Today’s legal lesson from the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision— If large numbers of people go around shouting UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!! as loudly as they can, as often as they can, in every place where they can, and for days and months on end—This still does not make what they are yelling about unconstitutional if in fact it [...]
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Bush's Manchurian justice
In today's competition among the Right for most ridiculous statement in reaction to the Supreme Court's upholding of the Affordable Care Act, the Heartland Institute has provided a most worthy submission:
?The president intimidated Chief Justice John Roberts like Hugo Chavez intimidates the Venezuelan Supreme Court. The rule of law is now dead. The American people have only one more chance now to save their country.?Say what? Obama is Hugo Chavez now? Maybe we need to recheck the president's birth certificate to see if he actually was born in Venezuela instead of Kenya. Orly Taitz and Donald Trump will be on the case.
In any event, if Roberts can be so easily "intimidated," maybe he should be impeached.
I saw a live preview of this show back in February in Los Angeles, and I can say that it represents a major shift in the range of opinions allowed on broadcast television. What passes for "liberal" on TV and in most of our media is extremely narrowed[...]
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This is what open heart surgery bills look likeSeveral Sundays ago, I chronicled my then-22-year-old daughter's adventure in open heart surgery, all thanks to Obamacare, which allowed her to remain on my insurance. The bottom line: We were terrified the young adult provision would be overturned. We were even more terrified that the pre-existing prohibition clause would be overturned and that the rest of her adult life would be spent in an unending scramble to obtain health care coverage.
Today's decision put that to rest.
So while we're busy discussing (as we should be) the political ramifications, the electoral consequences, the future of the Commerce Clause, let's also keep in mind that people's lives were saved today. And that a heck of a lot of people's futures were just allowed to move forward free of the fear of medical bankruptcy from bills like those my daughter racked up above.
Even though it's been a few hours now, I'm guessing you're still pinching yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. But yes, it happened. At 10:07 this morning, the conservative Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, not only joined with the liberal justices to completely uphold almost every single part of the Obama health care law, he wrote the majority opinion himself! In fact, he went even further. When he realized that the government had poorly made its constitutional case to the court, he went searching for a clause in their argument and the constitution that would give him the justification he needed to back the administration and to insure that his decision would hold up legally. In other words, even though he is on the opposite side of the political fence, he wrote the Dems' paper for them. Stunning.
The other four justices? They didn't just vote to overturn the individual mandate part of the law, they all voted to kill the entire Act.
The media is already spending much time talking about the mandate being the "centerpiece of the law," but the real news is that if you ever have a pre-existing condition, you cannot now be denied insurance. If you are a young adult without health insurance, you can now stay on your parents' plan until age 26. The insurance company can no longer say there is a lifetime cap to your coverage. The insurance companies are now required to spend 85 cents out of every dollar they take in on actual reimbursement for your health care ? not on profit or "administrative costs" (some companies have been taking over a 30% cut; Medicare's total percentage of their budget for administrative costs: 2%).
I know that our side is not used to victories and so we're not quite sure how to respond when we get one out of the blue. For some of us, the first inclination is to point out just how weak the Obama law actually is, that it doesn't provide true universal health care (26 million will STILL be uninsured), and that it leaves control of the system in the hands of the vultures, otherwise known as the health insurance companies. The individual mandate was a huge gift to the private insurance companies, guaranteeing them billions more from millions of new customers. And many of the key provisions of this law don't even take effect until 2014 ? and if the Republicans win in November, you can kiss all of that goodbye.
So, yes, the bill is highly flawed and somewhat wrong-headed ? but what it IS is a huge step in the right direction. And today's court decision cements that. The right wing knows this and they are probably unraveling in some not-so-pretty ways right now. And that's why today is a great day. The Right has been smacked down by one of their own! They know what we all know ? that the path of history has been, and will continue to move toward the basic human right that all people are entitled to see a doctor and NOT have to worry about losing their home because they can't afford to pay the medical bills. Those days are over, or will be soon, and that is where civilization is headed. It's not headed back to the days of Oliver Twist. Today's victory is momentum, it's forward motion, and we WILL have true universal health care in this country in the not too distant future.
