Monthly Archives: March 2012

Did I die and go to heaven? I mean Graceland?

Okay, full disclosure . . . the story only says that, to date, these three have accepted; Texas hasn’t heard yet from Romney. But for a brief moment, when I saw this headline, my heart went a pitter-patter. You know?

Friday, Friday . . . so good to me . . .

Fridays no longer held special promise once I’d retired . . . until I began posting Friday Night Oldies (okay, they usually go up midday, but I do like the sound of ‘Friday Night’). After two years of these, I’ve had to dig pretty deep to find new songs; the greatest surprise has been how many I’ve forgotten. Perusing ‘Top 40’s’ lists by decade has been useful, but so many great ones never made it that far.

So the promise Friday now holds for me is the delight of finding that new Oldie. And this is what I found today:

George Washington did it. John Adams too.

Now that SCOTUS has finished hearing the challenges to Obamacare, we settle down to wait a few months for their opinion. (Elvis save us from the wrath of those who chant f-r-d-e-e-d-o-m-e-! at every loss if  the justices say, yeah, okay.)

The first US Supreme Court, 1790

Meanwhile, this is interesting. From friend Ed this morning:

. . . three laws, passed in 1790, 1792 and 1798 respectively . . . provide for mandates not unlike the one being considered by the Supreme Court this week . . .:

[In] 1790, the first Congress, which was packed with framers, required all ship owners to provide medical insurance for seamen; in 1798, Congress also required seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves. In 1792, Congress enacted a law mandating that all able-bodied citizens obtain a firearm. This history negates any claim that forcing the purchase of insurance or other products is unprecedented or contrary to any possible intention of the framers.

PolitiFact dug deeper into Elhauge’s claims and found evidence that mandates were approved by Congressmen who had also signed the Constitution; refuting the assertion that the laws passed despite framers’ objections:

There was no roll call for the House and Senate bills requiring health care for seamen. But on the proposal mandating the purchase of a musket, firelock or rifle as part of the larger bill to establish a uniform militia, 10 of the 14 framers whose votes were recorded endorsed the measure.Not only did mandates pass muster with the Framers in Congress, they were signed into law by George Washington and John Adams.

No fat lady yet at SCOTUS. I say Obamacare makes it.

Long busy day, just now getting to my lonely laptop – and only for a moment before I crash – to say:

I think the ACA will be upheld by the Supreme Court, and I think it can be by a stronger majority than usual. I’m guessing 7-2. If Kennedy joins the liberals, I think Roberts might do the same, and encourage the other conservatives to join as well, and make the decision stronger, closer to unanimity, something he’s always desired for major decisions. If the bill is upheld, it’s an historic decision and Roberts will also want to put his name on it.

It wins. 7-2. And Roberts votes with the majority. Holdouts might be Alito and Thomas.

Hey . . . it’s months off. If I’m wrong, nobody will remember.

Ezra Klein reads Whatever Works – or – I guessed right

. . . . earlier today, I posted this:

I’ve just begun listening to today’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court – up first is the US Solicitor General. And he is just terrible. He is so so terrible. I haven’t heard a single legal argument from him yet, it’s all defensive. He’s halting and gets a bit off track. Yikes.

Shortly afterward, I posted this:

As they say “Now I’m  no lawyer”, but it just sounded like Breyer in his questioning was actually providing some of the reasoned argument one would expect from the SG.

And now I am looking at Ezra Klein’s Twitterfeed (he writes the Wonk Blog at The Washington Post) and look what he is saying.

Oh Clarence where art thou?

I’d forgotten about this. Justice Thomas doesn’t engage in oral argument. And indeed, he didn’t ask a single question in two days.

Are the liberal justices arguing the case for the United States instead of the Solicitor General?

As they say “Now I’m  no lawyer”,  but it just sounded like Breyer in his questioning was actually providing some of the reasoned argument one would expect from the SG.

UPDATE: Sotomayor is trying – very hard – to get the SG to articulate his actual argument. The man seems to be arguing the need for health insurance, instead of presenting the US’s legal argument for the mandate. He’s doing an awful job on the mandate.

UPDATE 2: I also wish he’d stop saying “In my opinion” and “I don’t think it’s fair to say blah blah”.

Oh no, oh please no . . .

. . . please let it get better.

I’ve just begun listening to today’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court – up first is the US Solicitor General. And he is just terrible. He is so so terrible. I haven’t heard a single legal argument from him yet, it’s all defensive. He’s halting and gets a bit off track. Yikes.

I hope it gets better. If it doesn’t, the Justices are going to walk all over him and it’s going to hurt the case.

What do you call it?

In a recent comment thread here, a phrase used by blogfriend jonolan got me wondering about how we name things. Language, as we know,  has power. For instance:

Did you know that in Iraq, Iraqis speak only of The American War? Of course, we call it The Iraq War.

Re the War between the States, jonolan calls it the War of Northern Aggression. We of the North always call it The Civil War

(I’ve a friend in South Carolina who told me her mother always called it “the recent unpleasantness”. Love that!)

American Flag couture

American, in case you can't tell

The Tea Party Patriots are back in D.C., marching outside the Supreme Court. And once again, I see literally hundreds of people decked out in the American Flag. So I’m reminded of the US Flag Code and the traditionally observed rules of respect and etiquette:

The flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery of any kind

Supreme Court days

I plan to listen to as much of the oral arguments this week as I have time for. I’ve listened to a few of these before – at the Circuit Court level too – and they’re surprisingly engaging,  even for a non-lawyer. There is, in this country particularly, majesty to the law. Listening to the petitioners make  their cases and then engage with the justices in the finer points of the law and the Constitution gives one an appreciation of how it is we have, no matter our politics, remained ‘a nation of laws’ for two-plus centuries, a nation that’s chosen to be governed by the law

Today’s argument is whether the Court can even hear the case against the mandate yet, since it’s not been enacted. It’s possible they’ll shut it down for now and will return to it after the law goes into effect. Something about you can’t challenge that which does not yet exist in fact.

If, however, they decide that yes, the case can go forward – which I think they will (why else schedule three days for argument) – the meat of the argument starts tomorrow, when they actually take up the matter of the constitutionality of the law.

I think they’ll uphold it. And I think they’ll do it by better than 5-4. It could even be 7-2, with just Alito and Thomas against. Which, of course, will mean the end of freedom.


How the left blows the message war. Every. single. day.

Fluffy funnin' with fellow celebrity Karl

These days I mostly skip the ‘interview’ portion of the Sunday gasbaggery exhibitions. An interview with someone singing the company line is not something I’m inclined to waste time on . . . . however, while far from the remote, I caught the last moments of some White House talker-whose-turn-it-was with David Gregroy (known in many corners of the liberal blogosphere as ‘Fluffy’) . Here’s how it went:

GREGORY: Is the President responsible for high gas prices?

WHITE HOUSE TALKER: Well, first of all . . .

Wrong!!  Better answer? How about:

WHITE HOUSE TALKER: Of course not! First of all . . .

How hard is that?

Oh this young fella didn’t leave his brain at the door, no sirreee!

A columnist at Town Hall dot com reviews the new book by Sen. James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax. Inhofe’s not fooled by all that climate science crap, and young David, who reviews Inhofe’s masterwork, is so aboard. He agrees with most every word and remarkably adds this:

An international carbon tax program is one of the most hideous ideas forged in the minds of men.  Since all known life forms are carbon-based, it is a proposal to control all life. 

He also tells us that there are 408, four-hundred-and-eight-fer-elvis’-sakefootnotes!!!! And as we all know, footnotes!!!! mean it’s all real. I’ve seen this conflation before with conservative books . . . apparently if there are footnotes!!!! that means it’s absolutely to be treated as a scholarly work. I think a great deal was made on FOX News about how Ann Coulter”s last book had 80, eighty-fer-elvis’-sake,  footnotes!!!! (I think half were ibid’s.)

(I have a small book, much treasured, published 22 years ago, called The Next One Hundred Years by Jonathan Weiner. It’s all about that climate science and global warming stuff. It’s barely 200 pages and yet has 54 solid pages of notes and sources. That apparently makes it the bible. )

The chart is from here. Nice site – you might want to visit.

And Glenn Beck shall lead them

I’m beginning to believe that a number of our United 50 States – mostly in the South and on the ‘frontier’ of the early 1800’s – would prefer to let their Federation membership lapse.

To wit: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill Friday that demands the Federal government relinquish control of pubic lands in Utah by 2014.

If their “demands” aren’t met, will they be taking hostages I wonder?

That’s what I would do

Yup. Friday.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, The Drifters! (applause)

Rep. Allen West has it exactly right. And that is not something I’ve ever said before.

Rep. Allen West, he of my enlightened state of Florida, is a frequent target of my brethren on the left. He can get all ‘rancid right’ with the worst of them. But here’s what he wrote on his Facebook page today about the killing of Treyvon Martin:

I have sat back and allowed myself time to assess the current episode revealing itself in Sanford, Florida involving the shooting of 17-year-old Treyvon Martin. First of all, if all that has been reported is accurate, the Sanford Police Chief should be relieved of his duties due to what appears to be a mishandling of this shooting in its early stages. The US Navy SEALS identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days. The shooter, Mr Zimmerman, should have been held in custody and certainly should not be walking free, still having a concealed weapons carry permit. From my reading, it seems this young man was pursued and there was no probable cause to engage him, certainly not pursue and shoot him….against the direction of the 911 responder. Let’s all be appalled at this instance not because of race, but because a young American man has lost his life, seemingly, for no reason.  I have signed a letter supporting a DOJ investigation. I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need the responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences. This is an outrage.

Even a clock is right twice a day . . . .

Perhaps he’s hitting a few golf balls?

I sure hope George Bush is having a nice life.

Today is the 145th day of the 11th year of the War in Afghanistan.

And are we still at ‘war’ in Iraq? We invaded that country nine years ago this month, so something like 4,000 days?

$1.3 Trillion American dollars (mostly borrowed, can’t raise taxes ya’ know; this ain’t the 1940’s fer Elvis’ sake!). Watch the dollar clock here.

US military dead in Iraq – 4486.

US military dead in Afghanistan – 1914.

This is a sea change . . . kids don’t want to drive

Really. Tale a look at this chart from Ad Age.  Apparently the trend is common knowledge in the auto, advertising and marketing industries. And probably quite a few others.










No one is quite sure why, although young people themselves cite environmental concerns.  And since it’s a 30-year trend, it’s probably not because of unemployment or gas prices.

One theory – and the one that fascinates me – is that things like Skype and Facebook have given younger generations a new way to be together, without actually ‘being together.’

Another pet peeve: Gail Collins edition

Collins, who is, I believe, the Editorial Page Editor of The New York Times, needs to stand back and read her own stuff:

It’s thanks to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law that a crime-watch volunteer was not arrested after he shot an African-American teenager . . .

Do you see it? That brief sentence is the only reference to that recent crime, the only reference to its victim, in the entire column. So how does describing him as ‘African-American’ advance her point at all? It doesn’t. It’s habit, and one that journalists everywhere need to break.

Her column was about the NRA and its endless lobbying for irrational laws. It wasn’t about racism, it wasn’t about bigotry, it was entirely about the NRA and our gun laws. Linguistic categorization adds nothing to a discussion of gun laws.

And that’s what’s wrong with Collins’ column.

(Here in Florida the gun lobby was enormously influential in writing and passing the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, under which self-appointed neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman, acted legally in shooting – to death –  an unarmed kid.)


Holy hairpiece! Someone let Karl Rove out

The Wall Street Journal gave Karl Rove a bunch of pricey op-ed real estate today so he could say:

As for the killing of Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander-in-chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film “that’s the call I would have made.” For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are.

Here’s what Clinton actually said: “He [Obama] took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, `I hope that’s the call I would have made.’”

Little words mean a lot. But the king of spin knows that. That’s why he leaves them out.


Reprise of a pet peeve

Supermarket carts are too frackin’ big. Look around your local store and see how many carts are full. One in ten? Yesterday at my local, the Manager was near the entrance pretending to be glad to see the customers and pretending to be willing to hear their comments. He wasn’t getting much business, so I thought I’d make an inquiry; surely there’s no reason to clog the aisles with unnecessary oversized carts?

This would do fine

I asked why not two sizes of carts. He said we have carry baskets. I said yes you do, and they’re wonderful when I”m gathering a few lightweight things. Lightweight things. So why not two sizes of carts on wheels, I asked. And the man looked at me as though I’d asked him to undress and do an Irish jig.

There is, no doubt, some marketing study of human behavior that underlies the continuing use of the big cart, even as families have shrunk and households are increasingly composed of a single person.

I am sure they think we’ll be compelled to buy more and fill that basket. And I’m also pretty sure they’ve never done the two/three times a week supermarket shuffle.

Enough with the giant shopping carts. (I’ve posted about this before, but no one listened.)

Ready. Aim. Fire. USA! USA! USA!

How many ways can we cripple our own future . . . and how easily are we manipulated into cooperating in our own destruction, believing it to be salvation instead? Ahh . . .

A recent column by Ruth Marcus takes a look at that phenomenon with the antipathy towards the health care mandate, now headed to the Supreme Court.

Even I am surprised by the extent of the negative poll numbers. What doesn’t surprise me is that they are the result of misinformation. When the details of the health care law are polled, they do well. And when the financial benefits to taxpayers are explained . . . . well, the opposition should dissolve, but it doesn’t because the entrenched meme of government overreach has taken deep root.

The Obama administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the health-care law come early on. “As a class,” the brief advises on Page 7, “the uninsured consumed $116 billion of health-care services in 2008.”

On the next page, the brief drives the point home: “In 2008, people without insurance did not pay for 63 percent of their health-care costs.”

And that $116 billion is of course paid for by those who do have insurance – in higher premiums and in taxes.

An individual mandate was essential to make the plan work. Without that larger pool of premium-payers, there is no feasible way to require insurance companies to cover all applicants and charge the same amount, regardless of their heath status.

. . . “People don’t understand how the mandate works at all and they don’t understand why it’s there,” Kaiser’s polling director, Mollyann Brodie, told me.

Brodie suspects that it’s too late to change minds. “This law as a whole has really become a symbolic issue to people and they really aren’t open to information,” she said.

The Court may very well uphold the mandate. And we should shudder at the consequences to us if the other provisions of the bill are left in place, and the funding mechanisms stripped out.

But Congress and its corporate overlords won’t give up. The flames must continue to be fed, the people must be kept agitated. The rational path must not be taken.

Fire. Aim. Ready. As usual.

LET ME I ADD: An earlier Post story (can’t locate link) reported that employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have risen faster than incomes in every state in the union – while consistenly delivering skimpier benefits. We can certainly look forward to more of this is the mandate is struck down.

Watch. Then softly wipe that tear

You just know this is exactly how it would go

Just picked this up at Under The Mountain Bunker, a new favorite stop on the regular blogtour.

Did you ever think of this?

Sorry Ronnie, you don't make the cut

Good thing Ronald Reagan, a president nearly deified by the right, is not in office today . . . were he, and had he ever signed Grover Norquist’s ‘pledge‘, his 11 tax increases would have doomed him to Jimmy Carter territory. No statues or  monuments would have been raised in his honor.

News gathering done well

The Guardian newspaper has been ‘live-blogging’ developments as they happen in Toulouse, France, where police have named and cornered a suspect in those multiple killings.

Even a paper with the tremendous staff resources of The Guardian can only report what they know and many aspects and events are not understood at first. Details unfold over the hours, and eventually a fuller picture emerges.

Their live-blog is as good an example as I’ve ever seen of how the reporting process works, how the various elements evolve into a narrative with each bit of new information . . . in other words, it shows how it’s done (or how it should be done).  You can also see early reports – often inaccurate – become clearer over time as professionals stay with the story and push for more facts.

Worth a look if you’ve the time. (I’ve bookmarked it so I can check back and see what happens next.)

As if more evidence were needed . . .

. . . here is yer rock-solid proof. The media is librul!!!

Report? We don’t do no lousy reporting

This should be humiliating for CNBC; I wonder if they’ll even notice.

One Becky Quick, an actual host [!] on CNBC, appeared on an MSNBC panel discussing the recent ‘tell-all’ op-ed by that Goldman-Sacks guy that appeared in the New York Times. In it, he excoriated his former employer. Ms. Quick was suspicious. Here is some of what she said (from the one, the only, the exquisite Charles Pierce):

“I would feel very differently about this if it had been something that had been  leaked to a reporter for the Times, who then went out and did a lot of  confirming, and finding both sides of the story and reporting it out. I don’t  know a lot about this gentleman. I never heard of him before. I don’t know what  happened there. Taking it just as a letter itself, it seems like a disgruntled  employee.”

(Pierce notes here that she doesn’t seem to know the difference between an Op-Ed and a Letter to the Editor.) Here’s more of  Quickety-Quick’s quackery:

“To Charles’s point about how the rest of the country’s going to read this,  it’s probably true and it’s probably unfortunate, because they’re not going to  go back and look at the actual details, and back again to why was this a letter  to the editor, instead of a fully reported piece that gives you both sides* of  the story . . . . And I hate to say that this is just a  disgruntled employee, because I don’t know enough about it. I wish I knew more  about it. I wish I could tell you about what was happening on the inside.”

[Pierce speaks] Yes, if this country only had, say, a television network the sole function of  which was to, you know, report on the financial industry, we would be  much better off.

I bet she’s going to be a star.

* Dear lady, stories don’t have ‘sides’. Stories tell the story.

For my dad on March 17