Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spiking the Football on the Health Care Decision!

Hurrah! And dance in the end zone!

Chief Justice Roberts did the right thing in voting to uphold the Health Care Act. He seemed to be headed that way. (See my three blogs in March on that possibility.) But all the pundits were predicting a thumbs down from the Court. May they all blush beet red!

Needless to say this is great news for the American people. And though it be "needless to say", I'm saying it loud and clear:  THIS IS GREAT NEWS FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!

Our family has known several people who died needlessly because their insurance companies cut them off. They were young people.

When I became an attorney while a single mom and joined the bar association, I couldn't get health insurance for myself and my six kids because the youngest had epilepsy. As a new attorney I sure wasn't earning enough to pay serious medical bills. 

So this Supreme Court decision is very personal.

It's also a big boost for Obama's re-election. He would have looked pretty bad if, as a constitutional law professor, he had backed an unconstitutional law!

It's also a good decision for businesses. There are provisions in the act to hold down what insurance companies can charge businesses as well as individuals. And small businesses will know that if they can't cover their own workers, these workers can get their own insurance at a reasonable cost, using in part what they would have had to pony up as their (ever-increasing) share of the cost of employer-provided health insurance. 

Romney's response to the decision is predictably a lie. He says that "on day one" of his presidency he will begin repeal of "Obamacare". (Which he invented as you likely recall.) The truth is that he can "begin" whatever he wants to but it's going nowhere. The law can't be repealed without the Senate, and there's no indication that the GOP will pick up enough seats this November to hold off a Democratic filibuster of a proposed repeal. So Romney appears to have forgotten that you need both houses of Congress to enact or repeal laws. He thinks he can conduct the presidency like a corporate CEO and just tell people what to do. But he's not really that dumb. He'll just say any lie in order to win.

But let's not allow Romney's evil lies to mar our great day.

Let's just reaffirm our determination to get Obama re-elected and prevent Romney from naming three new Supreme Court justices.

Can we do this? Yes, we can. We have to! 



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Latinos Still Under Cloud of Fear and You're Next!

Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down most of the Arizona immigration law which, among other things, required that law enforcement officials harass people who look like they might be illegal immigrants. But the Court left this part of the law standing.

Now a lot of liberal talking heads and attorneys are claiming that everything is just fine. They say that as soon as Arizona tries to carry out this provision it will be hauled before the Supreme Court for unconstitutional racial profiling and have its face smacked. The Court as good as said so.

That's not good enough. There's still a terrible cloud of fear hanging over our Latino brothers and sisters in Arizona and the four other states that have such a law. They are going to have to live under this fear until a case of racial profiling works its way up to the Supreme Court. Which could be YEARS!

This is wrong! ANYBODY who looks or sounds like a "foreigner" can be harassed even if they are a citizen, even if they are a third or fourth generation American. Let's remember that there have been so-called Latinos living in America since the 1500s!

This is wrong! They are going to have to carry their "papers" even though the Supreme Court has said that state law can't require it. As a practical matter, they are going to have to carry the damn papers! Or risk being hassled.

This is wrong. This is not American. This is Nazi stuff. Maybe you have to have been alive during World War II to understand the fear that Nazi phrase raises: "Vere are your papers?"

It's easy for white commentators and white law experts to rejoice even though the Supreme  Court failed in its duty to strike down the noxious provision. After all, no one is going to stop them on the street and ask for proof of citizenship. So they just don't get it!

But Obama does.

He expressed disappointment about the Court's failure to act responsibly and disgust at what this remaining provision of Arizona's law is going to do to people of "non-white" complexion.

Yeah, Obama gets it. He knows.

So if you are not yet helping him get re-elected, why not?

You want Romney's Supreme Court appointees? Or do you want to keep America? Do you still want the "home of the brave and the land of the free"?

Because today it's our Latino brothers and sisters. And that's very, very bad. And then tomorrow.... it's YOU!




