Today, President Biden chastised the Supreme Court for “outrageous behavior” and said he would support an exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules to make it easier to write abortion protections into law. Biden, speaking on the world stage in Madrid, called the court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade “destabilizing” and said an exception should be made to a Senate rule that requires 60 votes for most bills to advance.
Thursday Reads: SCOTUS NewsPosted: June 30, 2022 Filed under: Climate change, Congress, just because, morning reads, SCOTUS | Tags: abortion, anti-choice violence, Environmental Protection Agency, filibuster rules, Health care, immigration, Joe Biden, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Remain in Mexico, Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court decisions 20 Comments
I feel emotionally wrung out this morning. We are living through important events that will reverberate down through history, and we still don’t know which side will control how future generations see these events. Will we succeed in rescuing U.S. democracy, or will the forces of fascism win in the end? Will we survive the stunning series of decisions the reactionary Supreme Court has inflicted on us in the past couple of weeks? With the societal divisions being sown by the GOP and the Court lead to a new civil war? Today I’m going to focus on the latest decisions from the Trumpist SCOTUS decisions.
Nina Totenberg at NPR: Supreme Court restricts the EPA’s authority to mandate carbon emissions reductions.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a major blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change. The decision by the conservative court majority sets the stage for further limitations on the regulatory power of other agencies as well.
By a vote of 6 to 3, the court said that any time an agency does something big and new – in this case addressing climate change – the regulation is presumptively invalid, unless Congress has specifically authorized regulating in this sphere.
At issue in the case were rules adopted by the Trump and Obama administrations and aimed at addressing the country’s single-largest carbon emissions problem – from coal-fired power plants. The Obama plan was broad, the Trump plan narrow. The Obama plan didn’t regulate only coal-fired plants. Instead, it set strict carbon limits for each state and encouraged the states to meet those limits by relying less on coal-fired power plants and more on alternative sources of energy – wind, solar, hydro-electric and natural gas. The goal of the plan was to produce enough electricity to satisfy U.S. demand in a way that lowered greenhouse emissions.
The concept worked so well that even after Obama’s Clean Power Plan was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court and then repealed by the Trump administration, most utilities continued to abandon coal because it was just too expensive, compared to other energy producing methods. In fact, even without the regulation in place, the reduction targets for carbon emissions were met 11 years ahead of schedule.
Fearing the Obama approach might someday be revived, the coal industry, joined by West Virginia and 16 other states, went to court in support of the Trump plan and its more restrictive interpretation of the Clean Air Act. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled against them in 2021.
But on Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with the coal industry, ruling that the Clean Air Act does not authorize anything other than direct regulation of coal-fired plants….
The decision appears to enact major new limits on agency regulations across the economy, limits of a kind not imposed by the court for 75 years or more. The decision, for instance, casts a cloud of doubt over a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would require companies offering securities to the public to disclose climate-related risks – like severe weather events that have or likely will affect their business models. Also in jeopardy is a new interim rule adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “aimed at treating greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to climate change the same as all other environmental impacts [the Commission] considers.”
The Supreme Court deigned to give Biden one win, on immigration. The Washington Post: Supreme Court clears Biden to end Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled for the Biden administration on a controversial immigration policy, saying it had the authority to reverse a Trump-era policy that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are reviewed in U.S. courts.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for himself and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the court’s three liberals, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Roberts said federal immigration law gives the executive discretion: He may return asylum seekers to Mexico, but is not required to do so.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented.
Barrett said that she agreed with the majority on the merits of the decision but that the court should not have decided the case and should have remanded it to lower courts.
Alito, writing for himself, Thomas and Gorsuch, said the Department of Homeland Security should not be free to “simply release into this country untold numbers of aliens who are very likely to be removed if they show up for their removal hearings. This practice violates the clear terms of the law, but the Court looks the other way.”
From NPR, another bit of good SCOTUS news: Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in Thursday at noon as the 116th Supreme Court justice and the first Black woman to serve on the high court.
Biden nominated Jackson in February, fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ve made it! We’ve made it — all of us,” Jackson said in remarks at a White House event the day after the Senate vote.
“I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free,” Jackson also said.
