12/13/2010 archive

VA Judge Rules HCR Mandates Unconstitutional

Today a Federal judge in Virginia ruled that the mandate for individuals to buy health care insurance from privet companies or face a penalty by the IRS is unconstitutional. This could unravel the insurance give away bill if it stands. Two other judges have rules that the bill is constitutional as it wends its way to the Supreme Court.

A federal district judge in Virginia ruled on Monday that the keystone provision in the Obama health care law is unconstitutional, becoming the first court in the country to invalidate any part of the sprawling act and ensuring that appellate courts will receive contradictory opinions from below.

Judge Henry E. Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, declined the plaintiff’s request to freeze implementation of the law pending appeal, meaning that there should be no immediate effect on the ongoing rollout of the law. But the ruling is likely to create confusion among the public and further destabilize political support for legislation that is under fierce attack from Republicans in Congress and in many statehouses.

In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions.

The link to Judge Hudson’s ruling is here

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman Block Those Metaphors

Like it or not – and I don’t – the Obama-McConnell tax-cut deal, with its mixture of very bad stuff and sort-of-kind-of good stuff, is likely to pass Congress. Then what?

The deal will, without question, give the economy a short-term boost. The prevailing view, as far as I can tell – and that includes within the Obama administration – is that this short-term boost is all we need. The deal, we’re told, will jump-start the economy; it will give a fragile recovery time to strengthen.

I say, block those metaphors. America’s economy isn’t a stalled car, nor is it an invalid who will soon return to health if he gets a bit more rest. Our problems are longer-term than either metaphor implies.

And bad metaphors make for bad policy. The idea that the economic engine is going to catch or the patient rise from his sickbed any day now encourages policy makers to settle for sloppy, short-term measures when the economy really needs well-designed, sustained support.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: The Specter Haunting Obama

American decline is the specter haunting our politics. This could be President Obama’s undoing – or it could provide him with the opportunity to revive his presidency.

Fear of decline is an old American story. Declinism ran rampant in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Stagflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, anxiety over Japan’s bid for economic dominance and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan all seemed to be symbols of a United States no longer in control of its destiny. . . . . .

For Obama, political renewal requires a bold and persistent campaign for national renewal. This would challenge his political opponents. But more important, it would challenge all of us.

Robert Kuttner: Social Security: The Coming Cave-in

If you think the Democratic base is mad at Obama now for making a craven deal with Republicans that continues tax breaks for the richest Americans and adds new ones for their heirs through a big cut in the estate tax, just wait a few weeks until Obama caves on Social Security.

How will this occur? The deficit commission appointed by the President has called for an increase in the retirement age, as well as other cuts in benefits over time. And the deal that Obama made with the Republicans just gave deficit hawks new ammunition by increasing the projected deficit by nearly $900 billion over a decade. Social Security will be in the cross-hairs.

The deficit commission has tried to camouflage these cuts by emphasizing that Social Security benefits for the very poor would not be reduced, and might even be increased. But in the commission’s proposal, the cuts would affect middle-class retirees. Larry Summers, who is stepping down as Obama’s economic chief, has refused to rule out cuts.

Bernie Sander’s Schools Obama

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke in the Senate floor for 8 hours ans 37 minutes schooling the his fellow Senators, the Nation and the President on why the tax bill is a bad deal for most Americans and the country as a whole. Keith Olbermann in a segment of “Countdown”, did an excellent summary of Sen. Sanders’ “Bernie-buster”.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

One commenter at Open Left asked if President Obama had trotted out former President Bill Clinton “wasn’t intended to drown out any news of Sanders? A Google News search for “Bernie Sanders filibuster” turns up no big media mentions. And searching “Bernie Sanders” only adds a Hill article talking about fundraising for Sanders.”

We heard you, Bernie, so did a lot of other people.

h/t Paul Rosenberg @ Open Left

What I hate about blogging.

Monday Business Edition

I hate repeating myself, and yet I feel people need to be reminded about… well… facts.

Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.

I woke up this morning convinced that someone, somewhere would be picking up on the fact that this “Tax Cut Stimulus Deal” is actually a A TAX HIKE for any Household in America making less than $40,000 a year (WHICH IS JUST ABOUT 50% OF THEM!) so your average Millionaire can pocket $70,000 a year.

And there’s the totally non-stimulative nature of continuing the Bush Tax Cuts for the Weathiest 2% to begin with.  Over 10 years it hasn’t contributed a single job AND people already have that money, they’re not going to be doing anything new with it.  Washington/Wall Street Economics just doesn’t add up in the ways (DID I MENTION A TAX HIKE ON 50% OF HOUSEHOLDS?) people understand.

And now Obama weighs effort to overhaul tax code.

I suppose I’m not surprised so much as appalled.

Tax Cuts don’t work.  Supply Side Trickle Down Voodoo Economics is a fraud.

But if you’re going to buy into that and get past your hefting bigotry and prejudice, then Mitt Romney is your boy and he’ll kick Obama’s ass.

Bloomberg denies interest, Dean and Feingold also, but blood is in the water.

One Term?  He’ll be lucky to make it to ’12 because he’ll be impeached over his corrupt deals on the Health Insurance Companies Welfare Mandate.

Can’t say I disagree.

