The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

New York Times: "John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a film, both titled 'A Beautiful Mind,' was killed, along with his wife [Alicia], in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86."

New York Times: "Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85. Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country":

The Ledes

Saturday, May 23, 2015.

New York Times: "The United States and China on Friday escalated their dispute over contested territory in the South China Sea, after the Chinese repeatedly ordered an American military surveillance plane to abandon flights over areas where China has been building artificial islands.The continued American surveillance flights in areas where China is creating new islands in the South China Sea are intended to challenge the Chinese government’s claims of expanded territorial sovereignty. Further raising the challenge, Pentagon officials said they were discussing sending warships into waters that the United States asserts are international and open to passage, but that China says are within its zone of control."

Guardian: "An inflatable dam in drought-stricken California was damaged on Thursday, causing the loss of nearly 50,000,000 gallons (190m litres) of water. Police said vandals caused 'irreversible damage' to the inflatable dam in Fremont, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area. The vandalism caused water meant for local residents to instead flow into San Francisco bay."

Washington Post: "The man convicted in the 2001 killing of federal intern Chandra Levy is likely to get a new trial after prosecutors on Friday dropped their long-standing opposition to defense efforts to have a new jury hear the case. Since 2013, attorneys for Ingmar Guandique, 34, have argued that a key witness in the 2010 trial had lied when he testified that Guandique, his onetime cellmate, confessed to him that he killed Levy."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 25

11:20 am ET: President Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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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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