A Republican federal judge in Virginia who was the GOPs best hope for overturning the Affordable Care Act gave Republican state attorneys general a partial victory (12/13) when he ruled that the individual mandate contained in the insurance reform law passed by Congress this year is unconstitutional. But Judge Henry E. Hudson, who was appointed by President G.W. Bush and has financial ties to insurance reform opponents, also ruled that mandate section could simply be cut from the law, which would be a defeat for insurance companies who lobbied aggressively for the increase in tax-enforced business. Virginia Atty Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) argued that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped, but Hudson noted that invalidation of the entire bill is difficult to apply in this case given the haste with which the final version of the 2,700 page bill was rushed to the floor for a Christmas Eve vote.
It would be virtually impossible within the present record to determine whether Congress would have passed this bill, encompassing a wide variety of topics related and unrelated to heath care, without Section 1501 [the individual mandate], Hudson ruled. Therefore, Hudson wrote that the court would sever with circumspection the problematic portions while leaving the remainder intact.
Two other judges, Norman Moon of Virginia, and George Steeh of Michigan, both Clinton appointees, have upheld the entire bill, and 11 other lawsuits challenging the insurance reform law have been dismissed, so the matter almost certainly will be resolved in the Supreme Court.
John Cook of Gawker.com noted that Judge Hudson owns part of a GOP political consulting firm that worked against the insurance reform bill. Campaign Solutions Inc. also worked for Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Michele Bachman (R-Minn.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli. Since 2003, according to disclosures, Hudson received between $32,000 and $108,000 in dividends from shares in the firm.
The insurance mandate, which is scheduled to be implemented in 2014, was designed to keep costs down overall by forcing healthy people to offset the costs of providing coverage for sick people. A similar mandate is part of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romneys universal health plan which Romney (R) as recently as last March stressed is a conservative plan because it forces people to take personal responsibility.
Jonathan Gruber of the Center for American Progress noted in August that the individual mandate was designed to keep healthy people from waiting until they get sick to buy insurance. He estimated that doing away with the mandate would increase the average premium by 27% in 2019.
But Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, wrote at HuffingtonPost.com (12/13) that progressives and the White House should cheer Hudsons ruling. The ruling makes clear that the popular and progressive parts of health-care reform could go forward without the big sop to health insurance companies mandatory purchases without regulated premiums.
The progressive parts, including subsidies to buy insurance for the poor and rules to make the marketplace fairer, enjoy 60% to 70% public support. Mandated purchases, however, is opposed by 70%. Laws tend to be repealed based on their most objectionable provisions, he wrote.
Fear of gaming by those who wont buy insurance until they are sick can be alleviated by creating greater carrots for buying coverage and less severe deterrents for failing to, such as a limited national open-enrollment period. But premium regulation, which is absent from the federal law, is the key, he wrote.
Ezra Klein of WashingtonPost.com noted that if the Republicans get the individual mandate ruled unconstitutional, the alternative is Medicare expansion or some other public option.
Matt Miller in September wrote that Republicans should be careful what you wish for. By fighting the mandate needed to make private insurance solutions work, and doing nothing to ease the health cost burden on everyday Americans, youll hasten the day when the public throws up its hands and says, Just give us single-payer and price controls. Dont think the anti-government wave this fall wont reverse itself on health care if the most private sector-oriented health care system on earth keeps delivering the worlds costliest, most inefficient care.
Klein concluded: Hudson will not have the last word on this. Anthony Kennedy will. The disagreements between the various courts virtually ensure that the Supreme Court will eventually take up the case. But right now, the range of opinions stretch from the law is fine to the individual mandate is not fine, but the rest of the law is. That could create problems for the legislation if the mandate is repealed and Republicans block any attempts at a fix, but its a far cry from a world in which the Supreme Court strikes down the whole of the health-care law.
Steve Benen of WashingtonMonthly.com also noted that while Republicans cheered Hudsons ruling, the individual mandate was originally their idea.
Especially jarring was the reaction of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Today is a great day for liberty, Hatch said. Congress must obey the Constitution rather than make it up as we go along. Liberty requires limits on government, and today those limits have been upheld.
Benen noted, I hope its not rude to point out that Orrin Hatch literally co-sponsored a health care bill with an individual mandate.
The mandate that Republicans currently hate was championed by the Heritage Foundation. It was part of Bob Doles 1996 presidential campaign platform. Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush kept it going in the 1980s.
For years, it was touted by the likes of John McCain, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Judd Gregg, and many others all notable GOP officials.
My personal favorite is Grassley, who proclaimed on Fox News last year, during the fight over Obamas plan, I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate. (A year later, Grassley signed onto a legal brief insisting that the mandate is unconstitutional.)
This is probably obvious, but in case there are any doubts on this, Republicans are cheering todays ruling, but its not because they have a problem with the mandate. Its not even because they have a substantive problem with the Affordable Care Act itself.
This is about cheap politics. Republican pollsters no doubt told GOP officials that the mandate is a potential vulnerability to the signature Democratic polity priority, so thats where the party is focusing its attention, hoping that the public simply doesnt pay attention to the fact that theyre attacking their own idea.
In other action, The Texas Legislature is coming to town in January for its biennial circus, and one of its biggest clowns, state Rep. Leo Berman (R), has filed a bill to make it a felony for any federal official to enforce the Affordable Care Act.
EPIC TAX CUT BERNIEBUSTER. On CSPAN, six hours after first taking the podium to filibuster against the tax cut deal at around 10:25 Friday morning (10/10), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was still talking. The CSPAN subtitle is US Senate: Tax Cuts & Unemployment Benefits, but for the last few minutes he has been blasting trade polices that disadvantage American workers.
But thats fine. His epic rant perhaps one of the most extraordinary critiques of how the American economy has been managed over the last several decades delivered in living memory is an endless sequence of connecting the dots from one outrage to another. Even as I wrote this paragraph, he segued effortlessly from trade policy to Wall Street.
But it is not just a disastrous trade policy that has brought us where we are today. The immediate cause of this crisis, and it gets me just sick talking about it ... is what the crooks on Wall Street have done to the American people.
Sanders then delivered a capsule history of deregulation, blasted Alan Greenspan, noted that in the late 90s he had predicted everything that ultimately happened, but failed to rally legislative support to stop the runaway train and the rest is, unfortunately, history.
From there, a class warfare sideswipe: Understand, that in this country when you are a CEO on Wall Street you can do pretty much anything you want and get away it.
And what they did to the American people is so horrible.
On to the bailout! His scorn is so caustic it could disintegrate an aircraft carrier: We bailed these guys out because they were too big to fail, and now three of the four largest banks are now even larger.
As Sanders great oration entered its seventh hour, it was, by its very nature, impossible to summarize. It was a ramble, a rant, a critique, a cry of rage, a wail of despair, and a call to action. And it was amazing. Ive heard stories of filibusters in which senators read phone books. And Ive watched with disgust as for years Republicans have merely threatened to filibuster, without ever actually being forced to exercise their vocal cords. But here was Bernie Sanders, seven hours in, calling for the biggest banks to be broken up, voice still hale and hearty, and looking like he could easily go another seven hours. [Editors Note: Sanders actually went another hour and a half, for 8-1/2 hours total. See the speech, as well as a transcript and abridged versions, via sanders.senate.gov.]
Give credit to the citizens of Vermont, who know how to elect someone not afraid of speaking truth to power. (Andrew Leonard, Salon.com)
STATES SLASH MEDICAID SERVICES. State lawmakers have taken harsh actions to rein in the costs of providing health care. In some cases they are denying potentially life-saving treatments because they cost too much. Medicaid costs are shared by federal and state governments and not only cover single mothers and their children, but also the disabled and elderly who otherwise are unable to afford long-term nursing care. The Associated Presss Carla K. Johnson noted (12/13) that the elderly and disabled cost nearly 70 cents of every Medicaid dollar. Last years economic stimulus package increased the federal share of Medicaid to 60%-70%, but that money runs out in June due to Republican opposition and the federal government will go back to paying half the costs.
In Arizona, Johnson noted, lawmakers stopped paying for some kinds of transplants, including livers for people with hepatitis C. When the cuts took effect (10/1), Medicaid patient Francisco Felix, who needs a liver, suddenly had to raise $500,000 to get a transplant. When a friends wife died in November, and her liver became available, Felix was prepped for surgery in hopes financial donations would come in. When the money didnt materialize, the liver went to someone who could pay for it, and Felix was sent home.
In California, Medicaid no longer pays for many adult dental services. But it still pays for tooth-pulling. The unintended consequence is that Medicaid patients tell dentists to pull teeth that could be saved. Dr. Nagaraj Murthy, who practices in Compton, Calif., recently pulled an elderly womans last tooth, but Medicaid no longer pays for dentures, so she was sent home with no teeth.
In Illinois, where 30% of the states spending goes ot Medicaid, the state provides prescription drug coverage but late payments are the rule. Tom Miller closed his pharmacy in rural southern Illinois this summer, largely because the state was chronically late making Medicaid payments to him and he couldnt pay his suppliers. Five workers lost their jobs when his business closed.
CLEAR COURT NOMINEE BACKLOG. Steve Benen noted at WashingtonMonthly.com (12/13) that going into the lame duck session there were 38 pending judicial nominees who have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but were being blocked from confirmation.
Given that the Democratic majority in the Senate wont be able to legislate much with a Republican-led House anyway, it would make a lot of sense if next years Senate makes judicial confirmations a very high priority.
To be sure, Senate Republicans will do what theyve been doing slowing everything down, blocking as many nominees as they can. But dont forget, the Senate will have nothing else to do for the better part of two years. Over the last two years, Reid and the Democratic leadership had a lengthy to-do list, and couldnt eat up the calendar on nominees. GOP obstructionism meant it took three days for the Senate to consider one nominee, during which time the chamber could do nothing else, so more often than not, Reid just didnt bother.
But that wont be much of a hindrance in 2011 and 2012, when the entire lawmaking process goes from difficult to impossible. Why not use that time to start dealing with the vacancy crisis on the federal courts?
GOP BLOCKS TAX REPORT REPEAL. Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to fix the so-called 1099 provision in the insurance reform law that requires businesses to report to the IRS any vendor purchases totaling more than $600, Politico.com reported (12/13). Congressional aides from both parties told Politico.com that Republicans rebuffed Democratic efforts to attach the Form 1099 reporting repeal to the tax cut deal. Republicans hope that small businesses will blame Democrats when the reporting requirement, which would generate $19 bln, takes effect.
REPUBS TO 9/11 RESCUERS: DROP DEAD. Republicans who have never shirked from using the 9/11 attacks for their own partisan gain stood fast (12/9) to block a bill that actually would provide health benefits for 9/11 rescue workers who were sickened by their exposure to toxic smoke and debris in the performance of their duties. Dems had a 58-41 majority to pass the bill but could not muster the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster. (A few hours later, the supposedly pro-military Republicans also blocked the Defense Authorization Act. On both bills, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ended up voting with the Republicans for procedural reasons, in case the bills, which have passed the House, needed to be brought up later.)
FOX NEWS WONT BLAME REPUBS. The three network newscasts ignored the news that Republicans blocked health benefits for 9/11 rescue workers, Eric Bohlert reported at MediaMatters.org (10/11). On Fox & Friends (12/13), Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. launched into a passionate attack on Congress and the US Senate for killing the health benefits. Last week, Congress told them they could drop dead, Johnson said. Shame, embarrassment, outrage, anger all the proper reactions to the conduct of our senators who have turned their back on American heroes, he said. But Leslie Savan noted at TheNation.com (12/13) that Johnson never mentioned the fact it was Republicans who blocked the bill.
Faux newsman Jon Stewart picked up that blame detail in his report on Comedy Centrals Daily Show (12/13). In a devastating segment, Stewart noted that the Senate GOP, in an act of cowardice, was willing to unanimously block consideration of the bill, but not one was willing to speak on the subject: They wont be so cowardly as to not vote without justifying their actions just cowardly enough not to do it on camera.
Stewart concluded: So, guess what Republicans? Heres the deal: the whole were-the-only-party-that-understands-9/11-and-its-repercussions monopoly ends now ... No more coopting 9/11 imagery to get yourselves elected. No more using 9/11 as the date when magically all your policies became right. No more using 9/11 to micro manage Manhattans zoning decisions. No using 9/11 as an excuse for why your Bush tax cuts never stimulated the economy in the first place. Or 9/11 as an excuse to do what you were going to be doing anyway. (Steve Benen, WashingtonMonthly.com, 12/14)
HOLBROOKES LAST WORDS: STOP WAR. Longtime US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who wrote part of the Pentagon Papers, was the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan and served as President Obamas special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, died (12/13) in Washington of complications from surgery to repair a torn aorta. He was 69. As Holbrooke was sedated for surgery (12/10), his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon, family members said: Youve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.
PROGRESSIVE POPULIST RADIO. TPP Editor Jim Cullen and reader Vicki Nikolaidis have started a weekly radio show on BlogTalkRadio.com. Nikolaidis, an Iowa native now living in Crete, started Talking Progressive Politics Sundays at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT at (blogtalkradio.com/talkingprogressivepolitics). Podcasts of past programs are available at that address.
NEW HOUSE MOST CONSERVATIVE EVER? Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University, noted at Salon.com (12/13) that Republicans 242 seats in the new House will be their largest majority since the 80th Congress (1947-49), which also had 242 Republicans. But this Congress will much more conservative than that House, when there was still a sizable moderate GOP caucus, or the Newt Gingrich-led House of 1995-97.
Whereas moderate Republicans held the balance of power in the Gingrich House, Abramowitz wrote, they will have almost no influence in the 112th House. As a result, pressure on the House leadership to pursue a hard-line conservative agenda is likely to be much stronger in the new House than it was in the Gingrich House and opportunities to reach bipartisan agreements with the president are likely to be much more limited if not nonexistent. Abramowitz estimates that there are three moderate Republicans left in the House, which he did not name; possibly they prefer to remain anonymous.
WTO OKS TARIFFS ON CHINESE TIRES. The World Trade Organization ruled that the US was within its rights to raise import taxes on Chinese tires, dismissing Chinas complaint that the tariffs breached trade rules, the Associated Press reported (12/13). The dispute focused on a three-year tariff approved in September 2009 by President Barack Obama. US imports of low-grade Chinese tires rose threefold to about 46 mln tires between 2004 and 2008. The United Steelworkers pushed for the tariffs, saying the surge of imports from China cost 5,000 US tire worker jobs since 2004.
The House passed legislation in September that would give the government more powers to issue tariffs against products from China and other countries that manipulate their currencies to gain trade advantages. Republicans had blocked the measure in the Senate, but Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) planned to attach the House bill as an amendment to the tax deal being debated in the Senate.
UNIONS SCORE KOREA TRADE PACT. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said (12/9) the proposed US-Korea trade deal does not live up to the labor movements call for a more coordinated and coherent national economic strategy. We believe we must move towards a more democratic, sustainable and fair global economy with broadly shared prosperity for working people around the world. Reaching that goal will require deep-seated reforms in current trade policy, as well as in our own domestic labor laws and other policies, Trumka said.
The Obama adminstration addressed concerns of US autoworkers and auto companies on market access, safeguard provisions and non-tariff barriers, he said. But despite the progress made in improving the labor chapter in 2007, it is clear that in both the United States and South Korea, workers continue to face repeated challenges to their exercise of fundamental human rights on the job especially freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. ... So long as these agreements fall short of protecting the broad interests of American workers and their counterparts around the world in these uncertain economic times, we will oppose them. (See blog.aflcio.org
NEW BANKING CHAIR: WERE HERE TO SERVE BANKS. Teabaggers can be proud of their incoming chairman of the House Banking Committee, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who recently told the Birmingham News, In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks. He is expected to seek repeal of much of the financial reform law passed this past year, including creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, derivatives regulation and rules meant to prevent banks from making risky trades with federally insured dollars.
TAX DEAL IS POPULAR. The public approves of Obamas tax deal, except for the payroll tax holiday that will cut worker contributions to Social Security by 2 percentage points. The ABC News/Washington Post Poll found that 72% support extending unemployment benefits, 54% support extending tax cuts for all and 52% support increasing the exemption on the estate tax to $5 million, but only 39% support cutting Social Security payroll taxes. (The $120 bln in lost revenues will be reimbursed from the general fund, at least for next year, but Social Security supporters are wary of any attempts to mess with the retirement fund.)
NEW GOVS DRIVE AWAY RAIL JOBS. As part of the economic stimulus, the federal government was prepared to spend $1.2 mln on high-speed-rail lines in Wisconsin and Ohio. But Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker and Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich, both Republicans, campaigned on their pledges to stop passenger rail projects in their states. US Transportation Secy. Ray LaHood complied with their wishes (12/9), rescinding the grants.
Outgoing Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who urged his successor to reconsider and accept the $400 mln for the train connecting Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, called Kasichs refusal one of the saddest days during my four years as governor. The US Commerce Department predicted the project would have created 255 construction jobs over a two-year period and 8,000 indirect and spin-off jobs.
When Wisconsin returned the $810 million for the Madison to Milwaukee line, Talgo Inc., which is hiring 125 people to manufacture trains in Milwaukee for an existing Milwaukee-Chicago line and a line in Oregon, announced it would shut down those operations when those jobs are completed in 2012, leaving only a maintenance base, the Milwaukee *Journal Sentinel* reported (12/10).
Wisconsin officials had projected that rail-related employment would have peaked at 4,732 jobs in 2012.
The good news is that the money will be redirected to rail projects in 13 other states that dont mind the taint of federal aid.
COALITION PUSHES FILIBUSTER REFORM. A coalition of progressive organizations announced an effort to Fix the Senate now to build support for rules reform. Sam Stein reported at HuffingtonPost.com (12/13) that includes eight points:
1. On the first legislative day of a new Congress, the Senate may, by majority vote, end the filibuster on a rules change and adopt new rules.
2. There should only be one opportunity to filibuster any given measure or nomination, so motions to proceed and motions to refer to conference should not be subject to filibuster.
3. Secret holds should be eliminated.
4. The amount of delay time after cloture is invoked on a bill should be reduced.
5. There should be no post-cloture debate on nominations.
6. Instead of requiring that those seeking to break a filibuster muster a specified number of votes, the burden should be shifted to require those filibustering to produce a specified number of votes to continue the filibuster.
7. Those waging a filibuster should be required to continuously hold the floor and debate.
8. Once all Senators have had a reasonable opportunity to express their views, every measure or nomination should be brought to a yes or no vote in a timely manner.
The coalition includes the government transparency group Common Cause, the Communications Workers of America and the environmental-advocacy Sierra Club.
BANKS GAVE HEAVILY TO SCOTT BROWN DURING FINANCIAL REFORM. When Sen. Scott Brown (R) took office last January, he promised there would be no more closed-door meetings or back-room deals. However, contributions to Brown from the financial industry spiked sharply during a critical three-week period last summer as Brown was using his leverage to win key concessions sought by Wall Street, the Boston Globe reported. From mid-June until July 4, Brown took $140,000 form banks and investment firms and their executives. That is 400% more than the $28,000 received on average by all Republican senators during the same three weeks. As the money poured in, Brown was working to scuttle $19 bln in fees on the financial industry that would have paid for part of the regulatory overhaul. He also pushed to water down a key reform the Volcker rule that was aimed at preventing banks from making risky trades with dollars backed by the government. Both of Browns demands were ultimately accepted by Democrats, who needed Browns vote to overcome the Republican filibuster of the reforms (ThinkProgress.org, 12/12).
NOT MUCH BLUFF IN OBAMA. Barack Obama has rated his poker skills as pretty good, but the concessions he has made to Republicans in his first two years as president has some people wondering what kind of poker player he really was. Randall Lane talked with some of Obamas old poker buddies, and reported in DailyBeast.com (12/10) that Obama was a very cautious player, Illinois state Sen. Terry Link (D) recalled. Between 1997 and 2004 Link hosted a weekly game with Obama and other bipartisan lawmakers and a modest stake in Springfield. Very cautious in the sense that he didnt just throw his money away. He played the odds. He didnt play for the inside straight, Link said.
Barack was a very good, very conservative poker player, adds Larry Walsh (D), now the executive of Will County, outside Chicago. He held his cards close to his vest. Very rarely did you find Barack Obama being caught by surprise. Walsh added, He wasnt a bluffer. When Barack was betting, you could pretty much know that he had a hand.
Link remembers Obama bluffing, but not for a longshot.
To Phil Hellmuth, who has won 11 World Series of Poker titles, this provides Obama one last, best opportunity. Helmuth described a strategy he uses where he lets his opponent win a few undeserving rounds, similar to a rope-a-dope in boxing. You want your opponents to underestimate you. The power players who play for every pot and never blink, all of sudden find themselves, after one big hand, in the taxi home, broke, trying to figure out what happened.
TEABAGGERS IN CONGRESS HIRE D.C. LOBBYISTS. At least 13 new Republican members of Congress, many of whom channeled anger against Beltway insiders and Washington corruption, have hired corporate lobbyists to manage their offices, despite their campaign rhetoric, ThinkProgress.org reported (12/9).
Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides, the Washington Post noted (12/8). Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.
For example, Ron Johnson accused incumbent Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) of being on the side of special interests and lobbyists. But after defeating Feingold, Johnson turned to K Street for help, hiring homeland security lobbyist Donald H. Kent Jr. as his chief of staff, the Post reported.
In addition, many newly elected House Republicans have begun holding big-dollar fundraisers in Washington to pay off their debts and start preparing for 2012, the Post reported.
Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced that energy lobbyist Spencer Stokes will be his chief of staff. Tea party favorite Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has hired anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford as his top senatorial aide.
In the House, Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) has named food industry lobbyist John W. Billings as his chief of staff. Billings was a senior aide to Bass during an earlier stint on Capitol Hill.
Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) has hired Rod Grams, former US senator and former lobbyist, as his interim chief of staff. Gramss lobbying clients from 2002 to 2006 included 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, records show.
Other incoming GOP lawmakers who have recruited staff from K Street include Robert Dold (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.). John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association, one of Washingtons most powerful lobbying groups, has signed on as chief of staff for Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (Idaho).
Voters in Indiana chose a former lobbyist, Dan Coats, to represent them for a second time in the Senate. But Coats, also a former US ambassador to Germany, hired a non-lobbyist as his chief of staff.
ThinkProgress.org noted that the new Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), is leaning towards hiring a defense industry lobbyist as the committee chief of staff.
WIKILEAKS WORSE THAN KLAN? In all the controversy over MasterCard and Visa cutting off payments to WikiLeaks, Charles Arthur, technology editor at the London Guardian, noted (12/7) that you can still use those credit cards to donate to the Knights Party, formerly Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
NRA WANTS TEENS PACKING HEAT. The National Rifle Association has filed lawsuits in federal court in Lubbock, Texas, seeking to expand gun rights for teenagers. One lawsuit would strike down a federal law barring licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to persons under 21 years of age. The other suit challenges a Texas state law generally barring persons under 21 from carrying concealed weapons. In these cases, the NRA seeks to establish a constitutional right of persons between the ages of 18 and 20 to buy handguns and to carry them concealed in public places, Denis Henigan noted at BradyCampaign.org (11/18).
Henigan, vice president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, added (12/7) that the gun lobbys poster boy for teens packing heat is 18-year-old James DCruz, whose Facebook page included a photo of the plaintiff brandishing what appears to be a submachine gun and the following quotes:
In this field of hundreds begging for their lives, we shall spare none.
After hunting men, nothing can compare.
I will stare into your eyes as I pull the trigger and laugh as you hit the ground with your last, pathetic breath.
A killer in me is a killer in you.
Im feeling like a monster.
You wanted a war, you got one, now quit whining and leave before I destroy you further.
I just want to leave the world colder.
Henigan noted that the postings and the image disappeared from public view shortly after the Brady Center called attention to them.
From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2011
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