Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Mashup Part Two (10/18/10)

(Part One is here.)

  • The New York Times reported the following yesterday (here, in the matter of campaign finance reform)…

    Beyond that, conservatives say they are guided by less partisan motives: the fervent belief, shared by some liberal groups like the A.C.L.U., that the First Amendment should prevent the government from enacting campaign finance restrictions that can chill free speech, even if it means giving anonymity to donors and rights to corporations.

    “There’s a common ideological mind-set that I think we all share,” (Repug campaign-finance lawyer Michael) Toner said.
    Says you (and the story notes how Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, perhaps the biggest corporate shill in Congress, likes to be referred to as “Darth Vader” for his stealth opposition to campaign finance limits – can’t possibly imagine how he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning).

    I should note that the Times isn’t entirely incorrect by saying that the ACLU doesn’t like campaign finance limits. However, they’re not entirely right either; as noted here, the group restated its policy last April, as follows…

    The policy accepts spending limits as a condition of voluntary public financing plans. The ACLU supports such plans as long as they ensure candidates have a true choice as to whether to participate and provide sufficient and equitable funding for all legally qualified candidates to run an effective campaign.

    • The policy permits reasonable limits on campaign contributions to candidates. This contrasts with prior policy, which opposed all such limits. The revised policy acknowledges that very large contributions to candidates may lead to undue influence or corruption and, at a minimum, have the appearance of impropriety and undermine public confidence in the electoral system’s integrity.
    It would be nice if the Times would spend a little more column space explaining how the position of the Repugs on this issue is an utter perversion of what our democracy is supposed to be all about instead of trying to concoct some feeble pretext to justify it.

  • Next, it seems that the Obama Justice Department, according to Eric Holder here…

    … is warning that the federal government will not look the other way, as it has with medical marijuana, if voters next month make California the first state to legalize pot.

    Marijuana is illegal under federal law, which drug agents will "vigorously enforce" against anyone carrying, growing or selling it, Holder said.
    Is this really the best use of law enforcement resources in this country, people?

    Who gives a fig if California wants to legalize pot? The laws of other states, cities, municipalities would remain in force. If they want to add the smell of hemp to their smog, it’s their business as far as I’m concerned (besides, both gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman oppose it, so whoever ends up in Sacramento will fight the initiative anyway).

    I mean, it’s not exactly where I come down on the subject; I do favor decriminalization, as a certain former community organizer did here.

    But somehow, I think this administration has bigger issues to deal with, such as its defense of former Bushco Attorney General John Ashcroft (I can hardly believe I’m actually typing these words), asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision allowing the suit of Abdullah al-Kidd to proceed; Kidd alleges that Ashcroft employed an unconstitutional use of a law meant to hold “material witnesses” in detaining him for “16 days in federal detention in three states in 2003, sometimes naked and sometimes shackled hand and foot,” all noted here.

    Now I will grant you that the Ashcroft business is bigger than the pot stuff, but it is still symptomatic of the same pathological tone-deafness of this administration (and yes, we should still support and vote for Democrats, but please Mr. President, spare us your lecturing and hectoring at “the professional left” while you also engage in this indefensible garbage).

  • Finally, I give you Pancake Joe Pitts at Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page (here)…

    Many businesses are grappling with the changes in the new healthcare law. Because of changes concerning retiree healthcare, AT&T had to book an additional $1 billion in costs in just the first quarter of this year. These kinds of changes affect how many new employees an employer can hire.
    As noted here…

    In a March 26 letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, describe AT&T's write-downs as "a matter of concern" because "[t]he new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs." The letter adds that AT&T's numbers "appear to conflict with independent analyses," such as those estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and the Business Roundtable. From the March 26 letter:


    … AT&T stated in its March 26,2010, filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to take a charge of approximately $1 billion in the first quarter of 2010. As a result of the legislation, the company says it "will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company."

    The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern. They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that companies that insure more than 50 employees would see a decrease of up to 3% in average premium costs per person by 2016.2 The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next ten years.

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on April 21, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to examine the impact of the new law on AT&T and other large employers. We request your personal testimony at this hearing.
    I have no word as to whether or not anyone from AT&T ever showed up to testify before Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Also, as noted here…

    Beyond this, firms are being masochistic to bear the full tax payment now. Firms enjoy tax flexibility individuals do not; firms can defer taxes, or pay them later, over time. Over decades, if they want. Corporate tax law allows firms to pay taxes, in many senses, when it’s most advantageous to them. Don't you wish you could do that? So the sums of money firms complain of now can actually be paid over the course of 30 years or more. If firms pay now, they are doing so by choice, in order to make a scene and oppose health care reform.
    As you think about this, I would ask that you read near the bottom of this Daily Kos post, which shows that a reputable service recently released a poll internal to the Lois Herr campaign showing her trailing Joe Pitts by only seven points (with Pitts’ favorability way below 50 percent at 41, to be exact).

    So please, click here and contribute any way that you possibly can to help elect Lois Herr and give PA-16 the representation it deserves at long last.

    We can do this, people!
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