Friday, March 30, 2012

Flexibility Towards Israel

Via Politico:

“On all these issues, particularly on missile defense,
this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama
said, referring to incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a TV
pool reporter who heard audio recorded by a Russian reporter who was in the room
moments before the two leaders spoke to reporters after their 90-minute
meeting.


“Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for
you,” Medvedev responded.

A U.S. pool video camera in the room caught part of the audio, but not
the piece about missile defense.

“This is my last election,” Obama said in audio that could be heard on
the TV pool’s recording and that POLITICO listened to. “After my election I have
more flexibility.”



Flexibility?



One of the blogs I daily peruse posted a sermon by a southern Rabbi that made me think back to the above material. The blog is The Nittany Turkey. Link is here. I am still posting the entirety of the sermon below. Please read carefully, and if you feel the same way, please feel free to link and repost.

Sermon delivered by Rabbi School Lewis of Atlanta

I thought long and I thought hard on whether to deliver the sermon I am about to share. We all wish to bounce happily out of shul on the High Holidays, filled with warm fuzzies, ready to gobble up our brisket, our honey cakes and our kugel. We want to be shaken and stirred – but not too much. We want to be guilt-schlepped – but not too much. We want to be provoked but not too much. We want to be transformed but not too much.

I get it, but as a rabbi I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart and what I passionately believe must be said and must be heard. And so, I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by the frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency.

We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people. We did not apologize for Dresden, nor for The Battle of the Bulge, nor for El Alamein, nor for D-Day.

Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable, evil threatened us and Roosevelt and Churchill had moral clarity and an exquisite understanding of what was at stake. It was not just the Sudetenland, not just Tubruk, not just Vienna , not just Casablanca. It was the entire planet. Read history and be shocked at how frighteningly close Hitler came to creating a Pax Germana on every continent.

Not all Germans were Nazis – most were decent, most were revolted by the Third Reich, most were good citizens hoisting a beer, earning a living and tucking in their children at night. But, too many looked away, too many cried out in lame defense – I didn’t know.” Too many were silent. Guilt absolutely falls upon those who committed the atrocities, but responsibility and guilt falls upon those who did nothing as well. Fault was not just with the goose steppers but with those who pulled the curtains shut, said and did nothing.

In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis. We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe. We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win — to rid the world of malevolence.

We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct.

Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London , from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza , the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists.

To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.

A few years ago I visited Lithuania on a Jewish genealogical tour. It was a stunning journey and a very personal, spiritual pilgrimage. When we visited Kovno we davened Maariv at the only remaining shul in the city. Before the war there were thirty-seven shuls for 38,000 Jews. Now only one, a shrinking, gray congregation. We made minyon for the handful of aged worshippers in the Choral Synagogue, a once majestic jewel in Kovno.

After my return home I visited Cherry Hill for Shabbos. At the oneg an elderly family friend, Joe Magun, came over to me.

“Shalom,” he said. “Your abba told me you just came back from Lithuania .”
“Yes,” I replied. “It was quite a powerful experience.” “Did you visit the Choral Synagogue in Kovno? The one with the big arch in the courtyard?”
“Yes, I did. In fact, we helped them make minyon.” His eyes opened wide in joy at our shared memory. For a moment he gazed into the distance and then, he returned. “Shalom, I grew up only a few feet away from the arch. The Choral Synagogue was where I davened as a child.”

He paused for a moment and once again was lost in the past. His smile faded. Pain filled his wrinkled face. “I remember one Shabbos in 1938 when Vladimir Jabotinsky came to the shul.” (Jabotinsky was Menachim Begin’s mentor – he was a fiery orator, an unflinching Zionist radical, whose politics were to the far right.) Joe continued “When Jabotinsky came, he delivered the drash on Shabbos morning and I can still hear his words burning in my ears. He climbed up to the shtender, stared at us from the bima, glared at us with eyes full of fire and cried out. ‘ER KUMT. YIDN FARLAWST AYER SHTETL’ – He’s coming. Jews abandon your city.”

We thought we were safe in Lithuania from the Nazis, from Hitler. We had lived there, thrived for a thousand years but Jabotinsky was right — his warning prophetic. We got out but most did not.

We are not in Lithuania . It is not the 1930s. There is no Luftwaffe overhead. No U-boats off the coast of long Island . No Panzer divisions on our borders. But make no mistake; we are under attack – our values, our tolerance, our freedom, our virtue, our land.

