This morning marked day two of marathon proceedings
in what's likely the most momentous
Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore
: the effort to strike down President Obama's landmark health care reform law
. While yesterday was a sleepy affair of obscure technical debate
, today's hearings targeted the heart of the law -- the individual mandate
that requires most Americans to purchase insurance by 2014. With lower courts delivering a split decision
before today, administration lawyers held some hope that at least one conservative justice
could be persuaded to uphold the provision, which amortizes the risk that makes universal coverage possible
. But after a day of deeply skeptical questioning
by swing justice Anthony Kennedy
and his fellow conservatives [transcript
], the mandate looks to be in grave trouble
, with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin going as far as calling the day "a train wreck"
for the administration. But it's far from a done deal
, with a third day
of hearings tomorrow and a final decision not expected until June.
If you’re elected president,” asked one guest at a 2007 hedge fund managers event for Obama, “what will you do to the taxes on the people in this room?” “I’ll raise them,” Obama fired back. The managers, who share social circles and an educational background with Obama, approved of his style. These days, however, the bloom is off the rose. In The Big Split
, Alec MacGillis investigates the souring of a 20 year relationship between Democrats and high finance, and surmises that it's the administration's rhetoric more than its policy that has upset the masters of the financial universe.
Blogger-writer Andrew Sullivan proudly attended Obama's latest state dinner for Cameron with his husband
, in an open display of growing acceptance of same-sex marriage possibly by the powers-to-be. Michael Shaw's always-insightful BagNews (but not MS himself in this post) notes that there were 3 bearded men in the photograph
held a March Madness-type bracket this past week to determine the greatest character from HBO's 2002-2008 series "The Wire
". The idea came from a conversation between Grantland's Editor-in-Chief, Bill Simmons, and President Obama
. Voting took place via Grantland's Facebook page
. Spoilers from the results and TV show are within. [more inside]
"What's that buzzing sound?" Foreign Policy's
third annual War Issue focuses on what it calls "Barack Obama's Secret Wars," including My Drone War
, in which a Pakistani journalist for Newsday
and the NYT
describes what drone warfare looks and sounds like from the ground; The Obama Doctrine
, which argues drone warfare is a failing strategy in both Yemen and Pakistan; The Evolution of Drone Warfare: A Photo History, 1917-2010
, and more
. The package also includes two takes on cyberwar - Cyberwar is still more hype than hazard
and Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us
- along with a lot of interesting links
"The Obama Administration today unveiled a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
as part of a comprehensive blueprint to protect individual privacy rights and give users more control over how their information is handled." Full 62-page PDF - Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy
"In addition, advertising networks announced that leading Internet companies and online advertising networks are committing to act on Do Not Track technology in most major web browsers to make it easier for users to control online tracking. Companies that represent the delivery of nearly 90 percent of online behavioral advertisements, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL have agreed to comply when consumers choose to control online tracking. Companies that make this commitment will be subject to FTC enforcement." [more inside]
Barack Obama has had an alien lizard implanted in the back of his head
, with your tax dollars. You might think this sounds like some big pile of conspiracy tinfoil hat crap. Please read on and consider all the evidence before you jump to conclusions. [more inside]
Andrew Bacevich on the war
: "So what tentative judgments can we offer regarding the ongoing [war formerly known as the global war on terrorism]? Operationally, a war launched by the conventionally minded has progressively fallen under the purview of those who inhabit what Dick Cheney once called “the dark side,” with implications that few seem willing to explore. Strategically, a war informed at the outset by utopian expectations continues today with no concretely stated expectations whatsoever, the forward momentum of events displacing serious consideration of purpose. Politically, a war that once occupied center stage in national politics has now slipped to the periphery, the American people moving on to other concerns and entertainments, with legal and moral questions raised by the war left dangling in midair."
In the summer of 2007 on the campaign trail Barack Obama took a clear stance
on the controversial subject of medical marijuana. “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.”
