Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Thanks to decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States, some very recently, corporations are now considered to be persons with the natural rights of a person, and money is considered to be speech (and therefore cannot be limited during political campaigns). As Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog says, "If anything, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission conferred new dignity on corporate "persons", treating them -- under the First Amendment free-speech clause -- as the equal of human beings."
Dr. Andrew Wakefield (pictured), the British doctor who basically forwarded the myth that MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccines can cause autism in children, has been discredited by the General Medical Council (Britain's medical regulator). They say he conducted his research in a "dishonest and irresponsible manner", and showed a "callous disregard" for children by performing tests that were not in their best medical interests.
Friday, January 29, 2010
This is what the good folks of Amarillo are currently having to put up with. The top picture is right outside my front door. The bottom picture is our parking lot. The pictures were taken about 5pm on 1/28/10. It was still snowing heavily, and the weathermen are telling us it won't end for another 12 to 14 hours. Prediction is for 12 to 16 inches of snow!
It is well within the realm of possibility that marijuana could become legal in at least one state this year. And I mean completely legal -- not just legal for medical use. California will be voting on whether to legalize the gentle herb in the November election.
January 27, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid Office of the Majority Leader United States Senate S-221, The Capitol Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As the Senate continues to work on health reform legislation, we strongly urge you to consider including a public option.
Here are the reasons for this request:
1) The public option is overwhelmingly popular.
A December New York Times poll shows that, despite the attacks of recent months, the American public supports the public option 59% to 29%. And a recent Research 2000 poll found 82% of people who supported President Obama in 2008 and Scott Brown for Senate last week also support the public option. Only 32% of this key constituency is in favor of the current Senate bill – with more saying it "doesn’t go far enough" rather than it "goes too far."
Support for health care legislation started to fall as popular provisions like the public option were stripped out and affordability standards were watered down. The American people want us to fight for them and against special interests like the insurance industry, and it is our responsibility to show them that their voices are being heard.
2) The public option will save billions for taxpayers, speaking to the fiscally-responsible sensibilities of our constituents.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the public option will save taxpayers anywhere from $25 billion to $110 billion and will save billions more when private insurers compete to bring down premium costs. The stronger the public option, the more money it saves. By including the public option, we can simultaneously reduce tax increases and the deficit. This is a common-sense way to temper the frustration of Americans who question whether Congress is spending their money wisely and fighting for the middle class.
3) There is strong support in the Senate for a popular public option.
It is very likely that the public option could have passed the Senate, if brought up under majority-vote "budget reconciliation" rules. While there were valid reasons stated for not using reconciliation before, especially given that some important provisions of health care reform wouldn’t qualify under the reconciliation rules, those reasons no longer exist. The public option would clearly qualify as budget-related under reconciliation, and with the majority support it has garnered in the Senate, it should be included in any healthcare reform legislation that moves under reconciliation.
As Democrats forge "the path forward" on health care, we believe that passing the public option through reconciliation should be part of that path. We urge you to favorably consider our request to include a public option in the reconciliation process.
Jared Polis Member of Congress
Chellie Pingree Member of Congress
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Last night, President Obama gave his second State of the Union speech. Once again, I have to give him credit for a great speech. When he puts his mind to it, he is without a doubt one of America's great orators. He even had the Republicans on their feet several times.
The Republican Party has decided to abuse the privilege of the filibuster in the Senate to stop everything the Democrats try to do in this session of Congress. There are 16 more Democrats in the Senate than there are Republicans, but the filibuster guarantees that the Republicans can block any bill, since it only takes 41 votes to block a bill and the Republicans have been voting as a block.
First, the Constitution explicitly requires supermajorities only in a few special cases: ratifying treaties and constitutional amendments, overriding presidential vetoes, expelling members and for impeachments. With so many lawyers among them, the founders knew and operated under the maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” — the express mention of one thing excludes all others. But one need not leave it at a maxim. In the Federalist Papers, every time Alexander Hamilton or John Jay defends a particular supermajority rule, he does so at length and with an obvious sense of guilt over his departure from majority rule.
Second, Article I, Section 3, expressly says that the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate should cast the deciding vote when senators are “equally divided.” The procedural filibuster does an end run around this constitutional requirement....
Third, Article I pointedly mandates at least one rule of proceeding, namely, that a majority of senators (and House members, for that matter) will constitute a quorum....It would be illogical for the Constitution to preclude a supermajority rule with respect to a quorum while allowing it on an ad hoc and more convenient basis any time a minority wanted to block a vote. Yet that is essentially what Senate Rule 22 achieves on any bill that used to require a majority vote.
There was a time in this country's history when the owners of private property could do pretty well what they wanted with their own property, as long as they didn't damage their neighbors (such as diverting a public water source to deny water to others that have traditionally had access to it). The owner could build on it, run a business on it, or do nothing at all with it. But those days are gone.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The Republicans, and even a few gutless Democrats, have been preaching that Americans don't want health care reform. They point to Brown's victory in Massachusetts as proof of that. According to them, the people voted against health care reform as much as voted for Brown.
The McDonald's corporation has just received a rude awakening in the Netherlands. Evidently, they thought they could abuse their European employees the same way they do their American employees. They were wrong.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Even though they've had their efforts publicized by Fox News and funded by large right-wing organizations like FreedomWorks, the teabaggers are still not a very organized group of people. They can't even agree on the best way to proceed now that they've made a name for themselves.
It's over in Massachusetts and soon they will be sending a Republican to the Senate to fill the seat of Edward Kennedy. But the excellent web site Black Box Voting has raised some questions about the accuracy of the election returns. It seems there is a significant discrepancy between hand counted ballots and electronically counted ballots.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Osama bin Laden has subjected the world to another of his ridiculous and unwanted audio messages -- the first since last September. The message was played on the Arabic-language news site of Al-Jazeera. The authenticity of the message has not been established, but in the past the CIA has confirmed tapes given to Al-Jazeera from bin Laden.
I was just beginning to think the current Congress was so divided that it would be impossible to actually have a bipartisan bill. But last week, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress proved me wrong. Of course, it took an unprecedented disaster to make it happen.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
After all the trouble Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers put you through at an airport, how would you feel if they then made you the butt of a prank or joke? That's just what happened to a student at the Philadelphia airport.
Move over Bigfoot, because there's another mythical beast that's been stealing your headlines in recent years -- the Chupacabra. The name is derived from combining the Spanish words chupar (to suck) and cabra (goat). The story is that this beast likes to suck the blood from livestock, especially goats.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Texas State Board of Education is currently in the process of determining what the curriculum should include and exclude for students in Texas schools. Now some of you may be thinking "This doesn't affect the kid's in my state's schools", but you would be very wrong in thinking that. When the Texas State Board of Education meets, parents of children in most states should pay attention and be very afraid.
In case you all didn't know it, our illustrious governor, Rick Perry, has decreed that there is no recession here in Texas. The rest of the country (and world) may be having a serious recession, but we're immune to that in Texas.