These are my links for January 18th through January 22nd:
The Inaugural: Symbols Over Substance – The liberals and the conservatives in my twitter feed seemed to be listening to different speeches. The liberals were electrified with the bold stances the president was taking, gay marriage and climate change chief among them. Conservatives read it as a lot of empty platitudes about togetherness, followed by a bit of eye-poking to make it clear that anything we did together would necessarily be directed by Obama, not his opponents.I thought the speech had some great lines, like “History tells us that while these truths may be self evident, they are not self executing.” But overall, I was neither transported with joy, nor thrown into a rage. The most emotional part was simply the awareness that our nation had re-elected its first black president, a moment that was remarkable for how little his skin color mattered. We have come a long way indeed, and whether or not you supported his re-election, that is some glad knowledge.I side with the liberals on one thing: it was arguably the most liberal speech our president has given. Which is news, of a sort. But I side with the conservatives in thinking that this was largely a big yawn. The president gave a speech which maks his base happy, but entirely on symbolic grounds. He promised nothing of substance, and covered no issue which actually commits him to delivering anything. Obama is against “perpetual war”, but also wants to support democracy and “act on behalf of those who long for freedom.” He wants shorter voting lines and “a better way to welcome” immigrants. He wants children to be safe and cared for. The last is a vague hope shared by all Americans (no really–even the ones who disagree with you about stuff!) The rest are carefully phrased to offer no actual benchmarks.
The Collective Turn – The best Inaugural Addresses make an argument for something. President Obama’s second one, which surely has to rank among the best of the past half-century, makes an argument for a pragmatic and patriotic progressivism.His critics have sometimes accused him of being an outsider, but Obama wove his vision from deep strands in the nation’s past. He told an American story that began with the Declaration and then touched upon the railroad legislation, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the highway legislation, the Great Society, Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall. Turning to the present, Obama argued that America has to change its approach if it wants to continue its progress. Modern problems like globalization, technological change, widening inequality and wage stagnation compel us to take new collective measures if we’re to pursue the old goals of equality and opportunity.
Rubio Finds Support on the Right for Immigration Plan – With leaders from both parties calling on Congress to take up immigration reform this year, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been meeting with news outlets and conservative opinion-shapers to lay out his vision for a plan that would offer temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants. Those applying would have to pass background checks and other tests designed to eventually lead from permanent residency to citizenship.Though he has not yet introduced legislation, in trumpeting his sweeping proposals Rubio has seized a torch that in recent years burned several similarly ambitious Republican politicians. But in a sign of how quickly the parameters of the debate on this issue have shifted since President Obama’s re-election, prominent conservatives — many of whom were vocal in their opposition to previous similar plans — have been lavishing praise on Rubio’s ideas for reform.
CNN Poll: Do Americans agree with Obama on climate change and immigration? – By a 53%-43% margin, people questioned in the poll say that main focus of the federal government should be on developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents, rather than deporting them.That’s a switch from 2011, when by a 55%-42% margin, Americans said that deporting undocumented residents and stopping more of them from coming into the country should be the main focus of U.S policy on illegal immigration.As expected, the poll indicates a partisan divide on the issue, as well as a generational divide, with younger people saying allowing undocumented immigrants to become legal should be the top priority, and a slight plurality of those 50 and older saying the emphasis should be on deportation and border security.
Reid to lay out plans for filibuster reform – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will present colleagues with options for reforming the Senate’s filibuster rules in a Democratic caucus meeting Tuesday.Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are close to reaching a deal to speed the pace of work in the Senate, but some of the details remain unresolve
Poll: White House backed on immigration – In a turnaround from two years ago, a majority of Americans agree with the White House’s second-term plan to focus on comprehensive immigration reform that allows illegal immigrants to have a pathway to citizenship to stay in the country, according to a poll on Tuesday.Fifty-three percent of Americans want the federal government to focus on developing a plan to allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents, the CNN poll found. Forty-three percent want the federal government to focus on deporting them. That’s a dramatic reversal from two years ago, when 55 percent of Americans wanted the focus on deportation. Then, only 42 percent wanted a way for immigrants to stay here permanently.