So take some time tonight to celebrate; this is a victory for the people. Actually, more than a victory, it is a mandate that all of us must now make sure that a second-term Obama continues to move the ball down the field, toward a system like they have in every other First World country on the planet. He simply has to improve Medicare and then expand it to every citizen in the country. The countries that do this, their people live an average of two to four years longer than we do. Is there a reason anyone doesn't want an extra four years of their lives? Or that our babies would have a better chance of surviving their first year like they do in the 48 countries that have a better infant mortality rate than we do? Exactly who is opposed to this? You'd have to be a bit?crazy.
And that, I've come to believe, is the true divide in this country. It's not blue state vs red state, liberal vs conservative, Democrat vs Republican. The split we have in America can be boiled down in its simplest form to this: On one side are the people who believe Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago ? and then there's everyone else. On that first side are the people who've been fed a diet of fear and lies and hate. And who is feeding them? The 1%. The richest people in the country, the ones who aren't done with us yet because they still don't have enough wealth, have done their best to dumb down the population through destroying our educational system and using media to provide them with a vastly distorted sense of reality. The rich's only obstacle is that they only hold 1% of the votes in the country. So they have to try to get a slim majority of Americans to vote their way. And fear, plus keeping them stupid, usually works.
So that's the battle ahead of us: Organizing and mobilizing the majority of Americans to push for true universal health care, Medicare for All. At one time, back in Illinois, that was the position held by Barack Obama. He will not make this happen on his own. He will only be able to do it when the mass of American people rise up and demand it. Demand it. Why not start tonight?
Five years ago this week, my health care documentary, Sicko, opened in theaters across the country. I have spent the better part of the decade on this issue, and for me, personally, fully aware of the current law's limitations, I am very happy with today's news ? not because of its specifics or nuances, but because it is a road sign, and that sign points in the correct, humane and sane direction. THAT makes this a great day.
P.S. I will appear on Lawrence O'Donnell's show tonight to discuss this issue ? 10:00 pm ET/7:00 PT (replay 1:00 AM ET/10:00 PM PT) on MSNBC.
P.P.S. To learn more and get involved in the campaign for real universal health care ? to complete the job that's been started ? get in touch with National Nurses United and Physicians for a National Health Program.
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TPM Reader ML isn't buying the idea that Roberts somehow managed to uphold 'Obamacare' while crippling the possibility for progressive legislation in the future. Just wanted to point this out to you guys that there seems to be trending, at least among[...]
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NationBuilder is an online campaigning tool kit, providing clients with the ability to do online advocacy, email supporters, raise money and integrate social media.NationBuilder was founded by a group of progressive and Democratic technologists with campaign and grassroots non-profit organizing experience in the Netroots. It's not particularly different from other online tool kits like Blue...
This morning's Supreme Court majority
Thankfully, Howie already dealt this morning with the meat of today's big announcement from the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I just want to add a few random additional thoughts.
* I think now we have a better idea why Justice Nino "The Mushroom Cloud" Scalia went berserk the other day at the Court's announcement of the unexpectedly centrist Arizona immigration ruling -- knowing he had an even bigger loss in the hopper.
* It's intriguing, just in terms of the politics of the Court, that it was Chief Justice Roberts rather than "Slow Anthony" Kennedy who joined the four moderates to form the majority that upheld all provisions of the health care act except the threat to withhold existing Medicaid funds to states that decline to participate in the new expanded version of Medicaid (which version was itself upheld as within congressional prerogatives). I'm not saying that the chief doesn't believe the positions he took, since after all he could have voted to overturn if he wanted. It's just interesting that by voting with the majority he controlled both the legal reasoning and the writing of the majority opinion, in which he stresses that the Commerce Clause justification for the individual mandate doesn't pass constitutional muster -- using instead an argument that wasn't made in the act's defense, that it's justified within Congress's taxation powers. (Note that the four other justices who figured in that "majority" wound up being represented only in Justice Ginsburg's dissent!)
