Archive | January 2011

ObamaCare Struck Down!


Judge Roger Vinson in Florida has struck down the individual mandate, and because there is no severability clause (for once, the slapdash way the law was written is a good thing), the entire act is now kaput.

According to at least two lawyers (and quite probably more), the ruling means that the government must now cease all enforcement of the act.

David Kopel:

5. No injunction. Declaratory relief is sufficient, especially since there is a presumption that the federal government will comply with judicial decisions.

6. The entire act is declared void. According to Cato’s Ilya Shapiro, this means that the federal government (presuming that it will obey the law) must immediately stop enforcing the entire health control law. Of course the 11th Circuit might grant a stay, and Judge Vinson might also do so, but as of right now, there is no stay.

Jennifer Rubin:

I read the section on “Injunction” and could scarely believe my eyes. Was the judge ordering the government not to enforce ObamaCare in all 26 states? Oh, yes, indeed.

Robert Alt of the Heritage Institute e-mailed me, “The judge noted that declaratory relief is the functional equivalent of an injunction, and applied the long-standing presumption ‘that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court.’ So in the case, the judge asserted that the declaratory relief should bind the parties. If the Obama administration wishes to impose the requirements of Obamacare upon the states, it will need to seek a stay of the opinion either from the judge, or from the 11th Circuit.”

Some lefties are trying to argue the opposite side, but check the credentials closely… many of them aren’t lawyers but like to pretend to be.

This is indeed a victory for common sense and the American spirit of individuality.

H/T Tatler

Update: It gets better! Judge Vinson even used Obama’s own words against him in the judgment!

In ruling against President Obama‘s health care law, federal JudgeRoger Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, arguing that there are other ways to tackle health care short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of the 78-page ruling Monday.

I bet Mr. O would love to drop those words down the memory hole.

Man Attempts To Blow Up Mosque; Attempted Linkage To Right Fails Again


Nice Deb and The Blog Prof have the scoop.

Turns out the 60-something white Army veteran who wanted to blow up the mosque was also not quite sane, and had a beef with President Bush:

According to federal records, Stockham pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to federal charges stemming from the case in Vermont in 2004. That included threatening the president, mailing threatening communications, threatening by use of the telephone to use explosives, and threatening witnesses.

A psychiatric examination found that Stockham suffered from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder with anti-social features.

In the Vermont incident, he told authorities at the time of his arrest at a Veterans Affairs Department complex in Colchester that his minivan was full of explosives. A search found no explosives.

Before the arrest, Stockham called a local paper twice to say he was going to explode bombs in the neighborhood. In one call, he identified himself as “Hem Ahadin,” saying he was “a local Muslim terrorist on a roll.”

He ranted against the VA, the FBI and Bush, largely because of the things the president had said about Iraq in a speech earlier in the week.

Sorry, lefties… pinning this one on the right won’t work any better than it did in the Tucson shooting.

Moral Of The Week: News Cannot Be Contained


That’s what authorities in Egypt are finding out, as they shut down ISPs and mobile network providers.

Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP, but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world.

We Rebuild is looking to expand those dial-up options. It has set up a dial-up phone number in Sweden and is compiling a list of other numbers Egyptians can call. It is distributing information about its activities on a Wiki page.

[...]

The international dial-up numbers only work for people with access to a telephone modem and an international calling service, however. So although mobile networks have been suspended in some areas, people have posted instructions about how others can use their mobile phones as dial-up modems.

Egyptians also seem worried about Mubarak’s government snooping on their web use:

The few Egyptians able to access the Internet through Noor, the one functioning ISP, are taking steps to ensure their online activities are not being logged. Shortly before Internet access was cut off, the Tor Project said it saw a big spike in Egyptian visitors looking to download its Web browsing software, which is designed to let people surf the Web anonymously.

“We thought we were under denial-of-service attack,” said Andrew Lewman, the project’s executive director. The site was getting up to 3,000 requests per second, the vast majority of them from Egypt, he said. “Since then we’ve seen a quadrupling of Tor clients connecting from Noor over the past 24 hours,” he said.

No computer at all? No problem!

Even with no Internet, people have found ways to get messages out on Twitter. On Friday someone had set up a Twitter account where they posted messages that they had received via telephone calls from Egypt. A typicalmessage reads: “Live Phonecall: streets mostly quiet in Dokki, no police in sight. Lots of police trucks seen at Sheraton.”

Others are using fax machines to get information into Egypt about possible ways to communicate. They are distributing fax machine numbers for universities and embassies and asking people to send faxes to those numbers with instructions about how to use a mobile phone as a dial-up modem.

Moral of the story? You can’t keep bad news bottled up. Inventive people will find a way, especially with all the choices available these days.

Newsweek Wraps The Tucson Shooter In An American Flag


I kid you not:


American Power has lots of details. The Other McCain points out that the Newsweek cover story doesn’t even mention the film that inspired the shooter, Zeitgeist, in a 2,000 word article.

H/T to the new PJ Tatler.

Update and bump: The Other McCain has honored this post with the Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around. Thanks, Robert!

Ongoing Troubles In Egypt


Lots of things have been going on over there while I was at work, so rather than try to write all the updates out myself (yes, I have a lazy streak sometimes), I’ll just point you to this Pajamas Media post that is being continuously updated.

Prayers are going up for all those that are in the line of fire.

Taco Bell: Thank You For Suing Us


Now for something a little lighter.

The fast-food chain is placing full-page print ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and other papers as well as online ads to “set the record straight”. The print ads say, in huge letters, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.” They go on to outline the meat’s ingredients.

The class-action lawsuit was filed late last week in federal court in California. It claimed Taco Bell falsely advertised its products as “beef.” The suit alleges that the fast-food chain actually uses a meat mixture in its burritos and tacos that contains binders and extenders and does not meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled “beef.”

Taco Bell quickly denied the accusation. “The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts,” Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in an interview with The Associated Press.

There appear to be significant problems with the case that even non-lawyer me can spot right away, such as this (emphasis added):

The lawsuit, filed by the Alabama law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, doesn’t specify what percentage of the mixture is meat. But the firm’s attorney Dee Miles said the firm had the product tested and found it contained less than 35 percent beef. The firm would not say who tested the meat or give any other specifics of the analysis.

That right there is a red flag to me. Why not reveal the testing lab? Maybe they got it tested at Al’s All-Night Meat Lab?

However, lawyers might want to keep everything they can as close to the vest as possible… a bigger problem is that the standard they’re using isn’t the right one (again, emphasis added):

The case, [attorney Marc] Williams said, is thin in potential legal liability. Lawyers would have to prove that most consumers expect and believe they are getting something other than what Taco Bell actually serves. Most fast-food customers, he said, realize taco meat has other ingredients besides beef. And the lawsuit cites U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for labeling ground beef, which don’t apply to restaurants.

So, they’re suing restaurants based on laws that don’t apply to restaurants.

So why bring the suit?

The lawsuit doesn’t specify monetary damages but asks the court to order Taco Bell to stop marketing it under its current terms.

“That leads me to believe it’s more about generating publicity and legal fees for a lawyer than correcting a societal wrong,” Williams said.

There ya have it.

Student NIMBYism: Middle School Students Protesting Solar Installation At Their School


Surreal.

Students at Dwyer Middle School are making it clear they want a say in the $8 million project to put solar panels on the front lawn of their school.

More than 100 students hit the pavement Wednesday morning outside the historic middle school to protest the installation of the Chevron Energy Solutions solar array project slated for five Huntington Beach City District schools.

Their beef? They don’t like where the solar panels will be placed:

Student Jasmine Mayr, 13, said the grassy area in front of the school is where the Dwyer kids run the mile for P.E. class and play during lunch time. It’s also where graduation is held for the eighth graders.

“We don’t think we need the solar panels,” Jasmine said. “We think we could use the money for something else, like a gym. We don’t have a gym so we can never have any home games here.”

Now, just to make it clear, it’s not Chevron that is insisting on putting the solar panels on the lawn… it’s the school district.

School board members in January approved the location of two carport-like solar structures. Dwyer is one of five schools in the district to get the panels: Hawes, Sowers, Smith and Seacliff are also taking part in the green project. District officials reported there will be a minimum of $1.9 million in savings over the next 25 years.

Alternate positions were considered, such as the usual rooftop placement, but shot down, again, by the district, not by Chevron.

“I think if they’re going to put the panels up… they should put them on the roof of the school,” said student Mary Sayegh, 13.

A rooftop location was considered by the district, but was not financially possible, officials said.

Parents pushed for a different location on school grounds but the district report says moving the panels could cost up to $250,000, which would have to come out of the school’s budget in the midst of tough financial times.

But who are the kids protesting?

That’s right… they’re complaining that Chevron, that evil oil company, is helping their school district save millions of dollars in energy costs!

NIMBYism at its finest. Sure, put up solar, just not where it will inconvenience me!

Social Security Starts Running A Permanent Deficit This Year


Remember when Dubya tried to reform Social Security, and all sorts of career politicians of both parties screamed “noooooooo!” at the tops of their lungs?

Well, it’s come time to pay the piper.

Sick and getting sicker, Social Security will run at a deficit this year and keep on running in the red until its trust funds are drained by about 2037, congressional budget experts said Wednesday in bleaker-than-previous estimates.

The massive retirement program has been suffering from the effects of the struggling economy for several years. It first went into deficit last year but had been projected to post surpluses for a few more years before permanently slipping into the red in 2016

This year alone, Social Security will pay out $45 billion more in retirement, disability and survivors’ benefits than it collects in payroll taxes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said. That figure nearly triples – to $130 billion – when the new one-year cut in payroll taxes is included.

Congress has promised to replenish any lost revenue from the tax cut, but that’s hardly good news, either, adding to the federal budget deficit. In another sobering estimate, the congressional office said government red ink this year will increase to $1.5 trillion, the most in U.S. history.

We could have at least made a start at fixing this years ago, but dimwitted Congresscritters couldn’t see past their own pork barrels to even make a reasonable attempt at it.

This is how America falls… and yes, I know, lots of lefties will be cheering at that news.

Rahm Back On The Ballot


Well, with a state Supreme Court picked for decades by Democrats, did you expect them to vote against Rahm-bo?

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that Rahm Emanuel can stay on the ballot for mayor of Chicago.

The decision comes without a moment to spare; early voting for the Feb. 22 city election begins Monday, Jan. 31.

But the most unintentionally funny paragraph is the last one:

Still, elections officials suggested that voters might want to wait a bit before casting an early ballot, given the uncertainty in the mayor’s race. Early voting runs Jan. 31 to Feb. 17.

And here I thought the rule in Chicago was, vote early, vote often!

Fortunately, now all those wonderful people in Chicago cemeteries can vote for Rahm.

Tunisia And Egypt


CNN actually comes up with a fairly good analysis this time (bold in original):

What similarities are there between the situation in Egypt and that in Tunisia?

Both nations have seen dramatic rises in the cost of living in recent years as well as accusations of corruption among the ruling elite.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has now been in power since 1981 — six years before ex-Tunisian ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced from office earlier this month, assumed the presidency of his country.

The protest movements in both nations have also been characterized by strong middle class elements. No surprise then that the dissent in Tunisia has inspired some demonstrators in Egypt.

As PJM’s Vodkapundit, Stephen Green points out:

Just because the middle class joins a revolt, doesn’t mean it will become a successful revolution. But I’m hard-pressed to think of a winning revolution where the middle class wasn’t participating.

A very good point, I think.

Terrorist Caught Trying To Cross Mexican Border


All you pro-amnesty types who thought the concern about terrorists crossing into this country from Mexico were overblown, please explain this:

U.S. border authorities have arrested a controversial Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia three years ago and was caught earlier this month trying to sneak into California inside the trunk of a BMW, according to court documents.

Said Jaziri, the former Imam of a Muslim congregation in Montreal, was hidden inside a car driven by a San Diego-area man who was pulled over by U.S. Border Patrol agents near an Indian casino east of San Diego. Jaziri allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a “safe place anywhere in the U.S.”

