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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 40,084

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The Tea Party Republicans' Biggest Mistake: Confusing Government With Our System of Government

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/tea-party-republicans-government_b_4080832.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

What's the lesson here? The radicals who tried to hijack America didn't understand one very basic thing. While most Americans don't like big government, Americans revere our system of government. That's why even though a majority disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, a majority also disapprove of Republican tactics for repealing or delaying it.

Government itself has never been popular in America except during palpable crises such as war or deep depression. The nation was founded in a revolution against an abusive government -- that was what the original Tea Party was all about -- and that distrust is in our genes. The Constitution reflects it. That's why it's hard for government to do anything very easily. I've never been as frustrated as when I was secretary of labor -- continuously running into the realities of separation of power, checks and balances, and the endless complications of federal, state, and local levels of authority. But frustration goes with the job.

No one likes big government. If you're on the left, you worry about the military-industrial-congressional complex that's spending zillions of dollars creating new weapons of mass destruction, spying on Americans, and killing innocents abroad. And you don't like government interfering in your sex life, telling you how and when you can have an abortion, whom you can marry. If you're on the right, you worry about taxes and regulations stifling innovation, out-of-control bureaucrats infringing on your freedom, and government deficits as far as the eye can see.

So when Tea Party Republicans, bankrolled by a handful of billionaires, began calling the Affordable Care Act a "wholesale takeover of American health care," many Americans were inclined to believe them. Health care is such a huge and complicated system, affecting us and our families so intimately, that our inherent distrust of government makes us instinctively wary. It's no accident we're still the only advanced nation not to have universal health care. FDR decided against adding it to his plan for Social Security because he didn't want to jeopardize the rest of the program; subsequent presidents never got close, at least until Obama.

The myths behind public-employee pension reform

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/The-myths-behind-public-employee-pension-reform-4885998.php#next

In the new fable, state and municipal workers are presented as the welfare queens of our age, historical anachronisms living fat and happy in the competition-free panacea of public service, and shamelessly living off the tax dollars generated entirely by the innovation of America's true workforce - its go-getting private-sector employees, who long ago stopped expecting their bosses to give them real health and retirement plans.

To them, the old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plan, the one that guaranteed a unionized state worker extensive health benefits and a sizable monthly retirement check until his (invariably too-distant) death, is the glaring budgetary inefficiency of our age, the first place we must turn to make the fiscal cuts if we don't want to become the next Detroit.

...

One was that the legend of the lazy, budget-devouring public-sector employee as the cause of America's fiscal crises has in many cases been carefully manufactured by Wall-Street-funded organizations. Their goal is to pretend that modest retirement benefits are the cause of pension shortfalls. They promote this story even though data show that stock market declines from fraud in the financial services industry were most responsible for those shortfalls. The second problem is that the pension initiatives put forward by these reformers and the conservative politicians they back often propose moving America's public pension money into labyrinthine and extremely expensive "alternative investment" programs. This is done in the name of saving taxpayer money, even though these "alternative investments" involve fees paid to billionaire money managers that are often nearly as high as the cuts to public worker benefits. In many cases, that means little real savings for taxpayers and less income for retirees - but a huge payout to Wall Street.

...

In more than a dozen states, legislators have enacted exemptions for hedge funds and other alternative investments to laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. Other states simply fail the transparency test. Rhode Island illustrates what that kind of thing means in practice. There, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo cited the need to protect Wall Street's proprietary information as a justification to hide the cost estimates of the new pension system she championed in 2012. Only after that system was ratified by the state Legislature did former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Ted Siedle estimate that the reforms will take the roughly $2.3 billion cut to workers' cost-of-living adjustments over 20 years and use it to pay roughly $2.1 billion in new hedge-fund fees. Raimondo later relented and disclosed at least $70 million in fees for next year alone.




Who do you love most?

Something's Out Of Whack

War is Absurd

EW: "We're in this position for one reason, and one reason only ...."

Wisconsin: Why the Capitol Settlement is a Win (ACLU) {cross-post from Wisconsin group}

Cross posted per recommendation of AllyCat ... http://www.democraticunderground.com/10849248#post4

http://aclu-wi.org/story/victory-why-capitol-settlement-win

After we announced our settlement yesterday in the Capitol free speech case, the Department of Administration claimed that the ACLU of Wisconsin had agreed that the state’s “permit process is constitutional.” We’re not surprised the state wants to fudge facts and claim the settlement as a victory. But it’s important to cut through the spin and get a few things straight:

We’ve always held that the state’s permitting scheme is unconstitutional — and Judge William Conley, the federal judge who presided over the case, clearly found it unconstitutional. Nothing about the settlement changes that. At the most abstract level of generalization, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that narrowly tailored, content-neutral permit schemes can be constitutional. Judge Conley recognized that, as do we.

...

So, when a certain number of people had gathered inside the Capitol, the state could have required them to submit a full application for a permit, then taken up to 30 days to decide whether to grant the permit, and then arrested people who didn't have one.

This settlement changes that. It’s a victory for free speech because now no one has to receive permission from the government to exercise their First Amendment rights inside the Capitol. Instead of being forced to apply for a permit, now groups of 12 or more can give notice instead. Giving notice is much more informal than applying for a permit, can be done in a variety of ways, and doesn’t even require providing your name. And, unlike permits, the state has essentially no grounds (other than illegal conduct or someone else obtaining a permit) for refusing to allow people who give notice to use the Capitol. The Capitol Police don't get to decide whether to "grant" the notice. The settlement means they must put it on the schedule.


There's more at the link, including how the decision effects past arrests. Also this quote from Judge Conley's decision:

"The Capitol rotunda is closer to an out-of-doors, traditional public forum in that it is a capacious gathering space with a unique history as a place for government and public discourse, which admits for (indeed was designed for) a certain level of disturbance that would not be proper in a typical state office building or even a typical state capitol."

Wisconsin: Why the Capitol Settlement is a Win (ACLU)

http://aclu-wi.org/story/victory-why-capitol-settlement-win

After we announced our settlement yesterday in the Capitol free speech case, the Department of Administration claimed that the ACLU of Wisconsin had agreed that the state’s “permit process is constitutional.” We’re not surprised the state wants to fudge facts and claim the settlement as a victory. But it’s important to cut through the spin and get a few things straight:

We’ve always held that the state’s permitting scheme is unconstitutional — and Judge William Conley, the federal judge who presided over the case, clearly found it unconstitutional. Nothing about the settlement changes that. At the most abstract level of generalization, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that narrowly tailored, content-neutral permit schemes can be constitutional. Judge Conley recognized that, as do we.

...

So, when a certain number of people had gathered inside the Capitol, the state could have required them to submit a full application for a permit, then taken up to 30 days to decide whether to grant the permit, and then arrested people who didn't have one.

This settlement changes that. It’s a victory for free speech because now no one has to receive permission from the government to exercise their First Amendment rights inside the Capitol. Instead of being forced to apply for a permit, now groups of 12 or more can give notice instead. Giving notice is much more informal than applying for a permit, can be done in a variety of ways, and doesn’t even require providing your name. And, unlike permits, the state has essentially no grounds (other than illegal conduct or someone else obtaining a permit) for refusing to allow people who give notice to use the Capitol. The Capitol Police don't get to decide whether to "grant" the notice. The settlement means they must put it on the schedule.


There's more at the link, including how the decision effects past arrests. Also this quote from Judge Conley's decision:

"The Capitol rotunda is closer to an out-of-doors, traditional public forum in that it is a capacious gathering space with a unique history as a place for government and public discourse, which admits for (indeed was designed for) a certain level of disturbance that would not be proper in a typical state office building or even a typical state capitol."

Thinking Like a Conservative (Part Four): Goalpost-Moving

http://www.thenation.com/blog/176585/thinking-conservative-part-four-goalpost-moving?rel=emailNation#

Some thoughts today on the apocalyptic horror that envelops us this week, thanks to our friends on the right. Last week I noted that conservatives are time-biders: “The catacombs were good enough for the Christians,” as National Review publisher William Rusher put it in 1960. That’s their imperative as they see it: hunker down, for decades if need be, waiting for the opportune moment to strike down the wickedness they spy everywhere—in this case, a smoothly functioning federal government. “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years,” Grover Norquist said in the first part of the quote, whose more famous second half is “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Twenty-five years. Given that sedulous long-termism, conservatives are also, it is crucial to understand, inveterate goalpost-movers—fundamentally so. Whenever an exasperated liberal points out that the basic architecture of the Affordable Care Act matches a plan drawn up by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s, I feel a stab of exasperation myself—with my side. Theirs is not a clinching argument, or even a good argument. It means nothing to point out to conservatives that Heritage once proposed something like Obamacare. The Heritage plan was a tactic of a moment—a moment that required something to fill in the space to the right of President Clinton’s healthcare plan, an increment toward the real strategic goal of getting the government out of the healthcare business altogether… someday.

I am never more exasperated than when Barack Obama makes such arguments. He loves them! This week it was his observation, “The bill that is being presented to end the government shutdown reflects Republican priorities.” So why can’t they see reason?

Never mind the damage such pronouncements do to the president’s status as a negotiator, a point we’ve all discussed to death, though I’ll reiterate it anyway: even when Obamaism wins on its own terms, it loses, ratifying Republican negotiating positions as common sense. As that same conservative theorist William Rusher also put it, the greatest power in politics is “the power to define reality.” As I wrote last year, “Obama never attempts that. Instead, he ratifies his opponent’s reality, by folding it into his original negotiating position. And since the opponent’s preferred position is always further out than his own, even a ‘successful’ compromise ends up with the reality looking more like the one the Republicans prefer. A compromise serves to legitimize.”

Everything I know about household budgeting, I learned from the Tea Party.

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