Pat Robertson’s deep thoughts on the DOMA defeat

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Oh, Pat Robertson, you never disappoint. Pat’s first instinct as to why even this current conservative Supreme Court might not be fully down with Robertson’s particular brand of moralizing bigotry is so very wonderful. And so very terse.

ROBERTSON: Jay Sekulow for the American Center for Law and Justice is with us now. Jay, let me ask you about Anthony Kennedy. Does he have some clerks who happen to be gays?

SEKULOW: Well I have no idea …

A big giveaway for billboard companies in Wisconsin

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Voter intimidating billboard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2012

The folks who allow this crap on their signs now get a tax break to do it.

Billboards in Wisconsin, per the budget awaiting Gov. Scott Walker’s signature, are no longer considered “real property” in the tax code. They will be considered “personal property” and taxed as such. What this means is that communities across the state will lose money.

The net effect of the change in the budget bill is that billboards would be classified as personal property. That means, according to [Milwaukee Mayor Tom] Barrett, that assessments of billboards in Milwaukee alone will drop from $76 million to $6.6 million.

That is an awful lot of money that the City of Milwaukee will have to make up by raising taxes on homeowners.

The reason for this change? Adams Outdoor Advertising (based in Atlanta), Lamar Outdoor Advertising (Based in Baton Rouge), and Clear Channel Outdoor (based in Phoenix), have donated over $85,000 since 2000 to various legislators in Wisconsin, the vast majority of that money going to Republican candidates. This change was bought and paid for by the outdoor advertising industry.

Of course lost tax revenue is not the only side effect of this “budget change.” In Madison new billboards are banned and existing signs are grandfathered into the law; however, if a public works project requires a sign to be removed the city must pay the sign company for the value of the sign, that the city cannot assess because it is not real property—so the city has no way to know what the sign is really worth.

Administration considers enlisting professional sports leagues in Obamacare PR campaign

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Assorted sports equipment, balls against black background

Here’s a bright idea from the administration: Get the big professional sports leagues involved in the education effort for Obamacare.

“The NFL, the NBA, and others were contacted by the administration,” a spokesman from the NFL told BuzzFeed in an email. “We have made no commitments nor discussed any details with administration officials. We are in the process of trying to clarify what it is the administration would propose. There is nothing further to report.” […]

Like universal health care itself, government partnerships with professional sports to promote universal health-care insurance options was pioneered in Massachusetts. The state partnered with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 as a way to reach young, healthy males, a demographic that made up the highest percentage of uninsured Massachusetts residents and was crucial to keep premium costs down. “It depends, frankly and ultimately, on the participation of everyone,” Gov. Deval Patrick said at a news conference in 2007.

The target audience is, just like in Massachusetts, young healthy males for whom health insurance is toward the bottom of the list of life’s priorities. It’s a demographic that’s also pretty key to keeping the whole system working and overall health care spending costs down—the more young, healthy people there are paying insurance premiums without costing insurance companies much, the more costs are kept down and premiums can be kept low.

Backlash to the news is depressingly predictable.

Taxpayers don’t watch football for political lessons. Tell the NFL to stay away from Obamacare:…

Football fans should be just a little bit insulted that Americans for Tax Reform thinks they’re that dumb. After all, most taxpaying football fans are perfectly capable of being entertained and informed simultaneously. Why does ATR hate sports fans?

The political impact of the Roberts Court

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Chief Justice John Roberts

How did liberal pundits miss so badly on Roberts?

Back in 2005, John Roberts, then a judge on the DC circuit court, drew significant support from ostensibly progressive legal pundits. In a 2007 piece, on the heels of a string of extreme judicially activist decisions by the Roberts Court, Emily Bazelon wondered who’s sorry now?

[S]ome liberal and moderate lawyers and academics didn’t predict this at all. These members of the legal literati urged Roberts’ nomination, promising that he would be a model of restraint and principle and modesty. Why did they think that then? And how do their arguments on his behalf look now?

[…] The liberal Washington lawyers who went out of their way to stick up for Roberts were the ones who knew him. […] Douglas Kendal [said] “Roberts’ combination of intellect, skill, and open-mindedness should temper, at least somewhat, anxiety about his nomination,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “What Makes Roberts Different,” shortly after the nomination.  [… ] “John is conservative in his political beliefs,” [Richard] Lazarus told CBS in the days leading up to the confirmation hearings. “He is somebody, though, who has not defined his life driven by his politics or driven by his ideology.”

George Washington law professor Jeffrey Rosen […]  called “the claim that Roberts would move the Court to the right as chief justice … transparently unconvincing.” Rosen even ventured that because Roberts “may turn out to be more concerned about judicial stability and humility” than Rehnquist or then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “he might even move the Court to the left.”