The Why-Should-I-Get-Out-Of-My-Chair Gap in 2012

Robert Reich

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In the 2010 midterm elections Democrats suffered from a so-called “enthusiasm gap.”

If Dems agree to the tax plan just negotiated by the White House with Republican leaders, they’ll face a “why-should-I-get-up-out-of-my-chair” gap that will make 2010’s Dem enthusiasm seem like a pep rally by comparison.

It’s a $70,000 gift for every millionaire, financed by a gigantic hole in the federal budget that will put on the cutting board education, infrastructure, and everything else most other Americans need and want.

Business News below.

On This Day in History: December 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.a

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 18 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1642, Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.

New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous Maori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica).

The majority of Zealand’s population is of European descent; the indigenous Maori are the largest minority. Asians and non-Maori Polynesians are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas. The most commonly spoken language is English.

New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on many topics, including lack of corruption, high educational attainment and economic freedom. Its cities also consistently rank among the world’s most liveable.

Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the country’s head of state and is represented by a Governor-General, and executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet of New Zealand.

Polynesian settlers

New Zealand is one of the most recently settled major landmasses. The first known settlers were Eastern Polynesians who, according to most researchers, arrived by canoe in about AD 1250-1300. Some researchers have suggested an earlier wave of arrivals dating to as early as AD 50-150; these people then either died out or left the islands. Over the following centuries these settlers developed into a distinct culture now known as Maori. The population was divided into iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes) which would cooperate, compete and sometimes fight with each other. At some point a group of Maori migrated to the Chatham Islands where they developed their distinct Moriori culture.

European explorers

The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman and his crew in 1642. Maori killed four of the crew and no Europeans returned to New Zealand until British explorer James Cook’s voyage of 1768-71. Cook reached New Zealand in 1769 and mapped almost the entire coastline. Following Cook, New Zealand was visited by numerous European and North American whaling, sealing and trading ships. They traded European food and goods, especially metal tools and weapons, for Maori timber, food, artefacts and water. On occasion, Europeans traded goods for sex.

The potato and the musket transformed Maori agriculture and warfare, beginning in the frequently visited north then spreading southwards. The resulting Musket Wars encompassed over 600 battles between 1801 and 1840, killing 30,000-40,000 Maori, although introduced diseases would play an even greater role in the Maori population’s decline to around 40% of its pre-contact level during the 19th century. From the early 19th century, Christian missionaries began to settle New Zealand, eventually converting most of the Maori population, although their initial inroads were mainly among the more disaffected elements of society.


Morning Shinbun Monday December 13

Monday’s Headlines:

Cancún seen as interim step toward global treaty


Risky Borrowers Find Credit Available Again, at a Price

As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border


Kosovo PM Thaçi claims election is in his grasp

Berlusconi’s fate could hang by a single vote

Middle East

Intelligence chiefs fear nuclear war between Israel and Tehran

Israel rejects Jerusalem split plan


Crime, politics and terrorism together a combustible mix

America’s Unsavory Friends in Central Asia


Gbagbo accuses foreign powers of wooing army

Latin America

Detroit’s Monsters Thrive on a Diet of Cheap Gas

$52bn of American aid and still Afghans are dying of starvation

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kabul on the rampant corruption that has left the country on its knees

Monday, 13 December 2010  

The most extraordinary failure of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan is that the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars has had so little impact on the misery in which 30 million Afghans live. As President Barack Obama prepares this week to present a review of America’s strategy in Afghanistan which is likely to focus on military progress, US officials, Afghan administrators, businessmen and aid workers insist that corruption is the greatest threat to the country’s future.  

In a series of interviews, they paint a picture of a country where $52bn (£33bn) in US aid since 2001 has made almost no impression on devastating poverty made worse by spreading violence and an economy dislocated by war.

Pique the Geek 20101212: LED Christmas (and Other) Lights

One of the more revolutionary innovations in lighting is the Light Emitting Diode, or LED.  This cutting edge technology was first discovered 103 years ago!  However, only comparatively recently have LEDs been either efficient or cheap enough for wide use.

LEDs operate just like any other diode, allowing an electric current to pass, for the most part, in only one direction.  They are built by placing into contact a P-type (positive) and an N-type (negative) semiconductor and passing a current from the N to the P materials.  In the case of LEDs, when the electrons and holes recombine, light is emitted.  In most diodes, heat is emitted.  Actually, LEDs do produce some heat as well and this becomes important for reasons to be discussed later.

Prime Time

Iggles @ ‘Boys (yes, yes I do hate the ‘Boys more.  Thank you for asking.).  Amazing Race (three teams left).  Simpsons and American Dad (premiers), Family Guy (hour long Holiday Special premier).  Nutcracker.

Otherwise just premiers.


Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Guess who’s back?

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Six police among 14 killed in Iraq suicide attacks

by Bassim al-Anbari, AFP

Sun Dec 12, 10:50 am ET

RAMADI, Iraq (AFP) – Suicide attacks targeting a police checkpoint and a Shiite Muslim procession in western and central Iraq killed up to 14 people on Sunday, including six policemen and a journalist.

The violence comes two weeks ahead of a deadline for premier-designate Nuri al-Maliki to form a cabinet in a bid to end months of government impasse, and days before the climax of the Shiite commemoration of Ashura.

In the western city of Ramadi, a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives near Anbar provincial government offices, killing 11 people, including six policemen, a doctor said.