Jackson, 51, has been confirmed since April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 on her nomination. It was expected she would replace 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer — whom she clerked for after shed graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996 — when he stepped down. His retirement will be effective Thursday.
Jackson will take two oaths during the livestreamed event: a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, and a judicial oath, administered by Breyer.
Biden and Congressional Democrats are still struggling to deal with the Court’s decision to take away American women’s control over their own bodies and turn women in their childbearing years into broodmares.
The Washington Post: Democrats call on Biden to declare abortion national health emergency.
Lawmakers and advocates are pushing President Biden to declare a national health emergency to increase financial resources and flexibility in states that continue to allow abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Congressional Black Caucus made the initial request the morning of the court’s ruling, and the House Pro-Choice Caucus is privately urging the administration to act swiftly.
“The fundamental right to control your body and future has been ripped away from American women,” Assistant Speaker of the HouseRep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) told The Early. “Declaring an emergency is an immediate step to help patients access the care they need.”
Supporters say time is critical because the remaining abortion clinics are seeing a massive increase in demand that is going to be difficult to meet.
“They are doing everything they can,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said of an abortion clinic treating women in the northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. “But they are severely resource constrained in terms of the providers that they have, in terms of the physical facilities that they have, in terms of the financial resources they need to try to expand access to care, which they desperately want to do.”
“This would be another way for the full legal authority of the federal government to be brought into play as we try to protect women’s health,” Smith said in an interview on Washington Post Live this week.
Another suggestion is to change the filibuster rules for abortion laws. The Washington Post: Biden endorses scrapping Senate filibuster to codify abortion, privacy rights.
Politico: Biden says he supports a filibuster carveout to restore abortion rights.
“I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law and the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that, and if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be ‘we provide an exception for this’ — require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” Biden said during a press conference at the NATO summit.
Biden’s comments come on the heels of the consequential Supreme Court decision last Friday to overturn the landmark 1973 decision and deny a constitutional right to abortion. The president has previously been opposed to getting rid of the filibuster — which establishes a 60-vote threshold to move most bills through the Senate — but said Thursday he would do “everything in my power” to protect the right to choose .
The president added he’d be in favor of changing filibuster rules to not only guarantee abortion rights but also a constitutional right to privacy — which he said the Supreme Court “wiped” out with its decision on Roe. He said codifying privacy rights would protect access to abortion as well as a “whole range of issues,” including same-sex marriage….
Biden’s support for ending the filibuster is his most concrete call for legislative action yet on preserving abortion rights. With the filibuster as it stands, Democrats almost certainly lack the 60 votes they would need to codify Roe in a 50-50 Senate.
So far, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema haven’t agreed to go along with this strategy.
Republicans have been hoping that violent demonstrations would follow the SCOTUS decision on Roe v. Wade, but their wishes haven’t come true so far. Kathryn Joyce at Salon: Did violence follow Roe decision? Yes — almost all of it against pro-choice protesters.
Before the Supreme Court even announced its decision overturning Roe v. Wade last Friday, right-wing politicians and media had begun warning of a wave of violent demonstrations or riots by pro-choice protesters. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., called on “all patriots” to defend local churches and crisis pregnancy centers, while Fox News hyped warnings about a “night” or “summer of rage” and various far-right activists — from the America First/groyper movement to the Proud Boys to a staffer for Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — issued threats against leftists they claimed were about to become violent.
But it appears that most of the violence that occurred in response to the Roe decision this past weekend was directed at pro-choice demonstrators, not caused by them.
On Friday night, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a man drove his pickup truck into a group of women protesters, hitting several and driving over the ankle of one woman. Iowa journalist Lyz Lenz, who was covering the protest, noted on Twitter that the attack came at the end of a peaceful event, as demonstrators were crossing the road at a crosswalk while the man had a red light. “The truck drove around other cars in order to hit protesters,” Lenz wrote, adding that the driver “was screaming” while a woman in the truck with him begged him to stop….
That same night, at a pro-choice protest in Providence, Rhode Island, an off-duty police officer named Jeann Lugo — who, until this weekend, was a Republican candidate for state Senate — punched his Democratic opponent, reproductive rights organizer Jennifer Rourke, in the face.
Providence police arrested Lugo and charged him with assault and disorderly conduct, placing him on administrative leave. On Saturday, Lugo dropped out of the Senate race and announced he would not be seeking any political office before apparently deactivating his Twitter account.
