Archive for supreme court ruling

Is America politically mature enough for single payer healthcare?

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Back in 2011, I wrote Single payer to replace Obama health care plan in Vermont? Possibly. In a post of 2012, Rep. Jim McDermott's legislation may enable states to offer single payer healthcare, the L.A. Times ticked off reason after reason why such a plan would be superior to what we have now. Then our own Sherry Howarth asked this back in April: Are the Green Mountain Progressives Going to Pull Off Single Payer?

And now, one of my faves, Michael Hiltzik, has written another thoughtful column for the Los Angeles Times. This one asks if America has the "political maturity" to support single payer healthcare, especially after the dreadful Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Corp. Justices.

Hiltzik narrows it all down to the perpetual fight over abortion being the real obstacle to a single payer system. Once we stop our bitter squabbling and resolve that issue (not an easy task), it would open the door to enacting the same successful system so many countries around the world currently use. As Hiltzik notes, "That's not a permanent condition -- sooner or later, the gridlock will have to give, because the public won't stand for total inaction forever."

The entire column is worth a read, so please link over. He begins by responding to something Ezra Klein wrote. He ends this way:

[O]nly a mature system will be able to enact single-payer, so it's pointless to worry about it being hampered by childishness once it's in place.

Let's think again about abortion. There's no point in worrying that a single-payer program would bar abortion -- the thing to worry about is that the abortion debate will be an obstacle to enacting a single-payer plan at all. So clearly, the abortion issue will have to be resolved first.

Ezra Klein is right. Single-payer does have many virtues, and it does have some problems.

But under our current system post-Hobby Lobby, scientifically uninformed employers can interfere in the medical decisions of thousands of their workers. Obviously, that's the worst of all possible worlds.

Single-payer's problems, however, are either resolvable or conjectural, while its virtues are manifest. We should keep our eye on those, and worry about the problems when the time comes.

As we say on Google Plus: +1.

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"Here's what your money is buying right now..."

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gop your money

We have written countless posts about the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United decision, followed by their latest debacle, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the other appalling Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires and allows them to influence our election outcomes.

Even Garry Trudeau couldn't keep quiet about it any longer: The Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!  As I said in that post, a very few obscenely wealthy individuals are able to spend lavishly on candidates, politicians, and potential votes while, try as you might, your money simply can't compete with the endless supply of cash donated by the corporate big boys.

And with that, another installment of today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

**

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent

Newhall

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Nightmare on First St! US might look very different in 2014 thanks to conservative Supreme Court justices

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nightmare on first street Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

There were two articles in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that had me reaching for two bottles: Pepto Bismol and Jose Cuervo Gold. Both articles were about how the U.S. Supreme Court could very well steer to the right on social issues, one (written by Eric J. Segall) referring to that scenario as "a liberal nightmare."

He's not kidding; We should all be more than a little queasy at the prospects of impending major SCOTUS decisions further eroding what's left of democracy.

First an overview by David G. Savage of what we're up against when the Supreme Court begins its term on Monday:

supreme court cases

Savage describes this as "a clear opportunity to shift the law to the right on touchstone social issues such as abortion, contraception and religion, as well as the political controversy over campaign funding."

Worrisome much?

The Citizens United ruling has already been a windfall for fundraisers. And now the Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections. Please read those links, because you will be and have been impacted by the outcome of bad decisions like CU as well as what's next on the agenda:

In other cases due to be heard this fall, the justices are likely to uphold state bans on college affirmative action and block most housing bias claims that allege an unfair impact on blacks and Latinos.

They may also give states more authority to restrict and regulate abortion.

On to the op-ed by Eric J. Segall, a law professor at Georgia State University and the author of "Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges." He begins his post with the chilling warning, "When the dust settles, if the conservative justices hold sway, Americans could find themselves living in a different country."

He then reminds us that the Citizens United decision "granted corporations and unions the same rights as private individuals to make independent political expenditures." What it did not do is address "the important distinction made in Buckley between groups or individuals giving money directly to a candidate or campaign versus the independent expenditures." My link above explains that in more detail. In short:

[C]onservative amicus briefs are urging the court to abolish that distinction and invoke the 1st Amendment to prohibit the regulation of campaign contributions... [T]his case could be the knockout punch that limits legislative efforts to reduce the corrosive effects of money on political campaigns.

