Blog Archives

The Supreme Court is one of the best reasons to re-elect Obama:

 

Given the fact that probably three Supreme Court justices will retire in the next presidential term, we should think about who the elected leader of the country will nominate to fill the jobs. Right now there is a small tip toward conservative thinking on the SCOTUS, but if Romney is elected the right wing could end up in complete control.

Here’s something to think about:

This, in itself, is one of the best reasons not to vote for Mittens. It would be important to preserve a court that upholds civil rights, women’s rights, diversity in college admissions and support of health care legislation. Should we lose these, the United States goes back to where it was in the first half of the last century and years of development and reform will get flushed down the drain.

It’s up to us to preserve years of important reform.

 

Expressing my sympathy for Justice Ginsburg…

From the NY Times:

This year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg continued to work after breaking two ribs during one of the Supreme Court’s busiest months, and just a few weeks before the court released its landmark decision on President Obama’s health care law.

Justice Ginsburg spoke about the injury for the first time in an interview with Reuters, published on Wednesday.

When Justice Ginsburg fell at her home on the evening of June 4, she initially “thought it was nothing,” she told Reuters.

Nevertheless, she went to the Office of the Attending Physician at the Capitol the next day, where she learned she had fractured two of her ribs.

Good for you, Justice G… I’m sitting here with 5 cracked ribs, a clavical and a scapula from my fall and I’m impressed that you went right back to work without spending 4 dreary days in a hospital.

I hope your next couple of months is relatively painless.

How many Americans actually watch (or listen to) the News?

For instance, with all that has been said in relationship to the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare, wouldn’t it be really disappointing to know that almost half of all Americans were in the dark about the decision?

Or maybe it would be frightening. These are people that vote.

A new Pew Research poll finds that 45% of Americans either didn’t know what the Supreme Court had decided with regards to President Obama’s health care law (30%) or thought that the Supreme Court had overturned the law (15%).

My guess is that the same number of Americans know exactly who Kim Kardashian is dating.

Today is the day the Supreme Court weighs in on Obamacare…

The news media is waiting with baited breath for the decision of the SCOTUS which is due today on the President’s health care plan. So many questions are waiting to be answered:

1. Will the Court’s decision be primarily political?

2. Who will suffer the most if it is overturned?:

– Young people under 26 years old who are able to be on their parents’ health care plan, who could lose that  advantage unless the insurance company itself allows it.

– Protection for sick patients who can lose their coverage due to a mistake in paperwork.

– People in southern states who have the least amount of state-mandated protection on their health insurance as opposed to more progressive states.

– Women will not be able to get free birth control (this is Planned Parenthood‘s major worry.)

– The risk of coverage will increase immensely for insurance companies who will not be as supportive of the users and more supportive of themselves.

3. Will the Court separate the Mandate (the requirement that everyone have insurance) from the rest of the law?

So we await the decision which will be written by Justice Roberts and see if they use it as the standard  anti-Democrat response the court has made since putting George W. Bush into office.

 

Hey, Mitt: A majority of Americans want to keep the Health care Law!

New Bloomberg poll results show a plurality of Americans, 43 percent, say they want to retain the 2010 law with only small modifications, while 15 percent say the measure should be left alone, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. That’s 58 % for keepers! Only 33% say it should be repealed.

Next week the Supreme Court is expected to rule “on the constitutionality of the law, the centerpiece of which is the mandate that most Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.”

Do you suppose the Court pays attention to people, or to Republican campaign rhetoric?

Do you know what Romney is planning with Robert Bork?

How would you like a Supreme Court and other Federal Courts to have their appointees selected by Robert Bork? Remember Robert Bork… the Supreme Court Nominee who was rejected by Congress and has been grousing about it ever since.

The following article will make your skin crawl:

Borking America

WHAT ROBERT BORK WILL MEAN FOR THE SUPREME COURT AND AMERICAN JUSTICE
By Jamie Raskin, Senior Fellow, People For The American Way

YES, AMERICA, ROBERT BORK IS BACK

Many presidents leave their most enduring legacy to the nation in the Justices that they name to the Supreme Court and the federal judges that they put on the bench. So what inspired former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to name former judge Robert Bork to co-chair his presidential campaign advisory committee on law, the Constitution and the judiciary?

