Saturday, June 30, 2012

Governor Bobby Jindal Puts the "NO" in NOLA


I don't like to brag, and I'm not always correct, but I got one prediction right this past week when I told my husband and daughter that I was absolutely sure of one thing: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana would be the very first politician to say that he didn't want any stinkin' Obamacare for his state.

And sure enough . . .he's been saying "NO" all over the place. Anyone who has ever taken child psychology or had a toddler in the house remembers "The No Stage in which a child who wants independence suddenly reacts to every question with that word. Governor Jindal wants his state to be so independent that he says to "NO" without even thinking of the consequences, much like a half-awake toddler with no responsibilities. Frankly, if I had a Governor like that I would be planning a move to another state.  

(Oh wait . . . sometimes he says yes - remember the Gulf Oil Spill? And if there's a hurricane, he'll be right there criticizing Obama for not helping them enough. Oy. But the rest of the time it's "NO!")

If Jindal is just saying "NO!" to win friends and influence people in the Republican Party, that isn't really working either. On Friday, the day after the Surpreme Court gave the green light to the President's healthcare plan, Bobby Jindal flubbed up on a Republican Party Conference Call by calling the program "Obamneycare," a slur left over from the primary that fuses together Obama's plan with Romney's in Massachusetts (on which Obamacare is based).

Really I think Mr. Jindal needs to say "NO" next time a microphone is shoved into his face.

"It really raises the question of what's next, what's allowable," Jindal said. "Taxes on people who refuse to eat tofu or refuse to drive a Chevy Volt ... this whole ruling I think is ridiculous. It's a huge expansion of federal power."
 "We're not moving forward with the exchanges," Jindal said. "Instead, we're going to do everything we can to defeat President Obama, get rid of ObamaCare."

From Huffington Post
 Here in Louisiana, we've not applied for the grants, we've not accepted many of these dollars," Jindal said. "We're not implementing the exchanges. We don't think it makes any sense to implement Obamacare in Lousiana. The next opportunity we have to get rid of this law is to get Governor Romney elected, and I absolutely believe that he will be elected in November, and one of his first actions will be to repeal and replace this law."
Washington Post gives Jindal a reality-check:
The Affordable Care Act requires states to have exchanges. A state has several options: It can build the exchange itself, or it can collaborate with the federal government to build it, or it can let the federal government run it. The state has to tell the feds what path it has decided to take by mid-November. If the state does not want to run its own exchange, or collaborate with the feds to run it, the feds will begin setting up the exchange themselves in January.
If Jindal is serious about not implementing an exchange, the latter course is what will happen under the law, says Kathleen Stoll, the deputy executive director at the pro-Obamacare Families USA.
“If the state hasn’t moved forward, at that point, the feds have to come in to run the exchange to protect the citizens of Lousiana,” Stoll says. “The irony is that Jindal has made a choice to waste time and available federal dollars he could have used to build a state exchange uniquely tailored to his vision and the needs of the people of Louisiana.”
Of course, Jindal is probably banking on Obama losing the election, and Romney fulfilling his promise to repeal Obamacare on day one of his presidency. But that’s a pretty big gamble.

Friday, June 29, 2012

More Video from Thursday at the Supreme Court


What a happy day it was! And congratulations to everyone who understood the ruling unlike CNN and Fox!

Comedians on the Supreme Court Ruling


Hilarious. :)

Romneycare Upheld!!! LOL

Chief Justice John Roberts Took a Brave Stand Knowing Conservatives Would Vilify Him


Whatever the political leanings of Chief Justice John Roberts, his choice to vote with the Liberal side of the Supreme Court in the ACA ruling was an honorable and brave thing to do. He rose above the fray and followed the rule of law, not the ramblings of some right-wing talking points. I don't agree with all his decisions - Citizens United is an abomination - but in this particular case, he did the right thing.

The fact is, John Roberts has a whole host of new fans and admirers because he helped save Obama's Health Care plan for America. And we won't forget.

My favorite tweet from yesterday, and possibly from all time, was this:

I have no idea if the person who tweeted that was a liberal or a conservative, or whether he agreed with the verdict rendered. They might love Justice Roberts or hate his guts. In a literary sense it works either way because Professor Severus Snape was an ambiguous character up until the end of the Harry Potter series when we saw his true nature. Both sides saw Snape as a traitor, yet he was actually just walking a dangerous line and trying to do the morally right thing under tough circumstances. And at the end of the story, he was the "bravest man" Harry Potter ever knew.

Sometimes that happens in real life. For me, after this ruling, Chief Justice Roberts is a hero like that.
Am I being corny? Perhaps, but listen to Chris Matthews waxing poetic about Roberts yesterday:

Roberts Rules! Let's Play Hardball.
. . . Let me start with one of the great days in this country's history. Today the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice himself decided that Barack Obama's Health Care Act squares with the American Constitution. All the drum-beating, all the horrors floated up by the right-wing fever swamps are, after today, simply the hate-vapors of the perennial rejectionists to progress, the "rear guard" funded by the Koch Brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Today's Hero ~ Chief Justice John Roberts, who walked to the forefront of history and said yes to progress and and no to the role prescribed for him by the Right. He would not be that man, he would not let the court named for him carry historic blame for denying health care to tens of millions of Americans. He would not be the ramrod for yet another right-leaning partison-appearing Supreme Court ruling that would have been the third strike over the plate following Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. So let's start tonight by looking at this bold, defiant, grand decision by Chief Justice Roberts . . .

