Supreme hearings day two

 Posted by at 20:01  Politics
Jun 302010

I made time today to watch a portion of the second day of a bunch of half-senile old white men badgering the person who is almost certain to become the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

I was, I have to say, a little disappointed. Not in the half-senile old white men. They performed exactly as expected. I was a little disappointed in the nominee herself, Elena Kagan. She seemed to be pandering to the half-senile old white men, striving mightily to say what she thought they wanted to hear. There were a lot of “ums” and “ahs” and “I don’t knows.” She appeared fearful to identify herself as liberal or progressive (if indeed she is either of those… I have seen no proof as yet that she actually is).

I found myself silently screaming at the television (I could not literally scream as there were others in the room) while Senator Grassley was questioning her about the ill conceived and poorly named Defense of Marriage Act. She should have answered him truthfully, stating that it was a bad law and should never had been passed by Congress or signed by President Clinton. She should have patiently and clearly explained to Mr. Grassley that DOMA was (and is) unconstitutional and would have been immediately struck down by a Supreme Court not driven by ideology.

Elena Kagan will be the next Supreme Court Justice. From what I have seen of her thus far, I don’t think she will be the Justice the Democrats are hoping she will be.

As much as I dislike and consistently disagree with Lindsey Graham, I think he got it right today:

“I certainly have an agenda when it comes to abortion. I respect the courts, but I’m trying to push the rights of the unborn in a respectful way. You can be pro-choice and be just as patriotic as I am; you can be just as religious as anybody I know. But that’s the point here: it is okay as an advocate to have an agenda. I think Alito and Roberts had an agenda. They were working for a conservative president who was pushing conservative policies. So it just is a bit disturbing that you, quite frankly, say you don’t have an agenda when you should have had. If I’m going to hire you to be my lawyer, I want you to have my agenda. I want it to be my agenda.”

There is nothing wrong with Ms. Kagan having an agenda. She should have an agenda and she should have the courage to own up to that agenda. Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia have certainly made no secret of their agenda.

Buy a gun

 Posted by at 11:51  General
Jun 282010

It is now time for all good Americans to buy a gun. At least all good Americans that do not wish to be shot to death by other good Americans. Kill or be killed…

Supreme Court limits local gun bans

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms” applies nationwide as a restraint on the ability of the federal, state and local governments to substantially limit its reach.

By a 5-4 vote split along familiar ideological lines, the nation’s highest court extended its landmark 2008 ruling that individual Americans have a constitutional right to own guns to all the cities and states for the first time.

In doing so, the justices signaled that less severe restrictions could survive legal challenges. The ruling involved a 28-year-old handgun ban in the Chicago area.

The ruling was a victory for four Chicago-area residents, two gun rights groups and the politically powerful National Rifle Association.

It was a defeat for Chicago, which defended its ban as a reasonable exercise of local power to protect public safety. The law and a similar handgun ban in suburban Oak Park, Ill., were the nation’s most restrictive gun control measures.

Monday’s decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws, ordering a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. It left little doubt, however, that they would fall eventually.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court, said the Second Amendment right “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

It is interesting that federal law trumps state law when it comes to gun ownership, but the reverse is true when it comes to such a fundamental right as getting married.

Senator Byrd passes

 Posted by at 09:02  Politics
Jun 282010

Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member of the United States Senate, passed away this morning at the age of 92. He had served 51 years in the Senate. Prior to that, he served six years in the House of Representatives.

I was never a huge fan of Senator Byrd, remembering him from his younger days rather than his latter days as most people. Still, though, he was a gentleman (to most) and a scholar. May he rest in peace.

Impartial Supremes

 Posted by at 14:54  Politics, Republicans
Jun 272010

I got a good laugh out of this Associated Press article that hit the wires a couple of hours ago…

GOP senators: Can Kagan be impartial judge?

WASHINGTON (AP) – Leading Republican senators on Sunday questioned whether Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan could be an impartial judge as they tried to inject some drama into her upcoming confirmation hearing.

Democrats praised Kagan’s record and predicted she will win confirmation as the 112th justice – and only the court’s fourth woman.

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins the weeklong hearing on Monday. Kagan is not expected to face questions until Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee, said Kagan’s nomination has “real problems” that she will have to address.

“I think the first thing we need to decide is, is she committed to the rule of law even if she may not like the law? Will she as a judge subordinate herself to the Constitution and keep her political views at bay?” Sessions said.

Yes, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama, I do believe Elena Kagan will be committed to the rule of law and that she will “subordinate” (interesting word choice) herself to the Constitution and keep her political views at bay. Now a question for you, sir. Do you believe that Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia meet those standards? Because I don’t.

And, of course, John Cornyn of Texas had to go and make a fool of himself. Again.

Cornyn said the hearings could be as much about President Barack Obama as his high court nominee. “Clearly this president is trying to get somebody through who has a very sparse record and who he believes will be a reliable vote on the left wing of the United States Supreme Court,” Cornyn said.

No, John, I would expect a Democratic president, duly elected by the people of the United States of America, to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who would be a reliable vote for the right wing of the United States Supreme Court. I would expect him to nominate another Justice in the mold of Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia. You blooming idiot. As for Ms. Kagan’s sparse record…

She served as Harvard law dean and as a White House aide and lawyer in the Clinton administration sandwiched in between stints as a law professor at the University of Chicago and Harvard. Kagan earlier was a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Not to mention her service as Solicitor General under President Obama.

Would you (or could you) perhaps name all the Justices who have served on the Supreme Court who had no judicial experience prior to their appointment to that court? Go ahead, John, google it. We’ll wait.

The coming weeks are going to be fun. It is going to be enjoyable watching these Republican senators make fools of themselves as they face the superior intellect of Elena Kagan.

Weekly Address 06-26-10

 Posted by at 08:49  economy, Politics
Jun 262010

“Finishing the Job on Wall Street Reform”

From the White House weblog:

With Congress having finalized a strong Wall Street reform bill, the President urges Congress to finish the job and send the bill to his desk. The legislation reflects 90% of what the President originally proposed, including the strongest consumer financial protections in history with an independent agency to enforce them. It ensures that the trading of derivatives, which helped trigger this crisis, will be brought into the light of day, and enacts the “Volcker Rule,” which will make sure banks protected by safety nets like the FDIC cannot engage in risky trades. It also creates a resolution authority to wind down firms whose collapse would threaten the entire financial system. Wall Street reform will end taxpayer funded bailouts and make sure Main Street is never again held responsible for Wall Street’s mistakes.

Click below to listen to the audio only:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The transcript of the president’s weekly address, as prepared for delivery, is available after the break.

Continue reading »

Jun 252010

Click on them and they’ll get bigger. Use the icons that should show up at the bottom of your browser window to control a slide show.

bagley062210.jpg   bagley062410.jpg   bennett062410.jpg

cole062310.jpg   darkow062310.jpg   darkow062410.jpg

englehart062210.jpg   fitzsimmons062210.jpg   fitzsimmons062310.jpg

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keefe062110.jpg   luckovich062410.jpg   matson062410.jpg

morin062010.jpg   parker062410.jpg   plante062310.jpg

sack062310.jpg   sack062410.jpg

As always, our thanks go to the talented and observant cartoonists who, each week, help us smile through the pain.

Saturday additions:

fitzsimmons062510.jpg   kelley062510.jpg   margulies062510.jpg

matson062510.jpg   parker062510.jpg   sack062510.jpg


Wall Street reform

 Posted by at 14:34  economy, Politics
Jun 252010

Remarks by the President on Wall Street Reform

Good morning, everybody. In a few moments I’ll depart for Canada to take part in a summit with the G8 and the G20 nations. This is the third G20 summit we’ve held since I was sworn in as President.

At our first meeting, in London, with the world in the grips of the worst financial crisis of our time, we acted boldly and swiftly to bring our economy back from the brink. At our second meeting, in Pittsburgh, with our recovery beginning to take hold, we agreed to work to pursue a balanced pattern of global growth, and repair our financial systems.

This weekend in Toronto, I hope we can build on this progress by coordinating our efforts to promote economic growth, to pursue financial reform, and to strengthen the global economy.

We need to act in concert for a simple reason: This crisis proved, and events continue to affirm that our national economies are inextricably linked. And just as economic turmoil in one place can quickly spread to another, safeguards in each of our nations can help protect all nations.

I’m gratified we’ve made great progress towards enacting these safeguards here at home. Because of the incredibly hard work of Chairman Dodd and Chairman Frank, and the strong leadership of Chairwoman Lincoln and Chairman Peterson, and the great efforts of the conferees and members of both parties — who were up very late last night — we are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Early this morning, the House and Senate reached an agreement on a set of Wall Street reforms that represents 90 percent of what I proposed when I took up this fight.

Now, let me be clear. Our economic growth and prosperity depend on a strong, robust financial sector, and I will continue to do what I can to foster and support a dynamic private sector. But we’ve all seen what happens when there’s inadequate oversight and insufficient transparency on Wall Street.

The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from.

Continue reading »

Jun 242010

Once again, the Republicans have proven they are not on your side…

Senate again rejects expanded spending package

Senate Democrats abandoned on Thursday efforts to provide fresh aid to cash-strapped state governments and extend emergency unemployment benefits for millions of jobless workers, leaving in limbo President Obama’s push for more spending to bolster the economy.

The decision came after the Senate failed again to muster 60 votes to advance a package of tax cuts and emergency economic provisions. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined a united Republican caucus in voting to block the measure, citing concern that even the latest slimmed-down version would expand bloated budget deficits. The package fell short, 57 to 41.

Something simply must be done about the way things are done in the United States Senate. In a democracy, the majority rules. I’ve tried every high school math trick I was ever taught, and there is simply no way I can turn 41 into a majority of 98. 57 yes; 41 no.

The White House Press Secretary issued this statement:

Statement by the Press Secretary on Republican Obstruction of Jobless Benefits and State Aid

Today, Republicans in the Senate for the second time blocked a bill that includes critical aid for states and American families. This legislation extends benefits for Americans looking for work and would save the jobs of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers by providing relief to states struggling with budget shortfalls. And it includes tax cuts for businesses that keep research and development jobs here in the United States. By blocking an up or down vote on this legislation, Republicans in the Senate obstructed a common-sense package that would save jobs, extend tax cuts for businesses and provide relief for American families who have suffered through the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, even after Democrats offered multiple compromises to gain Republican support for the bill. The President has been clear: Americans should not fall victim to Republican obstruction at a time of great economic challenge for our nation’s families. The President will continue to press Congress to pass this bill and bring this relief that’s critical to our economic recovery.


Last in healthcare

 Posted by at 18:37  Politics
Jun 232010

It appears that those who believe that the United States has the best health care in the world had best think again…

U.S. scores dead last again in healthcare study

Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries — Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found. …

In 2007, health spending was $7,290 per person in the United States, more than double that of any other country in the survey.

Australians spent $3,357, Canadians $3,895, Germans $3,588, the Netherlands $3,837 and Britons spent $2,992 per capita on health in 2007. New Zealand spent the least at $2,454.

This is a big rise from the Fund’s last similar survey, in 2007, which found Americans spent $6,697 per capita on healthcare in 2005, or 16 percent of gross domestic product.

“We rank last on safety and do poorly on several dimensions of quality,” Schoen told reporters. “We do particularly poorly on going without care because of cost. And we also do surprisingly poorly on access to primary care and after-hours care.”

The report looks at five measures of healthcare — quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives.

Britain, whose nationalized healthcare system was widely derided by opponents of U.S. healthcare reform, ranks first in quality while the Netherlands ranked first overall on all scores, the Commonwealth team found.

It’s all good, though. The insurance company executives are doing quite well. They thank you very much.

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