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Month June 2012

The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform

Our modern Republican Party is dominated by its Southeastern wing and what could give it purer expression than its Texas branch. The platform is available in PDF form on the Amazon cloud. Widely quoted is this section. It is not from the Onion. It was what Republicans in Texas really want: Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. (p. 13) You read that right. Texas Republicans want their precious prejudices carefully preserved and any attempt at education or critical thinking that might undermine the authority of their pre-set ideas had best face vigorous opposition. This is why red states tend not to be fountains of innovation.

SCOTUS/ACA Pay Back ($105)

(cross posted from leftinlowell.com) #middleclasswin

The trouble with echo chambers

There’s an interesting story in today’s Globe about how two of the architects of Romney/Obamacare were just so startled that the constitutional challenges to the federal law got as far as they did. After countless hours crafting the universal health care law in Massachusetts as an adviser to Governor Mitt Romney and then on the national level for the Obama administration, MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber couldn’t believe that any judge would seriously entertain arguments against the central plank of both plans. “I remember a few meetings where someone raised the question of a constitutional challenge,” he said of his time in Washington helping to create the Affordable Care Act, with its requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. “Everyone would say that expert lawyers had been consulted, and that there was no issue.” … “The oral arguments were like living in an Ayn Randian nightmare,” he said, referring to the late author revered by conservatives. “They were taking these wacky theories seriously.” … The belief was the Commerce Clause precedent was robust and provided ample justification for what was being done,” [John] McDonough said. “We were advised by constitutional lawyers to make clear why we were […]

One of the reasons our towns and states are in such bad shape.

Cop screws us all A retired Lynnfield cop — whose dubious unemployment claim triggered a sweeping effort to reform state law — had his jobless benefits reinstated yesterday in a controversial decision that has sparked cash-strapped cities and towns to renew their bid to close the costly loophole. In a nutshell, this Lynnfield cop retires and gets a $32,000 pension. He starts working police details to supplement his retirement income. But he hits the ceiling of $25,000 (after which this detail pay will get cut from his retirement pay). So… this guy files for unemployment to the tune of $400 a week. So he gets a pension check AND an unemployment check. The town files a complaint with unemployment and yesterday the Unemployment Board sided with the cop. WTF!!!! Never mind the whole police detail bullcrap as I’m sure this 70 year old cop is not going to be saving lives or chasing bad guys while he sips his coffee and directs traffic. But he is a great example of how the public sector is sucking our funds dry while other worthwhile needy programs are strapped for cash. Due to the change in the MA law, many towns are creating […]

Weekly Joke Revue: Trump traces Roberts’ ancestry to Kenya

Borowitz: Trump Says John Roberts’ Birth Certificate is Fake: Traces Chief Justice’s Birth to Village in Kenya NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – Controversy swirled around John Roberts today as billionaire Donald Trump claimed that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court had a fraudulent birth certificate. Mr. Trump said that these are the findings of a team of personal investigators he retained just after ten o’clock yesterday morning. According to these investigators, Justice Roberts, who claims to have grown up in Indiana, was actually born in a mud hut in a tiny rural village in Kenya. Furthermore, Mr. Trump claimed, “So-called John Roberts’ father was a village witchdoctor who forced all of the villagers to submit to his shamanic treatments, whether they wanted them or not.” While most of the mainstream media seemed skeptical of Mr. Trump’s allegations, Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel called them “very concerning,” adding, “It’s time that the American people learned the truth about John Hussein Roberts.”  

Meet Dr. Raul Ruiz

Dr. Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated emergency room physician, is the Democrat running for Congress in California’s 36th congressional district.  He has an excellent shot at unseating the long-time Republican incumbent, Mary Bono Mack, who appears to be a Boehner/Cantor/Ryan acolyte – the front page of her website says “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” which is pretty much all you need to know. I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Ruiz on his recent trip to Boston (full disclosure here: Dr. Ruiz was a student of my father’s at Harvard Medical School).  He’s an energetic and charismatic guy who strongly believes in progressive values.  He would be a fine addition to the Congress. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has selected this race as one of their targeted “Red to Blue” races, i.e., races in which there is an especially good chance of a Democratic pickup. Part of the reason, no doubt, is that Ruiz is a fine candidate; another is that California’s 2010 redistricting has changed the makeup of the district in Ruiz’s favor. Ruiz has a remarkable life story which this CNN story tells in brief: And, after the event at which I met him, he recorded this brief greeting […]

A dilemma with a DINO

Two years ago, when the Affordable Care Act was originally voted on by congress, my DINO of a congressman, Stephen Lynch, voted against it. At the time, as someone with a preexisting condition, I swore that I would never vote for this pathetic excuse for a democrat ever again. Since he has a republican challenger this year, advocating the same repugnant position on the ACA as my DINO congressman, should I go ahead with my protest against Stephen Lynch and blank my vote for congress or is that the same as voting ReThuglican? Since there is no discussion about the majority in the House shifting back to Democrat control, is it reasonable to blank my vote in protest for his reprehensible position from two years ago? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Gallup Poll: Nation Split on ACA Decision

Contrary to right wing commenters, Gallup Poll released showing reaction to the SCOTUS decision on the health care law, 46% agree and 46% disagree: Interesting note that Independents show that 45% agree while 42% disagree. But Democrats, Republicans and Independents seem to all lean that politics played too great a roll on the SCOTUS decision which seems to reinforce what pundits have been saying or praising the court for over the past day.

On the hagiography of John Roberts

hag·i·og·ra·phy (noun hā-gē-’ä-grə-fē, \-jē-\): the writing of the lives of saints. There’s been a great deal written in the last 24 hours about Chief Justice John Roberts.  And a good deal of it, some from people who usually write in fairly measured terms, is so over-the-top that you’d think the guy had just walked across open water to single-handedly rescue a drowning child and puppy.  Here are a few examples. From Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe: Today, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a heroic rebuke to the growing number of Americans who feared the Supreme Court had lost the ability to rise above the narrowminded partisanship that dominates the country’s political discourse…. More than a year ago, writing in the Boston Globe, I made a simple point about the individual mandate…. Fortunately, the Chief Justice ended up articulating essentially the same common sense view despite protestations and pressure from his conservative colleagues on the Court that he approach the case more artificially…. [S]trategic thinking and a passionate commitment to reform gave Democrats under the bold leadership of President Obama the resolve to push the [health care] law through. Today, the Chief Justice took an equally bold step and did more than save the law—he […]

Scott Brown Misleads in Response to Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Reform

[Cross-posted from the ProgressMass blog.  Like ProgressMass on Facebook and follow on Twitter.] Responding to the Supreme Court’s historic decision upholding the Obama Administration’s landmark health care reform legislation, Republican Scott Brown released a video statement that included a number of misleading comments. 0:57 mark: “All of that changed with the federal law, which delivers no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts. Republican Scott Brown focused a large part of his campaign during the 2009-2010 special election on being a key vote against health care reform.  For that position to remain politically viable, Brown needs the electorate to oppose health care reform.  Unfortunately for Brown, the electorate has a very favorable view about many of the components of health care reform.  The Kaiser Family Foundation found that even a majority of Republicans support health care reform measures including small business tax credits, closing the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole,” and eliminating pre-existing conditions as an obstacle to coverage. So what can Republican Scott Brown do?  Apparently, he’s chosen to mislead Massachusetts voters and claim that health care reform has provided “no substantial additional benefits to Massachusetts.”  However, Brown’s claim simply isn’t true.  Here are just a few of the quantifiable benefits […]