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Earlier this week we read Justice Scalia's bizarre dissent on the Arizona Immigration case, in which he went into absolutely Pureblood Death Eater mode while comparing illegal Hispanics in Arizona to freed slaves before the Civil War and those with "contagious diseases." It's easy to see Roberts as the reverse - someone who decided to put the Law ahead of prejudices or his own personal opinions. And indeed, he ruled the opposite of Scalia in that case, as well as the ACA case.

Supreme Court expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Linda Greenhouse, wrote about Roberts role in the Immigration decision for the New York Times:, implying that Roberts willingness to go along with the majority might have driven Scalia nuts, LOL:
The first thing that jumped out at me was the name of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Justice Kennedy’s opinion, along with the expected names of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. The chief justice was, apparently, in complete agreement with the majority as evidenced by his silence – the dog that didn’t bark, you might say. He felt no need to write separately to express even a shade of difference from the majority or a hint of sympathy with the dissenting views of his usual allies. Beyond Justice Scalia’s transparent dislike for the president, perhaps it was the chief justice’s apostasy that drove him around the bend.

Yes, horrors that the Chief Justice wouldn't succumb to all the dog whistles in Justice Scalia's dissent. Maybe Roberts just isn't a racist?

About the Health Care Ruling, Greenhouse analyzed Roberts' role which is officially "Chief Justice of the United States."
. . . the title that he actually goes by, chief justice of the United States, seemed a good fit. He spoke for the country.
His decision to call the mandate a tax and to provide a clearly reluctant fifth vote for upholding it as within the Congressional taxing power was a deeply pragmatic call that saved the Affordable Care Act. Certainly by no coincidence, it also saved the Supreme Court from the stench of extreme partisanship that has hung over the health care litigation from the moment more than two years ago that Republican state officials raced one another to the federal courts to try to erase what they had been unable to block.

. . . But it is Chief Justice Roberts’s extraordinary role that is most intriguing. He has just completed his seventh term as chief justice, and at 57 could well serve another quarter-century or longer. Clearly he is playing a long game.
. . . John Roberts doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act. He went to great lengths in his opinion to show his total agreement with the plaintiffs’ core argument: that the requirement to buy health insurance was an unprecedented effort by Congress to force people into a market they had chosen not to enter, to create commerce where none existed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion pierced gaping holes in the chief justice’s analysis. But he stuck to his position, coming within an inch of invoking what Justice Ginsburg ironically labeled “the broccoli horrible” and warning that “under the government’s theory, Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables.”
Since there were four justices who also saw the mandate that way, as Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Anthony M. Kennedy explained in an unusually structured opinion that all four signed as co-authors, the mandate might have died right there. But then the chief justice abruptly pivoted and declared that because the penalty for not buying insurance functioned as a tax, it could be upheld as a tax and the mandate was therefore constitutional.

Roberts' law professor, Laurence Tribe, whom you may recall had predicted that ACA would be upheld, praised him on Thursday in the Boston Globe:
“I think this term was the turning point in the legacy of John Roberts,” Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe said in an ­e-mail to the Globe. “He now has a chance to be a truly great chief justice. Of course, he ­dissented in some of the liberal-leaning decisions of the current largely conservative court, but when push came to shove he was where he needed to be.”
Tribe, who taught Roberts and President Obama at ­Harvard Law School, said ­Roberts’s decision to become the swing vote in a 5-4 decision “saved the day — and perhaps the court.”

In the same article, Joel B. Grossman of Johns Hopkins University said:

“It’s kind of an act of leadership rather than an act of ideology . . . I can’t imagine his sympathies were with expanding congressional power, but I think he recognized that there might even be a crisis if he cut this law off at the knees.”
. . . “He is going to be chief for a long time and one thing you don’t want is to lose control of the court,” he said. “This fits the model of wanting to keep the court together and perhaps even to approve something he personally found distasteful.”

Roberts must have known that the conservatives would see him as a sell-out, shun him socially, and immediately launch ad hominem attacks as bad or worse as those aimed at the President. And in fact, it started in less than 24 hours.

Ben Shapiro, Editor of launched a series of damning tweets:

Wow. Call a "wahhhhbulance" for him!

Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky took a different route, issuing a Press Release that dissed the entire decision as moot somehow, as if Justice Roberts had no authority to render a verdict. In fact, he carefully doesn't mention Roberts at all, which is telling, and refers to the majority opinion as "couple people" who "declare something." Yeah, the Supreme Court doesn't matter unless they rule your way.
Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be 'constitutional' does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional. While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.

Which caused the Village Voice to retort:
Actually, Rand, that's exactly what makes it so.
. . . Paul may want to review the 1803 case of Marbury V. Madison, which formed the basis for judicial review. In other words, it's what gave the Court its teeth -- it clearly defined the Court's role in the separation of powers in the federal government, making it the "supreme expositor of the Constitution."
This means that what the Court says goes -- regardless of whether a freshman Senator from Kentucky disagrees with it.

Rand Paul had so much criticism over his silly remark that he was still trying to explain in an interview the next day:
Interview From Marketplace Health Care:
Hobson: Well thanks for being here. I want to start by asking you about some comments that you made yesterday that have gotten a lot of attention. You said: "Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional, does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional." Do you stand by that statement?
Paul: You know, I still agree with Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Alito that the Constitution doesn't justify the law.
Hobson: You're agreeing with the dissenters -- but that was not the ruling that the Supreme Court came down with.
Paul: Right, but that's all I'm saying, if if you ask Justice Scalia if he thinks the law is Constitutional, he'll still tell you "no." So I'm entitled to have my opinion as to what is constitutional and what is not. No one's talking about whether the ruling has validity or not, I'm just saying that I agree with the dissenters that don't believe the law is constitutional

Okey dokey.

Next . . . the apoplectic and hyperbolic (and repetitive) Rush Limbaugh slamming Roberts as some kind of Evil Taxman out to destroy the world:
What we have been told by the Chief Justice of the Court and four liberals on the court - Obamacare's just a massive tax increase.
. . . the Chief Justice was just hell-bound, hell-bent to find a way to make this law applicable, so you know what? As a tax increase it works because there's no limit on the federal government's ability to tax....
. . . John Roberts said (mocking voice) "It's not our job to forbid this, it's not our job to protect people from outcomes, it's not our job to determine what is right or wrong or any of it. We can't forbid this if it's what the elected representatives and the people want." . . . But what if we were deceived?
. . . What happened today was that we were bludgeoned with a tax that requires us to do what the government mandates. We must do what they say. . . . It is a 'stealth tax' and that's what it was all along. A massive behavior modification program.
. . . Chief Justice says (mocking voice) 'I can't forbid this. It's not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices. I gotta find a way - Congress wants this - I gotta find a way to make it happen. Okay - we'll call it a tax!'

The lowest blow so far has come from extremist radio host Michael Savage who implied that Robert's epilepsy gave him impaired judgment.

Let’s talk about Roberts. I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to hear anywhere else, that you must pay attention to. It’s well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’ writings you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying.

Oh Lord - "cognitive problems"? Really? Does this also explain Mitt Romney's lack of memory about everything he has ever said?

That statement is nasty two ways - not only is it egregious to bring up the private health matters of a Supreme Court Justice, it's insulting to anyone with epilepsy to imply that they can't make correct decisions. But isn't this just par for the course in Republican circles ~ bad health equals bad judgment equals "no insurance for you"? Don't the Republicans always imply that people with bad health or even children with pre-existing conditions from birth are somehow tainted and undeserving? Unless you're Ann Romney with high-functioning Multiple Sclerosis, or Dick Cheney with a defective heart, or Rick Santorum's poor little daughter, or Rush Limbaugh going blind from drug abuse. Oh yeah - that is irrelevant because they all have plenty of money for the best health care. It's only the poor and unemployed who don't deserve it.

All the more reason we need universal health care so people can get help without regard to their previous conditions or political affiliations. Death Eaters just aren't good at taking care of people. So thank you, Justice Roberts.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obama's ACA Mandate Upheld as a Tax!!!!


OMG - what a morning!!!

CNN breathlessly announced that Obamacare had been overturned without even reading the ruling, and Fox followed suit. Meanwhile cooler heads announced that it was more complicated than that, and in fact, the mandate had been upheld!

Via Talking Points Memo

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act meets constitutional muster and can be allowed to continue its slow process of transforming the nation’s health care system.

Thursday’s historic decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, was by no means fait accompli. Though the consensus among constitutional scholars has always been that the law’s insurance mandate did not exceed Congress’ Commerce Clause powers, its opponents erected a counterargument that quickly became an article of faith on the right. In the end, Roberts decision upheld the mandate as an exercise of Congress’ taxing power.

Reaction from the Right is predictable!

See more reactions and quotes:
SCOTUS Upholds Obamacare! Tea Party Heads Asplode!

Supreme Court Ruling at 10 a.m. Today


My liveblog leading up to the Supreme Court Countdown:
Here on Snark Amendment

Whatever the ruling is, things are going to be explosive in the morning. As soon as we get some reliable reports about the opinion as well as the dissent, I will post those here in the Snark Lane.

No one knows whether the health care law will be upheld, but it might give you hope to know that Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog says it will be upheld and NOT struck down. Maybe the Tea Party should think about that before they dress up like Minutemen and start crowing like roosters on the steps of the Surpreme Court tomorrow morning.

Goldstein writes:
In the end, you have to make a prediction and take responsibility for it. I believe the mandate will not be invalidated tomorrow. Far less important, I expect the principal opinion will be written by the Chief Justice; a majority of the Court will find it has jurisdiction; and the challenge to the Medicaid expansion will be rejected.

Most observers disagree. There are certainly good reasons to believe the Court will invalidate the mandate. Most important, at the oral argument, the questions of two critical Justices – Justice Kennedy and the Chief Justice – were on the whole critical of the mandate’s constitutionality.

But in the end, based on the entire mix of information I have, I think the mandate will not be struck down tomorrow. (I don’t have any inside information, nor does anyone else.) My prediction includes the possibility that there will not be a single majority opinion for the theory on which the mandate is upheld, and even the thin possibility that the Court will not have a majority to find the mandate constitutional.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Conflagration


The western wildfires are still out of control and getting worse!

Fire crews outside Colorado Springs, Colo., expected more weather trouble on Wednesday in what the local fire chief called a "monster event" that doubled in size overnight and has forced 32,000 people to flee.
Heavy smoke made for unhealthy air in and around the city. After jumping fire lines Tuesday, the towering blaze has now burned 24 square miles and an undetermined number of homes.
While crews should get a break from the heat, a forecast for thunderstorms could mean unpredictable winds.
"We expect further trouble from the weather today," incident commander Rich Harvey said at a press briefing. "We do expect all of our lines to be challenged today."
Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown called the Waldo Canyon Fire a "monster event" that is "not even remotely close to being contained." The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Reading the Health Care Tea Leaves


Are there clues to what the Supreme Court ruling will be on President Obama's Health Care Plan? Possibly.

Most legal prognostications revolve around the fact that Chief Justice Roberts seems to have put himself in control of the Health Care verdict. Is that because Roberts hopes to salvage the tarnished legacy of the Court by handing down another reasoned impartial verdict? Or is it just that Roberts really has just been "bought out" by Big Pharma and wants personal credit for a huge Obama smackdown that will further damage his chances for reelection? Are there clues within the Immigration Ruling? Does the snidely tone of Scalia's dissent mean anything?

