Wednesday, June 27, 2012

updated 7/2/12

Texas Republican Party proposes repealing Voting Rights Act of 1965, returning to Gold Standard


The Texas Republican Party released its 2012 platform this month, and according to the 22-page document(below the article), the Texas Republicans support repealing the minimum wage, eliminating the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.
Below are the highlights from the party's platform.

1. Repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965."We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized."

2. Oppose the "Morning After Pill."
"We oppose sale and use of the dangerous “Morning After Pill.”

3. Make extra clear that Sharia Law won't be enacted.
"We also urge the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress to enact legislation prohibiting any judicial jurisdiction from allowing any substitute or parallel system of Law, specifically foreign Law (including Sharia Law), which is not in accordance with the U.S. or Texas Constitutions."

4. Oppose teaching critical thinking skills.
"We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

5. Return to the Gold Standard.
"We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar."

6. The Supreme Court can't rule on cases involving the Bill of Rights.
"Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights."

7. Withdraw from the United Nations.
"We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from U.S. soil."

8. They love mothers.
We strongly support women who choose to devote their lives to their families and raising their children. We recognize their sacrifice and deplore the liberal assault on the family.

9. Immunizations aren't required.
"All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine."

10. Corporal punishment can be effective.
"We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas."

11. Abolish the IRS.
"We recommend repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, with the goal of abolishing the I.R.S and replacing it with a national sales tax collected by the States."

12. Protection from Extreme Environmentalists and abolish the Enviromental Protection Agency.
"We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups that stymie legitimate business interests. We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act....We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished."

13. Supporting "Traditional Marriage""We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists."

14. Support "traditional Judeo-Christian" values.
"We support the affirmation of traditional Judeo-Christian family values and oppose the continued assault on those values."

15. Homosexuality is bad.
"We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans."

16. Evolution is a controversial theory.
"We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced."

I apologize, I thought this was here when I posted this.  Read this, might shock some, dismay others, and cause doubt with democrats in republican held states.  I say this only because it could lead to other republican states following suit. That paralyzes me, what would that do in your state, how would it effect you and your family and your values?

2012 Texas Republican Party Platform

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night: The Tragic Death of Brian Arredondo

Memory portrait by Gina Johnson,
June 27th, 2012 5:21 PM

Brian Arredondo never really recovered from his brother’s death in the Iraq War. When they were kids, Brian adored his older brother Alexander and tagged along with him whenever he could. They were often seen playing together in parks and schoolyards in communities surrounding Boston, Massachusetts, and Bangor, Maine, where they grew up. As teens the two boys were perfect targets for military recruiters: first-generation Americans on their father’s side (he emigrated from Costa Rica), working-class youth (Alex attended a technical high school where much of the curriculum focuses on job training), living with their mother after their parents divorced when they were young. Promises of career training, male camaraderie and “becoming a man,” appeals to patriotism, a $10,000 signing bonus, and funding for college enticed Alex Arredondo to join the marines, just a month before September 11, 2011.

Brian was distraught and seemed to lose his focus and motivation when Alex enlisted. Shortly thereafter, he dropped out of high school at the beginning of tenth grade. On August 25, 2004, a sniper’s bullet to the head killed Alex during his second deployment to Iraq. Brian’s world fell apart. On the day Alex was killed, military officials came to his mother’s house in Bangor to notify the family. Brian, 17 years old at the time, was home alone. He guessed why they were there, but they wouldn’t tell him the news until his mother, Victoria Foley, arrived. As they waited around the corner in the government van, Brian got an emotional call from his father, Carlos Arredondo, who was living in Florida at the time and had also just been notified about Alex’s death. Brian became desperate, punching holes in the walls as he paced the floor, waiting for his mother to get home. After she arrived, Brian tried to call his father to talk with him again. His distraught stepmother, Mélida Arredondo, answered the phone and told Brian to turn on the television: news coverage of a burning van outside his father’s home. Reporters announced that Carlos Arredondo had set fire to the van and been caught in the blaze. In disbelief Brian saw his father on fire, rolling on the ground, trying to extinguish the flames. Carlos lay unconscious in a hospital intensive care, burn unit for two days and nearly died from the incident. Nine days later, accompanied by two medics, he attended Alex’s wake, funeral mass, and burial on a stretcher, wrapped in bandages and with a morphine drip to numb the pain. The story made international news.

Eventually, the war in Iraq took the lives of both brothers. Flash forward seven years to December 19, 2011, when Brian’s mother and her partner found Brian hanging from the rafters of a shed in the backyard, where he had been living. No longer able to quell his despair, Brian killed himself at the age of 24. Near his body all he left was a copy of an email instant conversation between his stepmother Mélida Arredondo and a marine in Alex’s unit, who had been at his side when Alex died. Brian committed suicide the day after U.S. troops were “officially” withdrawn from Iraq.  Perhaps he couldn’t face the fact that, unlike other soldiers, his brother would not be coming home.

The gross inequality between the rich and the poor in our country define this story. Try to imagine an alternate reality: what if Jenna Bush, the daughter of George W. and Laura Bush, enlisted in the marines and were killed by a sniper’s bullet in Iraq?  Imagine her twin sister Barbara struggling with debilitating depression and taking her own life seven years later. Would Bush and his cronies have been so willing to invade Iraq and launch a war if their own kids were going to pay the price? It’s unthinkable, of course, because the Bush twins had so many other options: Barbara attended Yale, and Jenna was offered a job as a correspondent on “The Today Show” after she graduated from college. Military recruiters target rural and lower income youth and first-generation Americans who have more restricted access to college and careers.

When soldiers die in battle, we tend to focus on the grief of parents and spouses. Siblings often fall through the cracks. Looking back at the years since Alex’s death, Mélida Arredondo commented that Brian’s life had been a “downward spiral” of anguish, depression, and self-destruction. Family members repeatedly reached out to Brian and tried to get him professional help for his depression, drug use, and trouble with the law. He accepted his family’s legal, monetary, and employment assistance but declined counseling. Instead, Brian put on a good front, smiling broadly and assuring the family that he was doing fine, or that he had made a new start and would do better in the future.

In retrospect, it’s clear that Brian was in distress. After Alex’s deployment to Iraq and subsequent death, Brian started self-medicating with drugs, which he often hid from his family. With time, his drug usage became more serious. He pleaded with parents and friends to loan him money, which they later learned he used to support his drug habit. He began using marijuana, and then cocaine. After one violent confrontation with the police, Brian was admitted to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation in April 2011. The clinical evaluation report noted that Brian admitted to using Percocet and heroin at least once a day; hospital intake workers discovered injection track marks all over his arms.

After he was arrested for having an open alcohol container in his car, reckless driving, and several accidents, the state of Maine took away Brian’s driver’s license. He became dependent on parents and friends to transport him, which made working a job very difficult. On occasion he worked with his father and was employed at a pizza restaurant and as a janitor, but he never worked for more than a few months at a time. For most of the past seven years he was unemployed, which only exacerbated his feelings of helplessness and dependence on others.

This wasn’t the first time Brian tried to kill himself. While military officials were at his mother’s home, informing her about Alex’s death, Brian slipped away and ran into the street, looking for oncoming traffic. Later he told his parents that he wanted to be hit by a car. Still reeling from Alex’s death, in 2006 he tried to hang himself with an electric cord but failed when the cord broke. And in 2011, when police tried to arrest Brian on outstanding warrants, breaking in to the backyard shed while he was sleeping, he raised a machete and dared them to shoot him.