Roberts wouldn’t twist precedent, professors like Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago wagered. He’d carry the torch of judicial modesty: Judges shouldn’t reach beyond the facts of a case to settle big questions, they should hesitate to strike down laws passed by Congress, they should know their place as the least-dangerous branch. Praising Roberts for his lack of “bravado and ambition,” Sunstein wrote in the Wall Street Journal pre-confirmation, “Opposition to the apparently cautious Judge Roberts seems especially odd at this stage.”

Since 2007, the Roberts Court has become even worse, and the chief justice is as bad as most of the extreme right wing of the court. (Of course, like Justice Kennedy, there is always a decision or two to point to (for Roberts it is his ACA decision—though I have problems with that formulation—and for Kennedy it is gay rights.)  

Contrary to his image, President Obama has been quite vocal in his disagreements with the Supreme Court. Especially noteworthy was the president’s call out of the court’s Citizens United decision in his 2010 State of the Union Address. Of course that led to the infamous Alito moment you can enjoy below the fold:

Midday open thread

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Images of admission buttons used by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Time to say goodbye to these iconic little fellas
  • Is he tacking left this week or right? Is he pandering to the base or looking ahead to a general election? On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bolted to the right, vetoing the attempt to make expansion of Medicaid permanent in New Jersey. And oh, yeah—surprise!—he doesn’t think President Obama knows how to lead. Can’t you just feel the siren song of primaries whistling in his ears? (Susan Gardner)
  • Wired has pulled together a geo-tagged Twitter map showing where the #StandWithWendy hashtag originated the night Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered for 13 hours. Sure, Texas was first, but there was quite a bit of interest nationally as well. (Susan Gardner)
  • No book for you, Paula Deen! (Susan Gardner)
  • Might Pride parades go condom-free? It almost happened in Houston. (Laura Clawson)
  • It’s the last day of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s iconic metal admission tags. It’s a decision that makes all kinds of economic and environmental sense, but it’s still a little sad. (Laura Clawson)
  • Victims of the Boston Marathon bombings will be receiving payments from a $60.9 million fund, from $8,000 for people who had injuries treated at the hospital but didn’t have to be admitted all the way up to:

    … maximum payments of nearly $2.2 million each to two double amputees and the families of the four people slain.

    Fourteen other people who lost single limbs will receive nearly $1.2 million each. In all, 232 victims will receive payments, said Camille Biros, deputy administrator of the One Fund Boston, which has been collecting public donations for the victims.

    (Laura Clawson)

  • Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, Monsieur, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”

    Do you love intellectual jokes? Then you’ll definitely enjoy this Reddit thread, filled with references to Gödel, Higgs bosons, and what happens when you put root beer in a square glass. (The answer is something much tastier.)

Book review: Eve Ensler’s ‘In the Body of the World’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Book cover of Eve Ensler's 'In the Body of the World'

In the Body of the World: A Memoir

By Eve Ensler
Hardcover $25.00, Kindle $10.67
Metropolitan Books
240 pages
April 2013

Having cancer was the moment when I went as far as I could go without being gone, and it was there, dangling on the edge, that I was forced to let go of everything that didn’t matter, to release the past and be burned down to essential matter. It was there I found my second wind. The second wind arrives when we think we are finished, when we can’t take another step, breathe another breath. And then we do.

Playwright Eve Ensler has been making the personal the political for all of her activist life, and it’s fitting that when she got cancer several years ago, her body and the disease that attacked it would become a metaphor to explore the wider global implications. Her humor, rage, denial, evasion, treatment and encounters with the medical establishment all become brewed together with a poetic look backward at her work with women of the Congo overcoming rape and with her own sense of disempowerment that had cropped up throughout her life.

Amazingly, Ensler really does find humor in her cancer fight; the author of the famed Vagina Dialogues jokes of her uterine, cervical, and vaginal cancer, “Live by the vagina, die by the vagina.” But there’s also anger, disbelief and an underlying resentment of the body that will sound familiar to those who tend to live most of their lives in their head and not in their body. “My body was a burden,” she writes of the period before her diagnosis. “I saw it as something that unfortunately had to be maintained. I had little patience for its needs.” How she began to reconcile the physical and the intellectual (and emotional) can be learned as we continue below the fold.

A new progressive champion is born deep in the heart of Texas

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


Texas Chaos

Protesters outside the Texas Senate chamber cheer as Sen. Wendy Davis leaves on June 26, 2013. Image courtesy of the Texas Tribune, click for full story.

Political drama of the highest order unfolded here in Austin this last week. Conservative legislators planned to pass new restrictions and onerous regulations on clinics offering pregnancy counseling for thousands of women in Texas. By Tuesday morning they were under the gun, the session due to close at midnight, with a key piece of the Republican war on women still waiting lonely in the wings like an old sing-song bill waiting on capital hill. That’s when state senator Wendy Davis got the floor, refused to yield, and the people’s filibuster was on:

At 11:18 a.m. this morning, State Senator Wendy Davis began a filibuster against SB5, which includes some of the most restrictive anti-woman anti-choice regulations in the nation. … For more on what this awful bill does, click here.

