Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Call

How much do the wingers hate this President?  This much, via Kevin Drum:

This is beyond bizarre. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court is hearing a challenge to Obamacare, but when a Justice Department lawyer began arguments this morning she was stopped short:

Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith immediately interrupted, asking if DOJ agreed that the judiciary could strike down an unconstitutional law. The DOJ lawyer, Dana Lydia Kaersvang, answered yes — and mentioned Marbury v. Madison, the landmark case that firmly established the principle of judicial review more than 200 years ago, according to the lawyer in the courtroom. 
Smith then became "very stern," the source said, telling the lawyers arguing the case it was not clear to "many of us" whether the president believes such a right exists....Smith, a Reagan appointee, went on to say that comments from the president and others in the Executive Branch indicate they believe judges don't have the power to review laws and strike those that are unconstitutional, specifically referencing Mr. Obama's comments yesterday about judges being an "unelected group of people."

Despite the fact that Kaersvang immediately acknowledged that courts can indeed strike down laws, the panel ordered her to "submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power."

To recap, a federal judge is handing out a book report on judicial overreach and why overturning Congress and the President happens all the damn time apparently in order to put "that one" in his place in a petty display of tyranny on the bench.  Because Jerry Smith here will be damned if that uppity sumbitch is gonna run his mouth on his watch.

And yes, at this point we have Federal Appeals Court Judges acting like GOP House backbenchers.

We are so screwed if these guys get back in power.  They will goddamn go to war with us.

Saving Ryan's Privatizing

Ezra Klein makes the convincing argument that President Obama's Tuesday speech strongly suggests he plans on running against the Paul Ryan/House GOP budget in 2012, no matter who the actual Republican nominee is.

The message of President Obama’s budget speech today was this: In 2012, the Republican nominee for president is going to be Paul Ryan. And that’s true even if Mitt Romney wins the nomination.

That’s because Ryan is doing what Romney will not: Saying what, specifically, Republicans intend to do if they take power.

Mittens of course knows better.  President Obama is absolutely right to toss the House GOP budget chain around Romney's neck and pull as tight as he can.

Throughout the Republican primary, Romney’s great weakness has been his chameleon-like nature. Conservatives never really believed Romney was one of them. But that is, arguably, a strength for Romney in the general election: Independent voters might also believe that Romney’s conservatism is an election-year show, and he would govern as the reasonable moderate from Massachusetts.

Romney’s studied vagueness is an effort to make it easier for voters to take this leap: The less specific he is about what he would actually do, the more voters can project their own preferences onto him.

There's a lot of this going around the village, that Romney will be able to magically shift to the center.  He only gets away with that if the Village, the GOP, and President Obama let him do that.  The Village will do everything they can to see that happens.  The GOP will be torn in two over this, and that help the President.  And President Obama made it clear today he's going to be throwing the Ryan plan at Romney for the rest of the campaign.

By lashing Romney to Ryan’s budget, Obama intends to lash him to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Where Romney has purposefully refrained from filling in the details on his agenda, the Obama campaign intends to use Ryan’s blueprint to fill them in on Romney’s behalf.

This can only work because Romney can’t actually walk away from Ryan’s budget: He’s already called it “an excellent piece of work” and campaigned alongside Ryan. Worse, Romney knows full well that conservatives would shriek if he began publicly distancing himself from the policy framework that the Republican Party has coalesced around.

So fight on, Mr. President.  Let's have the battle over the GOP Austerity plan once and for all.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Is it irresponsible to speculate if President Obama threatened Chelsea Clinton’s life in order to win the 2008 primary, like FOX News anchor Heather Childers does?

It’s irresponsible not to, of course.  But the whole “Bush fee-fees were impugned” happened, so all’s fair cause politics ain’t beanbag.

Intentional Blindness, Indeed

This is appalling.  Soldiers are risking their lives to defend us and our country.  Is it asking too much that reasonable protection from rape come with the benefits package?

While it is estimated that over 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2010, a rate far higher than among civilians, the government has failed systematically to investigate complaints, appropriately punish perpetrators, and treat trauma and other health conditions suffered by survivors. The profound personal and social consequences that arise from the government's systemic failures are powerfully profiled in the new film, The Invisible War. Turning a blind eye to these crimes has allowed them to continue, imperiling the lives of victims and degrading their service.

Well said.  Ms. Park has plenty more to say, but the paragraph above nailed it for me.  Granted, statistically most rape victims are female, but sexual assault can mean many things, and surely men have suffered their fair share as well.

The first step towards a solution is admitting you have a problem.  Or, you could take a shortcut and listen to the people telling you they were assaulted.  Either way, it's time to start looking at this and figuring out the best way to protect and treat victims and deter and punish offenders.

Quickies: Live Long And Prosper

President Obama wins all of the things.

Taken 2/29/12 in the Oval Office - Live Long & Prosper! on Twitpic

(via Nichelle Nichols)

Bless You!

And here we have a minute of adorable, thanks to YouTube. This kid would love me. I tend to hit double digits when I sneeze.

He Yam What He Yam

It's good to see the Gates Foundation making a real difference in people's lives.  Long before there were microloans, there were microfarms.  Or, what the rest of us would call "growing your own crops to eat."  It may be the newest wave in hipster urban sustainability, but for African nations like Ghana, it's life and death.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave a $12-million (nine-million-euro) grant Monday to a project aimed at boosting yam production and doubling the income of west African farmers of the crop.
It is the foundation’s largest grant for yam production anywhere in the world, said a spokesman of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria’s southwest city of Ibadan.

The project’s initial focus is on 200,000 smallholder farm families in Ghana and Nigeria, 90 percent of whom cultivate less than two acres, the institute said in a statement.

Basic pest and disease control in situations like this can dramatically improve crop yields, and where people need to eat what they grow in order to live, it's the best $12 million spent.  Considering how much the US spends on agriculture in a year, it's refreshing to see something like this done to help tens of thousands.

Good on them.

The Big GOP Primary Thread: Farmer In The Dells

Looks like Mittens has all but ended this thing with a clean sweep of Tuesday's contests in Maryland, DC, and Wisconsin.

Mitt Romney rode a wave of high-profile endorsements to victories over Rick Santorum in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Only Wisconsin, where Santorum led polls just weeks ago, was considered competitive. The GOP there is currently preoccupied with Governor Scott Walker’s (R) impending recall election, making the presidential race a sideshow, but Romney’s usual spending dominance and a growing sense of inevitability helped hand him a win.

“We’ve now reached the point where it’s halftime,” Santorum declared to supporters Tuesday night. “Who’s ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half?’

Romney’s nowhere near the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination and Santorum’s campaign is pledging to go all the way to convention, talking up far-off states like Texas at the end of May. Santorum’s next shot at a winnable race will be his home state of Pennsylvania on April 24, a date that also includes several Northeastern states where Romney is expected to dominate.

I personally think it will take a Santorum loss in Pennsylvania to seal the deal, but frankly the next 3 weeks of pressure on him to quit is going to be brutal.  We'll see what happens, but despite Santorum vowing he can win Texas in May, it won't matter.

But by all means, continue to drain Mitt of his precious resources as you fight on, as Mitt still can't get more than 50% in a competitive primary...


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