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Haslam On Health Care Ruling

Tn. Gov. Bill Haslam’s statement in its entirety reacting to today’s federal court ruling declaring the Obama health care reform law unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling was a crucial step in our fight against President Obama’s unaffordable healthcare mandate. I declared this law an ‘intolerable expansion of federal power’ when the bill was passed by Congress last March, and Judge Vinson’s ruling is yet another confirmation that the federal government significantly overstepped its authority.

“Our goal should be advocating for an approach that embraces healthy choices and personal responsibility and accountability for a healthy lifestyle. As governor, I am committed to controlling costs and improving Tennessee’s health status. Forcing mandates on states and individuals is entirely the wrong approach.

“We need to encourage our national leaders to use appropriate insights into the health care system to bring about real reform.”

Fake Pols on Twitter

If you’ve been following the shamelessly profane tweets of “fake Rahm” via the Twitter account purporting to belong to Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel that now has more followers than Emanuel himself, you’ve been treated to gems like these.

A POLITICO reporter, for example, requested an interview with the mystery Twitter-er, and @MayorEmanuel responded via Twitter that the chances were “somewhere right between (expletive) slim and (expletive) none.”

A Chicago TV reporter got this brush-off after an interview request: “just call the office: 312– (expletive)- OFF.”

(The joke is the real Rahm’s supposed tendency to sprinkle his convos with plenty of swearing).

Meanwhile, Tennessee now has its own fake Twitter version of a political icon who indulges in irreverent postings of 140 characters or less.

He’s @PrezJackson, a Twitter feed purporting to belong to the very late U.S. President and Tennessee native son Andrew Jackson. In his Twitter bio, he describes himself as an “old old old school Democrat” and “namesake of hundreds of disconnected streets in Nashville.”

Some recent postings:

“Text from Haslam: “How can I get the nickname Li’l Hickory?” Embarrassing.”

“Mornings like this make my old dueling wounds hurt.”

“If I had YouTube in 1824, John Quincy Adams would have been toast.”

Federal Judge: Obamacare Ain’t Legal

A federal judge ruled today the entire health care reform legislation is unconstitutional.

Here’s one of the most revealing sections of his ruling, which you can read here:

“This Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. There are simply too many moving parts in the Act and too many provisions dependent (directly and indirectly) on the individual mandate and other health insurance provisions — which, as noted, were the chief engines that drove the entire legislative effort — for me to try and dissect out the proper from the improper, and the able-to-stand-alone from the unable-to-stand-alone.

“Such a quasi-legislative undertaking would be particularly inappropriate in light of the fact that any statute that might conceivably be left over after this analysis is complete would plainly not serve Congress’ main purpose and primary objective in passing the Act. The statute is, after all, called “The Patient Protection and Affordable are Act,” not “The Abstinence Education and Bone Marrow Density Testing Act.” The Act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker.”

Update: For those keeping score, the health care reform law has now collected 2 rulings upholding it and 2 against it. The 2 for it come from Democratic-appointed judges; the 2 against come from Republican appointees.

The 2 rulings against the law open an interesting philosophical rift. Today’s ruling says the law’s mandate that generally everyone has to buy insurance – supposedly spreading the risk and money stream around evenly – is unconstitutional. It also says that so-called individual mandate is so interwoven into the fabric of the law that Congress has no choice but to scrap the whole thing and start over.

The other Republican judge who ruled against the law didn’t go that far. He said the individual mandate wasn’t constitutional, but he thinks the law can still stand up without that provision.

Meanwhile, here’s another excerpt from today’s ruling which gives a quasi Tea Party shout-out:

“It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America, would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain, for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power”, and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.”

Retail Uptick Could Signal Recovering Housing Market

The U.S. ended 2010 with a bang, when consumer spending rose 3.5 percent – the best performance since a 5.2 percent rise in 2007, before the recession began.

Consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in December, the sixth straight monthly increase, the Department of Commerce reported today.

Households saw their incomes increase 0.4 percent – unchanged from November – but growing at the second-lowest annual pace in the eight years.

The savings rate dipped slightly to 5.8 percent from 5.9 percent in 2009, but was still well above the low of 1.4 percent hit in 2005 – at the height of the housing boom when rising home prices encouraged Americans to spend more.

What impacts retailers impacts neighborhoods. And that, in turn, impacts the housing market – they’re all linked together, the Martha & Robert Fogelman Family Chair of Excellence in Sustainable Real Estate at the University of Memphis Grant Thrall told The Memphis News in December.

“Consumer confidence means almost everything to consumption in the United States,” Thrall said. “They feel confident that they are not going to be worse off in the future, so they can now go back to enjoying consumption as before.”

As consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of total fiscal activity, economists forecast a gradually improving job market and a payroll tax cut to boost spending further in 2011.

The big question remains – will the gains in consumer spending will be enough to offset weakness in the housing market and further cutbacks in government spending?

For all of 2010, the economy grew 2.9 percent, the best performance since 2005, and a sharp contrast to the 2.6 percent drop in GDP in 2009 – the worst decline in more than 60 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Can your movie store do this?

In Monday’s Daily News, I wrote about an independent video rental store in Midtown that’s bucking the trend in the industry and just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The answer to one question I asked of the owners – What’s your favorite movie? – helps paint the picture. Here’s the epitome of a small independent store with a wildly knowledgeable staff:

Matt Martin: “Of all time? What movie I respond to the most? I guess my personal favorite would fall between the beautifully simplistic metaphysics of a Malle film, ‘My Dinner With Andre,’ or Orson Welles’ bombastic, over the top, dripping with cinematic style ‘A Touch of Evil.’

(My Dinner With Andre) is the definition of minimalist filmmaking. But jaw-dropping. No dinner conversation in history has ever been more fascinating. And Orson Welles at the tail end of his career was offered the chance, after he’d already been banned from Hollywood for decades, to direct this pulp novel about corrupt cops in a border town near Mexico. And he took what would have been schlock and turned it into this brilliant, phenomenal film.

If you’ve never seen ‘A Touch of Evil,’ definitely give it a whirl. It’s got the longest tracking shot in history. The opening shot, without cuts, is about 9 minutes long and spans several city blocks and sets up the whole movie without ever cutting the camera. It’s kamikaze filmmaking. It’s like, dude, you actually took 300 extras and tried to coordinate 2 blocks of activity.”

Dansette

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