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Court: Senator lacks standing to file anti-Obamacare lawsuit

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 16:30
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), congressman Paul Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attend a pancake breakfast in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, April 1, 2012. Romney, just two days before the Wisconsin primary on April 3, continues to spend h Sen. Ron Johnson, left, filed the lawsuit As Steve Benen notes, this is not good news for House Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit against President Obama:
A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson’s Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff. Why did the judge toss it out?
Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Johnson and fellow plaintiff Brooke Ericson lacked standing, siding with the argument made by the government’s lawyers. Lack of standing is precisely the problem Boehner will face in his lawsuit. Just as Johnson couldn't convince the court he had been injured by Obamacare, Boehner will have a difficult time as well.

But if you're a conservative who thinks President Obama has stepped so far over the line that nothing short of impeachment will make you happy, then you're in luck, because according to the legal geniuses that devised Boehner's lawsuit, if it is dismissed for lack of standing, impeachment is the only option that will be left:

Rivkin and Foley claim that a similar situation exists in their challenge to the president’s schedule for implementing parts of Obamacare — “without judicial review of the president’s suspension, there is literally no other way[,] short of impeachment,” to challenge President Obama’s actions. So maybe this is bad news for cowardly RINOs like Johnson and Boehner who merely want to sue Obama. But you can already hear the brave conservatives who want to impeach him rubbing their hands with glee.

Grimes hits McConnell's 'Not my job' remark in new ad

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:25

In a new ad similar in style to her previous ad on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's support for Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare budget, Kentucky Secretary of State and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Alison Lundergan Grimes is taking aim at McConnell's statement earlier this year that creating jobs isn't one of his jobs.

The ad features unemployed coal miner David Stanley who asks McConnell:

Mr. McConnell, in the last two years, we’ve lost almost half of our coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky. Why’d you say it’s not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky? According to Associated Press, the ad will run statewide.

As with the earlier ad, the spot is not simply about attacking McConnell: It also seeks to define Grimes as being the true Kentuckian in the race and as someone who will be a champion for the state in the U.S. Senate. And as you can from the ad, that's a message Grimes is capable of carrying herself, unlike Mitch McConnell, who almost certainly will appear in far fewer of his ads than Grimes will in hers.

New report shows negative impact of names like R*dsk*ns on Indian and Alaskan Native children

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:00
Some honoring of Indians by a R*dsk*ns fan. A new report from the Center for American Progress concludes that Indian-oriented team names and mascots damage the self-worth of American Indian and Alaskan Native children. In Missing the Point: The Real Impact of Native Mascots and Team Names on American Indian and Alaska Native Youth, authors Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips found that studies show such names contribute to a negative educational environment:
Research shows that these team Indian-oriented names and mascots can establish an unwelcome and hostile learning environment for AI/AN students. It also reveals that the presence of AI/AN mascots directly results in lower self-esteem and mental health for AI/An adolescents and young adults. And just as importantly, studies show that these mascots undermine the educational experience of all students, particularly those with little or no contact with indigenous and AI/AN people. In other words, these stereotypical representations are too often understood as factual representations and thus "contribute to the development of cultural biases and prejudices. This is hardly the first time the negative impact of such names and mascots on Native children has been noted. In 2005, the American Psychological Association called for an "immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations." The American Sociological Association said in 2007 that all AI/AN names, mascots and logos should be done away with. The American Counseling Association in 2011 passed a resolution asking their members to push for the elimination of these stereotypes. Stephanie A. Fryberg was the lead author of a study in 2008, Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots. Most recently, Michael A. Friedman compiled a report on various studies in his The Harmful Psychological Effects of the Washington Football Mascot.

Nor is Indian opposition to the names, logos and mascots new or some invention of whites, as has been claimed by some critics who oppose changing team names and mascots. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a pan-Indian advocacy group founded in 1944, has been pushing for an end to such stereotypes since 1968.

