Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for June, 2012

News Roundup: WI Senate Recount, Obamacare-Hating Cons Moving To Canada, Media Depict NFIB Shill As Just A Plain Ol’ Businessman

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2012

So much to write about, so little time:

— Add Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing to the list of right-wing and/or business lobby shills the media choose to pretend are just plain old folks with no hidden agenda:

Wow — two news organizations covering the same story scoured the nation for a random small business owner to comment on that story — and they both found the same one! How’d that happen? What are the odds?

Well, as it turns out, Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing turns up quite a bit in public discussions of this and other issues. Here he is testifying against the health care law before House and Senate committees in January 2011. Here he is on the Fox Business Network around the same time, discussing the same subject. Here he is a few days ago, also on Fox Business, talking to John Stossel about the law. Here he is discussing the same subject on a New Jersey Fox affiliate.


NFIB, you will not be surprised to learn, is linked to the ALEC and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and to the usual rogues’ gallery of right-wing zillionaires.

So Joe Olivo isn’t just some random business owner — he’s dispatched by NFIB whenever there’s a need for someone to play a random small business owner on TV.

It’s time to make a list of these clowns. I know that Olivo’s not the first person whose conservative and/or business lobby ties our allegedly-liberal media doesn’t disclose when choosing to use him or her as their “average person without an agenda” soundbite provider.

— Speaking of clowns, these right-wingers apparently think that moving to a country with socialized medicine is a good way to express their hatred for socialized medicine. (If right-wing drivel of this sort is something you find wildly entertaining, TBogg has come along to harvest some choice examples.)

— In other news, once and future Wisconsin state senator John Lehman (D-Racine) is winning the optional recount that the state Republicans demanded and for which they are paying out of their own pockets, as Lehman’s lead was big enough to avoid triggering a mandatory recount. If control of the Wisconsin State Senate during recess (a recess that Walker can end at any time, just as he did last year) wasn’t such a big deal, why are state Republicans fighting so hard to delay the inevitable turnover to the state Democrats?

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Honduras Coup Third Anniversary Roundup

Posted by Charles II on June 29, 2012

The Honduran coup began on June 28th, 2009.

Brother John remembers that day and the subsequent rise in violence.

Adrienne has done a news roundup.

Mark Weisbrot on the exploding violence and the parallel to the Paraguayan coup.

Adrienne on The Real News

Maria Robinson and Adrienne appeared on KPFA (12m onward).

Keane Bhatt talks about the three US forward operating bases built this year.

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Posted in Honduras | 1 Comment »

The (un?)intended consequences of the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare

Posted by Charles II on June 29, 2012

Looking for the poison pill in the healthcare decision. As mentioned in comments below, Paul Santos of Salon pointed out that Roberts rather obviously switched in mid-stream from voting to strike down the ACA to upholding it. What happened? Surely Roberts is unrelentingly hostile to universal healthcare. So, are there consequences to his vote that will only become clear in years to come?

Kevin Russell, Scotusblog:

Starting to think about the potential collateral consequences of the health care ruling, I think it is very likely that one of its major impacts will be to revive claims that several significant civil rights statutes, enacted under Congress’s Spending Power, are unconstitutional.

In the health care decision, the Court held that Congress exceeded its Spending Clause authority by forcing states into an all-or-nothing choice by threatening to revoke all of their Medicaid funding if they did not participate in the Medicaid expansion. A decade or so ago, several states made similar challenges to a number of important civil rights statutes that condition receipt of federal funds on the state’s agreement to abide by non-discrimination principles in the federally funded programs.

All of these challenges failed. But it seems likely that many will now be revived.

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Posted in Supreme Court | 3 Comments »

Fallows finds an acorn: the end of the American Republic

Posted by Charles II on June 29, 2012

James Fallows was not much help when it was happening, having been among the Gore bashers, but at least he has this right:

when you look at the sequence from Bush v. Gore, through Citizens United, to what seems to be coming on the health-care front; and you combine it with ongoing efforts in Florida and elsewhere to prevent voting from presumably Democratic blocs; and add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate and then took the White House, you have what we’d identify as a kind of long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else.

Via Scott Horton.

A coup is when one faction in a society usurps the function of one or more branches of government to seize power illegitimately. Military coups are the most common. Paraguay is in the midst of a congressional coup. I called the Starr investigation a judicial coup, and Bush v. Gore was its culmination. That coup placed the Republican Party in control of all three branches of government. We now are experiencing a second coup, this time by billionaires, who aren’t satisfied with exerting indirect control.

