelection, Bill Clinton in 1996, owed his reelection to a massive and decisive gender gap.... But, as with Obama, his presidency provoked relentless, culturally-fueled conservative opposition that had particular resonance with white male voters, especially in the South and rural areas. The 'angry white male' phenomenon was key to the GOP’s 1994 midterm landslide...."

Ylan Mui of the Washington Post: "The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: senior citizens. New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old."

CW: I missed Glenn Greenwald's column on Saturday, but he makes an important point: as far as the media are concerned, all terrorism is Muslim, and in many quarters it's quite all right to make remarks or "jokes" about Muslims of a kind that no one would make about other ethnic groups.

Right Wing World

In a USA Today op-ed, Rick Santorum whacks President Obama and Mitt Romney for ObamaRomneyCare, which, as you know, "will take away your freedoms." CW: I'm too lazy to unpack the ldisinformation & misstatements in the op-ed. Here, PolitiFact takes care of the first misstatement.

Phil Rockstroh in TruthOut helps explain why poor white conservative men are totally screwed up. He uses as an example his old friend Vince: "... as the day-to-day humiliations exacted by the corporate state continue to inflict deeper, more emotionally debilitating wounds, the more Vince reacts like a wounded animal … lashing out at all but those who bestow him with the palliative of rightwing demagogic lies that distort the source of his suffering by means of directing his rage at a host of scapegoats i.e., phantom socialists (and, of course, their OWS dirty hippie dupes) whose, schemes, he insists, have denied him his rightful place among the serried ranks of capitalism's legion of winners." Read the whole thing. I think it helps explain the some of what Chris Mooney observed about The Republican Brain in the piece I linked in the Commentariat two days ago." Thanks to my friend Kate M. for the link.

[Romney] started this campaign in the aftermath of that tea party victory in 2010 when all the people on the far right of the Republican party actually believed a majority of the voters had embraced the specific things they were saying. So it created a horrible dilemma for Romney. And the poor man who got in trouble for the Etch-a-Sketch remark. That’s like the saying, ‘There is nothing more damaging in politics than telling the truth.’ I mean, the truth is, that’s what he’s gotta do. -- Bill Clinton ...

 ... CW: I skipped this New York Times op-ed by David Javerbaum because I am sick of reading about Mitt Romney, but the article is pretty good. Jeverbaum explains Romney's movable policy positions in terms of quantum physics (I guess -- I don't really speak quantum physics). ...

... More Bouncing Protons. Tamara Keith of NPR: Romney used to be pretty sensible about conserving energy; he isn't anymore. With audio. ...

... Greg Sargent: "... the Obama-allied Priorities USA Action is going up with a new ad in seven swing states hitting back hard at a spot being run by an outside conservative group attacking the President over high gas prices":

News Ledes

Washington Post: Martha Johnson, "the chief of the General Services Administration, is resigning and two of her top deputies have been fired amid reports of excessive spending at a training conference at a luxury hotel that featured a mindreader, a clown and a comedian.... Four GSA employees who organized the four-day conference have been placed on adminstrative leave pending further action. The resignations come as the agency’s inspector general prepares to release a scathing report on the training conference, held at a luxury hotel outside Las Vegas in October 2010."

ABC News: "A gunman who opened fire at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland, Calif., this morning, killing at least seven people and wounding three others, may be in custody, police said." The college focuses on teaching nursing; the suspect is a former student.

AP: "In the thick of political contests in both the United States and Mexico, [President] Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon traded unusually direct claims about the cause and effect of the drug violence that has consumed a swath of northeastern Mexico."

ABC News: "Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] said today it arrested 3,168 criminal aliens and fugitives in a six-day nationwide sweep in every state including Puerto Rico and The District of Colombia. The operation dubbed 'Cross-Check' included more than 2,834 individuals who had prior criminal convictions. ICE officials noted that 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders were nabbed. Although ICE has run similar operations..., ICE Director John Morton said this was the largest to date."

New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs but also public health and information about gang affiliations."

ABC News: "Former President Bill Clinton said ... the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the 'Stand Your Ground' law." With video.

New York Times: a new study of twins shows that "While sequencing the entire DNA of individuals is proving fantastically useful in understanding diseases and finding new treatments, it is not a method that will, for the most part, predict a person’s medical future."

Guardian: "Satellite images of a North Korean rocket launch site show a mobile radar trailer and rows of what appear to be empty fuel and oxidiser tanks, evidence of ramped-up preparation for what Washington calls a cover for a long-range missile test. An analysis of images that the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies gave to Associated Press on Monday shows Pyongyang 'has undertaken more extensive preparations for its planned April rocket launch than previously understood'. The images were taken on Wednesday."

AP: "A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official.... The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama's re-election effort this year, federal records show. But Assongba is also fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she's accused of thieving more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state — a charge her husband denies."

AP: "A Pakistani court on Monday convicted Osama bin Laden's three widows and two of his daughters of illegally entering and living in the country and sentenced them to 45 days in prison, with credit for time served, their lawyer said.The five women have been in detention since last May...."