Of course, he just wanted to do the jobs Americans won’t do… like blow up Americans.

Obama’s SOTU Price Tag: $20 Billion Or More, Plus Higher Taxes


The National Taxpayers’ Union Foundation has crunched the numbers, and the results aren’t pretty:

President Obama’s statement in yesterday evening’s State of the Union speech that “the rules have changed” will likely surprise many taxpayers hoping for more specifics on how much they’ll save – or pay – due to his fiscal policy proposals. According to a line-by-line analysis of his State of the Union speech by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), all the quantifiable items in President Obama’s speech taken together would increase federal spending by more than $20 billion, but the large number of items whose impact is unclear could dramatically affect this total.

“President Obama’s speech last night hinted at tax reform, and spending restraint, but also opened the door to tax increases and major spending initiatives,” said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. “Americans heard encouraging words about more efficient government, but little in the way of specifics about spending priorities. This leaves taxpayers wondering not only whether the federal budget deficit is headed upward or downward, but also by how much.”

So, Obama is still a tax-and-spend Democrat. Remember that in 2012.

Medicare Actuary On ObamaCare


I think the proponents of ObamaCare are gonna have some trouble explaining away this testimony under oath:

Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.

The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates.

Foster’s assessment came a day after Obama in his State of the Union message told lawmakers that he’s open to improvements in the law, but unwilling to rehash the health care debate of the past two years. Republicans want to repeal the landmark legislation that provides coverage to more than 30 million people now uninsured, but lack the votes.

Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.

On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded.

As for people getting to keep their coverage, “not true in all cases.”

In other words, the proponents of ObamaCare lied, plain and simple.

Read the whole thing.

You Stay Classy, Loretta Sanchez!


Behind closed doors, California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has proposed removing Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) until she recovers from injuries sustained after being shot in the head on Jan. 8 in Tucson, The Daily Caller has learned.

The proposal sparked an outrage, according to those in the room — including from those in Sanchez’s own party.

“It’s not appropriate,” Texas Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes told The Daily Caller, adding that there was outrage among some members in the room when Sanchez made the suggestion. “It’s bad for morale during her recovery period.”

Reyes and Rep. Adam Smith of Washington put up most of the fight against Sanchez, and helped squash the idea.

“From a woman who memorialized her cat, you’d think she’d show a little more compassion for a woman shot in the face,” said one GOP aide, referring to Sanchez’s 2010 Christmas card that paid tribute to her late cat, Gretzky.

Kudos to the other Democrats who helped stop this ludicrous idea. As for Rep. Sanchez, maybe in 2012 her district will decide that she’s been an embarrassment to them long enough.

Pro-Democracy Protests In Egypt


In a move largely credited as sparked by the recent revolt in Tunisia, pro-democracy demonstrators have taken to the streets in Cairo and other large Egyptian cities. Here’s a quick list of reports that I’ve dug up:

Seems like watching this story develop might be a lot more interesting than watching His Obamaness pontificate tonight.

Update: According to the Daily Mail (UK), the protests have spread to Lebanon.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, a prime minster backed by pro-Iranian Hezbollah was appointed sparking angry street protests and fears the move would plunge the country into a new crisis.

Billionaire businessman and former premier Najib Mikati, Hezbollah’s chosen candidate, moved immediately to try and reassure the country declaring : ‘My hand is extended to all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, in order to build and not to destroy.’

But thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of major cities on what they also called a ‘day of rage’, accusing Hebzbollah of engineering the collapse of the previous unity government of outgoing Premier Saad Hariri.

Things definitely seem to be getting interesting in the Middle East.

No SOTU Coverage Here, Sorry.


I agree with those, including Roger Kimball, Ed Morrissey, and others who are refusing to watch the political pep-rally that is the modern State of the Union address. I agree with Ed that it would probably be better to return to the old tradition of the President sending his required annual report on the State of the Union to Congress in written form. A good example is Thomas Jefferson’s 1801 State of the Union.