His troubled relationships with young women and problems with anger management signaled another facet of his distress. Almost immediately after his brother’s death, Brian became involved with a young woman—perhaps to replace his close relationship with his brother. Her father didn’t approve, had a violent confrontation with Brian, and got a restraining order to prevent him from coming to their home. Their relationship was rocky and punctuated by abusive and destructive behavior. A second young woman also pursued Brian. There was jealousy and abuse on all sides. There were multiple incidents involving interpersonal violence and destruction of property. Girlfriends and parents called the police, who arrested Brian several times. By 2011, Brian faced a number of misdemeanor and felony charges, which had escalated in the past several years. He was scheduled to go to court on December 21, 2011, two days after he died. His mother recalled that Brian told her that he expected to be sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison, which probably wasn’t a realistic assessment. Francis J. DiMento, Jr., his attorney, told us in an interview that he thought it unlikely that Brian would do jail time for these offences (Interview, June 7, 2012).

In response to Alex’s death, Mélida and Carlos Arredondo began to speak out about their experiences. They became peace activists and advocates for support services for military personnel and their families. Carlos creates memorials designed to raise awareness about the significance of Alex’s life and sacrifice, using his military boots and uniform, medals, large photos of Alex and Brian, and numerous other mementos with personal meaning.  Sometimes he also displays a full-size coffin, calling on viewers to visualize the real cost of war in terms of individual human lives. Mélida and Carlos are well known for their activism in the Boston area, where they have lived for many years. They make it a point to meet with public officials at community events, sharing with them the stories of their sons’ deaths and advocating for support services for military personnel and their families. In retrospect, since Brian’s death they have worried that they didn’t pay enough attention to him, wrapped up, instead, in their grieving for Alex and their dedication to activism. His mother, Victoria Foley, sorrowfully recounted that he seemed depressed and remote in the days before his suicide, and her attempts to get Brian into counseling were unsuccessful. The boys’ deaths have taken an enormous toll on their families. The loss has redefined their lives forever, leaving them to deal with the deep despair of losing two children to the Iraq War.

This tragic series of events is a brutal reminder of the devastation that war brings: two young sons dead, with parents and family members left to wade through the unbearable grief, self-blame, devastated lives, and the narrative of youth dashed to pieces by death and sorrow. Brian never really accepted his brother’s enlistment in the military or his death in Iraq. In response, his life became a succession of dangerous actions and disastrous decisions, sending him down a path to self-destruction. It’s certainly possible to interpret Brian’s suicide as an expression of hopelessness. It’s also possible to consider that Brian ended his life as an act of resistance, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas’ epic admonition to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Perhaps—compounded by substance abuse, problems with interpersonal relationships, dropping out of school, and troubles with the law—it was a refusal or inability to accept that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq made sense. Many Americans willingly accepted, or remained silent, when Bush and his advisors launched these foolish wars, and as Obama continues them, increasing drone strikes in the region and ramping up U.S. involvement in Afghanistan while withdrawing troops from Iraq. Many stood on the sidelines watching as other people’s sons and daughters—usually the poorest and those with the fewest options—were swept up in the patriotic fervor, recruited by the military, and sent off to fight. Now we pay the price of public apathy and complicity. The deaths of Brian and Alexander Arredondo diminish us all.
Authors' bio: Linda Pershing is a professor, and Lara Bell is an undergraduate student at California State University San Marcos.
Memory portrait by Gina Johnson,

Matthews to the late Nora Ephron: I wish I told you I liked you from the start


Let me finish tonight with Nora Ephron.  
Why? Because this is about us. You know...people who have dated, have dealt with the surprises, joys, troubles, heartbreaks, and downright mysteries of romantic relationships.

Like screenwriter Nancy Meyers, who I just met but have long admired, Nora Ephron was a master at writing movies about relationships: usually from the woman's point of view, and therefore — certainly in my case — of deep fascination to men.
She wrote about this emotionally treacherous place in which a woman gets asked out on a date and has no idea whether she will ever hear from the guy again. Guys, of course, have another hardship: do you take the leap of asking someone out who can shoot you down cold? That can hurt. Do you struggle to hold on when you think the relationship is fading? Let's face it: we've all been hurt.
But there's hope, and that's what kept us — or keeps some of you — trying.
I loved Sleepless in Seattle because it's about a story that goes back to the days of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and stayed fresh as can be for Tom Hanks and the great Meg Ryan, and will be fresh as can be another half century or another millennium if there are still people out there who are lonely and hopeful of not being.
The belief that there's a Jack for every Jill is — let's all shout it to the heavens — the one, uniting religion shared by billions, and it's the faith that Norah Ephron preached, despite one too many horror stories, one date (or husband) from hell too many when one is a lot to survive.
When Harry Met Sally, which our guest and my friend Rob Reiner directed so brilliantly, in You've Got Mail and Sleepless, we get the good news that comes after the bad news of Heartburn. Nora gave it all to us: the bad, the ugly and, finally, the good.
To Nora Ephron, who wrote to us in the old Esquire about men's obsession with women's breasts, who wrote movies about how men need to believe they can satisfy a woman — I can't believe we showed you that scene right here tonight on Hardball! — to Nora Ephron who told us we are not alone, that our dates, our relationships are not out there on some other planet from others.
I salute you, and thank our mutual friend Steve Weisman for introducing us. Miss you already, wish now I had told you I liked you from the start.

Did some digging and was amazed by what I found.  Movies I have seen and fallen in Love with. And books I will have to look into. She was extraordinary, and she will be missed. She wrote, directed and produced...

2009 Julie & Julia (screenplay)

2005 Bewitched (written by)
2000 Hanging Up (screenplay)
1998 You've Got Mail (screenplay)
1996 Michael (screenplay)
1994 Mixed Nuts (screenplay)
1993 Sleepless in Seattle (screenplay)
1992 This Is My Life (screenplay)
1990/I My Blue Heaven (written by)
1989 When Harry Met Sally... (written by)
1989 Cookie (written by)
1986 Heartburn (novel / screenplay)
1983 Silkwood (written by)
1978 Perfect Gentlemen (TV movie)
1973 Adam's Rib (TV series)
For Richer, for Poorer (1973) (story)

1998  All I Wanna Do (executive producer)
2000 Lucky Numbers(producer)

Other Works:

Directed a short film shown for the The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002) (TV).

(1983) Novel: "Heartburn" (filmed as Heartburn (1986))

(1975) Book of essays: "Crazy Salad"

(2006) Book: "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman"

(2002) Stage play: "Imaginary Friends". Written by Nora Ephron. Directed by Jack O'Brien. Ethel Barrymore Theatre: 12 Dec 2002 - 16 Feb 2003 (76 performances).

(1970) Book: "Wallflower at the Orgy".

(1978) Book: "Scribble Scribble: Notes on the Media".

(2010) Book: "I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections". 

An Appreciation: Nora Ephron was like a super-cool aunt

Nora Ephron, the writer of 'Wallflower at the Orgy,' 'Crazy Salad Plus Nine,' 'Heartburn' and movies including 'When Harry Met Sally,' was a fun inspiration.

Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was an inspiration to young female writers. (Charles Sykes, Associated Press / June 28, 2012)


Nora Ephron once wrote that when she was young, all she wanted to do "in this world was come to New York and be Dorothy Parker." Which is funny because when I was young, all I wanted to do was come to New York and be Nora Ephron.
I wanted to be Nora Ephron because she was intellectual and funny, biting yet in the end sympathetic, because she traveled in rarefied circles on both coasts yet still managed to seem gorgeously accessible. During her half-century career, she wrote all sorts of stories (and later screenplays) about all manner of things — politics and dinner parties, the National Organization for Women and purses, divorce and romance, Helen Gurley Brown and Ayn Rand, troublesome friendships and aging — but it was never so much what she was writing about as how. From the moment her career began in the 1960s, she was a clear and consistent voice in the nascent genre of cultural journalism.

She may have got there kicking and screaming — in the 1980 preface to "Wallflower at the Orgy" (Bantam, 1970), she discussed her discomfort, as a reporter, with using the first person, fearing that "the image of the journalist as wallflower at the orgy has been replaced by the journalist as life of the party." But intentionally or not, the writing Ephron did in the late '60s and early '70s for magazines like Esquire changed the way we thought about reporting and essay writing alike.

