Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick Hits - March 29, 2012

Now that the three days of oral arguments at the Supreme Court over Obamacare are finished, the 9 justices will work towards making their decision which is expected in June.

Many liberal media outlets seem to be wringing their hands as they try to read the tea leaves that resulted from the three days of oral arguments.  As the Washington Post notes in their story summarizing the three days...
The Supreme Court’s skeptical consideration of President Obama’s landmark health-care legislation this week has forced his supporters to contemplate the unthinkable: that the justices could throw out the law and destroy the most far-reaching accomplishment of the Obama presidency.

The fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is uncertain. A ruling is not expected until June. White House officials are refusing publicly to consider that the law might be struck down or to discuss contingency plans, insisting that they do not address hypothetical questions.
Many liberals and progressives were apparently surprised by the depth and tone of the questions offered from the bench during the oral arguments - the, as the WaPo slyly notes, 'skeptical consideration', of the main issues around the legislation being addressed.

Liberal progressive columnist for the WaPo, EJ Dionne, decides that the best reaction is to attack the conservative justices in the SCOTUS.  Dionne contends that the tough questions offered by these jurists only demonstrate the utter contempt that they have for democracy.  That they have to offer 'weird hypotheticals' in their efforts to attack the individual mandate which has the government forcing citizens to purchase a specific product.  How dare they question something that was passed by Congress to achieve a greater good, implies Dionne?

Given much of their questioning was based around the examination of the key contested points of the legislation around the US Constitution - Dionne seems to want to evade the legal / constitutional aspects of this and like Justice Sotomayor, focus the argument based on a greater good and empathy.  Clearly, he doesn't understand of believe in the concept defined in the US Constitution of a limited government.

Then there is the vapid argument around contempt towards democracy because Congress passed this bill.  Remember how it was passed?  Bribes were given to gain critical support.  Despite a supermajority in both the House and the Senate, without any Republican support, the bill had to be slammed through the Senate via an unprecedented and creative use of reconciliation and just squeaked through the House only after so called 'pro-life' democrats decided ideology was more important than principles.

The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost has a good rundown asking the left, why was the questioning a surprise?
The attitude of President Obama (a former con law lecturer at the University of Chicago, no less!), Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid was very much that they are doing big, important things to help the American people, why wouldn’t that be constitutional? No less an important Democratic leader as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee cited the (nonexistent) “good and welfare clause” to justify the mandate.

Having no intellectual sympathy for the conservative criticism of this view, they rarely encountered it on the news programs they watch, the newspapers they read every day, or the journals they peruse over the weekends. Instead, they encountered a steady drumbeat of fellow liberals echoing Kagan’s attitude: it’s a boatload of money, what the heck is the problem?

Then, insofar as they encountered conservative pushback, they mostly ignored it.

They mostly ignored the cases from the 1990s – namely Morrison and Lopez – where the Supreme Court put limits on what Congress could do under the Commerce clause. Insofar as they did pay attention to these cases, it was only to insist that they did not apply to Obamacare. They never stopped to think that maybe the lesson of Morrison and Lopez is that the conservatives on the Court took seriously the idea of enumerated (and therefore limited) powers, and so maybe a novel device like an individual mandate would not be a slam dunk for a Court that now has a 5-4 conservative bent.

A number of the left seem to be holding Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to blame for the problems they believe they are facing with what they fear is the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate and the striking down of the entire bill. One talking head said that it's never a good reflection on one's case or lawyer when one has to almost immediately release a statement supporting one's lawyer while the case is still underway. But the Wall Street Journal offers this observation and defense of the Solicitor General...
Liberals castigated his performance during oral arguments Tuesday and all but blamed him for any ObamaCare defeat.

Mr. Verrilli may not be Daniel Webster, but he was more than competent. The problem isn't that he's a bad lawyer, it's that he is defending a bad law with the bad arguments that are the best the Administration could muster. Liberal Justices such as Sonia Sotomayor all but begged him to define a limiting principle on the individual mandate and therefore on federal power. He couldn't—not because he didn't know someone would ask but because such a principle does not exist.

Mr. Verrilli came closest to a limiting principle—and got some sympathy from Justice Kennedy—when he claimed that everyone will use health care at some point in their lives, so what's the big deal with making young people pay more earlier?

This is power without limit, which is not what the Constitution provides, or what its framers intended, or what the Supreme Court has ever tolerated. That is why this week's arguments have been so careful, why they have revised the establishment's thinking, and why they are so important for the future of American liberty.

And this is why the progressive left is upset and worried. They've now seen a real sign that their desire to expand the power and reach of government stands a very real chance of being repudiated in favor of limited government - just as it is defined in the US Constitution.

This morning President Obama took to podium at the WH, surrounded by another group of props people, to push for Congress to eliminate about $4 billion in tax credits available to the oil / gas industry while also calling for more billions to be directed towards green energy companies like the late Solyndra.

Appearing on FNC, Eric Boling of Fox Business and 'The Five', noted that in the speech that contained the usual canards from the President on this topic, that the President is either grossly misinformed or deliberately lying to the American people.

Fundamentally, the President is asking Congress to eliminate tax credit used by the oil / gas companies to encourage their investment in new drilling / new technologies related to increasing their production - which allows those companies to keep more of their money - and replace it with a program that takes taxpayer funds and give them to favored companies of the Administration.  This isn't an all of the above mode of approach -

- in that it only focuses on the two modes that President Obama understands - higher taxes (on the oil / gas companies) and higher spending (for his favorite green companies).

In the House of Representatives late last night, a rare case of bipartianship was embraced when the House took votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2013 budget to take effect on October 1, 2012.  President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget received the highest level of bipartisan support as the House voted the budget down 414 - 0. 

Yes, that's right.  Not one member of the House supported the President's budget.

The House also took up the issue of a budget offered for consideration by the Congressional Black Caucus which added billions in additional taxes well above those included in the President's budget proposal.  This budget was defeated 314-107.

For the first time since it was introduced two years ago by the Deficit Reduction Commission established by President Obama and co-led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the House also held a vote on the a budget built from the recommendations of the Bowles Simpson Commission.  This budget was defeated by a 382 -38 margin.

Later today, the House will likely hold a vote on the GOP budget proposal developed by Paul Ryan - which is expected to pass.  However, this is as likely as far as that proposal will go.  The Democrat controlled Senate, which has not passed a budget for 1,065 days, has announced that they have no intent to bring a budget to the floor for a vote this year.

Parents of two British students who were executed by a 17 year old African American teenager in Orlando are taking the President to task for his lack of compassion and interest in the fate of their sons during a visit to Orlando.  After a night of drinking, they got lost and were accosted by the teenager in an area of town noted for its crime.  After learning that the students didn't have enough money - the teenager shot them both to death.  He's been convicted of the murders, sentenced to life in prison, but there is no outrage over the senseless murder of these two.  The families said President Obama ignored 3 letters they sent him - and that they were ignored because it basically doesn't fit the narrative that the President endorses.  The Trayvon Martin case, however, does fit.

In a rare case of asking the right question and ignoring ideology, one of the race baiting members of the Congressional Black Caucus was asked - 'What if Trayvon wasn't black?'

Steven Haywood, writing on Powerline, notes that this March has to be a month that the progressive left cannot wait to end....and summarizes the 'terrible, very bad month' that it has been...

Starting with Sandra Fluke kerfuffle to misdirect on the assault on religious freedom which led to the demands to drive Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves via an advertiser boycott - we've gotten a major bust on the Limbaugh boycott (he's gaining listeners and advertisers) and trouble for Bill Maher and others over their comments against conservative women which has highlighted the double standard on misogyny.  The political theater of a conservative war on women is still being pushed - but has little credibility in Middle America...

...Then there are the soaring gas prices - which have increased over the last 20 consecutive days - which are driving the President's poll numbers down, putting the Administration and Obama Campaign on the defensive, highlighting the feckless policies of the Administration which are anti-business and anti-fossil fuel, and remind us once again of the crony capitalism around the policies towards crony capitalism like Solyndra.  We're given the laughable theater of the President telling us drilling will not solve the problem while approving the bottom half of a pipeline that didn't need Presidential approvals to move more oil to refineries.

As this takes place the post-racial Presidency gets involved in the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the racial lynch mob effort towards George Zimmerman.  We're reminded of his narcissism as he has to personalize the case by saying if he had a son, he might look like Trayvon - while ignoring not only the far more massive scale of black on black violent crime.

Then we have the 'whisper gaffe' to Russian President Medvedev..

which not only telegraphs what he intends to do in a second term when he has less accountability, but also continues his narcissistic tendencies as the November election is 'my election'....

Then the month wraps up with the three days of oral arguments over the key provisions of Obamacare before the SCOTUS...arguments that one very liberal pundit first termed a 'train wreck' before upgrading it to a 'plane wreck' just before the House of Representatives in a strong embracement of bipartisanships utterly reject (414-0) his proposed budget for the Federal Government.

Not a good month, eh?

Edith O'Brien, the former MF Global assistant treasurer, who is believed to know some of the secrets behind the missing $1.6 billion in client funds that disappeared as the firm collapsed, took the 5th when questioned by House lawmakers yesterday.  She was asked 2 questions and after taking the 5th on both, she was dismissed from her testimony.  O'Brien is one of the key focal points - Jon Corzine fingered her in his December testimony as assuring him a nearly $200 million transfer to settle a London overdraft in the last days of the firm was legitimate.  However, O'Brien also wrote an email that the customer funds were transferred at the request of Jon Corzine - who denied ordering any transfers of customer funds.

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney received one significant endorsement last night when Florida Senator Marco Rubio endorsed him - and later today is scheduled to receive the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush.

Meanwhile, here's one of the latest email fundraising requests made on behalf of the President's campaign...

Hmm, let's donate $3 to President Obama's reelection because he's staying up late for us...


The Eurocrisis remains unresolved - a 24 hour general strike is taking place today in Spain to protest the austerity measures being taken by the government to reduce their debt and deficits.  Demonstrators and police are clashing in cities like Barcelona and Valencia - but in other cities there is little real effect.

Like in Greece, these protests seem to be led by the hard left political parties, unions, and groups.  Writes one reader of the UK's Guardian newspaper who has lived in Spain since 1993 -
I have worked with politicians, journalists, factory workers, public prosecutors and police, among others, and most agree that changes are needed. Rajoy's People's Party knows that if they don't introduce these changes and cutbacks they will be imposed upon them from Brussels sooner or later.

A mentality change is required here. 'Adapt or die' would seem like an appropriate term to use. For example, the 'job for life' [Spain has four million civil servants] is a ridiculous concept and one that MUST change in order to increase the country's competitiveness and move on.
Some interesting developments underway with regards to Iran.....

US officials are reporting today that Israel and Azerbaijan have reached an agreement which would allow the IDF to use military basis in Azerbaijan.  Azerbaijan is one of the countries on the northern border of Iran - and if the IDF stages military aircraft here - they can strike Iranian nuclear facilities without the need to midair refueling.

Also, as demonstrated by this Naval Deployment update by Stratfor showing the location / area of operation of USN Carrier Groups....

....the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is about to transit the Suez Canal - and within days will be on station in the Arabian Sea off the Iranian coast.  Also operating in the Arabian Sea / Persian Gulf are 2 other Carrier Groups - giving us 3 carriers in close proximity to Iran.

On This Day in History

1867 - British Parliament passes the British North America Act which establishes the Dominion of Canada.  The Act takes effect on July 1st - now celebrated as Canada Day.

1945 - General George Patton's 3rd Army captures the German city of Frankfurt

1951 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union during and after WW2.

1973 - Two months after signing the Paris Peace Accords, the last US combat troops leave South Vietnam.

1999 - Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time.

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