Stegman traces his lineage to the Assiniboine First Nations tribe of Saskatchewan and has previously worked for the 70-year-old NCAI and as majority counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs under the leadership of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, who retired last year. Phillips is a professor at American University Washington College of Law. Although the most prominent controversy over team names and mascots surrounds the National Football League's Washington R*dsk*ns, the two authors point out that it is hardly the only one.

In fact, at one time, more than 3,000 teams in elementary and secondary schools had Indian-oriented names, mascots and logos; more than 2,000 have changed their names under pressure from tribes, individual Indians and their allies and the NCAI. (Full disclosure: One of those schools is Arvada High in Colorado, where I graduated 50 years ago. In 1962, the only two Indians at the school, my Kiowa friend Tim Kloberdanz and me, were ridiculed for seeking an end to the R*dsk*ns team name, mascot and logo. It wasn't until the 1990s, after a huge community fight, that the name was changed to the Reds, and subsequently the Bulldogs.)

Below the fold you can read how some Indians view Indian-oriented team names and mascots.

Detroit retirees vote to accept pension cuts rather than risking catastrophe

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 14:53

A reminder of who and what we're talking about here. Detroit's public retirees were offered the choice between taking a serious but hopefully not catastrophic cut to their pensions and risking catastrophic cuts in the fight to preserve all of what they earned. Those who voted overwhelmingly chose to take the guaranteed but limited cut:
Under the city’s plan, general municipal retirees could expect 4.5 percent cuts to their pension payments, as well as an end to cost-of-living raises. Retired firefighters and police officers would see no cuts in their monthly pensions checks, but could expect smaller than expected cost-of-living raises.

Among retired and active firefighters and police who chose to cast votes, 82 percent voted in favor of the plan, officials said late Monday. And among general workers and retirees, 73 percent voted in favor. About 15,600 workers and retirees opted to vote from among about 32,000 who could have.

Two major bond insurers plan to fight the deal, saying the retirees getting to keep their modest pensions would be unfair to big-time finance companies. Because being a janitor or clerical worker providing decades of service to a city with part of your pay deferred to provide a pension for your retirement and being a giant bond insurer making a calculated risk are exactly the same thing, right? Alan Pyke offers some of the background that led Detroit's retirees to this point:
Questions remain about the broader bankruptcy process. There is significant evidence that top officials including emergency manager Kevyn Orr were always planning to push the city into bankruptcy court. Workers, pension fund representatives, and even the judge in the case say they were railroaded at various points by Orr, who managed to preserve the narrative that pension cuts were both inevitable and just despite the fact that it was Wall Street and mayoral corruption, not workers, that blew up Detroit’s accounting books. Orr’s numbers on pension shortfalls appeared to be so exaggerated that one municipal financing expert accused him of “pension voodoo” last summer. And Orr’s old lawfirm, Jones Day, is charging the city tens of millions of dollars for work on the bankruptcy case. In that context, getting away with "only" a 4.5 percent reduction and the elimination of cost of living adjustments to the pensions around which they planned their retirements actually does look like a win for Detroit retirees. A twisted, awful, unjust one, but worlds better than the total destruction it looked like they might be facing.

Ryan budget depends on Obamacare subsidies GOP wants courts to strike down

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 14:39
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) shows a copy of the When two appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on whether Obamacare's health insurance subsidies apply to the 34 states that chose to let the federal government run their exchanges, Republicans were quick to pounce on the one decision they liked. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the DC Circuit's decision a "repudiation of Obamacare" which "should shield citizens from Obamacare's insidious penalties, mandates, and subsidies." House Speaker John Boehner concurred, insisting that the ruling constituted "further proof that President Obama's health care law is completely unworkable."

Of course, what is completely unworkable is any Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act. After four years of failing to put forward their own plan, Boehner's pledge Tuesday that "Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs" is laughable on its face. And as it turns out, the Paul Ryan budget that 95 percent of Congressional  Republicans voted for three years in a row depends on every single dollar Uncle Sam now raises to fund subsidies in all 50 states.

In June 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare's individual mandate, arguing that Internal Revenue Service under the government's taxation power could collect penalties from Americans in all 50 states who failed to obtain health insurance as required by the ACA. For the Republicans who voted to repeal Obamacare's coverage provisions as part of the Ryan House GOP budget, it's a good thing he did. As I explained when Ted Cruz and his allies sought to shut down the federal government last fall if Obamacare wasn't repealed and defunded:

While repealing Obamacare, slashing Medicaid funding by a third and leaving roughly 38 million more people uninsured, the Ryan budget still runs up trillions in new red ink thanks to its massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy. Paul Ryan's blueprint does not, as Republicans claim, balance in 10 year because it does not identify a single tax break it will close to fill the gaping hole left by almost $5 trillion in tax cuts. And yet, the Ryan plan still assumes every single dollar in revenue generated to fund the Affordable Care Act. The $716 billion in savings from Medicare providers, the capital gains and Medicare payroll tax surcharges for households earning over $250,000 a year and other new revenue raisers are all still in there. Follow me below the fold for Ezra Klein's take on "Paul Ryan's love-hate relationship with Obamacare."

Midday open thread: Georgia primary run-offs tonight, Schumer wants to end partisan primaries

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 14:10
  • Today's comic by Jen Sorensen is 1-800-GOON-SQUAD: Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - 1-800-GOON-SQUAD
  • We return to Georgia for primary runoffs tonight. Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston are locked in a nasty Republican race for Senate, and the winner will need to quickly get ready to take on Democrat Michelle Nunn. We also have Republican runoffs in three safely red seats, and tonight's winners may be on Capital Hill a long time to come. We've assembled a guide to all the key races, and you can join us starting at 4 PM PT for our liveblog at Daily Kos Elections.
  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook July 21:
    NYTimes Profiles The "Part-Time Hell" Offered To American Workers, by Dartagnan

    MI wind generation hits 168 billion KWhrs for 2013, CA feeds 4,767 megawatts of solar into grid, by HoundDog

    Detroit Suspends Water Shutoffs. Claims "This is Not a Concession.", by jpmassar

  • Sky News reporter apologizes for picking through child's luggage at Malaysian plane's crash site: At the weekend I got things wrong. If there was someone to apologise to in person, I would. While presenting Sky's lunchtime coverage of the flight MH17 disaster, I stooped down to look at a piece of debris. It was a child's suitcase. I put my hand inside and lifted up a water bottle and a set of keys. As I did so my mental circuit-breaker finally engaged and I apologised instantly on-air for what I was doing. [...]

    Other journalists, some well known broadcasters, were handling belongings and speaking to camera. In a place without rules, I foolishly took that as a precedent.

    And so during that lunchtime broadcast I stood above a pile of belongings, pointing to items strewn across the ground. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pink drinking flask. It looked familiar. My six-year-old daughter, Kitty, has one just like it.

  • Chuck Schumer calls for end of partisan primaries: Because, you know, the oligarchy wouldn't rule and we'd all get along if we just moved toward the center.
  • NBC analyst Tom Dungy says he wouldn't have drafted openly gay Michael Sam: The comments in an interview with the Tampa Tribune drew fire after Dungy, the well-loved former NFL coach said he wouldn't have drafted Sam not because he thinks the man shouldn't be allowed to play but because of "I wouldn't want to deal with all of it [...] It’s not going to be totally smooth […] things will happen.’’ He didn't specify what things. And he immediately got blasted on Twitter where he is normally quite active in tweeting to his half-million followers.
  • Fox News, MSNBC, CNN all take hits in satisfaction survey: The annual American Customer Satisfaction Index found that the three cable channels saw a decline in satisfaction of people reading their websites while USA Today rose. Fox took the worst hit at -7 percent, with CNN at -4 percent, while MSNBC was at -3 percent. USA Today was up 4 percent and The Huffington Post was up 1 percent.
  • Idaho activists for gay and gender rights get their day in court: Some 110 protesters were arrested during nine of 15 silent protests at the state capitol. They sought to add four words to the state's anti-discrimination laws: "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." Idaho's law doesn't protect gays and transgenders from losing their jobs or housing because of discrimination. Most of the charges were for misdemeanor trespassing. But the overall costs for bail, court costs and fees total about $20,000. Of those sentenced Monday, all had been arrested at least twice during the protests. In addition to a token fine of $10 to $70, the protesters were ordered to perform community service of 10 to 70 hours, depending on how many times they had been arrested.
  • New study shows the cost of putting beef on your table: Compared with dairy, poultry, pork and eggs, it takes 28 times more land and 11 times more water, creates five times more greenhouse gases and six times more reactive nitrogen (from fertilizer) to raise equivalent amounts of beef. The reason? Raising cattle for food is inefficient. Cattle raisers must feed the animals many calories to produce a single calorie of edible beef.
  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin discusses the latest ACA doomsaying flop, GA-Sen, Schumer's op-ed backing "top-two" open primaries & the still-imaginary Elizabeth Warren candidacy. Also: listener comments, Halbig news & more on Iceland's "Best Party."

McDonald's fires woman arrested for letting her kid go to the park alone

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:43
A disgusting, terrible story, just got disgusting-er and terribler: McDonald's has fired Debra Harrell, the woman who was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter play alone at the park while she was at work. Because what else is a working mother who can't afford expensive summer camps do?

Harrell originally had her daughter come to work with her and play on a laptop during her summer vacation, but their home was burglarized and the laptop stolen, so she allowed her daughter to go to a well-populated park with a cell phone for emergencies. And for that she was arrested. Now:

While Robert Phillips, the attorney representing her pro bono at McGowan, Hood & Felder, said that she was released from jail the day after she was arrested on bond, he confirmed that she had been let go from her job. He didn’t have any information as to why. A spokesperson for McDonald’s declined to comment, saying it is inappropriate to discuss a human resources issue. She also said the company is cooperating with local police in their investigation of the situation.

The good news is that Harrell has been reunited with her daughter, as Phillips confirmed. But the case from the Department of Social Services is still ongoing. “Whenever there’s an allegation of a crime, and in this case the child is considered the victim even though she wasn’t harmed…allegedly perpetrated by a family member, DSS has a mandate to come in and remove the child from immediate harm,” he noted. “They were just doing what the law requires them to do.”

Immediate harm? Going to the park with a phone in case of emergency is immediate harm? The idea that children should never be more than five feet from their parents is getting ridiculously out of control, and, of course, poor women and especially poor black women are being made the victims of this overprotective parenting ethic. Bad enough for all mothers (because you know it's overwhelmingly mothers bearing the brunt of the over-parenting requirement) that kids are now supposed to be closely watched at every moment to the exclusion of all else, but of course it's the women who can't afford nannies and summer camps, and especially the women who are viewed with suspicion and doubt, who actually face the choice between making a living and having their children taken away.

If you're making less than $8 an hour at McDonald's, just what are you supposed to do with your child during summer vacation? Not working makes you a bad mother in the eyes of too many, because you're then a welfare queen blah blah blah, but working makes you just as much a bad mother in the same sets of eyes because your child is either sitting in McDonald's all day long or, heaven forbid, playing at the park. It's a vicious catch-22 laid on top of an oppressive ethic of parenting that has mysteriously taken over the country durin g the past decade or two. And now this woman who was clearly fighting like hell to take care of her daughter the best she could has been arrested, has lost her job, and is under investigation by the Department of Social Services.

Bob Dole still advocating for U.N. Convention on the Disabled: Will the Senate ratify it this time?