It's really a random crap shoot, and we might as well consult the Magic 8-Ball, but here are some of the possibilities predicted in the media:

The Hill calls Chief Justice Roberts the "Player of the Week."
Unlike Justice Antonin Scalia, Roberts appeared even-handed during oral arguments on the health law in March.
Democrats also noticed that Roberts sided with Justice Anthony Kennedy and liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor on the court’s ruling on Arizona’s border-security law.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has predicted the health overhaul will be held up on a count of 6-3, which would probably mean Roberts and Kennedy joining forces with the left-wing justices.
Still, the administration did not perform well during oral arguments and most legal experts expect the court to strike down all, or some, of the law.

Here's an assortment of tea leaves from ABA Journal:
The ACA Litigation Blog says a Roberts opinion is likely “marginally heartening to the challengers.” Forbes, on the other hand, says a Roberts opinion likely means the health law’s insurance mandate will be overturned.

Some experts who talked to Politico saw significance in the fact that Roberts joined Kennedy's opinion in the immigration case. One of them is George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen. "The nationalism in the Arizona case might be a harbinger of similar deference [to the federal government] on health care,” Rosen said.

But SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein told Politico it would be "totally wrong" to see a link between Roberts' stance in the immigration and health law opinions. “They’re very different cases," Goldstein said. "There are overlapping themes about states’ rights, but the federal immigration power is not the same as federal commerce power


Reuters: A Hint on Health Care?
Based on his past decisions and withering remarks from the bench during oral arguments, it's almost a foregone conclusion that Scalia would vote to strike down at least the core provision of the healthcare law that requires most Americans purchase to health insurance. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who wrote separate dissents in the Arizona immigration dispute Monday, are likely to be in that camp as well.
Roberts wrote no separate statement on Monday, a move that showed solidarity with the Kennedy majority. In addition, he likely is focusing on the healthcare dispute to be unveiled Thursday.
One thing is known: Roberts is concerned about the Supreme Court's place in history. He has spoken about the need to preserve the integrity of the bench in deeply polarized Washington and has touted the value of unanimous or near-unanimous opinions.

And finally, here's an interview with Laurence Tribe, professor at Harvard Law School, in which he says he believes the Health Care Law will be upheld. Via MSNBC

Laurence Tribe: I do think that the Court will surprise a lot of people when it probably upholds the affordable care act in a decision by Chief Justice Roberts .

Chris Jansing: You think it will be upheld in its entirety?

Tribe: I think it will be upheld in its entirety. Of course I can be wrong. Everybody can be wrong, I can be wrong but I do think it will be upheld. I do think that will be a partial antidote for the way people felt, not only after Bush versus Gore, but Citizens United, and other cases where the Court has reached further than it needed to to grab onto issues that were the middle of the political battle and then often not to act in a particularly judicious way. I think Justice Scalia in particular ought to consider the harm to the Court as an institution when he indulges his famous wit in order to stab the President.

Jansing: There are a lot of people who have written that they are concerned about the perception of the Court. In terms of its popularity it is down in the 40s, the most recent polls have shown that the American people have concerns about the Supreme Court being split much the way that America is divided politically. Are their concerns justified?

Tribe: I think justified to some extent. The Court, in a nation like ours where political and legal issues are mixed up and often intertwined, is often criticized. The people on the losing end often say that it was just politics but I think it's the Court's responsibility to act like a Court, to not reach out to issues not presented by the case, to not make comments about a recent press conference the President holds just to make a political point. When that happens it is not simply a matter of the law being politically charged but a matter of the Court being politically unwise.

It's critical that we not lose faith in our institution, bad enough when people, only 9%, one wonders who they are, have faith in Congress but when people lose faith even in Judges who are honestly trying to do a good job, then I think that endangers the institutional stability of the country.

Jansing: As someone who knows Justice Roberts , do you think he has, as has been reported, great concerns about the Court being viewed as too politicized, and his job to somehow right it?

Tribe: Well, I think he is certainly committed to the idea that the Court should-recognized as an institution that, as he put it during his confirmation hearings, is a kind of neutral umpire. There is no such thing as total neutrality when it comes to politically charged issues like abortion and the structure of political campaigns, but at least it's important for the judges not to basically take off their -- take off their robes and allow themselves to simply shoot off at the mouth, as some of them have begun doing. And I think that the Chief Justice is likely to be concerned about the place of the Court in history and is not likely to want the Court to continue to be as deeply and politically divide. That doesn't mean he will depart from his quite conservative philosophy. You can be deeply conservative and believe the Affordable Care Act is completely consistent with the United States Constitution, and I think that is most likely to come out on Thursday.

RIP Nora Ephron


Norah Ephron has died of leukemia. She was 71.

Journalist, Writer, Director, lover of Jane Austen, and all around Empress of Snark. RIP.

It seems fitting to quote from her ex-husband Carl Bernstein's old haunt, The Washington Post
Born into a family of screenwriters, a top journalist in her 20s and 30s, then a best-selling author and successful director, Ephron was among the most quotable and influential writers of her generation. She wrote and directed such favorites as “Julie & Julia” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” and her books included the novel “Heartburn,” a knockout roman a clef about her marriage to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein; and the popular essay collections “I Feel Bad About My Neck” and “I Remember Nothing.”

She was tough on others — Bernstein’s marital transgressions were immortalized by the horndog spouse in “Heartburn,” a man “capable of having sex with a Venetian blind” — and relentless about herself. She wrote openly about her difficult childhood, her failed relationships, her doubts about her physical appearance and the hated intrusion of age.

. . . As a screenwriter, Ephron was nominated three times for Academy Awards, for “Silkwood,” ‘’When Harry Met Sally ...” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” and was the rare woman to write, direct and produce Hollywood movies. (Carrie) Fisher and Meg Ryan were among the many actresses who said they loved working with Ephron because she understood them so much better than did her male peers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Immigration Ruling Affects Alabama and Other States


Everyone is focused on Arizona because the Supreme Court ruling obviously applied specifically to their laws. But there are several other states with similar or identical laws on the books. In Alabama on the night before the ruling, there were protest marches and vigils in Birmingham. After the ruling, opponents in that state were optimistic that the "crackdown" on illegals would have to stop:

TPM story
Alabama’s law, critics say, goes further than Arizona’s when it comes to potential racial profiling. The Alabama law makes it illegal to rent property to illegal immigrants and forces state universities and schools to check the citizenship status of their students.

Advocates opposed to the Alabama law were elated by the ruling. It represents, in their view, a death blow to the legislation they believe is discriminatory and crippling to businesses that rely on immigrant labor.

“I’m jubilant,” said Shay Farley, legal director at Alabama Appleseed, a group that is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at to throwing out Alabama’s immigration law.  
“The Supreme Court today makes it clear that with respect to immigration enforcement schemes and regulation, that is the federal government’s job.”
Beyond the implications the ruling has on the law itself, Hispanic advocates told TPM Monday that the ruling could drive Hispanic voters to turn out against Republican legislatures like the one in Alabama.

“Any state legislature that is considering [Arizona-style immigration laws] like this will hear very loudly from the community,” said Marielena HincapiĆ©, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

Mother Jones Story and Map

Along with Arizona, five other states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah—have similar "show your papers" laws on the books. Meanwhile, from 2010 to 2011, 30 state legislatures rejected bills modeled after Arizona's.

Graphic from


Monday, June 25, 2012

Immigration Ruling "Big Win" for Obama, Scalia & AZ - Not So Much


Editor Tom Goldstein of the SCOTUS Blog calls the Immigration Ruling a "Big Win" for Obama Administration in discussion with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.
I think the Administration has to be very happy with the decision in the Arizona immigration case. They clearly won with respect to three of the four provisions of the very tough Arizona immigration law and it was basically a tie on the fourth. They didn't lose. The Supreme Court saying that on the ask for your papers provision, they didn't know enough about how the statute would be applied to know whether it was constitutional or not and they would have to wait to decide that question. They made pretty clear that you could ask for immigration papers if you had a reasonable cause if you weren't going to hold people for too long just to check their immigration status. So it does uphold that principle which is very important to a lot of Conservatives who favor the law that you can ask about the status but beyond that, it was a big win for the Obama Administration.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog also has a great interview with Professor Peter Spiro of Temple University,an expert on immigration law, talking about the Arizona Immigration Law Ruling:

Hi, Peter. Thanks for taking the time. After reading over the opinion, what’s your immediate takeaway?

Well, it’s a split decision in that both sides got a bit of what they wanted. But in my view, it’s really only nominally a split decision. I think it’s mostly a victory for opponents of the law.


Remind us again what 2(B) enabled the federal government to do, if you would.

Sure. That portion allows state authorities to ask someone to show his or her immigration papers if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person might be here illegally.

But 2(B) really doesn’t have any teeth, at least not in the way other provisions of the law do. 2(B) allows state officials to call [the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] and say ‘hey, we think someone’s here illegally.’ But ICE doesn’t necessarily have to do anything in response to the state’s call.

And that’s part of why I really think this is mostly a win for the law’s opponents. Two of the three provisions that were struck down outright did have teeth — they allowed the state to put an alien in jail.

And 2(B) could be struck down later?

Right. The court ruled on the facial challenge to the law. But it’s kicking back to the lower courts the issue of whether the law is constitutional in the ways in which it gets applied. For now, we’ll have to allow those to work their way through the court system


Justice Antonin Scalia, one of three dissenting justices, read a fairly scathing statement from the bench. What did you make of this?

It struck me as so much crying in the wilderness, to be honest. His view is pretty jurisprudentially extreme, and I think it could likely be the last time that Scalia gets to weigh on in immigration issues during his court tenure.

But I think a broad takeaway here is that on a court divided such as this one is, it’s Justice Kennedy who calls the shots.

The Supremes Rule on Immigration, Juvenile Parole, and Montana Corporations


Wow - news is still coming in after an intense morning.
You can read my collection of Pre-Ruling Tweets at Snark Amendment

No Health Care Ruling today ~ we must wait till Thursday. *sigh*

Today they ruled on three things:

1. Juveniles cannot be given life in prison without parole. Good all around.

2. The Court refused to hear an appeal from the State of Montana about corporations buying elections, therefore they upheld their previous Citizen's United decision. That's good for Mitt Romney, because as he says "corporations are people, my friends." But the decision will only get the Democratic base more fired up.

3. The biggest deal today - they threw out most of Arizona's state immigration law, except for the right to check someone's papers under "reasonable suspicion." Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be so happy about that, but it's also a win for the Obama Administration because Arizona lost everything else.

Read Scalia's Dissenting Opinion on Arizona Here (PDF)

Washington Post Story:
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected much of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, but upheld other provisions, giving a partial victory to the Obama administration.
The court ruled that Arizona cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the United States legally; cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrations to apply for a job; and cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally.
However, the court let stand the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is unlawfully in the United States. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.
CNN ~ Court to Arizona: You Went Too Far
"The national government has significant power to regulate immigration," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, adding that "Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermined federal law."
Provisions struck down included:
-- Authorizing police to arrest immigrants without warrant where "probable cause" exists that they committed any public offense making them removable from the country.
-- Making it a state crime for "unauthorized immigrants" to fail to carry registration papers and other government identification.
-- Forbidding those not authorized for employment in the United States to apply, solicit or perform work. That would include immigrants standing in a parking lot who "gesture or nod" their willingness to be employed.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the minority, argued the court's ruling encroached on Arizona's sovereign powers.
"If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state," Scalia wrote in the dissent backed by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
About the Montana ruling, Via UPI:
The challengers to the Montana law, a small group of non-profits and corporations, told the U.S. Supreme Court in their petition that the riot of independent spending following Citizens United is irrelevant.
The Supreme Court majority said there was little difference between the struck-down federal law and the Montana law.
"In Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, this court struck down a similar federal law, holding that 'political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation ...,'" the Supreme Court majority said in a per curiam, or unsigned, opinion, Monday. "The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does."
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by the court's three other liberals, dissented.

No More Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole
The high court on Monday threw out Americans' ability to send children to prison for the rest of their lives with no chance of ever getting out. The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing.
The decision came in the robbery and murder cases of Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, who were 14 when they were convicted.

Back in the Waiting Place on SCOTUS Watch

250:365 The Waiting Place

Once again we are in Dr. Seuss's "The Waiting Place" from Oh, the Places You'll Go while on "SCOTUS WATCH" this week, waiting to hear the verdict on Obama's Health Care Plan. Will they decide that the mandate is "severable" from the bill, or did they take the draconian measure of throwing out the baby with the bathwater leaving millions uninsured? Without a mandate does any of it work?

Either the verdict will come at 10 a.m. tomorrow, or on Thursday. Or rumor is they might add still another day because they just can't bring themselves to release more information in a day. Haven't they ever heard of Twitter or 24-hour news?

I wish the Justices would be as conscious of time and money as Judge Cleland in the Sandusky case. He made everything run on time, and got it done.

Scotus is also ruling on the Arizona state immigration laws and whether their conservative state government can usurp federal law. As if we need more controversy about Arizona! Wingnuts please stand by. Cue Sheriff Joe Arpaio for CNN once again.

This week may be crazy, and perhaps we can see a metaphorical omen in Hurricane Debby, which was forecast on Friday to move west towards Texas, yet is still churning up the Gulf Coast of Florida and heading northeast instead. Everyone has been caught unaware, mired in torrential rain. The prognosticators were all wrong. The computer models were a hot mess.


A harbinger of the week ahead, perhaps?

People of any persuasion could get bogged down by these verdicts - Democrats, Republicans, Teapublicans, Libertarians, people who just want to be Americans and are sick of bigotry, and people who are actually sick with fatal diseases and don't want to hear anymore broccoli jokes for the little time they have left.

Like Hurricane Debby, I bet the SCOTUS has a few surprises for us yet. No one really knows what is going to happen, except the Justices and they won't give us any warning before the tornadoes hit. But till tomorrow we sit in the dark, waiting for someone to turn on the light.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Romney and Rove at Camp Cozy Pac in Utah


Please Pac(k) Money

Karl Rove runs a giant Super Pac called "Crossroads" that spends millions making negative campaign ads aimed at democratic candidates, mainly at President Obama but also people running for Congress. Comedian Stephen Colbert calls these types of groups "Spooky Pacs" because they don't have to reveal just who the donors are.

Mitt Romney as a candidate is supposed to stay far away - from the Pac, but apparently things are getting murky. This weekend Rove and Romney are cozying up at a "Victory Retreat" of huge donors at an exclusive ski resort in Deer Valley, Utah.

Martin Bashir on MSNBC aptly called this type of fundraising "The Hot Tub Cash Machine" (scroll down for video).
The New York times is more blunt: Democracy for Sale

Sunlight Reporting Group - Possible List of Attendees and Donors

Today someone snapped a picture of Rove and Tag Romney, son of the candidate, riding around in a golf cart at this retreat. Isn't this illegal?

Picture of Karl Rove in a golf cart at Mitt Romney's pri... on Twitpic
Via Buzzfeed

Washington Post - Romney Hosting Super Pac Fundraiser in Utah:
Romney is allowed to talk to groups working on his behalf and even raise money for them, something he’s done several times. The only thing he’s not allowed to do is talk about the strategy for spending money boosting his candidacy or attacking President Obama.

At the retreat, Rove simply has to avoid listening to any of the talk about campaign strategy to stay in the clear.

“Karl Rove is on a panel with other media personalities,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “We are fully aware of what the law requires and we follow both its letter and its spirit.”

Rove is an unpaid strategic adviser and “key fundraiser” to Crossroads, said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the group.

The other day the Obama camp threw down the gauntlet and filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Rove and Crossroads:

Salon: Obama Goes to War with GOP Secret Pac:
. . . the Obama campaign is arguing that the group is essentially violating the tax laws governing its nonprofit status and therefore must reveal its funders. Bob Bauer, the Obama campaign’s top lawyer, argues that Crossroads GPS should no longer be protected as a charity, because it is clearly a political organization. “Crossroads seems to believe that it can run out the clock and spend massive sums of money in this election without accounting for a trace of its funding,” Bauer wrote in the complaint, which was filed today and obtained by the New York Times.

Groups like Crossroads are technically charity organizations and therefore don’t have to disclose their donors. But in order to qualify, their “primary purpose” must be social welfare and not politics. However, where that line actually gets drawn has never really been determined, thanks to an ineffectual FEC and opposition from Republican leaders.

Complete Complaint from Obama's Lawyer, Robert Bauer

Quote Via CNN
There has never been any doubt about its true purpose: to elect candidates of its choice to the Presidency and the Congress. Under the pretense of charitable activities, Crossroads has tried to shield its donors–wealthy individuals, and corporations who may be pursuing special interest agendas that are not in the national interest...
Crossroads seems to believe that it can run out the clock and spend massive sums of money in this election without accounting for a trace of its funding....

