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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,569

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NY Times Editorial: ‘Not One More’

[font size=1 color="gray"]EDITORIAL[/font]
[font size=5]‘Not One More’[/font]

[font size=2 color="gray"]By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: October 27, 2013[/font]

< . . . . >

It’s good that Mr. Obama said “us.” It acknowledges his own role in this continuing disaster.

Much of the responsibility to fix what Mr. Obama calls the “broken immigration system” lies within his own administration. He can’t rewrite immigration laws, but he can control how well — or disastrously — they are enforced. He can begin by undoing the damage done by his Homeland Security Department. Mr. Obama has just nominated Jeh Johnson, a former Defense Department general counsel, to replace homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July. It’s the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. Here is what it might look like:

STOP NEEDLESS DEPORTATIONS The Obama administration has kept up a frantic pace of 400,000 deportations a year, and is closing in on two million. Those numbers are driven by politics, not public safety. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wide discretion to determine whom it detains and deports. It can retool all its policies to make noncriminals and minor offenders — the people most likely to benefit from the reform now stalled in Congress — the lowest priority for deportation.

The deportation surge is fed by programs like Secure Communities, which does immigration checks on everyone arrested by local and state law enforcement, and Operation Streamline, in which border crossers in the Southwest are prosecuted en masse, with little access to legal representation. Mr. Obama turned the dragnet on, and can turn it off. In marches and vigils across the country, protesters have made one plea on deportations to Mr. Obama: “Not one more.” He should heed it.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 08:20 PM (4 replies)

Two Comments I just posted to 60 Minutes on the Cheney segment

This was the first:

Sanjay Gupta: You know, magical, wonderment, you're words. Those aren't words you typically hear, or expect to hear from you...

On the contrary, Dr. Gupta, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest to hear Mr. Cheney use such words in reference to his own life. Now, if he had used those words in reference to the lives of the over thousands of American solders for whom he had a hand in sending to pointless deaths or the 100,000+ innocent Iraqi civilians who lost their lives as a result of his war mongering, THAT would surprise me. Whatever his physical health troubles, Mr. Cheney's ego has never been close to requiring life support.

And here's the second:

In referring to "when George W. Bush asked Cheney to be his running mate in 2000," without mentioning that what Bush originally asked of Cheney was that he head up a committee to vet potential running mates, and that Cheney, after taking that committee through a few, mostly pro forma motions, presented HIMSELF as the most qualified candidate available, 60 Minutes has further enabled BushCo's attempt to rewrite history.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Oct 20, 2013, 09:33 PM (17 replies)

A bit of inspiration courtesy of an old voice teacher

One of my voice professors from when I was a student at Westminster Choir College posted this on Facebook. I was quite moved by -- although I do not teach music, it expresses some very profound truth of what I gained in the serious study of music.

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 18, 2013, 03:36 PM (2 replies)

Give me a fucking break! (speaking to right-wingers, not folks on DU!)

So, the right's latest outrage du jour is the $300 million aid package the President has committed to the City of Detroit. Tonight, a crazy, right-wing sister of mine shared an 'infographic' (if you can call it that) from Freedomworks, calling that aid package a 'bailout' and whining about "our hard-earned tax dollars going to bail out union fatcats." So here is the status update I posted in response:

Mark Kessinger

(I will make every effort to be as temperate as I possibly can be i writing this post. But I guarantee nothing.)

Today I saw yet another example of one of the right's endless litany of 'outrages' by President Obama. There is an info[sic]graphic from Freedomworks circulating Facebook that oh-so-self-righteously fulminates against what it calls a "bailout" of Detroit. Here is the accompanying text:

"The Obama Administration has announced it will bail out Detroit with $300 million of YOUR tax dollars.

'Share' if you don't want your hard earned money to be spent bailing out union fat cats! Send a message demanding your Congressional Representatives stop the bailout:"

First, it is an aid package, not a bailout. Detroit's debts total sum $18 billion dollars, so $300 million can hardly be considered a bailout.

