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Thursday, June 25, 2015

NYTimes: What to Take Away from the Supreme Court Decision on Health Care

"In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined— “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt."

Backlash over Confederate flag backlash | MSNBC

Backlash over Confederate flag backlash | MSNBC

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tally of Attacks in U.S. Challenges Perceptions of Top Terror Threat - The New York Times

Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case. But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.

Tally of Attacks in U.S. Challenges Perceptions of Top Terror Threat - The New York Times

Monday, June 15, 2015

Clinton says drug firms that benefit from deal should offer discounts. From Reuters

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said drug companies that would benefit from a Pacific trade pact should sell their products to the U.S. government at a discount in her strongest comments yet on an issue that has divided her party.

Clinton's comments amount to an implicit rebuke of President Barack Obama's efforts to secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a nod toward liberal critics of the deal as she campaigns to win the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.

Democrats in Congress rejected a related trade package on Friday despite a personal plea from the president. Clinton has faced pressure from the left and the right to take a stand on the pact.

"I have held my peace because I thought it was important for the Congress to have a full debate without thrusting presidential politics and candidates into it," she said at a campaign stop in Burlington, Iowa. "But now I think the president and his team could have the chance to drive a harder bargain."

Clinton did not say whether she would support or reject the deal. But she criticized several aspects of the agreement, which has drawn strong opposition from labor unions, environmentalists and other liberal interest groups.

She said that U.S. drug companies that stand to boost foreign sales from the deal should be required to give bulk discounts to government programs like the Medicare health plan for the elderly.

"Our drug companies, if they are going to get what they want, they should give more to America," she said.

Clinton said a dispute-resolution process should allow greater public input, echoing liberals like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who say it gives too much power to business.

Clinton said Obama should work with opponents like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who led opposition to the trade package. If Obama does not get the best deal possible, "there should be no deal," Clinton said in Des Moines.

Does race have to depend on parentage? | MSNBC

Does race have to depend on parentage? | MSNBC

Democrats Being Democrats -

As I said, you can describe all of this as a move to the left, but there’s more to it than that — and it’s not at all symmetric to the Republican move right. Democrats are adopting ideas that work and rejecting ideas that don’t, whereas Republicans are doing the opposite.
And no, I’m not being unfair. Obamacare, which was once a conservative idea, is working better than even supporters expected; so Democrats are committed to defending its achievements, while Republicans are more fanatical than ever in their efforts to destroy it. Modestly higher taxes on the wealthy haven’t hurt the economy, while promises that tax cuts will have magical effects have proved disastrously wrong; so Democrats have become more comfortable with a modest tax-and-spend agenda, while Republicans are more firmly in the grip of tax-cutting cranks than ever. And so on down the line.
Democrats Being Democrats -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Why Airlines Collude To Make Flying As Miserable As Possible

"There is no reason why a country that permits its "successful" corporations to park hundreds of billions of untaxed dollars overseas should permit its transportation infrastructure to spiral down into Third World status, even as it ferries around its millionaire "business class."  The fact is that the airlines represent a failed experiment, with the "invisible hand" of the free market leading, almost inexorably, to a more and more dismal product that shows no signs of improving in the near future.  What this suggests about the natural outcome of American capitalism may be even more disturbing. "

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Senator Elizabeth Warren on big money in Washington

With a series of major hacks, China builds a database on Americans - The Washington Post

China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary, U.S. officials and analysts say.
Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as the health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the officials and researchers said.
“They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target [for espionage], whether electronically or via human ­recruitment.”
With a series of major hacks, China builds a database on Americans - The Washington Post

The Secret History of SEAL Team 6: Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines -

Around the world, they have run spying stations disguised as commercial boats, posed as civilian employees of front companies and operated undercover at embassies as male-female pairs, tracking those the United States wants to kill or capture.
Those operations are part of the hidden history of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, one of the nation’s most mythologized, most secretive and least scrutinized military organizations. Once a small group reserved for specialized but rare missions, the unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global manhunting machine.
The Secret History of SEAL Team 6: Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines -

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Bernie Sanders: A Man With a Cause - The New Yorker

"Whatever the exact number was, the seventy-three-year-old from Vermont appears to be attracting bigger crowds than any other candidate, Democrat or Republican. With one recent national survey finding that fifteen per cent of likely Democratic voters support him, and a new Des Moines Register poll showing him picking up sixteen per cent of the Democratic vote in Iowa, the media is starting to accord him some serious attention. The Times, having initially failed to report Sanders’s formal announcement of his candidacy in its print edition, ran a front-page story on Friday about his appeal to senior citizens, andanother piece over the weekend about the enthusiastic reception he was receiving in Iowa. Before speaking in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sanders appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he highlighted the “grotesque level of income and wealth inequality” in the U.S. and said, “I think we need a political revolution in this country.”