Monday, June 25, 2012

Preview of the Romney Supreme Court?

Here we go! My two week vacation break with family is over. And just in time for the Supreme Court to ruin everybody's summer. Today they gave us Strike One and Strike Two. The Court refused today to reconsider its decision in Citizens United when the opportunity was presented by a case from Montana. It also upheld the rotten core provision in the Arizona law that requires law enforcement officials to demand "vere are your papers" whenever an officer suspects someone might be an illegal alien. This is a racist and anti-American provision. It's what the Nazis did that we all abhorred. (Just watch the old movies from World War II.)    

On Thursday the Court will have the chance to redeem itself, hitting it out of the park by upholding the health insurance reform law. But don't hold your breath. Given today's two decisions, it's obvious the GOP appointees on the Court are all politics and little law. Underscoring this is Scalia's attack on Obama from the bench today, blasting the President for allowing 800,000 young people to stay in this country where they grew up. Scalia failed to note that prior presidents have declared amnesty for aliens on a far bigger scale, including GOP presidents. 

Scalia's attack was unprecedented. Attacking a president for his politics is something that the Supreme Court just doesn't do. Never. But, what the hell? The Republican justices on this Court don't care about   precedent. They have been ignoring legal precedents beginning with the decision to make George W. Bush president back in 2000. Whenever it's a question of Democrats v. Republicans, as it was then and with Citizens United and is in the three cases this week, the GOP Court members go with party..... not legal precedent.

Folks, we're in big trouble. It ain't supposed to be this way.

There is a way the Court could avoid dealing with the "mandate" provision entirely. As I noted in March, there really is no enforcement mechanism for the requirement that everybody get health insurance. The IRS is prohibited from attaching any property of someone who doesn't get the insurance  or seeking criminal sanctions. So there's no mandate. No enforcement provision means no mandate. Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC, formerly chief counsel to the Senate Tax Committee, has also noted this. So has a law professor at the University of Minnesota in an op-ed piece in the LA Times about a week ago. So has the insurance industry. That's why the insurance industry suddenly started opposing the health insurance bill just before it passed. The industry had caught on. The provision that was supposed to deliver them 30 million new customers has no teeth in it.

Chief Justice Roberts mentioned this too during oral argument, and I was hopeful that he might do the right thing and decide that there was nothing to decide, i.e. the mandate couldn't be unconstitutional because it wasn't a mandate. But looking at what the GOPers on the Court did today, I'm doubtful they'll pay serious attention to the language of the act or anything else except the Republican agenda.

I can't tell you how this hurts. I went to law school as a single mother of six children because I believed in our judicial system and the law and, above all, in the Constitution. But it doesn't begin to hurt me as much as it will hurt you and your children. My faith has been trashed, but your whole lives may be ruined by this GOP Court. What's to stop them knocking down consumer protection or environmental law any time the Republican money folks don't want such laws interfering with "a free economy'? And what of your civil rights and civil liberties? You've breathed freedom like air all your lives, hardly noticing it. But you'll notice it when it's gone.

As bad as things are, they stand to get a whole lot worse. Unless Obama is re-elected, Romney will have the opportunity to appoint two justices and possibly three. The two for-sure ones are both in the minority that now is trying to hold the line against the GOP politicians they share the bench with. In other words, this election is EXTREMELY important. And if you don't contribute time and money to help Obama, you're a damn fool!

I'm outta here in a few years, the effect of being 76 years old. You and your children and grandchildren are the ones who will have to live with the Romney Court for a long time. DON'T do this to yourselves!

Let's hope that my gloom this Monday is replaced by joy on Thursday. Let's hope the Supreme Court does the right thing. 

Meantime, as we say around here, don't bet the farm on it.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Vacation: Some News To Enjoy!

