The Verdict on Healthcare…

Finally the long wait is over. Per SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court has ruled the Affordable Care Act CONSTITUTIONAL by a 5-4 vote. The Healthcare law remains mostly intact.

on the individual mandate:

“The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause,” Roberts wrote. “That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

However the court did not agree with the right of Congress to control Medicaid expansion. It allows states to “opt out” if they do not wish to participate in the expansion, while still retaining their current levels of funding without penalty. That’s the only major provision of the law that wasn’t upheld. Here is the link to the full opinion.

Here’s a few reactions via Twitter…

Lawrence O’Donnell calls out “Mirage” Individual Mandate

In what may be the most informative 8 1/2 mins of political punditry in the Health Reform debate, veteran Senate staffer and Left-leaning journalise Lawrence O’Donnell sets the record straight about the so-called “Individual Mandate”. Many Liberals are becoming aware of the hypocrisy from the Right on the mandate, as it was originally a Conservative idea. But Mr. O’Donnell reminds us that the hypocrisy around this idea of the mandate is equally shared by Liberals and the Democratic Party. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama were both fully opposed to an individual mandate at one time, yet that is the bill the Obama administration ended up supporting.

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Why Liberals must avoid ‘Savage’ route to equality

Liberal activist Dan Savage is respected for his work as founder of the “It Gets Better” campaign. Make no mistake that this organization has had a huge role in the rapidly changing public opinion of GLBT equality. As a country, we are all better for important projects like this one. But Mr. Savage is also well-known for his “colorful” language from his advice column, and for a long-standing vendetta with GLBT people that are known to be either in the closet, or working against equality.

Just this week the board at GOProud, one of the most prominent GLBT Republican political organizations, officially endorsed Mitt Romney’s candidacy for President. Like many political groups, this was a decision which required a vote. Some members, such as co-founder Chris Barron, admitted to voting against the endorsement, but as a member of the organization he chose to support his party and their candidate.

As a fellow Liberal, I do not agree with GOProud’s endorsement. Mitt Romney has already pledged to toe his party’s far-right line against same-sex marriage and civil unions. He’s even flirted with the possibilities to end or reverse the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. These are terrible setbacks in the fight for equality. Knowing all of this, GOProud’s endorsement was sure to garner attention. Mr. Savage attacked GOProud and has started a bitter war of very foul and disrespectful language. Though I do not support the organizations actions, I also cannot support Mr. Savage and his immature behavior. Ultimately, his actions will do more to harm the fight for equality. He is being used to further existing stereotypes to show how “out of control” the GLBT community is. By attacking organizations like GOProud, Dan Savage fuels the fire that Conservatives can use against the movement.

Before we get caught in a “civil war” within the gay community, it’s important to pause and look at the accomplishments made under the Obama administration. As of this year, we now live in a country where more than 50 million Americans in 8 states recognize same-sex marriage as full and legal. Military soldiers can now serve their country without of dismissal regardless of their sexual orientation. More GLBT couples than ever before are having children and families without fear of scorn from their neighbors. Even in a state like Texas, the city of Houston elected an openly gay mayor, and the GLBT voices in our government continue to grow. And despite what you hear inside the Washington spin zone, support for same-sex marriage is rapidly increasing the country, including within the GOP.

But where we’re also losing ground is in the actions of people like Dan Savage. As a community, we must remember that our fight for GLBT equality is for people of all political stripes, including GOProud. Even if Liberals disagree with them and their decisions, we have to find a way to do so respectfully, and show that what’s most important is that the work for equality moves forward, regardless of which political ideology wins the election. If Mr. Savage took a moment to scroll through his “It Gets Better” site, he’d be reminded that the gay community is the most diverse community on the planet. By design, that diversity also includes politics. For the rest of the Liberals, let’s not forget that there are very real and tangible threats to the struggle for equality, and they lie in the Right-wing fringes. Every minute that the GLBT community spends attacking each other, is a minute more that terrors like Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association and One Million Moms can plot against us.

Baracks Dubs strikes again: Boyfriend by Justin Bieber

So it turns out that President Obama is getting a lot of YouTube views lately, but they’re not from the whitehouse channel. The latest viral craze is BaracksDubs… mash-ups of the President “singing” some popular songs. Here’s the latest video of “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber…

Maybe this would be worth a try for the election campaign? Just a thought

Mitt’s “Model” SB1070? Umm, Not so much

Well finally we’re getting some hotly anticipated news from the US Supreme Court. In yet another 5-3 decision (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate), the court has struck down major portions of Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law. Major news from this is that it preserves the right of the Federal Government to determine and enforce legal status, and it cannot be claimed by states. In that regard, today’s ruling is considered a “big win” for the Obama Administration.

From the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy read that “the national government has significant power to regulate immigration” and that states “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” This means that Arizona does not have the right to determine immigration status without the Federal Government.

But one key provision of the law was upheld by the court. Police officers that suspect a person committing a crime can also inquire about their immigration status. But per the decision, they cannot make that determination without Federal Authority.

So if the Obama Administration wins, there has to be a loser, right? Of course, and that loser is Mitt Romney. Lest we forget that he referred to SB 1070 as a “model for the nation”. I suspect those comments will continue to haunt him between now and November.

The ABCs of the GOP: G is for

Game Plan

Say what you want about the Republican Party, but there are a whole host of things that they are VERY good at. The level of cohesion and consistency with which they execute their directives is admirable, if not enviable. Often times in interviews and speeches, GOP politicians sound like a “broken record” because they rarely deviate from the script, and this script comes from the party leadership. They’re also extremely sore losers.

After their decisive defeat in 2008, Republicans crafted a plan of historic proportions to make Obama a “one-term President”. The 2010 elections marked the halfway point to that conquest, and boy did it work. The approach was comprehensive, passionate, and delivered to the most minute detail.

Remember the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour? “Fire Pelosi” bumper stickers, campaign signs, pins and hats? It was a bold calculation by then RNC chairman Michael Steele to go after the Speaker of the House, and it was marvelously orchestrated. Rep. Nancy Pelosi became more hated than anyone else in Washington, and, perhaps most importantly, she bacame a house-hold name that left a bad taste in one’s mouth. The general public, even those that didn’t follow politics, knew that in order to “Fire Pelosi” you had to vote the Democrats out of the House. The phrase was everywhere in 2010, and the campaign was so successful in fact that it helped raise millions of dollars for the RNC. Even back in March of 2010, “Fire Nancy Pelosi” was trending on Google!! It’s a testament to the effectiveness with which the GOP apparatus operates. Who cares if the message wasn’t predicated in truth or facts? It WORKED.

Seen any “Fire Boehner” materials this year? That’s because that campaign doesn’t exist. Do we need to be reminded who won in 2010??

Of course even Nancy Pelosi was not Grand Ole Enemy No. 1… that will always be President Obama. Their pledge to obstruct, weaken and destroy his policies has been the main objective, even when it hurts their damages their credibility by having to abandon previous positions. As the GOP is well aware, President Obama isn’t the far-left socialist they proclaim him to be. Many of the ideas and policies he supports were started by Republicans. This is true for the Dream Act, Cap and Trade legislation, and even the individual mandate. As journalist Ezra Klein points out in a recent New Yorker column, “Indeed, with the exception of raising taxes on the rich, virtually every major policy currently associated with the Obama Administration was, within the past decade, a Republican idea in good standing.” What they know very well is that in order for Obama to be the enemy, they must oppose him at every turn. They have placed party loyalty above our struggling economy, governing our nation, and even their own moral character. The GOP game plan is above all… especially in an election year.

Hopefully the President is starting to figure this out. But what about the rest of the Democratic Party? Dems are making a big mistake by hoping that the GOP will suddenly grow a conscience and play fair. So it’s high time that they play dirty. Liberals and Democrats should be calling out GOP hypocrisy at every turn. They should encourage left-leaning media sources to give equal treatment to their fallacies. But most importantly, the left has got to fight the money, ad and social media wars. At any given time of day, it’s apparent that Twitter has “more Conservatives than liberals”. But is this really the case? Probably not… but the Conservatives are more disciplined and tweet in concert so that their arguments dominate the Twittersphere. The GOP’s game plan is effective because they have put the time and effort in to perfect it. In the age of 24-hr news and a barrage of information, Liberals can no longer rely on facts and better argument to carry them through to election day. They need to get some real skin in the political game. Just remember Dems… the game clock is ticking, and pretty soon it will run out.