Read the rest HERE.

Author cred:

Jamie Raskin is a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law, a Maryland State Senator, and a Senior Fellow at People for the American Way. He wrote this report while teaching at Yale Law School in the fall of 2011 and wishes to thank both the Yale Law School Library and the Washington College of Law Library for their assistance.

Yesterday Romneycare was 6 Years Old in Massachusetts…

… and by all accounts it has been a success.

Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured,”
said Romney when the law was passed under his Governorship.

In fact, Romney also claimed at the time that his plan would be a good model for the Nation.

The fact that President Obama agreed with him and promoted what has become known as “Obamacare” –  a national duplicate of “Romneycare” – seems to be meaningless to the Republicans, to Mitt, to the Conservative side of the Supreme Court.

Why can’t we all have the successful plan that Massachusetts has? And why does Romney now say that he would repeal the law as soon as possible if elected?

Why do they play politics with our health?

 


The reason I like E. J. Dionne:

Some excerpts on his commentary on the Supreme Court vs. the Health Care legislation:

Three days of Supreme Court arguments over the health-care law demonstrated for all to see that conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature, diving deeply into policy details as if they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senator, excuse me, Justice Samuel Alito quoted Congressional Budget Office figures on Tuesday to talk about the insurance costs of the young. On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts sounded like the House whip in discussing whether parts of the law could stand if other parts fell. He noted that without various provisions, Congress “wouldn’t have been able to put together, cobble together, the votes to get it through.” Tell me again, was this a courtroom or a lobbyist’s office?

It fell to the court’s liberals — the so-called “judicial activists,” remember? — to remind their conservative brethren that legislative power is supposed to rest in our government’s elected branches.

The irony is that if the court’s conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system. Justice Anthony Kennedy even hinted that it might be more “honest” if government simply used “the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single-payer.” Remember those words.

…a court that gave us Bush vs. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.

See what I mean. Clear and concise with an ability to combine seriousness with humor. After all, we have to live with this stuff.

Read the whole column HERE.

Keith Olbermann’s show brought up the relationship between the Debt Ceiling battle and the 14th Amendment.

Keith brought up and interviewed a couple of people on the 14th Amendment’s specific requirements of meeting all National debts on his program tonight… something that hasn’t been mentioned in any other budget discussions of late.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (You know – that document that the Tea Party says everything has to be based on?) confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt legislated by the Congress.

In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond (ie: a debt… like the National Debt…or like the cause of our current deficit) “went beyond the congressional power” on account of Section 4.

Republican economist Bruce Bartlett argues that Section 4 renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and obligates the President to consider the debt ceiling null and void. Gee… I guess that means that there are no required budget cuts to abide by Constitutional law.

Let’s see if Obama will use this instead of giving in to Republicans again.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Women vs. Corporations (and Society in general)

Jim Morin at the Miami Herald:

So the Supreme Court thinks more of Wal-Mart than it’s poorly treated female employees…

– and –

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

… and their lawyers were reduced to second raters…

– and –

Jeff Danziger of the New York Times Service:

… but perhaps the second raters are actually IN the Supreme Court…

– and –

Tony Auth in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

… and women are persecuted by society in general…

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald Leader:

… of course, we are following precedents from other countries.

– and –

Daydream.

What if some day the Supreme Court didn’t support Corporations over Citizens?

What if some day the Senate and the House put our country first and the lobbyists a distant tenth?

What if some day the health insurance companies offered to teach the government how to run a single payer system at no charge to the country?

What if President Obama got on TV and announced that ALL troops in ALL middle east countries are coming home over the next three months and we were declaring “victory” once and for all?

What if all Billionaires begged the government to tax them at the same rates that Ronald Reagan did?

What if ALL workers, teachers, firemen, police officers, public employees and salespeople were encouraged to join Unions by receiving significant tax perqs?

What if everyone in government believed they were working “in service” to America and not to themselves?

What if campaigns for elections were not allowed to take more than three weeks?

What if daydreaming was somehow connected to reality?

I am curious about the Conservative concept of “Socialism”

“Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike.”

