Nov 20, 27 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #863

ON THE RECORD ….

“It’s a big test for the leadership. We cannot listen to the loudest, shrillest voices in our party. At some point we have to fund the government, and we should not fight to attach some demand. I don’t want to stand by and watch as our party gets driven into a ditch.” —  Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) on how Republicans should respond to President Obama’s expected moves to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. 11/14/14

“We don’t control that. That’s the president. Is the president going to shut down the government over a failure to fund an amnesty proposal? I think the House will stand up, and perhaps even the Senate, and say, ‘No funding for amnesty.’ Then would the president shut the government down? The House pretty clearly isn’t going to fund amnesty.” — Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), an influential member of the tea party caucus emboldenrf by the election to face off with Obama. 11/14/14

“Look, I believe it is an impeachable offense.” — Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer on Obama’s forthcoming executive action on immigration. 11/14/14 http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/charles-krauthammer-obama-executive-action-impeachable-offense

“I get a big kick out of them using the word ‘progressive. My gosh, they’re just straight old dumb-ass liberals anyway.” — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who said he’d prefer to have the Senate keep the new filibuster rules that were passed by Democrats last year to “teach those blunderheads that they made a big mistake.” 11/14/14

“Here’s a hypothetical for you: First, the Supreme Court issues a ruling that installs a conservative president. Then, he appoints two conservative Supreme Court justices who then join with three of their colleagues to make mincemeat of the greatest achievement of a progressive president elected by a clear majority. If such a thing happened in any other country, would we still call it a democratic republic?” —E.J. Dionne on the prospects of the Supreme Court will end important provisions of the ACA. 11/13/14

“The president should come out strongly in support of breathing. Conservatives would hold their breath in reflexive opposition. And that would rid us of most of this country’s problems.” —
kos in the Daily Kos. 11/15/14

“I would just advise every press outlet here: Pull up every clip and every story. I think it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.” — President Obama on remarks by MIT professor Jonathan Gruber that suggested taxpayers were intentionally misled on health care taxes. 11/16/14

“He has it completely wrong and he just doesn’t understand what this issue is,” — Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Sunday refuting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) description of net neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet.” 11/16/14

“Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus. Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast.” — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even though no Islamic structures have been unearthed that pre-date Columbus 11/16/ 14

As one who worked hard to make ACA and its benefits clear, let me say: if you looked up “stupid” in dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture. — David Axelrod ✔@davidaxelrod 11/16/14

Happy 65th Birthday, @SpeakerBoehner! Welcome to Medicare and Social Security! — Nancy Pelosi ✔@NancyPelosi 11/17/14

“66 percent of Republicans want leaders to “stand up” to Obama, “even if less gets done in Washington”; just 32 percent said the party should “work with Obama” even if it disappoints some GOP supporters.“ — A Pew poll helps explain why Republicans are so eager to confront the president. 11/11/14

“When it comes to the prospect of a new, more liberal immigration regime, Republicans have themselves to blame. With a few concessions, they could have gotten more enforcement and tighter security. Instead, we’ll have legal status for millions of immigrants, with few Republican fingerprints.” — Jamelle Bouie in Slate 11/17/14

“Jonathan Gruber mentions on TV: Fox News 779, MSNBC 79.” — Aaron Sharockman in PolitiFact. 11/18/14

“After decades of ignoring a glaring market failure—the failure of the richest economy in the world to provide health-care coverage to many of its less-well-off citizens—the federal government finally stepped in and introduced a remedy. Because of the way Washington works, it wasn’t a straightforward, elegant, or inexpensive remedy. But it needed to be put in place, and it’s working out much as its knowledgeable proponents, Gruber included, said it would. That’s the real story, which the Republicans in Congress and their addled supporters are busy trying to obfuscate.” — John Cassidy in The New Yorker. 11/19/14

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI 

1. The Colbert Report: Reforming Healthcare Reform
2. Newly Insured Through Exchanges Give Coverage Good Marks
3. Obama vs. the Republicans on environmental issues: How the public views them
4. Just in time for Christmas: “Ted Cruz to the Future – Saves America Right-Wing Coloring Book”
5. The DAILY GRILL
6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)
7. Late Night Jokes for Dems
8. The Borowitz Report: G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: “We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live”
9. Luck Health Plan: You’ll be okay. Probably
10. Mark Fiore Cartoon: The Screw You Strategy
11. The Party of Nonvoters
12. Jon Stewart: Guardian of the amnesty
13. SNL Cold Open: A Drink at the White House

OPINION

1. Peter Beinart: The Republican Obsession With ‘Restoring’ America
2. Goldie Taylor: Reality Check: There Are No Swing Voters
3. Boston Globe Editorial: In plan to cut deportations, Obama makes the right move
4. Marc Solomon: Now, Gay Marriage Is a GOP Problem
5. E.J. Dionne: Obamacare vs. Scaliacare
6. Mark Hertsgaard: Will Republican Know-Nothings Torpedo Climate Progress?
7. Baltimore Sun Editorial: No lame duck president
8. Erwin Chemerinsky and Samuel Kleiner: Obama Has the Law—and Reagan—on His Side on Immigration
9. Nancy Kaffer: GOP States’ Hitlist: Abortion, Unions & Hillary
10. Eugene Robinson: Boehner’s Stall on Immigration
11. James Surowiecki: On Obamacare, the G.O.P. Lays a Trap for Itself
12. Kurt Eichenwald: The Great Dictator Debate

1. The Colbert Report: Reforming Healthcare Reform

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/jtbvle/reforming-health-care-reform

2. Newly Insured Through Exchanges Give Coverage Good Marks

Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance. 11/16/14 Read more at http://www.gallup.com/poll/179396/newly-insured-exchanges-give-coverage-good-marks.aspx

3. Obama vs. the Republicans on environmental issues: How the public views them

Broadly speaking, Obama has an advantage over Republicans when it comes to environmental matters. The environment is the only one of nine issues tested in a post-election poll where Obama enjoys a clear edge, with Americans favoring his approach to the subject over that of the Republicans by a 35% to 20% margin. About four-in-ten (41%) see no difference between the two.

Republicans have talked of forcing a decision on the Keystone pipeline – a decision that Obama has delayed – by approving legislation requiring the president to approve it. About six-in-ten Americans (59%) favor building the pipeline to transport oil from Canada to Gulf Coast ports, while 31% oppose it. However, overall support for the pipeline has slipped seven points since last year, a trend driven largely by declines among Democrats and independents. Democrats are internally divided on the issue, with 45% opposing it and 43% favoring it.

Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky is one of the nation’s top coal producers, has made clear that the coal plant emissions limit will be a major target. However, the emission rules have substantial support among Americans with 64% favoring stricter limits in order to address climate change. Republicans are evenly divided on the issue, with 47% each favoring stricter limits and opposing them. 11/13, 2014  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/11/13/obama-vs-the-republicans-on-environmental-issues-how-the-public-views-them/

4. Just in time for Christmas: “Ted Cruz to the Future – Saves America Right-Wing Coloring Book”

http://www.coloringbook.com/ted-cruz-saves-america-coloring-book.aspx

5. The DAILY GRILL

— “Well impeachment is indicting in the House and that’s a possibility. But you still have to convict in the Senate and that takes a two-thirds vote. But impeachment would be a consideration, yes sir.” — Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). 12/10/14

— “Well Charles Krauthammer was asked that same question and I think, just recently on one of the news programs and I have to agree with him of course it would be. — Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) agreeing that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration would be an impeachable offense.

— “The audacity of this president to think he can completely destroy the rule of law with the stroke of a pen is unfathomable to me. It is unconstitutional, it is cynical, and it violates the will of the American people.” —  Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

VERSUS

“President Barack Obama’s anticipated order that would shield millions of immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation is not without precedent. Two of the last three Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — did the same thing in extending amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. There was no political explosion then comparable to the one Republicans are threatening now.” —Andrew Taylor in the Huffington Post. 11/15/14

 

Fox’s The Five co-hosts agreed that Gruber’s comments were proof that the ACA was passed through fraud. Co-host Jesse Watters said, “what this proves is that President Obama is a con artist. This is not about Gruber, the president is complicit in the fraud.” Co-host Dana Perino added that the Democrats got what they wanted and it “doesn’t matter [to them] that they perpetrated a fraud” to get it passed. – Fox News’ The Five 11/12/14

