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Thursday, July 30, 2015

HILL (Clinton) Degrading: GOPers Primary Aim and Goal Continues

U. S. House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) 


This story is so important and filled with references to potential, or real, or perceived GOP dirty tricks as we head into 2016 full bore that I wanted to publish the following article from Media Matters.org (see below) in full.  I added the “paren” references to emphasize the main article key points – but nothing else has been added or taken from the article. So, take the time to read and judge for yourself the entire piece. I strongly believe this is a critically-important issue in this silly (thus far) campaign season.

The main article follows:

“Vox's Jonathan Allen suggested that House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy knew about the request to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's email practices “at least a day” before The New York Times published its botched story relying on anonymous sources that “had it wrong” according to “a top-ranking editor directly involved” with the report. 

“On July 23, the Times published a report headlined “Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use Of Email” which stated that “[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.”

"The Times has since issued two corrections, acknowledging that the referral in question was not criminal and did not specifically request an investigation into Clinton herself. They have yet to correct the piece's remaining error to indicate that the referral was actually made by only one inspector general.

“The Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column examining the problems with the error-riddled story, and acknowledged that the paper should have a discussion not only about increasing transparency, but also about its use of anonymous sources: “In my view, that must also include the rampant use of anonymous sources, and the need to slow down and employ what might seem an excess of caution before publishing a political blockbuster based on shadowy sources." According to Sullivan, “a top-ranking editor directly involved with the story explained" “We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong.”

“In a July 28 Vox article, Jonathan Allen reported that Gowdy was “fully aware” of the request to the Justice Department before the Times broke its story, and noted that “Gowdy's team has been accused of leaking something untrue to a reporter before:”

I don't know who the Times's sources are, but I do know this: My reporting suggests that House Benghazi Committee Chair Trey Gowdy was fully aware of the request to the Justice Department at least a day before the Times broke the story. If he or his staff were sources, it should have been incumbent upon the Times to check every detail with multiple unconnected sources. Gowdy's team has been accused of leaking something untrue to a reporter before.”

“Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member on the House Select Committee on Benghazi essentially suggested on MSNBC's Hardball that Republicans on the Benghazi Committee were responsible for faulty information, and has previously criticized the "reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks" a claim supported by numerous examples.” 

Note: Matt Gertz contributed to this Media Matters.org blog

Thanks for stopping by. This story will be around right up until election day 2016, bet on it... 

Monday, July 27, 2015

NRA Wrong Many Levels: They Deserve No Respect, Credibility, Plausibility

Citizens Armed and Shooting Back: No Longer Targets

 Nothing to Fear Except Unfounded Fear Itself

Face-to-Fact with a Huge Part of the Problem



This a string of Wayne LaPierre quotes are the focus of this post. He as we all know, is the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president.

These 10 quotes came a mere one week after the school shootings in Newtown, CT (Sandy Hook elementary school) in December 2012. That deadly day at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred on December 14, 2012. It was at that time when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members.  Prior to driving to the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived at the scene, Lanza took his own life by shooting himself in the head.

LaPierre in a lengthy and defiant address advocated armed officers in schools and slamming the media and violent video games and movies. Some of his best quotes follow, if we can actually call them “best”the article is here fromPolitico:

1. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
2.  “We have blood-soaked films out there, like ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Natural Born Killers’ that are aired like propaganda loops on splatter days.”
3.  “And throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.”
4.  “But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a secret service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word.”
5.  “With all the foreign aid the United State does…can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?”
6.  “Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They issue press release bragging about them. They post signs advertising them, and in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
7.  “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity they crave?”
8.  “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people through vicious and violent video games.”
9.  “We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.”
10.  “I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed officers in every single school in this nation.”

So, the question becomes, which was posed and pretty well answered from this fine article from Mother Jones. It also appeared shortly after the mass killing of all those innocent children and adults at Sandy Hook:

Do Armed Civilians Stop Mass Shooters? Actually, No.