PHOTOS: Stars react to the death of Nora Ephron

The queen of the humorous aside — "Atlas Shrugged," she says in the story about Rand, is a book that cannot be put down so it probably should not be picked up — she earned readers' trust not just by presenting detailed and excellently observed portraits of people, places and themes but by reacting to them with a delicious tone of jaded optimism, a raised eyebrow and a twinkle that echoed in columns as diverse as the now-defunct Hers in the New York Times and Candace Bushnell's original Sex and the City pieces.

She was a New Yorker by choice whose devotion to Manhattan was second only to Woody Allen's, with a showbiz childhood that allowed her to see everything as both meaningful and entertainment, a feminist who covered the changing roles of women with neither cynicism nor zealotry. When I worked at Ms. magazine, all the young second-wavers had matching, well-thumbed copies of "Crazy Salad Plus Nine," in which Ephron fondly, but ruthlessly, dissected Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal and all those jostling vaunted mothers of the revolution, not so much cutting them down to size as making sure everyone understood that the women's movement was about actual women.

Including Ephron, whose persona was more like the super-cool aunt, the one who quickly scanned the room and nailed the crowd to the floor with a few well-placed sentences. She was literary enough to take the title of "Crazy Salad" from a Yeats quote but proletariat enough to be the foodie who took down Gourmet magazine — "the pictures are so reverent I almost feel I ought to pray to them."

Forget all these young chicks and their revenge albums; when Ephron had an incredibly messy and high-profile divorce from journalist and national hero Carl Bernstein, she wrote a book about it. Not only did "Heartburn" give us one of the most insightful moments of 20th century popular fiction — "If I throw this pie at him, I thought to myself, he will never love me. And then it hit me; he doesn't love me … I picked up the pie … and threw it" — it also included recipes.

OBIT: Nora Ephron dies at 71; writer of sharp-edged romances

"Heartburn" was then made into a movie. Back in Hollywood, Ephron brought her balancing act of smart mouth / soft heart to the screen, revolutionizing the romantic comedy with "When Harry Met Sally"and then "Sleepless in Seattle." In the second, she used the film "An Affair to Remember" as a cultural touchstone from which the action emerges; these days, it would be just as easy to use "When Harry Met Sally" in a similar way, something Mindy Kaling actually does in the pilot of her new show "The Mindy Project."

And Ephron never stopped working. If some of her work became increasingly insular — e.g. her lament in the New Yorker over losing her rent-controlled flat in the posh Apthorp — and her final collection left much to be desired, she still managed, while approaching her eighth decade, to write not just "I Feel Bad About My Neck," a hilarious collection of essays about aging, but to also write and direct the delightful"Julie and Julia,"reminding everyone, once again, that women can be funny and classy, wry and sentimental, discerning and popular.

Cloud Cover

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the names President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney? The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll posed that question to registered voters and compiled their answers in "word clouds" -- graphics in which larger words represent more frequent answers. The poll found 43% of voters came up with a negative phrase for Mitt Romney, including "out of touch," "favors the rich" and "bad policies." For the President, 52% of the words that respondents used were negative, like "Obamacare," "economy" and "incompetent."

These responses mirror the attack strategies of the candidates' opponents. President Obama's campaign hits Romney for supporting policies like tax cuts that help the wealthy, while cutting programs for the poor. Mitt Romney's campaign criticizes the President for being in over his head, and simply not up to the job of fixing the economy.
The positive responses for each candidate reflect the parts of their resume or ideological stance they tend to tout the most. For Governor Romney, people said "businessman" and "conservative," while for the President voters said "health reform" and "for the people."
Watch the panel's analysis of the word clouds below:

The American People Are Angry

The American people are angry.  They are angry that they are being forced to live through the worst recession in our lifetimes – with sky-high unemployment, with millions of people losing their homes and their life savings.  They are angry that they will not have a decent retirement, that they can’t afford to send their children to college, that they can’t afford health insurance and that, in some cases, they can’t even buy the food they need to adequately feed their families. 
          They are angry because they know that this recession was not caused by the middle class and working families of this country. It was not caused by the teachers, firefighters and police officers and their unions who are under attack all over the country. It was not caused by construction workers, factory workers, nurses or childcare workers. 
This recession was caused by the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street.  And, what makes people furious is that Wall Street still has not learned its lessons.  Instead of investing in the job-creating productive economy providing affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses, the CEOs of the largest financial institutions in this country have created the largest gambling casino in the history of the world.
          Four years ago, after spending billions of dollars to successfully fight for the deregulation of Wall Street, the CEOs of the big banks – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and the others – went on a losing streak.  The enormous bets they made on worthless, complex, and exotic financial instruments went bad, and they stuck the American people with the bill.
          Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world.  But it was not just the $700 billion that Congress approved through the TARP program.  As a result of an independent audit that I requested in the Dodd-Frank bill by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided a jaw-dropping $16 trillion in virtually zero-interest loans to every major financial institution in this country, large corporations, foreign central banks throughout the world, and some of the wealthiest people in this country.
          And, instead of using this money to provide affordable loans to small businesses, instead of putting this money back into the job-creating productive economy, what have they done?  They have gone back to their days of running the largest gambling casino in the world.  In other words, they have learned nothing.
          The American people are angry because they see the great middle class of this country collapsing, poverty increasing and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grow wider.  They are angry because they see this great country, which so many of our veterans fought for and died for, becoming an oligarchy – a nation where our economic and political life are controlled by a handful of billionaire families. 
          In the United States today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920s.  Today, the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America - 150 million people. 
Today, the six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune own more wealth than the bottom 30 percent.
Today, the top 1 percent own 40 percent of all wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns less than 2 percent.  Incredibly, the bottom 40 percent of all Americans own just 0.3 percent of the wealth of the country.
According to a new study from the Federal Reserve, median net worth for middle class families dropped by nearly 40 percent from 2007 to 2010.  That’s the equivalent of wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle class family.
The distribution of income is even worse.  If you can believe it, the last study on this subject showed that in 2010, 93 percent of all new income created from the previous year went to the top one percent, while the bottom 99 percent of people had the privilege of enjoying the remaining 7 percent. In other words, the rich are getting much richer while almost everyone else is falling behind.
          Not only is this inequality of wealth and income morally grotesque, it is bad economic policy.  If working families are deeply in debt, and have little or no income to spend on goods and services, how can we expand the economy and create the millions of jobs we desperately need?  There is a limit as to how many yachts, mansions, limos and fancy jewelry the super-rich can buy.  We need to put income into the hands of working families.    
         A lot of my friends in the Senate talk a whole lot about our $15.8 trillion national debt and our $1.3 trillion deficit.  In fact, deficit reduction is a very serious issue and will be one of the major issues of this campaign.  Unfortunately, many of my colleagues forget to discuss how we got into this deficit situation in the first place, and how we went from a healthy surplus under President Clinton to record-breaking deficits under Bush. 
When we talk about the national debt and the deficit, let us never forget that the current deficit was primarily caused by Bush’s unpaid-for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Imagine that!  President Bush and his deficit hawks forgot to pay for two wars which will end up costing us trillions of dollars.  It just plain slipped their minds.  On top of that, for the first time in American history Bush and his Republican friends decided, during a war, to give out huge tax breaks – including massive benefits for millionaires and billionaires.  Even more importantly, the deficit is the result of a major decline in federal tax revenue because of the high unemployment and business losses that we are experiencing as a result of this recession – caused by the greed and recklessness of Wall Street.  Revenue as a percentage of GDP, at 15.2%, is the lowest in more than 60 years.
Despite the causes of the deficit, our Republican (and some Democratic) friends have decided that the best way forward toward deficit reduction is to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, food stamps and virtually every other programs of importance to low and moderate income families.  We must not allow that to happen. 
          If we are serious about dealing with the deficit and creating jobs in America, the wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes.  We also have to end the massive tax loopholes and subsidies that exist for major corporations.  (In that regard, Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota and I recently introduced legislation that would end all tax breaks and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry).  At a time when the United States now spends more money on defense than the rest of the world combined, we also have to cut back on military spending. 
          Yes, we should deal with the deficit.  But not on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor! 
          Most importantly, when we talk about what’s happening in America, we have to address the unemployment crisis in this country which now finds 23 million Americans without jobs or who are under-employed.  And we know how to do that. 
          We know that the fastest way to create decent-paying jobs is rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, wastewater plants, deteriorating schools, etc.)  We also know that we can create a great deal of employment by transforming our energy system away from foreign oil and coal and into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geo-thermal, bio-mass and other clean technologies.  We also know that, as our country fights fierce global competition, it is absurd to be laying-off educators and making college unaffordable.
            While we continue to do everything we can during the next six months to defeat Republican right-wing extremism, it is also important that we never lose sight of the progressive vision that we are fighting for. If we don’t know where we want to go, it will be impossible to get there. Some of the issues that I intend to raise are the following:
Not only must we resist cuts in Social Security, we must lift the cap on taxing higher incomes so that Social Security will be strong for the next 75 years.
Not only must we oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, we must see health care as a right of all and continue the fight for a Medicare for All Single Payer health care system.
Not only must we oppose placing the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of working families, we must demand a progressive tax system in which the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.
Not only must we oppose cuts in unemployment compensation, we must fight for a jobs program that creates the many millions of jobs our country desperately needs.
Not only must we fight to end disastrous unfettered free trade agreements with China, Mexico, and other low wage countries, we must fight to fundamentally re-write our trade agreements so that American products, not jobs, are our number one export.
And, not only must we vigorously oppose the war against women, we must fight to end all forms of discrimination and prejudice in this country.
The struggle we are engaged in right now is of pivotal importance for this country. Whether we win or lose will determine the future of America. That struggle is not just for our lives, but more importantly it is for our children and our grandchildren.
Despair is not an option. I know people get angry, I know they get frustrated, I know they get disgusted. But we don’t have the right to give up and turn our backs on our children and grandchildren.
Our job is to simply bring to fruition what the overwhelming majority of the American people want. They want an economy that works for the middle class and working families and not just for the rich. They want everybody in this country to have health care as a right. They want to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They want to move away from these gross inequalities in income and wealth.
We have the people behind us. They have the money. And at the end of the day, the people will be stronger than the money.