In Atlanta, photographer Matthew Pearson documented a group of more than a dozen Proud Boys coming to counterprotest a pro-choice demonstration, while an Atlanta antifascist group posted photos of the group boarding a Humvee painted with the Proud Boys’ logo.
In several other states, police responded to demonstrations against the SCOTUS ruling with heavy-handed tactics and violence.
Read about more of these events at the Salon link.
Live Blog: Fourth Democratic DebatePosted: January 17, 2016 Filed under: Affordable Care Act (ACA), Democratic Politics, Live Blog, SCOTUS, U.S. Politics | Tags: 2016 Democratic nomination race, Background Checks, Bernie Sanders, Brady bill, Democratic debates, Federal Employees' Health Benefits Program, flip flops, gun dealers' immunity, Health care, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Medicaid, medicare, NRA, SCHIP, single payer, TRICARE 147 Comments
Tonight’s debate is likely to feature some fireworks and a good exchange of ideas between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–as long as the moderators can keep Martin O’Malley from constantly breaking in with his patented line “I’ve actually already done that in Maryland.”
Mediaite has the basics on how to watch the debate. It will be available on line at the NBC News website and YouTube. It begins at nine and goes for two hours.
The back and forth between Hillary and Bernie this week has been interesting, to say the least. Hillary seems to have gotten under Bernie’s skin too, because he has now partially flip flopped on his vote to immunize gun dealers from liability, his campaign has promised to release specifics on his health car plan and how he hopes to pay for it “very soon,” and they’ve also said they’ll release a “doctor’s note” on Sanders’ health.
Just a couple of days ago the Sanders campaign announced they wouldn’t release the health care tax figures and they previously pooh poohed the need to release medical records.
I’ve thought for awhile now that Sanders has begun to believe his own reviews in the media. After reading what he said on Face The Nation this morning, I’m convinced he has allowed the failure of the media to vet him and the adulation of his supporters to go to his head.
Sanders: I have a “good chance” to win 2016 election.
“I think we have a good chance to win both those states,” he said of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests. “I think we have a good chance to win this election.”
If he does win, Sanders predicted his campaign would come to be known as “one of the great political upsets in modern history.”
He is feeling so good, in fact, that the Vermont senator told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while he was watching President Obama’s final State of the Union address last week, “the thought did cross my mind” that he could be delivering that address in the near future.
Then he caught himself.
“It’s a very humbling feeling,” he said, but added a moment later, “It’s a long way to go before we talk about inaugural speech, before we toss State of the Union speeches in.”
Hmmm…. he doesn’t sound so humble.
I have a few other good links for you on Bernie.
First a diary from DailyKos (!) on the health care law that Sanders has proposed multiple times in Congress: Sanders’ Health Care Plan. The diarist simply reports the contents of Senate Bill 1782, introduced in December 2013. Please go read it.
The law would end Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. The money that was going into those programs, and use it to fund a “single payer” plan to be run and partially paid for by the states.
We already know that Supreme Court is not going to force states to accept something they don’t want from the Feds. That was their decision on the ACA Medicaid expansion. Even if Sanders could somehow get this through the Republican Congress, it would never get past SCOTUS.
I can’t even imagine what would be involved in implementing this. Right now, Medicare has low overhead costs because it turns over administration of supplemental plans to insurance companies–which would be outlawed in Sanders’ alternative universe.
I’m on Medicare and I get help paying my premiums from the government. Those premiums are more than $100 per month. Basic Medicare only pays for hospital bills, so I also have a government funded supplemental plan with very high co-pays that I get “free.” At least I can go to a doctor if it’s absolutely necessary. What would happen to people like me when all that infrastructure is demolished?
Here’s another must-read that Babama posted in a comment yesterday.
The People’s View: Chelsea Clinton was Right: Everyone’s Health Care is Threatened under Bernie’s Plan.
Recently, Chelsea Clinton got panned for saying that Bernie Sanders’ health care plan – commonly heralded as ‘Medicare for All’ by the revolution-peddlers – would give Republican governors the opportunity to dismantle publicly funded health insurance for the poor and middle class, that is, Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Seems absurd to accuse a self-proclaimed socialist with a proclaimed demand for single-payer universal health insurance of trying to take away health care. Politifact rated Chelsea Clinton’s claims ‘mostly false.’