Highlights – more at the link. Check it out:

As reported in [an earlier Mother Jones in-depth investigation] not one of 62 mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years has been stopped this way. More broadly, attempts by armed civilians to intervene in shooting rampages are rare — and are successful even more rarely. (i.e., two people who tried it in recent years were gravely wounded or killed.)

Law enforcement all across the country overwhelmingly hates the idea of armed citizens getting involved. And, so does the Army, too, even following the killings in Chattanooga, TN (posted here by me earlier).

Thanks for stopping by. The issue of “more guns, less crime” is far from over. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

After Nuclear Deal: Iran Out Telling Regional Nations They Are Not A Threat

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif 


The remarks from the Iranian FM is potentially very good news, but  I am also pretty sure the entire GOP will view it with using their other jaundiced eye of distrust and disapproval as they move toward approving, or not, the agreement deal.

This story has several good points from a Reuters report from Kuwait here, in part: 

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister called for a united front among Middle Eastern nations to fight militancy, in his first regional trip since Iran reached an agreement with world powers on the country's nuclear program - an agreement that raised fears among its Gulf Arab neighbors, saying in part: “Any threat to one country is a threat to all ... No country can solve regional problems without the help of others.” (At a news conference hosted by the Iranian embassy in Kuwait).
Further of his notes included:
1.  “[that] Iran stands behind the people in the region to fight against the threat of extremism, terrorism and sectarianism ... Our message to the regional countries is that we should fight together against this shared challenge.”
2.  Before his Gulf visit, Zarif said in a statement posted on his ministry's website late on Friday that Tehran would continue supporting its allies in Syria and Iraq to fight against militant group Islamic State.
3.  “The Iranian nation supports all oppressed nations,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier, during a visit on Sunday to Iran's Kurdistan Province adding: “If it wasn't for Iran, Erbil and Baghdad would have also fallen to the terrorists (ISIS) ... Just as we defended Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah (in Iraqi Kurdistan), if any country in the whole region is a victim of aggression, the Iranian nation will defend the oppressed.”
On the flipside, most Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf Arab states have long accused Tehran of interference in Arab affairs, alleging financial or armed support for political movements in countries including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.
But, predominantly Shi'ite Iran denies interference but says the nuclear agreement will not change its policies in the region.
Continue at the link – and I still contend this is potentially very good news – time will tell, won’t it?
Previous related stories:
“Republican Lawmakers Vow Fight to Derail Nuclear Deal:” The New York Times, July 14, 2015 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=305454&id=124821-3904278-Op7Ecwx&t=3
“A Poll: The Public Backs Nuclear Deal with Iran by 2-1 Margin:” NBC News, June 30, 2015 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=305225&id=124821-3904278-Op7Ecwx&t=4
“Overwhelming Consensus by Nuclear/Other Experts Favors Agreement with Iran:” Lobe Log Foreign Policy, July 6, 2015 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=305226&id=124821-3904278-Op7Ecwx&t=5
“Obama's Remarks on the Agreement (Transcript):” Roll Call, July 14, 2015 
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=305456&id=124821-3904278-Op7Ecwx&t=6 

“$1.4 Million Ad Targets the Agreement:” Politico, June 23, 2015 
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=305228&id=124821-3904278-Op7Ecwx&t=7

Friday, July 17, 2015

Iranian Nuclear Arms Agreement: It Must Pass All Players and Work


Those who got the deal.... thus far: Congrats...

The Key: This GOP-run Congress
(a wild-card as it were)



Thus far and related to the pending agreement being ratified by the P5+1 nations are these related articles:


1.  “Republican Lawmakers Vow Fight to Derail Nuclear Deal:” The New York Times, July 14, 2015

2.  “A Poll: The Public Backs Nuclear Deal with Iran by 2-1 Margin:” NBC News, June 30, 2015 

3.  “Overwhelming Consensus by Nuclear/Other Experts Favors Agreement with Iran:” Lobe Log Foreign Policy, July 6, 2015 

4.  “Obama's Remarks on the Agreement (Transcript):” Roll Call, July 14, 2015 

5.  “$1.4 Million Ad Targets the Agreement:” Politico, June 23, 2015

This Atlantic article raises concerns about the “Iranian Nuclear Agreement” here. The theocratic regime that rules Iran—a regime that is a committed and proficient sponsor of terrorism, according to John Kerry’s State Department—will be more powerful tomorrow than it is today, thanks to the agreement it has just negotiated with the Obama administration, America’s European allies, and two U.S. adversaries as well.

This sad conclusion is unavoidable. The lifting of crippling sanctions, which will come about as part of the nuclear deal struck in Vienna, means that at least $150 billion, a sum Barack Obama first invoked in May, will soon enough flow to Tehran. With this very large pot of money, the regime will be able to fund both domestic works and foreign adventures in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere. 

It is hard to imagine a scenario—at least in the short term—in which Hezbollah and other terror organizations on the Iranian payroll don’t see a windfall from the agreement. This is a bad development in particular for the people of Syria. Iran, as the Assad regime’s funder, protector, and supplier of weapons, foot soldiers, and strategists, is playing a crucial role in the destruction of Syria. Now Syrians will see their oppressor become wealthier and gain international legitimacy (legitimacy not just for Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, which this deal will leave in place).

Here is a bit of what the State Department says about Iran’s role in what might be the world’s most awful war: “In 2014, Iran continued to provide arms, financing, training, and the facilitation of primarily Iraqi Shia and Afghan fighters to support the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of at least 191,000 people in Syria.”

And yet the deal, though representing a morally dubious compromise with a terror-supporting theocracy, might be, from the perspective of U.S. national security, a practical necessity.
Israel Reactions – all over the angry spectrum – samples:

Naftali Bennett, a member of Israel's Inner Security Cabinet, said the nuclear deal with Iran marked 'a new dark and sinister era for the world.  Speaking to CNN's Chris Cuomo, Bennett said in part that “… 20 years down, if a nuclear bomb explodes in London or New York, we'll know that we can trace it down to July 14, 2015. We're preparing for everything we need to do to defend ourselves.”  

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal “… a historic surrender by the West to the axis of evil headed by Iran.” She went on to say that “… Israel would act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified.”  That is a clear threat to try to use Israeli influence to block the agreement in the Republican-controlled Congress. (My insert: Which would be a very bad move that we do not need – keep the politics out I underscore).
After long, fractious negotiations, world powers and Iran struck the historic deal earlier today - an agreement aimed at averting the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.

Politics in Play – samples across the board as it were:

“It is a possible death sentence for Israel. This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step I've ever seen in the history of watching the Mideast.” ~ Senator and Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 

Graham further added: “Barack Obama and John Kerry have been dangerously naive about the Mideast in general. They've taken it to a new level and any senator who votes for this is voting for a nuclear arms race in the Mideast, voting to give the largest state sponsor of terrorism $18 billion.”

GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said Obama had “… abandoned his own goals and the deal would likely fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.” 

John Kerry for his part said he does not expect it to be definitively rejected, telling reporters: “I really don't believe that people will turn their backs on an agreement which has such extraordinary steps in it with respect to Iran's program as well as access and verification.”

Note: Iran is not likely to receive many of the benefits from the lifting of sanctions until next year because of the need to ratify the deal and verify its implementation.

Iranian Stance:

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, their representative. The U.S. and Iran are two countries that have been bitter enemies since 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.  Mr. Zarif said, in part: “I believe this is an historic moment. Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope. Let's build on that.” (Note: Zarif was educated in the U.S. and knows us and our ways quite well).

This from one conservative Iranian Lawmaker, Alireza Zakani: “Celebrating too early can send a bad signal to the enemy.” (Quote in Fars News agency).