Fallows has found his acorn, 18 years too late.

Posted in Constitutional crisis, corporatists, corruption, mediawhores | 2 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on June 29, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 4 Comments »

Fast and Furious: now barely even a pseudoscandal

Posted by Charles II on June 28, 2012

I heard about this on Rachel last night, but truthout found the link for me. Katherine Eban, Fortune mag:

Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they’re 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. “In Arizona,” says [ATF team leader Dave] Voth, “someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich.”

The agents faced numerous obstacles in what they dubbed the Fast and Furious case. …Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney’s office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.

Ten weeks [after the murder of a Border Patrol agent], an ATF agent named John Dodson…claimed that supervisors repeatedly ordered him not to seize weapons because they wanted to track the guns into the hands of criminal ringleaders.

Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. … But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF … seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns [i.e., deliberately allowed them to end up in the hands of criminals] is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies.

Bottom line: Arizona’s gun laws and prosecutors who were less than eager to pursue prosecutions allowed guns to get into the hands of violent criminals. The Obama Administration is then blamed. And in true underwear gnome form: GOP Profit!!!!

Sixty Minutes, which hyped Agent Dodson’s adolescent complaints into a pseudoscandal. has become no more than a bad joke, prostituting itself for ratings. The use of “the Sipsey Street Irregulars, run by a former militia member, Mike Vanderboegh, who has advocated armed insurrection against the U.S. government” as a “desert telegraph” to come up with angles to attack the ATF, is a cancer on the American Republic. Thanks, Republicans, for keeping us safe from non-existent threats while Mexico dissolves into chaos.

Posted in gun issues, Republicans as cancer | 1 Comment »

Ginsburg: Roberts’ Commerce Clause Analysis “Not Outcome Determinative”

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 28, 2012

This is for those folks who think that John Roberts just gutted the Commerce Clause and made it impossible for Congress ever again to pass progressive legislation:

Here, from the opinion, here’s Justice Ginsburg on Chief Justice Roberts’ take on the Commerce Clause (footnote 12, p. 102, bolding mine) –

Ultimately, the Court upholds the individual mandate as a proper exercise of Congress’ power to tax and spend“for the . . . general Welfare of the United States.” Art. I, §8, cl. 1; ante, at 43–44. I concur in that determination, which makes THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s Commerce Clause essay all the more puzzling. Why should THE CHIEF JUSTICE strive so mightily to hem in Congress’ capacity to meet the new problems arising constantly in our ever developing modern economy? I find no satisfying response to that question in his opinion.12

12 THE CHIEF JUSTICE states that he must evaluate the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision under the Commerce Clause because the provision “reads more naturally as a command to buy insurance than as a tax.” Ante, at 44. THE CHIEF JUSTICE ultimately concludes, however, that interpreting the provision as a tax is a “fairly possible” construction. Ante, at 32 (internal quotation marks omitted).That being so, I see no reason to undertake a Commerce Clause analysis that is not outcome determinative.

In other words, it seems like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at least, believes that Roberts’ bloviatings on the Commerce Clause were just so much importless hot air.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Crime of our times: a website of which to be aware

Posted by Charles II on June 28, 2012

RNS at HondurasCultureandPolitics brought to attention a site (InSight) that discusses organized crime in the Americas. As legal, productive means of making a living evaporate, and as the US government fails to pay attention to basic issues of security (like, do people have jobs), this is clearly an issue that is rising in importance.

Added, 9/26/12: Adrienne believes this is a website that is an ally of Southcom.

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The right way, the wrong way, and the Paraguay/updated

Posted by Charles II on June 27, 2012

RNS at HondurasCultureandPolitics has a fuller description of the allegations used as the pretext of the coup, which he translated from a UNASUR link:

(1) Allowing a political youth gathering financed by the government in a military base in 2009.
(2) Facilitating and supporting the invasion of private lands by landless peasants in Nacunday.
(3) Dissatisfaction with the state of public security, linking Lugo to leftist kidnapping groups and accusing him of maintaining an incompetent Interior Minister responsible for 17 deaths.
(4) Signing the Protocol de Ushuaia II in “an attempt against the sovereignty of Paraguay”. The document, in which the governments of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) agree to support democracy in their fellow countries, would allow regional governments (as part of a policy to return an errant state to democracy) to “cut off electric power” to Paraguay.
(5) In the case of 17 deaths in Curuguaty (on June 15), he showed the “inoperativeness of his government, the negligence, ineptitude, and improvisation….which merits his charging by the House of Representatives with bad job performance.”