The Loyal Opposition – Congratulations Mr. President on your second inaugural.Saying that makes some of you really enraged. I said the same on twitter shortly after his official swearing in. Several of the replies were embarrassing and atrocious. Some accused the man elected by a majority of Americans of treason. Some accused him of willfully destroying the nation.I believe the President’s policies are destructive and will harm our economy, our nation, and our sense of national self long term. I believe his policies have the effect of turning us into subjects of the government, not citizens in charge of it. Because of his expansion of the social safety net funded through class warfare, Mr. Obama’s policies will cause too many Americans’ fortunes to rise and fall with those of the government, unable to chart a course for themselves apart from government.
But I do not think the President means to do this maliciously. I do not think he is treasonous. I do not hate him. I am not outraged by it. The President has done what he set out to do. I cannot be outraged by him doing what he set out to do. I am far more outraged by the Republicans not doing what they said they would do
Is the conservative movement a mere outrage machine? – It’s Day Two of President Obama’s second term and the gloom and despondency are palpable among his opponents. There is open talk among his allies of an alleged plan to smash the Republicans and permanently render them powerless. That may be the best thing that could happen for Obama’s loyal opposition because, like the prospect of being hung at dawn, losing elections that couldn’t be lost has a way of concentrating the minds of political leaders and followers on the wrong end of the vote count. Ilusions are smashed while false promises and assumptions are exposed.Such concentration often produces victory the next time around.
Two lines that sum up Obama’s presidency – President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address was devoid of memorable lines, but for me, two of them jumped out: “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”Throughout his presidency, Obama has rhetorically wanted to establish himself as a transformational leader who was willing to tackle the nation’s tough problems, but when push came to shove, he has dodged them. This has been especially true than when it comes to dealing with the nation’s debt burden.
Paul Ryan Booed at Inauguration – Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee in the last election, was booed at President Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration today in Washington, D.C.”If things had gone differently in November, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) might have departed the Capitol on Monday as the vice president of the United States. Instead, he faced a chorus of boos as he left the building to attend President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremony,” reports the Huffington Post.
Atari U.S. operation files for bankruptcy – The U.S. operations of iconic but long-troubled video game maker Atari have filed for bankruptcy in an effort to break free from their debt-laden French parent.Atari Inc. and three of its affiliates filed petitions for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York late Sunday.Its leaders hope to break the American business free from French parent Atari S.A. and in the next few months find a buyer to take the company private. They hope to grow a modest business focused on digital and mobile platforms, according to a knowledgeable person not authorized to discuss the matter privately.
First Term: Obama Increased Debt $50,521 Per Household; More Than First 42 Presidents in 53 Terms Combined – During Barack Obama’s first term as president of the United States, the debt of the federal government increased by $5.8 trillion, which exceeds the combined debt accumulated under all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton.The new federal debt accumulated in Obama’s first term equaled approximately $50,521 for each of household in the country.On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was first inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to the U.S. Treasury. As of the close of business on Jan. 17, the last day reported by the Treasury before Obama’s second inauguration, the total debt of the federal government was $16,432,631,489,854.70.
Thus, from Obama’s first inauguration to his second, the federal government’s debt grew by $5,805,754,440,941.62.
Why Obama will be remembered as a failed president – So take a step back and what will Obama have really accomplished? A blah-economy, with unacceptable unemployment, stagnant growth and rising income inequality; a resurgent al-Qaeda, and a signature domestic accomplishment already on life-support.If that is greatness, our country is truly in trouble.
LA Times – Brown seeks to reshape California’s community colleges
Universities Bludgeon Adjuncts With Obamacare Loophole – When the Affordable Care Act passed in early 2010, many in academia—faculty and students alike—cheered on. But now that its provisions are going into effect, some of these same people are learning firsthand that Obamacare has some nasty side effects.A new piece in the Wall Street Journal reports that many colleges are cutting back on the number of hours worked by adjunct professors, in order to avoid new requirements that they provide healthcare to anyone working over 30 hours per week. This is terrible news for a lot of people; 70 percent of professors work as adjuncts and many will now have to cope with a major pay cut just as requirements that they buy their own health insurance go into effect:
Chris McMurray of Crumb and Get It does not agree with Obama Administration policies
These are my links for August 15th through August 16th:
Radford business owner declines Joe Biden’s request to stop in store– Would you say no to the Vice President?This might happen more than you think from both political parties, most businesses just don’t talk about it. The owner of “Crumb and Get It” – did.Chris McMurray’s bakery has been open only since May, barely three months.Wednesday morning, advance teams for Vice President Joe Biden walked in.