From Syria:  

Iran was congratulated by Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad, who has been backed by Tehran throughout his country's four-year conflict, who said in part: “… the coming days will witness a strengthening of the constructive role played by Iran in supporting the rights of nations.” (Part from his Facebook page). 


HOPE FOR THE WORLD OR LICENCE TO KILL: 8 KEY POINTS IN THE DEAL: 

  1. Billions of dollars in sanctions imposed by the United States, the EU and the UN will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb. 
  2. Iran retains right to conduct research into enriching uranium for 10 years, without stockpiling it. 
  3. Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and get rid of 98 per cent of its stockpile of uranium. 
  4. Iran agrees to continuation of a UN arms embargo on the country for up to five more years. 
  5. Similar condition put on UN restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran. 
  6. UN inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties. 
  7. However, access isn't guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition critics will say gives Tehran time to cover up any illicit activity. 
  8. West says Iran had accepted a 'snapback' mechanism, under which some sanctions could be reinstated in 65 days if it violated the deal.
Thanks for stopping … now we hope for the best while keeping this in mind vis-à-vis the GOP now in charge of Congress: Expect their very worst.

Prior to this agreement article here – good reading – from the Economist.

Finally, this from President Obama’s - his veto threat – from PBS/News Hour seen today here via this YouTube clip:


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Same Sex Marriage is Lawful: GOP Pushes Bible Fear and Panic Button

Slap Single Moms, i.e., War Widows Who Never Remarried But Raised Children
(No single GOP Moms, eh)

Just Stand Against Other People's Rights

Case in Point Captured Precisely


Of all the sour grapes conservatives are chewing over the same-sex marriage ruling, perhaps Ross Douthat’s was the sourest grapes of all. 

While other conservatives moved on to incoherent babbling about “religious liberty,” Douthat used his New York Times column to dig his heels into the argument soundly rejected by Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges: that same-sex marriage is somehow an assault on traditional marriage.

Justice Kennedy argued that the case for same-sex marriage “strengthened, not weakened the institution of marriage by affirming that it upholds the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”

Douthat, however, remains skeptical, complaining that “approval of divorce, premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock childbearing” is on the rise and that younger Americans, in particular, take “a more relaxed perspective, in which wedlock is malleable and optional, one way among many to love, live, rear kids — or not.” This sense that marriage is optional offends Douthat greatly, as he sees it as an immoral shunning of duty.

This argument, that same-sex marriage somehow undermines “traditional” marriage, never really made sense to many Americans, for good reason. Since conservatives would rarely define what they meant by “traditional”— saying that it’s about a man and a woman and declining to elaborate beyond that — it ended up sounding like they were saying that if gay people were allowed to marry, then straight people would all get divorced or something. This makes conservatives sound like idiots and ended up backfiring on them, helping many fence-sitters to figure if that’s the best they’ve got, then they must have nothing.

In reality, however, there was a subterranean argument that actually is logical and makes perfect sense. It was never just about man-woman marriages. The tradition that is disappearing is the belief that marriage is a duty, especially for women. 

As Douthat argues, Americans are rejecting “the old rules, its own hopes of joy and happiness to chase.” Douthat isn’t wrong on the facts, even if he’s wrong on his assessment of them.  

Continue the story here ...

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 4, 1776 - July 4, 2015: 239 Years for a Young Democracy



Those images and a lot more in between led to this and much more history since:

The American Revolution (1775-1783) is also known as the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. War of Independence. 

The conflict arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. Skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 kicked off the armed conflict, and by the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence.

France entered the American Revolution on the side of the colonists in 1778, turning what had essentially been a civil war into an international conflict. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783. 

By June 1776, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, a growing majority of the colonists had come to favor independence from Britain.

On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence, drafted by a five-man committee including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams but written mainly by Thomas Jefferson (later 3rd President of the United States under the Constitution which would be ratified on June 21, 1788 (official date).  

That all became effective when Geo. Washington was sworn in as the First President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789, and in the eyes of the world ever since we became and are The United States of America. 



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Paul-Bundy 2016: Hell, Why Not — Rand Paul Gets Policy Outline

Paul Issues Statement After Confab With Bundy at Eureka Casino in Mesquite, NV

Cliven Bundy Seen Here (left) in 2014 Photo

(Dateline: 2014):  The latest right-wing media poster-victim, Cliven Bundy, is just the latest in a long line of desert dwellers who thinks he or she should not have to follow the law and has a God-given right to unlimited use of public resources, in this case, Rangeland and not pay a penny per se.  
Bundy has not paid grazing fees in close to 20 years, while the federal government has, with painful stupid moves, tried to somehow deal with him. 
Bundy also has faced restrictions because he continued to graze cattle on a slice of public land reserved for the endangered desert tortoise.  He was invited to talk to Sean Hannity (of course on FOX) about the “standoff. More here on that.   
Now Rand Paul pandering to Bundy for what a nice donation? Short 6-minute clip here - FYI from MSNBC:
Bundy is now Rand Paul policy advisor and "race relations guru? Sure seems like it. Related here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Anti-EPA (5-4): Clean Air (cough); Safe Water (barf); Healthy Food (gag)

My vote (for what its worth)

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Obama administration’s landmark air quality rule ruling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not properly consider the costs of the regulation. (Link to story is here from The Hill).
In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that the EPA should have taken into account the costs to utilities and others in the power sector before even deciding whether to set limits for the toxic air pollutants it regulated in 2011.
The case, Michigan v. EPA (case in .pdf for is here) centers on the EPA’s first limits on mercury, arsenic and acid gases emitted by coal-fired power plants, known as mercury and air toxics (MATS).

Opponents, including the National Federation of Independent Business, say it's among the costliest regulations ever issued.
The EPA estimated its rule, which took effect for some plants in April, would cost $9.6 billion, produce between $37 billion and $90 billion in benefits and prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma cases annually. 
The EPA concluded that its regulatory impact analysis should have “no bearing on” the determination of whether regulations are appropriate, as set forth in the Clean Air Act.  
In the majority ruling, Justice Scalia concluded that the EPA “unreasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act” when it decided not to consider industry compliance costs and whether regulating the pollutants is “appropriate and necessary.” While the agency is afforded a certain level of power to interpret the law, the court wrote, “EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants.”
Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy joined Scalia in overturning the rule.
Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Bader-Ginsburg sided with the EPA, with Justice Kagan writing for the minority  saying in part that the “EPA properly considered costs at a later stage in the regulation, something that it has done in other rules and that the courts have allowed.” Further adding: “The majority’s decision that EPA cannot take the same approach here — its micromanagement of EPA’s rule making, based on little more than the word ‘appropriate’ — runs counter to Congress’s allocation of authority between the Agency and the courts.”
The EPA said it is reviewing the decision and will decide any next steps — including re-doing the regulation — once that process is complete.
My view: I ask the 5-4 (conservatives): How much is your air, food, and water worth to you – that is to ensure it is clean and safe to consume. Please do not ask your big business buddies, either. We already know that their profits outweigh even common sense. 

Also, I wonder: is the high court's water bottled and shipped in? Is their food triple checked. Are their air fresheners all working perfectly? Just asking.

Tic toc, tic toc.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Health Care and Marriage Rights: Matter of Law Hopefully Forever

Now it's the law, too (about time)

Yeah, seriously

The most-important question for all Americans


Two biggies as they say. Two critically-important USSC rulings - both good and both hopefully will be settle law (for how long, we'll have to wait and see - the GOP is not about to give up - but they should).

King v. Burwell: Chaos, Pain, and Agony Adverted

UPDATED (June 25, 2015): USSC says, 6-3, the Federal subsidies at state levels are okay – will stand. 

Chief Justice John Roberts remarks for the 6-3 majority in part - (my emphasis added):  “In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined —'to say what the law is … that is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

Recap as it were:  King v. Burwell was and remains a strong power ideologically-charged case for the GOP-Conservatives whose real-world implications were much more serious than political gain indicated during the process. Many GO-Conservatives argued against the ACA have undercut their argument in the past, showing the weakness of their own case. (See related link below).

Now it is high time that GOP-Conservatives stop playing political games with the livelihood of 10 of millions of Americans about health care and instead pitch in and help make it work. The well-being and financial stability of all Americans are much more important that partisan politics. But try telling that to the GOP.

To them political points along with more Congressional power is their only aim, and they have the unmitigated gall to say “we support the American people” practically in every speech and sound bite while in Congress. If gutting this law, which is working fine now by all accounts, is standing for the American people, and for many who now have affordable health care for the first times in their lives, then I would hate to see them “stand against the public.”

The other biggie: Gay marriage passes, just barely (another close 5-4): (emphases are mine)

Boy when a 5-4 ruling goes the GOP’s way it’s all yippee, Wahoo, drinks on me boys, but when a decision goes the other way – ouch … pass the crying towels and then work to find another way to repeal health care or gay rights, or hell even before voting rights gone: 5-4 Yippee for voter ID tough laws and other road blocks, but a 5-4 to protect the right equally to marry … hang the 5-4 court.

The 5-4 majority ruled that preventing same-sex people from marrying violated their constitutional right to due process under the 14th Amendment and that the states were unable to put forth a compelling reason to withhold that right from people, and was written by Justice Kennedy who said in part that not a majority

“… would be to misunderstand these men and women by saying they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” (Amen to that statement Mr. Justice Kennedy).

Now the other end of a 5-4 spectrum from Chief Justice John Roberts who read a stinging dissent from the bench, as Kennedy sat beside him, saying in part:

“Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

Then the Chief Justice told same-sex couples they could “celebrate today’s decision,” even though he disagreed with it so strongly, adding: “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

(So, why did the case get to the high court in the first place, Mr. Chief Justice, and, isn’t the 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868) as Justice Kennedy cited it part of the Constitution – which is equal justice under law – is that not now not true?).

At this point how about Rick Perry moment: “Oops.”

Related:
1.  The ACA bill passed and was signed into law in March 2010 without one single Republican vote of support.
2.  It has been a focus of GOP-Conservative outrage ever since with nearly 60 votes in congress to repeal it – drive a stake through it – all failed.
3.  In 2012, the Supreme Court first upheld the central provision of the law requiring Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty, in a close 5-4 decision.

GOP Myths that have proven to be just that: Mythical (all links from Media Matters):    

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who's on First, What's on Second, I Don't Know's on Third: WTF

Here is the early GOP line-up. Good luck. I am trying to keep up.
(But about to give up

Perhaps one of the most famous baseball comedy acts to ever take place included the title of this post - it followed the humorous exchange between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in 1945 - it never gets old.

Now we are in the early stages of the 2016 campaign with a different version of "Who's on First," that is more apropos to best be  labeled not "Who's on First" but rather who is first and that too is a matter of serious conjecture.

This is a very good rundown from the NY Times here. It is quite long and extensive and pretty comprehensive even at this early stage of our public disgust (my hunch).

Check it out and get a score card or one of those famous Karl Rove easels like this one. Better have plenty of chalk and erasers on hand - you're gonna need plenty. 

Added for humor about a serious topic (natch on Fox, too)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Many in Congress? Easy Peasy: 535 (House: 435 and Senate: 100)



Okay a simpler question: How many Weasels are in Congress ... not so easy and since I do not have an exact count, I'd have to say: All those who don't agree with Rep. McGovern and his great analogy above. 

Why is that, do you suppose? Especially in light of the fact that members of Congress always talk about being "a responsible citizen, or being held accountable for one's actions, etc., or standing up like a man (or woman) and taking the flack or medicine for one's decisions. Isn't that what government service is supposed to be about? I think so. They even talk about holding the President accountable. 

So, why do members of congress duck the obvious easy question: "Why not vote for or against more war and be held accountable yourself?"

Oh, that's too easy: They don't want to be blamed later for the proverbial shït hitting the proverbial fan when war turns sour as is often the case. That might cause a bit of turmoil for them in their reelection strategy don't cha' think? They seem to love to blame others for their errors and mistakes and quirks, but not them - may I suggest a glance in the nearest mirror and learn how to spell hypocrite.

It is funny, but not in a "ha-ha" funny kind of way how they preach to the public about accountability and being responsible and such, yet they duck on the most, perhaps ultimate most-critical vote they would ever take while in office: "Yes or no to take the country to war and if so why, and if no, why not."

That's wasn't too hard now was it?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gun Rights: Open Carry — With or Without Permit and Consequences

What are gun nuts afraid of? Oh yeah, losing their guns 

Texas Now in the Green Zone (as it were)
(Handguns in plain view in belt or shoulder holsters in public)

Shot up police car in Dallas (story below)

June 13, 2015: From Texas with their wide-open carry mentality this situation: 

DALLAS (AP) — Multiple gunmen toting automatic weapons opened fire outside Dallas Police HQ before fleeing in what witnesses described as an armored van. Police had conflicting accounts to immediately ID how many shooters there were or the motive. No injuries were reported. The suspects parked in front of the building located south of downtown and began firing.  One suspect driving said he blames police for losing custody of his son. Gunmen also said explosives were in the van and it appeared the van was outfitted with gun ports on the sides. SWAT was on the scene.

Updated (a few hours after incident began):  A police sniper shot a cornered suspect, self-identified as James Boulware.  Authorities were checking Saturday to see if he was alive or dead. Investigators also found a package containing pipe bombs near the HQ building and the suspect told police negotiators that he had “C-4” explosives in the van. The police were using a camera-equipped robot to inspect the van and to try to determine if the suspect was alive or dead. Investigators believe the man acted alone, even though early witness reports suggested there could have been as many as four attackers, but the suspect apparently moved quickly during the attack, which may have given the impression that others were involved. Cellphone video shot from a balcony or roof near the HQ building showed the suspect's dark-colored van ram a squad car as gunshots ring out. Nobody except for the suspect was shot or injured during the hours-long confrontation.

Open carry laws - gun rights taken to the absurdity - with more aftermath like this. 

More guns do not mean more safety - it means more shooting like this ... yes, one man, but he was heavy armed it seems, but just carrying out his rights against government, or to "defend" and protect himself against what, I ask? 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

More on ACA Under Fire: Will USSC Take Away 8 Millions Health Care

United States Supreme Court: The Marble Palace

Should be the American Standard


As we anxiously await the high court's ruling on ACA tax credit (health care subsidies) the King v. Burwell case, I wanted to provide more details how we go here, more of less in layman's terms. Here goes.  

Quick review of King v. Burwell basics:  To ensure that health insurance options were affordable for everyone, the ACA made it possible for low- and middle-income households to qualify for tax credits. The way the law was intended to work, anyone with low enough income could qualify for tax credits, whether they signed up through the federal exchange or one run by their state. In 2015, 87% (7.5 million) of the people who signed up for Obamacare on Healthcare.gov were eligible for tax credits. But about five years ago, some people 
pointed out a tiny flaw in the way the new law was written -- it says that tax-credit subsidies can only be used by consumers using an insurance marketplace that was “established by the state.”
In his lawsuit, King (name used for the 4 plaintiffs) argues that those four little words make it illegal to offer tax credits to anyone who is enrolled in Obamacare through Healthcare.gov -- the marketplace established not by states but by the federal government.
Who are the 4 plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell and why do they have standing before the high court?  In February 2015, The Wall Street Journal and Mother Jones investigated the four plaintiffs and reported this:
1.  Two of the plaintiffs were Vietnam War veterans, who would be eligible for free care.
2.  Another plaintiff provided the court with a motel address, which was used to calculate the cost of insurance, as well as the amount of subsidies; a different address might result in different amounts that may cause her not to have standing.
3.  The fourth plaintiff stated that she made $10,000 per year as a substitute teacher, an income low enough to be exempt from the individual mandate, although the Competitive Enterprise Institute suggested that she might have additional income from other work.
The investigations also suggested that some plaintiffs may lack standing because the cheapest available subsidized insurance was over 8% of their income, making them exempt from the individual mandate.
Related: More detailed outline of the components leading up to King v. Burwell here at Wikipedia – pretty good rundown overall, and here from Families, USA (also good site).
Original post from here: Health care, dating back to many presidents (even Teddy Roosevelt in 1912) and long before Mr. Obama came into office with the ACA in mind have believed and said and advocated for health care across the nation that says in one simple message: “… health care is a right, not a privilege.” 

