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June 29, 2012

the tenth amendment

I am proud that I have lived long enough to witness the phenomenon of average, everyday people worrying out loud about their Tenth Amendment rights.

I remember, as a kid growing up in the rough streets of Gibsonia, PA, wondering to myself, "Don't that get it?  We're not just one big country, man, we're fifty different STATES, states with certain rights guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.  And not just certain rights, but, like ALL of them, man!"

OK, maybe that wasn't then, maybe more like high school, or right after college.  Or, OK, never, because who the hell ever thinks that?

Now, historically, the sentiment makes sense, as pre/post-Revolutionary War we were a lot more like Europe than we'd like to admit, as each of the thirteen colonies were actually sovereign.  In fact, the Constitution and eventual uniting of the states was by no means a slam dunk.  In fact, it was the Bill of Rights, those first ten amendments, that were inducement to get certain reluctant states to ratify the Constitution, and the Tenth Amendment, the one in question, that was the cherry on top:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

It was a total gift to the States, this anything-not-expressly-granted limitation on federal powers.  But remember this was more than two hundred years ago.  No state has ever even flirted with secession since the Civil War, and for good reason: states aren't equipped to step in and fill the roles that the federal government plays.

But now, if you check a comments thread or listen to a call-in radio show, every third knucklehead is VERY CONCERNED about the state's rights, and how the federal government is encroaching thereon.  Now, are these knuckleheads actually concerned about something so esoteric and ephemeral?  Of course not.

But they heard Ron Paul or Rush Limbaugh say something about it, and off they go.  I guess I should be fascinated by this self-brainwashing process, but mostly it just makes me sad.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:23 AM

June 28, 2012

affordable care act

I won't waste your time with a summary of the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, as the decision is still being parsed (by SCOTUSBlog, mostly, and then repeated instantaneously ALL OVER THE WORLD.)

But wasn't that fun?  Waiting by the computer, dancing back and forth between tabs?&Nbsp; I say it was fun.

And while I still vastly prefer single payer to the silly mandate, I will take any opportunity for IN YOUR FACE that I can.  So hey yo, Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity and all you crazy cats: you forgot to buy Chief Justice Roberts.  Oops.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:34 AM

June 27, 2012

john cook calling bullshit

There is a minor situation ongoing in the House right now, one that might not have made it to the front page yet.  Nutshell: the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is traditionally the pesterer of the White House if the opposing party holds the House, has pushed a vote to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress to the floor, to be held tomorrow.  At issue is an investigation into an ATF program called Fast and Furious, in which unlicensed firearms were purposefully released in hopes that they could be tracked to the more powerful gun runners.  This program failed, and Rep. Darrell Issa, the chair of the Oversight Committee, has been chasing AG Holder over it for years, and finally last week the Administration invoked executive privilege to protect some internal Justice Department documents.

Issa went bonkers and threatened the contempt vote, and now the National Rifle Association is threatening some House Democrats over the contempt vote.  This makes sense, as the NRA has been long promulgating the fiction that Obama will ban all guns, and even that the failure of Fast and Furious was intentional and an attempt to overstate the gun smuggling problem to sway public opinion against guns.  I said bonkers before, right?

I bring this up only to give to you an invaluable resource if you are at all interested in any of this — Gawker's John Cook last week posted a very angry and very well reported pushback against the various elements of this kerfuffle, citing each mistruth and calling bullshit on each, in detail.  For example, you might have heard how a F&F ("our") gun killed a border agent?  Bullshit:

These were not "our own weapons." They were weapons that gunrunners purchased and smuggled to Mexico. The fact that ATF agents were watching them do so, and tracking the serial numbers, does not mean they were "our weapons." Precisely the same weapons would have gone to precisely the same places if Fast and Furious had never been launched.

Read it, memorize it, repeat it out loud.

Also: John Cook is one of the good ones.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:52 AM

June 26, 2012

the ceos of the banks are doing fine

Good news everyone!  The Banks may have had a rough couple years, what with the financial crisis and having to beg the federal government for hand-outs like a post-collegiate kid moving back in with mom and dad, but at least the great men that lead these institutions are getting their just reward.  In fact, according to the paywalled Financial Times (as "curated" by HuffPo), the top fifteen US/European bank CEOs got raises this year averaging 12%.

So say if you're Jamie Dimon (and who isn't?), you're up to $23.1 million dollars a year, which doesn't sound like a lot, for a man of Dimon's near-supernatural power to cloud Senator's minds, but he's got a bunch of side gigs, like sitting on the Board of Governors of the New York Federal Reserve.  That's worth $179,000 a year, which is chicken feed, but at least it covers the salary of the chef who feeds his helicopter pilots.

It's just reassuring to see that the CEOs of The Banks are finally sharing in the prosperity afforded all us non-CEOs over the past five years.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:50 AM