Guardian: "Bashar al-Assad has been warned to implement a UN-backed peace plan to end more than a year of violence in Syria, amid growing scepticism at the lack of international resolve to tackle the bloodiest crisis of the Arab spring. Hillary Clinton ... issued the threat at a conference of the Friends of the Syrian people in Istanbul on Sunday, but there was little evidence of coherent international action if he does not comply."

Guardian: "Aung San Suu Kyi has hailed 'the beginning of a new era' in Burma's politics after her party claimed a spectacular 43 out of 44 parliamentary seats in Sunday's historic byelection. Speaking to thousands of red-clad supporters outside the headquarters of her opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Nobel laureate called the election 'a triumph of the people' and said: 'We hope this will be the beginning of a new era.'"

AP: The Census Bureau will release its 1940 records today; 21 million Americans whose personal data appear in the records are still living, raising privacy issues.

AP: "A credit card processor says that a recent data breach may affect less than 1.5 million cards in North America. Visa and Mastercard announced Friday that they had notified users of the potential for identity theft and illicit charges because of the breach. The card processor, Global Payments put a number on those who could be affected late Sunday."

Reader Comments (10)

How could any murder of any person of any color, any person of any religion, possibly be more hateful than the murder of me. Are cop, blacks, priests, and other objects of hate crimes more important than the rest of us? Perhaps, but death is the great equalizer. My death is as terrible as any, as is yours.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

The Supreme Court of the United States put a smile on the faces of the Mayors of New York and Oakland. Today the Court gave approval of strip searches in any instance of a person being put in with the general population of any jail or prison. No mattter how trivial the charge, a strip search is legal.
The ruling says they can't stick their finger up you but may make you wiggle your private parts. You think I am kidding. I am not. Can you imagine the fun the Mayors cohorts will have with Occupy protesters. A whole new tool for intimidation. Added to the so called anti terrorist surveilance liberties, we will be able to stop protests before they get out of hand and maintain law and order no matter how bad things get as we transfer wealth from the many to the few.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Do not be surprised if the SCOTUS upholds Obamacare in its entirety. They have to have sat down and discussed the ramifications of their making law in this instance and the chaos they will cause if Obamacare is rejected.
Kennedy, Roberts and Alito are supposedly intelligent men and may not want to be reviled for eternity if the rejection of Obamacare turns into the predicted disaster.
Of course, Scalia is a lap dog of the Koch variety and Thomas is neither here nor there by himself, so we can count on these two in oppositions to the end.
A seven to two ruling would be sweet and not impossible if these judges are as smart as they are alleged to be.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

I think Jeff Toobin still has it wrong.

I haven't read the transcripts yet, but when Justice Kennedy assumed for the sake of argument that the mandate was “unprecedented,” I don't think that he was talking about Congress's involvement with health care as being unprecedented.

He was referring to the unprecedented expansion of the Commerce Clause that is necessary to permit Congress to require that every American purchase health care insurance as the price for breathing the same American air that he/she was previously entitled to as a simple birthright.

Medicare and Medicaid are constitutionally straightforward. You pay a tax and you get a defined benefit in return.

The health care mandate, in contrast, requires a tortured chain of arguments that (1) we will all eventually require health care whether we or someone else pays for it, so (2) we are all in the health care market. Still, at the time the ACA was passed, there was—and still is, I think—no interstate commerce in health care insurance. Jeez. Federal legislation may not work here!

Hmm. How to invoke the Commerce Clause and, use federal legislation to club Americans into submission?

Well, those who are “passively” involved in the market—by not buying insurance—(3) sometimes force others to pay for their health care and (4) therefore affect the premium prices of those who do buy insurance.

And the inaction of those who don't buy insurance must (5) certainly affect both the quality and cost of health care across state lines, doesn't it? By golly, I think we're on to something here!

Therefore we can invoke the Commerce Clause to regulate health care insurance and require everyone to buy it or at least pay a penalty. Because anything that any one of us does or doesn't do in the health insurance market affects the cost of health care for all of us, across the nation.

Well, that's the theory, at least.

Now, I know everyone is tired of hearing about broccoli. But think of all the other things that you do—or don't do—that can have an adverse effect on your health and hence, affect everyone else's health care costs.

Are you overweight and under-muscled? You need to join a gym and document your weight loss, muscle mass improvement, and cardio fitness. If you're a fatty, you affect everyone else's costs, don't you know?

Do you drive a polluting automobile? Think of all those unhealthy particulates and gases that you're spewing into the air, causing an increase in the incidence of asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and God knows what all else. You're damaging the health or others and mayber even yourself, and increasing the cost of health care.

You need to reduce your emissions by walking or bicycling to work at least three times a week, carpooling or taking public transportation. Besides, it's good for you. We don't care that you need your car to pick up your kid at daycare. Just submit your transportation documentation to prove compliance, or face a fine, jail, and/or seizure of your deathmobile. Hey, what's forty grand for a nice clean Chevy Volt anyway?

The list of things that we do that can be construed as seriously affecting our health and/or that of others, and hence have an impact on the national cost of health care and health care insurance is endless.

There will be absolutely no limit as to what we can be forced to do in the name of good health, and that is what is truly breathtaking and unprecedented about this application of the Commerce Clause.