Most Americans, I believe, feel that same way … yet, the GOP will chime in with their view: “Yeah, but only for those who can afford it.” That’s the rub even more so today and the GOP fights tooth and nail to repeal, overturn, defund, trash, or otherwise get rid of the ACA (which they have labeled “Obama-care” and which the President is proud of that label and so am I) anyway possible.

Now once again the ACA is before the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell which will decide in essence the fate of the ACA based on 4-words – some say a drafting grammatical error in the law. Those 4 words in the law under fire are in this rundown from Health Affairs.org:

Those 4 words in the law state simply … [whether] “established by the state” will render low-income residents of states that have not created their own insurance exchanges but participate in federal exchanges are ineligible for federal tax credits.

That is pretty easy to understand, one presumes – but this 5-4 court is famous or infamous depending on your view for going against the common-sense grain as it were.

If case indeed turns out to be the law, then millions of middle-class families will be unable to afford coverage, plus residents of the affected states (some 34 or so to date) that already rely on federal exchanges will pay billions to the IRS for the benefit of those living elsewhere, premiums in those exchanges will rise as enrollments of healthy individuals drop, and the ACA will be unable to achieve its undisputed core purpose of health insurance for all Americans coverage at decent rates for everyone who needs coverage.

Most of the Justices already knew where they stood, which forced plaintiff’s counsel Michael Carvin – who spoke first – to hear answers from the bench more often than he was asked actual questions.  

The Court’s willingness to listen more increased by the time Solicitor General Donald Verrilli took the podium on behalf of the government. He proved himself to be an organized and articulate presenter. The only jurists not revealing their positions were Justice Kennedy, who challenged both lawyers on several points. Chief Justice Roberts said little except to maintain order and decorum. Justice Thomas, who famously refrains from participating in oral argument, but usually votes with Justice Scalia maintained his track record.

Both lawyers and the Court seemed to understand the ACA much better now than when NFIB v. Sebelius was argued in 2012, before most provisions of the law had even taken effect.

Yet the potential effects of the current case on the health care system were not emphasized, including the key issue of whether federal exchanges denied tax subsidies would collapse from adverse selection. Instead, the arguments predictably focused on two related inquiries:

First: Can the four words at issue be reconciled with the rest of the ACA? 

Second: Should Congress be forced to clean up its own mess? 

These are both legitimate questions for our nation’s highest court, which is responsible for maintaining the basic framework of government set forth in the Constitution.

Most court watchers predict (with fingers crossed I presume) that the Justices will reach a final decision (hopefully not another 5-4 against) in the case by triangulating between their answers to each of those two inquires. Even a 5-4 to keep the law in tact would surprise many.

I would love to see a 9-0 to keep the law intact and simple mandate to congress to change those 4 words to clearly state the intent. For goodness sake this time call in a grammar and sentence structure PhD to give final blessing (my weak attempt at humor).  

Stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the President’s remarks seen below. They are worthwhile – too bad the GOP sewed their ears shut. But, as Mr. Obama says and I like: “The critics ignore the reality.” Yes, they have. 

(Note: President is introduced at the 18:15 mark. His remarks follow at 20:00): 



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