William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice,  1969

Whenever one of the Conservative (read Republican) members of our Congress, or those campaigning for the Presidential nomination, discuss Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. or unemployment funding, you are certain to hear the word “socialism” pop up with an extremely negative cloaking. It has happened so frequently that the word has lost any of it’s original meaning (“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole” – Webster’s) and, indeed, has been connected to everything from community farming to Communism.

Socialism appeared as a concept in the early 19th Century in France (“socialisme’) which came from the concept of “social” (needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities : we are social beings as well as individuals) or “society” (the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community)…a term which itself goes back to the 16th Century.

The fact that our 21st century civilization shows that the need for the companionship of individuals, states and countries in order to face potentially devastating changes in climate, creating non-polluting energy methods to protect our air and water and educating our children to eventually take over the mess that has been made on our watch, is so obvious that many don’t see the forest for the trees.

Our job should be to make the trees visible to all, and especially to the people we elect to office… the people who make the rules and allot the funds to give us those necessary services.

And it’s not like the anti-socialist campaign of the current Conservative is something new, urged on by Corporations that are concerned… apparently by Federal regulation… only of making profits for a limited number of shareholders and executives. Justice Douglas’s quote from over four decades ago points out that it has been present for awhile. In fact, if we go back further to when Eisenhower warned us about the “military industrial complex”, something his whole career had given him great insight into, we see our post-WWII economy as a challenge we never met.

Have you wondered why, in all the discussions of the budget and raising of the debt ceiling, we have not heard people yelling for cuts in the military expenditures that keep our remaining industrial giants flowing in dough.  As a whole “community”, the military/industry mix is about as socialist as you can get. Add to that the VA medical system which provides the closest thing to “socialized medicine” (another concept that Conservatives would like to deny the average guy) that exists in the world today. This system, by the way, is praised by just about every politician, probably out of guilt from sending so many of our young soldiers into a life of crippling disabilities.

It is time to make a strong change of focus in our social environment, something which is not going to happen if we leave the decisions and actions to politicians. Republican or Democrat, they keep their jobs because of election funds for advertising and lobby persuasion with highly focused corporate contributions. As we saw, for instance, in the 1940s and 1950s, many cities lost the public transportation systems of mini-railroads that gave people inexpensive commuting transport … without parking, fuel and other expenses… due to the money spent by the automobile industry on lobbyists and state and federal (and local) political campaigns. General Motors even bragged about it in public.

The question is “how do we do it?” There are no easy answers, but I’m pretty sure it will take a lot of time and will begin on a very local level. Here in Shepherdstown, WV, our recent completion of a 10,000 square foot Community Garden allotting 10′ by 10′ growing plots to locals who have no planting areas in their town houses or  downtown apartments is a good example of modern socialism.  At a very low fee (starting at $20 and going up to $30 if you take three plots), which has paid for deer fence construction and publicity to get members, and with volunteers for construction of the fence (and the donation of land and so much more from a local entrepreneur who has created a neighboring public market to serve local farmers and craftspeople), community interdependence has resulted in community celebration.

This only one concept of local change which can be achieved. Tie that together with activities that follow such as expansion of public libraries (which is part of both education promotion and public interaction), involvement in schools beyond their operations budgets, group purchase alignments for reduction of basic living costs, etc., and you have a good start at what can then expand to the state level… and eventually to the national top. This can also, I would hope, be the start of a new political structure, beginning in local government and expanding upward over time.

Now… if we can only protect ourselves from corporate corruption and maintain the basic concept of “socialism”… that our community organization is controlled by ALL of it’s members and not the artificial “Citizens United” persons funded by the corporate bankbook.

Supreme Court Scores a Big One for Corporations against Little Folks…

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the SCOTUS today embraced a strict reading of a federal arbitration law, making it more difficult for individuals with small claims to join together in a class action against large companies accused of fraud or other wrongdoing.

See what it says over the statue of Justice?

This reversed a previous Federal Court ruling in California that allowed purchasers to sue AT&T for violating a sales agreement, even though there was a signed arbitration agreement.

