Tag: force

Communities can force government action to stop out-of-control wildfires

Every year, more of America’s forests burn. For months now, Americans throughout entire time zones have been inundated with ash and smoke from our woodlands, neighbors’ homes and ecosystems that will take years to recover.

Yet despite this predictable yearly carnage, the solutions our government can and should immediately take are lost among generalizations and talking points. Public officials on both sides of the aisle have lobbed excuses at each other over the “true” cause of these wildfires: “It’s bad forest management!” “No, it’s climate change!”

They are both right and they are both wrong.

Starting in the early 1900s, decades of flawed forest management led to the dangerous over-accumulation of forest fuel (dense forest brush and small trees). Then, in the past few decades, longer and more severe droughts made dangerously fire-prone forests literal tinder boxes where fires burned hotter, moved faster, grew bigger and posed ever-greater risks to forests, homes and lives. Our forests are burning uncontrollably today because of decades of questionable management and changing environmental conditions.

But it doesn’t matter whether it is 30 percent of one cause and 70 percent of the other, or a 50/50 mix of both. Because whatever has led to these conditions, our federal officials are 100 percent responsible for taking every reasonable step available to dramatically reduce fuel loads in our forests and making the land safe for residents, homeowners and wildlife.

This is because federally owned forests dominate our fire-prone landscapes, and Congress bears the largest share of the responsibility to make them safer. But federal legislators have handcuffed forest management staff with red tape and competing (often conflicting) priorities, all the while failing to fund the top priority, which should always be community safety. This has to stop, and Congress has the responsibility to make it so by reforming federal forest management policies to prioritize fuel reduction and make forests healthier.

Prioritizing fuel reduction means exempting fuel removal from the thicket of bureaucracy that impedes it. Things such as lengthy environmental reviews, multiple layers of planning documents, vetoes on fuel reduction by other agencies, ever-looming citizen lawsuits, and inadequate funding for proper forest management all have made the forests more dangerous and less healthy. Cutting and reforming these debilitating policies, and even removing forest fuel reduction from Endangered Species Act regulation (there are few greater risks to endangered wildlife than catastrophic fires), can have real, immediate impact on forest fire danger. 

Unfortunately, these obvious measures depend on Congress taking its responsibilities seriously and accomplishing rapid, bipartisan action. But communities at greatest risk of fire can’t wait while Congress dithers, so they should take matters into their own hands in the federal courts.

Local governments have the power to sue the federal government under public nuisance laws to force the feds to properly maintain overgrown forests threatening cities and towns. Just as a city can take action against delinquent property owners over a rundown property that poses a fire risk to a neighborhood, cities can take action against the

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Are You Voting For SPACE FORCE! Or LAW & ORDER!

Who among us haven’t taken to Twitter to rage-tweet our way through 2020? On Monday morning, President Donald Trump, who is currently being hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center for COVID-19, sent a series of all-caps tweets urging Americans to vote for him because of… Space Force (among other things). In a kind very obvious move to distract from the fact that he purposefully downplayed a global pandemic that killed over 210,000 Americans (and mocked people for wearing masks), the president mystified everyone on Twitter with his latest “VOTE!” series. It seems Trump is succumbing to the boredom and isolation of his luxurious, top-of-the-line hospital stay. 

“PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH (BRING OUR SOLDIERS HOME). VOTE!” one inexplicable tweet read. “FIGHT THE CORRUPT FAKE NEWS MEDIA. VOTE!” read another. Trump also attempted to appeal to those who value “law and order” — yes, the same Trump who brags about swindling his way out of paying taxes. Last week, before the White House became a COVID-19 hotzone, The New York Times revealed that in 2016 the self-proclaimed billionaire paid a measly $750 in federal taxes, and $0 in 10 of the 15 previous years. 

Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, who just yesterday admitted to omitting details of Trump’s health status and aspects of his care to appear “upbeat,” told the American public Trump has been administered Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid hormone used to treat breathing problems. Three of the many side effects of the drug are increased bouts of “anger,” “aggression,” and “irritability” — and Trump seems to be experiencing all three.

Hypocrisy and lying, however, are not side effects of this president’s COVID-19 treatments. Within his tweeting spree was an appeal to those who want to access healthcare coverage even if they have pre-existing conditions — the Trump administration is currently fighting a case in the Supreme Court that, if they win, will reverse the Affordable Care Act and allow health insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Trump also attempted to appeal to those who fancy themselves pro-life, because there’s nothing more “pro-life” than letting more than 210,000 Americans die before you “learn” about a deadly disease. 

Trump will likely survive his COVID-19 diagnosis, courtesy of the federally funded health care he didn’t pay for. The lying, however? The hypocrisy? The only way to get rid of that will be to vote him out of office on Election Day.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Donald Trump Has COVID-19. What Happens Next?

What Trump Did The Days Before He Tested Positive

The Internet Reacts To Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

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Can the government force us to eat broccoli?

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.” 
— Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980)

With President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is back in the news. Judge Barrett expressed constitutional misgivings about Obamacare 10 years ago when she was a professor at Notre Dame Law School, and some folks who oppose her nomination have argued that should she be confirmed in the next month, she should not hear the Nov. 10 arguments on Obamacare.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the Supreme Court already uphold Obamacare in 2012? Yes, it did. So why is the constitutionality of this legislation back before the Supreme Court?

Here is the backstory.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 marked the complete federal takeover of regulating health care delivery in America. It eliminated personal choices and mandated rules and regulations on almost all aspects of health care and health care insurance. It created a complex structure that, at the back end, directed the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars on health care and, at the front end, received health insurance premiums from or on behalf of every adult in America.

To assure that every adult obtained and paid for health care coverage, the ACA authorized the IRS to assess those who failed to have health insurance about $8,800 a year and use that money to purchase a bare-bones insurance policy for them.

The requirement of all adults to maintain health care coverage, and the power of the IRS to assess them if they don’t, is known as the individual mandate.

When the ACA was challenged in 2012, the challengers argued that Congress lacked the constitutional power to micromanage health care and to enforce the individual mandate. The feds argued that this was all “interstate commerce” and Congress’ reach in this area is broad and deep.

Yet, both the challengers and the government agreed that the IRS assessment was not a tax. The challengers argued that it was a penalty for failure to comply with a government regulation, and thus those not complying with the individual mandate were entitled to a hearing before they could be punished.

The government argued that the assessment was triggered by people choosing freely to have the feds purchase their insurance for them. The feds could not argue that this assessment was a tax because President Obama had promised that his health care programs would not increase anyone’s taxes.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the individual mandate was a tax and since, under big government constitutional jurisprudence, Congress can tax anything it wants, the ACA was constitutional.

This logic was deeply disconcerting to those of us who believe that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t unleash the federal government but restrains it. The Constitution was written to keep the government off our backs. Yet, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, along with his four liberal colleagues, that

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New law calls for task force on addressing ‘the issues of justice and fairness’

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that moves the Golden State one step closer to paying reparations to black Californians.

Assembly Bill 3121 calls for the creation of a 9-member task force that will make recommendations on whether compensation should be paid, the type of compensation that should be paid out, and who is eligible to receive compensation from the state.

The committee will also be charged with examining the effects slavery still has on the United States and recommending how California can make a formal apology “for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants.”

California was admitted into the Union in 1850. In 1852, the state legislature instituted the Fugitive Slave Law, which decreed any enslaved person who had entered California before it became a state were not legally considered “free.”

“California has come to terms with many of its issues, but it has yet to come to terms with its role in slavery,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat and professor emeritus, said. “We’re talking about really addressing the issues of justice and fairness in this country that we have to address.”

“California’s rich diversity is our greatest asset, and we won’t turn away from this moment to make right the discrimination and disadvantages that Black Californians and people of color still face,” Newsom said at the signing of the bill.

William Darity Jr., an economist at Duke University, warned that true reparations require a federal response, and this bill does not meet that threshold.

“I have a sense of proprietariness about the use of the term reparations, because I think people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” Darity told CalMatters . “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”

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Judge Andrew P. Napolitano: ObamaCare and the Supreme Court — can the government force us to eat broccoli?

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”
— Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980)

With President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, the Affordable Care Act — ObamaCare — is back in the news.

Barrett expressed constitutional misgivings about ObamaCare 10 years ago when she was a professor at Notre Dame Law School, and some folks who oppose her nomination have argued that should she be confirmed in the next month, she should not hear the Nov. 10 arguments on ObamaCare.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the Supreme Court already uphold ObamaCare in 2012? Yes, it did. So why is the constitutionality of this legislation back before the Supreme Court?

Here is the backstory.

MATT GORMAN: TRUMP HAS A NEW RUNNING MATE NOW

The ACA of 2010 marked the complete federal takeover of regulating health care delivery in America. It eliminated personal choices and mandated rules and regulations on almost all aspects of health care and health care insurance. It created a complex structure that, at the back end, directed the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars on health care and, at the front end, received health insurance premiums from or on behalf of every adult in America.

To assure that every adult obtained and paid for health care coverage, the ACA authorized the IRS to assess those who failed to have health insurance about $8,800 a year and use that money to purchase a bare-bones insurance policy for them.

The requirement of all adults to maintain health care coverage, and the power of the IRS to assess them if they don’t, is known as the individual mandate.

More from Opinion

When the ACA was challenged in 2012, the challengers argued that Congress lacked the constitutional power to micromanage health care and to enforce the individual mandate. The feds argued that this was all “interstate commerce” and Congress’ reach in this area is broad and deep.

Yet, both the challengers and the government agreed that the IRS assessment was not a tax. The challengers argued that it was a penalty for failure to comply with a government regulation, and thus those not complying with the individual mandate were entitled to a hearing before they could be punished.

RACHEL CAMPOS DUFFY: FEMINISTS HAVE AN AMY CONEY BARRETT PROBLEM

The government argued that the assessment was triggered by people choosing freely to have the feds purchase their insurance for them. The feds could not argue that this assessment was a tax because President Barack Obama had promised that his health care programs would not increase anyone’s taxes.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the individual mandate was a tax and since, under big government constitutional jurisprudence, Congress can tax anything it wants, the ACA was constitutional.

This logic was deeply disconcerting to those of us who believe that the Constitution doesn’t unleash the federal government but restrains it. The Constitution

Continue reading