The GOP’s ‘Fast and Frivolous’ Conquest

Our Federal Government saw an historic move this week, as the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. This vote was related to the “Fast and Furious” scandal.

Here’s my best attempt to sum up “Fast and Furious”. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been working undercover for years to gain intel in the Mexican Drug War. Part of this undercover intel is to run with the gangs, and that type of information gathering also involves exchanging of drugs, and guns. So yes, the United States Government has knowingly placed working guns in the hands of Mexican Drug operatives (and probably lots of other nations as well). These guns are then traced to follow the moves of the drug operatives. This exchange, known as “gun walking” was started by the Bush Administration in 2006. President Obama and his administration continued it.

In December of 2010, one of these operations failed, and hundreds of the guns were lost. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered by a gun linked to this botched operation.

So here’s the disconnect… the congressional hearings, which have now taken place over 11 months, have not been about the murder of Brian Terry, but instead focused mostly on Attorney General Eric Holder. After all, the leader of the Phoenix ATF division directly oversaw the operation, but only delivered testimony to Congress once. AG Holder just completed his ninth testimony to Congress regarding this matter. And after all of those testimonies, and the release of over 7600 documents, chairman Darrell Issa held Mr. Holder in contempt. Of course Mr. Issa claims to be only concerned about the gun-walking operation, but he wasn’t opposed to such things in 2008. The Daily Kos reports Congressman Issa voted for Project Gunrunner in 2008, eventhough during Mr. Holder’s hearings, he claims to know nothing about it. So he’s accusing the Attorney General for lying under oath, but he hasn’t been truthful himself? Hopefully the Left will take notice, and call Mr. Issa out for his hypocrisy.

Never before has a sitting AG been held in contempt of Congress. That’s the historic part.

But here are the things that happened this week that have become rather commonplace in today’s hostile Washington environment…

-The Republican-led House of Representatives didn’t pass any jobs bills

-The Republican-led House of Representatives used taxpayer money and Congressional resources on a matter that isn’t related to jobs.

-The Republican-led House of Representatives doesn’t like Obama

-The Republican-led House of Representatives staged a very dramatic vote that fell 23-17 along party lines.

-The Democratic House members questioned GOP motives and authority.

-The Republicans made political history in advancing Washington’s party divide.

How many times has this scenario played out in Washington since Obama was elected? We’ve already seen an historic number of Filibusters waged by the Senate GOP… so much so that Americans are now conditioned to believe that the Senate requires a 60-vote majority to pass legislation. No one should be surprised at the results here, but we should be unhappy. The GOP continues to “say” that jobs are their most important priority, but instead of focusing their time and energy on getting Americans back to work, they spend their time trying to persecute the Obama Administration. Even during yesterday’s hearing, a Democratic committee member tried to read a “cost estimate” for the hearings but was cut off. So the voting public is left to ask ourselves… How many school teachers could have been hired? How many more police and firefighters could be keeping our street and neighborhoods safe? How many more states could be given help in an extraordinarily difficult recovery to meet the needs of its citizens?

The murder of Mr. Terry is real. It happened, and his loved ones deserve to know the truth. But it doesn’t concern the United States Attorney General. The need of our Federal Government to have some operations take place in secret is also real. As the Executive Branch is charged to protect our nation, hundreds of thousands of employees “maintain secrets” everyday. It’s just a fact of life when you live in a world with people that are constantly trying to harm our nation. As Attorney General, many of those secrets are going to be seen by Mr. Holder, but that doesn’t automatically mean that he was directly involved. There is no reason for him to have wasted his time, resources and taxpayer money to prepare for copious inquiries for a situation which he wasn’t involved.

The rate at which Congressional Republicans are burning through our resouces? The only way to describe that is Fast and Frivolous.