Now before some folks roll their eyes and glance at their watches let me state emphatically, unmistakably – I have no pathology of hate, nor am I a manic Paul Revere, galloping through the countryside. I am not a pessimist, nor prone to panic attacks. I am a lover of humanity, all humanity. Whether they worship in a synagogue, a church, a mosque, a temple or don’t worship at all. I have no bone of bigotry in my body, but what I do have is hatred for those who hate, intolerance for those who are intolerant, and a guiltless, unstoppable obsession to see evil eradicated.

Today the enemy is radical Islam but it must be said sadly and reluctantly that there are unwitting, co-conspirators who strengthen the hands of the evil doers. Let me state that the overwhelming number of Muslims are good Muslims, fine human beings who want nothing more than a Jeep Cherokee in their driveway, a flat screen TV on their wall and a good education for their children, but these good Muslims have an obligation to destiny, to decency that thus far for the most part they have avoided.

The Kulturkampf is not only external but internal as well. The good Muslims must sponsor rallies in Times Square, in Trafalgar Square, in the UN Plaza, on the Champs Elysee, in Mecca condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent. Thus far, they have not. The good Muslims must place ads in the NY Times. They must buy time on network TV, on cable stations, in the Jerusalem Post, in Le Monde, in Al Watan, on Al Jazeena condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent – thus far, they have not. Their silence allows the vicious to tarnish Islam and define it.

Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.

I recall a conversation with my father shortly before he died that helped me understand how perilous and how broken is our world; that we are living on the narrow seam of civilization and moral oblivion. Knowing he had little time left he shared the following – “Shal. I am ready to leave this earth. Sure I’d like to live a little longer, see a few more sunrises, but truthfully, I’ve had it. I’m done. Finished. I hope the Good Lord takes me soon because I am unable to live in this world knowing what it has become.”

This startling admission of moral exhaustion from a man who witnessed and lived through the Depression, the Holocaust, WWII, Communist triumphalism, McCarthyism, Strontium 90 and polio. Yet his twilight observation was – “The worst is yet to come.” And he wanted out.

I share my father’s angst and fear that too many do not see the authentic, existential threat we face nor confront the source of our peril. We must wake up and smell the hookah.

“Lighten up, Lewis. Take a chill pill, some of you are quietly thinking. You’re sounding like Glen Beck. It’s not that bad. It’s not that real.”

But I am here to tell you – “It is.” Ask the member of our shul whose sister was vaporized in the Twin Towers and identified finally by her charred teeth, if this is real or not. Ask the members of our shul who fled a bus in downtown Paris , fearing for their safety from a gang of Muslim thugs, if this is an exaggeration. Ask the member of our shul whose son tracks Arab terrorist infiltrators who target – pizza parlors, nursery schools, Pesach seders, city buses and play grounds, if this is dramatic, paranoid hyperbole.

Ask them, ask all of them – ask the American GI’s we sit next to on planes who are here for a brief respite while we fly off on our Delta vacation package. Ask them if it’s bad. Ask them if it’s real.

Did anyone imagine in the 1920’s what Europe would look like in the 1940’s. Did anyone presume to know in the coffee houses of Berlin or in the opera halls of Vienna that genocide would soon become the celebrated culture? Did anyone think that a goofy-looking painter named Shickelgruber would go from the beer halls of Munich and jail, to the Reichstag as Feuhrer in less than a decade? Did Jews pack their bags and leave Warsaw , Vilna, Athens , Paris , Bialystok , Minsk , knowing that soon their new address would be Treblinka, Sobibor, Dachau and Auschwitz ?
The sages teach – “Aizehu chacham – haroeh et hanolad – Who is a wise person – he who sees into the future.” We dare not wallow in complacency, in a misguided tolerance and naïve sense of security.

We must be diligent students of history and not sit in ash cloth at the waters of Babylon weeping. We cannot be hypnotized by eloquent-sounding rhetoric that soothes our heart but endangers our soul. We cannot be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders. Radical Islam is the scourge and this must be cried out from every mountain top. From sea to shining sea, we must stand tall, prideful of our stunning decency and moral resilience. Immediately after 9/11 how many mosques were destroyed in America ? None. After 9/11, how many Muslims were killed in America ? None. After 9/11, how many anti-Muslim rallies were held in America ? None. And yet, we apologize. We grovel. We beg forgiveness.

The mystifying litany of our foolishness continues. Should there be a shul in Hebron on the site where Baruch Goldstein gunned down twenty-seven Arabs at noonday prayers? Should there be a museum praising the U.S. Calvary on the site of Wounded Knee ? Should there be a German cultural center in Auschwitz ? Should a church be built in the Syrian town of Ma’arra where Crusaders slaughtered over 100,000 Muslims? Should there be a thirteen story mosque and Islamic Center only a few steps from Ground Zero?