‘Fast and Furious’: honesty vs. hypocrisy 

Rep. Virginia Foxx

“THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE.” This from the San Diego Union-Tribune: “Many people, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent, died because of a U.S. government program. The Justice Department was caught lying about its oversight and handling of the program. Congress wants to know why. Holder says he’s done nothing wrong but won’t provide the very documents that would establish his innocence.” The editorial claims the logical conclusion is that the Administration and DOJ “have something to hide.”

By U-T San Diego Editorial Board
6 p.m., June 26, 2012
Updated 3:52 p.m. , June 27, 2012

The House of Representatives is expected to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday for his refusal – backed by President Barack Obama – to provide documents that might explain why Holder’s Justice Department chose to lie to Congress in February 2011 about high-level officials’ involvement in the “Fast and Furious” fiasco, and why it stood by those lies for most of the year.
If ever a scandal illustrated political hypocrisy, it is this.
We start with the president’s baffling decision to assert executive privilege in denying the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, access to the documents. The White House says it and top Justice Department officials had nothing to do with the “gun-walking” program in which weapons were allowed to be sold to Mexican cartels to try to gain insight into how drug and arms traffickers operate. Then the White House says top administration officials’ deliberative processes need to be kept private on a matter in which they weren’t involved. Huh?
Republicans say, correctly, that this doesn’t make sense, and that exploring why the Justice Department lied to Congress is an absolutely appropriate exercise of oversight. Democrats, meanwhile, cry witch hunt. But when President George W. Bush made similarly shaky claims of executive privilege to try to hide internal deliberations relating to the wholesale firings of U.S. attorneys by his administration, the parties made the opposite arguments.
Every administration promises transparency. Every administration then fails to live up to its promises. And nearly every administration ends up learning that covering up compounds the political damage from its original mistakes.
The talking point that one hears everywhere – Bush started the “gun-walking,” Obama shut it down, so this is much ado about nothing – is simply dishonest. Obama’s Justice Department expanded the program, and it went desperately awry, with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and many Mexicans likely killed by guns the U.S. government allowed into Mexico.
Yes, Republicans are trying to make political hay over this. But so did Democrats when Bush tried to hide his administration’s machinations on U.S. attorneys. That’s politics.
What matters ultimately, however, is this simple narrative:
Many people, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent, died because of a U.S. government program. The Justice Department was caught lying about its oversight and handling of the program. Congress wants to know why. Holder says he’s done nothing wrong but won’t provide the very documents that would establish his innocence.
So why would the attorney general and the Obama administration act in such a fashion? A logical conclusion: They have something to hide.
“They’re lying. ... I just know that they’re hiding something big,” said one interested observer last week.
It was Kent Terry. He isn’t a GOP flamethrower. He’s Agent Brian Terry’s father. He deserves answers, as does the American public, on who knew what and when about the Fast and Furious debacle.

President Barack Obama and George Clooney at at a National Press Club event for Darfur, in 2006.
Photograph by Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and George Clooney at at a National Press Club event for Darfur, in 2006.

White House

Obama's Clooney Joke Got Lots of Laughs. Too Bad Nobody Fact-Checked It First

By on May 11, 2012
You might have heard that President Barack Obama attended a $40,000-a-head fundraiser at George Clooney’s Hollywood home last night. And did you hear the story the president told about the iconic “Hope” poster that became the emblem of his 2008 campaign and that hangs in Clooney’s house? Obama recounted how it was based on a photo of him and Clooney at an event for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. “This is the first time that George Clooney has actually been photoshopped out of a picture,” the president quipped. “Never happened before, will never happen again.”
Funny, right? There was just one problem. Obama was wrong.
Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles-based artist who designed the poster, worked off a different photo taken by the Associated Press. The news agency took Fairey to court over his use of the copyrighted image, and in the course of the brouhaha Fairey admitted he’d tampered with evidence to make it look like the photo he’d used was one of Obama with Clooney, not the AP photo in question. Federal prosecutors proceeded to file a charge of criminal contempt against Fairey; he pled guilty to the charge in February. Apparently the news of Fairey’s guilty plea—and the rest of the saga, which was widely covered in the press during the past three years—escaped the attention of the president and his speechwriters.
But AP White House reporter Jim Kuhnhenn jumped on the president’s statement, correcting the record for other journalists—a correction that the White House Press Office was probably fairly embarrassed to have to send out at 7:46 a.m. this morning. Wonder if the speechwriter has spent the day boning up on fact-checking?

The Real Affordable Care Act Battle: Constitutionalists vs. Confederates

When the Justices hand down their ruling, it will be a decisive moment in a debate stretching back to the Articles of Confederation and the nation's founding. 

By Tom Perriello
Jun 27 2012, 8:01 AM ET 


When I was growing up in central Virginia, corner stores typically sold hats emblazoned with the Stars and Bars declaring "Lee Surrendered but I Didn't." I never imagined that five men in black robes might hand Confederates a victory through the Supreme Court that they could not win at the original Constitutional Convention nor later on the battlefields of the Civil War.
Yet we may be at that juncture today. As our country anxiously awaits the Supreme Court's verdict on health-care reform, the media has reduced the case to the narrow terms of a political horserace. This characterization ignores the enormous significance of this case -- a shift from the modern fight between liberal and conservative Constitutionalists back to an older and more nationally divisive debate between Constitutionalists and Confederates.
From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the Confederate States of America to the Lochner-era Supreme Court, confederationists have long believed in a United States consisting of states loosely united by a small, weak central government, and they have fought for more than 230 years to prevent, undermine, and erode the Constitution. While the term "Confederate" rightly conjures up America's sin of slavery and the racially charged movements for states' rights and state nullification, the present-day confederationists include conservative libertarians and corporatists who support a central government too weak to regulate or tax commerce.
This vision of a tiny, powerless central government has always been at odds with the U.S. Constitution, a document our nation's founders wrote explicitly to reject and replace the Articles of Confederation. George Washington once wrote that the weakness of the Articles, which lacked the Constitution's power to tax and spend for the general welfare, almost cost us the Revolutionary War. Disconnected and self-interested, the states struggled to harness the unity and cooperation necessary to defeat a world superpower.
Confederationists have fought for more than 230 years to prevent, undermine, and erode the Constitution.
The Founders addressed this by writing a Constitution that empowered America to "legislate in all cases for the general interests of the Union." Since the Constitution's creation, American leaders have enjoyed the power necessary to solve national problems, whether those problems were a Depression in the 1930s, a system of racial apartheid in the 1960s, or a costly and inadequate healthcare system in 2010.
But the Confederate legacy also lives on. As Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center notes, "The Tea Party's version of the Constitution has far more in common with the failed Articles of Confederation ... than with our actual, enduring U.S. Constitution." The Articles famously lacked our Constitution's commerce power. Similarly, the Confederate Constitution stripped the federal government's authority to "provide for the ... general welfare," from provisions relating to taxation and eviscerated the interstate commerce clause. These limitations would have likely doomed not only the Affordable Care Act, but also major federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
For decades after the Civil War, big corporations saw the value of a confederationist vision of a weak central government. They aligned with confederationists in the early 20th century to create a Supreme Court that struck down minimum-wage laws, child-labor laws, and laws protecting workers' right to unionize. In the 1930s, confederationist justices struck down law after law intended to rescue America from the Great Depression. The Confederate Constitution's call for weak national regulations and racial oppression echoed again in the 1950s and 1960s. Alabama Governor and U.S. presidential candidate George Wallace famously based his anti-desegregation platform on the principle of states' rights, and after the Supreme Court's momentous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, states throughout the South claimed they could simply ignore the order to integrate schools. When Congress enacted a ban on whites-only lunch counters, segregationists claimed the ban exceeded the federal government's authority. They lost, unanimously, in the Supreme Court.
Yet today's Supreme Court is moving toward the confederationist framework of protecting corporate interests. From its decision authorizing corporations to spend unlimited political money in the Citizens United case to its assaults on equal pay for women and job security for older workers, the Court's five conservatives have left no doubt about their willingness to obviate the commerce and general-welfare clauses of the Constitution to protect powerful corporate interests. It is worth noting that, throughout the last century, when the corporatist strand has conflicted with the state's-rights position -- from Lochner (in which the Court infamously overturned New York's public health regulations in 1905) to the current Court's reversal just this week of Montana's anti-corruption campaign-finance law -- the corporatist side has won.
Respected conservative constitutionalists have all but begged the Supreme Court to stay loyal to the document. Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, warned that the case against the Affordable Care Act has no basis "in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent." Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a runner-up for the Supreme Court nomination that eventually went to Chief Justice John Roberts, warned that striking down health reform "is a prescription for economic chaos that the framers, in a simpler time, had the good sense to head off."
During his confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts claimed the mantle of these conservative constitutionalists, as an umpire calling balls and strikes. But if he and the other four conservative justices overturn the Affordable Care Act, they will effectively be taking the umpire off the field. In historical context, this amounts not to a reinterpretation of the Constitution but rather its rejection. If the law is upheld, the real victory is not for President Obama but for that most durable of governing documents, the U.S. Constitution.

I was only going to post several comments but they were so good I could not resist... sorry about that and several have links in them.....
  • merfinderfin 6 hours ago
    "I predict the worst consequences from a half-starved, limping government, always moving upon crutches at every step. I do not conceive we can long exist as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole union in as energetic a manner as the authority of the state governments extends over the several states."
    Good old George Washington said that. In spite of whatever the Tea Party may claim, the founders always wanted a strong central government.
  • "Good old George Washington said that. In spite of whatever the Tea Party
    may claim, the founders always wanted a strong central government."
    Are you under the impression that you proved something? The federal government has become immeasurably stronger since George Washington said that.  He would be surprised and dismayed to see how much stronger the federal government is now. If we could transport him to today maybe he would agree that it was necessary for it to increase that much in size. But whatever he said back then doesn't matter.

  •  What, in your mind, is a reasonable size and role for the federal government then? I'm actually curious, and not trying to have a name-calling session.
  • With regard to the Commerce Clause, how about regulating citizens when they have chosen to engage in a form of  commerce which takes place among the several states, and not when they have refrained from that form of commerce ? 
  • Well, I would argue that health care is a special case in that at some point in our lives all of us will have to engage in it. If an uninsured person has a heart attack in the middle of the street, he's going to be taken to a hospital where he's going to incur $1,000s in costs. If he's too broke to pay it, then all of us taxpayers are on the hook for that money. There are several ways we can deal with that problem:
    a. we can repeal the laws that require hospitals to treat the uninsured
    b. we can insure all citizens through the government, or
    c. we can mandate that all citizens purchase health insurance, and that all insurance companies cover anyone who wants to purchase it.
    Is it an encroachment on liberty? Personally I don't see it that way. Is it a pain in the ass? Sure. So is filing income taxes. Most people don't regard that as tyranny.
  • A and B are constitutional approaches. C is not. The fact that the votes are harder to get for A and B does not make C legitimate. In fact, there was another alternative; simply pass a tax increase, with a corresponding tax credit equal to the penalty the ACA imposes. Again, our cowards in Congress did not want to simply take a straightforard approach, because being an incumbent is so, so, hard, so they instead cobbled together this mess. The fact that your Congressman doesn't want to work for a living doesn't make it constitutional for him to write laws any damned way that pleases him.
  • That's not something that I think can be adequately covered in the scope of a comments section, but my short answer is that my concern is the with the proper function of the federal government. I think it's national defense and diplomacy, preventing barriers to trade between states, establishing immigration and import/export policy (to the least extent possible), preventing states from infringing on the rights of citizens, and regulating those things which cannot be regulated at the state level.
    I recognize that the last one is subject to a whole lot of interpretation, but my sense is that the federal government is way too big at the size it is.
    A lot of the things done at the federal level can be done at the state level. Social Security and Medicare for example. I understand the arguments for why it should be done at the federal level, but then I frankly don't see what the point of having state government is at all.
  • "...What, in your mind, is a reasonable size and role for the federal government then? "
    How about this: the major function of government must be to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates & from our fellow-citizens; to preserve the rule of law & civil order, to enforce private contracts, and to foster COMPETITIVE markets.
    Most of those that I encounter who want greater government centralization & control to do much more don't seem to understand or acknowledge that the power to do good is also the power to do harm.  Those who control the power today, may not tomorrow.  What one person regards as good,  another may regard as harm.
    Do any of these precepts resonate with you, or are they simply too little, too bland, or too milquetoast  for your taste?
  • How would a government foster competitive markets if it has no jurisdiction over such things? We currently have many monopolistic markets-set up with the assistance of government. Our current government could dismantle these if it chose to (but it currently likes monopolies). So just how would your states rights government protect the citizens from similarly constructed - by the states - protected monopolies?
  • " How about this: the major function of government must be to protect our
    freedom both from the enemies outside our gates & from our
    fellow-citizens; to preserve the rule of law & civil order, to
    enforce private contracts, and to foster COMPETITIVE markets."
    I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. I think government does very little to promote competitive markets though, and I think "protect our freedom from our fellow citizens" is open to a great deal of interpretation; I would like government to protect me from my citizens who practice unfair business dealings. Other people would like government to protect citizens who are business people.
    You also said this though:
    "Most of those that I encounter who want greater government
    centralization & control to do much more don't seem to understand or
    acknowledge that the power to do good is also the power to do harm.
     Those who control the power today, may not tomorrow.  What one person
    regards as good,  another may regard as harm."
    Most of the conservatives I encounter, while distrustful of the government in regard to business regulation or the delivery of mail, are at the same time enthusiastic supporters of giving the government vast police and military powers. Why, if you don't think the government can effectively regulate healthcare, would you think it could effectively field a huge military?
  •  It matters insomuch as it is not Liberals who so often claim to be "constitutionalists."  And a reading of the history of the framers indicates that many supported a strong federal government with wide reaching powers.  Even Jefferson, a famous skeptic of federal power, essentially lost his bet to Alexander Hamilton that he would grow to see the usefulness of a strong central government.  And indeed he did when he vastly increased to powers of the presidency during the Louisiana purchase and some of his other nationalist agendas.  That Washington would be "surprised and dismayed to see how much stronger the federal government is now" is convenient speculation, particularly if you are so eager to dismiss what the man himself is recorded to have believed.
  • Do you realize who you refer to when you say founders? Thomas Jefferson wanted a strong central government? Do people seek one person to base their opinions on? Washington was a mix of ideas. Mainly since his left and right men were Adams and Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson were two opposites in terms of ideas. It is absurd for you to say "In spite of whatever the Tea Party may claim, the founders always wanted a strong central government." Jefferson, might I add, who wrote the constitution would have never thought a government this strong. Jefferson sought to decentralize the ppwer of a few. The only reason Jefferson even ran for president was to oppose Adams. To balance the ideas of the political opposite. Jefferson's tomb stone reads his greatest accomplishments, President is not one of them.
  •  And maybe there's a lesson in what you've written there: the Founders embraced a variety of ideas regarding the size and function of government.  They balanced one another, and opposed one another, and still got things done.  Why can we not have healthy dissent today and still accomplish the work of government?
  • Quick correction: Thomas Jefferson did not write the Constitution, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 did. Thomas Jefferson was in Paris at the time of its drafting. However, his writings and political philosophy did exert considerable influence on the convention. James Madison (fourth president of U.S.) is generally regarded as "The Father of the Constitution." Similarly, the Declaration of Independence was written by the Continental Congress of 1776, but Jefferson is generally credited with being its primary author. It is also important to note that the Constitution has been amended several times by several legislative bodies not connected to the Constitutional Convention (in terms of being the same people, anyway). Carry on.
  • I stand corrected, and thank you. However, still does not change the other information provided. I dont get where the  before mentioned statement can fabricate from. Also Moderate213, I feel there was less corruption to contend with and less people in others pockets. Though I wish people would realize that no matter what the answer or the solution maybe for health care, why do we seek for government control of it? Can we not at least agree that everything that government intends to do left or right always gets tainted and fails to be for the greater good. Unintended consequences are numerous and some reason we seek for these men to make more decisions based on lies and corruption, but we live with it. Cause itll change next time. No matter who we elect it seems never ending. But back to the the post. I stand corrected and thank you. But as far as the above mentioned that created my post, How is it that the founders (a generalized term) can be for a strong central goevernment?
  • I also thank you for backing your correction with correct information, not an internet assualt. Thank you again.
    Did I mix the declaration with constitution?
  • There were no governments as strong or as centralized as the US government is today when Washington said that. He was thinking of some kind of self-defeating Athenian League kind of thing. He could never have imagined what modern technology could do to bring every aspect of the life of the citizenry under the watchful eye and ambit of government. There is no way in Hell he would argue that the government we have today is too weak and that represents a danger to the Republic.
  • In what ways is the federal government too strong? I live in a Northeastern state. Our laws are very different from the laws in, say, Florida. Generally, the only interaction I have with the federal government is on April 15 and when I need to renew my passport. And, OK, whenever I fly on an airplane. I would agree that the DHS is an example of Federal overreach.
  • Go and try to take $5,000 of your own money out of your own bank account. Heck, go and take out $1,000 on five consecutive days. Watch what happens.
  •  Ha! Unfortunately I've never been in the position of having $5,000 in one account that I could remove at once.
    So, what happens?
  • GrayFlannelDwarf 5 hours ago
    "I never imagined that five men in black robes might hand Confederates a victory through the Supreme Court that they could not win at the original Constitutional Convention nor later on the battlefields of the Civil War."
    Right -- because the rebel yell on battlefields of the Civil War was actually "No forced participation in interstate commerce!"
    I have no idea how the Court will rule tomorrow, but the near-hysteria that has been the run up to the decision is priceless.
  • and I thought Fallow's piece from earlier this week ( his "coup" post) set the standard in hyperventilating.
    Perriello has put forth a serious contender.   In his mind    -- setting any limits on Congress's use of the Commerce clause is the equivalent of :    "..... a tiny, powerless central government"good grief  
  • GrayFlannelDwarf 5 hours ago
    How is the Supreme Court's ruling on the Montana campaign finance case a victory for a loosely tied together confederation?
    If anything, the opposite outcome would have been a "confederate" win.
    After all -- the underlying premise is that the First Amendment is incorporated  and thus applies to the states equally (or at least near equally) as it does to the Federal Government.
    A ruling leaving the Montana statute intact would have permitted a greater patchwork of campaign finance laws -- each state having more or less restrictions as it saw fit -- that certainly seems more "confederate."
  • Because under a confederacy corporate rights still trump states' rights.
  • SHut up, you're messing with his (absurd) narrative!
