This Week’s News and Views looks at news stories from the past week with added commentary and perspective. (more)

The good news, of course, is that the debt ceiling was raised, thus averting a stock market crash and a downgrade of our government’s bond rating.

What’s that, you say? Even though the debt ceiling was raised, the stock market had its biggest loss since 2009 and one bond rating agency, S&P, downgraded U.S. government debt to AA+? Turns out that lackluster job growth, the very real threat of a double-dip recession, the promise of more hostage taking of the economy, the specter of a completely dysfunctional ‘Super Committee’ and the vision of a tea party government for the foreseeable future may have made the markets recoil in horror somewhat skittish.

Here is the worst of it: we will just have to see how this drama plays out because, quite frankly, no one knows what will happen next.

We do know what else happened.

Super Turf Wars

As part of the Budget Control Act, a ‘Super Committee’ made up of 6 congressional Democrats and 6 congressional Republicans will convene to decide how to make permanent reductions in the debt and deficit. While one would expect it to pick up where Vice President Joe Biden’s deficit committee had ended (remember the “Grand Bargain”?) one would be wrong. Instead, all the things that had been on the table, including revenue increases, have been swept off the table.

Republicans decided to shrink the table to the size of a pinhead (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s?) and include only those members of congress who would never allow revenue increases. This led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to suggest that he may not appoint anyone thus forcing the automatic cuts to be implemented in January 2013.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta complained loudly that the defense cuts were unacceptable thereby leaving the Republicans with the choice of allowing cuts in defense to occur by default thereby angering their corporate sponsors or join in a true bipartisan fashion to make both cuts and revenue increases.

The nation is cautioned against holding its collective breath waiting for this to happen as oxygen is a requirement for sustaining life.

Cheeseheads heading for the home stretch

The Wisconsin state senate recall elections will be Tuesday, August 9th. This probably falls in the category of pre-news because August 9th is next week. However because of some voter suppression“inadvertent errors” in some absentee ballot applications it seemed important that the more places that “Wisconsin senate recalls” and “August 9th” were linked together on the Internet the better the chances are the people will vote on the actual day of the election, not two days later.

It also seemed appropriate as Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) was pre-claiming the excellent results of his new budget as important to the election despite the fact that it does not go into effect until October 1st and because Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus (seriously, who names their kid Reince?) was pre-warning the national press that the results in Wisconsin will mean nothing and endangered incumbent state senator Alberta Darling (R) was pre-advising people that they should just wait until 2012 to change the state legislature (further claiming that “elections have consequences” and Wisconsinites should just sit down and be quiet). As someone pointed out in the reader’s comments for that news article “Actions have consequences” as well and it seems that telling the voters that they should just wait and take their chances that the state won’t be completely destroyed may not be the best way to win votes.

This week and next week, We are all Badgers.

Back in the news

The FAA reopened after the Republicans blinked but we will have to do it all over again as the temporary operating authority was extended only until September 16th. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) bemoaned the tone in Washington that would not let him shut down an important government agency with impunity. I see the word “puny” in there.

The Obama administration implemented the birth control regulations recommended by the HHS last month. Starting on August 1, 2012, all health insurance plans must include birth control without co-pays. The outcry from the right was fierce and immediate. A Fox News spokesmodel claimed it would lead to free “pedicures and manicures” (that is one strange slippery slope), Sean Hannity made a point of claiming that no co-pays for Viagra was different because it was for a “medical problem” (as opposed to a potentially devastating unplanned pregnancy), and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed it was the end of white civilization. Technically he did not say “white” civilization but my dog perked up her ears when I read the story to her … and she is deaf.

Alabama’s immigration law may face an uphill battle.

The Justice Department filed suit to block the Alabama immigration law:

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s immigration crackdown, arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with federal enforcement of immigration policies.

The DOJ has asked the courts to grant a preliminary injunction against the law, which is scheduled to go into effect September 1st, because it will cause “irreparable harm” if allowed to stand until the law can work its way through the court system.

Church groups piled on, claiming it made it a crime to follow the teachings of their church:

[T]he state’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches filed a separate lawsuit against the law, saying the law unconstitutionally interferes with the right of religious freedom. Representing 338,000 Alabamans, the religious leaders say the law “will make it a crime to follow God’s command” and denounce it as “the nation’s most merciless anti-immigration legislation.””

Finally, sixteen countries filing briefs challenging the Alabama law:

Mexico and 15 other nations filed briefs this afternoon against Alabama’s strict new immigration law, saying it threatened the rights of their citizens and raised “substantial challenges” to the countries’ relationship with the United States.

“They want to make sure their citizens are treated correctly, and they have a sovereign interest in the way in which immigration law is carried out by the United States,” said Edward Still, a Birmingham attorney who filed the briefs on behalf of the nations. “They want to have one immigration law and not 50.”

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A strong pushback in Wisconsin and Alabama against the tea party movement’s ALEC-inspired legislation is good news for everyone. And a positive note to end on.

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