Kucinich Calls the Question on Libya War Powers

Last week, voting on amendments on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives began taking action to limit U.S. military involvement in Libya’s civil war.

Now the House leadership has agreed to a vote on House Concurrent Resolution 51, introduced by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, which would direct the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove U.S. armed forces from the Libya war. The vote could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

The U.S. military intervention in Libya was never authorized by Congress, and thus violates U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution.

Some have argued that other Presidents have violated the War Powers Resolution, therefore it is no big deal. This is a breathtaking argument on its face: “everyone breaks the law.” But moreover, as the New York Times noted on May 25:

many presidents, citing their power as commander in chief, have bypassed a section that says they need prior Congressional authorization to deploy forces into hostilities, except if the country is under attack. But there is far less precedent of presidents’ challenging another section that says they must terminate any still-unauthorized operations after 60 days. In 1980, the Justice Department concluded that the deadline was constitutional. [my emphasis]

On May 20, the New York Times reported, referring to the 1980 Justice Department memorandum,

Such opinions are binding on the executive branch unless they are superseded by the Justice Department or the president.

When the 60 day limit expired, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, said:

“this appears to be the first time that any president has violated the War Powers Resolution’s requirement either to terminate the use of armed forces within 60 days after the initiation of hostilities or get Congress’s support”

Unfortunately, as a practical matter – whether we like it or not – Congressional war powers are not “self-enforcing.” The legal history strongly suggests that courts will not intervene if Congress fails to take action.

That’s why the war powers measure introduced by Representative Kucinich is so important. It represents the first opportunity for Members of the House not just to vote against further escalation, not just to affirm that the war was never authorized, but to vote directly to bring U.S. military participation in the war to an end. You can urge your Representative to support House Concurrent Resolution 51 here.

Last week, by the lopsided vote of 416-5, the House adopted an amendment initiated by Michigan Representative John Conyers to the defense authorization prohibiting the introduction into Libya of U.S. ground troops (that is, uninformed forces, not Special Forces or CIA that are already there.)

The House also adopted by voice vote – that is, without dissent – an amendment introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett [R-NJ] affirming that “Nothing in this Act or any amendment made by this Act shall be construed to authorize military operations in Libya.”

Jake Tapper of ABC News reported that these lopsided results in the House suggested that the Kucinich resolution calling for US military withdrawal from the Libya conflict in accordance with the War Powers Resolution could pass the House.

The decisions by the Administration to go to war in Libya without Congressional authorization, and then to continue U.S. military involvement past the 60 day limit of the War Powers Resolution, if not challenged by Congress, will set a dangerous precedent. Urge your Representative to vote yes on House Concurrent Resolution 51.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

Something Not About Palin & Penises

And aren’t you relieved…

Around the corner from my house is a little local’s breakfast place called The Menu which is enough of a casual place that it’s not unusual  for the hungover 20-somethings to wander in on weekend mornings wearing pajama bottoms, hoodies and slippers. Mrs TBogg, the L&T Casey and I have eaten there for years  because: a) the food is good, b) it’s a block away and c) it’s relatively tourist and child-free which counts for a lot in my book. Recently, along with Cholula and Tapitio hot sauces which are pretty much ubiquitous around these parts, they started offering Gringo Bandido Hot Sauce which is, to  put it mildly, unbelievably awesome. It’s not just hot (yet not too hot),  it has extraordinary flavor partly because it’s all natural. Checking out the label last week, I discovered that it’s the creation of Dexter Holland, lead singer of SoCal punk band The Offspring.  A little intertube work later we discovered that it has somewhat limited distribution in Southern California, but it can be purchased online.

You can read more about it here, but seriously, and I don’t usually recommend stuff like this, it’s pretty freaking amazing. Like, “use it with every meal” amazing.

…and now, some Offspring:

 

 

Medicare is on the table

On May 13th, Mitch McConnell laid down the gauntlet when he said:  “that he would not vote to raise the (debt ceiling) level without significant budget cuts and revisions to Medicare and Medicaid.”. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/us/politics/13budget.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=mitch%20mcconnell&st=cse).  He told this to the President when they met to discuss the debt ceiling.  At a meeting with Democratic Senators, Obama said:  ““We all need to work together to find common ground” and “both sides have to give a little.”.

I am organizing a NYS group to visit Senator Schumer.  Of anyone in the Senate, he has the ability to protect Medicare from Republicans and the President.  Whether he will or not depends on how much pressure we bring.

The vote on the debt ceiling occurs August 2.  Senators need to feel the heat from us now.  Make plans to visit your Senator within the next 3 weeks.  Delegations should be multi-generational.  Organize a telephone campaign.  This is our moment–this is our only opportunity.

If you live in NYS and would like to join our efforts, comment below and I’ll keep you informed of developments.

Again, this is the moment when Medicare must be saved.  We must act.

Thanks.

The Great and Powerful Brodkorb Has Spoken!

Pay no attention to the boor behind the curtain!

Earlier this week, Doug Tice, the conservative editor of the StarTribune, published what was the mother of all chastisements to his fellow Republicans, Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton and his deputy Michael Brodkorb, warning them to stop with the boorish behavior or risk seeing Governor Dayton eat their lunch in the budget battle: “Sutton’s methods could help tilt the balance of public opinion in the governor’s favor at a time the GOP majority can ill-afford to lose support.”

 

Unfortunately for Messrs. Sutton and Brodkorb, they didn’t take the hint from Tice et al — Hey, bozoes, shut up or Dayton wins! — because Brodkorb has just asked for, and been granted, space in the Strib to dig his and Sutton’s holes even deeper, accusing Governor Dayton of icky behavior but somehow failing to quote anything by Governor Dayton, much less anything anywhere near as icky as the tripe Sutton and Brodkorb spew, one of whom was quoted at length and in context by the StarTribune’s editorial writer.

Tild of Tildology.com reveals the boor behind the curtain

Furthermore, much as humbug artist and former “independent blogger” Brodkorb would like to wish it otherwise, the StarTribune isn’t the only Minnesota paper whose editors are horrified at the Sutton-and-Brodkorb act. Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen’s reeled off a list of three major papers in Greater Minnesota who have scorched the Republican strategy, and the Republicans’ Fantasy Budget, in words that make the Strib’s seem downright gentle in comparison.

Face it, Broddie: Not even the Twin Cities media will be eating out of your hand much longer.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post and Mercury Rising.)

Happy Days – A Secret Anti-Viet Nam Plot Full of Liburul Sekrit Messages?

According to Primetime Propaganda, a new book by conservative author Ben Shapiro, there is a huge underground river of liberal propaganda that subtly (and not so subtly) flows into American television. Conservatives lost the TV war, he weeps, rending his cable guide.

Well, sure, All in the Family, Maude and Saturday Night Live certainly presented alternatives to conservative values. But Happy Days?

Happy Days seemed so wholesome, so All-American, set in the idealized and idyllic 1950s, post-Korean War, pre-Viet Nam era when father knew best (which was to leaving it to Beaver).

Happy Days was a pilot for the 1972 television season, but it got shelved. It was then resurrected as an episode of Love American Style. After Ron Howard shot to success in American Graffiti, the nostalgia-laden series was a no-brainer. The 50s were back! Happy Days debuted in the fall of 1974, the Fall of Saigon was six months later. In an interview with staff writer Ben Shapiro gleaned this nugget:

The draft and the specter of military service do appear in Happy Days, but not until late into the series run. In season 10, Fonzie must report for Army Reserve duty. Earlier, in 1981’s season 7 (to accommodate Ron Howard’s directorial career), his character Richie Cunningham and buddy Ralph were written out. The red-haired duo are apparently drafted and sent to “Fort Silverman” where Richie is assigned to scrub latrines (he’d applied to write for the camp newspaper). Later, Richie is sent to Greenland for his tour of duty, where he marries his girlfriend over the phone, impregnating her when she flew to Greenland to visit him. Richie returns in the last season with mustache and attitude, not because he saw any action, but because he is unhappy that he may be trapped in his hometown – he does seem a little edgy, as the clip above shows.  [cont’d.] (more…)

Clock Is Ticking: Bill To Curb Health Insurance Rates Squeaks Past Lobbyists In Key Vote

Photobucket

The health insurance industry's lobbying muscle in the California Legislature is legendary. It's the reason that the state's insurance commissioner remains all but toothless to reject outrageous spikes in health insurance premiums and rates, unlike in a majority of other states. So it's not a shock that a new version of a bill to let the state insurance commissioner reject or modify health insurance premiums barely squeaked through the state Assembly's Appropriations Committee late last week with the minimum 9 votes.

+++Take Action Here to Cut Insurance Premiums, Send a Message to Your Legislator+++

The bill will face another firestorm of industry lobbying when it comes up for a full Assembly vote in a few days.

This legislation ought to be a slam dunk, after Blue Shield tried to jam through premium increases of up to 86% in a single year. Aetna and Blue Cross weren't much better. The only reason any insurer backed down even a little was because of public rage, which is not a good regulatory tool in the long run. When every Californian is required to show proof of insurance as of 2014, Californians will be even more in need of protection from insurance industry greed. And nearly every major newspaper has supported health insurance regulation–the LA Times made its second strong editorial argument Tuesday. (text of editorial is below)

So what was up with the two Democrats–Charles Calderon and Jose Solorio–who voted against the rate regulation bill (AB 52, Mike Feuer)? First they reportedly tried to get author Feuer to accept last-minute substantive changes without a chance to examine what they meant–and Feuer rightly refused. Then Calderon and Soloio voted no. Hmm. Solorio is among the top five recipients of insurance industry money in the Assembly. And Calderon is the sponsor of a bill (AB 736)–strongly supported by the health insurance insurance and broker industries–that would remove consumer protections from health broker misdeeds or errors and indirectly raise health insurance premiums.

Two million Californians lost their insurance during the recession, bringing the state's total uninsured to 8 million. From the mail we get, a whole lot of people are right on the edge of having to drop Health insurance. It's long past time for the largest state in the nation to get a grip on health insurance spikes in the high double digits, even as overall medical inflation sinks to around 4% a year. Something is wrong with this picture, even if it's just right for insurance companies' record profits.

We hope Calderon and Solorio were just making a procedural protest and that they'll protect consumers, not insurance company profits, when the Assembly votes this week on AB52. It'll be close. Here's the button to Take Action.

 

latimes.com

Editorial

A lid on health insurance rate increases

California regulators should be given the power to reject unreasonable increases in health insurance premiums.

May 31, 2011

Opponents of a bill that would allow state regulators to reject unreasonable increases in health insurance premiums are stepping up their attacks on the measure, contending that it would push premiums even higher and make healthcare less available. These arguments are a smokescreen, and lawmakers shouldn't lose sight of the need to give consumers of health insurance the same protection they have in auto and homeowners' policies.
One allegation is that the bill — AB 52, sponsored by Rep. Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) — would enrich the consumer advocates who challenge proposed rate increases. That charge is based on the bill's requirement that insurers cover the "reasonable" fees and costs incurred by advocates who make a "substantial contribution" to the ruling by regulators or the courts. The same perfectly sensible language is in Proposition 103, the initiative that empowered state regulators to reject excessive automobile, property and casualty insurance rates.
Giving consumers the opportunity to participate in rate reviews is a valuable counterweight to the shifting policies in Sacramento, where regulators' zeal often depends on who won the last election. And the "substantial contribution" requirement for getting fees reimbursed deters frivolous challenges. Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group, says its interventions have reduced insurers' proposed auto, home and earthquake premiums by more than $2 billion since 2000; insurers have had to spend an additional $5 million to cover the consumer group's expenses.
Smaller premium increases might seem like a good thing to consumers, but evidently doctors and hospitals feel differently. Their trade associations are opposing AB 52, arguing that it could artificially reduce the rates insurers pay them. Such reductions, they say, could persuade more providers not to take Medicare and Medi-Cal patients because they count on reimbursements from private insurers to cover some of the cost of government-insured patients. But those cross-subsidies are precisely the sort of distortions and inefficiencies that policymakers should be trying to eliminate from the healthcare system, not prop up.
The healthcare reform law Congress passed last year tries to combat cross-subsidies, and it limits insurers' profit margins by tying them to the amount spent on medical care. That link, however, gives insurers a perverse incentive to grow their profits by inflating the amounts they pay doctors and hospitals. That's a good reason to give state regulators the power not just to review rates, as California law now provides, but to reject them when they're unreasonable. Here's another: As of 2014, the healthcare reform law will require all adult Americans to obtain health coverage. Regulators ought to have the power to stop insurers from gouging that captive market.

—————
Posted by Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Days–A Secret Anti-Viet Nam Plot Full of Liburul Sekrit Messages?

According to Primetime Propaganda, a new book by conservative author Ben Shapiro, there is a huge underground river of liberal propaganda that subtly (and not so subtly) flows into American television. Conservatives lost the TV war, he weeps, rending his cable guide.

Well, sure, All in the Family, Maude and Saturday Night Live certainly presented alternatives to conservative values. But Happy Days?

Happy Days seemed so wholesome, so All-American, set in the idealized and idyllic 1950s, post-Korean War, pre-Viet Nam era when father knew best (which was to leaving it to Beaver).

Happy Days was a pilot for the 1972 television season, but it got shelved. It was then resurrected as an episode of Love American Style. After Ron Howard shot to success in American Graffiti, the nostalgia-laden series was a no-brainer. The 50s were back! Happy Days debuted in the fall of 1974, the Fall of Saigon was six months later. In an interview with staff writer Ben Shapiro gleaned this nugget:

The draft and the specter of military service do appear in Happy Days, but not until late into the series run. In season 10, Fonzie must report for Army Reserve duty. Earlier, in 1981’s season 7 (to accommodate Ron Howard’s directorial career), his character Richie Cunningham and buddy Ralph were written out. The red-haired duo are apparently drafted and sent to “Fort Silverman” where Richie is assigned to scrub latrines (he’d applied to write for the camp newspaper). Later, Richie is sent to Greenland for his tour of duty, where he marries  his girlfriend over the phone, impregnating her when she flew to Greenland to visit him. Richie returns in the last season with mustache and attitude, not because he saw any action, but because he is unhappy that he may be trapped in his hometown – he does seem a little edgy, as the clip above shows.

Shapiro also deconstructs Three’s Company, Friends, MacGyver (which was anti-gun, according to Shapiro) and of course Sesame Street. Today in Big Hollywood he writes:

Sesame Street’s liberalism is soft and overarching, not intrusive and annoying. The Sesame Street website lectures Americans about their deep, dark cultural biases ordering parents to examine “your own cultural assumptions and biases” as a “good place to begin your anti-bias work.” The website also tells parents to “try to use gender-neutral language … [use] words such as firefighter, flight attendant, garbage collector, and humankind to replace the use of ‘man’ as a generic noun or ending.” The goal, of course, is to parrot the feminist line about language’s inherent sexism. The website also encourages parents to find toys and books with characters “that break stereotypes about men and women, for example, dolls for boys and building toys and puzzles for girls.” Larry Summers has amply debunked such nonsense – it’s leftist utopian thinking at its finest, fostered with your tax dollars.

Wow, you know Gilligan’s Island is actually a parable for all the continents on Earth getting along, per creator Sherwood Schwartz. Just saying…

Nobody Does Dick Like Andrew Breitbart

Anthony Weiner’s penis is just too damn big for one blog.

and…

Andrew must be kicking himself for not calling his book: Righteous Indicknation: Excuse Me While I Talk About Dicks.

Pop-up edition extra.

Also. Too. If Breitbart wants to use “Nobody Does Dick Like Andrew Breitbart” as his promotional slogan, I’m going to want royalties and, no, I won’t accept used O’Keefe boat dildoes.