Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 5

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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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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