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.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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
Jun242012

The Commentariat -- June 25, 2012

CW: Everybody is writing about health care in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling -- expected this week -- on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, so I guess I should share:

This is the year of the Supreme Court’s Obama smack down. -- Adam Winkler, law professor

... Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "The impending health care ruling by the Supreme Court has become this city's O. J. Simpson verdict crossed with a papal conclave -- polarizing, maddeningly unpredictable and shrouded in mysterious signaling. The ruling is expected to come this week, either shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, the last scheduled day of the term, or on an extra day later in the week." ...

... Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post: "Some prominent legal scholars say a series of tactical decisions by President Obama's legal team may have hurt the chances of saving his landmark health-care legislation from being gutted by Supreme Court conservatives. The warnings are a preview of the finger-pointing certain to ensue if the law is overturned." ...

... Bob Drummond of Bloomberg News: "The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a law requiring most Americans to have health insurance if the justices follow legal precedent, according to 19 of 21 constitutional law professors who ventured an opinion on the most-anticipated ruling in years. Only eight of them predicted the court would do so." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Death and taxes aren't the only certain things in life. Accident, illness, and injury are too.... The Affordable Care Act won't help all [Americans].... But it will help an awful lot of them. In fact, it's already starting to make a difference.... A decision to strike down even part of the law would have grave consequences -- for the court's legitimacy and, perhaps, the norms that make our constitutional system function." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine on the moral issue: The Republican party "is the only mainstream political party in the advanced world" that holds that citizens should be deprived "of basic medical care" if they can't afford it. ...

... Chait on how badly the Court may "screw up Obamacare." Chait explains, BTW, what will happen this week: the Court is "announcing whether Anthony Kennedy hates health care reform a lot or only a little, because everybody assumes the other four Republican justices hate it so much they'll declare it unconstitutional," despite the fact that it is obviously constitutional. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post writes about the Obama administration's poor showing in cases before the Court, but the administration's losses, as Barnes documents, are not all attributable to the conservative-liberal divide. ...

... AND E. J. Dionne gets to the heart of the matter: "if [the Court] throws out all or part of ... 'Obamacare,' we will need a fearless conversation about how a conservative majority of the court has become a cog in a larger right-wing project to make progressive political and legislative victories impossible." ...

... ** FINALLY. CW: Jim Fallows expresses exactly what I was getting at yesterday -- in fact, he traces the recent history in one sentence: "when you look at the sequence from Bush v. Gore, through Citizens United, to what seems to be coming on the health-care front; and you combine it with ongoing efforts in Florida and elsewhere to prevent voting from presumably Democratic blocs; and add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate and then took the White House, you have what we'd identify as a kind of long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else."

Paul Krugman: "Why won't the Fed act [to stimulate job growth]? My guess is that it's intimidated by those Congressional Republicans, that's it's afraid to do anything that might be seen as providing political aid to President Obama, that is, anything that might help the economy. Maybe there';s some other explanation, but the fact is that the Fed, like the European Central Bank, like the U.S. Congress, like the government of Germany, has decided that avoiding economic disaster is somebody else's responsibility. None of this should be happening.... The fundamentals of the world economy aren't, in themselves, all that scary; it's the almost universal abdication of responsibility that fills me, and many other economists, with a growing sense of dread."

The Washington Post excerpts Little America, a book by Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who writes that "infighting and incompetence within the American government" -- i.e., the Obama administration -- characterized the Afghanistan war effort: "a war cabinet arrested by vicious bickering among top national security aides; diplomats and aid workers who failed to deliver on their grand promises; generals who dispatched troops to the wrong places; and headstrong military leaders who sought a far more expansive campaign than the White House wanted. Through their bungling and quarreling, they wound up squandering the first year of the surge." ...

