The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."

Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada’s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal – a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...

... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 24

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story.

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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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