David Corn: "Victory Retreat sounds like an oxymoron to me." LOL

Jerry Sandusky - Convicted and in Jail!!!

Mug Shot

Jerry Sandusky, twisted monster of Penn State University, the evil coach who raped an endless parade of young innocent boys and got away with it for years, is now in jail in Centre County, Pennsylvania, probably for the rest of his life. His enabling wife, Dottie "Sarge" Sandusky, will either be charged for her own crimes or simply lose everything she owns to countless civil lawsuits still to be filed by the victims. And to top it all off, their own adopted son has come forward to say that he was also molested by dear old Dad, and that son's damning testimony is the reason that Jerry couldn't testify on his own behalf during the trial.

Ah, sometimes there is Justice in the world.

Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse Friday night and faces spending the rest of his life in state prison. His attorney said he would appeal the verdict.

Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, asked Judge John Cleland to allow Sandusky to be released on house arrest, but Cleland summarily rejected the request, saying: "Bail is revoked. Mr. Sandusky is remanded to the custody of the sheriff."

. . . Several of the counts are so-called mandated felonies, meaning Cleland has no discretion in sentencing. NBC News reported that he faces a minimum of 60 years in prison.

Perp Walk!!! Goodbye Forever!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Get the Dog On Top of the Bus: Team Romneymobile


From MoveOn.Org

Team Romneymobile is following Mitt Romney's "Every Millionaire Counts" bus tour, and is being met at each stop by members who would be affected by Romney's economic policies that would rig the system further in favor of the 1%. And don't forget to look up, for airline banners that expose Romney as a candidate for President of the 1%, not President of the United States.


Republicans Breaking Ranks Over Ryan Plan


At last ~ some good news to report, and it comes from the Republican side of the aisle! I saw this mentioned on Talking Points Memo but it's being widely reported that several Republicans are finding fault with the Ryan Budget and openly running against it!

First TPM reporting on David McKinley, (R) West Virginia:
In mailers to constituents, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) echoes Democrats’ concerns about the House GOP budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“Congressman McKinley recently voted against the 2012 budget passed by the House because of the plan’s negative impact on northern West Virginia seniors,” the mailers read. “The plan would privatize Medicare for future retirees, raise the retirement age and keep in place the Medicare cuts included in last year’s healthcare bill. The Congressional Budget Office determined the plan would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees.”

Washington Post: Repubs (except Romney) Running from the Plan including Denny Rehberg (R) Montana:
Rehberg is campaigning against the House Republican budget, specifically over its threat to Medicare. Rehberg is one of a relatively small group of House Republicans who opposed the Ryan budget. The big question in House races, of course, is what price all of those Members who voted with Ryan will pay, if any.

The very fact that Rehberg is running against his national party in mildly Republican Montana is interesting enough. But it’s also fascinating that in addition to the House budget (and TARP, which is getting a bit old by now), Rehberg’s other big issue where he highlights breaking from his party is trade. Rehberg brags about voting against CAFTA, the Central American trade accord.

This, even as Mitt Romney is very much running as a free trader; one of his most repeated charges against Barack Obama is that Obama hasn’t negotiated new trade deals (a charge which, as it happens, is entirely false).


Zimmerman Reenactment of Trayvon Martin's Killing


You can judge the videos below for yourselves, but in my opinion George freely admits that he continued to follow Trayvon Martin after he was told to stop by the dispatcher, even though he says it was to get the "address for the police." Okay, so he was, indeed, following Trayvon to see where he lived, else how would he get the address? It's all semantic and rationalized in George's mind because he is lying about his real intent, which was to "shoot a goon" or whatever. He had a gun in his pocket and was itching to use it on someone he saw as a threat.

There wouldn't have been any physical fight or tussle in the grass if Zimmerman hadn't pursued this boy, who was minding his own business. Aren't all children in this country taught by their parents and schools to fight back if someone attacks them? Come on . . .

New York Times Story:

A collection of audiotapes, a videotape and a signed statement by Mr. Zimmerman were released on Thursday by his legal team, allowing the public to hear for the first time Mr. Zimmerman’s words to the police over the course of several days of official interviews.

. . . the extended conversations between Mr. Zimmerman and the Sanford police also show that detectives, particularly the lead investigator, Chris Serino, raised questions about parts of Mr. Zimmerman’s version of events. The police expressed puzzlement over inconsistencies or hard-to-explain moments in his statements.

Why wasn’t Mr. Zimmerman’s head more profoundly injured from repeated slams to the pavement, Mr. Serino asked. Why did Mr. Martin have only one wound to his hand, he asked. Why did Mr. Zimmerman, who said he was too afraid to roll down his car window when Mr. Martin approached, then get out of the car to follow him, he asked.

And what provoked Mr. Martin’s anger?

“What if, in his mind’s eye, which I can’t get into because he has passed, he perceives you as a threat,” Mr. Serino said, drawing no answer from Mr. Zimmerman. “He perceived you as a threat; he has every right to defend himself, especially if you reach into your pocket to grab your cellphone.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Economic News: Major Banks Downgraded as Stocks Fall


There is no good economic news. The only bright side is that people were too focused on the Supreme Court and the Sandusky Trial to let this bother them. *sigh* That is a sad state of affairs.
For the preoccupied, this is how it all unfolded over the past few days: Ben Bernanke, Head of the Federal Reserve, held a press conference on Wednesday in which he basically said our economy is going sideways and he's not going to do too much about it except keep the interest rates near zero. The Stock Market reacted today by going down . . . down . . . down. Then to top that off, Moodys announced late in the day that they were downgrading nearly every major bank In THE WORLD.

That can't be good.

About Bernanke, from Wall Street Journal:
During his press conference Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said monetary policy had been helping the general public. In particular, borrowers are benefiting from extremely low interest rates.
. . . Policy makers hope cheap borrowing will spur businesses and consumers to finance big purchases to boost demand.
What tends to be glossed over is the flip side to the Fed’s zero-rate strategy: Savers are getting whacked. And while some portion of interest earned is left to accumulate in savings account, any loss of income is a drag on consumer spending and consumers’ sense of financial well-being.

Bernanke mainly said that the Fed would act more aggresively if things got worse, implying that the economy will certainly get worse. That was not the optimistic message that markets wanted to hear, according to Nasdaq:
"Growth in employment has slowed in recent months," the Fed said in its policy statement, adding that "household spending appears to be growing at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year" and that financial strains from overseas posed "significant downside risks to the economic outlook."
Investors were initially disappointed the Fed didn't take more aggressive action Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day down 12.94 points, or 0.1%, to 12824.39, after at one point dropping by nearly 100 points.

Bloomberg: Stocks Tumble Due to Global Slowdown
U.S. stocks tumbled, while commodities entered a bear market, after signals of a global slowdown in manufacturing added to disappointing housing and labor market data at the world’s largest economy.
Stocks from Hong Kong to London and Sao Paulo slumped on concern about a global slowdown. Data showed euro-area manufacturing shrank at the fastest pace in three years and a Chinese output gauge indicated contraction. More Americans than forecast filed claims for jobless benefits, manufacturing in the Philadelphia region shrank and sales of existing homes fell.
The reports came out a day after the Federal Reserve lowered its growth and employment estimates while signaling it may add to its record stimulus. The central bank yesterday extended its so-called Operation Twist program to replace short- term bonds with longer-term debt, disappointing some investors who expected more asset purchases. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan today said the U.S. economy “looks very sluggish.”

Reuters: Moody's Downgrades 15 Banks
Financial markets have been bracing for the credit rating actions since February, when Moody's Investors Service said it had launched a review of 17 banks with global capital markets operations. These companies face diminished profitability and growth prospects due to difficult operating conditions, increased regulation and other factors, Moody's said.
. . . "The biggest surprise is the three-notch downgrade of Credit Suisse, which no one was looking for," said Mark Grant, managing director at Southwest Securities Inc. "In fact, it was Morgan Stanley that was supposed to be downgraded by that amount and Morgan received only two notches of cuts."
. . . Bank stocks fell on Thursday as investors prepared for an announcement, which leaked to the market as Moody's informed banks that it was coming, according to sources.
Morgan Stanley shares declined nearly 1.7 percent to $13.96 (8.94 pounds), while Bank of America shares fell nearly 4 percent to $7.82. The KBW Banks Index was down 2.3 percent.
But after suffering only a two-notch cut, instead of three as anticipated, Morgan Stanley shares rose about 3 percent in after-hours trade.

In addition to Morgan Stanley, downgraded by two notches were Barclays, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Canada, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and UBS. Falling one notch were Bank of America, HSBC Holdings, Royal Bank of Scotland and Societe Generale.
Nomura and Macquarie were included in an original list of global banks, but have already been downgraded.

Supreme Impatience as Possible Verdict on Obamacare Draws Near


I hate waiting for anything - patience is not my virtue! And in this information age with lightning-fast computers and instant tweets, it seems ridiculous to make people wait for weeks to hear the Supreme Court verdict. But this is "how it's done" so we wait. There's almost a sense of impending doom hanging in the air, no matter what the verdict is. I can't even imagine what's going to happen at that moment - heads explode, certainly. People cussing on Twitter and Facebook. Speeches, marches, anger - either side could be ticked off royally. Predictions are running rampant that the mandate will be struck down. What the Supremes will do with the rest of the Health Care Bill is anyone's guess.

UPDATE: It was "Or Nothing" - no ruling on Health Care today! See you next Monday!

NPR: Ruling Could Come Today
Word about which of its remaining decisions the court releases today should come just after 10 a.m. ET. The court's website is here.
We'll be watching for news from the court. So will SCOTUSBlog, which is always quick with updates.
From the LA Times
WASHINGTON -- Television cameras will surround the Supreme Court on Thursday morning, as they did Monday, anticipating something that may, again, not happen.
The momentous healthcare decision could be announced Thursday. Or not. All we really know is that it is extremely likely to be handed down by the following Thursday, June 28, when the court is expected to end its current term.

. . . The decisions are printed inside the ornate 1935 Corinthian-style building, and handed out to reporters as the justice who authored the opinion announces the decision from the bench shortly after 10 a.m. By tradition the senior justice goes last, so healthcare is likely to be the last decision announced on the day it comes down.

Only a few times in modern history have the results leaked ahead of time, once reputedly from a comment by a justice to a reporter, another time from a talkative printer.
The court is not meeting Friday, so if the healthcare decision does not come Thursday, the next opportunity would be Monday.

Daily Beast: How the Supreme Court Ruling Will Move Markets
Most academics are bullish on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the law’s cornerstone. There’s around a “10-to-1” chance of the provision’s survival, said Thomas Maguire, a professor of health economics at Harvard. But the market isn’t as optimistic.
“The market is pricing a 60% to 70% likelihood of the mandate being struck down,” said Michael Gregory, manager of two healthcare funds for an investment firm affiliated with Highland Capital Management LP.
According to six industry analysts and fund managers interviewed by The Daily Beast, Wall Street money believes that the individual mandate, if not the entire law, will be dumped.