  •  What a poorly debated article... if the government had positioned ACA as a tax, we wouldn't be having this discussion (why the entitlements mentioned are not a valid comparison).  If the government had pushed single payer, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  Instead, the government got cute and started mandating that private citizens buy a product.  The argument that it's simply a financing scheme is spurious at best - wouldn't the same be true of food, family planning for wills and trusts, the casket industry?  So where is the limit, exactly, of the commerce clause in a world with virtual everything?
    I believe in national health care co-existing as an option along with private insurance.  But to paint with the large brush that the commerce clause is an open-ended trump card goes rather against the Constitution I know.  Any sane person would take the founders and put them into today's world and say that the scope of federal power has far exceeded it's original definition - this is not a bad thing as our world has changed and our government with it.  But please don't say we are going back to the Articles of Confederation...  nothing but political hyperbole.
  • No one has claimed that the Commerce Clause is open ended.  What limits use of the Commerce Clause in a world with virtual everything (whatever that is)?  Common sense - you should try it sometime rather than being hyperbolic.
  • This is not correct. It's been the left-wing's opinion that basically anything that did not run afoul of a specific Constitutional protection was OK. Heck, Lopez was a5-4 decision, and it does run afoul of a specific Constitutional protection
  •  Read the opinion.
  • "So where is the limit, exactly, of the commerce clause in a world with virtual everything?"
    See, Lopez ( ) and Morrison ( )
  • Thanks for the link:
    "The Court essentially concluded that in no way was the carrying of
    handguns a commercial activity or even related to any sort of economic
    enterprise, even under the most extravagant definitions."
    "It is important to note that although the ruling stopped a decades-long
    trend of inclusiveness under the commerce clause, it did not reverse any
    past ruling about the meaning of the clause."
    Glad that's cleared up... so now that we are clear on handguns not being a commercial activity,  I will take your comment about my "virtual everything" as a fair retort.   Your above link indicated that
    for >50 years, the powers of the commerce clause had only been
    expanded til Lopez, and that Lopez was uniquely defined.  So let's just
    agree that the scope of the commerce clause has vastly expanded in our
    Let's see how the court rules tomorrow in forcing someone to enter into a private contract for a private good/service under the guise of the commerce clause.  And if struck down, perhaps this will lead to a more honest discussion of what health care should be in our nation, how costs can be managed and service provided.  Something everyone can agree on is we spend way more per person on health care than any other nation in the world ( with little results in overall health, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.
  • RoughAcres 5 hours ago
    "Elsewhere on the Web" is shorthand for "propaganda presented as 'news' by special interests such as Bank of America or on corporate sites like Newsmax."
    Forewarned is forearmed.
  • DuckingAndCovering 5 hours ago
    Is saying.
    That the Feds can't create a national healthcare program.
    They can. They already have. Two of them, in fact. It is not a challenge to the general notion of the Federal government as "strong and central" as opposed to "weak and divided" to say that the otherwise general omnipotence of the Federal government stops at forcing citizens to enter into unwanted commercial transactions with other private citizens. It is a fundamentally different thing to say "If you want to enter into the stream of commerce, you will do so according to our rules" than to say "You will enter into the stream of commerce, want to or not, and you will do it according to our rules."
    Once you realize that, all your melodramatic nonsense about modern-day Confederates coming to destroy the Union isn't just refuted, it's irrelevant.
  • Cool, so that means that we can have universal single-payer health care?  Sign me up.
  • We absolutely could and it would be totally constitutional. At least, for most current understandings of what comprises totally constitutional.
  • Yes, all you need is the votes in Congress, and the President's signature. Heck, get enough votes in Congress, and you don't even need the President's signature!
    Happy to help.
  • Check this out:  10 Things You Would Miss About Obamacare
    1) Access to health insurance for 30 million Americans and lower premiums. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will find coverage under the law. Middle-class families who buy health care coverage through the exchanges will be eligible for refundable and advanceable premium credits and cost-sharing subsidies to ensure that the coverage they have
    is affordable.
    2) The ability of businesses and individuals to purchase comprehensive coverage from a regulated marketplace. The law creates new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to compare and purchase comprehensive coverage. Insurers will have to meet quality measures to ensure that Americans can access comprehensive coverage when they need it.
    3) Insurers’ inability to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Beginning in 2014, insurers can no longer deny insurance to families or individuals with pre-existing conditions. Insurers are also prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage and rescinding insurers except in cases of fraud. Insurers are already prohibited from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions.
    4) Tax credits for small businesses that offer insurance. Small employers that purchase health insurance for employees are already receiving tax credits to encourage them to continue providing coverage.
    5) Assistance for businesses that provide health benefits to early retirees. The law created a temporary reinsurance program for employers providing health insurance coverage to retirees over age 55 who are not eligible for Medicare, reimbursing employers or insurers for 80% of retiree claims. The program has offered at least $4.73 billion in reinsurance payments to more than 2,800 employers and other sponsors of retiree plans, with an average cumulative reimbursement per plan sponsor of approximately $189,700.
    6) Affordable health care for lower-income Americans. Obamacare extends Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty line, guaranteeing that the nation’ most vulnerable population has access to affordable, comprehensive coverage.
    7) Investments in women’s health. Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging women substantially more than men and requires insurers to offer preventive services — including contraception.
    8) Young adults’ ability to stay on their parents’ health care plans. More than 3.1 million young people have already benefited from dependent coverage, which allows children up to age 26 to remain insured on their parents’ plans.
    9) Discounts for seniors on brand-name drugs. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide a 50% discount on prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap. Seniors have already saved $3.5 billion on prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act provision.
    10) Temporary coverage for the sickest Americans. The law established temporary national high-risk pools that are providing health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical
    conditions who cannot find insurance on the individual market. In 2014, they will be able to enroll in insurance through the exchanges. 67,482 individuals have already benefited from the program.
  • Holy Thread High-jackers, Batman! That's entirely irrelevant to any point made by the article or my response. I mean, absolutely positively 100% irrelevant. That's artistry, that is.
  • Hosstale 4 hours ago
    The men who drafted the US Constitution, and the voters who chose the delegates to the ratifying conventions explicitly rejected a unitary national state. Yet for most of the 20th century, Liberals and Progressives have been advocating that the Constitution be (re)interpreted as creating such a National  State.  
    Mr. Perriello, why don't you honestly come out and advocate a forthrightly nationalist constitution  instead of hiding behind the federalism of the Founders?
  • Because he has no interest in being honest.
  • Victoria Granda 4 hours ago
    I don't think you've ever heard of the 10th Amendment. Or read how specifically limited the powers of the federal government are in the Constitution.The power to force citizens to buy a product is most definitely not there. This is the most ridiculous, poorly argued article on the healthcare debate I have thus seen.
  • The "powers" in the Constitution are not limited. They are incredibly expansive and far-reaching.
    "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for
    carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by
    this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department
    or Officer thereof."
    "The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all
    needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property
    belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so
    construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular
    "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which
    shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be
    made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the
    Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the
    Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
    I have discovered over the decades that conservatives are "reading impaired." From Scalia to McConnell to Boehner to yard and garden variety rightwingers at a county fair, none of the them can read ALL of the words in the Constitution.
  •  So, you must think that the authors of the Federalist Papers were just blowing smoke up their readers asses when they asserted that the powers of the proposed federal government were to be limited and enumerated?
  • Victoria Granda 4 hours ago
    Oh and he deliberately misquotes the Constitution. It says "provide for common national defense and PROMOTE the general welfare." Very different than "provide...the general welfare."
  • The Preamble reads:
    We the People of the United
    States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure
    domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general
    Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
    ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    Section 8, where the "powers" begin reads:
    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and
    Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare
    of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform
    throughout the United States
    Provide, provide, provide by taxing and regulating and controlling and legislating and all that other stuff that actual, functional, operating governments have to do, etc.
    So . . . the USA government is "constituted" to promote and provide and secure stuff.
  • that is in the Preamble -- it goes on to list the specific powers, and notes that those that arent specifically given to the Federal government are reserved for the people and the states.     Those words matter.
    Using your justification:   there would be very, very little a congress couldn't do --- all it would have to do is say that they are doing it for "the general welfare".    
    The preamble isnt a blank check for Federal government power.  
  • Yes, there is very, very little that the Congress can't raise revenue for as long as it is justified by "General Welfare."  I mean, it's right there in Article I, Section 8.