Not the federal government involving itself in health care.

A single-payer system would be quite constitutional. Simple. You pay a tax, and you get a defined service or benefit in return.

If you think you need additional care, you can use your own money, or, as they do in Canada and Australia, you can also buy supplementary private insurance.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

President Obama gave a darn good speech about why the Supreme Court - rational non-activists that they are - couldn't possible overturn the Affordable Care Act. Seriously, no snark, it was excellent.
On a lighter note, for Marie and any other Mad Men fans: yesterday's episode really rose to the level we have come to expect of this terrific show. Never gets dull :-)

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Zee. Thanks for your comment. Here's where I think you're wrong. The "limiting principle" is the Constitution. If there's a logical rationale for Congress's invoking the Commerce Clause, & Congress chooses to do so, then they can do so lawfully. Attempting to solve a problem that affects all Americans and accounts for about 17 percent of all U.S. expenditures sure as hell fits the bill. You can argue that the states could do this on their own, but with the exceptions of Massachusetts & Vermont, they have not. Texas is actually cutting back on health services; i.e., making a bad situation worse.

Yes, Congress can require you to eat broccoli, too, or join a gym, if they deem that is in the national interest (kinda like they rationed certain foods in WWII because that was in the national interest). If you hate broccoli, don't want to go to the gym, and/or think Congress has overstepped its bounds, you can vote 'em out. The people, in that case, are the "limiting principle."

Requiring Americans to buy stuff from private entities is hardly unprecedented. You are not required to buy a car, but if you buy one -- as certainly the Court recognizes the majority of Americans must do -- you have to buy a horn, too. I have a car that I bought in 2008. It has safety belts in the back seat. I paid for 'em. I could not have bought that or any other car without those safety belts in the back seat. I've never used them -- never had passengers in the back seat. Congress forced me to buy something I don't want & can't use and something, in principle, that I might never take outside the state where I bought it (I have driven this car out-of-state once).

Indeed, even when you buy broccoli, unless you buy it directly from an organic farmer, there is a good chance you are paying for some inspections & regulations imposed upon the farmer, the trucker, the grocery store.

My mother used to be the associate state chemist for New Mexico. One of her jobs -- which was just like the federal job where they do the same thing -- was to inspect the contents of dog- and catfood to see if they matched the label (only Purina consistently did so). So even if the Catfood Commission had had its way (it did not), you would be paying the federal government to inspect the ingredients in your catfood casserole.

There are a thousand precedents for the ACA; it is simply a Tea Party trope that it is unprecedented.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@ Victoria D. And I loved the Romney snark. Did you catch it?

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@Zee. First of all, comparing basic health services cost with being forced to eat broccoli is not rational. Basic health care for everyone is being paid by every person with health insurance. It costs you about $1000. a year, never mind government costs. Please explain to me why conservatives want to pay for other peoples expenses. Requiring people to pay their bills sounds to me like a basic conservative concept.
You don't want the government involved in healthcare but if they don't, you are going to pay the bill. And it will grow every day.
Lastly, a single payer system is the way to go. But conservatives won't let it happen because it will effect business as usual. So all we have now is a mess called the ACA. But is is the beginning because if we don't deal with reality soon, we are all going to go broke.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marvin and Zee
And once we go broke, I predict we will wind up with single payer. And I add that thought to my list of guilty pleasures; right next to the thought that one day Texas WILL secede and the guy who wrote Stand Your Ground one day runs into a guy who stands his ground.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

@Marie, @Marvin and @Haley--

Please recall that I am now on record in this forum as favoring a single-payer system. You all have persuaded me that health care is completely different from any other service or product and simply does not behave like--and therefore cannot be viewed as--just another "market-driven" commodity. I forgot to add that aside to my previous comment.

As you have pointed out, @Marvin, we wind up paying for the care of those without insurance one way or another. Why not just admit that up front and go with a Canadian or Australian system? (I have said before that I am happy with such a system as long as I can buy supplementary insurance or can buy additional care with my own money.)

Why most conservatives refuse to see this is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.

Perhaps it has to do with conservatives still feeling that they have greater control over their lives with the insurance they already have and think they understand, as opposed to having to buy into the government's 2000+ page, barely comprehensible "pig-in-a-poke." Nobody likes change.

@Marie, you raise a valid point that we already are forced to buy many things that we don't use and/or don't want to pay for. I confess that I hadn't thought about those things, and because they affect my health and safety, I guess I don't want to see that change.

Still, it's my humble opinion that the PPACA is a huge Congressional overreach, and one which, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will be as much abused in the future by conservative administrations as by liberal ones.

I think that the Supreme Court is going to agree with me.
But if not, well, we are still likely to see your "limiting principle" applied in the November 2012 elections.

Finally, @Haley, I think that you are right. Things will have to get worse with health care before they can get better. We have an anthropology/archaeology professor here at the University of New Mexico who also gives public seminars through Oasis, a national educational organization.

One of his research interests is what drives societal change. He has concluded that invariably, it is crisis that drives significant change. Rahm Emmanual was right, but he picked the wrong time.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee
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