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:30
Guy wearing tinfoil hat If you think wheelchair ramps are the gateway to worldwide domination by the U.N., congratulations:
the Republican Party is for you. Few things make for stranger theater than watching the old guard of the Republican Party try to reason with the clearly batshit insane ranks that rose up to take their place. For Republican ex-presidential candidate Bob Dole, ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a no-brainer, a world effort to codify the standards to which nations should be held in regards to their disabled citizens. There's nothing much controversial in there, and it's largely based on United States law to begin with. When it got to the Senate in 2012, Bob Dole was on the Senate floor in a wheelchair pushing his former colleagues to ratify it, but it failed dismally because the forces of batshit crazy are far, far stronger than an ex-presidential candidate could hope to be.
Farris mounted a public campaign against the treaty when the Senate took it up in 2012, fanning concerns among prominent conservatives like Rick Santorum and The Heritage Foundation that it could infringe on the rights of parents whose children have disabilities, threaten states’ rights and become a legal tool for pro-choice advocates pushing against restrictive abortion laws. That's underselling it. When I was at CPAC there was an entire panel on this and other schemes of the United Nations to something-something, and there the audience was told by the supposed actual lawyers and experts that these conventions would allow the United Nations to come and take your children if they did not feel they were being cared for or educated properly. This is what Rick Santorum and the rest of the pants-wetting, Agenda 21-obsessed right absolutely believes will happen, once again because the entire movement is based on one asinine conspiracy theory after another, all self-tailored for maximum froth and panic, and it was this contingent of the right that convinced Republican senators to kill the treaty the first time around. I'm not kidding. They think treaties like this are a pretext to the United Nations invading us (with our own army, apparently) and taking our children for re-education and turning us all into vegetarians and communists and subservient to our endangered manatee overlords. They furthermore think that "liberals" have been plotting to craft these treaties to do all these things in order to turn America over to the all-powerful United Nations, thus circumventing conservatives to destroy American self-rule. You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

More below the fold:

Fox News anchor breaks the news: Supreme Court rules against Obamacare

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 13:30
Fox News anchor Jon Scott winces with chyron reading Not even the Fox Chyron writers got the story as wrong as Jon Scott Things you can only learn on Fox News, this time courtesy of anchor Jon Scott:
Obamacare has taken two consecutive hits now from the Supreme Court. First the Hobby Lobby decision, now this. Not only that, said Scott, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest appeared to be "thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court" by dismissing the decision.

Now, if you're scratching your head and wondering how the Supreme Court managed to issue a ruling against Obamacare without you finding out about it, don't despair: There was no Supreme Court decision. Instead, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that Obamacare does not authorize subsides in states with federally-run exchanges. The panel's decision, however, was far from definitive: two previous courts had reached the opposite conclusion, and shortly after the ruling, a third court weighed in, upholding Obamacare exchanges. Nonetheless, it took Scott nearly five minutes to finally clear things up:

The appeals court in Richmond, which is a separate appeals court from the one in D.C., just issued a ruling on apparently the very same topic. They decided that the Obamacare subsidies are legal. So you've got two courts, equal in status—two appeals courts—with very different rulings. That would seem like it's going to hasten this decision in the lap of the U.S. Supreme Court. Yeah, it hadn't "just issued a ruling." That ruling had been out for nearly an hour, yet Scott still managed to botch the story from the start. I guess it's better to get things right late than never, but I really do feel bad for the thousands of Fox viewers who were no doubt crushed to learn that despite reports to the contrary, Obamacare lives on.

North Carolina voters are extremely unexcited about Thom Tillis

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:07
Thom Tillis attends a debate between the four top-polling Republican candidates in North Carolina for the U.S. Senate, at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina April 22, 2014. Picture taken April 22, 2014. To match USA-NORTHCAROLINA-SENATE REUTERS/ One of the Republican Party's paths to Senate control was supposed to go straight through North Carolina, where Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan was supposed to be mortally wounded by Obamacare. But Hagan not only holds onto a lead in a new Public Policy Polling poll—her margin is growing. Hagan leads Republican nominee Thom Tillis by a seven-point margin, 41 percent to 34 percent, with a Libertarian candidate drawing eight percent. In June, Hagan's lead was five points, and in May it was just two points.

How does Hagan, with job performance ratings of 40 percent approve to 50 percent disapprove, have a growing lead? Partly it's that Libertarian candidate's eight percent:

... Hagan is very much being propped up right now by the 8% Haugh is receiving, which does not seem likely to hold through until November. When Haugh voters are reallocated to who they would support if they had to pick between Hagan and Tillis, her lead drops to 42-39. But while that is a serious note of caution, it points to the fact that voters really, really don't like Tillis, the Speaker of the state House, who is seen favorably by just 24 percent and unfavorably by 47 percent; just 19 percent of voters approve of the job the state legislature is doing, with 57 percent disapproving.