He linked an article that demonstrated that the third charge is false.

Adrienne has a piece on the Paraguayan coup in Inter-American Dialogues:

…There is no question that the aptly-named Franco regime is illegitimate; the coup that ousted President Lugo for ‘poor performance’
clearly violated Article 17 of the Paraguayan constitution, which guarantees the right to due process. …

As in Honduras— which provided the model for this new kind of ‘constitutional’ coup in 2009— the problem is that the spirit of the law [Article 17] itself is radically anti-democratic. Also as in Honduras, ousting the president months before elections blocks promised agrarian reform and guarantees the militarized right wing control over those

The beneficiaries of this coup include …Monsanto and Cargill…and the United States, which—as was the case in Honduras— seeks to expand its military presence in Paraguay.”

She was joined by Joy Olson of the coup-apologist group WOLA, who says, “we’re seeing a new model of ‘coup’ emerging. Like the Honduran coup, an
elected Congress is attempting to put a veneer of legality on a process that is not fair.”

In the same issue, defenders of the coup argue that:

(Paraguayan Deputy Sebastian Acha)
* Lugo was “passive” in the face of rural resistance to (illegal) land expropriation by the country’s oligarchy
* Lugo “broke ties” with the Liberal Party, thereby weakening the governing coalition.
(former US Ambassador to the US, Nicaragua, and Venezuela John Maisto)
* this is a “political conflict only the Paraguayans can resolve, though they may need some international assistance to arrive at a solution that is
constitutional, legal and peaceful.

If Acha’s argument strikes one as completely ridiculous, that’s because it is. Our press obligingly parrots the line that “Lugo made everybody mad.” Toward the end, so did George Bush, but we didn’t impeach him. Laws are not to be broken just because people make you mad.

Gustavo Setrini of COHA writes:

Land-owners accuse Lugo’s government of sympathizing with land invasions, inciting violence, and failing to protect their property. … However, the bulk of Lugo’s electoral support came from the Liberal Party, which is dominated by landed elites. The Liberals threw their support behind Lugo in exchange for the Vice-Presidential nomination, the promise of multiple ministerial appointments, and the prospect of removing their traditional rivals, the Colorado Party, from power.

The massacre in Curuguaty provided the impetus to unite the soybean-farming and land-owning interests within the rival Colorado and Liberal Parties against Lugo. These groups blamed Carlos Filizzola, Lugo´s Minister of Interior, for the death of the policemen and threatened Lugo with road blocks and impeachment unless the President named a new official who was committed to securing the countryside. Lugo replaced Fillizola, a member of the left-leaning Partido País Solidario, with Rubén Candia Amarilla, a Colorado Party Member who held the post of Attorney General in the last Colorado government and was associated with the repression of landless peasant organizations.

So, you see, by putting the Stroessnerite Colorado Party in power, Lugo was being “passive” about the tumult which arises because there are no just means by which to resolve land disputes. Most people would have said he caved to placate his enemies and they then used his betrayal of his supporters to devour him.

According to Setrini, Article 17 allows impeachment for “’poor performance of his [the President’s] functions, crimes committed in his duties and common crimes,’ but provides no specific criteria for impeachment.” In other words, it allows the Deputies to annul the results of an election for any reason whatsoever.

Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on The right way, the wrong way, and the Paraguay/updated

Richard Wolff, Bill McKibben, Kim Stanley Robinson: Three People Who Need To Meet If They Haven’t Already

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 27, 2012

I have just enough of a residual interest in science fiction to have heard the name of Kim Stanley Robinson, but didn’t have enough interest to actually check out his books. But that changed when I heard his works referenced recently — and danged if he doesn’t sound like a nice alternative to the glibertarian/conservative Heinlein/Crichton/Niven stuff being pushed so heavily. And I am so stealing his term “TransNats” for the transnational feudal overlords that in his future settings are trying to export metastatic capitalism resource exploitation, which on earth has reached its end stage as the planet has been trashed and pillaged, onto other worlds.

Robinson has a new book out called 2312, and it looks like a winner. Imagine if Rick Wolff and Bill McKibben had a baby together (which, by the way, would be par for the course in the world of 2312 as Robinson imagines it), and you’ll have a fair idea of Robinson’s take on things.

I’d love to introduce the three guys to each other: Wolff would love how KSR shows exactly what will happen to earth and the life forms (including humans) still on it if we keep pursing the oncological model of capitalism, as would McKibben.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »