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markpkessinger

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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,324

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Scalia in ACA Dissent: "words no longer have meaning" - to which I say . . .

Scalia, fulminating over the majority's determination that the intended meaning of the word 'state,' in the phrase "exchanges established by the State," is ambiguous when considered in light of the bill's overall objectives of insuring the uninsured, and also in the context of the regulatory scheme put in place by the ACA, sputters that "words no longer have meaning" if that phrase can be interpreted to include exchanges established by the federal government.

To that I say . . .

If the definition of 'person' can be construed to include 'corporation,' and if the definition of 'speech' can be construed to include 'money,' then I'm pretty sure both the language and the republic will survive construing 'State' to include 'federal' in this particular context!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 07:38 PM (6 replies)

My comment re: Scalia's dissent, posted to a NY Times editorial

This is the text of a comment I posted to a very fine New York Times editorial on the gay marriage decision titled, "A Profound Ruling Delivers Justice on Gay Marriage":

Mark Kessinger

In his rather unhinged dissent, Justice Scalia whines:

"A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.
. . . .
This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."

Touching, isn't it, this great concern for the people's right to self governance? So, I have to wonder: where was that concern in Bush v. Gore, when Scalia and his buddies thought it was perfectly okay to stop an election recount that was ongoing and to simply appoint the President they happened to prefer? Where was it in Citizens United and the other campaign finance decisions that opened our elections, and indeed our government itself, to unbridled influence by corporate interests?

In any event, to the extent that self-government by "the people" isn't an entirely laughable notion anyway at this stage in our history, there has also been a long-standing principle, recognized by the Court, that fundamental rights are not subject to majority vote. The Court has long recognized marriage as such a fundamental right. If, in fact, fundamental rights were to be subject to the whims of majority vote, NOBODY's rights would ever be safe.

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 07:21 PM (54 replies)

For the last time, the American Civil War was not about states’ rights

NOTE: This is possibly one of the best debunkings of neo-confederate historical revisionism regarding the Civil War that I have seen anywhere to date.

For the last time, the American Civil War was not about states’ rights

?w=800

< . . . .>

. . . (T)he historiography of the Civil War is somewhat unique. Rarely in human history has a conflict’s losing side been lent such considerable say in how the textbooks remember it. As such, American social studies curricula have long been hobbled by one of the most pervasive myths in US history: that the Civil War was fought to preserve (or undermine) the spectral concept of “states’ rights.”
It’s a self-delusion some use to justify neo-Confederate pride: stars-and-bars bumper stickers, or remnants of Confederate iconography woven into some of today’s state flags. “It’s about Southern pride,” they insist. “It’s about heritage”—forgetting, intentionally perhaps, that slavery and its decade-spanning echoes are very much a part of the collective American heritage. Confederate denialism, in the form of states’ rights advocacy, permits sentimentalists to keep their questionable imagery without having to address its unsavory associations.

< . . . . >

In its constitution, Confederate leaders explicitly provided for the federal protection of slaveholding:

“In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”

It’s a provision that clashes jarringly with neo-Confederate mythos—how could the South secede to preserve states’ rights if its own constitution mandated legal, federally protected slavery across state borders?

<. . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 22, 2015, 06:45 PM (14 replies)

Taking down a wingnut who said Charleston shootings were intended to target Christians . . .

. . .an exchange with another reader in the comments to E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column, Charleston and the Politics of Evasion:

censorshipisbliss
12:35 PM EDT

The leftist radicals only see race. They seem to be ignoring the fact that those killed were Christians. Though as we found out in news from Syria and Iraq, most liberals don't care about the murdering of Christians. Its too bad the ones in Syria or Iraq were not reported to have been black or then we might see some level of perceived outrage from the left.

markpkessinger
3:16 PM EDT
If you really want to see how absurd the reasoning must be in order to enable one to arrive at the conclusion that the shooter may have been targeting Christians, consider a hypothetical, parallel story that occurs outside of any question of racial motivation. Let's suppose there were some individual who harbored an intense, irrational hatred of, say, men with freckled faces. So he thinks about where he might be able to find a lot of them gathered in once place. No obvious choices come to mind, so he figures he'll go to the local Wal-Mart, figuring there is sure to be more than one, just by virtue of the volume of foot traffic. Turns out it is his lucky day, and he finds six men with freckled faces at Wal-Mart, whereupon he shoots and kills them all.

After the shooting, an eyewitness reports that as he was shooting, he was speaking of the necessity of taking out men with freckled faces. What's more, it is discovered he has a history of association with hate groups who target people with freckled faces, and his social media postings also turn out to demonstrate an obsessive hatred of folks with freckles. Any finally, when he is apprehended, he confesses to police that his desire was to kill men with freckled faces. But some conservative media outlets, uncomfortable as they are with discussions of anti-freckled bigotry, suggest instead that the shooter was targeting Wal-Mart stores. That is EXACTLY the same as what you are doing in suggesting this shooter was targeting Christians.

And yes, it is THAT absurd!
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 22, 2015, 06:29 PM (3 replies)

House reverses course, passes ‘fast-track’ provision crucial for Trans-Pacific Partnership

While we have all been grieving over the events in Charlston, House Republicans, along with 28 turncoat Democrats, found time to do this:

House reverses course, passes ‘fast-track’ provision crucial for Trans-Pacific Partnership

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday reversed course, approving “fast-track” legislation central to President Barack Obama’s trade deal with Pacific Rim nations and sending it back to the Senate.

The close vote in the House, which last week rejected a related bill, kept alive Obama’s goal of bolstering U.S. ties with Asia through a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the economic element of a foreign policy shift aimed in part at countering the rising influence of China.

The House voted 218-208 to give Obama the fast-track authority to speed trade deals, including the TPP, to conclusion with reduced interference from Congress. The TPP would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is close to completion.

<. . . . >

n an unusual alliance, the president and Republican House Speaker John Boehner turned last Friday’s loss into a win by excising the worker aid program that was voted down by the House. That neutralized the ability of some Democrats’ to use it to stymie fast-track, and capitalized on support from a bloc of 28 pro-trade Democrats.

< . . . . >


So basically, that vote last week amounted to nothing more than legislative theater. I don't think I've ever been so disgusted with the President. I keep thinking of all those folks who, during the President's first term, assured us, over and over, that in his second term, when he no longer had to worry about getting re-elected, we would finally see his true 'progressive' colors. Well, we've seen his true colors alright.

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 19, 2015, 06:34 AM (2 replies)

Had to share this trenchant NY Times reader comment on Charleston . . .

Gfagan PA 12 hours ago

I am Irish. For many years in my native land the Rev. Ian Paisley spouted bigoted hatred about Catholics in Northern Ireland, but then claimed innocence when some militant sectarian group massacred Catholics. Speech was not murder, he said. He would never condone killing, he said. Then he went right back to feeding the attitudes that spawned the killing. Few were fooled.

We should not be fooled in America today.

In this country the "mainstream" right-wing has made an industry of demonizing African-Americans as "thugs" and criminals - just look at the divergence in tone between the recent coverage of Ferguson or Baltimore and the (mostly white) biker massacre in Waco, TX. For decades, white America has been told that black Americans are lazy leeches, dependent on hand-outs funded by your hard-earned taxes to bankroll their immoral lifestyles.

The first black president was greeted by the right not only with diehard obstructionism but a chorus of color-coded abuse ("lazy," "food-stamp president" etc) and questions about his very American-ness: he was "not one of us," a foreigner adhering to a foreign religion who has no right to be president.

The siren song of racial hate relentlessly put out by the "mainstream" right finds echo in the gunshots that rang out in Charleston.

Rightists will, of course, deny the connection, the way Paisley did. But we are not fooled.


Bravo!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jun 18, 2015, 09:30 PM (70 replies)

War on Drugs Absurdity No. 927: Hemp

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 15, 2015, 09:52 PM (0 replies)

The NY Times runs a piece 'encouraging' Sanders -- a subtle, patronizing trivilization of it

I mean, seriously? Talking about a campaign for President in terms of a Broadway show that won the Tony? Don't get me wrong: I am a huge fan of the show "Fun Home." I grew up in the same town, and at the same time, as the author of the book on which it is based, Alison Bechdel. Her father, who features so prominently in the story, was one of my high school English teachers, and I worked in summer stock theater productions alongside her mother. One of her brothers was in my Boy Scout troop! I saw the show both off-Broadway and on Broadway -- it is absolutely brilliant, and I was overjoyed that it won Best Musical. But really, saying a campaign for the presidency can "take heart" from a Broadway champ? Really????

Bernie Sanders Can Take Heart From a Broadway Champ
By PATRICK HEALY
JUNE 13, 2015

IF you want to support Senator Bernie Sanders for president but worry that he doesn’t have a shot against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, take heart from the Broadway show “Fun Home,” which won the Tony Award for best musical last week.

“Fun Home” was the decided underdog: a nominee with little money, bold themes, no frills and a small team on the payroll. (Sound familiar, Sanders-ites?) The story of a lesbian cartoonist and her relationship with her closeted gay father, “Fun Home” is about facing difficult truths and the tragic consequences when we don’t — the very message, as it happens, that the Sanders campaign is offering to America about income inequality and climate change. Compared with the flashy big-budget musical “An American in Paris,” which was the safe bet to win the Tony, “Fun Home” looked like a fringe contender, too dark and offbeat to have wide appeal, not unlike certain politicians who are easily dismissed as quixotic nonfactors.

In other words, “Fun Home” isn’t the sort of musical you imagine on Broadway — just as Mr. Sanders isn’t the sort of politician you imagine in the White House. (He would be the first socialist president, after all.)

What does it take for an underdog to succeed? In politics and on Broadway, two worlds I’ve covered as a reporter, some of the factors are similar. Message and perseverance are crucial. Money — not a fortune, but at least enough — is essential. And authenticity matters most of all.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jun 13, 2015, 10:38 PM (8 replies)

The relative silence regarding the decision to send troops back into Iraq . . .

. . . and to build more bases there, is positively stunning. From today's New York Times:

U.S. Weighing More Military Bases in Iraq to Fight ISIS, Top General Says

NAPLES, Italy — The United States is considering establishing a new network of American military bases in Iraq to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, senior military and administration officials said Thursday, potentially deepening American involvement in the country amid setbacks for Iraqi forces on the battlefield.

Speaking to reporters aboard his plane during a trip to Italy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, described a possible future campaign entailing the establishment of what he called “lily pads” — American military bases around the country from which trainers would work with Iraqi security forces and local tribesmen in the fight against the Islamic State.

General Dempsey’s framework was confirmed by senior Obama administration officials, and comes after an earlier decision this week to send 450 trainers to establish a new military base to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. The general said that base could be the model for a new network of American training bases in other parts of the country.

“You could see one in the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul,” General Dempsey said. Such sites, he said, could require troops in addition to the 3,550 that the president has authorized so far in the latest Iraq campaign, although he said later some of the troops at the new bases could come from forces already in Iraq.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jun 11, 2015, 05:02 PM (18 replies)

Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court's decision on spying

The administration is still as duplicitous as ever on this subject.; From The Guardian:

Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court's decision on spying



The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

US officials confirmed last week that they would ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court – better known as the Fisa court, a panel that meets in secret as a step in the surveillance process and thus far has only ever had the government argue before it – to turn the domestic bulk collection spigot back on.

Justice Department national security chief John A Carlin cited a six-month transition period provided in the USA Freedom Act – passed by the Senate last week to ban the bulk collection – as a reason to permit an “orderly transition” of the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Carlin did not address whether the transition clause of the Freedom Act still applies now that a congressional deadlock meant the program shut down on 31 May.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jun 9, 2015, 03:02 PM (5 replies)
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