Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Holiday classics

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2015

Some newspaper headlines that show the kind of age we live in:

What if Sheldon Adelson buys your newspaper? Write about him, then leave

Doctor convicted in Medicare ‘greed’ fraud blames Obamacare

Purple haze: lilac sky at night highlights China’s smog blight

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Doris Dungey Remembered

Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2015

The lady who got the housing bubble correct. Joe Weisenthal and Tracey Alloway, Bloomberg

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk gets a lot of credit, too. But Tanta was a star.

Posted in mortgage crisis, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Who are you going to believe? A former Solicitor General/former Acting Solicitor General or some random guy on the Internet? /Updated

Posted by Charles II on December 22, 2015

Scott Rohter is a Tea Party guy. His full bio state that his accomplishments in life are: “being a property rights activist since 1995” and writing articles for such noted law journals as Free Republic and Red State. It’s really quite an extraordinary life!  Which, in his own mind, qualifies him to interpret the Constitution.

And so, he states with full conviction:

The United States Constitution says that you have to be a Natural Born Citizen to be the President of the United States.  That means that you have to be born in the United States in order to be the President of the United States.  That just seems like common sense to me…  the kind of common sense that our Founding Fathers had plenty of.  It is also the kind of common sense that makes perfect sense in the dangerous world that we live in today.

There is no definition listed in the Constitution for what it means to be a Natural Born Citizen, but the Founding Fathers knew exactly what it meant.

This is because he personally knew the Founding Fathers, I guess. At any rate, he quotes as his authority The Law of Nations by Emerich [sic; it’s actually Emmerich, and also written Emer] de Vattel. de Vattel is of course the best source to cite because (a) he was Swiss, and (b) he died in 1767, well before the writing of the Constitution. The fact that the American Supreme Court has considered the issue, and despite the fact that in making rulings about the law they reviewed the proceedings of the Founders, it doesn’t count because:

The definition of what it means to be a Natural Born Citizen has been vigorously debated over the centuries and thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions it has been watered down by progressive judges to the point that it means just about anything they want it to mean.

Well, if by “recent,” you mean the Naturalization Act of 1790 and Supreme Court decisions from the 19th century, yeah, I guess if you make “recent” mean anything you want it to, then sure, Mr. Rohter’s ascension to the Higher-than-Supreme Court of the United States makes sense.

On the other hand, you could look at the work of a former Bush Solicitor General and a former Obama Acting Solicitor General, both now distinguished law professors at Georgetown who write in the Harvard Law Review:

All the sources routinely used to interpret the Constitution confirm that the phrase “natural born Citizen” has a specific meaning: namely, someone who was a U.S. citizen at birth with no need to go through a naturalization proceeding at some later time. And Congress has made equally clear from the time of the framing of the Constitution to the current day that, subject to certain residency requirements on the parents, someone born to a U.S. citizen parent generally becomes a U.S. citizen without regard to whether the birth takes place in Canada, the Canal Zone, or the continental United States.

The Supreme Court has long recognized that two particularly useful sources in understanding constitutional terms are British common law
and enactments of the First Congress.

Both confirm that the original meaning of the phrase “natural born Citizen” includes persons born abroad who are citizens from birth based on the citizenship of a parent.

The Framers, of course, would have been intimately familiar with these statutes and the way they used terms like “natural born,” since the statutes were binding law in the colonies before the Revolutionary War. They were also well documented in Blackstone’s Commentaries, a text widely circulated and read by the Framers and routinely invoked in interpreting the Constitution.

No doubt informed by this longstanding tradition, just three years after the drafting of the Constitution, the First Congress established that children born abroad to U.S. citizens were U.S. citizens at birth, and explicitly recognized that such children were “natural born Citizens.” The Naturalization Act of 1790 provided that “the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States . . . .”

The actions and understandings of the First Congress are particularly persuasive because so many of the Framers of the Constitution were also members of the First Congress.

Rohter can’t even be called a liar or a fool, because he clearly inhabits some alternate reality where facts and history and reason bend to fit his prejudices. But of course, he call call people he disagree with liars and fools at will, because nothing matters except his opinion.

Arrogance will destroy this country. As we see in Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, the Ukraine and the Bakken, Ferguson and Baltimore, it is already well underway. We’re all so d–ned sure of ourselves that we can’t take the time to look and listen.
Update: It turns out the the case is not cut-and-dried. Mary Brigid McManamon written a piece in the WaPo describing her research on the topic:

First, although Katyal and Clement correctly declare that the Supreme Court has recognized that common law is useful to explain constitutional terms, they ignore that law. Instead, they rely on three radical 18th-century British statutes. While it is understandable for a layperson to make such a mistake, it is unforgivable for two lawyers of such experience to equate the common law with statutory law. The common law was unequivocal: Natural-born subjects had to be born in English territory. The then-new statutes were a revolutionary departure from that law.

Second, the authors appropriately ask the question whether the Constitution includes the common-law definition or the statutory approach. But they fail to examine any U.S. sources for the answer. Instead, Katyal and Clement refer to the brand-new British statutes as part of a “longstanding tradition” and conclude that the framers followed that law because they “would have been intimately familiar with these statutes.” But when one reviews all the relevant American writings of the early period, including congressional debates, well-respected treatises and Supreme Court precedent, it becomes clear that the common-law definition was accepted in the United States, not the newfangled British statutory approach.

Third, Katyal and Clement put much weight on the first U.S. naturalization statute, enacted in 1790. Because it contains the phrase “natural born,” they infer that such citizens must include children born abroad to American parents. The first Congress, however, had no such intent. The debates on the matter reveal that the congressmen were aware that such children were not citizens and had to be naturalized; hence, Congress enacted a statute to provide for them. Moreover, that statute did not say the children were natural born, only that they should “be considered as” such. Finally, as soon as Madison, then a member of Congress, was assigned to redraft the statute in 1795, he deleted the phrase “natural born,” and it has never reappeared in a naturalization statute.

So,it’s not settled law. I don’t think McManamon’s view would prevail simply because it creates complications that the Supreme Court would avoid by defining away “natural born.” Otherwise we have two classes of citizen with different rights. What other rights are to be denied those not “natural born”? On what possible rational basis? But I will have to say: Scott Rohter might be right… even if it’s totally by accident. Only the Supreme Court can say for sure.

Posted in Constitution, Flying Monkey Right, history, libertoonians, propaganda, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Forget DWS: Tad Devine and Jeff Weaver Are the Real Threats to Bernie Sanders’ Campaign

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 21, 2015

To paraphrase Mr. Ehrenstein, the facts are not in dispute, except among those crafting Dolchstosslegende to cover for their own failings:


[The Sanders campaign’s] national data director (not, as they tried to play it off earlier, a “low-level” staffer) took advantage of a breach in the VAN’s firewall to access sensitive and valuable proprietary data from the Clinton campaign. While the Sanders campaign called this act “unacceptable” and quickly fired the staffer, they also consistently framed it in a larger complaint against the DNC and the VAN.

Then, in what is perhaps the most irresponsible fundraising email I’ve ever seen, the Sanders campaign actually tried to raise money off it. And that’s where this went from an embarrassing press day for Democrats to a seriously dangerous moment for the Democratic Party’s chances in 2016.

In an email entitled “Urgent: DNC tipping the scales for Hillary Clinton,” the Sanders campaign accused the DNC of trying to “undermine” their campaign by shutting down their database access. They framed the situation as being caused by “a fault in [the DNC’s] own technology platforms.” At absolutely no point in the email did they mention in any way that one of their top staffers improperly accessed Clinton data and was fired for it.

In fact, they tried to pass themselves off as the heroes of this situation in their press conference and press release. The Sanders campaign discovered a glitch in the VAN’s software back in October, they say, and brought it to the attention of the DNC then. They were being punished when they were the ones who found the problem, a line their die-hard supporters repeated non-stop throughout the day.

Just one problem: NGP VAN says they were never alerted to such a problem, and in interviews on Friday afternoon, the former Sanders data director, Josh Uretsky, says the glitch being referred to wasn’t even with the VAN. It was a different program. So not only did the Sanders campaign commit a lie of omission in their fundraising email, it appears they outright lied about the earlier problem to the press. Or, at the very least, this was yet another instance where many people inside the Sanders campaign don’t seem to be on the same page.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not mt favorite human being, if for no other reason than her efforts to scuttle the Iran deal. But her actions in Sandersgate are a hell of a lot more decent than those of Devine and Weaver.

This relentless demonization of, not just Hillary Clinton, but the entire Democratic party infrastructure, is the sort of behavior that poisons the well for all Democrats from this point forward. (Think of how Teddy Kennedy’s constantly telling his supporters in the 1980 primaries that Jimmy Carter was evil hurt Carter during the general election.) The problem is that many of the people in the Ted Kennedy role this time around aren’t even Democrats and so might not know, or care, what they’re actually doing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Republicans are so bullish on war that 30% would bomb a fictional country

Posted by Charles II on December 20, 2015

Trevor Timm, The Guardian:

A poll on Friday by Public Policy Polling perfectly encapsulates the Republican presidential race so far: “30% of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah.” That would be the fictional country in Aladdin.

Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko has a handy chart where he is tracking all the people and places each presidential candidate has said he or she wants to bomb. He reminds us that Ben Carson has not only promised all of the above, but to also unleash drone strikes in Mexico.

It’s worth noting that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is just as militaristic, or more so, than most of the Republicans when it comes to Isis and Iran. She has at least refrained, however, from calling for a third world war with Russia or launching drone strikes in Mexico.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Who is running the Red Cross? Fake administrators

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2015

Via Atrios, Justin Eliott, ProPublica:


When Gail McGovern was picked to head the American Red Cross in 2008, the organization was reeling. Her predecessor had been fired after impregnating a subordinate. The charity was running an annual deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars.

McGovern and her handpicked team of former AT&T colleagues have presided over a string of previously unreported management blunders that have eroded the charity’s ability to fulfill its core mission of aiding Americans in times of need.

Under McGovern, the Red Cross has slashed its payroll by more than a third, eliminating thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of local chapters. Many veteran volunteers, who do the vital work of responding to local fires and floods have also left, alienated by what many perceive as an increasingly rigid, centralized management structure.

Far from opening offices in every city and town, the Red Cross is stumbling in response to even smaller scale disasters.

Driving the alienation, longtime employees and volunteers say, is a gulf that has opened up between McGovern’s executive suite and the rank and file who have spent decades in the mission-focused nonprofit world.

She has surrounded herself with a tight-knit group of former telecom colleagues, they say. “They’re all people from the period when AT&T imploded,” said one former senior official. “The priorities seem to be a reflection of what that team is comfortable with: sales and marketing.”

While McGovern has angered many employees and volunteers, she has maintained the support of the constituency that matters most for her job: the Red Cross’ board of governors, which hires and can fire the CEO. The board includes current and former executives from Goldman Sachs, Eli Lilly and Home Depot along with the chairwoman, McElveen-Hunter, a successful businesswoman and former ambassador to Finland.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Who is tracking down fake Chinese goods? Fake investigators.

Posted by Charles II on December 15, 2015

Via Ritholtz, Erika Kitz of AP.


Person who makes or resells counterfeits presents themselves to a company as an investigator

Investigator is hired by company to hunt down counterfeiters

Investigator presents bribe to government officials to make sure no real investigation happens

Investigator produces fake documents to claim that a raid has been done.

Investigator presents counterfeits to company as proof that counterfeiting has been halted.


It’s a brilliant, efficient economic system. If the goal of the economy is to produce fake goods. It should teach Western companies that if you want to do business in China, you better have roots in China.



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Hillary Clinton and Omar Khadr: Bashings From Left And Right

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 12, 2015

Two weeks ago, I posted this diary over at Daily Kos about Kerry Eleveld’s and Jason Leopold’s excellent reporting on Hillary Clinton’s spending much of the last few months of her time as Secretary of State quietly working to take Omar Khadr, the Canadian-born young man whose father took him from his home at fifteen years of age and made him fight alongside him against coalition forces in Afghanistan, from Gitmo – the place where Khadr had spent most of his teens and all of his adult life – and send him back to Canada, where he’s now living with his lawyer’s family in Edmonton, Alberta.

We all knew that right-wing sites like the Daily Caller would bash Hillary over this (“Emails: Hillary Cheered Transfer Of Gitmo Detainee Who Killed American Soldier With Grenade”).   Sadly, her leftist critics aren’t much better.  (Or as informed on the case as many of them think they are, as was pointed out in response to the ones falsely claiming that he’s still in prison.)


Posted in 2016, Hillary Clinton, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The end of denial on Chile

Posted by Charles II on December 12, 2015

Jonathan Franklin, The Guardian:


A former conscript in the Chilean army has been charged with murder after confessing on a live radio phone-in to participating in the deaths of 18 opponents of the late military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Guillermo Reyes Rammsy, 62, was arrested on Friday and charged over the 1973 murders of Freddy Taberna Gallegos and German Palomino Lamas, members of Chile’s Socialist Party.

The extraordinary confession began on Wednesday afternoon when a man called in to Chile’s most famous talk show “Chacotero Sentimental” (Loving Betrayal) and told host Roberto Artiagoitía that he was considering suicide.

After briefly describing a frustrated romance, the caller went on to describe his involvement in a string of human rights crimes. He said that, as a conscript, he had participated in 18 executions, following Pinochet’s military coup against the government of president Salvador Allende.

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The GOP, Party of Lincoln. Lincoln Rockwell.

Posted by Charles II on December 11, 2015

Eric Alterman on conservatism, as exemplified by its most venerable organ, National Review:

 [editorship of NR,] as founder and longtime editor William F. Buckley Jr. once explained, could only be filled by a “believing Christian.” All three [Jeff Jacoby, Jennifer Rubin, and Jonah Goldberg] are Jews and therefore disqualified by birth.

How ironic, therefore, that the man [Elliott Abrams] asking this question [how could Stalin have killed so many of his own people] worked tirelessly in the Reagan administration to ensure that Guatemala’s mass-murdering dictator, Efraín Ríos Montt, could continue his genocidal campaigns…[not to mention Angola, South Africa, El Salvador, etc.]

you can also find a contribution from the armchair warrior Victor Davis Hanson insisting that opinion polls demonstrate that “outsider presidential candidates such as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina may represent about half the country.”

And some great NR quotes:

“The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in  the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail  numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so  entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race” (The  Editors, 1957).

On Adolf Eichmann’s trial for genocide in Jerusalem: a “lurid
extravaganza” promoting “bitterness, distrust, the refusal to forgive,
the advancement of Communist aims, [and] the cultivation of pacifism”
(The Editors, 1961).

On AIDS victims: “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed
in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the
buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals” (Buckley,

[only available in print edition] On ending segregation: “[A] suddenly enfranchised, violently embittered Negro population… will take up the vote and wield it as an instrument of vengeance, shaking down the walls of Jericho even to their foundations, and reawakening the terrible genocidal antagonisms that scarred the Southern psyche during Reconstruction.” 1965

This is respectable conservatism. Modern conservatism is Stormfront and Trump.

[crossposted with edits at Eschaton]

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