As The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin wrote back on June 5, assessing the various possible outcomes of the eventual ruling:
[A] new limit on congressional power under the Commerce Clause would represent a crucial new impediment to all attempts by the federal government to address national problems. That can?t be good for the political party of activist government. In the election of 2008, the party of smaller government lost at the polls, but the Supreme Court may yet trump the will of the voters. It?s happened before. [The link is to the Bush v. Gore decision.]
Nothing says leadership more than bravely standing up against a concern that?s not actually a problem. We?ve had a one-sided battle with Sharia Law in the U.S. No one is fighting for replacing U.S. law with an Islamic moral code, but nonetheless Republicans are heroically fighting against it. Same with aborted fetuses in commercial food stuffs: Not something that?s ever happened but earlier this year Republican freshman Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey had the temerity to introduce a bill to outlaw it.
Republicans love what they call ?simple solutions? but it?s really just the easiest possible answer to a trumped up crisis. In short: busy work. America needs to streamline for the challenges of the future so we can remain competitive (blah blah blah). Yet Republican offers are akin to organizing all the paperclips in the office by color and size.
Republicans and bureaucracy are, after all, frenemies. Sure they tell the media they despise bureaucracy but secretly love it when it makes them appear to be doing something. Even better if it keeps them from doing anything difficult.
For example: We?re in the middle of an obesity epidemic. It?s the number two leading cause of preventable death in this country. The Center for Disease Control estimates 112,000 American deaths a year due to obesity, this is down from their previous estimate of 365,000 deaths from poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The CDC reports in 2008 Americans forked over $147 billion in medical costs on obesity. We?re dying and going broke from being too fat.
But what are Republicans trying to warn us against? Terrorism. China. Russia. Obamacare. ACORN. The New Black Panthers. The Fed. All of which cumulatively killed no Americans last year.
It?s (ironically) lazy to try to and scare Americans about some elusive menace in order to avoid the reality that we?ve become the proverbial elephants in our own living rooms.
Illegal immigration? Republicans say to secure the border?build a fence?arrest anyone who even looks illegal. Mitt Romney said Arizona?s infamous SB 1070 should be a model for the nation. Which would be something if Mexicans were still coming into the U.S. They?re not. Immigration from Mexico is now net zero. That is actually a way bigger problem than undocumented workers (whom we love in boom times for a way to circumvent the minimum wage and exploit a non-litigious underclass). It?s the fact we are no longer an attractive enough country to motivate Mexicans to come here.
But as we saw last week with the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona?s law, governor Jan Brewer?s just doubled down on a non-problem, ?We cannot forget that we are here today because the federal government has failed the American people regarding immigration policy, has failed to protect its citizens, has failed to preserve the rule of law and has failed to secure our borders.?
For a party that likes to peddle free market and common sense they sure get a lot of traction ginning up irrational fears.
Our energy plan is stuck firmly in the last century, but that?s not the point the presumptive Republican nominee decided to make. In March Mitt Romney told Fox News President Obama "has done everything in his power to make it harder for us to get oil and natural gas in this country, driving up the price of those commodities in the case of gasoline." Gas prices were the thing Republicans were going to fix by paying attention to them! With little fanfare, gas prices are down now by the way. Production has increased overall under the Obama administration. Republicans managed to sound the alarm and assign blame for a symptom while steadfastly avoiding the cause entirely.
Think I?m way off here? Remember this is the party that in the wake of September 11th?an attack by citizens of Saudi Arabia, organized in Afghanistan by a leader hanging out in Lebanon?decided to invade (wait for it) Iraq.
Because things indirectly involved with real problems hate us for our freedoms.
Cross posted at TinaDupuy.com
Reactions from political leaders and stakeholders.[...]
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