Politifact got it wrong. Bernie Sanders’ plan does, in fact, allow for states to take away health care from the poor and middle-income, if not most everyone in a state. Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Sanders’ plan itself targets the economically disadvantaged for punishment. As Politifact notes, Sanders hasn’t proposed a full health care plan for his presidential campaign, instead choosing to use a bill Sanders introduced in the Senate in 2013 without a single cosponsor, titled ‘American Health Security Act of 2013’ as the template.
Poltiifact notes it is in fact true that Sanders’ plan repeals all health insurance funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance exchanges. But he would channel the revenue instead to fund the single-payer system! [….]
The problem is, what Sander’s bill “seeks to” do and what it actually does are quite different. Since Politifact helpfully pointed us to Sanders’ 2013 bill, I decided to read it. In short, it ends all funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP an the ACA insurance provisions, directs it to this single-payer insurance program, raises additional revenue on the back of those who can least afford it, and charges states with the job of actually running it.
Each state, in theory, would have its own program that follows basic guidelines and the vast majority of the funding (80-90%) is provided by the federal government. Nonetheless, for states that refuse to run their own program, federal authorities – specifically, a Board – can do so instead. Sanders’ bill would also ban the sale of private health insurance.
Until I read that last night, I really didn’t understand how clueless Sanders really is. Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already, because Robert Reich is running around saying the plan makes sense.
One more Bernie link from Dean Barker at “Birch Paper.” This one has been getting retweeted a lot today. The piece takes us back to the early days of Sanders’ political career when he ran again and again for office, and always lost. Then he got smart and used guns to get into Congress.
Sanders repeatedly talks about how he lost an election because he supported a ban on assault weapons. What really happened is that Sanders did so well in a third-party run that he got Republican Peter Smith elected. After he got to Washington, Smith’s conscience bothered him and he ended up supporting a bill to ban assault weapons.
In 1990, Sanders ran for the House seat again, and defeated Smith with the help and monetary support of the NRA. So when Bernie went to Washington, he voted against the Brady bill–repeatedly.
You have to read that article! There are tons of good links in there too.
Hillary was on the morning shows today too, and she learned from George Stephanopoulos that Karl Rove’s super pac is running an ad in Iowa that supports Sanders attacks on her.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.
The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled.
“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said about the ad, which goes after her ties to Wall Street. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”
CNN’s report on the morning shows: Hillary Clinton zeroes in on Bernie Sanders.
Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate as both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” a day after Sanders, who had been hammered by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.
She then called on her rival to do the same with the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows licensed dealers, once they have initiated a federal background check, to complete the gun sale in question if they haven’t hears back from authorities after three days.
Good news for Hillary:
Time: Poll: Hillary Clinton Leads Bernie Sanders Nationally By 25 Points.
Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in a new national poll ahead of Sunday’s final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.
The former Secretary of State is beating Sanders by 25 points nationally, according to according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely Democratic primary voters. Clinton is the top pick among 59% of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders has the support of 34%, the survey shows. Third-place candidate Martin O’Malley got the support of just 2% of likely voters.
Read the rest at CNN.
And From US News: Yes, Hillary’s Still the Inevitable Democratic Nominee She can recover even if she loses the first two nominating states to Bernie Sanders. Here’s why. Read about it at the link. It’s not easy find a brief excerpt to summarize the findings.
I’m putting this up a little early so we’ll have time to discuss these articles–or anything else you want to talk about–before the debate begins at 9PM. I look forward to reading your reactions to what happens tonight. This is the most important debate yet!
Tuesday Evening ReadsPosted: August 27, 2013 Filed under: open thread | Tags: Federal Debt, Health care, Larry Summers, Syria 8 Comments
Well, only a few days and I already really miss JJ Here are a few headlines to get us through the evening.
There’s no money for these kinds of things:
Before becoming speaker in 2011, Boehner said, he’d watched leaders of both parties delay a long-term solution to a baby-boom-fueled benefit crisis.
“I made up my mind that we weren’t going to kick the can down the road any more,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told a Boise lunch crowd at a fundraiser for Idaho’s 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson. “We’re not going to inflict all of this pain and suffering on our kids and our grandkids.”
The government will reach its $16.7 trillion borrowing limit this fall. Boehner rejected calls from some quarters to let the government shut down rather than agree to a compromise with President Obama and the Democratic Senate.
“There is no reason for the government to run out of money,” Boehner said. “Our goal here is to stop Obamacare. Our goal here is to cut spending.”
Boehner said GOP control of the House has forced Democrats to agree to three straight years of lower discretionary spending, which accounts for about one-third of the federal budget, savings that will reach $2.5 trillion over 10 years.
“Now, it’s time to deal with the mandatory side,” Boehner said, winning applause from a crowd of 430 at the Boise Centre on The Grove. “I’ve made it clear that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.
“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with. But I’ll say this: It may be unfair but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”
Recalling the 2011 battle over raising the federal debt ceiling, Boehner recalled negotiations that spooked financial markets, prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. credit rating and angered ordinary Americans. He warned the audience to expect more of the same.
But there’s always money for war.
Military strikes on Syria ‘as early as Thursday,’ US officials say
The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.
The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria’s suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already “crystal clear” that Assad’s government was responsible.
Vice President Joe Biden went even further, bluntly telling an American Legion audience in Houston: “Chemical weapons have been used.”
“No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and there’s no doubt who’s responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Biden said.
Fox Expert says that since women have breasts they should pay more for health care. Where do they get these guys?
A Fox News medical expert on Tuesday argued that President Barack Obama’s administration was wrong to force gender equality for health insurance rates because men “only have the prostate,” while women “have the breasts, they have the ovaries.”
“Look, it’s not bias, I’m not saying this as a man,” Fox News Medical A-Team contributor Dr. David Samadi told the hosts of Fox & Friends. “They go through a lot of preventive screenings, they give birth, they have the whole mammogram, the Pap smear. Guys, we don’t like to go to doctors, right? Seventy percent of health care decisions are made by women. In my own practice, I see it’s the women who bring the guys, who say, go get screened.”
“Yeah, but shouldn’t that earn us a discount?” Fox News host Gretchen Carlson interrupted. “Basic fact that we are responsible for getting our men to come to the doctor? And what about the fact that women, because they do all this preventative care, maybe their health issues end up costing less than men’s, who don’t go to the doctor until it’s a crisis and a big deal.”
“Yes, that’s a good point, except that, you know, women live longer,” Samadi asserted. “Women live until age 81 and men live only until 76. So, we’re using the health care system much less.”
“In this case, it’s not equal,” co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed. “You have a better time on Earth than we do, you’re here a lot more. You have six years of heaven, where you just have no men around.”
Carlson pointed out that women were blamed for maternity costs, “but men and women have babies together.”
“I agree with you that it’s a shared responsibility,” Samadi said. “But just the way the system are — in my field, we only have the prostate. Women have the breasts, they have the ovaries, they have the uterus. They get checked in every part.”
OH, Please say this isn’t so!!! Oh the Humanity!! Obama source predicts Summers will be named Fed chief soon. Looter Larry as Fed Chair!!!
A source from Team Obama told CNBC that Larry Summers will likely be named chairman of the Federal Reserve in a few weeks though he is “still being vetted” so it might take a little longer.
It’s largely come down to a two-horse race between Summers, a former Treasury secretary, and Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen for the next Fed chief.
It is widely expected that the current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will resign by the end of the year as his term ends in January. President Obama has already said that Bernanke has “already stayed a lot longer” in the role than he expected. Those remarks came in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS in June.
Tuesday Reads: Tim Burton, Presidential Polls, Romney on Spain, and MorePosted: October 9, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, Mitt Romney, morning reads, polling, Spain, U.S. Politics | Tags: David Adkins, diplomacy, Ed Wood, Frankenweenie, Gallup poll, Health care, Laura Tyson, meningitis, Nate Silver, Pew Poll, PPP poll, Sunday shows, tainted steroid injections, Tim Burton 63 Comments
Before I get going with the news, I want to recommend a wonderful movie. Yesterday afternoon, I took my nephews to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, and I loved it! Trust me, it isn’t just for kids. It’s a funny, touching story about a boy and his dog as well as a great homage to horror movies. There’s even a scene where the science teacher, who looks like Vincent Price and talks like Bela Lugosi, tells a meeting of parents complaining about his class that they’re ignorant and prefer fantasy to science.
The Boston Globe reviewer gave the movie four stars, which is unheard of for a film aimed at children. There’s a wonderful backstory too:
In 1984, when he was an eccentric young animator working for Disney, the young Burton made a 30-minute live-action short called “Frankenweenie,” about a boy named Victor and the scrappy pet he brings back to life after it’s hit by a car. The movie was weird, it was inventive, and it spooked the bejesus out of Disney executives, who refused to release it and fired Burton. After the director became famous in the wake of “Edward Scissorhands,” the company put it out on VHS; it now can be found as an extra on the “Nightmare Before Christmas” DVD.
The current entertainment landscape has been effectively Burton-ized; this season alone, there are two pallid family-film imitations, “ParaNorman” and “Hotel Transylvania,” that arguably wouldn’t exist had the director not made the world safe for light pop-goth gloom. The new, improved “Frankenweenie” is thus not only revenge served sweetly — it’s being released by Disney, tail between its legs — but a reminder that, at his best, Burton belongs in the same bleakly charming league as Charles Addams and Edward Gorey.
Now I think I need to watch Ed Wood again.
That was such a nice break from all the depressing news about Mitt Romney and other insane Republicans. Now lets see what’s in the news today.
Everyone is talking about the latest Pew Poll which has Romney leading by 4–quite a shock. Even more shocking, TPM’s polltracker average now has Romney ahead of Obama by close to 3 points. On the other hand, today’s Gallup tracking polls shows Obama ahead by 5 points. Weird.
Now for a little expert analysis. Nate Silver advises: Amid Volatile Polling, Keep an Eye on Election Fundamentals
Mr. Obama got a bounce coming out of Charlotte, and it had some staying power — with his national lead appearing to peak at about five or six percentage points. But polling released immediately after the debate seemed to suggest that Mr. Romney had drawn into a rough national tie.
By the weekend, however — after the release of a favorable jobs report last Friday — Mr. Romney’s bounce seemed to be receding some. Tracking polls released on Monday by Gallup and Rasmussen Reports actually showed a shift back toward Mr. Obama, although another poll by Pew Research showed Mr. Romney with a four-point lead among likely voters.
Polling data is often very noisy, and not all polls use equally rigorous methodology. But the polls, as a whole, remain consistent with the idea that they may end up settling where they were before the conventions, with Mr. Obama ahead by about two points. Such an outcome would be in line with what history and the fundamentals of the economy would lead you to expect.
Keep in mind:
Challengers also generally profit from the first debate: in 8 of the 10 election cycles since 1976, the polls moved against the incumbent, and a net gain of two or three percentage points for the challenger is a reasonably typical figure.
At the same time, incumbent presidents just aren’t that easy to defeat. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are now hovering around 50 percent and don’t seem to have been negatively affected by his performance in Denver. Although Mr. Obama’s approval ratings may be slightly lower among those most likely to vote — meaning that Mr. Romney could win with a strong turnout — historically that number has been just good enough to re-elect an incumbent.
David Adkins of Hullabaloo took a look at the internals of the Pew poll and found some interesting tidbits:
– For starters, a full two-thirds of the respondents were over 50 years old. Is that likely to be the shape of the electorate? Very likely not.
– A full 77% of the respondents were white. That is almost certainly not going to reflect the final electorate.
– A large preponderance of the respondents were from the South (449), with the next highest total from the Midwest (294), and only 219 from the Northeast and 239 from the West. There will not be twice as many voters from the South in the election as from the Northeast or the West.
– Finally, more respondents claimed to be Republicans than Democrats, which would destroy the President’s chances in November automatically. It’s possible for the final electorate to resemble that Party ID, but unlikely.
Read the rest at the link. I found it helpful. Markos also had a good post on the polls yesterday, if you don’t mind going to the orange place. He noted that the PPP poll to be released today will also have Romney in the lead nationally.
Paul Waldman asks the same question I ask myself every Monday: Why Do the Sunday Shows Suck So Much?