A few thoughts before my two-week time-out for summer vacation:

1. Good news! The New York Times analyst Nate Silver has compiled a very sophisticated computer program that now shows Obama with the advantage in the election. Silver is the whiz-bang who revolutionized the analysis of baseball players' performance. If it's good enough for baseball, it's good enough for me! In politically practical terms, Silver did a good job on the 2008 election and was right on the money in the 2010 elections. He also did very well in calling the 2012 primaries.

2. The Liberal Party now has a presidential candidate: former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. The party has qualified for the ballot in 47 states. Theoretically this could help Obama. A noisy chunk of the GOP has turned Libertarian, and some of these voters may opt for Johnson instead of Romney in November. At least we can hope so.

3. The key swing states  -  about six  -  are doing better in economic recovery than the national average. Do voters perceive the economy by what's going on right around them or by the national picture? If the former, Obama has a good shot in places like Ohio and Virginia. Keep in mind that it's virtually impossible for a GOP presidential candidate to win without Ohio. Obama has several paths to accumulating the majority in the electoral college, but Romney has only one and it leads through Ohio.

4. Don't let the polls bug you. It's still too early. (You can get bugged later on.) A tip for poll-watching: Pew Research is the gold standard. Problem is that it does not appear every week or two like the others until near the end of the campaign. Gallup is no longer what it once was, especially its daily tracking poll which is worthless. Many of the small you-never-heard-of-them polls aren't very good either. Among the bigger polls, headlines usually go to their national polls and these don't tell us what the electoral college is looking like. Among the smaller polls doing the individual states,  Rasmussen consistently bends toward the GOP. Quinnipac used to but may have leveled out. Public Policy (PPP) used to be considered an unreliable upstart but did a very good job this year in the presidential primaries. It doesn't call cell phones, which is bit of bias against younger people and Democrats, so keep that in mind. Marist was a minor player in 2008 but seems better this year. Periodically Nate Silver combines the results of a number of state polls, weights them according to their track record for reliability, and produces a sort of average that supposedly is more sound than just plain averaging. As for that Irish betting parlor and the Las Vegas odds? I gotta a bridge you might want to buy.

5. Even though we can take time off for summer vacation, the Obama effort can't. Last month the GOP outdid the Dems in fund-raising for the first time this cycle, even if we don't count the sums raised by the GOP super pacs. Dems still do a better job with getting small contributions from more people, but money is money. The huge amounts spent in Wisconsin by the GOP and their super pac pals swamped the unions' and Democratic spending by 5 to 1. Faced with these money machines, WE HAVE TO contribute ALL WE CAN to the Obama campaign. And volunteer for the ground effort. The money is needed NOW! Consider giving Obama your vacation money. Stay local instead of blowing thousands on a get-away. See the sights in your own area. Less travel also means less polluting of the air. If Romney gets elected there probably won't be any more air!

6. Check back in a couple of weeks. That's when I'll be back on-line from my at-home vacation. Meantime I'll be chumming it up with three of my five married kid couples and four of the nine grandkids. What fun!

Till then, Hasta la vista, baby!      

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Happened in Wisconsin? Nothing.

Does the result of the recall election in Wisconsin mean anything nationally? Not really. In fact the campaign to recall union-busting Governor Scott Walker was a loser before the campaign even began.

Before looking at the doomed nature of the recall, let's clear the decks. First and foremost, the Democratic loss Tuesday certainly doesn't mean Obama will lose the state in November. Exit polls show that a surprising number of pro-Governor Walker voters plan to vote for Obama in the fall. In fact, Obama has a solid lead among all those voting in the Wisconsin recall Tuesday and in all statewide polling.

Nor does it demonstrate that big money can defeat volunteer precinct work. About 94% of voters on each side had already made up their minds before May began. May is when a lot of the $46 million in pro-Walker super-pac funds inundated the state with advertising. (Walker and his super pacs outspent his rival FIVE to one.)

It also doesn't demonstrate a public reaction against labor unions. Exit polls show that sentiments pro and con on labor unions don't account for Walker's win.

So what did decide the election in Wisconsin?

Two things: First is an issue that was unique to Wisconsin: Is a recall itself an appropriate procedure?

Wisconsin voters  -  by a whopping 70%  -  told pollsters they do NOT approve of the recall procedure. Ten percent said it was never appropriate, while sixty percent said it's appropriate "only for official misconduct". This set of figures  -  all by itself  -  is the only one that explains Tuesday's result. The result was not strictly a party-line vote. It was not a pro-Obama v. anti-Obama result. It was not determined by a tsunami of pro-Walker ads.

In fact, the election was not a recall at all. It was a referendum on the use of the recall.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that 94% of those who voted for Walker in 2010 voted for him again on Tuesday, and 94% of those who voted for his opponent in 2010 voted again for the same opponent on Tuesday. The voters of Wisconsin, from what they told the exit pollsters and by how they repeated their 2010 vote, said loud and clear: "Keep your hands off my vote! Don't try to change what I did in 2010!"

Well, why does Wisconsin have a recall procedure if 70% of voters don't like recall? Maybe its use violates a Wisconsin sense of fair play, i.e. a belief that when one side has won an election that side should have its chance to govern for the full term it has won. I don't know. You'd have to ask the folks of Wisconsin why they don't like recall.

Apparently, nobody in the anti-Walker forces thought to ask  that basic question early on. If they had, they would have seen the big weakness in their efforts:  the recall wasn't going to be about Walker; it was going to be about recall itself. And they wouldn't have wasted $9 million  -  most of it union money  -  fighting a battle that was already lost.

The other thing they wouldn't have wasted was all the energy, hard work and faith of their wonderful volunteers. Talk about Pickett's charge! Or the slaughter on the Somme! Never, my friends, send your trusting followers into a hopeless fight!

I suspect that one group did ask Wisconsin voters about their views on the recall procedure. I'm guessing that the Obama campaign did its own quiet polling on the issue and learned very early that Wisconsin was not going to oust a governor because of his policies. That is the likely reason that the Obama campaign didn't hurl the president into the Wisconsin mess. He couldn't help Walker's opponent  -  nothing could. All Obama would have done is hurt himself by risking his present lead in Wisconsin. More accurately, he would have hurt all the rest of us. WE NEED him to win in November. The country and the world cannot afford a Romney presidency!

The unions took their chances in Wisconsin. They made a bad bet. And they lost because it was the wrong bet, because they bet on recall. I love the unions and respect that many of their leaders have some good political sense about the lesser nuts and bolts of politics. But they are not political brain-busters. If they really understood politics, the unions would not now be on their last legs in this country, reduced to a mere 12% of the working force.

Okay. What's the second reason Walker won his recall election? It's simple. The guy running against him was a mediocre candidate.

Not a really bad candidate, but just not a very good one.  He's the same guy who lost to Walker in 2010. Why run a loser a second time? Beats me. I tried to listen to the guy on TV and couldn't make out much of what he was saying during the campaign, but I could hear every word Walker said. I looked at the white-haired Walker opponent and compared him with the vigorous young Walker. I could see that some voters would go by looks alone, opting for a mule whose got lots of miles in him. Sure enough, the age 30-to-45 Wisconsin voters went big-time for Walker.He looks like them. Friends of mine complain about voters going on looks alone. Tough, kiddies, but that's just the way it is. And don't you have to admit that the youthfulness of Obama helped him a lot against the obviously old McCain?

So there it is. Now it's no longer "On, Wisconsin!" Now it's "On to November!" And we have a terrific candidate! And  -  hopefully  -  we will have a ground organization as good or better as the one in Wisconsin. And the billion dollars the super pacs will spend for Romney won't change people's minds. Their money didn't change minds in Wisconsin; the recall issue had already cast the election in concrete. We won't have that baggage in November, thank heaven.

So let's get to it!