With the new  finding in the 5 to 4 Supreme Court vote, individual purchasers not only cannot change an arbitration agreement, even if the corporation violates its contract, but they also can’t join with other consumers in a class action suit in the same challenge.

“Today’s decision reduces corporate accountability by making it impractical, if not impossible, for consumers to hold corporations accountable for their wrongdoing. [The decision] continues a disturbing trend favoring large public companies at the expense of individuals.”

Class action attorney Mark Rifkin of the New York law firm Wolf Haderstein Adler Freeman & Herz.

Want to hear a good one? AT&T said the Court’s decision was actually a “victory for consumers.” Heh heh.

According to consumer fraud attorney Gibson Vance:

“This is a death blow to Americans’ chances for justice when faced with forced arbitration clauses. This devastating decision has the potential to result in virtually no consumer or employee cases involving small claims being heard anywhere.

Corporations will now be allowed to get away with sweeping wrongdoing, particularly where the damages would be too small to justify pursuing individual claims.”

So be careful what you sign when you buy a telephone, or a Cable TV setup, or a car… check that arbitration clause and ask yourself if you can live with it.

Justice Was Served

clipped from www.latimes.com
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was ticketed by U.S. Park Police after being found responsible for a four-car traffic accident on his way to the high court Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred just before 9 a.m. on the southbound George Washington Parkway across the Potomac River from Washington in Virginia. Scalia reportedly rear-ended another driver who had stopped in traffic, and two other vehicles followed behind. No one was injured.
Scalia was handed a $70 fine for the infraction of following too closely. The justice, in his 25th year on the nation’s highest court, can appeal the fine to a U.S. magistrate if he chooses, according to a Park Police spokesman, while acknowledging that was unlikely.

“He probably hasn’t a clue how to contest a traffic ticket,” David Schlosser, the spokesman, joked.

The incident further snarled the area’s already notorious rush-hour gridlock.

“It was a busy traffic area,” Schlosser said. “It just happens.”

blog it
Let’s be glad that the law applies to everyone. Sometimes.

The Story of Stuff – Season 2

We directed you to the original Story of Stuff last year when the Supreme Court decided that Corporations were People in the Citizens United decision.

Now we’re pleased to direct you to:

Click on the picture and then settle back and enjoy. Then get ready to support the organizations behind it. There’s at least one petition and lots of contribution areas.


– Bill

Republicans lose…

But they’ll bring it up again…

This from the Herald Mail:

clipped from www.herald-mail.com

As expected, the Senate has rejected a Republican attempt to repeal the year-old health care law.
The ultimate fate of the controversial law is expected to be determined by the Supreme Court.
But congressional Republicans emboldened by gains in last fall’s elections have made a priority of trying to wipe it off the books. All 47 members of the GOP rank and file voted for repeal. There were 51 votes to leave it in place, 50 Democrats and one independent.
Earlier, the Senate voted to repeal a small part of the law in an attempt to lessen paperwork requirements for businesses. Obama has already invited lawmakers to take that action.
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Scalia v. Women?

In an article in this month’s California Lawyer Magazine, Justice Antonin Scalia made a statement which sort of makes me jump out of my skin:

CLM: In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Scalia: Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Wow! This means that it is perfectly legal to discriminate against women… pay them less, keep them out of major universities, require them to accept conservative sex laws… and there is nothing in the Constitution (read: the 14th Amendment) to stop it.

This from the Huffington Post:

“In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger,” Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. “It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection — or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so.”

In 1996, Scalia cast the sole vote in favor of allowing the Virginia Military Institute to continue denying women admission.

Looking a little farther into this issue of Scalia versus Women is this piece from the Young Turks from last September:

This gives less respect for the Supreme Court’s Conservative majority than I had already.

From the LA Times This Morning: The Supreme Court May Take Us One Step Further into a Corporate Dominated America…

What if the little guy couldn’t participate in a class action suit to protect his kind from big corporations? It could be the newest thing the business-oriented Supreme Court majority inflicts on us. 

Here’s part of the article by David Lazarus… go in and read the whole thing at the LA Times:

clipped from www.latimes.com
It hasn’t gotten a lot of press, but a case involving AT&T that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court next week has sweeping ramifications for potentially millions of consumers.
If a majority of the nine justices vote the telecom giant’s way, any business that issues a contract to customers — such as for credit cards, cellphones or cable TV — would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits.
This would take away in such cases arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy, particularly in cases involving relatively small amounts of money. Class-action suits allow plaintiffs to band together in seeking compensation or redress, thus giving substantially more heft to their claims.
The ability to ban class actions would potentially also apply to employment agreements such as union contracts.
 

High courts in California and elsewhere have ruled that class-action bans are unconscionable and contrary to public policy.
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Steve Kornacki has a great War Room article in Salon…

… I’ll print part of it here, but you should go in and read the rest.

And if you think anyone is going to apologize to Anita Hill, then Clarence Thomas has a great bridge to sell ya’.

clipped from www.salon.com
 

Will anyone apologize to Anita Hill now

Anita Hill testifies in 1991

You’ve probably seen that Clarence Thomas’ ex-girlfriend has broken her two-decade silence and publicly stated that the Supreme Court justice was “obsessed” with pornography when they dated.

While Lillian McEwen’s statement doesn’t by itself prove that Anita Hill was telling the truth when she accused Thomas of sexual harassmen back in 1991, it does come close. After all, Thomas was indignant at his confirmation hearings at the suggestion that he enjoyed — and enjoyed talking about — pornography. And in countering Hill’s charges, it was his supposed good character and moral righteousness that Thomas’ defenders stressed over and over.

The notion that Thomas was so ramrod straight that he was incapable of the conduct Hill described, it seems, has been thoroughly blown out of the water. So has the notion that he was being completely truthful in his ’91 testimony.

Of course, back then, a majority of senators sided with him anyway —

blog     it

The major issues are still there requiring attention… and Congress goes home accomplishing nothing.

This is the kind of job to have. Be elected to maintain and improve our Nation, get swamped by letters and blogs and broadcasters from the great majority of Americans pleading with you to attend to the problems, blame each other for doing nothing, and go home to campaign for office again. On top of that, you get paid pretty well to do all of this.

I am disgusted with Congress, both the people I voted for and trusted and supported and the people I already expected this crap from. As I have said in previous posts, we seem to have no system that works to really keep this political joke from being told. Voters seem to have no real control… that control is granted (and now endorsed by the Supreme Court) to major corporations and foreign countries.

Will questions be raised in the next month of campaigning which will find truth in what a candidate will actually stand for, actually DO? Is honesty too much to ask for? If candidates are prepared to spend outrageous amounts of their own money to shut opponents out of the media (Linda McMahon has pledged to spend $50 Million of her own dough in CT, a state where a Senate election used to find $13 Million as outrageous), will we find out what they would hope to accomplish when (not if) elected?

I doubt it sincerely. And yet, if I decide not to vote, I am paying into the problem. What choices remain? Think back to a country founded by patriots who saw the domination of money (ie: the British Government and The King) and power as a threat to their lives and freedom. What would they say if they saw us today?

Colin Powell put Newt in his place yesterday…

Commenting on Newt Gingrich’s recent suggestion that Obama was displaying anti-colonial Kenyan behavior, Powell, on Meet The Press yesterday, warned Americans to “think carefully” about Gingrich’s accusations and went on to debunk some of the right-wing’s conspiracy theories:

I would just tell my fellow Americans, think carefully about what was just said. Think carefully about some of the stuff that is coming across the blogs and airwaves. Let’s make a couple of points. One, the President was born in the United States of America. Let’s get rid of that one, let’s get rid of the birther thing. Let’s attack him on policy, not nonsense. Next, he is a Christian, he is not a Muslim…And I think we have to be careful when we take things like Dinesh D’Souza’s book, which is the source of all of this, and suggest that somehow the President of the United States is channeling his dead father through some Kenyan spirits. This doesn’t make any sense. Mr. Gingrich does these things from time to time with a big, bold statement. He did it with Sotomayor, she is a “reverse racist.” He did it with Elena Kagan, she ought to be taken off the nomination for Supreme Court justice. And he does it occasionally to make news and also to stir up dust.

It’s good to have a Republican comment on other Republicans when they are such schmucks.

Here’s the video: