Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

And the award for Dick Move of the Week goes to our old friend Gov. Lex Luthor Rick Scott as he says the state will now sue the Obama Administration over Florida's apparent Constitutional right to throw 180,000 eligible voters off the rolls for the crime of being likely Democratic voters.

Rick Scott made the announcement moments ago on Fox News: “the Florida’s Secretary of State office will be filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to give us that database. We want to have fair, honest elections in our state and so we have been put in a position that we have to sue the federal government to get this information.”

Neil Cavuto, who conducted the interview, pressed Scott on why many of those who objected to the purge were Republican election supervisors. Cavuto also noted that other prominent Florida Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, were notably silent on the purge.

Now, this is a too clever by half move on Scott's part.  He's basically saying that the Federal government can't tell Florida what to do with its own voter database if it has a "better and more accurate" database through Homeland Security.  If that's the case, the Feds need to pony up access for Florida to assure that "justice is being served" and the onus to prove that is on DHS.  If it's not, then the Obama administration has no business telling Florida how to maintain its database.

This is pretty much akin to saying "There are crimes in other states, therefore the federal government has no business telling us how to handle crimes and we reserve the right to use Florida law enforcement for FBI matters.  If Washington really cared about solving crimes, they would move FBI headquarters to Miami and give us access to the best law enforcement resources in the country so we're going to sue them for not doing that.  The fact they won't do this means they're not serious about helping us fight crime and they have no business saying word one to us about the issue."

A little thing called Article VI in the Constitution puts an end to that noise.  It's called the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

In other words, states have to defer to the federal on laws that the federal passes concerning the states.  We kind of settled this in 1865 the hard way.  Luthor here wants to refight that battle for, well, pretty much the same damn reasons they fought 150 years ago.

He's a funny guy, but the law is very much settled.  (That is unless Romney gets to throw in a couple more nutjobs on the Supreme Court, then Article VI means whatever they say it means.)  And once again let's remember that the point of the exercise is that Florida wants to toss thousands of eligible voters off the rolls and make it as hard as possible for them to vote again.

Damn right the Feds should step in.

Not So Fast And Absolutely Furious

The impeachment of President Obama by proxy through the GOP assault on Attorney General Eric Holder just got deadly serious.

CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It's the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious "gunwalking" investigation.

The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.

However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.

"The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics," Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20. 

Issa goes on to say that by releasing these documents, he'll stand down.  But on a party line, the vote would pass and then go to the full House, and after that would pass and go to the US Attorney's office in DC where presumably, Holder would be served with the Contempt of Congress charge officially.  The GOP is clearly thinking that if things get that far and this being an election year, Holder would have to step aside.

Not that I think he should.  "Nakedly and brazenly political" doesn't begin to describe things here.  If we're seriously getting to the point where Issa will hold the AG in contempt for the answers he's getting not being the ones he wants to hear, Congress is broken far beyond the 9% approval rating failure.  Should the House pass a contempt resolution, they would have to sue Holder.  It would be a disaster across the board.

We'll see how this shakes out, but this seems like extortion to me.  Issa's playing hardball here and he's risking serious "partisan witch hunt" blowback.  Then again, they despise Obama so much it doesn't matter to them.

A Little Levity

A kitten was rescued after he was found in the sewer, with his head stuck in a soda can.  Enjoy this testament to what happens when good people come together.

It's Funny, Aside From That "Shooting" Thing

It's so rare that a story about a shooting is a tad bit funny that I had to share.  Please let me say that I am so sorry this man was shot before I begin to boggle yet again at the heaps o' irony.

A West Virginia man who told authorities he was hitchhiking across the country and writing a memoir about kindness was injured in a seemingly random drive-by shooting near Montana's booming Bakken oil patch.
Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening, thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.
The freelance photographer, who runs a business called OneShot Impressions, was injured about three miles west of the town of Glasgow, along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route into and out of the oil patch.
A 52-year-old man from Washington state, Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. Authorities said Danielson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They released no motive in the shooting.
OneShot Impressions?  Bwahahahahaha.

Now seriously, I would love to have seen such a journey completed, and of course sad to see a nice man get shot in a misunderstanding.  I don't know why it struck my funny bone, but I was amused.  

If they say bath salts was behind this, expect to hear more outrage.  Celebrate with us, on this magnificent day our Ironic tag was born.

Quiet Inevitability

Republicans may be about to piss themselves in sheer happiness over the thought of SCOTUS striking down the entire Affordable Care Act this summer, but health insurance providers and hospitals are moving ahead with implementation of the law's provisions because hey, it makes good business sense.   Take the example of Maimonides Medical Center in New York City:

“Quite frankly, if everything goes perfectly and everything is upheld, there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of uncertainty here,” said Dominick Stanzione, the hospital’s chief operating officer. “We also have an election coming up.” 

The cuts, on the other hand, seem inexorable, and not only because Medicaid and Medicare budgets are strapped. The policy thrust in health care financing, private as well as public, is to abandon reimbursements to hospitals according to the number of days patients spend in a bed, in favor of models that use a fixed sum per patient or set of patients over time, regardless of where care is delivered or how little it costs. 

Maimonides’s own successes have helped sell policy makers on the idea. Its collaboration with a state psychiatric hospital a few years ago, for example, put medical-mental health teams in storefront offices to manage the care of low-income patients with serious mental illness. Such patients, who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare, are among the health system’s most expensive and tend to have the worst outcomes. The program cut hospitalizations in half and reduced emergency-room use by 30 percent. 

“When the State Health Department people saw our data, the little dollar signs danced in their heads,” Ms. Brier said. 

Hospitals are operating under the assumption that not only that the provisions in the law will be implemented, but that the health care industry will simply move to adopt the provisions regardless of what SCOTUS says because it's good for their bottom line.

Imagine that.

Greek Fire, Part 61

Things are rapidly deteriorating in Europe now as result of the Spanish bailout doing nothing to restore confidence in the euro and failing miserably, as this Reuters story on "worst-case" EU preparations points out.

The discussions have taken place in conference calls over the past six weeks, as concerns have grown that a radical-left coalition, SYRIZA, may win the second election, increasing the risk that Greece could renege on its EU/IMF bailout and therefore move closer to abandoning the currency.

No decisions have been taken on the calls, but members of the Eurogroup Working Group, which consists of euro zone deputy finance ministers and heads of treasury departments, have discussed the options in some detail, the sources said.

As well as limiting cash withdrawals and imposing capital controls, they have discussed the possibility of suspending the Schengen agreement, which allows for visa-free travel among 26 countries, including most of the European Union.

"Contingency planning is underway for a scenario under which Greece leaves," one of the sources, who has been involved in the conference calls, said. "Limited cash withdrawals from ATMs and limited movement of capital have been considered and analyzed."

Another source confirmed the discussions, including that the suspension of Schengen was among the options raised.

"These are not political discussions, these are discussions among finance experts who need to be prepared for any eventuality," the second source said. "It is sensible planning, that is all, planning for the worst-case scenario."

And it really is sensible planning for the magnitude of what could happen very soon.   It's also all but guaranteeing a massive series of bank runs that will rapidly bring about chaos as a result.  The fact that the EU is seriously considering locking off member nation borders and bank withdrawals should clue everyone in that the time to get your money out in Greece and Spain and Italy is now, before these kick in.  Voila!  Instant self-fulfilling financial apocalypse, just add water.

This is a real problem, folks.  Strap in.  The Spanish bank bailout has failed, and Italy is next.


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