As President in 2009 he took action to follow through on this promise by instructing federal prosecutors to “not focus federal resources in [their] States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo cited the “efficient and rational use” of the U.S. Department of Justice’s “limited investigative and prosecutorial resources,” as a motivating factor in the decision."
In the winter of 2012 Rolling Stone magazine takes a look back
on this subject and the record is surprising. "With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst." [more inside]
Who Will Run the
World Bank? Robert Zoellick has announced
that he will step down from his role as World Bank President on June 30, at the end of his five-year term. Though the president has traditionally
been selected by the President of the United States through an informal agreement with European powers, emerging powers including Brazil and India have argued for a change
in policy. [more inside]
After much protestation
from religious communities
, the Obama administration has compromised on its controversial contraceptive law
. Non-profit organizations (such as hospitals) that are affiliated with religious institutions will not be required to provide contraceptives--but insurance companies will
. But some Catholics still aren't satisfied
President Barack Obama will today give the annual State of the Union address.
There will be at least three rebuttals
in addition to a prebuttal
that occurred this morning. The address will be streamed online at Whitehouse.gov. [more inside]
One of only two American players on the 2010/2011 Boston Bruins team, goaltender Tim Thomas skipped a White House event to honor the team's Stanley Cup championship victory for political reasons
have been numerous
Barack Obama, Post-Partisan, Meets Washington Gridlock
. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reviews major domestic policy decisions from the first two years of the Obama administration, based on internal White House memos. Some key decisions: [more inside]
“You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.
” Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher of the NY Times give an in-depth report on Apple's migration of electronics manufacturing to Asia and its impact on middle class Americans.
I, I'm so in love with you.
The soulful side of President Obama. (slyt)
The attacks from both the right and the left on [Obama] and his policies aren’t out of bounds. They’re simply—empirically—wrong. ... Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s future as his original election in 2008.
Andrew Sullivan writes an intriguingly optimistic piece on why he thinks and hopes that Obama will be re-elected this year.
The Obama White House formally speaks out against SOPA, PIPA.
The Obama White House has come out against
the Stop Online Piracy Act. The move has -- unsurprisingly -- drawn responses from the MPAA, RIAA, and other interested parties.
Hand On Your Gun
is a music video dedicated to suit-wearing arms dealers and champagne-drinking depleted uranium droppers from British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey
. A few of his other videos: Obama Nation
, Obama Nation part 2
, Soundtrack To The Struggle
Interview Transcripts from Wired.com
Michael Hastings has come out with a new book titled "The Operators" in which he expands on his infamous Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal by President Obama. In this Wired interview, Hastings explains why he views our current situation in Afghanistan as hopeless and the real story behind the quotes he obtained from the general and his staff.
Presidential appointments that require Senate confirmation can be made without
confirmation by the President when the chamber is in recess: a so-called recess appointment
, wherein the appointee is allowed to serve until the end of the next congressional session. During the Bush II administration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began holding pro forma sessions every three days—a local Senator gavels the session in and immediately back out—to ensure that the Senate never went into recess and as a result, Bush stopped confirming recess appointments. When the Obama administration took over, the Republicans began holding the same pro forma sessions to prevent Obama from appointing any positions in recess. This week, Obama made four appointments, including Richard Cordray to the newly created role of director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, despite the fact that the Senate is not in technical recess
. [more inside]
"As I made clear in Australia, we'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region," President Obama and Sustaining US Global Leadership (pdf) [more inside]
"...Obama isn’t just lying about his identity. He’s lying about his military service record, too. While his political opponents in 2008 attacked him for never serving, in truth, he was concealing his participation in a hidden CIA intergalactic program
hosted at a California community college in 1980."
] "Maybe the most interesting aspect of the site is the real-time dashboard
, which displays recent search trends, Google News mentions and YouTube video views for all the candidates."
Chris Hedges: Brace yourself. The American Empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying
. Long, incredibly intelligent, insightful and pessimistic discussion of the current state of American politics and society, among other topics. Hedges
is a long-time journalist, author and professor, winner of Pulitzer Prize and Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism for his work at the New York Times. [more inside]
Two days ago
, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act
), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge"
. [more inside]
Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies
: Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception. [more inside]
Robert Reich writes today: My political prediction for 2012 (based on absolutely no inside information): Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden swap places
. Biden becomes Secretary of State -- a position he's apparently coveted for years. And Hillary Clinton, Vice President [more inside]
Tomorrow marks the official end
of the Iraq war. The Obama administration describes it as a 'promise kept'
. The war resulted in a great many casualties
. Although the final troop movement out of the country is not scheduled to begin for a few days, history will record
December 15 as the end of the war, as the flag of the American military mission in Bagdhad is lowered and returned to the US. Scholars at Brown University estimate
the total cost of the war at 265,000 dead and $3-4 trillion dollars. The main contenders for the Republican party's 2012 nomination both expressed approval
, 339 times.
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT]
Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
"This is the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare
and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ratio will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry."
If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction—an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.
Jonathan Chait asks in New York
magazine, When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? [more inside]
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason.
After two months of gaffes
, impolitic stands
, and bizarre speeches
that quickly waned his once-strong odds
of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate
sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video]
to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate"
in his memory.
While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes
of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims
-- an oddly ineffective
scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow
. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits
, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own
. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
November 2007 -- Barack Obama:
"[I]f the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to ... But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed." [more inside]
Tomorrow, Friday the 23rd of September 2011, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
will go before the UN and set out his request for formal recognition of the state of Palestine.
There are many problems with this, and not just for the Palestinians... [more inside]
A new book says women have been marginalized in Obama's White House,
according to an article in the Washington Post. Former communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying the White House "fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." The book also quotes an unnamed official saying that "the boys' club" was not "just Larry [Summers] and Rahm [Emanuel]," but that Obama himself was responsible: "The president has a real woman problem." [more inside]
"a little-known Republican businessman from Queens" (who is also a former producer for the Jerry Springer show
) has become the first Republican elected to New York's Ninth Congressional District
since the 1920's. Democrats traditionally have a 3-to-1 advantage over Republicans
in the district, which makes this upset even more ... upsetting. Many consider the loss of a Democratic stronghold to be a referendum on the Obama Administration itself
. Nate Silver with more analysis
. [more inside]
Yields of 2-year Greek government bonds have been skyrocketing today, and are currently at 76%
. Credit default swaps show Greece with a 98% chance of default
. Confidence in the Eurozone as a whole has been tanking
recently after a series of setbacks that leave a political solution looking increasingly unlikely. There was a timely, gloomy discussion on RT
yesterday on European and worldwide political/economic prospects
Obama to Congressional Republicans: pass this jobs bill, or take the blame
. The Economist
has the details of the plan. Paul Krugman
describes the plan as significantly bolder and better than expected. Good news and bad news: Obama's plan would work, but GOP won't pass it.
Why not? [more inside]
President Obama Backs Down On Ozone Standards As two weeks of protests outside the White House against a proposed oil pipeline from Alberta's tar sands through the United States ended Friday with a total of 1,252 arrests
, President Obama shocked the environmental community by requesting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after repeated delays since publication of new draft ozone standards in 2010 lowering permissible levels from 85 parts per billion (introduced during the Bush administration) to 60-70 parts per billion, postpone their implementation until at least 2013
. [more inside]
White House economic policy largely originates with The Council of Economic Advisers
, CEA, who directly advise the President of the United States. CEA research and publish the annual Economic Report of the President
[ .pdf ], which details the state of the nation's economic health. Today President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Princeton Economist Alan Krueger
as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger, who previously held the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy
, has written on a wide range of topics, from the economics of rock music
[ .pdf ], the causes of terrorism
[ .pdf ] and American's changing work / life balance
. But Krueger is best known as a labor economist
who has extensively researched long term unemployment. [more inside]