VERSUS

Conservatives have always said the health care law wasn’t debated, that it was rammed through, nobody read it, etc, etc. But it actually stands out for how much it was debated, and, for the most part, how transparent that debate was. Which in turn explains how difficult it was to pass. — The New Republic 11/12/14

 

“Keystone XL will create “tens of thousands of jobs.” —  Fox News, Fox & Friends, co-host Anna Kooiman highlighted a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and applauded their plan to “approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” because it “would bring about tens of thousands of jobs.” 11/6/14

VERSUS

PolitiFact fact-checked Fox’s claims that the Keystone XL pipeline would create “tens of thousands of jobs,” and rated the claims mostly false. Pointing out that although the State Department reported the pipeline could support 42,100 jobs, PolitiFact noted it would not necessarily create that many and that “more than 99 percent are temporary” jobs. PolitiFact also noted that the State Department’s estimates show the pipeline would “only create 35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors.” — PunditFact 11/11/14

6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

O’Reilly Blames “The First Salvo This Season In The Ongoing War On Christmas” On Muslims For Requesting School Holidays http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/12/oreilly-blames-the-first-salvo-this-season-in-t/201547

O’Reilly: Obama “Has Decided To Tear The Country Apart Politically” By Pursuing Executive Action On Immigration http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/13/oreilly-obama-has-decided-to-tear-the-country-a/201562

On Fox, J. Christian Adams Attacks Attorney General Nominee’s “Racial Views” On Voter ID http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/14/on-fox-j-christian-adams-attacks-attorney-gener/201586

Gun Extremist Larry Pratt: Obama Is Anti-Gun Because “We Might Just Want To Use Them To Keep People Like Him From Becoming Tyrants” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/11/17/gun-extremist-larry-pratt-obama-is-anti-gun-bec/201598

On Fox, Pundit From Oil-Funded Group Says Climate Scientists Are The Profiteers http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/11/18/on-fox-pundit-from-oil-funded-group-says-climat/201624

O’Reilly Asks If Obama’s Immigration Executive Action Is “A Trap” To “Bait” GOP Into Impeachment http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/18/oreilly-asks-if-obamas-immigration-executive-ac/201621

Fox News’ Erickson Tells Republicans To Shut Down The Government http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/11/18/fox-news-erickson-tells-republicans-to-shut-dow/201608

On Fox, Pundit From Oil-Funded Group Says Climate Scientists Are The Profiteers http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/11/18/on-fox-pundit-from-oil-funded-group-says-climat/201624

On Fox, J. Christian Adams Attacks Attorney General Nominee’s “Racial Views” On Voter ID. http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/14/on-fox-j-christian-adams-attacks-attorney-gener/201586

7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“This week Bill Clinton tweeted a photo of himself reading George W. Bush’s new book ’41.’ Then George W. Bush responded to that post on Instagram. Then John McCain said ‘You two are hilarious’ by telegraph.” –Jimmy Fallon

“It’s rumored that President Obama is planning to announce a new 10-part immigration plan before Thanksgiving. And you thought your family wouldn’t have anything to argue about this year.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday the Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriage in Kansas. They didn’t give a reason for the ruling, but then again when a state is famous for a Judy Garland musical about a rainbow and a wizard who comes out of a closet, do you really need an excuse?” –Jimmy Fallon

“Stocks are at an all-time high today. I don’t have any money in the stock market. I don’t have the stomach for the ups and downs. So about 20 years ago I put all of my money and liquid assets into videotape rewind machines.” –David Letterman

“Child labor, not a problem. Censorship, not a problem. Torture, not a problem. Chewing gum in China — oh, my God! You better not be over here chewing gum.” –David Letterman

“Here in New York City you can now walk around smoking weed and all they will do if they see you is write you a ticket. Unfortunately, the ticket will be to a Jets game.” –David Letterman

“You’ve got to be careful smoking weed. It causes memory loss. And also, it causes memory loss.” –David Letterman

“President Obama is in China. Also in China is evil Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. They’re both in China at the same time. It’s like running into your ex-girlfriend on vacation.” –David Letterman

“Former President George W. Bush said there’s a 50 percent chance his brother Jeb will run for president in 2016. Then he said, ‘But there’s an 80 percent chance he won’t.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama and Vladimir Putin are both in China attending the same economic summit. Obama saw Putin and said, ‘After those midterms, it’s nice to finally see a friendly face.'” –Conan O’Brien

“This weekend George W. Bush said it’s a toss-up whether his brother Jeb will run for president in 2016. Bush said there’s a 40-40 chance.” –Seth Meyers

“Pepsi has a new Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. No, we don’t have an Ebola vaccine, but we do have the Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew.” –David Letterman

“Director Oliver Stone says he’s going to make a movie about Vladimir Putin. I can’t believe anyone would want to work with that insane communist. And Putin is a little crazy as well.” –Craig Ferguson

“On Tuesday, Utah Candidate Mia Love became the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She’s also a Mormon. Yeah, a black female Republican Mormon. Even unicorns are saying, ‘Not buyin’ it.'” –Jimmy Fallon

8. The Borowitz Report: G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: “We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled his party’s long-awaited plan on immigration on Wednesday, telling reporters, “We must make America somewhere no one wants to live.”

Appearing with House Speaker John Boehner, McConnell said that, in contrast to President Obama’s “Band-Aid fixes,” the Republican plan would address “the root cause of immigration, which is that the United States is, for the most part, habitable.”

“For years, immigrants have looked to America as a place where their standard of living was bound to improve,” McConnell said. “We’re going to change that.”

Boehner said that the Republicans’ plan would reduce or eliminate “immigration magnets,” such as the social safety net, public education, clean air, and drinkable water.

The Speaker added that the plan would also include the repeal of Obamacare, calling healthcare “catnip for immigrants.”

Attempting, perhaps, to tamp down excitement about the plan, McConnell warned that turning America into a dystopian hellhole that repels immigrants “won’t happen overnight.”

“Our crumbling infrastructure and soaring gun violence are a good start, but much work still needs to be done,” he said. “When Americans start leaving the country, we’ll know that we’re on the right track.”

In closing, the two congressional leaders expressed pride in the immigration plan, noting that Republicans had been working to make it possible for the past thirty years.

EARLIER: The election of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as the Senate Majority Leader was announced on Thursday by a puff of toxic black coal smoke rising from the United States Capitol.

Outside the Capitol, McConnell supporters who had been waiting for the symbolic puff of black smoke let out an exuberant cheer, before rubbing their irritated eyes and choking. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

9. Luck Health Plan: You’ll be okay. Probably

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3RluUsZEOk

10. Mark Fiore Cartoon: The Screw You Strategy

https://www.markfiore.com/mark-fiore-blog/cartoons/the-screw-you-strategy.html

11. The Party of Nonvoters

As in past elections, nonvoters – those who are either not registered to vote or are considered unlikely to vote in the upcoming midterms – are very different demographically from likely voters:

They’re younger. Roughly a third (34%) of nonvoters are younger than 30 and most (70%) are under 50; among likely voters, just 10% are younger than 30 and only 39% are under 50.

They’re more racially and ethnically diverse. Fully 43% of those who are not likely to cast ballots Tuesday are Hispanic, African American or other racial and ethnic minorities, roughly double the percentage among likely voters (22%).

They’re less affluent and less educated. Nearly half of nonvoters (46%) have family incomes less than $30,000, compared with 19% of likely voters. Most nonvoters (54%) have not attended college; 72% of likely voters have completed at least some college. 10/31/14 Read more at  http://www.people-press.org/2014/10/31/the-party-of-nonvoters-2/

12. Jon Stewart: Guardian of the amnesty

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/j79pdc/guardian-of-the-amnesty

13. SNL Cold Open: A Drink at the White House

http://www.hulu.com/watch/714481

1. Peter Beinart: The Republican Obsession With ‘Restoring’ America

Next January, just in time for a potential presidential bid, Marco Rubio will publish a book. It’s called American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.

Call me a killjoy, but I don’t think Senator Rubio can make good on his subtitle. Creating “economic opportunity for everyone” is hard enough in a country of 316 million. Restoring it is a metaphysical impossibility. To restore something, it must have existed before. And never in its history has America offered “economic opportunity for everyone,” not even in the Edenic days of President Reagan.

Why would Rubio make such an absurd promise? Because conservatives love the word “restore.” In 2007, when he was planning his own presidential bid, Mike Huckabee wrote a book subtitled 12 Steps to Restoring America’s Greatness. (It’s available for one cent on Amazon.) In 2010, Glenn Beck organized a rally on the National Mall entitled “Restoring Honor.” In 2012, Mitt Romney’s supporters established a Super PAC called, paradoxically, “Restore Our Future.” Later that year, the Republican platform promised the “Restoring of the American Dream” and the “Restoration of Constitutional Government.” This June, Ted Cruz pledged to “Restore the Great Confident Roar of America.”

Here’s the problem. Unlike Reagan, today’s Republicans are generally shrewd enough to avoid identifying exactly which previous age they wish to restore. But for African Americans, Latinos, women, and gays and lesbians, idealizing any previous age means idealizing one in which they enjoyed fewer rights and opportunities than they do today. Pledging to “restore” America appeals to many older, straight, Anglo, white, and male voters, because it’s a subtle way of saying Republicans will bring back the good old days. The GOP’s problem is that to win back the White House, it must make inroads among Americans who know the good old days weren’t all that good. 11.13.14 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/11/the-republican-obsession-with-restoring-america/382689/

2. Goldie Taylor: Reality Check: There Are No Swing Voters

Okay, not quite “none.” But the idea of the swing voter is way oversold by the media. Why? Because we are a nation of liars.

You would not know it by listening to cable news pundits, and no politician will ever admit it. And unless you are a mind reader, you will find almost no evidence of it in your local coffee shop.

But here it is: The American center is dead.

It should be said that it isn’t a torrent of political scandals driving voters from the polls. It isn’t apathy, nor is it the very real notion that Washington isn’t getting anything done. We don’t want “anything” done. We want what we want done. And by “we,” I mean you and me—the supposed independents who tow the party line if and when we decide that going to vote is more relevant than, say, playing another round of mini-golf. We are not a lazy electorate and we’re not unconcerned. We simply don’t believe they’ll do what we want, so we don’t vote.

We have no one to blame for the gridlock but ourselves. We are responsible for the legions of extremists who populate our statehouses and our Congress. So, contrary to Obama’s famous line, we are not the ones we have been waiting for. America is in dire need of a better “us.” We are a pessimistic, cynical nation and we don’t mind lying about it. 11.13.14 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/13/reality-check-there-are-no-swing-voters.html

3. Boston Globe Editorial: In plan to cut deportations, Obama makes the right move

Every president since Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration in one form or another. President Reagan, for instance, deferred deportation of 200,000 Nicaraguans. The White House’s plan reportedly includes allowing parents of children who are citizens or legal residents to get work permits and protection from deportation, an action that would help millions of undocumented immigrants. It also will address the shortage of opportunities for high-skilled immigrants, allocate extra resources to enforce the border, and thoroughly review Secure Communities, the overreaching immigration enforcement program believed to be responsible for the record number of deportations during Obama’s tenure.

The best case against the president taking action independent of Congress relies on the premise that Republicans do plan to pass immigration reform eventually, and that easing up on deportations now would somehow undermine that plan. But, even with executive action, Republican leadership can and should still tackle immigration reform legislation. In an interview with CBS News last week, Obama said Congress still has time to pass a bill, adding that legislation would supersede any administrative orders he might issue. The problem is that neither Speaker John Boehner nor likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have listed immigration reform as a priority. Any threatening talk coming from Republicans — McConnell cautioned that executive action would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull,” while Boehner said that “when you play with matches, then you take the risk of burning yourself” — lacks credibility in the absence of a real intention to solve the immigration reform puzzle themselves.

The political fallout on immigration will be volatile. But the human cost of inaction — the families upended, the lives disrupted — is much greater. 11/13/14 Read more at  http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/11/13/obama-making-right-move-immigration/2nYE0NjLRP55bgLgZofkSI/story.html

4. Marc Solomon: Now, Gay Marriage Is a GOP Problem

What a difference a decade makes. That’s when Karl Rove weaponized the issue during his boss’s 2004 presidential campaign, shamefully putting marriage discrimination on state ballots in an effort to turn out base support. Countless Republican candidates in federal and state elections followed that blueprint in the next three cycles, using opposition as red meat to try to draw out base voters.

But times have changed. Today two thirds of the country- or 221 million Americans—will soon be living in a state with the freedom to marry. A rock-solid majority of Americans—which includes significant numbers of Republicans, Independents, and young evangelicals—believe in the basic dignity and individual freedom of gay couples marrying. Even in these off-year elections, when voters skew considerably older than in presidential years, exit polls showed a plurality support the freedom to marry. And while there’s crucial work left to do—particularly in the Deep South, where same-sex couples have in the main been left behind—no other social movement has seen such broad success in changing hearts, minds, and even laws in a single decade.

Whoever seeks the Democratic nomination will embrace the freedom to marry. Support is now part of the party’s DNA (which, by the way, was not the case in the last primary). And new evidence shows the cause is a turnout motivator for Democratic base voters.

The Republican approach will be more interesting. Candidates will be figuring out whether to use the old formula and appeal to a dwindling base of older social conservatives who turn out disproportionately in primaries. Alternatively, they could choose a different course, trying to skirt the issue through the primaries while maintaining an appeal to general election swing voters, a great majority of whom back marriage for gay couples and find discrimination objectionable. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/15/now-gay-marriage-is-a-gop-problem.html

5. E.J. Dionne: Obamacare vs. Scaliacare

In a rational republic, both parties might try to figure out how to improve the ACA. Why wreck it? But elections have consequences. So if Republicans invest a lot of energy in attempting to kill the thing — well, this is exactly what they told the voters they’d do.

It’s something else again if another part of the conservative power structure does a lot of the dirty work in undermining the law before Congress has to. I refer here to the hyper-activist conservative justices on our Supreme Court.

To the shock of many neutral legal analysts, four justices decided to take up an absurd legal challenge to the ACA even before a lower court can rehear the case and before there is a conflict that typically triggers the high court’s involvement.

At issue is one phrase in the law that, in the worst possible construction, is a drafting error. It declares that subsidies to help people buy insurance will be available to those who were enrolled “through an exchange established by the State under [section] 1311.”

Conservative legal beagles, ignoring every other word in the statute, claim that those words “by the State” mean that any state that chose not to establish a health insurance exchange deprives its citizens of the federal subsidies they’re entitled to under the ACA. Since 37 states are expected to rely this year on the federal exchange envisioned by the law rather than establish their own, a ruling of this sort could deprive millions of their subsidies — and make a mess of the law.

Now let’s be clear: Not even the most conservative Supreme Court justices seemed to think this language was a problem before the conservative lawyers went to work. 11/13/14 Read more at Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/11/13/obamacare_vs_scaliacare_124648.html

6. Mark Hertsgaard: Will Republican Know-Nothings Torpedo Climate Progress?

The first order of business for the new GOP majorities in both houses of Congress is to dismantle as much of President Obama’s agenda as possible—starting with climate change. This is not mere speculation: the first two items prospective Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell cited to reporters the day after the elections were authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline and rollback of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced but not yet implemented rules on carbon dioxide emissions. Then, reacting to Obama’s November 11 announcement of a genuinely historic climate accord with China—for the first time, China agreed to an absolute limit on its emissions (by 2030), while the United States pledged to accelerate its own reductions through 2025—McConnell attacked the deal as an “unrealistic” job killer.

Such polluter-friendly priorities come as no surprise from a party swept into power on a wave of oil and coal industry campaign money, including Koch brothers cash—much of it “dark money” and thus untraceable. Now, the GOP’s Senate victory will hand the reins of the Environment and Public Works Committee to Capitol Hill’s leading climate denier, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. The absurdity might be laughable if the future of the planet weren’t at stake.

To defeat the Republican onslaught, the coming fights over climate policy must be made as public as possible. American voters generally don’t like it when politicians attack clean air, and the 2016 elections are already on the minds of every politician in Washington. “Twenty-four Republican [Senate candidates] will have to face the voters in 2016, many of them in states like Florida, Illinois and Iowa where there are big Democratic electorates and strong bipartisan support for clean energy,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “It’s going to be hard for senators in those states to take votes to cut EPA authority. And we’re going to make it hard.” 12/1 to 8/14 Read more at  http://www.thenation.com/article/190465/will-republican-know-nothings-torpedo-climate-progress

 

7. Baltimore Sun Editorial: No lame duck president

For those who expected President Barack Obama to spend his final two years in office curled up in the fetal position after the thunderclap of Republican victories in the midterm election, better brace yourselves. Returning from his diplomatic trip to Asia — historic agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in hand — he’s expected to soon announce a sweeping change in immigration policy that could spare millions from deportation.

