Apparently that depends on how Justice Kennedy decides. Of the 8 justices on the case (Kagen recused herself) he appears to be the only one whose final stance is unknown. As Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog says:
Were Kennedy to vote to uphold the law, despite apparent reservations, the result probably would be a 5-3 win for Arizona. But if he voted to strike down the law, there seemed likely to be only three other votes to go with his, making the vote 4-4 — but Arizona still would win, because such a split vote would summarily affirm a Ninth Circuit Court decision that upheld the state’s worker control law.
However, as he further notes, a split would only apply to that particular case and not more broadly. It would also indicate the probability of any cases that follow it would most likely fail:
Evenly divided results, however, do not set a precedent beyond the individual case, so the result in the future, if all nine Justices took part, might well come out differently: Justice Kagan’s vote could be the swing vote. And other test cases are on the way — including one involving an even broader Arizona anti-immigration law, and a set of alien restrictions adopted by the local government in Hazleton, Pa.
So stay tuned. Worst case for AZ is it gets part of the law affirmed if there’s a split. However it would also mean that the ability for states to address immigration problems would most likely be dead. Supporters have got to hope Kennedy comes down on the side of the right of a state to address the problem that the Federal Government seems unwilling and/or unable to address.
Iran is again upping the ante in the game of brinksmanship it is playing with the US and the rest of the Western world. It’s latest move? An agreement with the anti-US regime in Venezuela to base medium range ground-to-ground missiles there.
Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources, according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.
At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran’s counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’s soft underbelly.
Some of us are old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of the Kennedy era and the fact that we went to the very brink of nuclear war to prevent the USSR from establishing missile bases in the US.
Of course the USSR was a nuclear power at the time and so the possibility of nuclear weaponry being a part of those missiles was both real and likely. Iran, on the other hand, isn’t yet a power with nuclear weapons (or so say it and the rest of the world). But it is anticipated that they will soon have that capability.
So, if the report is true will the US allow the establishment of such missile bases in Venezuela? And with the possibility of the regime in Iran developing nuclear weapons, the possibility they’ll “share” them with Venezuela has to be taken serious. The agreement apparently allows Iran to establish a military base there manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The base with be jointly occupied by Venezuelan military as well.
And then there is this bit of ominous news about the agreement:
In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an "emergency". In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for "national needs" – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers
Not only that, it is through Venezuela that Iran is planning to bypass UN weapons sanctions as well:
Russia decided not to sell five battalions of S-300PMU-1 air defence systems to Iran. These weapons, along with a number of other weapons, were part of a deal, signed in 2007, worth $800 million. Now that these weapons cannot be delivered to Iran, Russia is looking for new customers; according to the Russian press agency Novosti, it found one: Venezuela.
Novosti reports the words of Igor Korotchenko, head of a Moscow-based think tank on international arms trade, saying that if the S-300 deal with Venezuela goes through, Caracas should pay cash for the missiles, rather than take another loan from Russia. "The S-300 is a very good product and Venezuela should pay the full amount in cash, as the country’s budget has enough funds to cover the deal ," Korotchenko said. Moscow has already provided Caracas with several loans to buy Russian-made weaponry, including a recent $2.2-mln loan on the purchase of 92 T-72M1M tanks, the Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and other military equipment.
If Iran, therefore, cannot get the S-300 missiles directly from Russia, it can still have them through its proxy, Venezuela, and deploy them against its staunchest enemy, the U.S..
So, thus far, this is what the US’s “unclenched fist” has brought. A move by Iran – whether admitted or not – to establish a way at striking at the US should the US strike Iran. Additionally, it has found an ally to help it avoid weapons sanctions and obtain advanced weaponry that would help protect it’s nuclear facilities from air strikes through a proxy (of course, training and maintenance and parts may be difficult to obtain should Venezuela buy them and send them to Iran).
Iran has obviously not been sitting idly by while the West contrived to choke it off from the weaponry it wants. Additionally it has found a way to make any strike on their facilities much more risky for the US.
Anna Mahjar-Barducci of Hudson New York (Hudson Institute) concludes:
Back in the 1962, thanks to the stern stance adopted by the then Kennedy administration, the crisis was defused.
Nowadays, however, we do not see the same firmness from the present administration. On the contrary, we see a lax attitude, both in language and in deeds, that results in extending hands when our adversaries have no intention of shaking hands with us. Iran is soon going to have a nuclear weapon, and there are no signs that UN sanctions will in any way deter the Ayatollah’s regime from completing its nuclear program. We know that Iran already has missiles that can carry an atomic warhead over Israel and over the Arabian Peninsula. Now we learn that Iran is planning to build a missile base close to the US borders. How longer do we have to wait before the Obama administration begins to understand threats?
Her points are dead-on. The unclenched fist, as we predicted, has caused the aggressors of the world to decide to push the envelope. Believe it or not And why not? There’s no penalty evident for doing so. As mentioned here at QandO, 2009 would be a year that the bad guys watched the new guy on the block and assessed him (weak or strong?). If they decide he’s a weak sister, they will begin to test him in 2010 and 2011. North Korea is right now in the middle of doing that and, as this deal indicates, Iran (nor Venezuela) has absolutely no fear of the US’s reaction to basing missiles capable of hitting the US mainland in Venezuela. And START does nothing to address this situation, obviously. Yet that’s the administration’s current priority.
The phone is about to ring at 3am. You have to wonder when it does if it will just go to the answering machine.
Turner, however, does indeed reflect the thinking of various leftist eco extremist groups on population. Interesting though that his solution is so incredibly authoritarian. And, at the last moment he tries to hide that with his selling scheme:
Mr. Turner – a long-time advocate of population control – said the environmental stress on the Earth requires radical solutions, suggesting countries should follow China’s lead in instituting a one-child policy to reduce global population over time. He added that fertility rights could be sold so that poor people could profit from their decision not to reproduce.
Wonderful stuff from a guy who obviously spent a few days too many in the company of Jane Fonda and her ilk. Nice reference to China. Does it bother anyone that more and more on the left (*cough* Tom Freidman *cough*) see China as a ideal to emulate?
Guide to Online Schools has compiled its list of their pick of the top 50 political blogs. It is an interesting list as much for who it included as who it didn’t. Anyway my favorite part was this:
The Top Five Political Blogs
- Barefoot and Progressive: Barefoot and Biting would be another fitting name (or even Barefoot and Snarky, but that’s not alliterative). B and P writes a sharp liberal blog with a slight emphasis on Kentucky politics.
- Our Favorite Post: KY GOP Senate Debate Liveblog
- Beers with Demo: A good conservative blog for newcomers, this is, "a blog for people who don’t read blogs." Beers with Demo tells the story without letting his opinion crowd out the facts.
- Our Favorite Post: We’ve Seen This Movie Before
- Think Progress: Think Progress is a liberal blog with multiple, well-informed authors. All authors write in a professional manner about their respective topics, but none are afraid to let their feelings show.
- Our Favorite Post: Pat Robertson’s Advice
- Pundit and Pundette: A la the 1940’s plucky reporters, Pundit and Pundette laude or rend passing current events. This blog combines typical blog entries with Tumblr style image, video and article sharing.
- Our Favorite Post: When is a Black Hole Not a Black Hole?
- Questions and Observations: Politics from the oft-overlooked libertarian perspective. Q and O holds the guilty accountable and is unafraid to intelligently rip into their opponents.
- Our Favorite Post: Our Whiner-in-Chief
Yeah, that’s right – "top 5". And even if you don’t agree with the other four, that last blog is definitely belongs in the top 5.
Anyway, thanks to Guide to Online Schools for the honor. And because of it, we’ll pop their widget up there – at least for this post:
Hopefully those who go there to use the resources of the website will also discover QandO.
The short answer, of course, is it is a monstrous
bill law those effected by it are just beginning to understand. And maybe it’s just me but when you begin to grant waivers to the law, a) you’re playing special interest politics (it applies to the little people but not the politically well connected) and b) the law is obviously flawed.
One of the more recognizable business names included on the newly-expanded list of waivers issued by the feds is that of Waffle House, which received a waiver on November 23 for health coverage that covers 3,947 enrollees.
Another familiar name was that of Universal Orlando, which runs a variety of very popular resorts in the Orlando, Florida area. Universal was given a waiver for plans that cover 668 workers. These waivers deal with limited health benefit plans, sometimes referred to as "mini-med" policies, which companies as large as McDonald’s use for some its employees. The plan have limits on how much can be paid out in coverage, limits which would be phased out under the new health reform law.
The feds though have granted waivers from that law, amid concern that certain groups would drop their health insurance programs entirely. Those waivers are good for one year, and can be considered for renewal.
That final line is important because, of course, it gives the government leverage to push for changes in coverage within the companies it has to this point exempted. If not, it simply lets the exemption expire. But that doesn’t change the fact that the only the politically connected to this point have been exempted. Instead of admitting the problem with the law and issuing a blanket exemption to all businesses that are effected like the favored few, the administration prefers to do “favors” for those that apply.
Among those so favored to this point are – surprise – a number of unions:
Several weeks ago, critics singled out a number of unions which had received government approval for exemptions from certain provisions of the law dealing with annual medical spending limit requirements.
And there are more unions who have received waivers in this latest batch, like the Bricklayers Local 1 of MD, VA and DC, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, the Indiana Teamsters Health Benefits Fund, Service Employees International Union Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund, and more are listed.
This, of course, is a result of poorly written legislation that wasn’t debated, vetted or carefully considered. It is a mish-mash of liberal wishes and desires bundled in a huge and unread document and shoved through the legislative process in a most underhanded way. The fallout has been gradual but building as more and more companies get into the nitty-gritty of what this will mean to them. And the waiver apps are flying. Since mid-November, the waivers granted has doubled from 111 to 222. And there’s no reason to believe that’s going to slow down as the implementation dates near.
It is also another in a long line of reasons the business climate in this country remains unsettled. The fact that a company gets a waiver doesn’t mean that within a year the administration will decide it must comply. I’m sure these businesses have already calculated the cost to them of such a demand. Would you do any major hiring or expansion with that hanging over your head?
Yeah, neither would I.
Let’s get a few things straight, shall we? For the most part, this deal between Obama and the GOP on the Bush era tax rates isn’t a “tax cut”. It is a maintenance or extension of the current tax rates. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – permanent about any tax rate. They’ve ranged all over the place in the history of the income tax and are, in fact, subject to the whims of Congress. Within this package there are some tax cuts (payroll taxes for a year) and tax giveaways (EIC, etc). Other than that, it’s about keeping the current tax rates for everyone in a time of economic hardship.
Consequently it isn’t costing the government anything except a few rosy revenue projections if it had been able to increase taxes on the wealthy. And consequently, at least that part, adds nothing to the deficit. Got that? Nothing. What adds to the deficit is spending based in borrowed money.
And that problem is found in the extension, again, of unemployment benefits. So if there’s a spending negative, that’s it. Some may argue that it’s necessary. I personally wonder about that.
Anyway, it is important, as the spin begins to come out on both sides about this deal that the basics be understood.
Yesterday a petulant president tried to defend the deal at a hastily called news conference. Once into questioning, a bit of bitterness began to show through. This particular quote struck me:
And I will be happy to see the Republicans test whether or not I’m itching for a fight on a whole range of issues. I suspect they will find I am. And I think the American people will be on my side on a whole bunch of these fights. But right now I want to make sure that the American people aren’t hurt because we’re having a political fight, and I think that this agreement accomplishes that.
It reminded me of the kid picking himself up off the dirt of the playground after getting his rear end kicked and yelling “next time your butt belongs to me” at his antagonist. Obama then goes on to call John Boehner a “bomb thrower” and compare the Republicans to hostage takers (to be fair, he was none to kind to the “professional left” and even took a shot at the New York Times).
But the bottom line remains, the GOP succeeded in getting the tax rates extended for all to include thousands of small businesses who would have otherwise been hit with higher taxes. And what Obama is left saying is, “you know that line in the sand about doing away with tax cuts for millionaires, the one I drew 3 years ago and have promised to do away with ever since? Yeah, well, wait till 2012, by gosh”.
Another interesting quote from the newser was this:
So the issue — here’s the choice. It’s very stark. We can’t get my preferred option through the Senate right now. As a consequence, if we don’t get my option through the Senate right now, and we do nothing, then on January 1st of this — of 2011, the average family is going to see their taxes go up about $3,000.
Is that a fact? What have we heard for years concerning what the left continues to call the “Bush tax cuts”? That they were primarily “tax cuts for the rich”. Of course, they were much more than than and as is obvious, Democrats can’t allow them to expire or that nasty little truth would suddenly become widely known.
Finally, this struck me the wrong way:
This country was founded on compromise.
No. It wasn’t. It was a nation founded in a principle – that which said people have the right to be free from oppressive government and have the right to do what is necessary to accomplish that. Any compromise had to do with the particulars of accomplishing the principle, not in the principle itself. Obviously politics is the art of compromise. What isn’t to be compromised is that founding principle and it is the ongoing compromise of it – or at least an attempt to do so – that has people figuratively up in arms. Those Gadsden flags are waiving for a reason.
Anyway, each side is busily spinning a “win” for themselves on this particular deal. All the while, political resistance is forming on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Pelosi and Reid both seem less than enthusiastic about it and have signaled by their language that they may not have the votes to pass it.
Politically, the next few days should be interesting.
I’d like to say I’m “shocked – shocked I tell you”, but in all honesty I’m not. Rasmussen reports that:
More than one-out-of-four Americans (27%) think the government should manage the U.S. economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Nearly as many (24%) say it’s better for the government to stay out of economic decisions altogether.
First, just off the top, I can’t imagine how 27% can think the government would do a good job managing the economy except via abject ignorance about how the economy actually works. Secondly, if they’re at all literate they must know that some of the worst economic failures as states have been those in which the government managed the economy. And if they follow world events even in passing, they can find current examples of that failure in Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea to name a few.
So you’d have to figure they at least have some cognizance of what “government management of the economy” means to hold such a belief, right? If so, then other than faith, what do they base their opinion upon? Certainly not facts – or even success stories.
They remind me of people who begin smoking fully aware of all the awful things that tobacco use will eventually do to them and somehow naively believe they’ll be the exception to the rule. One has to assume they have discovered a way that government management of the economy can work and are simply waiting for the right time to spring it on us all.
Or perhaps they’re just young, inexperienced and enamored with the theory. I guess everyone goes through a period of kumbyah economics where one believes that if everyone would just work hard and share and let a benevolent government manage it all, we’d live in an earthly paradise. But I never thought as many as 27% wouldn’t outgrow that.
Even more disturbing is the fact that more think the government should manage the economy than think it should stay completely out of it. I’ll bet that wasn’t at all the case in the 18th or 19th centuries. In those days our ancestors were of the opinion the less government the better. What a novel thought, huh? And with that freedom they built a nation that is the envy of the world – at least for the time being. Until that 27% have their way.
Seriously though – that number is a bit stunning. 27%. More than a quarter of those polled actually expressed the opinion that we’d be better off if government managed the economy. Does that bother anyone else? And if so, how do you explain it?
27% of our countrymen think somehow government could do a better job managing the economy than markets. Markets which now manage, quite successfully mind you, billions of individual transactions a day in which the two (or more) voluntary participants part perfectly satisfied at the conclusion. How would government do that better? How would it better allocate goods, money, raw materials, etc., than does the market? What signals would it use to satisfy changing demand and ensure the right goods are produced at the right time and sent to the right place for the right price and at a profit which keeps the whole system moving in a positive direction?
I’m asking because I’d love one of the 27% to drop in an enlighten us poor rubes who just can’t seem to wrap our heads around the idea they’re backing in a positive way. Then I’d ask them if they’d prefer Zimbabwe or North Korea to this poor benighted country and its ostensibly “free” markets. Because obviously they can’t be happy here.
Wow … a real head shaker.
I know it’s only a poll and I also understand in the big scheme of things it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but for the humor factor alone, it’s worth a post.
George W. Bush’s job approval rating as president has spiked to 47 percent, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
Of course, what’s obviously funny is that after the relentless attacks on Bush before and after the election by Obama he now leads the man by a point in job approval rating, at least temporarily. A little schadenfreude at least, no?
Of course the claim is that Bush’s problems have faded in memory and Obama’s are painfully evident and aggravated by the current situation surrounding him. Yeah, so. At one point it was Bush in that situation, but I don’t recall him trying to constantly shift blame on others. He didn’t talk about the horrible security situation he’d “inherited” from Clinton after 9/11. In fact, he rarely if ever mentioned Clinton, and if he did it was usually respectfully. Of course he was never accorded the same respect by Obama and the left.
So I can’t help but find this funny in a juvenile ‘thumb your nose at them’ kind of way as well. He and the left deserve it.
The lesson, however, is more profound. And while it may again change in Obama’s favor it is indeed one of those “teachable moments” he seems so fond of. Humility is a virtue, as is grace. They serve you well whenever you employ them. And they keep you from having to suffer those situations where you words come back to bite you on the rear end. Because by deploying them regularly, you never find yourself in those sorts of situations.
Unfortunately I doubt our current president will bother to consider any of that or learn anything from this quick snapshot of his standing. It’s just not in him to do so. But he could learn a lot about being a leader if he did – something for which he could use some lessons.
Bush’s rebound gives some credence to what he has long said — that history will eventually judge his presidency.
Indeed. But it also never hurts when your successor is a bumbling fool either.
Pretty interesting the way the GOP got its way on the Bush era tax cuts – at least for two more years. The minority party in both chambers of the lame duck Congress, other than demand that the Democrats give everyone a tax break, they didn’t have a whole bunch of leverage. Until they were able to successfully block the extension of unemployment insurance. The country was pretty divided on extending it beyond 99 weeks, but not so much that it probably wouldn’t care if that extension was okayed at some later date.
And thus was set up the perfect opportunity to trade that extension for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for everyone. So in sum, step one, block extension of unemployment insurance. Step two, use unemployment insurance extension as a bargaining chip. Step three, the GOP gets what it wants to begin with plus a lowering of payroll taxes as well. Meanwhile they “give away” what they’d have probably ended up voting for at some future point. And most likely Obama will get little credit for the trade.
Obama also conceded to the GOP’s estate tax and dividends and capital gains demands as well. And here’s the really fun part – by announcing his “framework”, Obama made it official – this is what I want, this is what I negotiated, now Congress do your thing:
"We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems," Obama told reporters. "I am confident ultimately that Congress is going to do the right thing."
Can’t play politics? This has been a lesson in politics.
That’s the DEMOCRATIC Congress he’s talking about, by the way. A Democratic majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate. The GOP is already on board with this, as announced by the President. So what’s left to do?
Pass the compromise in both the House and Senate, Democrats.
So, you say, what if the Dems bow up and refuse to pass it? Well, the unemployment extension, something the GOP is now for will not pass. Additionally, all of the Bush era tax cuts will expire which will mean tax increases across the board for all income levels. All. Everyone. Not just the “rich”, but the middle class as well.
And who will be the bad guys?
Well, not the GOP. From a purely political perspective, pretty impressive if I do say so myself.
You know, I got to thinking about the fact that many of those who will be deciding on legislation in the lame duck session of Congress were summarily kicked out of their seats by voters on Nov. 2nd. While it may not be “the law”, I suggest that the voters who ousted these Representatives and Senators do not consider the person currently occupying the seat in the lame duck Congress to represent them. After all, that’s why they voted in the majority to get rid of them.
So why are they then allowed to retain their seats until some future arbitrary date? How can they, as soon to be ex-members voted out by their constituents, represent anyone? Now I understand that some are retiring that that’s a bit different. But leaving defeated members in their seats is an invitation to mischief. For instance, Bob Bennett, a Republican Senator who was defeated in the primary is in the Senate today saying he’d probably vote for the DREAM act if it comes to the floor as a stand alone bill. It is precisely that sort of prior voting that has Bennett seeking employment on K Street.
Orin Hatch, on the other hand, has a date with the voters in 2012 and, after previously supporting it, is running from the DREAM act as hard as he can. He’s still accountable to them. Bennett is accountable to no one.
As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of lame duck Congressional sessions. And I think my reason is valid. Nothing says seating a new Congress has to be put off until the following year (and if there is anything, it can be changed). I think the decision of the voters should be final and quickly implemented.
It would save us all this drama and nonsense going on now. It would quickly allow the new majority to begin working on its priorities. And it would get the dead-wood ex-Congresspersons to hell out of DC or at least off to a different part of it.
A lame duck Congress just has too much of an ability to do precisely what this one is attempting – pass party priorities that are not popular with the voters but for those who’ve been voted out of office, carry no penalty for supporting them. It’s a can’t lose for ideologues such as Pelosi and Reid who can push their agenda and count on certain votes that perhaps weren’t necessarily votes they could count on before.
It makes no sense to me. But then there are a lot of things about government that make no sense.
Kill the lame duck.