What, a guy who can't take criticism from a woman without dismissing it as "born out of emotions" and thinks that white people are "the traditional population" of North Carolina isn't warm, cuddly, and beloved by voters? Thinking that the state has the right to ban contraceptives doesn't endear you to voters in the wake of Hobby Lobby? The poll finds that Hagan has a 44-27 lead among women, and that 54 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who wants to restrict access to affordable birth control, so maybe no, Tillis's position is not actually in line with his state's voters.

This is still going to be a tough race, with millions of dollars in outside spending from the Koch brothers and the like. But once again, Republicans have come up with a candidate who's going to be a really hard sell to voters—because of his ardent embrace of Republican policies and his failure to hide that well enough.

Second Obamacare ruling of day upholds subsidies in federal exchanges

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:38
Speaker John Boehner blows his nose during the 2014 State of the Union. Well, that didn't last long—roughly two hours after a D.C. circuit court panel ruled that Obamacare does not allow subsidies in federally-run exchanges, a panel in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Virginia, has unanimously ruled that Obamacare does allow such subsidies.

If you're keeping score at home, that means three courts have ruled that Obamacare does allow subsidies in federally-run exchanges and one has not.

9:40 AM PT: I love this—shortly before the new ruling came out, House Speaker John Boehner celebrated the day's first ruling with a statement saying:

Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s health care law is completely unworkable.  It cannot be fixed. Nice try, John. Better luck next time.

9:58 AM PT: From the opinion:

What they may not do is rely on our help to deny to millions of Americans desperately - needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear.

Not a surprise: Predictions of Obamacare premium spikes were wrong

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:38
President Barack Obama smiling and holding Do Republican "experts" on these things ever tire of being wrong? No, Obamacare has not led to massive premium spikes.
Nearly 20 states have released preliminary information about premiums for insurance policies sold on their insurance exchanges, and the nightmare scenarios have not come to pass. In most of those states, the average increase across all exchange plans is in the single digits. [...]

Larry Levitt, vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said he's surprised by the variation in proposed changes but that on average, premiums are working out to about what he expected: hikes of 7 percent to 8 percent in most places.

Rises of 7 or 8 percent per year are still nothing to sneeze at, but in the years before Obamacare took effect, I would have been giddy to have our family's yearly premium increases rise by only 7 or 8 percent instead of the more typical double or triple that.

In any event, all the people claiming that premiums are skyrocketing have been proven wrong, so they ought to stop claiming that now. They won't, of course, but if they were decent human beings they would.

Now they've gone too far. Time for Harry Reid to blow up the filibuster and confirm all nominees now

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:18
Obamacare repeal If at first you don't succeed ... Now they've gone too far. Two Republican judges (on a three-judge panel) just issued a decision that would gut Obamacare by denying subsidies to anyone currently receiving them through a federally run (as opposed to state run) exchange. The decision is, in terms of actual jurisprudence, a farce that relies on "a glorified typo," as this analysis makes clear.

The time for us to recognize that the Republicans have completely politicized the courts has long passed. Too many Republican judges see their role as nothing more than standing in the way of duly passed legislation that they and their masters don't like. There is no other possible explanation for a decision as mind-numbing as the one issued today by a 2-1 margin (one that will almost certainly be overturned by the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals).

Given that, Harry Reid should do what he should have done long ago: Declare the filibuster dead for all judicial nominations. No more debates. No more quorum calls. No more cloture. The nominating process has long since ceased to be meaningful, and has become nothing more than a way to tie up the Senate and prevent the majority party from doing the people's business. It's dead.

Harry Reid should call out Republicans for what they have done, and then, in one fell swoop, bring all existing nominations to the floor and confirm them in rapid succession, by simple majority vote. The Republican Party has turned the judicial system into nothing more than another part of the legislature. Let's end the charade and call them out for having done so.

Perry 'militarizing our border' in response to migrant children

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:26
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, speaks during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014.                             REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (SWITZERLAND  - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT)   - RTX17RDR Texas Gov. Rick Perry What to do about unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S. border continues to be a fight in the U.S. Senate and in Texas. In the Senate, Democrats are trying to pass emergency funding requested by President Obama before the August recess, but Republicans are opposed because it might not be punitive enough:
[Sen. Jeff Sessions] demanded that any supplemental funding request sent to Obama include a requirement that funding be blocked for federal initiatives that grants undocumented immigrants work permits—such as to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In Texas, meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry is calling out the National Guard, and Rep. Joaquin Castro is among the Democrats unhappy about that:
“We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis,” the Democratic congressman said in an email. “The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out Border Patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?”

“Militarizing our border is the wrong response to the arrival of children,” Castro continued. “I remain hopeful that our state can provide a more helpful response than to send armed soldiers to greet children seeking refuge from violence.”

But Perry clearly sees this as a chance to regain his swagger in advance of 2016, and why wouldn't he, as the recipient of tongue baths as lavish as the one Philip Rucker (name and shame!) gives him in the Washington Post: Perry, according to Rucker, "looked like a Texas A&M football coach giving the Aggies a pep talk" at one speech to conservative activists, where he "scored a touchdown." "There’s little doubt," according to Rucker, that Perry's self-assessment of having become "wiser" is accurate. But despite his rhetorical touchdowns and his workout schedule ("sit-ups, pull-ups, crunches and time on a stationary bicycle," in case you're wondering), and a new "look more bookish than buckaroo—and more in keeping with his attempt at intellectual reinvention," Perry's "humility stems from a deep Christian faith" ... according to one of his advisers.

So why wouldn't Perry militarize the border? It'll get him points with the Republican base and apparently he's now a serious, glasses-wearing political thinker as far as the traditional media is concerned. All he needs now is to figure out how to show up wearing a flight suit and bearing a "mission accomplished" banner to a center where migrant children are being detained.

Federal court panel votes to defund Obamacare, but ruling isn't the last word

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:11
U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney pauses as he gives his reaction to the Supreme Court's upholding key parts of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul law in Washington June 28, 2012.  Romney said on Thursday that the Amer As expected, a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has voted by a two-to-one margin to defund Obamacare in states which did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. At issue is whether Obamacare allows subsidies in federally-established exchanges.

According to the plaintiffs in Halbig v. Burwell, Obamacare does not allow subsides in federally-established exchanges because the provision authorizing subsidies on exchanges defines subsidies as entities "established by the state" in which the exchange operates. The ruling is an absurdly narrow interpretation of the law, and will be immediately appealed to the full circuit court.

If it were to be upheld, it would essentially destroy Obamacare in most of the country, but based on the merits of the case, it should overturned when it goes before the full court. Even if it isn't overturned, the case could still be appealed to the Supreme Court, so while the anti-Obamacare ruling might make for a banner day for Fox News, there's nothing conclusive about it.

8:15 AM PT:

Very important: Obama admin official says that while appeals are pending Obamacare's "premium tax credits will continue, unchanged."


They're keeping kids in kennels

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:07
Two female detainees sleep in a holding cell, as the children are separated by age group and gender, as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Nogales Placement C Two refugee girls sleep in a holding cell, as the children are separated by age group and gender, as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Fucking animals—the border enforcement people, literally putting kids in kennels, conservatives foaming at the mouth at the presence of desperate children, and the Obama Administration, trying to make it easier to deport these kids.

Just think how desperate you have to be to send your children off on this dangerous journey north—it's a Sophie's Choice between near-guaranteed death at home at the hand of criminal gangs or drug cartels, or some chance of survival in the United States (or Costa Rica or Panama, which are also facing a refugee influx). These kids aren't looking for better economic opportunities or a better life, they are looking for life itself.

And then, after their harrowing journey north, they get placed in kennels.

Update: TexMex in the comments links to the Amazon wish-list from the Texas Young Democrats, who are sending basic supplies to these refugee children. I've just bought $100 worth of stuff.