“I approached her she said Joe Biden is coming to town today,” McMurray said.
“Crumb and Get It” is a mom and pop store. Literally. Chris and his wife Kelly run the place and need all the business they can get.
McMurray said the Vice President’s entourage got to the point and made its pitch.
“She said they have selected ‘Crumb and Get It” to be his stop on his way to Blacksburg and was wondering if that was ok.”
Here’s the part that might make other business owners crazy.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime but essentially I said ‘No offense to you or the campaign but I just decline you guys coming in here. At that time she said ‘Are you sure? There’s going to be a lot of press, a lot of activity,’” McMurray said.
Why in the world would a new business owner say “no” to a photo op with the Vice President of the United States?
McMurray said it was President Obama’s recent remarks about small business and who built what.
“Very simply, ‘you didn’t build that’” McMurray said. “Speaking of small businesses and entrepreneurs all across this country and actually last night my wife was up all night. No sleep, she’s worked a full 24 hours.”
Shooting spurs heated debate on gay rights, ‘hate group’ label– The shooting of a security guard Wednesday at the Family Research Council (FRC) has spurred a torrent of heated accusations from both sides of the gay rights debate about claims that the conservative organization is a “hate group.”The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the nation’s leading opponents of same-sex marriage, told The Hill the shooting was a direct result of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s decision in 2010 to place the FRC on its list of hate groups for its rhetoric on gays.Brian Brown, the president of NOM, pointed to a recent blog post by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest gay-rights groups in the country. The post, “Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group’s Annual Conference,” called attention to the vice presidential candidate’s scheduled appearance at the FRC’s national summit next month.“Today’s attack is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end,” Brown said in a statement issued following the shooting.
“For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as ‘hateful’ and ‘bigoted.’”
Why the Doctor Can’t See You– Are you having trouble finding a doctor who will see you? If not, give it another year and a half. A doctor shortage is on its way.Most provisions of the Obama health law kick in on Jan. 1, 2014. Within the decade after that, an additional 30 million people are expected to acquire health plans—and if the economic studies are correct, they will try to double their use of the health-care system.Meanwhile, the administration never seems to tire of reminding seniors that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Its new campaign is focused on women. Thanks to health reform, they are being told, they will have access to free breast and pelvic exams and even free contraceptives. Once ObamaCare fully takes effect, all of us will be entitled to a long list of preventive services—with no deductible or copayment.Here is the problem: The health-care system can’t possibly deliver on the huge increase in demand for primary-care services. The original ObamaCare bill actually had a line item for increased doctor training. But this provision was zeroed out before passage, probably to keep down the cost of health reform. The result will be gridlock.
Take preventive care. ObamaCare says that health insurance must cover the tests and procedures recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. What would that involve? In the American Journal of Public Health (2003), scholars at Duke University calculated that arranging for and counseling patients about all those screenings would require 1,773 hours of the average primary-care physician’s time each year, or 7.4 hours per working day.
Eric Holder’s uphill battle: Huge public support for voter ID– While the Obama Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, uses its authority to block some state voter ID laws (Texas), and investigate others (Pennsylvania), a newly-released poll shows overwhelming public support for laws requiring voters to present identification before casting a ballot. That support crosses party lines, racial lines, economic lines, educational lines, and just about every other line in the electorate at large.In the survey, the Washington Post asked, “In your view, should voters in the United States be required to show official, government-issued photo identification — such as a driver’s license — when they cast ballots on election day, or shouldn’t they have to do this?” Among all adults, 74 percent said voters should present ID, versus 23 percent who said they should not. Among registered voters, the numbers were 75 percent to 23 percent.When something has the support of 75 percent of the voters, plus the approval of the Supreme Court, which by a six-to-three vote in 2008 upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, one might think the Justice Department would give up trying to stop it. So far, that’s not the case with Attorney General Holder.The Post poll found support for voter ID extends far and wide. Seventy-six percent of men support it, as do 73 percent of women.
General Motors Is Headed For Bankruptcy — Again– President Obama is proud of his bailout of General Motors. That’s good, because, if he wins a second term, he is probably going to have to bail GM out again. The company is once again losing market share, and it seems unable to develop products that are truly competitive in the U.S. market.Right now, the federal government owns 500,000,000 shares of GM, or about 26% of the company. It would need to get about $53.00/share for these to break even on the bailout, but the stock closed at only $20.21/share on Tuesday. This left the government holding $10.1 billion worth of stock, and sitting on an unrealized loss of $16.4 billion.Right now, the government’s GM stock is worth about 39% less than it was on November 17, 2010, when the company went public at $33.00/share. However, during the intervening time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen by almost 20%, so GM shares have lost 49% of their value relative to the Dow.It’s doubtful that the Obama administration would attempt to sell off the government’s massive position in GM while the stock price is falling. It would be too embarrassing politically. Accordingly, if GM shares continue to decline, it is likely that Obama would ride the stock down to zero.
The GOP’s Medicare Advantage– Predictably, Democrats went after Mitt Romney’s new running mate immediately, describing Paul Ryan as a “certifiable right-wing ideologue” whose views are “extreme” and “radical.” They focused on Medicare, warning that Republicans “would end Medicare as we know it,” making it “a voucher system” that costs seniors “thousands of dollars in health care costs.”Some Republican hand-wringers moaned. They failed to consider that Democrats were going to level these charges no matter whom Mr. Romney picked as his running mate. And they ignored the ammunition the party has to turn the issue against Democrats.For one thing, the GOP doesn’t cut Medicare spending. This fiscal year, Medicare outlays will total $503 billion. Even under the House GOP budget—considered the most parsimonious plan out there—Medicare spending would be $855 billion annually 10 years from now. That just 3% less than what President Obama proposes, hardly enough to justify Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that Republicans are “gutting Medicare.”
There Is No California– Driving across California is like going from Mississippi to Massachusetts without ever crossing a state line.Consider the disconnects: California’s combined income and sales taxes are among the nation’s highest, but the state’s deficit is still about $16 billion. It’s estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes and costly regulations, yet California wants to raise taxes even higher; its business climate already ranks near the bottom of most surveys. Its teachers are among the highest paid on average in the nation, but its public school students consistently test near the bottom of the nation in both math and science.
Why The Screwed Generation Is Turning To Paul Ryan– GOP Congressman Paul Ryan—the tireless, wonky, 42-year-old workout freak—has made history by becoming the first member of our generation to join a presidential ticket. It should come as a surprise to no one that his calling card is reforming entitlements.We hear incessantly about how members of today’s screwed generation face the prospect of less prosperous lives than those lived by their parents. But the maiden generation to stare down that gloomy prognosis was Generation X, the tiny slice of America born between about 1965 and 1980. (Ryan was born in 1970.) We were the first generation to be told we would never get Social Security or Medicare even though we would be forced to pay into these programs.When many X-ers graduated from college, stocking shelves at the Gap was considered a career choice, as jobs were few and far between amidst a major economic downturn. I won’t bore you with the horror show of the low-paying and miserable jobs I had for the first three years after college.Unfortunately, the future looks as bleak for today’s young people. No amount of coddling by their well-provided-for Boomer parents can save Generation Y and the Millennials from the dire economic conditions they face, including criminal levels of educational debt. Pensions have gone the way of the horse and buggy. You want to retire with health-care benefits, as both my professor parents did? Good luck. As the 1994 movie turned Gen-X mantra has it: Reality Bites.
Executive order from Governor Jan Brewer blocks IDs, benefits for illegal immigrants– Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday ordered state agencies to deny driver’s licenses and other public benefits to young illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under a new Obama administration policy.After the order was issued, supporters of the program and the DREAM Act took to the streets of Phoenix in protest. Video from Air15 showed the protesters carrying signs and walking down Central Avenue toward the State Capitol.In an executive order, Brewer said she was reaffirming the intent of current Arizona law denying taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification to illegalYoung illegal immigrants around the nation on Wednesday began the process of applying for federal work permits under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Americans Continue to Give Obama Low Marks on the Economy – Three months before the election, President Barack Obama gets good marks from Americans for his handling of terrorism, fair marks for education and foreign affairs, but poor marks on immigration and three big economic issues: the federal budget deficit, creating jobs, and the economy generally.
Media Refuse to Connect the Dots on Violent Leftists– So far, the media has done nothing but blame the wrong people. At the first site of violence in Colorado, ABC’s Brian Ross turns to the Tea Party because apparently that’s the only template he knows. He could not have been further from the truth.If police reports are accurate, the violence at a Conservative lobbying group in Washington DC was perpetuated by a radical leftist whose motive was purely political. He said so. He reportedly said he shot up the place because of what it stood for. It doesn’t get more clear than that. It’s like a guy going into a US Military Base yelling “Allahu Akbar” and the media still wondering what the motive is. Wait, that happened as well and the motive was ignored. “We don’t know why Major Hasan did this,” is what most media observers said.An honest media is necessary to expose the motives behind these violent leftists. No, this is not equal on both sides. Not even close.
Ryan abandons part of Ryan plan– Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s signature achievement in Congress is his plan to bring runaway federal spending, particularly the skyrocketing cost of Medicare, under control. With Ryan under Democratic fire for his Medicare proposals, columnist Charles Krauthammer suggested Ryan simply declare his plan “history” and move on. “The details of the Ryan plan have some things that don’t mesh with what Romney is running on, and are a little harder to defend,” Krauthammer said Tuesday on Fox News. “I think what Ryan has to say is, look, I proposed the plan in Congress, a congressional plan. It was rejected by the Democratic Senate and by the president. It’s now history.”Ryan is already doing that, at least in part. In his interview with Fox’s Brit Hume Tuesday, Ryan said he has abandoned his plan’s provision to take about a half-trillion dollars out of current Medicare funding in order to shore up the Medicare trust fund for the future (as opposed to the provision of Obamacare that takes about $700 billion out of Medicare to pay for health coverage for currently uncovered people). Romney’s proposal is not to take the money out at all, so Ryan has abandoned his old position and now supports Romney’s
Chicago Dream Relief in Demand – 50K Line Up in Chicago– The turnout for Wednesday’s Dream Relief workshop in Chicago was so strong that organizers began turning people away.The line of undocumented students wrapped around Navy Pier and at one point across the Chicago River to apply for deferred action to allow them, at least in the short-term, not to worry about deportation. As many as 50,000 lined up for the program, according to estimates.Following a major immigration policy change about two months ago, the Dream Relief workshop helps children who were illegally brought into the United States apply for a work permit and even a driver’s license.Five thousand people initially signed up for the workshop, and as the 9 a.m. start time came and went, the crowds kept filing toward the lake. Organizers said they would be able to provide full services for 1,500 people today and partial services to another 6,000.
The new policy announced by President Barack Obama this summer took effect Wednesday and will allow more than 75,000 young undocumented immigrants in Illinois and 1.7 million across the country the temporary right to live and work openly in the United States.
How Tommy Thompson’s win in Wisconsin changes the Senate majority fight – Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson’s narrow victory in Wisconsin’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday not only bolsters his party’s chances of winning the seat in the fall election but also betters the GOP’s chances of re-claiming the majority in the chamber this November.
In Florida, 17% Change Vote Because of Ryan VP Pick; Vote Changers by 4:3 are Drawn To Romney– 17% of registered voters in the state of Florida say they will change who they will vote for in the election for President as a result of Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as Vice President, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted statewide for WFLA-TV in Tampa.Of those who will change their vote, 57% say they are more likely to vote for Romney, 42% say they are less likely to vote for Romney. The state of Florida is one of the most important swing-states in the country. Florida’s 29 electoral votes are critical to Romney.Reaction to the Ryan pick breaks along party lines. 82% of Republicans, 91% of Tea Party members, and 86% of conservatives say the selection of Ryan is excellent or good. 57% of Democrats and 51% of liberals say the Ryan selection is bad or very bad.75% of Republicans say Ryan would be ready to step-in as President if Romney were unable to serve, compared to 28% of Democrats who say Ryan would be ready.
Cell-phone and home-phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 640 adults from the state of Florida 08/13/12. Of the adults, 590 were registered to vote. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (70% of registered voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (30% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, laptop or other electronic device.
‘Dreamers’ Line Up For Legal Status– After a lifetime of fearing deportation, being banned for legal work and fighting to stay in the country they grew up in, thousands and thousands of young undocumented immigrants could get a reprieve today as the federal government begins accepting applications for deferred action permits.Immigrants who are under the age of 31 and were brought into the country before their 16th birthdays are eligible for the permits, which will allow them to stay in the country legally for two years. According to the Migration Policy Institute, up to 1.76 million could be eligible.”I have been waiting for this day and will be in line early,” Jose Cabrera, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, told ABC’s Gina Sunseri in Houston. “I hope this means someday I can be a real citizen.”
These are my links for July 25th through July 26th:
Obamacare falling short already– The unintended, convoluted and costly consequences of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law are about to be realized. Obamacare was rushed through Congress in 2010 despite almost no one knowing what the 2,700-page law provided, apart from a vague promise to make health care more affordable and accessible.This week, the Congressional Budget Office said that, because the U.S. Supreme Court, in ruling last month to validate most of the Affordable Care Act, allowed states to opt out of the law’s expansion of Medicaid, about 3 million fewer people will end up insured than originally estimated. This is guesswork because the CBO admits no one knows how many states will opt out. We believe many, if not all, states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors will opt out.
Government Did Not Build Your Business – “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” declared President Barack Obama at a campaign stop last week in Virginia. Evidently, the president believes that economic growth and job creation are largely the result of actions taken by benevolent government agencies. But while it is certainly the case that good governance is essential, entrepreneurs engaging in voluntary cooperation coordinated through competition in free markets is what actually creates wealth and jobs. In the Virginia speech, the president also observed, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.” As parts of “this unbelievable American system” that “allowed” businesses to “thrive,” the president cited “a great teacher” and that “somebody invested in roads and bridges.” With regard to building a business, the nebulous “somebody” who “made that happen” is, of course, government.
Shifting Dynamics Favor G.O.P.– Since 2006, members of the House have faced electoral waves that swept away scores of incumbents.But the 2012 struggle for control of the House is shaping up less as a partisan surge than as a series of squalls, in which the outcome will largely depend on individual survival skills rather than a national movement.In New York, Dan Maffei, a Democrat, hopes to snag back a seat he lost two years ago, while Representative Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who won in a special election last year, is trying desperately to hang on. In California, a nonpartisan primary and an expensive member-against-member contest between two Democrats, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, have muddled the outlook in a state where Democrats had high hopes.
No Building Permits for Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage– But denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation. Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money —the government generally may not discriminate based on the contractor’s speech, see Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr (1996). It is even clearer that the government may not make decisions about how people will be allowed to use their own property based on the speaker’s past speech.And this is so even if there is no statutory right to a particular kind of building permit (and I don’t know what the rule is under Illinois law). Even if the government may deny permits to people based on various reasons, it may not deny permitsAmendment rights. It doesn’t matter if the applicant expresses speech that doesn’t share the government officials’ values, or even the values of the majority of local citizens. It doesn’t matter if the applicant’s speech is seen as “disrespect[ful]” of certainpeople’s rights to express such views without worrying that the government will deny them business permits as a result. That’s basic First Amendment law — but Alderman Moreno, Mayor Menino, and, apparently, Mayor Emanuel (if his statement is quoted in context), seem to either not know or not care about the law.
Chick-fil-A Blocked From Opening Second Chicago Store– A Chicago politician said he will block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in his ward, following anti-gay marriage remarks by the fast food chain’s president.Alderman Joe Moreno, who represents Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, plans to use his aldermanic privilege, a Chicago tradition in which City Council members defer to aldermen on local matters, to block the restaurant’s permit.”It’s a very diverse ward– economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation,” Moreno told ABCNews.com. “We’ve got thriving businesses and we want more but at the very least don’t discriminate against our LGBTQ folks.”Moreno is not alone in standing up to the fast food restaurant, whose president Dan Cathy came under scrutiny after he told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
The Battle for Ballot Integrity in Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania is, for the moment, ground zero in the battle over voter fraud. In March, Pennsylvania’s legislature enacted a law that requires identification for voting. The ACLU has sued to enjoin enforcement of the law; a trial on its lawsuit began today and is expected to last for around a week. This illustrates how low the ACLU has fallen. Voting illegally–that’s a “civil right!” But how about not having your vote canceled by the ballot of an illegal voter? Is that a civil right? Naahh.
Conservatives urge Cantor to push spending fight into 2013– House conservatives urged Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to back a stopgap spending bill that would extend into 2013 and take the issue of government funding off the table during the election and the jammed lame-duck session this fall.Cantor attended a meeting Wednesday of the conservative Republican Study Committee, where lawmakers voiced support for passing a long-term continuing resolution when federal funding runs out at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.While conservatives led a fight for deep spending cuts in a continuing resolution in 2011, they are worried that Democrats will draw them into a battle that could lead to a government shutdown in October, right before the November elections. They also want a stopgap measure to extend beyond the end of the year so that Democrats cannot use it as leverage in a broader fight over expiring tax rates and automatic spending cuts.
Pat Buchanan wants Palin to speak at convention– Echoing Jim DeMint, it’s Pat Buchanan, after Greta Van Susteren asked Wednesday night whom he’d like to speak at the Republican convention.Buchanan:”I’ll tell you who I like — your buddy and my favorite, Sarah Palin.I would say to Governor Romney at the convention: ‘Look, let’s not have a boring convention…. why don’t you bring in all the voices of the party and say ‘Look, you may not agree with this folks and that folks, but we are all united behind Governor Romney’.”
I am happy to be back from about ten days of vacation.
By the way, the Supreme Court will be NOT be announcing their ObamaCare decision this morning!
These are my links for June 13th through June 18th:
Supreme Court’s Super Mondays Don’t Serve Justice– For court watchers, the drama is becoming unbearable. With just two Mondays left on the U.S. Supreme Court’s calendar to announce opinions — June 18 and 25 — the five most important cases of the term all remain undecided.The club of Supreme Court devotees (OK, junkies) likes to think of the first Monday in October as opening day, and the last Monday in June as game seven of the World Series. But many years, the series is a dud. Most of the cases are technical and unexciting, they enter the casebooks with little fanfare, and the public barely notices. This year will be the exception that proves the rule.
Defeat of healthcare law would erode voters’ trust in Supreme Court– Every political strategist working the fall elections sees a game changer coming by the end of the month.That’s when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.The Democrats have a nuclear option in this political game if the high court throws out the healthcare law as unconstitutional.
That blowup-the-system button, not pushed since FDR’s attempt to stack the court with Democrats during the New Deal, is for Obama to use the bully pulpit of the White House, and the national stage of a presidential campaign, to launch a bitter attack on the current court as a corrupt tool of the Republican right wing.
The Folly of ObamaCare – We pay our presidents for judgment, and President Obama committed a colossal error of judgment in making health-care “reform” a centerpiece of his first term. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and regardless of how the court decides — it’s clear that Obama overreached. His attempt to achieve universal health insurance coverage is a massive feat of social engineering that, by its sweeping nature, weakens the economic recovery and antagonizes millions of Americans.
Looming health care ruling will be among Supreme Court’s most important– Winners and losers are the natural consequence of the American legal system. In the Supreme Court, five majority votes among the nine members are enough to fundamentally change lives and legacies.The high court in coming days will issue rulings in perhaps its most important appeal in a dozen years: whether the sweeping health care law championed by President Barack Obama will be tossed out as an unconstitutional exercise of congressional authority.The stakes cannot be overstated — what the justices decide on a quartet of separate questions will have immediate and long-term impact on every American, not only in the field of medicine but in vast, untold areas of “commerce.” Health care expenditures alone currently make up 18% of the U.S. economy, and the new law promises to significantly expand that share.
Five scenarios: Health care options before the justices
The Hill Poll: Voters fear US could slip into a double-dip recession– A massive majority of likely voters fear America could be slipping into a second economic downturn just four years after the Great Recession, according to a new poll for The Hill.But people remain split over which of the presidential candidates — Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — are offering the better prescription for economic health.
Walker Changes Attitudes on Public Employee Unions– The results are in, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has beaten Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the recall election. That’s in line with pre-election polling, though not the Election Day exit poll. Even before the results came in, we knew one thing, and that is that the Democrats and the public employee unions had already lost the battle of ideas over the issue that sparked the recall, Walker’s legislation to restrict the bargaining powers of public employee unions.That’s supported by a Marquette University poll showing 75 percent of Wisconsin voters favoring increases in public employees’ contributions for health care and pensions. It also showed 55 percent for limiting collective bargaining for public employees and only 41 percent opposed.
Forget Wisconsin. The Unions’ Biggest Loss Was in California– Bad news for teachers and other public-sector employees: America is more than ready to cut your pensions and benefits. While most politicos had been focusing this week on the Wisconsin recall, an election 2,100 miles away in San Jose, Calif., may be a bigger harbinger of the kind of austerity voters are developing a taste for.In this city of about a million residents an hour south of San Francisco,voters on Tuesday approved arguably the country’s boldest pension cuts. San Jose’s Democratic mayor, Chuck Reed, has been grappling with ballooning pension costs that have increased from $73 million to $245 million in the last decade. Retirement costs already consume more than 20% of the city’s general fund, which helps explain why Reed was pushing San Jose to pass Measure B,which would give voters the power to approve increases in pension benefits and give the city the power to suspend automatic 3% annual raises during a fiscal crisis. The measure would also make workers contribute half the cost of their pensions; employees currently pay $3 for every $8 the city contributes, and the city is financially responsible for any shortfalls. Also included are provisions to curb the abuse of disability benefits. It’s a tough package —and will certainly be challenged in court because it changes benefits not only for future workers, something everyone agrees is legal, but for current ones as well. Nonetheless, voters passed it by a stunning margin of 69.5% in favor, 30.4% opposed. A pension reform measure also passed in San Diego.
Romney: Obama slowed recovery to push Obamacare– In an appearance in Texas Wednesday, Mitt Romney charged that President Obama “knowingly slowed down the recovery in this country…in order to put in place Obamacare.” The president’s action, Romney said, “deserves a lot of explaining.”Speaking to an audience at USAA, an insurance and financial services company headquartered in San Antonio, Romney cited a book, “The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery,” by the liberal journalist Noam Scheiber. In the book, Scheiber discussed Obama’s thinking on the question of whether, early in his term, to focus more attention on passing a national health care law or to devote more energy to bringing about economic recovery. As Scheiber put it, Obama saw health care as a bigger long-term accomplishment. “There was a strain of messianism in Barack Obama, a determination to change the course of history,” Scheiber wrote. “And it was this determination that explained his reluctance to abandon his presidential vision.” So health care it was.”I always admired the president’s courage for recognizing that fifty years from now people would remember that all Americans had health care,” former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers told Scheiber. “And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn’t remember how fast the recovery from this recession was.”
Senator Asks DOJ to Investigate SWAT-ting Attacks on Conservative Bloggers– A number of conservative bloggers allege they have been targeted through the use of harassment tactics such as SWAT-ting (fooling 911 operators into sending emergency teams to their homes), in retaliation for posts they have written, and now Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has stepped into the matter. He has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to investigate the SWAT-ting cases to see if federal laws have been violated.”I am writing with concern regarding recent reports that several members of the community of online political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels,” Chambliss wrote in the letter.
Exit poll: Wisconsin in play in November – The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County —the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%
Rendell: Wisconsin recall a ‘dumb political fight’ for labor to pick– Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) ripped the unions and activists who charged forward in trying to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday, calling the push a political blunder.”It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker’s reelection,” Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker’s policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.
Barney Frank: Dems, unions made ‘big mistake’ in pushing for Wisconsin recall– Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) slammed unions and liberal activists for pushing to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).”I think the people on the Democratic side made a big mistake and the funding thing was a big deal,” Frank told The Hill Wednesday afternoon, alluding to Republicans’ big cash advantage in the race. “My side picked a fight they shouldn’t have picked. The recall was upsetting to people, the rerun of the election with [Democratic Milwaukee Mayor] Tom Barrett — it’s not a fight I would have picked.”
Obama frets after ‘terrifying’ recall vote– President Obama will need to double down on his efforts to keep Wisconsin safely in his column after Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) resounding victory in Tuesday’s recall election.Every Democratic presidential candidate since Walter Mondale in 1984 has won Wisconsin, but the Obama campaign “can’t view Wisconsin as being in the bank for them,” said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “They’re definitely going to have to put more effort here than they were initially planning.”Political observers say Obama remains the odds-on favorite to win Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, a sentiment reflected in exit polls showing the president leading Mitt Romney by a healthy margin.
Romney narrows gender– Mitt Romney has significantly narrowed the gender gap with President Obama despite massive Democratic attacks on the GOP over a variety of issues.As recently as April, Obama led Romney by 18 percent among women voters in a USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states. The huge advantage with women gave Obama an overall edge of 9 percent.Recent polls show Romney has sliced into that lead.