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Member since: Wed Jul 20, 2005, 12:23 AM
Number of posts: 5,061

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He only believes in states' rights when

they support the GOP agenda. If a state tries to institute a policy at odds with his preferred outcome, then it's the court that is suddenly sovereign and supreme.

Note also that the Montana ruling was a summary dismissal. A summary dismissal to find a 102 year-old law unconstitutional. Note, too, that immigration is and always has been (under our current constitution anyway) a federal matter, whereas the administration of elections has always been a perogative of the states.

No doubt the Montana case was summarily dismissed because Scalia and the other right-wing bretheren simply found the task of explaining why this pair of rulings contradicts the entire tradition of consitutional law in the United States.

Rick Scott wants to purge active-duty military

from the rolls. That's shameful, even to the GOP base.

Voting by non-citizens is not a problem in this country: we actually have a tough time getting citizens to vote. Anyone who has ever registered voters kjnows that this is true. If you are a green card holder in the process of naturalization, the last thing you want to do is to draw attention to yourself by registering illegally to vote. If you're an undoctumented worker, the last thing you want to do is to draw government attention to yourself, period.

Here in North Carolina, we have a burgeoning population of people who come here from all over the world. I have spoken with many ineligible immigrants while registering voters: none of them has ever expressed interest in registering. They know they are ineligible. Eligible immigrants, people who have become citizens, also self-identify, know more about their voting rights than most native-born citizens, and are often already registered.

It's another manufactured GOP non-problem. The funny thing is that many folks in the GOP seem to have a hard time understanding why folks who become naturalized citizens (excluding Cuban-Americans and a few other groups) won't become Republicans, when the GOP itself has been doing things such as this that tell these communities that they don't want their votes, and then they enact these schemes that inevitiably also target naturalized citizens. The mind boggles at why the GOP has any puzzlement at this--the lack of cognitive dissonance here is shocking.

Income inequality is what's dragging this economy down

It's why the recovery has been so slow: the middle class, which ought to be the engine of economic growth, simply does not have enough gas in the tank to turn around after a recession, especially after 30 years of stagnating wages that have only been compensated for by debt (which does not work in the long run) and by women working more hours outside the home.

Progressives and Democrats have done a poor job of telling this story.

"It is no accident that the periods in which the broadest cross sections of Americans have reported higher net incomes—when inequality has been reduced, partly as a result of progressive taxation—have been the periods in which the U.S. economy has grown the fastest."

It is a compelling story, mainly because it's true. If you contrast the facts of the case with the Republican "argument," a univariate analysis wherein the top marginal tax rate wholly determines economic growth, a story already falsified by the laboratory of history, it could help to get us back on track to creating a new majority Democratic coalition, the likes of which we have not seen since the Johnson administration.


I've been thinking a lot about this in the last four years. Conservative intellectuals have aided and abetted the rise of the worst sorts of demagogues, despite the fact that the conservative intellectual tradition holds demagoguery in great disdain. We have seen this before, in the 1930's, when reactionary German intellectuals such as Carl Schmitt gave themselves over to National Socialism, only to find in the space of a few years, just as Schmitt did, that the political movement they had supported had no need, use or understanding of them once they assumed power. What's jarring is that conservative intellectuals today, much like Schmitt, now express shock, surprise and umbrage at this, even though their own marginalization is entirely predictable to them, using their own understanding of Gassett's "mass man."

They didn't want to see it

All these supposedly smart conservative intellectuals, or what passes for intellectuals within the conservative movement since the death of Bill Buckley, absolutely have egged on the most reactionary, nativist, racist and stupid elements within the GOP as part of their effort to perpetuate their ideology's grip on the reins of power. They failed to see what other conservative intellectuals have historically failed to see, which is that they are creating a movment with no ideas and no room for people like themselves.

This is the same nihilism that they are so fond of accusing the left of exemplifying.

Conservatives have long gotten this wrong

At least since Burke. The difference between the old Republican Party and the new, improved tea party version is that the former would have read Burke, whereas the invocation of his name would be met by the latter with blank stares.

This sort of thing goes on all the time

$30,000 for catering for 300 is not all that bad, I guess, though it would have been cheaper to give them a per diem. Which they probably also did.

What gets me is that this is not unique to government. This happens in the coporate sector all the time, and no one bats an eye: what's more, the tax code encourages this sort of thing. It also happens with nonprofits.

In addition to the obvious points about the virtues of artisanal cheeses, though, what's left unsaid is what a colossal waste of time and money most of these various meetings, whether they are "trainings" or "conferences," really are. The educational content is usually either esoteric, irrelevant, obvious or useless, sometimes all at the same time. There's a cottage industry that produces management fads just so there is something to talk about at these conferences. Many of the speakers are actually less experienced and knowledgable than the people they are addressing.

Whether it's government, business or nonprofits, there's a multibillion dollar industry dedicated to sending people, usually already only the most well-compensated people, to places such as Florida and Nevada on someone else's dime to learn things they aleady know and meet people they probably don't really want to meet. It's absurd.