I got a chance to watch some of it in person, talk to some supporters and read some background, and concluded Wendy Davis is what any Texan worth their boots would call a tough hombre. She doesn’t merely sympathize with working people, she is one of us. Davis hit the workforce at age 14 to help support her single mother who was trying to raise four children while working at an ice cream shop. By age 19 she was a single mom herself. Despite those challenges, she worked her way through community college as an entry level paralegal, went on to attend nearby Texas Christian University where she graduated first in her class despite working two jobs to make ends meet. If that’s not impressive enough, Davis went on to Harvard Law School, graduating with a law degree at age 33. During which time she had another child. On Tuesday that determination was in full force. Join me below for the rest of the epic story.

But first: Sign the Daily Kos petition to draft Wendy Davis to run for governor!

Tell the Roberts’ Court Five—the civil rights movement is still alive

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-06-2013-05-2008


John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., as the head honcho of the Gang of Five on the Supreme Court who decided to gut parts of the Voting Rights Act, on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, has signed, sealed and delivered his legacy.  

He and his minions—Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr—can be enshrined in wing-nut Hades forever, but I’m here to say, it ain’t gonna stop us.

We already know that justice is not always served by those who don black robes. They may be the highest court in the land but some of those seated have pursued a right-wing racist agenda bearing no relationship to their title of “Justice.”

To paraphrase an often-misquoted remark attributed to Mark Twain, “the reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.” I’ll add obfuscated to that too, because the way “civil rights movement” often gets framed by the media, and in classrooms, it’s as if it was entombed with Martin Luther King Jr, and only dusted off and acknowledged on his birthday.  

When my students ask me to talk about my history as a civil rights activist (in the past tense) I answer simply, “I am a civil rights activist, and will be till I die,” adding “and you are too.”

I was moved when I read this story at ThinkProgress: 92-Year-Old Rosanell Eaton And Others Explain Why They’ll Go To Jail Protesting Conservative Policies In North Carolina.

The photo of Mrs. Eaton had this blurb beneath it:

ROSANELL EATON: (Relayed by her daughter Armenta while Rosanell rested her voice) “What brought her out was the possibility of requiring voter ID. She was required when she was 21 years old to repeat the preamble to the Constitution in order to register. She did it! She didn’t even know she had to do it, she was just smart. They would yank you around back in those days. She was valedictorian of her class, she knew all that stuff. It’s what she had to go through. She thought things were smooth sailing. She’s seen the good, bad, and the ugly. Now she’s seeing the ugly again. She fought for civil rights, she was a civil rights worker, and now she sees that it’s going backward.”

Yes, we are seeing the ugly and hearing the pundit class smugly pontificate about the “new era we have entered” that no longer needs judicial protection and interventions for voters.

I have a one word response to their nattering.


The fight for civil rights has not ended, and people across the United States—black, white, brown, red, and yellow, male and female, straight and LBGT, young and old are proving it.  

Follow me below the fold for more.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-06-2013-05-2008


Linda Greenhouse says that this week’s decisions reveal the real John Roberts.

What became clear during the momentous term that ended Wednesday is that the real Chief Justice Roberts has been there all along, hiding in plain sight. We just needed to know where to look. …

In its sweeping disregard of history, precedent and constitutional text, the chief justice’s 5-to-4 opinion in the voting rights case was startling for its naked activism, but no one watching the court over the past few years could have been surprised by the outcome. The court made clear in a 2009 decision that it had Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the “preclearance” provision, squarely in its sights. (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s devastating dissenting opinion last week read to me as if major portions had been written back in 2009, rendered unnecessary by the compromise outcome then, but saved for the day that she knew was coming.)

The chief justice’s antipathy toward the Voting Rights Act itself was well known, and was a significant reason that major civil rights groups opposed his confirmation to the court in 2005. Following his nomination, memos came to light that he had written more than 20 years earlier as a young lawyer in the Reagan administration. …

If there is no mystery about the nature of the chief justice’s views, I remain baffled by their origin. Clearly, he doesn’t trust Congress; in describing conservative judges, that’s like observing that the sun rises in the east. But oddly for someone who earned his early stripes in the Justice Department and White House Counsel’s Office, he doesn’t like the executive branch any better.

Everyone was worrying that Bush was building the imperial presidency, but as it turned out, he appointed the imperial court.

Come in. Let’s see what everyone else thinks.

Sunday Talk: Something for everyone

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-06-2013-05-2008


Depending upon which part of the political/
cultural/religious spectrum you fall on, this week brought news that was guaranteed to delight or disgust you—in some cases, both.

Between the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Voting Rights Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and California’s Prop 8, there was more than enough joy and outrage to go around.

And that’s to say nothing of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davismarathon filibuster; the next Scott Brown’s very special election in Massachusetts; the Senate’s passage of comprehensive immigration reform; or the growing blacklash against Paula Deen.

Bottom line: If you can’t find anything to love and/or hate about this week’s events, you must be a nihilist.