Update II: Okay, I lied. I ended up buying $255 worth of stuff.

Poll: Just 20% of Americans think they could live on the minimum wage

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:08
Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California May 15, 2014. The march was held as part of an international protest by fast-food workers who planned to go on strikes in 150 c The vast majority of Americans know they couldn't support their families on the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. According to a new poll, just 20 percent believe they could "support your household on a minimum-wage salary, which comes out to $1,250 per month, or about $15,000 per year."

The poll, done by Public Policy Polling for Americans United for Change, also finds 54 percent support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, with 37 percent of Republicans supporting it, which PPP's polling memo notes is "an unusually high level of support from GOP voters for an Obama backed policy initiative." And Obama has indeed been pushing $10.10 hard enough that you would expect many Republicans to oppose it on principle (the principle being f*** Obama).

Asked "Many big companies oppose raising the minimum wage, even though their minimum wage employees make so little they are eligible for Medicaid and food stamps. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? 'It's wrong that profitable companies get this kind of indirect subsidy from the taxpayers by paying poverty-level wages,'" 61 percent of those polled agreed; 74 percent agreed that "Someone who works full-time should be paid enough to keep them out of poverty."

It's particularly interesting to contemplate the 20 percent of people who say they could support their households on $1,250 a month. Some, surely, are people earning far, far more who take the view that they could lifehack poverty better than any minimum-wage worker and be happy and comfortable on $1,250 a month. But it's entirely possible that others are earning minimum wage and only getting part-time hours, thinking "man, a full-time income would be great." Or people who've been jobless for six months or more and lost their emergency unemployment aid while facing discrimination in an economy without enough jobs to go around. That's the sad thing: America has enough people struggling in poverty and enough rich people who think they're smart enough to do poverty better to leave a big question mark about who thinks they could live on $1,250 a month. Because you just might be able to live on it, but in the vast majority of the country, you wouldn't be living well.

Marco Rubio compares himself to Hillary ... Hillary wins

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:07
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughs before delivering remarks on American leadership at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas Republican Sen. Marco Rubio—still pretending that he's not sure if he's running for president in 2016—had this to say during a recent interview:
Rubio, who is 43, said his continuing career in public service is motivated by the nation being at a "generational, transformational crossroads." He dismissed Clinton as being on the wrong side of those particular tracks.

"I just think she's a 20th century candidate," he said. "I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now."

Well, sure. Rubio opposes marriage equality, opposes equal pay for women, opposes allowing women to make their own health care decisions, opposes paying workers a living wage, opposes immigration reform ... the list of issues where Rubio is on the wrong side of history goes on and on. But he's the guy for a generational, transformational change. Assuming you're talking about a transformation back to the 19th century anyway.

(We'll just ignore Rubio's less-than-subtle dig at Hillary's age.)

Idaho casino dumps Ted Nugent

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:05
Ted Nugent in concert, wearing Native American headdress, 08-10-08 Well, this escalated quickly:
Less than seven hours after being asked about the racist legacy of rock entertainer Ted Nugent, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians this evening cancelled a scheduled performance next month by the controversial performer. Marketing and public relations staffers seemed unaware of his racist past, but made a quick decision once they were contacted about the appearance:
“Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keen said in a statement e-mailed to media outlets.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights – for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” the statement said.

Chief Allan, Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, issued a one-sentence statement about the cancellation, without explaining how Nugent got booked in the first place.

“We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way,” Allen said in the statement.

Media Matters and the SPLC's Hatewatch blog have documented a few of the aging rocker's offensive rants:
The legendary rocker, who also is on the board of the National Rifle Association, has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year.

That came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee.” Nugent previously called Obama a Nazi and a “piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun.” He once called Hilary Clinton a “toxic cunt” and, on another topic, said, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best [if] had the South won the Civil War.”

Perhaps some of the venues on Ted Nugent's current tour list need a quick primer on Ted Nugent's background as well? Full list below the fold.

Cartoon: 1-800-GOON-SQUAD

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 08:50

(Click to enlarge)

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen