Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quick Hits - April 26, 2012

8 of the Supreme Court Justices appeared to take a dim view towards the Obama Administration's argument against the Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill - SB 1010 during oral arguments before the SCOTUS yesterday.  The Justices, without Justice Elena Kagan who recused herself from this case based on her role developing the Administration case while Solicitor General of the US, apparently had some challenges over the arguments offered by Solicitor General Donal Verrilli....
The framers vested in the national government the authority over immigration because they understood that the way this nation treats citizens of other countries is a vital aspect of our foreign relations,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the government’s top constitutional lawyer, told the court.

But several justices said when it came to the immigration checks, it appeared Arizona was only trying to help.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at one point.

Federal law already lets local police call and check immigration status — and in some instances even requires it for prisons and jails. Mr. Verrilli said immigration-status checks are fine as long as police perform them voluntarily, but he said Arizona crossed a line by making it mandatory.

The justices on both sides of the court’s ideological divide didn’t buy that.

“You can see it’s not selling very well — why don’t you try to come up with something else?” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama.

This argument comes just a month after the Obama Administration appeared to have three very bad days in their oral arguments in defense of the Obamacare and its Individual Mandate.

The general consensus from the arguments and reading the 'tea leaves' based on the questions and reactions of the Justices, several major elements of the Arizona law which the liberal Ninth Circuit Court invalidated seem to have a 'new life' in the SCOTUS.

This has created a side meme, primarily from the left, where some unhappiness is being expressed towards the embattled Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, over his performance during oral arguments...with some wondering if the Mr. Verrilli is just out of his depth. Frankly, it appears far more certain that the ones who are out of their depth are President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, who are forcing Verrilli to present a case with a strong ideological foundation, but very little real foundation in constitutional law. As Powerline notes...
On Twitter, Byron York asked: “Question for legal types: Is Donald Verrilli bad at his job or just burdened by having to defend the indefensible?” You can read the entire argument here and draw your own conclusions, but in my opinion, the problem was not with Verrilli but rather with the quality of the arguments that he was required to make by his client, the Obama administration.

Of course, what is going on here is that the Obama administration doesn’t want to enforce the immigration laws that Congress has enacted. The essence of its position in the Arizona case is that the federal government has the right to decide not to enforce the law, and if it so decides, then no state has the power, under the Constitution, to do anything that would tend to enforce those federal laws. So if the Obama administration decides that it will gain political advantage by ignoring federal laws against illegal immigration, states like Arizona just have to take the consequences without complaining.

That proposition–the real essence of the Obama administration’s case–is not one that can survive the light of day. Thus, near the end of Verrilli’s argument, Justice Kennedy cut to the chase:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: So you’re saying the government has a legitimate interest in not enforcing its laws?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No. We have a legitimate interest in enforcing the law, of course, but it needs to be — but these — this Court has said over and over again, has recognized that the — the balance of interest that has to be achieved in enforcing the — the immigration laws is exceedingly delicate and complex, and it involves consideration of foreign relations, it involves humanitarian concerns, and it also involves public order and public –

That answer was incoherent, obviously, but not because Verrilli is a fool; rather, because the Obama administration’s position is indefensible. Later, Justice Scalia followed up:

JUSTICE SCALIA: So we have to — we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico. Is that what you’re saying?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Your Honor, but what — no, Your Honor, I’m not saying that –

JUSTICE SCALIA: Sounded like what you were saying.

So the Obama administration had a tough day in court today, and deservedly so. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in this case delivers President Obama the stinging rebuke that he so richly deserves.
If the SCOTUS upholds the major elements of Arizona's SB1070, which I expect them to do (and rebuke once again the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), a major step will be taken towards addressing this country's challenges around illegal immigration.  It will empower states to take the steps they need to take to protect themselves and their residents from an Administration which has decided on their own to selectively enforce federal law based around political expediency.

This combined with the effects of Obamaonomics, the President's feckless economic policies, may actually permit us to get the challenge of illegal immigration under some degreee of control.

Net migration from Mexico has plummeted to zero thanks to changing demographic and economic conditions on both sides of the border, a new study says, even as political battles over illegal immigration heat up and the issue heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After four decades that brought 12 million Mexican immigrants—more than half of them illegally—to the U.S., the curtain has come down on the biggest immigration wave in modern times.

"The net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed," says the report, which is based on an analysis of U.S. and Mexican government data by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.

President Obama, who seems to have been on a reelection campaign since January 22, 2009, attended over 100 campaign fundraisers in the last 10 months, and has spent most of 2012 on campaign trips funded the the American taxpayer, will officially kick off his reelection campaign next week in the swing states of Ohio and Virginia at several rallies.

Given his campaign activity thusfar - it's laughable to 'announce' a kick off of the reelection campaign next week.  But it's also reflective of the contempt and arrogance that the President's team has towards the American people - thinking that they can actually ignore the President's past actions, and 'announce' the 'formal' start of the President's reelection campaign.

This contempt and arrogance is not limited to just issues related to the campaign.  It has practically become standard operating procedure for this Administration.

The Labor Department has released the latest data on new applications for unemployment benefits - and just like last week's numbers - the books are being juggled for political expediency.  As the Wall Street Journal notes in their report this morning on the latest job numbers - new applications for unemployment benefits stayed 'nearly unchanged' from last week's high number decreasing only 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 new applicants for unemployment benefits.

The article notes that the Labor Department revised the previous week's numbers from 386,000 new applicants to 389,000 new applicants...repeating the pattern of revising the previous week's number to a level just beyond the current week's numbers so that the sycophants in the press can report that the week to week numbers 'declined' when we look at the current week versus the (revised) previous week.

Zerohedge once again calls the Obama Labor Department on their book cooking shenanigans...
Recall what we said less than an hour ago: "what will most likely happen is a print in the mid to upper 380,000s, while last week's number will be revised to a 390K+ print, allowing the media to once again declare that the number was an improvement week over week. In other words, SSDD." SSDD it is: last week's 386K number was revised to 389K, meaning the massive miss relative to expectations of 370K last week just got even worse. This is the 10th week in a row of misses to the weaker side and the 16th of the last 18. And while this week's miss was whopping as usual, with expectations of 375K being soundly missed after the print came at 388K on its way back to 400K, the media can sleep soundly because the absolute lack of BLS propaganda means that the sequential progression is one of, you got it, improvement. In other words here is what the headlines in the Mainstream Media will be: "Initial claims improve over prior week." In fact here it is from Bloomberg: "U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Fell 1,000 to 388,000 Last Week." Absolutely brilliant.No propaganda. No data fudging. No manipulation at all. Just endless laughter at the desperation.
Desperation is the operative word for these steps.  What does it tell us about this Administration and the state of our economy if a) they have to cook the books to this extent, b) they have to do so early in the election process, and c) that it is so obvious that they are cooking the books.

The only record the President has to run on is a record of dismal failure - a failure to effectively create and stimulate viable economic growth.

Ace of Spades has a highlight today about a pretty skewed poll - Democrats oversampled +9 points - that has some very good information to give us despite it's laughable poll breakdown....
The weekly YouGov/Economist poll, which had already shown Romney shrinking the gap in it's previous weekly release, now gives Mitt a tiny lead amongst registered voters surveyed. Partisan breakdown is 42% Democrat, 33% Republican, 24% Independent, and age groups, race and gender all break down matching registered voter population.
Even with a strong Democrat skew - Romney leads Obama 47% to 46% among registered voters - and closing on the President in some of the major demographics (Youth / Gender) to within 4 or 5 points of the President.   Factor in the pro-Democrat skew - and this poll matches a number of others that highlight some real problems for the Obama reelection outside of the progressive base.

One of the challenges that Barack Obama has, along with many other progressives (yesterday we called out DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz), is with their challenges with telling the truth.  President Obama, in addition to his lies over the comments of a Republican Congresswoman, has apparently emblished the truth around his tall tale about what he and Michelle had to do to pay off their student loans - a key aspect of his speech advocating a political position that Mitt Romney has also supported.  This comes to us from ABC News (Mainstream Media?!) via JammieWearingFool...
As Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Tribune wrote during the last campaign, Obama worked his way through college and law school – including jobs selling trinkets, making sandwiches at a deli in Hawaii and working as a telemarketer pitching subscriptions to The New York Times. Michelle’s early jobs included work as a camp counselor and a typist/assistant for the American Medical Association. In the early years, nobody would call the Obamas rich.

But according to their tax returns, which are available on the White House website, the Obamas had a healthy, six-figure income by the year 2000 (the earliest return available). And for at least two years before his loans were paid off, Obama, by his own definition, made so much they were wealthy enough to pay higher taxes.

Here’s a rundown of the president’s income, according to his tax returns, in the years before he paid off his student loans:

2004: $207,647
2003: $238,327
2002: $259,394
2001: $272,759
2000: $240,505

In 2001 and 2002, the Obamas would have met the $250,000 standard the president has set for those wealthy enough to afford to pay more taxes.

It’s also notable that the Obamas didn’t claim deductions for student loans on any of those years, most likely because they made too much money to qualify for the student loan deduction.
One of the big stories getting traction today is the freudian slip into the mindset of the Obama Administration as expressed by a political appointee EPA Administrator who raised eyebrows over his candid discussion around the enforcement actions he (and others?) in the Administration / EPA need to take towards what seems less of 'protecting the environment' and more around 'promoting an ideological agenda'....
"It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean," he said. "They'd go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw, and they'd crucify them.

"And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years," he said.

Armendariz went on to say that "you make examples out of people who are in this case not complying with the law ... and you hit them as hard as you can" -- to act as a "deterrent" to others.

Armendariz issued a statement apologizing after Inhofe slammed the comments on the Senate floor, and fired off a letter to
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson highlighting them.

"I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words," Armendariz said. "It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws."

Indicative of the arrogance of the appointees to critical positions within the Obama Administration – bullying, threatening, intimidating, to gain the adherence of their preferred behavior – actions….putting ideology before the best interests of the country…

[Sigh] - the typical non-apology apology...

This mindset will do little to help the President's reelection efforts as it brings new highlights to the Administration's war on coal and war on fossil fuels...
Republicans say that the agency under Obama has gone from an agency that seeks to keep companies in compliance with environmental rules to one that is looking to bust companies and take scalps.

With gasoline prices sky high and the EPA already very much in the news because of Republican charges that agency is pushing energy prices up, the last thing the president needs is to have one of his appointees on camera seeming to conform the charges of his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

Environmental policy has been a constant source of aggravation throughout the Obama era.

The president made combating global warming a central tenet of his 2008 campaign and he sought to deliver on his promises after taking office by pushing new federal fees on carbon emissions. House Democrats took up the cause with gusto, passing what supporters call "cap and trade" legislation.

But since them, the EPA has been back on the march with a clutch of new rules that while less sweeping, add up to the same kind of global warming crackdown by other means.

The agency has also taken up the issue of natural gas exploration, adding new restrictions on drilling even as the president calls for increased natural gas use as part of his effort to combat Republican complaints that he is driving energy prices higher by limiting access to domestic oil reserves.

Obama knows that energy prices are one of his weakest weak spots against Romney. But he also knows that environmentalism is one of his best ways to keep liberals "fired up, ready to go."

That's why in his recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine Obama promised that he would be "clear in voicing [his] that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way."
Politics before the best interests of the counry....

A Syrian rocket attack earlier today that killed up to 70 civilians in the central city of Hama is the latest evidence that the UN sponsored cease fire in Syria is on the verge of a total collapse.  Activists are reporting that the city was brought under a heavy bombardment where civilian areas were specifically targeted.  The state run media is reporting that only 16 civilians were killed - and that they died not form Syrian rockets or artillery, but from a blast coming from a house being used as a bomb factory by 'armed terrorist groups' in the city.

The French Foreign Minister has responded to the continued Syrian government violations of the cease fire by threatening to demand international military intervention if the Syrian government fails to halt their violence - and honor the cease fire by early May.  The French minister says he will be appealling to the United Nations Security Council for a 'Chapter 7' resolution - authorizing military action to restore international peace and security. 

UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, is scheduled to present a formal report on Syria's compliance to the UN sponsored peace plan and cease fire to the Security Council on May 5th. has a story on their website that exposes President Obama's 'gutsy' call to get Osama Bin Laden was not all that 'gutsy' - with a strong focus on how to prevent President Obama from sharing the effect of the Desert One debacle had on President Jimmy Carter in 1980 if the assault on Bin Laden went wrong...
Today, Time magazine got hold of a memo written by then-CIA head Leon Panetta after he received orders from Barack Obama’s team to greenlight the bin Laden mission. Here’s the text, which summarized the situation:

Received phone call from Tom Donilon who stated that the President made a decision with regard to AC1 [Abbottabad Compound 1]. The decision is to proceed with the assault.

The timing, operational decision making and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands. The approval is provided on the risk profile presented to the President. Any additional risks are to be brought back to the President for his consideration. The direction is to go in and get bin Laden and if he is not there, to get out. Those instructions were conveyed to Admiral McRaven at approximately 10:45 am.

This, of course, was the famed “gutsy call.”

The memo puts all control in the hands of Admiral McRaven – the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to McRaven. So the notion that Obama and his team were walking through every stage of the operation is incorrect. The hero here was McRaven, not Obama. And had the mission gone wrong, McRaven surely would have been thrown under the bus.

The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile
presented to the President.” If any other risks – no matter how minute – arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.

Finally, the memo is unclear on just what the mission is. Was it to capture Bin Laden or to kill him? The White House itself was unable to decide what the mission was in the hours after the Bin Laden kill, and actually switched its language. The memo shows why: McRaven was instructed to “get” Bin Laden, whatever that meant.

President Obama made the right call to give the green light to the mission. But he did it in a way that he could shift the blame if things went wrong. Typical Obama. And typical of him to claim full credit for it, when he didn’t do anything but give a vague nod, while putting his top military officials at risk of taking the hit in case of a bad turn.
Again, there is nothing that is done by this Administration that does not pass through the filter of political expediency -and the political takes precedence.

The meme about George Zimmerman, charged with 2nd Degree Murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, is finally starting to be corrected by the mainstream media which failed to do this as the story broke nationally....Reuters notes this about Zimmerman...
A criminal justice student who aspired to become a judge, Zimmerman also concerned himself with the safety of his neighbors after a series of break-ins committed by young African-American men.

Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman should not have prejudged Martin, one black neighbor of the Zimmermans said recent history should be taken into account.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”

I suspect that as more details come out - outside the meme's being promoted by the race baiters - it will show that Zimmerman was not the racist or bully / murderer that he has been depicted as.

In media cluelessness, we have one of the anchor's of NBC's Today Show, Ann Curry, who goes on a rant about 'fairness' when interviewing left wing Harvard Professor Michael Sandel on yesterday's broadcast...complaining that its 'fundamentally unfair' when some have more money than others...

"...there's an inherent unfairness to's about those with money having an easier life than those who don't. And there's something fundamentally unfair about that."

Note to Ann Curry - you have a 7 figure annual salary courtesy of your contract with NBC News. I do not have a 7 figure annual salary. It's FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR that you have a 7 figure annual salary and I don't... so it's time for you to remedy this by sending me 25% of your annual salary. Or do those 'rules' not apply to you?

This Day in History

1865 - John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, is killed when Union soldiers track him to a Virginia farm 12 days after he murdered the President.

1937 - Units of the German Luftwaffe, fighting in support of General Francisco Franco's Nationalist Army in the Spanish Civil War, conducts a massive indiscriminate bombing attack on the Basque town of Guernica - home to 5,000 residents.  In a 3 hour attack, one third of the town's population was killed or wounded and the city burned for days.  This was the precursor to the indiscriminate bombing raids of World War II on civilians.

1986 - The world's worst nuclear accident to date occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev in the Ukraine.  The full toll is still being tallied on the cost in lives of the accident, but experts believe thousands died and as many as 70,000 suffered severe radiation poisoning.  One report has 4,000 of those workers involved in the clean-up dying from radiation exposure.  An 18 mile radius around the plant, home to nearly 150,000 people, had to be permanently evacuated.

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