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|The Word - Original Spin|
...and I'm kind of overdue for some Indie stuff, so here it is.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Word - Original Spin|
HouseThree words immediately leapt to my mind as I read this, and they are as follows…
Small-business credit. Voting 237-187, the House sent President Obama a deficit-neutral bill (HR 5297) authorizing Treasury lending of up to $30 billion to community banks to leverage up to $300 billion in new credit for small businesses. As collateral, the Treasury would receive dividend-paying preferred stock redeemable within 10 years. Financial institutions with assets under $10 billion would be eligible for the program. The bill also provides dozens of small-business tax breaks totaling $12 billion over 10 years, which are paid for by measures such as closing corporate tax loopholes.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).
Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Imagine for a moment the entire Supreme Court was wiped out in an asteroid strike, or maybe they ate some really bad clams. Whatever.Jonah Goldberg then proceeds to meander through all kinds of theoretical possibilities and anecdotes before arriving at the following conclusion:
With the Supreme Court temporarily out of the picture, could Congress and the White House ignore the Constitution, shutting down newspapers and locking up tea partiers or ACLU members? Apparently.
"I have been fascinated by (Delaware GOP Senate candidate) Christine O'Donnell's constitutional worldview ..." Slate magazine senior editor Dahlia Lithwick confessed. O'Donnell had said in a debate, "When I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional."
To which Lithwick, a former appellate law clerk, Stanford Law grad and widely cited expert on the Supreme Court, responded, "How weird is that, I thought. Isn't it a court's job to determine whether or not something is, in fact, constitutional? And isn't that sort of provided for in, well, the Constitution?"
There's nothing in the Constitution -- nothing! -- that says the Supreme Court is the final or sole arbiter of what is or is not constitutional.OWWWW, THE STUPID – IT BURNS US!!!!
…Article VI, Section 1, Clause 2. This clause asserts and establishes the Constitution, the federal laws made in pursuance of the Constitution, and treaties made by the United States with foreign nations as "the Supreme Law of the Land" (using modern capitalization). The text of Article VI, Clause 2, establishes these as the highest form of law in the American legal system, both in the Federal courts and in all of the State courts, mandating that all state judges shall uphold them, even if there are state laws or state constitutions that conflict with the powers of the Federal government. (Note that the word "shall" is used here and in the language of the law, which makes it a necessity, a compulsion.)That sound you just heard, by the way, was an entire gaggle of teabaggers jumping in lemming-like fashion over a cliff.
In 1922, the Court applied the Supremacy Clause to international treaties, holding in the case of Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920), that the Federal government's ability to make treaties is supreme over any State concerns that such treaties might abrogate states' rights arising under the Tenth Amendment.
Incorporation of the supremacy clause in the new Constitution was a tremendous victory in disguise for the nationalist cause. On the surface the clause made an agency of the states—the state courts—the final judge of the limits of both federal and state sovereignty, which explains why the states' rights faction acceded so readily to its adoption. But the convention, meanwhile, had also provided for the establishment of a national judiciary, with a Supreme Court and such lower courts as Congress should determine upon, and had vested in the federal courts jurisdiction over all cases arising under the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States. By implication, as the nationalists were shortly to realize, this gave the federal judiciary appellate power to review state court decisions involving federal constitutional questions. This in turn meant that the Supreme Court of the United States would possess the ultimate power to settle questions involving the respective spheres of state and federal sovereignty. The Judiciary Act of 1789, virtually an extension of the Constitution itself, was to write into federal law this system of appeals from state to federal courts on constitutional questions. And the Supreme Court in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816) and Cohens v. Virginia (1821) was to confirm the constitutionality of the Supreme Court's role as the final arbiter of the constitutional system.So, while someone can argue that there is no literal language in the Constitution to establish the Supreme Court’s role in interpreting that precious document (again, a stretch because of the Supremacy Clause and the language mandating control of federal over state courts), there is certainly a body of case law that that enshrines that right (and personally, despite the presence of Hangin’ Judge JR, “Strip-Search Sammy,” Scalia and Clarence Thomas, I believe The Supremes are more qualified than some of our congressional life forms to fill that role, to say nothing of any president whatsoever who could attempt to eliminate the separation of powers once and for all).
“The skin tight jeans — er, we mean, the sensible outfit that sparked the current controversy.” Actually, it sounds like the controversy was sparked by the behavior of the New York Jets, whose owner has apologized to Sainz.And did I note that a slideshow of Ms. Sainz is included?
How has this German “miracle” been achieved? Between 2003 and 2005, the Schröder government implemented a series of labour market reforms (known as the Hartz reforms). These were aimed at making the labour market more flexible, with greater incentives for the unemployed to seek work, and relaxed regulations for firms which wanted to create jobs. It is clear that these reforms worked. From 2005-09, German unemployment dropped from 4.5m to 2.9m, and long term unemployment dropped from 1.8m to 0.9m. (See this excellent analysis by Sabine Klinger and Thomas Rothe at the Institute for Employment Research.) Furthermore, the long lasting effects of these reforms probably helped to keep unemployment down during the recession.So basically, it sounds like Germany is putting off the “reckoning” here by keeping people in what Gramm and his ilk would no doubt call “make work” jobs if we tried that kind of government intervention in this country (and actually, this is a tribute to the U.S. work force that it continues to out-produce its peers across the globe while coping with an ever-creeping spread of offshoring…not trying to be jingoistic or blame other countries, but only playing “devil’s advocate” after looking inside the numbers a bit).
In addition, and probably more importantly in the past two years, the Merkel government has worked hard to boost part time (or short time) work during the recession, through a programme of subsidies, exhortation to employers, influence on wage bargains, and other measures. As a result, Germany has become the world leader in part time employment, and in many industries, part timers now account for over a quarter of the total workforce.
This is a two-edged sword. It has certainly spread the cost of the recession much more widely across the population, rather than allowing it to be concentrated on the relatively few who become unemployed. This contrasts sharply with the US, where firms have been particularly eager to cut total jobs during this recession. But is has also greatly depressed the growth of labour productivity. In 2009 alone, GDP per employed person fell by a remarkable 4.9 per cent in Germany, while it rose by 1.8 per cent in the US. And it may have damaged the long term performance of the economy, by locking people into jobs which have become obsolete. One day soon, the German government will have to reduce its subsidies, and the degree of under-employment in the economy will become more visible.
The bookends of the Bush years are the Enron debacle and the federal bailout of bankers drunk on their own greed. And no two people in this country are more responsible for enabling this sordid behavior than the power couple Phil and Wendy Gramm.I’m sure the Journal, having presented a column of “analysis” on the employment numbers by Gramm, will present next something of comparable worth, such as a screed by Meg Whitman on the importance of hiring documented workers (here).
Enron, lest we forget, was their baby. Then-Sen. Gramm sponsored the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which allowed Enron's scamming to happen. As Ken Lay, who was chair of Gramm's election finance committee, put it quite candidly when asked for the secret of Enron's success, "basically, we are entering or in markets that are deregulating or have recently deregulated."
Part of that deregulation involved rulings of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, then chaired by Wendy Gramm, who upon retiring from that post became a highly compensated member of the Enron board of directors, serving for eight years. She even was on the board's audit committee during the time of the corporation's despicable financial shenanigans. While on the Enron board, Wendy Gramm also chaired an anti-regulatory think tank that received funding from Enron and other corporations that benefited directly from the policies her institute espoused.
To help our congressman, click here.
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN ENDORSES PATRICK MURPHY
Group cites former Congressman Fitzpatrick’s vote to ship American jobs overseas(Levittown, PA) – Today, the Patrick Murphy for Congress campaign announced it had picked up the support of the Citizens Trade Campaign, a group dedicated to fighting against bad trade deals that lead to the outsourcing of American jobs.
“We are proud to endorse Patrick Murphy’s candidacy for the 8th District of Pennsylvania,” said Andy Gussert, Director of the Trade Brigade PAC. “His opponent, Mike Fitzpatrick, had his chance as a Congressman to stand up for American workers. But after promising to vote no on NAFTA-style trade deals that shipped American jobs overseas, he caved to pressure from the Bush administration and flipped. We need leaders in Congress whose word still means something, and Patrick Murphy is that leader for Bucks County.”
Citizens Trade Campaign started in response to passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The group is dedicated to fighting against job-killing trade deals like CAFTA, and advocating for trade policies to better serve the interests of a majority of people, rather than the agenda of corporations seeking to outsource jobs in order to exploit cheap labor overseas.
Patrick Murphy thanked Citizens Trade Campaign for their endorsement and reaffirmed his commitment to protecting American jobs for American workers by fighting against job-killing trade deals. Murphy has broken with the Obama Administration in standing up against trade deals that would give American workers a raw deal, such as the Korea Free Trade Agreement that he felt put U.S. auto workers at a disadvantage.
“Mike Fitzpatrick says he wants to take our country back – back to the same failed Bush-Fitzpatrick policies that outsourced American jobs. Middle-class families can’t afford another term under Congressman Fitzpatrick,” said Patrick Murphy.
…unlike my peers in Congress, I am not a politician, but a businessman. Before coming to Congress last year, I helped lead a manufacturing firm that produced automation components, such as the damper that enables your airline seat to recline or the precision assembly parts that likely produced your bluejeans. The shock absorbers at the end of the subway line under the U.S. Capitol bear our company's logo.And that would include you, Rep. Lee. You see, I have a question – do you remember H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (here)?
Though America is still the world's largest manufacturing economy ($1.72 trillion in 2009), the jobs picture tells a different story. In the past decade, nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States, with 272,000 of them in New York state.
The plain truth is that U.S. policy and policymakers bear much of the blame.
Staying or going might seem an equally unpleasant prospect for some embattled Democrats, who are facing more than four weeks of defending unpopular votes in favor of Obama's economic stimulus measure, health care law and uncompleted legislation for curbing global warming.Actually, based on this, the majority of those polled in this country want more stimulus, not less (I cannot locate a more recent poll that asks these questions).
…a House measure to provide free health care and additional compensation to World Trade Center workers sickened in the towers' crumbled ruins was sure to stall in the Senate.Guess it was too much trouble for Taylor/Kellman to note that this was the second try at this bill (truthout tells us what happened in July that led to the totally-called-for Weiner freakout captured here, particularly given the ridiculous standing on procedure by Weiner’s Repug fellow rep Peter King, who raised a last-minute objection over the opposition party’s inability to gum up the bill with unrelated amendments, a popular tactic in the Senate).
Only two of a dozen annual appropriations bills have passed the House this year and none has passed the Senate as Democratic leaders have opted against lengthy floor debates and politically difficult votes on spending.Translation: They knew they would be filibustered by the Repugs (really get disgusted with how our corporate media treats the whole "60 votes needed for passage" thing as the "new normal").
And now comes President Obama in a "Rolling Stone" interview citing the very point I made over and over while under attack from his operatives last fall when he was asked by Jann Wenner about Fox News in an interview for a midterm-themed cover story in "Rolling Stone." And after he cites the Constitutional principle, he then goes back on the attack saying Fox News is "destructive" to the country.And Zurawik cites some sort of understated compliment paid to MSNBC by Obama aide Bill Burton as evidence of partisanship by this White House (of course, there’s no mention of the incident from about two years ago when Burton plainly pointed out that Fix Noise is a partisan organization to humanoid Megyn Kelly, who promptly flipped out in response here...also, I think this is worth considering).
Here we go again -- sort of. The president seems to have learned from the mistakes of last fall's campaign against Fox. But instead of using his newly gained wisdom to respect the role of a free press, he's using it to try to be more effective in his attack on Fox News. He's trying to plug the gaping hole in last year's rationale to better disguise his partisan intent.
I have written this before, but it bears repeating: Outside of Richard Nixon, I have never seen a president with the profound contempt for the press that Obama has.Any evidence of an Obama “enemies list,” Z? Can you recall a comparable episode to the time Tricky Dick had his people consider “Aspirin Roulette” by breaking into the home of columnist Jack Anderson to plant a poisoned pill in one of his medicine bottles? Or maybe smearing LSD on the journalist’s steering wheel, so that he would absorb it through his skin, lose control of his car, and crash? Or stage a routine-looking mugging, making Anderson appear to be one more fatal victim of Washington’s notorious street crime (all noted here)?
If you’re looking for a blueprint of what type of oversight agenda we should pursue next year, regardless of whether or not Republicans are in the majority or minority, these hearings requested by the Republican minority but ignored by the Democratic majority are a good start:As noted here, Issa voted against Food Safety regulation amendments (7/30/09) and an FDA appropriation (10/7/09).
Food Safety - In 2009, following a salmonella outbreak in a Georgia peanut plant that led to at least 8 deaths and more than 500 illnesses, I sent a letter to Chairman Towns requesting a hearing on the federal food safety bureaucracy, citing a GAO report that identified 15 different federal agencies responsible for administering 30 food safety-related laws and noting that “our Committee is uniquely positioned to look at the coordination and cooperation amongst departments and agencies.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Despite the role Fannie and Freddie played in the financial crisis and the huge financial stakes for the American taxpayer involved in continuing to prop up these organizations, the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill did nothing to address them and Treasury Secretary Geithner announced that the administration would not produce a plan to reform Fannie and Freddie until 2011.As noted here…
Mortgage lenders sell mortgages to the GSEs (like Fannie and Freddie) for the same reason that Proctor & Gamble sells Tide to Walmart. That's their business model. Every sale of a pool of mortgages is "exclusive" because you can't sell the same mortgage to two different people. And if, as Issa claims, Countrywide sold mortgages to Fannie at a "discounted rate," then Fannie got a windfall. Of course, Issa's amorphous reference to a "discounted rate," in the context of nothing, is meaningless.Continuing…
The GSEs didn't buy or insure subprime mortgages. They only purchased subprime mortgage securities sold by investment banks. (That was how the GSEs did an end-run around their own underwriting standards.) There's no evidence that Countrywide needed the GSEs to make its subprime bonds marketable. Countrywide's primary connection with the GSEs, which long predated its involvement in the subprime segment, was selling prime mortgages. Countrywide was the biggest mortgage lender, period. (The conspiracy theory) relies on a six-degrees-of-separation conflation, wherein some Fannie Mae employee, who may or may not have had anything to do with the firm's portfolio criteria, gets a loan from the nation's largest mortgage lender at market rates, and suddenly there's a conspiracy theory to explain the subprime meltdown.
Wasteful Stimulus Spending – The Republican minority has provided the Democratic majority with evidence of government agencies wasting stimulus funds on projects of dubious merit that appear to contradict the administration’s stated goals for stimulus-worthy projects and that therefore are ripe for oversight. For example, the committee minority requested in a letter that the committee hold a hearing to scrutinize hundreds of thousands of dollars for wasteful projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts through ARRA.As noted here…
Issa, of course, was one of the Republicans who led the charge against the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" earlier this year, at that time using the presence of $50 million in emergency funding for the NEA as a way to tar the whole idea of stimulus as a boondoggle. So was (Sen. John) Cornyn. So, here you have the absurd spectacle of politicians who are ideologically opposed to government art support, who have themselves explicitly "politicized" the NEA by using it as a political prop, claiming to stick up for the sacred principle of NEA independence.As usual with this stuff, all slimy roads eventually lead back to Breitbart (or his equally foul protégé).
…here’s the thing: Pretty much all of the sinister-sounding stuff about the NEA conference call -- the idea of an "implied threat of withholding future grants," the idea that Obama was trying to build a "propaganda machine" -- does not stem from the actual substance of the call, the transcript of which has now been posted online. Rather, these insinuations can be traced back to the original source of the story, an essay titled "The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?," by Patrick Courrielche, posted on the conservative website BigHollywood.com.
Minerals Management Service – The last time Republicans had subpoena power was in 2006, where as a subcommittee chairman I used it to compel the testimony of oil executives and expose cozy relationship with the Minerals Management Service (MMS) - the federal entity charged with over-seeing oil companies and their drilling activities. In wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, we need to ensure that reforms within the bureaucracy are happening and working.Funny that Issa apparently never brought this up to Tom Davis when Davis chaired the House Oversight Committee earlier this decade (this provides the gory details), and Issa was a member of that committee (would have made much more of an impact as opposed to now…and it tells you something about the Republican Party that someone like Tom Davis is apparently no longer welcome).
School Choice – The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) was launched by Congress in 2004, with bipartisan support, to give economically disadvantaged District of Columbia children the chance for a quality education outside of public school classrooms plagued by problems. The program has been proven highly successful by every known measurement, including academic improvement, personal safety, and parental satisfaction. A strong coalition of academics, journalists and civic leaders are supporting reauthorization of OSP in the House and Senate. However, the Obama administration is now phasing out the program.As noted here, President Obama included voucher funding through the end of this year, but an amendment to extend vouchers beyond that point (sponsored by John
Democrats such as Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, as well as teachers' unions, voiced concern that the vouchers take federal funds from the public schools.I would say that there’s more than enough material in Issa’s column to justify a debate with his congressional opponent over his philosophy of government and the role of the minority party in crafting legislation to serve the public interest.
Mr. Durbin said in response to Mr. Ensign on Tuesday that the General Accountability Office looked at the voucher schools and found some "world class" schools as well as some below average schools, explaining his reasoning for examining the program further before reauthorization.
"They also found schools where somebody's mom or somebody's wife declared themselves principles and teachers and went in to teach without college degrees and received federal subsidies to do it," he said.
Mr. Durbin said safety, teacher's degrees and standardized tests were not held to public school levels. He said that "those on the other side" have "completely given up on D.C. Public Schools" and that Mr. Ensign's amendment would further the schools' destruction.
Unbelievably, during his testimony, Johnson asks a jaw-droppingly stupid question:In the clip, Johnson is plainly a hell of a lot more concerned about the financial impact on non-profit organizations of lawsuits brought by victims of sexual abuse than about the victims of such abuse, implying that a profit motive might encourage individuals to make such accusations falsely. Johnson laments that these organizations would have to spend additional funds to defend themselves (and I know a bit from whence I speak on this topic - in the financial statements we receive from our parish, neither they nor the Archdiocese of Philadelphia ever tell us how much of our donations go to paying lawyers who represent the church in abuse litigation).
I think its a valid question to ask if the employer of the perpetrator should also be severely damaged, possibly destroyed, in a legitimate desire for justice?
Well... actually that's not a valid question, Ron. That's kinda the point of why Dioceses get sued. If the Green Bay Diocese knew that a pedophile priest was in their organization and instead of calling the police, reassigned him to another parish, of course they should be sued!