Anyone still think the SCOTUS will uphold the PPACA?

I posted a thread a couple of days ago, wherein folks argued that the very smart folks in the Obama administration said this was constitutional, and that it would therefore be upheld. Of course, these same very smart folks failed to ensure that the final version of the bill would include a severability clause, so that's really not a particularly strong argument.

Some other folks claimed that the court would uphold the PPACA, even going so far as to predict that Kennedy would support it, perhaps even along with Roberts and Scalia (!).

From the transcript, the solicitor general seems to have offered a pretty stammering defence of the PPACA. He seemed to want to come back to the phrase "It's a market," and was caught utterly flatfooted by what seem to be witless analogies offered up by the five who are poised to strike down the PPACA.

Politico includes a link to the transcript:


Again, most of the legal analysis has referenced prior decisions and opinions by specific justices, as though they were in some way beholden to ideas. They are not. These are members of the GOP, in lockstep with their national party, who want nothing more than to declare the PPACA unconstitutional and hand the president a loss and hand Mitt Romney an issue--after all, Romneycare would be constitutional, but not the PPACA, which would kill an issue that has haunted him.

Legal arguments, stare decisis, and, the constitution itself simply do not matter to the SCOTUS when it comes to handing a political loss to Barack Obama. Some people, apparently including the Solicitor General, believe the Court has a "solemn obligation to respect the judgments of the democratically accountablebranches of government."

That is a quaint notion. If you held it before, Bush v. Gore ought to have disabused you of it. If not, at least take this opportunity to learn something. The court does not care about its standing as an institution, or at least the GOP justices don't. Maybe they might care about the law in a fairly obscure criminal case that has somehow made its way onto their plate, but in a political question you can expect they will rule politically, and tack on legal decisions as a post hoc formality.

Students of judicial politics

should pay little attention to what judges say and more attention to what they do. There are always legal arguments and precedent on both sides of an issue: moreover, it is possible to constuct an argument that appears consistent with almost any given "judicial philosophy" on either side of an issue.

Any vestige of faith that I ever might have entertained that the court gave a rat's ass about stare decisis, the constitution, its own institutional integrity or the public's opinion of it ended with Bush v. Gore. Those five revealed themselves to be purely partisan when the stakes are high enough, and three of them are still sitting. If they are embarassed enough by their own decision, they can simply declare whatever post hoc rationalization they tack onto the foregone partisan conclusion they issue "nonprecedential."

The conservative movement is today, and has been since the Reagan era, in lockstep, from K-Street to Congress to the SCOTUS. They are all reading off the same daily talking points. Since both possible nominees have declared that the PPACA is unconstitutional, it seems unlikely that they would undermine them in this way before the election.

I'd love it if the very smart people in the Obama administration are right and that there's no basis to declare the PPACA unconstitutional, but these are the same folks who failed to make sure that there was a severability clause in the final product, so there's no reason for optimism on that score. To me, the notion that Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito care about ideas or principles more than their favored partisan outcome seems quaint. I don't have any money on it, but it seems to me that the real question is whether they strike down the whole thing or simply the mandate, but it should go without saying that they will find a way to enable Mitt Romney to point to the PPACA as an example of unconstitutional caesarism on the part of Obama this fall.

Supreme Court poised to strike down PPACA

After Bush v. Gore, no one can suggest that the Supreme Court is an impartial, apolitical body. That case had everything that the literature on the Court would suggest would lead to the case not being heard, except for one thing: the Court cared a great deal that a Democrat not occupy the White House.

And so we go through a farce this week, with the Supreme Court hearing arguments about the PPACA. They will strike down the whole thing, not matter what is said. We've spent most of my lifetime dealing with this issue politically, and yet, here, when we find a political solution has been arrived at, the Supreme Court is set to strike down the whole thing and return to the status quo ante.

I had heard a supporter of the PPACA on the radio this week asked about portability, about how it would be that a provider in one state would be able to get paid by an insurer in another. His answer was that he didn't know, but that "I'm sure they thought of that." Folks, no one ought to make this argument either. The PPACA has no severability provision in it. Imagine that. How can that be? That's lawmaking 101: this is a big, important piece of legislation, one sure to go before the Cort at some point, and yet the severability clause was somehow left out in reconciling the House and Senate bills. We're supposed to buy that? Here it is, the most important health care legislation this country has ever seen, and severability was left out "by mistake?"

It's enough to make one paranoid. It's as though the whole thing has been a delay so that insurance companies can continue to ratchet up premiums and copays so that they can make ever more money. Its as if the same folks who made sure that the most important provisions wouldn't take effect until 2014 also knew that the court would strike it down before then, and so omitted a severability clause.

After the Supreme Court strikes down the PPACA, we need to make this a campaign issue. We have tried working with insurers, to the point of passing, under Democratic control, a proposal first outlined by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. If an insurance-run health care scheme is unconstitutional, then it's time for Medicare for all.
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