Despite all the rhetoric, the essence of the matter can be distilled quite easily. The Muslim community has the absolute, constitutional right to build their building wherever they wish. I don’t buy the argument – “When we can build a church or a synagogue in Mecca they can build a mosque here.” America is greater than Saudi Arabia . And New York is greater than Mecca . Democracy and freedom must prevail.
Can they build? Certainly. May they build? Certainly. But should they build at that site? No — but that decision must come from them, not from us. Sensitivity, compassion cannot be measured in feet or yards or in blocks. One either feels the pain of others and cares, or does not.

If those behind this project are good, peace-loving, sincere, tolerant Muslims, as they claim, then they should know better, rip up the zoning permits and build elsewhere.

Believe it or not, I am a dues-paying, card carrying member of the ACLU, yet from start of finish, I find this sorry episode disturbing to say the least.
William Burroughs, the novelist and poet, in a wry moment wrote – “After one look at this planet, any visitor from outer space would say – “I want to see the manager.”
Let us understand that the radical Islamist assaults all over the globe are but skirmishes, fire fights, and vicious decoys. Christ and the anti-Christ. Gog U’Magog. The Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness; the bloody collision between civilization and depravity is on the border between Lebanon and Israel . It is on the Gaza Coast and in the Judean Hills of the West Bank . It is on the sandy beaches of Tel Aviv and on the cobblestoned mall of Ben Yehuda Street . It is in the underground schools of Sderot and on the bullet-proofed inner-city buses. It is in every school yard, hospital, nursery, classroom, park, theater – in every place of innocence and purity.

Israel is the laboratory – the test market. Every death, every explosion, every grisly encounter is not a random, bloody orgy. It is a calculated, strategic probe into the heart, guts and soul of the West.

In the Six Day War, Israel was the proxy of Western values and strategy while the Arab alliance was the proxy of Eastern, Soviet values and strategy. Today too, it is a confrontation of proxies, but the stakes are greater than East Jerusalem and the West Bank . Israel in her struggle represents the civilized world, while Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Iran , Islamic Jihad, represent the world of psychopathic, loathesome evil.

As Israel , imperfect as she is, resists the onslaught, many in the Western World have lost their way displaying not admiration, not sympathy, not understanding, for Israel ’s galling plight, but downright hostility and contempt. Without moral clarity, we are doomed because Israel ’s galling plight ultimately will be ours. Hanna Arendt in her classic Origins of Totalitarianism accurately portrays the first target of tyranny as the Jew.

We are the trial balloon. The canary in the coal mine. If the Jew/Israel is permitted to bleed with nary a protest from “good guys” then tyranny snickers and pushes forward with its agenda.

Moral confusion is a deadly weakness and it has reached epic proportions in the West; from the Oval Office to the UN, from the BBC to Reuters to MSNBC, from the New York Times to Le Monde, from university campuses to British teachers unions, from the International Red Cross to Amnesty International, from Goldstone to Elvis Costello, from the Presbyterian Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

There is a message sent and consequences when our president visits Turkey and Egypt and Saudi Arabia , and not Israel.

There is a message sent and consequences when free speech on campus is only for those championing Palestinian rights.

There is a message sent and consequences when the media deliberately doctors and edits film clips to demonize Israel.

There is a message sent and consequences when the UN blasts Israel relentlessly, effectively ignoring Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, North Korea, China and other noxious states.

There is a message sent and consequences when liberal churches are motivated by Liberation Theology, not historical accuracy.

There is a message sent and consequences when murderers and terrorists are defended by the obscenely transparent “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
John Milton warned, “Hypocrisy is the only evil that walks invisible.”

A few days after the Gaza blockade incident in the spring, a congregant happened past my office, glanced in and asked in a friendly tone, “Rabbi. How’re y’ doing?”
I looked up, sort of smiled and replied, “I’ve had better days.”
“What’s the matter? Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?” he inquired.
“Thank you for the offer but I’m just bummed out today,” and I showed him a newspaper article I was reading.
“Madrid gay pride parade bans Israeli group over Gaza Ship Raid.” I explained to my visitor, “The Israeli gay pride contingent from Tel Aviv was not allowed to participate in the Spanish gay pride parade because the mayor of Tel Aviv did not apologize for the raid by the Israeli military.”