And that’s after Mr. Obama made clear last week his support for treating broadband as a common carrier and thus ensuring net neutrality. Such a position puts him at odds with Comcast and certain other Internet providers who would like to charge higher rates for faster access to certain content. But it’s also a position entirely consistent with what Mr. Obama promised as early as 2008.

Indeed, what do all these policy efforts have in common? They represent the issues upon which the president campaigned and was twice elected to the nation’s highest office. Mr. Obama promised immigration reform, he promised a broad-based effort to address climate change, and he promised net neutrality. If the election taught Democrats anything, it should be that you can’t run and hide from your political viewpoint — as so many weak-kneed Democratic candidates did to no avail in the weeks leading up to Nov. 4.

We expect this week’s announcement on immigration, a plan likely to involve redirecting the efforts of immigration agents to secure the southern border and go after criminals rather than deport those who have lived in this country productively for years, to raise howls from GOP leadership. That’s their choice, just as it’s Mr. Obama’s decision not to turn his back on the job voters across America elected him to do — twice. 11/16/14 Read more at  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-obama-20141116-story.html

8. Erwin Chemerinsky and Samuel Kleiner: Obama Has the Law—and Reagan—on His Side on Immigration

President Obama is soon expected to take a step toward fixing our broken immigration system by issuing an executive order to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens. Republicans, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have threatened reprisals against such an order. But one thing is clear: The president has the constitutional authority to decide to not proceed with deportations. It has always been within the president’s discretion to decide whether to have the Department of Justice enforce a particular law. As the Supreme Court declared in United States v. Nixon, “the Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case.”

A president may choose to not enforce particular laws when deciding how to allocate scarce resources or based on his view of the best public policy. Few object, for example, when the Department of Justice does not prosecute those who possess small amounts of marijuana, even though they violated the federal Controlled Substance Act. There are countless federal laws that go unenforced. In 1800, then congressman and later Chief Justice John Marshall stated, the president may “direct that the criminal be prosecuted no further” because it is “the exercise of an indubitable and constitutional power.”

The president clearly has the power to limit deportation of an individual or a group of individuals, even a large group. Such action does not grant citizenship to the undocumented; it merely is a temporary measure that halts deportations. It is not a permanent fix to the intractable challenge of how to deal with undocumented immigration, but it is increasingly looking like the only solution that the president has in facing an intransigent Congress that is unwilling to act. 11/18/14 Read more at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120328/obama-immigration-executive-action-why-it-will-be-legal

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9. Nancy Kaffer: GOP States’ Hitlist: Abortion, Unions & Hillary

In an unprecedented sweep for the GOP at the state level, and in a year that saw nearly across-the-board Republican wins, it’s a breathtaking expansion of largely unchecked lawmaking power.

There’s a story here about gerrymandering, and the successful tactics employed by right-wing activists to build a robust candidate farm team and push primary turnout. But what it means is this: As the country continues to tilt leftward, the laws that most directly impact Americans’ lives will be passed by legislators from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

If you want to know what’s on deck for GOP-controlled states, look no further than Michigan, a reliably blue state in presidential elections with a Republican governor and legislature. Two years ago, lawmakers in this staunch pro-labor stronghold passed anti-union right-to-work laws. They also passed a slew of legislation limiting women’s reproductive rights.

Oh, and about that “blue state” thing? Last week, a Republican state lawmaker introduced a bill that would change the way the state awards its 16 electoral votes. Instead of winner-take-all, an arrangement that clearly benefits Democrats in states like Michigan, the winner of the state’s popular vote would get half of Michigan’s electoral votes, with an additional electoral vote awarded for every 1.5 percent of the vote received above 50 percent. The second-place major party candidate would get the remainder.

It’s worth noting that in Michigan, right-to-work bills mirrored model legislation drafted by ALEC, a group funded by billionaire Tea Party magnates David and Charles Koch, almost word for word. Another Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity, hailed Michigan’s 2012 adoption of right-to-work laws as “the shot heard round the world” in the fight against unions. 11/18/14 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/18/gop-states-hitlist-abortion-unions-hillary.html

10. Eugene Robinson: Boehner’s Stall on Immigration

Oh, please. All the melodramatic Republican outrage isn’t fooling anybody. The only reason President Obama has to act on immigration reform is that House Speaker John Boehner won’t.

I repeat: That’s the only reason. The issue could have been settled a year ago. It could be settled in an afternoon. The problem is that Boehner refuses to do his job, preferring instead to spend his time huffing and puffing in simulated indignation.

On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill by a 68-32 vote. Boehner refuses to bring it to the House floor, even though he knows it likely would pass.

Make that because he knows it likely would pass. Most House Republicans vehemently oppose the Senate measure — though it’s hard to understand why — which means the votes to approve it would come from Democrats and the few remaining GOP moderates. By doing the right thing, Boehner would incur the wrath of his own caucus. That’s his problem, not Obama’s.

The president has not just the right but the obligation to “use all the lawful authority that I possess,” as he promised last week in a long-deferred effort to repair an immigration system that both parties agree is broken. Law and precedent give Obama wide latitude, and at this point he can hardly be accused of acting rashly.

Instead of debating what kind of hissy fit they want to pitch, Boehner and his flock ought to be reading the Senate bill.

They would find much to like. 11/18/14 http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/11/18/boehners_stall_on_immigration_124686.html

11. James Surowiecki: On Obamacare, the G.O.P. Lays a Trap for Itself

A few days after the midterm elections, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear King v. Burwell, a challenge to the Affordable Care Act in which the plaintiffs are arguing that people who live in states which have not set up their own health-insurance exchanges—and who therefore find their insurance through the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov—are not eligible for tax credits that the law provides. These people are currently receiving subsidies, but if the plaintiffs win those subsidies will disappear. While victory for the plaintiffs once seemed utterly improbable—it was generally accepted that Congress intended for the subsidies to be available, and the entire suit is based on a phrase that’s often described as a typo—getting a hearing before the Court suggests that, at the very least, they now have a chance. Republican politicians are, as of now, gleeful at the prospect of the Court delivering a blow to Obamacare. But, once the economic and political consequences of those disappearing subsidies kick in, Republicans could well end up wishing King v. Burwell had never seen the light of day.

The Republican hatred of Obamacare is so powerful, and Republican politicians’ fear of being challenged from the right is so strong, that there will undoubtedly be states where governors and legislatures hold firm and basically tell citizens that they can’t have, and shouldn’t want, the free money that the federal government is offering them. (Something like this already happened, after all, when some states opted out of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, even though the federal government was going to pay almost all the costs.)  But, given that this will wreck the individual market for health insurance in these states, that it will (unlike Medicaid) affect plenty of middle-class voters, and that Democrats will be able to point to states where the subsidies are still intact as obvious success stories, staying true to conservative principles is going to be a very hard political sell—even in truly red states. Republican politicians have been able to reap the political rewards of inveighing against Obamacare without actually having to strip benefits from anyone. Now they’re going to have to put up or shut up. Obamacare’s opponents may win when the Supreme Court finally decides King, sometime next year. But it could turn out to be a fight they’d have been better off losing. 11/18/14 Read more at  http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/obamacare-g-o-p-lays-trap

12. Kurt Eichenwald: The Great Dictator Debate

Of all the outrageously uninformed accusations hurled by the Republican Party since the election of Barack Obama, the most absurd is the incessant screaming that the president acts like a dictator.

So Reagan did what it appears Obama will do: He declared he would not allow the policies of the United States to split up families. He used his authority as president to declare that the minor children of parents who had qualified under amnesty would not be deported.

Look at the similarities here. Reagan declared children of legal parents would not be deported; Obama is prepared to declare that parents of legal children will not be deported. Why is one a lawful act performed by the patron saint of the Republican Party, while the other is an impeachable offense?

And guess what? George H.W. Bush did the same thing. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill that the House refused to take up. (Just what has happened during the Obama administration.) So in 1989 Bush ordered that the Senate bill be adopted as policy, broadening the legal status of families and protecting almost half of the undocumented workers in the country from deportation.

Setting up new criminal justice systems, locking people up, stopping deportations, sealing presidential papers from outside examination and on and on—presidents have done all of it by executive order. So why is it that the people who know better keep lying to their base and pretending something exceptional and illegal is going on with Obama?. 11/18/14 Read more at http://www.newsweek.com/opinion-great-dictator-debate-285179

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