Saturday, March 31, 2012

BREAKING: Romney Names Running Mate

 From misterajc     on Sat Mar 31, 2012     Original

The Romney campaign today announced a surprise pick for Vice President – Exxon Mobil Corporation. “This is a game changing decision, that will really energize the true Republican base: Koch Industries, Haliburton, Walmart, Bechtel, Fox and Shell BP,” said a Romney spokesman. “It's also a breakthrough for minority rights, as it's the first time a Corporate American had appeared on the ballot. With subsidiaries in fifty eight countries and puppet regimes in six, Exxon Mobil brings to the ticket foreign policy experience focused on the only countries that matter – the ones with oil.”

When questioned by reporters about the vetting process, the spokesman said that it had been completed in a record forty eight hours by Exxon Mobil staff. Asked about the possible conflict of interest, the spokesman revealed that Exxon had been vetted by the same Exxon public servants who wrote the Cheney administration's energy policy, so they were ideally qualified for vetting a Vice Presidential candidate.

Exxon Mobil is expected to self finance the campaign. “We would have paid for it anyway,” said their CEO, “But now we get a place on the ticket, too. I know there are some racists out there who don't think that Corporate Americans are real Americans, or even real people, but this election will prove them wrong.”

A spokesman for the Obama campaign said they were not commenting on the constitutionality of this announcement until they had seen Exxon Mobil's birth certificate.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Obama A “ Government N—ga “ Says Santorum

Rick Santorum: Racist At Large

   Remember that this is indicative of the Republican Party in general.

Friday Funnies: WTF?

David Letterman: “Over the weekend they gave Dick Cheney a heart transplant. Finally all of those midnight trips to the graveyard with the hunchbacked assistant have paid off.”

“Dick Cheney was talking to a reporter right after the surgery and he said he wants to live long enough to make sure nobody else gets healthcare.”

Conan O'Brien: “Newt Gingrich's campaign is charging people $50 to pose for a picture with Newt. And for $100 you can get one without Newt.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama Outspending Republican Rivals

    It is reported that President Obama’s campaign has spent $135 million during the month of February which is about $3 million more than was spent by Romney, Santorum, and the remainder of the Republican contenders combined. That’s a lot of cash for just one month, folks.

    Obama’s team spent much of that cash for campaign offices, which are now placed in every state, while Romney and the rest of the Republican clown club has had to spent their individual piles of cash on advertisements, travel, rallies, and so forth.

   As is natural for the Republican Party, they take issue with a report that Obama has some 500 paid staff with quite a few of them in Chicago, that being Obama’s campaign headquarters.

With offices in nearly every state, the campaign also faces rising overhead. Through the first two months of the year, Obama spent approximately $1.1 million on computer equipment, $435,000 in rent and utilities, $305,000 on telephones, and $19,000 on office supplies, federal filings show.

"We're building the largest grass-roots campaign in history," campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. "You can see it here, but it's really happening in the states."

The core of Obama's operation is packed into the sixth floor of Chicago's Prudential building, where 300 staffers sit side by side at long rows of tables, working from laptops and cellphones. Colorful college pennants hang from the ceiling and often represent key swing states: the University of North Carolina, Ohio State and the University of Michigan. Need a designer T-shirt or bumper sticker? A room managed by two staffers houses a swelling collection of campaign memorabilia for sale.

In one corner, more than a dozen workers field questions from journalists scattered across the country. Elsewhere, others coordinate media appearances for Obama's high-profile supporters. Other staffers focus on fundraising, voter identification, social media and campaign-finance reporting.

   It must be nice to throw around millions of dollars for a $400,000 per year job. All of those perks that you and I do not hear about after a president leaves office must be worth the expense or no one in their right mind would want the job.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan…

   …. Is not getting the support that Ryan and the rest of the Republican Party had hoping for.  Maybe the American citizens have wised up a little more since Ryan and the GOP tried this same plan back in 2010?

   A new United Technologies/National Journal poll:

Asked what Medicare should look like in the future, just 26 percent said it “should be changed to a system where the government provides seniors with a fixed sum of money they could use either to purchase private health insurance or to pay the cost of remaining in the current Medicare program.” Fully 64 percent said “Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government … paying doctors and hospitals directly for the services they provide to seniors.”

NJ Medicare poll

    Better luck next time, Mr. Ed Ryan.

Anti-Injunction Act - A Simple Explanation Of The Issues Argued Today With Oral Argument Update

Originally posted to September 17, 1787 on Mon Mar 26, 2012      By  Gary Norton

The front page has a very long and detailed article about the Anti-Injunction Act issues being discussed in the Supreme Court today. Since it may be a little dense for many people here is a simpler and shorter explanation of the issues.

For over one hundred and fifty years there has been a law that says a person cannot challenge a tax law until the tax has actually been assessed and they pay the tax or challenge an IRS collection action. That law is the Anti-Injunction Act. If the law applies to a suit then, almost uniformly, courts have ruled that they cannot even hear the case. It must be thrown out because the court lacks jurisdiction.