And you thought all that influence the top 1% (coughKochBrotherscough) was bad now. Just wait.

On to the separation of church and state... or what's left of it:

The relationship between government and religious liberty is also at issue this term.... [Conservatives]... want the court to broadly hold that government endorsements of religion never violate the 1st Amendment's establishment clause unless the government is actually coercing religion. Such a finding would create a "coercion test," long the wish of Justice Antonin Scalia, which would allow the government to place religious symbols on public property without limitation and permit overtly Christian (or any other religious) prayers at legislative sessions without any judicial check.

He notes that if Justice Kennedy veers right on this one, "the wall between church and state, a wall that Scalia doesn't think exists, will be dramatically lowered."

gulpNext up: a big, sloppy French kiss-in-waiting to the GOP:

Souter and O'Connor are now gone, and Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas have repeatedly urged the court to abandon the "undue burden" standard and replace it with a reasonableness test that would give lawmakers much more discretion to restrict abortions... Kennedy is again the key. Although it is unlikely he would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, if he turns right even a little bit, the ability of women to obtain safe and affordable abortions might be severely threatened.

Segall ties it all up with a very ugly bow:

Depending on how [Kennedy] votes, this country might look very different at the end of June 2014.

To those of you who continue to believe that elections don't matter, think again. It is the president who chooses Supreme Court justices, so stop whining and get yourselves to the ballot box. And while you're at it, help get out the vote wherever and how ever you can.

Unless, of course, rulings like the ones discussed in this post don't matter to you.

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Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections

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The conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court may very well allow the wealthy few to have even more opportunities to drown out the rest of us.

Yes, again.

More big donors with more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes may get legal permission to pour more of their more money into more political fights and more candidates.

Most of us can't afford to donate huge sums of cash to buy elections, which means the very rich will have even more influence and control over financing campaigns and corporate causes, and therefore, have more say than we do about our lives.

This anti-democratic practice changed our election system for the worse and is destroying what's left of democracy and equal rights. The Supremes' 2010 Citizens United ruling got the ball rolling, and now there's this little bombshell via the Los Angeles Times:

In what may be Act 2 in the decline and fall of campaign funding laws, the Supreme Court appears poised to lift the lid on the total amount the wealthy can give directly to all candidates and political parties.

Increasingly, the money that funds election races for Congress and the presidency comes from a small sliver of the very rich, what the Sunlight Foundation called the "elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States." The nonpartisan group has tracked how a growing share of election money comes from the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans.

In the first major case of its new term, the court could give those donors even more clout with lawmakers and their parties. The issue is whether federal limits, not on contributions to individual races but on how much a donor can give to all candidates for Congress or party committees in a particular election cycle, violate the right of free speech.

The current law allows the rich to give millions to super PACs and other groups that pay for "independent" election ads. What they cannot do is give more than $48,600 total to all members of Congress or more than $74,600 to various party committees.

Those restrictions may end.

Guess who's behind the challenge. Just. Guess.

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the Republican National Committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who say contributions should be treated as "core political speech."

tadaa3McConnell is facing a primary challenge from a conservative tea partier and is also up against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has been leading him in the polls. So of course he's desperate to do something, anything, to change that.

If SCOTUS decides in his favor, then both political parties could each donate up to $3.6 million which "could be funneled by party leaders into a close race or races, tipping the balance of power in Congress."

Lee Drutman, a researcher at the Sunlight Foundation, said, "The data shows there are more big donors on the right than on the left."

No matter who has the most money to donate, this much is true: Money should be kept out of politics. We need a level playing field so we can have fair elections. All this monetary power and influence by a very few ends up corrupting our candidates and ultimately, the lawmakers and laws that affect every single American.

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Both sides say Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality could doom state laws

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gay rights marry who you love

Watch as Rachel Maddow and David Gregory destroy the GOP’s last argument against marriage equality:

Justice Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling. He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you’re humiliating and demeaning those kids.

By denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family. So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist.

And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.

But-- wait for it...

... Legal experts say Justice Scalia was probably right... and I agree.

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And so does Rachel Maddow:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

omg wtf

Here's the rest:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rachel Maddow:

Scalia "was saying, you realize this ruling means gay people are going to be able to get married, right? You realize that?" Yes, Justice Scalia, we realize that...

The Hill:

Legal experts say the Supreme Court's rulings this week on same-sex marriage send the clear signal the justices are likely to strike down state marriage laws that reach the High Court. [...]

It’s hard to see Kennedy making an about-face and saying it’s not demeaning when a state does it,” [Ilya Shapiro, a senior legal fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute] said.

Scalia saw the same clues in Kennedy’s decision. He wrote a scathing dissent excoriating Kennedy’s reasoning and dismissing the court’s claim that its decision was limited to federal law.

“By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,” Scalia wrote [...] "As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe..."

As I said at the top of this post, legal experts (and Rachel) say Justice Scalia was probably right, and I agree.

But only just this once.

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Marriage equality held up by "tiny-brained folks that went to their last dance still believing professional wrestling is legit"

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gay rights fire hose extinguishes bigots

Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:

The US Supreme Court must love the nightlife, because they just struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and invalidated California’s Proposition 8, which set off parties in every major city in the America. They were dancing in the streets so long and hard it was raining men… and women. 10,000 kudos to all our friends in the LGBT community for finally upgrading out of societal steerage into economy.

You have survived. Your hearts must be so over the rainbow, both the hearts and the rainbows are having babies right now. Cakes are being baked and balloons blown in your honor as we speak. You are one notarized slip of paper away from joining the heterosexual world in holy matrimony. Congratulations. You now have the legal right to be as miserable as the rest of us.

So sorry you had to wait. The deal is, a lot of bitter old people had to die first. You know. Tiny-brained folks that went to their last dance still believing professional wrestling is legitimate. So maybe this time, the answer to your question “do you really want to hurt me” will be a resoundingly choral “no.”

But that is nothing more than wet towels on the shower floor at the YMCA now, because you are within a hair’s breadth of becoming intimate with the blessed institution of marriage. You are family- almost. And many have shown interest in voluntary commitment to that institution. Good luck. But be careful what you wish for. Don’t want to rain on your parade, but you’ve just entered the wild and wacky world of unintended consequences.

A quick and dirty primer for the wedding deprived:

#1. Bigamy is the crime of having one spouse too many. The same has often been said of monogamy.
#2. When you see a married couple holding hands, chances are it’s to keep from strangling each other.
#3. In the beginning, marriage is a noun. Later on, it’s a sentence.
#4. After a few years, the only thing most couples have in common is they were married on the same day.
#5. Marriage may be a blessed sacrament, but so are the last rites.

And don’t forget, as beautiful and sacred as the start of a marriage can be, that’s how ugly and grotesque the ending can get. The bad news is 50% of all marriages end in divorce. The good news is the other 50% end in death. There’s truth in the old adage that the reason divorces are so expensive is because they’re worth it.

Alimony. Child support. In- laws. Headaches. Jealousy, betrayal, money. Hair in the sink. Puce cabinets. All that to look forward to: plus you are in imminent danger of experiencing direct contact with lawyers. The remakes of that 1934 Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire classic, “The Gay Divorcee” will be legion. But you will make even divorce look fabulous.

So, right now, relax. Tell yourself, “I’m too sexy for any downer talk.” Take a walk on the wild side because you’re coming out to be Dancing Queens and Kings, Just wake me up before you go- go. Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. Sorry. Couldn’t figure out how to slip that in. And what the hell, join the Navy.

5 time Emmy nominee, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” is presented every Tuesday, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… themarsh.org for more info. Or willdurst.com. For discount tickets, use code “boomer.”
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BREAKING: Supreme Court rejects bid to stop gay marriages in California

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As expected...

Breaking, via an email alert from the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to stop same-sex marriages in California, a lawyer said today.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., one of the lawyers who challenged Proposition 8, said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy denied a request by Prop. 8 sponsor ProtectMarriage to halt the marriages. Kennedy, who handles such petitions from Western states, did not comment on the denial, Boutrous said.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order late Friday that allowed gay marriages to resume, a move ProtectMarriage said was premature and in violation of procedural rules. The appeals court acted after the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Prop. 8 sponsors could not stand in the place of state officials to defend the measure in federal court.

For the latest information go to www.latimes.com.

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