    And that's why it's important to distinguish between whether the penalty for the individual mandate is a tax or a fine. Because if it were an explicit tax, well, Article I, Section 8 has that covered.
  •  Exactly.  Unfortunately, the mandate was not constructed as a tax, though it should have been.
  • Oh, don't get all wordy on Mr. Perriello.
  •  One also notes that the general welfare is the welfare of everybody in general.  Robbing Peter to give Paul health insurance is definitely specific not general welfare.
  • mg1313 4 hours ago
    How this article was written:
    The author was taking a shit and realized, "oh, I don't have any toilet paper". So he used some notebook paper to wipe his ass. And then he thought, "Wow, this pretty much exactly describes my opinion of the evolution of constitutional thought and how it relates to the Affordable Care Act. Let me turn it in to the Atlantic, which will publish it because I'm the CEO of CAP Action."
    True story.
  • InfinityBall 4 hours ago
    This is nothing but whining that you can't be bothered to do what the Constitution requires and pass an Amendment. It's pathetic, juvenile behavior. Grow up.
  • elperroguapo 3 hours ago
    The mandate was quite clumsy, no doubt about it.  The legal way to do it
    would be to impose a health care tax with a redeemable credit for those
    who buy in to the system.  Basically, it would make little sense not to
    claim your healthcare under such a system because you're paying for it anyway and the credit is an extra carrot.  It amounts to the same thing as the mandate, but it works within the unquestioned power of the federal government to tax and credit.
    Quite frankly, I'm not sure the mandate is legal (and I support health
    care reform) and am disappointed that it wasn't engineered to avoid this
    mess.  As for confederates vs. constitutionalists, I would agree that
    much of the current tea party/libertarian ideology trends toward
    confederacy, with the unintended consequence of actually damaging states
    rights in the citizens united case (i.e. corporatism and confederacy are not always aligned).  If you look at the recall election
    in Wisconsin for example, that fiasco was dominated by outside
    interests and money, and though the good people of Wisconsin got to pull
    their levers, the discourse was almost wholly not theirs.
  • The mandate was based on the one that was passed in Massachusetts, and proposed by Republicans (Olympia Snowe proposed the mandate amendment during committee). It's slightly more lenient than the one in MA. There is nothing unconstitutional about it, as we will see when the court does legal gymnastics to rule against the federal mandate while trying to protect the MA mandate from similar challenges. It's just politics.
  • The legislature of Massachussetts has powers, with regards to regulating the citizens of Massachussetts, that Congress does not, with regard to regulating the citizens of the United States.
  •  The MA mandate was initiated by a state.  Mandates are clearly within the constitutional power of the states.  The issue with the ACA is that mandates they are NOT within the power of the Federal government.
  • Not quite, the MA mandate required federal buy-in. Romney was quite proud of being able to convince the Bush admin to allow it. Not even republicans subscribe to the fallacy that health-care is not a federal issue, as evidenced by their repeated attempts to tax health benefits and federalize insurance purchasing.
  • Saying that a state can't do something without Federal cooperation for fiscal reasons is not the same thing as saying that a state isn't allowed to do something. MA could have made their own shiny new health care program which did not interface with the Federal ones, and the Bush administration could have gone and jumped in the lake if they didn't like it. But they didn't want to do that: they wanted it to use Medicare/Medicaid money, etc, etc. That meant they needed the Feds on board. Who pays the piper, calls the tune.
  •  States have broader police powers than the federal government. It's not even legal stretching to say that a statute is constitutional at a state level but unconstitutional at a federal level.
  • When the state is attacking a fundamental liberty it matters not what the pecking order of the state is. Unless your saying that the mandate is not a fundamental liberty issue, thus starting the legal gyrations... as I said politics.
  • Really? Have you heard of "incorporation" (with regard to Constitutional protections)? Heck, the four guaranteed votes for the mandate don't think you're right about this, as you'll see in McDonald v. Chicago
    edit: I may be screwing up who signed on with which parts of the dissent, so it's possibly some number less than four.
  •  No. The federal government's laws must be both permitted by the Constitution, and not prohibited by it. State laws must only pass the test of not being prohibited by the Constitution.
    The argument isn't that the Constitution prohibits Congress from passing a mandate. The argument is that the Constitution doesn't permit Congress to pass a mandate.
  • "The great tragedy (& the powerful irony) of the drive to centralization, as of the drive to extend the scope of government in general, is that it is mostly led by men & women of good will who will be the very first to rue & to bemoan its consequences."
    If those Americans on the Left didn't learn this lesson during the 8 lamentable years of GW Bush, when will they learn it?
  • willallen2 3 hours ago
    Among other inaccuracies, the author  implies that corporations are reliably opposed to regulation. Anyone who isn't lying or not paying attention understands quite well that large corporations often
    strongly favor regulation, in that it provides the means to errect barriers to smaller competitors. See the airline industry when it was in some ways deregulated, for instance. There were executives at major carriers calling for re-regulation into the 1990s.
    If all the inaccuracies (to be charitable) were removed from this piece, it'd be reduced to about two short paragraphs.
  • It would be more accurate to say that corporations are more opposed to regulations that aid consumers (proposed by democrats) and more favorable to regulation that aids them (proposed by republicans). Since corporations are people it only makes sense that they would have their own political party, bought and paid for.
  • You really can't be this naive. Do you really live in a world where one team wears the white hats, and the other team the black hats? Where Democrats have never been service to corporations' desire to use regulatiom to stifle competitors?
    On second thought, don't bother to respond. You have chosen your narrative, and the chances you will take the energy to change it are very small. Have a nice day.
  • Democrats are no white knights. They generally take a 50-50 approach under the guise of compromise - a bit of help for consumers, a bit of aid for corporations (please don't hurt us!). That said Republicans don't care about consumers at all, why should they? They're the party of the corporations through-n-through, people (actual people that is) are just sheep.
  • KentCDetrees 2 hours ago
    If we are going to have a system of confederation rather than federalism, it needs to cut both ways. if we can't enforce regulations on a national level, than states should be more able to restrict trade with states that refuse to enact regulations.
  • Tim_Sims 2 hours ago
    From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the Confederate States of America to theLochner-era Supreme Court, confederationists have long believed in a United States consisting of states loosely united by a small, weak central government, and they have fought for more than 230 years to prevent, undermine, and erode the Constitution."
    So called confederationists would, I'm quite certain, claim that they are upholding the constitution and that "federalists" such as Lincoln, Roosevelt, etc are the ones who have eroded it.
  • Ahem...
       "The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution."
    In cased you missed it... the Confederation failed to meet the "perpetual" goal. Most nations at the time operated under the Unitary political system. We tried a confederacy. It fell apart. We replaced it with a "________________" system.
    Answer, "Federal"
  • You miss the point. The original constitution was perfect. Everything that came after, including all the amendments 11 to 27, by definition detract from that perfection. It's like the bible. You just need to have blind faith.
  • I'm afraid YOU miss the point. The Constitution was never perfect. Indeed, it is amendable for exactly that reason.That liberals prefer to skip amendments in favor of simply saying that the Constitution is a "living" document and therefore means whatever they imagine at that moment does not negate that fact. You want the National government to have unlimited powers? Amend the Constitution to explicitly say that. Oh wait, then you'd need consensus, whereas liberals prefer a dictatorship of the intelligensia.
  • I think you need to tune up your sarcasm detector.
  • I hope he was being sarcastic. But as he didn't use the standard sarcasm notation I took what he wrote at face value.  Plus, if I read his other posts as non-sarcastic, then I made the right assumption.
  • And here all this time I was thinking it was just about one party who is doing everything in their power to make sure Obama's administration fails. We'll see just how "Constitutionalist vs Federalist" it is when the Republicans propose the exact same plan 4 years from now.
  • Eupseiphos 1 hour ago
     Tom, your calibration is off.
    It's not Constitutionalists (liberal) vs. Confederates (conservative). That battle was over in 1789. It's Constitutionalists (conservative) vs. "living" constitution (liberal). Since the early 1900s the Progressives and left in general in the country has rued the constraints on power that the Constitution imposes on the federal government. Leading Progressives like TR and Wilson were vocally anti-Constitutional, FDR proposed a new, materialist version of the Bill of Rights, Obama has talked about how he doesn't like feeling so constrained by the Constitution.
    The progressive attack against the Constitution has been primarily two-fold: i. re-write it from the bench by imagining new rights and powers that are clearly extra-Constitutional but are invented to trump the political branches, or ii. just ignore it.
    It looks like they are opening a new front, though, in anticipation of tomorrow's rulings.
  • gwatkins 1 hour ago
    Hmm..50 squabbling states with a weak central government but a strong military.  Sounds like a recipe for a military coup if you ask me.
  • Mike Richardson 52 minutes ago
    this writer is doing mental backflips.....the whole point of this article seems to be that constitutionalists are in favor of a strong federal government while conferderationists (and big mean corporations) are in favor of the opposite because that means they make more money.  But....he/she then writes "to the current Court's reversal just this week of Montana's anti-corruption campaign-finance law -- the corporatist side has won."
    the reversal of the Montana law was exactly a Constitutionalist view as he/she defined it....on state attempting to go off on it's own against a federal I guess the broad federal law was won by the confederatists....
    it's simple....if something doesn't fit your worldview it's wrong and Republicans are people are all too wierd for words
  • gwatkins 35 minutes ago
    Hmm..50 loosely united yet squabbling states with a weak central government and a strong military?  Sounds like a recipe for a military coup to me.
  • No way, no how. Not with the military we've got now. They wouldn't do it.
    Give the politicians more time to keep destroying military tradition, and anything could happen. But not for a long time.