In the American media landscape, there is no single forum more prestigious than the Sunday shows—particularly the three network programs, and to a slightly lesser extent “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Sunday shows are where “newsmakers” face the music, where Washington’s most important people are validated for their importance, where issues are probed in depth. So, why do they suck so much?
I live and breathe politics, yet I find these programs absolutely unwatchable, and I can’t be the only one. On a typical episode, there is nothing to learn, no insight to be gained, no interesting perspective on offer, nothing but an endless spew of talking points and squabbling. Let’s take, for instance, yesterday’s installment of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” We start off with dueling interviews with Obama adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie. Were you expecting some candid talk from these two political veterans? Of course you weren’t. “If you’re willing to say anything to get elected president,” Gibbs says about Mitt Romney, “if you are willing to make up your positions and walk away from them, I think the American people have to understand, how can they trust you if you are elected president.” Which just happens to be precisely the message of a new Obama ad. What a fascinating coincidence! And you’ll be shocked to learn that Gillespie thought Romney did a great job in the debate: “Governor Romney laid out a plan for turning this economy around, getting things moving again. He had a fact-based critique of President Obama’s failed policies that the president was unable to respond to.” You don’t say!
Go read the whole thing. It’s not long.
As you know, Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech yesterday, and it isn’t getting great reviews except among the ultra-right wingers. Dakinkat wrote about it yesterday afternoon. This story is a few days old, but I wanted to call attention to it because it didn’t get a whole lot of coverage. During the debate last Wednesday, Romney made some (inaccurate, natch) remarks about Spain that caused some outrage over there. Here’s what he said:
“Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path of Spain. I want to put more Americans to work.”
That did not go over well in Spain, where it was seen as on a par with the bumbling, insulting remarks Romney made when he was in Great Britain for the Olympics. Some reactions:
Fox News Latino: Mitt Romney Spain Jab Adds to Foreign Policy Woes
It has become apparent to some that Mitt Romney is in need of a crash course in Diplomacy 101.
He irritated Britons and Palestinians during a summer tour abroad and has declared Russia to be America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. Just last week, the Republican candidate, who plans a foreign policy speech Monday, raised eyebrows in Spain by holding it up as a prime example of government spending run amok.
That left Spaniards confused, and threatened to reinforce Romney’s perceived handicap in international affairs….
Spanish reaction to Romney was swift.
“What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.
Maria Dolores Cospedal, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party, noted that “Spain is not on fire from all sides like some on the outside have suggested.” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called it “very unfortunate that other countries should be put up as examples” when the facts are skewed.
At HuffPo, former Clinton economic adviser Laura Tyson corrected Romney’s inaccuracies:
Mitt Romney made a wildly inaccurate claim during Wednesday’s presidential debate, and Laura Tyson, a former top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, is calling him out….
But according to Romney’s campaign website, government spending accounted for only 24 percent of gross domestic product last year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that government spending is 23 percent of GDP.
“I have no idea where that number came from,” Tyson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Huffington Post after the debate. “That is certainly not a number that is consistent with the facts.”
Tyson said she couldn’t tell whether Romney said it “knowing it was wrong” or whether he “mixed the numbers up in his head.” But nonetheless, she said, “It’s clearly wrong.”
Tyson added that when it comes to taxes, “we’re not anywhere near countries like Spain.”
The Boston Globe reports that as many as 13,000 people may have gotten tainted steroid injections from a Framingham, MA pharmacy and could be at risk of getting meningitis.
US health officials on Monday said that 13,000 patients in 23 states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, have been injected with a potentially tainted steroid treatment made by a Framingham pharmacy, more information can be found here and linked to a national outbreak of meningitis.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its sweeping estimate of the reach of the crisis as it reported 14 new cases of the disease, and another death in Tennessee, which appears to be the hardest hit among the states where the rare and serious form of fungal meningitis has been confirmed.
“We know that 13,000 people received the injection,” said Jamila Jones, a public affairs specilialist for the CDC in Atlanta. “They received it at facilities across the country. They are at risk.”
So far, 105 cases and eight deaths have been confirmed nationally, the agency said.
The steroid, called methylprednisolone acetate, was made by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, which voluntarily ceased operations Oct. 3 amid a widening probe of the treatment and its use at dozens of health care facilities from New Hampshire to California.
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links!
Open Thread: Top Romney Aide Made Millions from ObamacarePosted: June 4, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Tea Party activists, The Right Wing, U.S. Politics, Voter Ignorance | Tags: Affordable Care Act, Department of Health and Human Services, Health care, Mike Leavitt, Mitt Romney, Obamacare, Rep. Jason Chaffetz 24 Comments
Lots of corporate news sources were buzzing over the weekend about Romney’s appointment of former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head up his transition team. It’s also assumed that Leavitt would have the inside track to get the plum role of Chief of Staff in a Romney administration. Leavitt is also the guy who hired Romney to turn around the scandal-plagued Winter Olympics in 2002.
According to Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Romney adviser, Leavitt is “the ideal candidate” for the transition job because of:
his three terms as Utah governor as well as serving as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.
“Mike Leavitt checks every box. It’s a combination of experience and personal relationship,” Chaffetz said. “He can help outline the parameters of what a transition would look like.”
Leavitt has been on board with the Romney campaign throughout the primaries; he has his own office at the Boston headquarters. He and Romney are close, says Politico, and they’re “a lot alike.”
One Romneyland figure said Leavitt’s influence is derived from the fact that he is a spoke in many of the concentric circles around the candidate. Leavitt is part of Romney’s orbit of Mormon associates, but he also sits in the realm of the policy gurus, political counselors, fellow governors and veterans of the Salt Lake Olympics.
So with little fanfare, he has become one of the most influential advisers to the candidate this election cycle. He has an office at the Boston headquarters, travels with Romney at times, has been summoned to rally donors and is tight enough with the high command that he scored an invite to campaign manager Matt Rhoades’s engagement party last month.
He’s also a surrogate and has headlined health care policy discussions at $10,000 per-person Beltway fundraisers for Romney.
Romney officials say Leavitt is often circumspect but has an E.F. Hutton-like effect when he does speak up; many in Boston believe he offers much of his advice directly to Romney — something Leavitt suggests is accurate.
Although it happened following Leavitt’s tenure, Utah was the second state after Massachusetts to institute universal health care. And Leavitt is the health care business–and he’s made millions in profits from Obamacare. At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald writes:
Leavitt, who served as Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush, leads a firm that has positioned itself as a leading consultancy to help implement the Affordable Care Act (PDF), and it’s already won contracts to do so.
Just two weeks ago, the company was awarded a $1 million contract with the state of New Mexico to help it build its exchanges, and Politico reported that the “size of his firm, Leavitt Partners, doubled in the year after the bill was signed as they won contracts to help states set up the exchanges funded by the legislation.”
On its web site, Leavitt Partners features prominently its “Health Insurance Exchange Intelligence Team,” an entire section of the business that advises clients on how to implement and respond to the health insurance exchanges created by Obamacare.
“The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) altered many of the fundamentals of healthcare coverage and financing,” the company’s website states. “Our team has a deep background and understanding of exchanges, from the policy side to the technical requirements and infrastructure necessary to operate an exchange. Our team members have unique experience in building exchanges and analyzing health insurance markets.”
Today, the right wingers have suddenly awakened from the collective trance that followed their reluctant recognition that Romney’s their guy now. And they are not happy about the Leavitt appointment. From TPM:
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Leavitt “strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges.” And his stance hasn’t changed: “We believe that the exchanges are the solution to small business insurance market and that’s gotten us sideways with some conservatives,” Leavitt’s top aide Rich McKeown told Politico.
“We’re troubled by it,” Dean Clancy, who runs health care advocacy for the Dick Armey-led conservative group FreedomWorks, told TPM Monday via email. “We’re very concerned. The tea party grassroots have always feared that Gov. Romney would be a weak standard bearer because of RomneyCare. This choice only reinforces those doubts. Tapping a high-profile ObamaCare profiteer is disturbing, there’s no way around it. … The tea party has been fighting exchanges in state after state.”
Michael Cannon, who directs health policy for the libertarian Cato Institute, reacted to the Leavitt choice in a blog post he penned: “Romney’s appointment of Leavitt is a first step toward flip-flopping — or Etch-a-Sketching, or Romneying(TM), or whatever — on ObamaCare repeal.”
The right wing blogs are in a tizzy too. Time to break out the popcorn!