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Monday :: February 16, 2015

Would a public option have eliminated incentive for King v. Burwell?

There is no public option in the Affordable Care Act. On its own merits, as Wendell Potter explains, that's a shame. But there is another reason why no public option in ACA is a bad thing - if ACA included a public option, the challenge to tax credits and subsidies on the exchange, now before the the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, would never have existed.

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Sunday :: February 15, 2015

Bali Nine Duo To Be Moved to Death Island

Indonesia has approved the transfer of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Bali Nine duo scheduled for execution this month, to Nusakambangan, a prison island off central Java, where they will be taken to Batu Prison, known as “Indonesia’s Alcatraz” and then, within days, to a killing field, tied to a wooden cross and killed by a firing squad of police from Indonesia's BRIMOB. They will be shot through the heart (and if they don't die quickly, shot again behind the ear.)[More...]

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Saturday :: February 14, 2015

King v Burwell: Understanding Chevron Deference

In King v Burwell, the Fourth Circuit rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act that argued that the law does not permit subsidies and tax credits on the federal exchange. It did so by invoking what is known as Chevron deference, after the 1984 Supreme Court case of the same name. Here is what the Fourth Circuit opined on that point:

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Valentine's Day Open Thread

From our heart to yours, Happy Valentine's Day.

If you have a romantic event planned, feel free to share. If not, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: February 13, 2015

A Challenge To Clinton on Foreign Policy

For all the noise about challenging Hillary Clinton as a "corporatist Wall Street lover" (no, I don't agree with that assessment, but we can have that discussion another time), in the context of the 2016 Dem nomination process, I am hoping for more "noise" challenging Clinton on her foreign policy views. I wrote about this last August in a piece I titled Obama is right, Clinton wrong, on foreign policy. The crux of my thesis:

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Thursday :: February 12, 2015

ISIS Gets Close to Al Asad Airbase and U.S. Marines

Today ISIS took the town of al Baghdadi in Anbar today, which is just a few miles from the Al Asad air base where more than 300 marines and Danish military are staying as part of a six week training course for the Iraqi forces.

There are media reports ISIS is attacking al Asad Air base. Is the air base in danger? First, the base is very large -- it is the size of Boulder, Colorado. It's hard to see how the marines would be "trapped" as some reports claim. Second, the base has been reporting ISIS has been striking it for weeks, but the U.S. says their attacks are too limited and haphazard to cause any real damage.

ISIS is definitely close to the base as the military today said it bombed an ISIS mortar position "near the Al Asad air base." [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread

Busy day. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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ISIS Releases Issue 7 of Dabiq Magazine

ISIS has released Issue 7 of Dabiq, its English magazine. You can read it here.

It's 83 pages long, discusses ISIS' latest atrocities (the killing of the Japanese hostages and Jordanian pilot) and profiles Kosher Market killer Amedy Coulibaly. It ends with John Cantlie, who writes:

Despite being a prisoner, I’ve been shown respect and kindness, which I haven’t seen from my own government. Even if I had the choice, could I honestly return to and live in a country that disowned the other Britons, all their families, and myself so contemptuously?

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Wednesday :: February 11, 2015

Obama Submits Draft of AUMF Against ISIS

Here is Obama's draft of the Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIS. Here is the statement he released about it.

It does not authorize combat troops on the ground on an "enduring" basis:

[c] LIMITATIONS.— The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.

[More...]

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Tuesday :: February 10, 2015

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show this year. He's been there 16 years.

NBC has announced Brian Williams will be suspended for 6 months without pay.

What will it take to get the media to stop inserting auto-play videos in news articles, forcing us to watch and listen to their irrelevant and unappealing news announcers? We do know how to read. [More...]

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R.I.P. Hostage Kayla Mueller

Kayla Mueller's parents and the White House have confirmed that the ISIS hostage and aid worker is dead. ISIS claimed a few days ago she died in a Jordanian air strike.

ISIS privately sent the confirmation to her parents, but the details have not been disclosed as yet.

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Monday :: February 09, 2015

Celebrity Apprentice: Geraldo vs. Leeza

When Celebrity Apprentice began this season, I wanted Geraldo and Leeza to be the final two. It just happened. This is the first semi-reality show I've watched where I know both finalists. I like them both so much, I don't know who to root for. What a great match-up. They have very different strengths and personalities, but they are both so talented.

Either one could win, but I think Leeza may have an edge, because the task is making a commercial and she's very creative and organized (as well as smart.) Presentation of the finished commerical will also count, and she's such a smooth public speaker. Geraldo is smart as a whip and also creative. He's got terrific instincts, but he's also more impulsive.

While they need to raise money (which Geraldo is more successful at) Trump went out of his way to say that wouldn't be a deciding factor. I'm actually nervous watching. Good luck to both of them.

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New John Cantlie Video: Inside Halab

John Cantlie is back with a new video, which he says is "the last of this series." You can watch it here. I don't think it means he will be killed, just that future videos will be different. ISIS would be silly to kill him, he's the best public relations spokesman they have. Then again, ISIS likes to do things for shock value, and it would indeed be a shock to learn this personable Brit was killed, despite all he has done promoting the Islamic State. [More...]

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Sunday :: February 08, 2015

ISIS and Knife Size

A lot has been written about beheadings, and how it it must hurt the victim more and take a lot longer with a small knife like the one Jihadi John uses.

ISIS released some new beheading videos today (of soldiers and "magicians".) Check out the size of this sword. As bulky as the guy is who's wielding it, it looks almost as heavy as he is.

[More...]

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Sunday Night Open Thread: Grammys and More

The Grammys are on tonight. Bob Dylan got the MusiCares Person of the Year award. The LA Times has lots of coverage of everything Grammy releated.

Update: I didn't even recognize the opening act (ACDC) until they played Highway to Hell. The audience was singing along like it was the song of the century. Ariana Grande: I don't think I've ever heard her sing before. Her song choice almost put me to sleep. Very boring.

I was about to turn off the show when Tom Jones and whoever started singing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" as a tribute to the married couple who wrote it who were in the audience. I never heard of them. But I'm glad I didn't stop watching, they sang it really well, and it can't be easy to make that song sound fresh. But the woman's outfit was awful. Big girl underpants covered from neck to floor by some sheer thing with huge black appliques. It wouldn't look good on anyone, but it really looked terrible on her. [More....]

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