However, I understand that PajamasMedia’s VodkaPundit will be drunkblogging the speech tonite, and PJTV will be providing extensive coverage, so it’s not like the conservative side of the political equation will be completely absent.

Iran Deploys “Cyber Police”


One more avenue for the Iranian thugocracy to oppress the Iranian people:

TEHRAN, Iran—Iran’s state TV says the country has launched its first cyber police unit in the latest attempt by authorities to gain an edge in the digital world.

The Internet has been a key outlet for Iran’s political opposition since the disputed presidential election in 2009. Iran also has been trying to boost its web defenses after the Stuxnet computer worm made its way into computers involved with its nuclear program.

Any bets on whether or not the only thing allowed on the Iranian internet will be state-approved propaganda?

Rahm “Dead Fish” Emanuel Ineligible To Run For Chicago Mayor


Guess, what, Rahm-bo? An Illinois appellate court has just handed you a dead fish of your very own.

“A candidate must meet not only the Election Code’s voter residency standard, but also must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy,” the court stated in the decision.

Of course, he is going to appeal, which may set up the most-watched court case since Bush v. Gore.

Judge John Roll: An Unsung Hero Of Tucson, But Why?


That’s the question Sandy Rios is asking:

Federal Judge John Roll was killed in Tucson trying to save another man’s life. As soon as madman Jared Lee Loughner finished his attempt to murder Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, he turned his gun on the people to his left, then the people to his right. Recently released video shows his first target to the right was Ron Barber, Gifford’s district director, who was standing next to Justice John Roll.

Barber was shot in the arm. Judge Roll then pushed him down and, shielding Barber with his own body, steered him to shelter under a nearby table. While under the table, Loughner aimed for Roll’s exposed back and pulled the trigger. The video continues as Judge Roll looks up over his right shoulder, lies back down and dies at the scene.

Why don’t we know that? We know that an intern to Gifford, Daniel Hernandez, held Congresswoman Gifford’s head in his lap, putting pressure on the wound to save her life. We know that retired Army National Guard Colonel Bill Badger, though injured, tackled Loughner. We know Joe Zamudio, a young bystander carrying a gun, ran to the scene initially to stop the shooter by his own deadly force, but aided Badger instead in the restraint. While both held Loughner, Patricia Maisch removed another loaded magazine from Loughner’s pocket.

We know the stories of these people well as recounted by the press and by President Obama at the memorial service. We are collectively proud of them and each deserve recognition and praise. But what about Judge Roll?

It’s a very good question. Rios herself provides a probable answer, too:

Could it be the heroes of this story have been chosen and that Judge Roll doesn’t fit the template? Appointed by President George H.W. Bush, could it be that Judge Roll’s act of courage was seen to diminish or interfere with the aggrandizement of a Democratic Congresswoman from her tragic shooting? Could it be that in an attempt to trade on her tragic circumstances, the report of a heroic Republican Judge would be inconvenient?

Read the whole thing, and decide for yourself.

 

Obama’s SOTU: Spend, Spend, Spend, More, More, More!


That seems to be the gist of it

President Barack Obama will call for new government spending on infrastructure, education and research in his State of the Union address Tuesday, sharpening his response to Republicans in Congress who are demanding deep budget cuts, people familiar with the speech said.

Mr. Obama will argue that the U.S., even while trying to reduce its budget deficit, must make targeted investments to foster job growth and boost U.S. competitiveness in the world economy. The new spending could include initiatives aimed at building the renewable-energy sector—which received billions of dollars in stimulus funding—and rebuilding roads to improve transportation, people familiar with the matter said. Money to restructure the No Child Left Behind law’s testing mandates and institute more competitive grants also could be included.

While proposing new spending, Mr. Obama also will lay out significant budget cuts elsewhere, people familiar with the plans say, though they will likely fall short of what Republican lawmakers have requested.

On behalf of everyone who’s in favor of fiscal sanity, Mr. Obama, let me thank you for ceding the issue to the GOP.

Now we just have to hope that the GOP doesn’t follow their usual pattern of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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