The GOP gang of Supremes go after Obamacare

Look out, the Supreme Court’s black-robed gang of far-right ideologues are rampaging again! The Supreme clan is firing potshots at Obamacare – and their political recklessness endangers justice, the Court’s own integrity, and the health of millions of innocent bystanders.
In an attempt to override the law, these so-called “justices” have jumped on a wagonload of legalistic BS named King v. Burwell. But this case is a very rickety legal vehicle. It sprang from a frivolous lawsuit concocted in 2010 by a front group funded by such self-serving oligarchs as the Koch brothers, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma. The chairman of the front group bluntly and rather crudely described the purpose of the lawsuit as a raw political assault on Obamacare: “This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene,” he howled. “I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart… whether we strangle it.”
So much for the intellectual depth of the King case, which was fabricated on a nitpicking interpretation of only four words in the 906-page health care law. The claim is that the subsidy provided by Obamacare to make its coverage affordable to all is an illegal, backdoor bribe to “force” every state to allow their people access to a federal benefit they otherwise couldn’t afford.
That’s right-wing tommyrot, which was rejected by both the district and appeals courts, and even corporate interests have dubbed the claim “absurd.” Nonetheless, the gang of Supremes grabbed the case as a chance to wreak their own brand of ideological havoc on a law they personally dislike.
By taking this case, these Republican judges have openly become partisans, thrusting the Supreme Court itself into the forefront of the GOP’s war against Obamacare – and against Obama himself.

“America’s Largest Health Care Company Tells Supreme Court that Anti-Obamacare Argument is “Absurd,”, February 9, 2015.

“Why Is Big Pharma Financing s Conservative Group Trying to Destroy Obamacare?”, February 18, 2015.

GOP lets corporate lobbyists take over Congress

Being a congress critter is not as cushy a job as many assume. After all, they have to write legislation, organize hearings, write speeches, round-up votes, and do all sorts of other legislative-y things to pass laws.
Oh, wait… my mistake. Members now have staffs to do all that, including telling the esteemed legislators how to vote. Few people are aware that congressional staffs have mushroomed and gained far-reaching control over legislation. While the mass media has ignored this power shift, which further removes the people from the making of our laws, corporate lobbyists have long understood it and assiduously wooed staff members with flattery and gifts. But then it dawned on lobbyists that instead of wooing staff – they should simply become the staff. So, when Republicans took charge of the Senate in January, K Street moved right into the Capitol Hill offices of the new corporate-hugging majority.
What a sight to see Tom Chapman, top lobbyist for US Airways, now sitting atop the legal staff of the Senate Aviation panel that oversees – guess who? – US Air. And there’s Joel Leftwich, senior lobbyist for Pepsico, where he has pushed furiously to water down the Ag Department’s nutrition standards for school lunches. Now he can do much more for the peddler of Pepsi-Cola and Cheetos, for he’s the new staff director for the Senate Ag Committee, which will re-write the school lunch funding law this year. What a coincidence! How about mega-lobbyist Mark Isakowitz, whose specialty is punching loopholes in the Wall Street reform law. As new chief of staff for Sen. Rob Portman, Mark is now punching from the inside, and he’s already slipped a special regulatory exemption into law on behalf of big derivative traders like GE and the Koch brothers.
If you voted Republican last fall, is this the change you wanted?

“With These Hires, Congress Becomes Even More Like a Corporation,”, February 11, 2015.

The isolated splendor of the superrich

Rich people tend to live behind high walls with guarded gates. Then there are the über-rich. They don’t need walls and gates, for they isolate themselves from us riff-raff the natural way – by buying their very own private islands.
But holding the masses at bay is not the real reason that the swells lay out up to $30 million for these watery enclaves. Rather, says one luxury real estate expert, “It’s the ultimate ‘I’ve arrived’ statement.” Yes, but I would add that it’s also a way for an overachieving super-richie to shout to other richies: “See, mine’s bigger than yours!”
These days, there’s been a surge in sales of private islands, thanks to the convergence of two economic forces. First came rising inequality, with the privileged few at the top taking ever more of the world’s wealth. Second, according to a luxury property firm with the perfect name of Candy & Candy, prices for quality islands fell during the global financial collapse. Thus a $50-million, 43-acre island in the Lesser Antilles – with a plantation house, two cottages, a protected bay for your yacht, and a landing pad for your helicopter – can now be had for only half that.
Before you grab your checkbook to purchase such a bargain, however, note that the price tag is hardly the total tab – annual upkeep on your paradise can easily run $300,000. All that for a getaway you might only get away to for a few weeks a year. Yet, with the income gap continuing to widen into a chasm, the number of those with the money to splurge on such ego-boosting baubles is expected to grow from 200,000 to about 250,000 in the next two years.
Instead of frittering away so much on so few, what say we find one isolated tropical island, build a big fence around it, and make all of those narcissistic egos live there in isolated splendor with each other?

“The Draw of a Spit of Land Surrounded by Blue,” The New York Times, February 10, 2015.