... Anne Gearan of the AP: "As President Barack Obama considered adding as many as 40,000 U.S. forces to a backsliding war in Afghanistan in 2009, Vice President Joe Biden warned him that the military rationale for doing so was flawed, a new book about Obama's expansion of the conflict says. The book, 'Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan,' also says that in planning the drawdown of troops two years later, the White House intentionally sidelined the CIA. Obama purposely did not read a grim CIA assessment of Afghanistan that found little measurable benefit from the 30,000 'surge' forces Obama eventually approved...."

Washington Post Reporters: John "Boehner [R-Ohio] is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis after phone calls or meetings with [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson; his successor, Timothy F. Geithner; or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, according to a Washington Post examination of appointment calendars and congressional disclosure forms. The lawmakers, many of whom held leadership positions ... in the House and Senate, changed portions of their portfolios a total of 166 times within two business days of speaking or meeting with the administration officials. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 19 to 15." Here are links to related content.

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that the White House decision to invoke executive privilege to prevent the release of some documents related to the 'Fast and Furious' investigation indicated some sort of admission of a White House cover-up. Today, pressed by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) admitted that there is absolutely no evidence to back up Boehner's allegation." With video. ...

... BUT. Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) predicted Sunday that Republicans and Democrats would vote to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this week." CW: yeah, and as we learned from Chris Hayes yesterday (see link in June 24 Commentariat), the Oracle Issa got a little help from the NRA, which is scoring votes on Holder.

Rachel Donadio of the New York Times has a good follow-up story on the Vatican's hiring of Fox "News" correspondent & Opus Dei member Greg Burke as a "message strategist." (See link in yesterday's Commentariat to the AP breaking story.)

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has launched a campaign calling on British Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the extradition to the U.S. of U.K. student Richard O'Dwyer, who is facing alleged copyright offenses because he posted links to sites that allowed viewing or downloading of TV content usually not available outside the U.S. Wales' op-ed in the Guardian is here, with links to related content.

Presidential Race

** Ruthless Romney & the Junk Bond King. Michael Kranish & Beth Healy of the Boston Globe: "...at the height of the 1980s buyout boom ... Mitt Romney went in search of $300 million to finance one of the most lucrative deals he would ever manage. The man who would help provide the money was ... famed junk-bond king Michael Milken. What transpired would become not just one of the most profitable leveraged buyouts of the era, but also one of the most revealing stories of Romney's Bain Capital career.... It is one that Romney has rarely, if ever, mentioned in his two bids for the presidency, perhaps because the Houston-based department store chain that Bain assembled later went into bankruptcy.... At the time of the deal, it was widely known that Milken and his company were under federal investigation, yet Romney decided to go ahead.... He used junk-bond financing to turn a $10 million investment into a $175 million profit for himself, his partners, and his investors." CW: this is a 4-pager & worth reading.

     ... Via Margaret Hartmann of New York magazine.

Local News

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "Three years after voters in Maine rejected same-sex marriage, they will consider the matter again in November. This time, advocates say they have reason for optimism."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "President Barack Obama, campaigning in Mitt Romney's backyard, criticized his Republican rival anew Monday for what his re-election campaign says is a record of shipping American jobs overseas." ...

... New York Times: "Elizabeth Warren opened for President Obama at his Boston fund-raiser on Monday, ripping into his rival, Mitt Romney ... using themes from her own campaign."

Montana campaign law "summarily reversed" 5-4. Update: the order is here (pdf). ...

** Per SCOTUSblog, Justice Kennedy announcing Arizona case. "Most of the key provisions of [Arizona] SB1070 (3 of 4) are invalidated. One provision is held not to be proved preempted; it must be construed.... The provision that the Court says is not yet preempted is the 'check your papers' provision that commands officers to check immigration status. Update: here's the opinion on Arizona v. U.S. "The upshot of the SB1070 ruling is that, for now, Arizona can apply the 'check your papers' provision. And the Court's opinion is a guide to the State on how to apply that provision without being invalidated.... The Court's decision on the 'show your papers' provision strongly suggests it will have to be read narrowly to survive.... On net, the #SB1070 decision is a significant win for the Obama Administration. It got almost everything it wanted. Scalia would uphold Az. law in toto. CW characterization: Scalia, totally pissed off, is reading his 7-page dissent from the bench. ...

... The healthcare ruling will be Thursday at 10am. The SCOTUSblog liveblog will start at 9am at the latest.

... AP Item: "The Supreme Court has reaffirmed its two-year-old decision relaxing limits on corporate campaign spending [i.e., Citizens United]. The justices on Monday reversed a Montana court ruling upholding state restrictions.By a 5-4 vote, the court's conservative justices said the decision in the Citizens United case in 2010 applies to state campaign finance laws and guarantees corporate and labor union interests the right to spend freely to advocate for or against candidates for state and local offices." ...

... ** New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a split decision on Arizona's tough 2010 immigration law, upholding its most controversial provision but blocking the implementation of others." ...

... ** Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Monday rejected much of Arizona's controversial immigration law, but upheld other provisions, giving a partial victory to the Obama administration."

New York Times: "As more high-ranking Syrian officers were reported on Monday to have defected to Turkey, the European Union urged the government in Ankara to show restraint in a crisis over the downing of one of its jet fighters by Syria, an episode that has heightened regional tensions over the 16-month crisis there." ...

... AP: "Dozens of members of Syria's military defected to Turkey overnight with their families, a Turkish official said Monday, at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over Syria's downing of a Turkish military plane. The state-run Anadolu news agency said 33 soldiers crossed into Turkey overnight and the group -- 224 people in all -- included a general and two colonels." ...

... AP: "Syria's Foreign Ministry spokesman says his country has 'no hostility' toward Turkey as tensions soar between the former allies three days after Syria shot down a Turkish plane. Jihad Makdissi said on Monday that the Turkish plane violated Syrian air space. Turkey said the plane had unintentionally strayed into Syria's air space, but was inside international airspace when it was brought down."

New York Times: "Documents unsealed in a fraud case against Pfizer suggest that research officials were less than forthcoming about the safety of the arthritis drug Celebrex during an early trial study."

Guardian: "Lawyers acting for the convicted serial paedophile Jerry Sandusky have said that they tried to withdraw from the case at the beginning of proceedings because they had insufficient time to prepare a proper defence. The claim, from Sandusky's main defence lawyer Joe Amendola, lays down a possible line of argument should he decide, as expected, to appeal his sexual abuse conviction."

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    Response: mork
    REALITYCHEX.COM - Constant Comments - The Commentariat -- June 25, 2012

Reader Comments (9)

Greg Burke: "This is tough stuff." Right. Putting lipstick on a pig always is.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, around 4,000 years ago I think, we had something like a Supreme Court whose primary interest was justice or, failing that, law, including a respect for legal precedence and a looking out for what was best, legally speaking, for the country, as opposed to what was best for their political party and could be most supportive of victory for their personal ideology.
That all ended with the election of Trickus Dickus. Trickus Dickus, as you all know, spent a good portion—ah, hell—his entire career, climbing over the backs of people he had shivved. Deep in his heart of darkness, he sensed the power of the dark side and blazed the trail for future Republican politicians down that road paved with the reputations, hearts and souls of women and men far better than any of them. Dirty tricks, lies, surveillance of enemies, hidden slush funds, untraceable millions available for all manner of skullduggery, disdain for the constitution, for law, for morality. Hatred of all whom he opposed and who opposed him.

Sounds like the modern GOP? Sure does. But that’s because they all memorized the playbook and inhaled the Kool-Aid. The Apotheosis of the Dick.

Beginning with Nixon, Supreme Court nominees began to take a different shape and since then, of the 15 nominees put forward for elevation to the high court by Republicans, all but three been significantly more conservative—to the point of outright ideologues—than those they replaced. The three were David Souter (chosen by Poppy to demonstrate his bona fides as a non-ideologue), Anthony Kennedy (only marginally non-ideological, but chosen after troglodyte Robert Bork was given the thumbs down), and John Paul Stevens, selected by Ford who probably thought it was best not to rile the natives while the fires of Watergate still burned brightly among the rubble).

But the rest have been abysmally ideological not to say downright insulting. When Poppy sent up Clarence Thomas’ name he declared him the best candidate in the country. Maybe. But which country? Pixieland?

It’s curious to consider that two candidates sent up by President Dickus, both of which were laughed out of the chamber, would likely have made it to the big show in today’s world of celebrity journalism and ideology-first conservatism. Not only that, they would have been welcomed with open arms as brothers in the fight for ideological dominance by the Right. G. Harrold Carswell and Clement Haynesworth, both indefatigable battlers against civil rights, voting rights, and equal rights for women, would fit right in with the current GOP’s laundry list of things they need to destroy if they are to maintain their dominance well into this century. At the time however, even many Republicans knew they were shoddy seconds that had no business on the court. In the case of Carswell, a Republican senator from Nebraska opined that even though he was a mediocrity, that shouldn’t count against him because, hey, even mediocrities “…are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos.”

Yikes! How sad then that a true mediocrity like Clarence Thomas makes Carswell look like fucking Oliver Wendell Holmes.

But now we await the decision by Little Johnny and the Dwarfs as to whether or not health care for most Americans outweighs their heart’s desire for a right-wing boot on the throats of those same citizens, the shredded remnants of the Constitution decorating its steel toe.

They will look, as they always do, for some cover in the tiniest minutiae of specious legal quibbling. Scalia has already sniffed that the Commerce Clause (the same one he cited as giving the state the right and ability to control small gardens of medical marijuana for personal use) does not allow the government the right to influence the distribution of medical care in this country, a small budget item that amounts to not much more than 20% of GDP. Small potatoes for Republicans.

After all, what’s 20% of anything? They want it all.

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I wanted to say something about Kate Madison's recent complaint about the politicization of the media, at the very least through default, but likely with as much to do with some agency on their part.

She has pointed out that surveys of the MSM landscape indicate that they have heavily weighted the arguments surrounding the ACA on the side of the begrudgers, that their ledes favor a description of the battle as having a wealth of constitutional difficulties when, in fact, there are NO constitutional issues here. They're all manufactured by the right.

So how come the double talk and lies?

Two answers come to mind, one less evil but no less pernicious. First, laziness. Conflict and drama, especially if they can be summoned up with a minimum of effort--and if that drama not impinge on their corporate masters' ability to make money--are always to be desired by "pundits" and "writers". Why go to all the trouble to suss out and report fairly on the actual issues? Fuck that shit. Print the easy stuff. Besides it sounds so much better. "Democrats and Obama want to snuff your granny. Republicans strive to stop evil unconstitutional schemes against kindly insurance industry!!" Yeah, that's the ticket.

The other, much more disturbing answer, is that they've been warned off trying to support an idea out of favor with the Masters of the Universe.

Some combination of the two is likely what's happening.

It's funny how FCC regulations, when the Communications Act of 1934 was passed, made it clear that the airwaves belonged to the public, not to communications entities, and in order to be worthy of such largesse, those entities were required to present news and information with something along the lines of fairness.

Huh.

Reagan got rid of all that. He set the groundwork for the eradication of fairness. By the updated version of the Act, passed with glee and gusto in 1996, there was no mention of the public. Lip service was paid to the rights of the public, but fairness was right out. So were rules about cross ownership. After that, upstanding citizens like Rupert Murdoch could then own all the TV stations and newspapers in a single city. Oh wait. Did I say upstanding AND citizen? Sorry, he was neither. But he was still allowed to buy up everything he could and control the flow of information.

It's still that way.

This is what Republicans call a free and fair marketplace of ideas. They don't tell you that all the ideas are theirs. No others are considered except as cannon fodder for Fox "reporters". And that's one reason we have this nonsense spewed around about health care.

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Regardless of where the Supremes go with this the Affordable Care Act will do nothing to make health care in America affordable. Today I had to deal with a problem where a pathologist has the right to collect money for the 'interpretation' of a test where the results are almost always negative. In other words we pay for an electronic scribble on a computer generated result which is no different than a blank piece of paper. That is a tiny amount but is truly reflective of the real problem. Medicine in America is all about making money.

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

My brother who lives in Wisconsin who was once a reasonable person with a great voice has somehow through the years developed a conservative bent which has been tough going relationship wise. Ever since Obama was elected he sends me these horrid right-wingy emails depicting Obama as some kind of impostor who is trying to ruin our country. These are the kinds of slanderous screeds that many, many people tune into especially those that don't read and only watch Foxy type news. It seems they have a powerful impact. I would never be privy to these nasty tidbits if it wasn't for my brother whose email pals all seem to be leaning way over to the right. The latest one, which is mild compared to most is a large picture of Reagan standing in front of, what else, the AMERICAN FLAG; the caption below in large letters is: THIS MAN (on top) DID NOT SPEND HIS ENTIRE FIRST TERM BLAMING JIMMY CARTER.

I usually ignore, but sometimes, like this one, something grabs me by the lapels and directs me to respond–-see below:

That’s right cuz he spent a lot of time dyeing his hair to compliment his role of a lifetime. I am sick to death of people lionizing this man. The sad, shared secret of the Reagan White House was that no one in the presidential entourage had confidence in the judgment or capacities of the president. Often, they took advantage of Reagan’s niceness and naiveté to indulge competing concepts of the presidency and advance their own ambitions. Pragmatists and conservatives alike treated Reagan as if he were a child monarch in need of constant protection. They paid homage to him, but gave him no respect. Since few people read history these days they believe anything that backs up their agenda, giving us the crap known as information such as this stupid poster whose message is “unlike Obama who blames Bush for everything.” The facts belie this, but no matter, stupidity reigns these days unlike, of course, those eight wonder years of GW and especially those years with “This Man” whose “Morning in America” was the beginning of the end.

and since Akhilleus brought up our favorite dick I'll add his name to the list whose hijinks (cute name for dirty tricks) nearly brought the house down.

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@ Marvin. I'm sure you're right. I spent most of the useful energy of my adult life working to a) get health services into the backwaters of Appalachia, b) establishing farm-worker clinics in the central valley of California, and c) trying to ameliorate the stupidity of Reagan privatization of California's medicaid program (Medi-Cal). The problems are systemic, and way beyond ACA's gloss.

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@PD Pepe

I am so sorry that we seem to have the same brother. Mine used to live in Wisconsin, as did I, but abandoned that landscape for the riches of Atlanta, GA. If you have any advice on how to relate to an obnoxious right wing sibling (whom you love but do not like), please tell me. I am at the end of the line with my brother. And, sad to say, he is my twin. ):

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

The problems Foxy News has caused in families are legion, from demented grandmas to righter wing brothers. I know a disabled young man (well, 40 is young) who has to live at home but is being stressed to the danger point by his parents' Fox insanity. Instead of being able to pull together in the old age and bad health of the parents, the family home has become a battleground. This is no insignificant addition to the evils of Fox.

My brother, meanwhile, has added to the common burnt-out bitterness of a law-enforcement professional the hopelessness of doing anything at all to make a difference in the political climate. He is starting to become someone who thinks all politicians are crooks. Fox News is not in the equation--NBC is depressing enough. So far he is still voting Democratic; we won't lose him to the Republicans, but to indifference.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

Just thinking about the demented grandmas--one example, in the family of a close friend, reports that her well-educated, moderate Republican mother-in-law, watches Fox all day and has become terrified by what she hears. What an accomplishment, frightening elderly ladies. The last time I saw the woman, she mixed up the names of her sons but was unfailingly friendly and gracious. So sad.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston
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