Monday, December 17, 2018

T'was the Week Before Wrangle

With the next-to-last week of 2018's best lefty blog posts and news round-up, the Texas Progressive Alliance is hoping Mueller Time is a bigger celebration than was Fitzmas (some thirteen years ago).

A federal judge in Texas accepted the arguments of Attorney General Ken Paxton and struck down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in a ruling that will face years of appeals and create lots of uncertainty for millions of Americans over their healthcare insurance.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth sided with the argument put forward by a coalition of Republican-leaning states, led by Texas, that Obamacare could no longer stand now that there's no penalty for Americans who don't buy insurance.

The U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the law in 2012, by classifying the legislation as a tax. But since Congress removed the individual mandate in 2017, O’Connor ruled, there's no way the ACA can be allowed to stand.

"The Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause — meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional," O'Connor wrote. "The Individual Mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA."

Without the system being upheld by a wide pool of mandated participants, the ACA cannot stand, O'Connor ruled.

But at a time when we spend $3.5 trillion every year and are still uninsured, underinsured, being bankrupted by medical bills, co-payments, remainder bills that the insurance company did not pay, and even dying because we cannot afford our medications ... is the ACA really worth saving?

The smartest healthcare activists realize that this court decision hastens the day when America can have Medicare for All.  But does our new Democratic Congress have the political will to force the issue?  Can they even make it a campaign issue for 2020?  Time will tell, but there are certainly reasons to be pessimistic.

Off the Kuff posted some extremely long and boring spreadsheets full of statistics that nobody except a few political consultants in Harris County could possibly give a shit about.

SocraticGadfly took a skeptical look at the Betomania 2020 Kool-Aid, one of dozens of articles about the phenomenon that shows no sign of ebbing.  O'Rourke himself has marveled at his rock star hysteria, teasingly suggesting "it's a great question" whether he is ready for a run at the White House.  As he rose in the early polling, many Democratic activists began questioning his progressive bonafides.  (You will recall that this blogger answered that for himself last January.)  The NYT dug out -- and published in October -- the story behind his family's shady real estate deal in El Paso, and the Segundo Barrio residents who never forgot his role in it.)

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs exposed the oozing neoliberalism of Houston mayor Sylvester Turner in two posts, the first excoriating his interference in the developments surrounding HISD's legacy African American schools ...

... and the second, reminding Houstonians of the only consistent talents Turner has demonstrated over the last three years: his leadership void and political courage deficit.

Democratic infighting over whether to monetize voter data for 2020 spilled out into the open.

In more 2020 musings, John Coby at Bay Area Houston -- the mangeist, most flea-bitten blue dog in the Alliance -- declares who shouldn't be running for the Democratic nomination.  Tip: they're all well to the left of him.  David Collins had the counterpoint using Beto/Bob as the repetitive example, which centrists like Coby just can't understand.

Kyle Kulinski at Secular Talk deconstructed Julian Castro's announcement of presidential exploratory committee formation.

The Dallas Observer's Stephen Young snaps some of the corporate media (and associated sycophants like Frank Luntz) back to reality with their weird infatuation over Ted Cruz's beard.

Better Texas Blog updates the status of public school finance one month away from the next legislative session.  And Progrexas wishes to remind you that it can't be fixed until everybody agrees on the definition of the word "fix".

A preview of 2019 Austin and Washington attractions?

Texas Leftist notes the worries of the Texas Vietnamese community in the wake of the latest Trump administration deportation threats.

Texas Standard read a DHS report and noticed how a portion of SpaceX's south Texas launch facility will get cut by Trump's border wall.

A child speech pathologist who worked with elementary school students for 9 years in the Pflugerville Independent School District (which includes part of Austin) lost her job after she refused to sign an anti-BDS oath, reports Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.  A lawsuit on her behalf was filed in federal court, alleging a violation of her First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.

San Antonio had a week of swirling political winds; read more about them at the Rivard Report.

The critics of Texas Central, the bullet train between Dallas and Houston, want the Lege to administer more oversight of the project via limiting the use of eminent domain, writes Matt Zdun for the Texas Tribune.  (But in a Republican, pro-business, 'less government is best' environment, there is probably not much appetite for that.)

 (click to enlarge)

Emotions ran high at a public hearing on the coastal spine proposed along the Bolivar Peninsula, as residents and property owners decried the massive project.  It's intended to protect Houston and Galveston from future hurricanes and storm surges, but the concerns are that it will leave the sparsely-populated Galveston and Chambers County vacation and fishing communities surrendering their livelihoods.  Areas north and east of where the 'Ike Dike' would end would also be unprotected.

Texas Vox celebrated the closing of the filthy coal-fired Deely plant, on the southeast side of San Antonio and operated by CPS Energy.

Joe Nick Patoski at the Texas Observer asks if Texas' overcrowded and underfunded state parks are being loved to death.

Somervell County Salon followed up on an obscure comedian's strange take about Trump's sniffling being a symptom of his crushed-Adderall snorting habit.

Elise Hu reported on brain-machine interfaces at the University of Houston.

The Bloggess presents the Ninth Annual James Garfield Christmas Miracle.

Swamplot has the perfect gift for the Astrodome-phile in your life.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub re-visits Banksy's seminal modern Nativity portrait, and alludes to Trump's border wall.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly ponders the demise of the breastaurant.

And Harry Hamid's story moved ahead to 3 a.m.

No comments: