Monday, March 17, 2014

Last Call To Back Off, Vlad

President Obama made it clear speaking from the White House this morning that further actions from Russia on taking over Crimea and eastern Ukraine would be met with increasing sanctions.

The United States and European Union announced sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on officials from Russia and Ukraine after Crimea applied to join Russia on Monday following a controversial weekend referendum.

"We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world," President Barack Obama said. "The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russia military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russia economy."

The sanctions came after Crimea's Moscow-backed leaders declared an overwhelming 96.7% vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and being annexed by Russia in a vote that Western powers said was illegal. Turnout was 83%.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's parliament has authorized the call-up of some 40,000 military reservists.  Things could get very ugly in Crimea and fast should it devolve into a situation with shooting.  Russian military forces have been moving into Crimea for the last week.  We'll see where this goes and how Russia responds.

The House That Ruth Built

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine's law school, takes to the LA Times to argue that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg needs to retire now in order to get a liberal justice appointed in her place on the Supreme Court.  It's a noble argument and it makes sense:

There likely will be many calls, publicly and privately, for Justice Ginsburg to resign before President Obama leaves the White House to prevent the risk of a Republican being able to appoint her successor. But simply leaving before the next election isn't enough. If Ginsburg waits until 2016 to announce her retirement, there is a real chance that Republicans would delay the confirmation process to block an outgoing president from being able to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. In fact, the process for confirming nominees for judicial vacancies usually largely shuts down the summer before a presidential election.

Moreover, there is a distinct possibility that Democrats will not keep the Senate in the November 2014 elections. The current Senate has 53 Democrats, two independents who vote with the Democrats and 45 Republicans. But in the November 2014 elections, Republicans have a far greater likelihood of gaining seats in the Senate than the Democrats. One recent study identified nine seats held by Democrats that could be won by Republicans, but only two seats occupied by Republicans that might be taken by Democrats.

But I'm with Steve M on this: If Justice Ginsburg retired tomorrow, the Republicans can and would block her successor for the next three years.  There's no possible way at this point that President Obama would be allowed to appoint anyone to the Court short of a second (and more militant) Scalia, and Democrats would revolt.

It's not happening.  The only way a Democrat gets to appoint another justice is if we get 60 in the Senate.  That may be a prospect somewhere in Hillary's term in 2020 or something.  Justice Ginsburg is just going to have to hold on until then,

Abby Huntsman Is As Useless As Her Father

I'm not sure how Abby Huntsman ended up on MSNBC's The Cycle...scratch that.  I know exactly how she did, spouting her dad's same No Labels nonsense for the Millennials. LA Times econ reporter Michael Hiltzik has her pegged.

Abby Huntsman is really, really upset about Social Security. We know this because the television presenter, a daughter of former GOP Presidential contender Jon Huntsman, went on an extended rant about it Thursday on MSNBC's "The Cycle." The show is aimed at a younger audience of news consumers and Huntsman, 27, is one of the four youthful co-hosts.

She thinks Social Security is going bankrupt, leaving her and her generation with nothing. "This is infuriating," she said, bouncing up and down in her chair like a petulant toddler, "because none of our elected officials seem to care enough to do anything about it."

Unfortunately, almost everything she said about Social Security in the name of making it "sustainable" for her generation was wrong.

Dead wrong.
Huntsman wants to tell it like it is, but she fails due to lack of information. And if her generation believes what she said, it's going to be in deep trouble.

Let's get one thing straight:  Nobody in my generation (the youngest Gen Xers) and younger believes we'll ever see a dime of Social Security.  I still have a minimum of 35 years of work ahead of me.  For those in their early 30's, it's 40, and those in their 20's it's 45 or 50.  I understand the appeal of "after the Boomers drain the system, odds are really good there won't be a lot left for us."

But that's simply not true.

The most dire projections of the program's future say that "doing nothing about it"--no benefit cuts, no tax increases--will leave the program still able to pay 75%-80% of scheduled benefits. Not "nothing at all." And that 75% to 80% would still be much more per month 75 years from now than retirees get today.

By the way, it's also untrue that President Obama's budget plan makes "no mention of entitlement reform. None," as Huntsman claims. His budget proposes a very damaging cutback in Social Security disability, as we documented here, as well as changes to Medicare payment formulas to save money.

Huntsman has stitched her spiel together out of scraps and tatters of misinformation, of a sort we've heard from the older generation for years. They're no more accurate coming out the mouths of a "millennial." But it's tragic to see that what she's learned from her elders is how to mislead her public.

Which is exactly the platform her dad ran on in 2012.  She's just as useless.

StupidiNews, St. Patrick's Day Edition!

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