Today the Court is hearing arguments on whether the Anti-Injunction Act applies to the suits challenging the Affordable Care Act.

The two main issues are whether the ACA provision that requires people to pay a penalty if they don't have insurance constitutes a tax, and whether a suit challenging the mandate is really a suit challenging that tax.

(There are some minor issues which are excluded here but explained in the linked article.)

One case challenging the ACA was dismissed on this ground but it is not before the court today. In another suit that is before the Court today, there is a dissenting opinion by a Judge Kavanagh in which he says that the case should be dismissed because of the Anti-Injunction Act.

The hearing today on the Anti-Injunction Act is a fairly rare event. The government is not arguing for it and of course the plaintiffs don't think it applies. However the Supreme Court itself decided that it wanted to hear arguments on the issue. To get the issue presented the Court appointed an outside lawyer to argue the Anti-Injunction Act issue before the court.

What is the significance of this issue? If the court finds that the penalty is a tax, and that the challenge to the mandate is really a challenge to that tax, then the Court will dismiss these ACA challenges on the Anti-Injunction Act grounds.

Some people think that such a ruling would merely be punting the issue down the road. I don't share that view for the following reasons. Substantively, if the penalty is a tax then it will almost certainly be upheld in any later suit. Keep in mind that if it is a tax it can only be challenged based on Congress' taxing authority, not the Commerce Clause or the other things being used to challenge the law now. Congress' taxing authority is very broad and I don't think there has been a case since the thirties that has overturned a tax.

Secondly, if it is a tax, no suits can be filed until 2015. It would be until 2017 before they make it to the Supreme Court. By then the entire landscape will have changed. Obama will not be President. Since the idea of a mandate was invented by Republicans one doesn't have to be cynical to conclude that the challenges to the ACA are merely challenges to Obama. Once the law is implemented it will be clear to all that the  hysteria about "socialized medicine" is nonsense.

Additionally, the ACA has budgetary savings provisions that even the Republicans like. Those savings and the additional revenues will be built into future budgets. All the hue and cry will be tamped down in light of that reality.

Lastly, the state exchanges will be facts on the ground, The insurance companies will have adjusted and will be participants. People will see all the benefits in their own lives. There will be little appetite to go back to 2009.

Do not be surprised if this case is dismissed on AIA grounds. For Justices like Scalia who have written very expansive opinions on the Commerce clause it would be a really convenient way to avoid eating his past words, which he would have to if he ruled against the ACA, or disappointing his base if he ruled in favor of the ACA.

Update Just finished reading the transcript of the oral argument. It is wise to never draw any conclusions from an oral argument. Having said that the one thing that came across pretty clear is that Scalia does not think the AIA applies. The Justices who said things that could lead to the opposite conclusion were Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor though their questions seemed more probative than signaling.

Of the two core issues the main problem the Justices were having was with calling the penalty a tax for purposes of the AIA. On the second question, whether the mandate is tied to the penalty/tax, even Roberts said he did not see how they could be separated.

One thing that surprised me was how long they discussed one aspect of the AIA that I didn't get into: whether it deprives a court of jurisdiction. That question seemed pretty well settled for the past fifty years but they wanted to talk about it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

American Government: “ Backroom Power Politics “

Backroom Power Politics
By Marek Dutschke         24 March 2012
The American political system is designed so that white, well-to-do landowners call the shots.
Translated By Ron Argentati

Edited by Casey J. Skeens

Germany - Handelsblatt - Original Article (German)
Corruption runs rampant through U.S. state governments. At the federal level, at least insider trading by representatives is now set to be banned. A long overdue step.
The American political system is designed so that white, well-to-do landowners call the shots. George Washington made his fortune through land speculation and by disenfranchising the native population. The same is true of his first electoral victory in 1759, as a representative to the colonial parliament of Virginia (House of Burgesses). Because of his profitable real estate transactions, he was wealthy enough to devote all his time to politics. In order to ensure he got enough votes, Washington would treat eligible voters to a proper night on the town before he deposited them, still drunk, at the polling place. In a way, that fusion of politics and business interests survives even to this day.
A study by the Center for Public Integrity released last Monday had little good to say about state politics in America. Most state governments are rife with corruption: budgetary decisions are hidden from public view, rules are not enforced, money from lobbyists goes unreported and the influence of private business is given a prominent place in governmental matters.
Between 2007 and 2008 in the state of Georgia, more than 600 gifts were given to government officials by businesses seeking to do business with the state. Despite the fact that such bribery is strictly against existing laws, no one was punished for giving or accepting the gifts. In Maine, a state senator simply “forgot” to mention that in addition to his government job he was also CEO of a corporation that had been given $98 million in contracts by the state.
In North Carolina, a member of the state legislature introduced a law that would make it easier to put up gigantic advertising billboards. It was soon discovered that the member happened to also own a billboard company. Despite the matter being investigated by an ethics commission, no hint of any conflict of interest was uncovered since competing billboard companies would also be given the opportunity to bid on those contracts as well. Representatives in Montana are regularly treated to dinner by lobbyists and are exempt from reporting such largesse as long as the restaurant tab stays below $2,400. The list of offenses goes on and on.
In the Hands of Corrupt Officials
Despite the fact that the existence of this swamp of corruption is widely known, Mitt Romney nevertheless wants to take control of social assistance programs away from the federal government and give it to the individual states. The most vulnerable in society are to be dependent on corrupt state officials in order to get their help. As a concession to remedy this miserable state of affairs, federal officials are now promoting improvements.
On Thursday, the Senate decided to forbid insider trading for its members. That law goes into effect after Obama has signed it, something he has not yet done. So right now, it's still completely legal for members of Congress to buy and sell investments while they have access to inside information. For example, a senator serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee might see a confidential memo concerning a planned terrorist attack on a particular airline. A quick telephone call to his broker would enable him to dump his shares in that airline.
The rationale for the business-as-usual procedure up to now is a complete mystery and the new law is sorely needed. It appears, however, that the new law didn't arise out of political conviction but rather because of electoral considerations: Congressional approval ratings have sunk to an all-time low of 10 percent, and politicians hope to lift that figure up before November.
The question now is whether these latest political developments in America are merely a continuation of George Washington's practice of paying for the pre-election booze parties or whether they're making him roll over in his grave.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Dream? Not Anymore

   Let us venture down south and into Mexico for a quick look at what some of the citizen's of the country think about the American election season.

Watching America   :   » American Dream No More

American Dream No More

By Emilio Zebadua

Why bother replacing Obama when he has done everything in his power to maintain the political status quo, which at the moment assures attractive bonds and rates of return on Wall Street, even though the rest of the country hasn’t yet emerged from the economic recession? It’s no wonder the elections aren’t generating much enthusiasm.

Translated By Lisa Steward

21 March 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Mexico - El Universalmas - Original Article (Spanish)

Yesterday in the state of Illinois, near the middle of the U.S., they voted to elect the GOP candidate to the White House. But in reality the presidential race was resolved months ago, outside the electoral process. The November election will be won by the incumbent President Barack Obama, without a Democratic challenger and most likely against the indefinable Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

Until now the electoral process has centered around the Republican Party’s internal contest. The frontrunner has always been Romney, a multimillionaire entrepreneur with links to corporate banking, mergers and acquisitions. During his time as governor of Massachusetts, he ruled alongside and on behalf of the business sector; as it happens, he occupies a moderate position in the U.S. political spectrum. And for Romney, this fact is precisely the problem. The “center” which he represents is too far to the left of the highly organized neoconservative Republican Party base, one made up of victims of the mortgage crisis, people behind in their payments, those without access to medical care, members of evangelical church support groups, workers with reduced or flat salaries and considerable unemployment risks or small business owners in danger of bankruptcy.

The conservative base is collectively sponsored by special interest industries such as arms manufacturers, retail and consumer sectors, insurance companies as well as what is left of the protectionist factions (with the exception of the automotive industry and including independent oil companies), among others.

For these right-wing entrepreneurs, Romney’s link to Wall Street puts a damper on his aspirations. That’s why they have sought out a candidate to the right of him — anyone will do, really: from Sarah Palin, charismatic enough to carry the most radical camp but deemed unable to deliver by her financial backers, to Rick Perry, who as Texas governor possessed the natural base from which to garner support from inside the Republican establishment. Since the George W. Bush presidency, diverse business interests have put forth candidates (Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann), all of whom have generated a scant amount of supporters and votes and certainly not enough to lessen the flow of funds from the financial wing of the GOP, who all the while have never stopped backing Romney.

The latest challenger to emerge from the most reactionary of the radical right wing has been Rick Santorum, who began to weave his web of support among the religious right, an interest group that has been actively funding candidates for the past decade. He was even prepared to lose his 2006 reelection as senator of Pennsylvania in exchange for the backing of these groups. In depressed economies like those in states like Illinois, parts of the middle class, small businesses and impoverished workers have cast their votes for Santorum in order to prevent the banks from dominating the entire Republican Party. These groups don’t have the money to win, but they can prevent Romney’s victory from being a landslide.

The nomination is not at stake, just Romney’s popularity. That’s why he doesn’t pose a definitive threat to the White House. He lacks the support from the extreme right — although he doesn’t actually need it as long as he consolidates the center or those to the right of the national spectrum, where his approval has been partial or insufficient at best. Obama is solidly entrenched in the center, yet he has not stopped inching to the right since he began his presidency.

Romney intends to replace Obama without changing the current government’s policies. This is what will assure his defeat, rendering him not only unattractive, but too costly, for the coalition of business interests, bankers and industrialists who support the present fiscal policy, the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and the remainder of the bank bailouts. Why bother replacing Obama when he has done everything in his power to maintain the political status quo, which at the moment assures attractive bonds and rates of return on Wall Street, even though the rest of the country hasn’t yet emerged from the economic recession? It’s no wonder the elections aren’t generating much enthusiasm.

The author has a doctorate in law.