Second, approximately $150,000 of it is earmarked to help THE REPUBLICAN-APPOINTED EMERGENCY CITY MANAGER to cover the costs of razing blighted buildings. The remainder is going towards helping to beef up the decimated police and fire departments. These are all necessary preconditions for any redevelopment by PRIVATE DEVELOPERS.

Third, $300M is a little over .008% -- that's EIGHT THOUSANDTHS OF ONE PERCENT -- of the Federal government's total outlays for 2012 (approx. $3.5 trillion). It is approximately $1 for every man, woman and child currently living in the U.S.l Telll you what, conservatives: if that $1 for each member of your household is really of that much concern to you, call me up and I'll give you the damn dollar!

Whatever may be said of the causes of Detroit's bankruptcy (and they were significantly more complex and manifold than mere unions), the fact remains that Detroit is still a city of some 700,000 people, the vast majority of whom had little or no say in the decisions made by their leaders over the years, and a large percentage of whom simply do not have the means to pull up stakes and move elsewhere.

This may come as a shock to conservatives, but the fact is we ALL pay taxes for things we don't like. (God knows many of us had to sit by and watch helplessly as untolled trillions were poured into two pointless wars that were launched by one of your own, chiefly at the behest of conservatives with a financial stake in defense contracting industries.) You are not, contrary to your self-anointed 'victim' status, uniquely put upon. Your tax rates are at something like a 70-year low, and tax rates in the United States are among the lowest in the developed world, so, with all due respect, conservatives, grow the fuck up already!

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Oct 12, 2013, 10:09 PM (14 replies)

Amazing comment posted to Will Pitt's piece on Truthout . . .

. . . And Will's article is a must-read!

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 11, 2013, 12:17 AM (34 replies)

Alarming paragraph in NY Times article

In the article on the Times site titled, "As Pressure Mounts, House G.O.P. Weighs Short-Term Debt Deal," this paragraph practically jumped off the page at me:

Democrats showed their own cracks. Twenty-six House Democrats planned to attend a bipartisan event on Thursday morning with the group No Labels, calling for negotiations to start immediately, a challenge to the president and to Democratic leaders who say they will not negotiate until the government reopens and the debt ceiling is lifted.

WTF?! Does anybody know who these 26 idiots are?
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Oct 10, 2013, 12:36 AM (7 replies)

NY Times/Wilentz: Obama and the Debt

Very good Op-Ed in which Sean Wilentz, Professor of Histiory at Princeton, lays out a good argument for why the President has the authority to act under the 14th Amendment.

[font size=4]Obama and the Debt[/font]
[font size=1 color="gray"]By SEAN WILENTZ
Published: October 7, 2013[/font]

THE Republicans in the House of Representatives who declare that they may refuse to raise the debt limit threaten to do more than plunge the government into default. They are proposing a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” is sacrosanct and “shall not be questioned.”

Yet the Obama administration has repeatedly suppressed any talk of invoking the Constitution in this emergency. Last Thursday Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said, “We do not believe that the 14th Amendment provides that authority to the president” to end the crisis. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew reiterated the point on Sunday and added that the president would have “no option” to prevent a default on his own.

In defense of the administration’s position, the legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe, who taught President Obama at Harvard Law School, has insisted, as he put it two years ago, that “only political courage and compromise” can avert disaster.

These assertions, however, have no basis in the history of the 14th Amendment; indeed, they distort that history, and in doing so shackle the president. In fact, that record clearly shows that Congress intended the amendment to prevent precisely the abuses that the current House Republicans blithely condone.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Oct 8, 2013, 09:58 AM (1 replies)

Looks like the bikers who beat the SUV driver blew off a police check point with impunity . . .

. . . the guy who appears in the video (video at link below) is a friend of a friend. It appears that the bikers simply blew right past a checkpoint on the Manhattan Bridge, while law-abiding drivers were stopped and required to reproduce license, registration and proof of insurance. One has to wonder if the fact that there were five off-duty cops among the bikers had something to do with this. I mean, it is pretty hard to believe that blowing past a police check point wouldn't have resulted in a police pursuit, unless there had been some kind of prior arrangement. The fraud of the security state is exposed again!

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Oct 6, 2013, 05:40 PM (10 replies)

Excellent discussion of why delaying the employer mandate was not, s conservatives insist, "illegal"

[font size=4]Delaying Parts of Obamacare: 'Blatantly Illegal' or Routine Adjustment?[/font]
The Atlantic
[font color="gray"]Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Simon Lazarus[/font]

[font color="black"]When, on July 2, the Obama Administration announced a one-year postponement of the January 1, 2014 effective date for the Affordable Care Act's requirement that large employers provide their workers health insurance or pay a tax, affected businesses "cheered." But anti-"Obamacare" advocates and politicians howled. They saw a "blatantly illegal move" (Brietbart.com pundit Ken Klukowski), a government acting "as though it were not bound by law" (CATO Institute economist Michael Cannon), and an unconstitutional "refus[al] to enforce" a democratically enacted law (Congressional Joint Resolution #45, introduced July 10 by New Jersey House Republican Scott Garrett). In the Wall Street Journal, Stanford Professor Michael McConnell, formerly a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, huffed that the decision "raises grave concerns about [President Obama's] understanding" that, unlike medieval British monarchs, American presidents have, under Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution, a "duty, not a discretionary power" to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Following up in the Journal this Monday, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who helped lawyer last year's legal challenge to the ACA individual mandate, darkly intimated that the new employer mandate delay could trigger litigation that could result in "the whole statute fall[ing] while the president's suspension is in effect."

So has President Obama, in fact, broken the law and abused his constitutional authority by delaying the Affordable Care Act's "employer mandate"? This may be the top Republican talking point right now. But what does the law actually say about this?

< . . . . >

In Sunday's Washington Post, Bush II Health & Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt concurred that "The [Obama] Administration's decision to delay the employer mandate was wise," in light of the Bush Administration's initially bumpy but ultimately successful phase-in of the 2004 prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Though "wise," is the current postponement "illegal"? On the contrary, Treasury's Mazur wrote to Chair Upton, such temporary postponements of tax reporting and payment requirements are routine, citing numerous examples of such postponements by Republican and Democratic administrations when statutory deadlines proved unworkable.

In fact, applicable judicial precedent places such timing adjustments well within the Executive Branch's lawful discretion. To be sure, the federal Administrative Procedure Act authorizes federal courts to compel agencies to initiate statutorily required actions that have been "unreasonably delayed." But courts have found delays to be unreasonable only in rare cases where, unlike this one, inaction had lasted for several years, and the recalcitrant agency could offer neither a persuasive excuse nor a credible end to its dithering. In deciding whether a given agency delay is reasonable, current law tells courts to consider whether expedited action could adversely affect "higher or competing" agency priorities, and whether other interests could be "prejudiced by the delay." Even in cases where an agency outright refuses to enforce a policy in specified types of cases -- not the case here -- the Supreme Court has declined to intervene. As held by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a leading case on this subject, Heckler v. Chaney, courts must respect an agency's presumptively superior grasp of "the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities." Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested that courts could lose their deference to Executive Branch judgment if an "agency has consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities." The Obama Administration has not and is not about to abdicate its responsibility to implement the statute on whose success his historical legacy will most centrally depend.

< . . . . >[/font]

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 4, 2013, 10:18 PM (5 replies)

Debunking the Right's Latets Zombie Lie about the ACA

I posted this Facebook note yesterday, after an exchange in which someone asserted one of the right's latest lies about the ACA; namely, that "Congress exempted itself from the ACA."

[font size=4]Debunking the Right's Latest Zombie Lie: "Congress made its members exempt from the Affordable Care Act"[/font]
[font color="gray"]October 4, 2013 at 1:10am[/font]

Ever since President Obama took office in January of 2009, right-wing opponents of health care reform have promulgated lie upon lie about its provisions. We are still, three years after its passage into law, being treated, courtesy of the right's ally and propaganda arm, Fox News, to new ones, or variations on old ones. Earlier today, a friend posted a short status update expressing some exasperation with people who are defending the GOP's action in shutting down the government, and with those who suggest it is the President and Congressional Democrats who should 'compromise.' To that status update, someone commented: "If it is so good, how come the congress, unions, etc. asked to be exempted?"

Behold the latest, widely spread zombie lie about the Affordable Care Act!

This claim has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked, and still people circulate it Here is what Politifact.com has to say about it:

Political scientist Norman Ornstein, a long-time observer of Congress and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, debunked the claim of congressional exemption in a piece he wrote for the Washington newspaper Roll Call.

"On the assertion that Members of Congress are exempt from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act: also false," he wrote. "Members of Congress are subject under the health care reform law to the same mandate that others are to purchase insurance, and their plans must have the same minimum standards of benefits that other insurance plans will have to meet. Members of Congress currently have not a gold-plated free plan but the same insurance options that most other federal employees have, and they do not have it provided for free. They have a generous subsidy for their premiums, but no more generous (and compared to many businesses or professions less generous) than standard employer-provided subsidies throughout the country."

FactCheck.org examined the broader claim that members of Congress "specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment)," and found it "15 years out of date" in 2010.

The reason: Passage of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995. It specifically made sure a variety of laws dealing with civil rights, labor and workplace safety regulations applied to the legislative branch of government. The independent Office of Compliance was set up to enforce the laws in Congress.

The act specifically prohibits harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age and disability.

Ornstein, who has been sharply critical of Congress (and only last month co-authored a piece for Foreign Policy magazine titled "Yes, Congress Is That Bad" said it is "not surprising that, in tough times, Americans would be inclined to believe the absolute worst about their elected officials.

"But at least," he added, "let the criticism be fair and based on facts instead of persistent urban legends."

(see http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2013/jan/16/chain-email/did-members-congress-exempt-themselves-complying-h/ )

And here is an article from just two days ago on the site, MediaMatters.org: http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/10/01/fox-greets-first-day-of-health-care-exchanges-w/196197 .

And there is this very good piece from Factcheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/congress-exempt-from-health-bill/ .

Look, it is true that the 'individual mandate' does not apply to folks who have employer-provided insurance (as indeed members of Congress have). But it DOES apply if one either doesn't have health insurance through one's employer, or if one decides (for some inexplicable reason) not to accept the insurance an employer provides. And the insurance plan that covers members of Congress is subject to the same regulations as any other insurer. It is also true that members of Congress receive a rather generous premium subsidy, but take note: virtually everybody who has employer-provided health insurance company receives a premium subsidy from their employer, over and above whatever the employee contribution happens to be. But the premium subsidy for members of Congress, while generous, is not out of line with that provided by most Fortune 500 employers to their employees.

So how is it that after years of reading or hearing about outrageous, horrible things, purported to be part of the Affordable Care Act, only to later see those claims exposed as either outright fabrications or major distortions, from sources like Fox News or The Washington Times, (or reading it in one of those political chain letters conservatives are so fond of circulating), otherwise perfectly intelligent people will hear yet another seemingly outrageous report about the Affordable Care Act from these same sources, and accept the report at face value without greeting it with even the slightest bit of skepticism? And not only to they accept these lies at face value from demonstrably unreliable and dishonest sources, they go on to repeat these lies on social networks and in casual conversation without ever bothering to verify if what they are circulating is, in fact, true!it took me all of about 60 seconds to debunk this particular lie. I went to Google, and typed "debunk Congress exempt from Affordable Care Act," and got dozens upon dozens of hits. I mean, if you have time to post a Facebook comment repeating such a claim, then you really cannot claim not to have had the time to investigate it. There is really no excuse, in this Internet age, for circulating easily refuted untruths -- none whatsoever.

(Oh, and if you hear or read that the government wants to implant microchips into people, that one's false, too!)

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 4, 2013, 05:40 PM (1 replies)
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