The only country in the entire Middle East where gay rights exist is Israel. The only country in the entire Middle East where there is a gay pride parade is Israel. The only country in the Middle East that has gay neighborhoods and gay bars, is Israel.

Gays in the Gaza would be strung up, executed by Hamas if they came out and yet Israel is vilified and ostracized. Disinvited to the parade.

Looking for logic?
Looking for reason?
Looking for sanity?

Kafka on his darkest, gloomiest day could not keep up with this bizarre spectacle and we “useful idiots” pander and fawn over cutthroats, sinking deeper and deeper into moral decay, as the enemy laughs all the way to the West Bank and beyond.
It is exhausting and dispiriting. We live in an age that is redefining righteousness where those with moral clarity are an endangered, beleaguered specie.

Isaiah warned us thousands of years ago – “Oye Lehem Sheh-Korim Layome, Laila v’Laila, yome” – Woe to them who call the day night and the night, day. We live on a planet that is both Chelm and Sodom. It is a frightening and maddening place to be.
How do we convince the world and many of our own, that this is not just anti-Semitism, that this is not just anti-Zionism but a full throttled attack by unholy, radical Islamists on everything that is morally precious to us?

How do we convince the world and many of our own that conciliation is not an option, that compromise is not a choice?

Everything we are. Everything we believe. Everything we treasure, is at risk.
The threat is so unbelievably clear and the enemy so unbelievably ruthless how anyone in their right mind doesn’t get it is baffling. Let’s try an analogy. If someone contracted a life-threatening infection and we not only scolded them for using antibiotics but insisted that the bacteria had a right to infect their body and that perhaps, if we gave the invading infection an arm and a few toes, the bacteria would be satisfied and stop spreading.

Anyone buy that medical advice? Well, folks, that’s our approach to the radical Islamist bacteria. It is amoral, has no conscience and will spread unless it is eradicated. – There is no negotiating. Appeasement is death.

I was no great fan of George Bush – didn’t vote for him. (By the way, I’m still a registered Democrat.) I disagreed with many of his policies but one thing he had right. His moral clarity was flawless when it came to the War on Terror, the War on Radical Islamist Terror. There was no middle ground – either you were friend or foe. There was no place in Bush’s world for a Switzerland . He knew that this competition was not Toyota against G.M., not the Iphone against the Droid, not the Braves against the Phillies, but a deadly serious war, winner take all. Blink and you lose. Underestimate, and you get crushed.

I know that there are those sitting here today who have turned me off. But I also know that many turned off their rabbis seventy five years ago in Warsaw, Riga, Berlin, Amsterdam, Cracow, Vilna. I get no satisfaction from that knowledge, only a bitter sense that there is nothing new under the sun.

Enough rhetoric – how about a little “show and tell?” A few weeks ago on the cover of Time magazine was a horrific picture with a horrific story. The photo was of an eighteen year old Afghani woman, Bibi Aisha, who fled her abusive husband and his abusive family. Days later the Taliban found her and dragged her to a mountain clearing where she was found guilty of violating Sharia Law. Her punishment was immediate. She was pinned to the ground by four men while her husband sliced off her ears, and then he cut off her nose.

That is the enemy (show enlarged copy of magazine cover.)
If nothing else stirs us, if nothing else convinces us, let Bibi Aisha’s mutilated face be the face of Islamic radicalism. Let her face shake up even the most complacent and naïve among us. In the holy crusade against this ultimate evil, pictures of Bibi Aisha’s disfigurement should be displayed on billboards, along every highway from Route 66 to the Autobahn, to the Transarabian Highway. Her picture should be posted on every lobby wall from Tokyo to Stockholm to Rio. On every network, at every commercial break, Bibi Aisha’s face should appear with the caption – “Radical Islamic savages did this.” And underneath – “This ad was approved by Hamas, by Hezbollah, by Taliban, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, by Islamic Jihad, by Fatah al Islam, by Magar Nodal Hassan, by Richard Reid, by Ahmanijad, by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, by Osama bin Laden, by Edward Said, by The Muslim Brotherhood, by Al Queda, by CAIR.”

“The moral sentiment is the drop that balances the sea,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Today, my friends, the sea is woefully out of balance and we could easily drown in our moral myopia and worship of political correctness.

We peer up into the heavens sending probes to distant galaxies. We peer down into quarks discovering particles that would astonish Einstein. We create computers that rival the mind, technologies that surpass science fiction. What we imagine, with astounding rapidity, becomes real. If we dream it, it does, indeed, come. And yet, we are at a critical point in the history of this planet that could send us back into the cave, to a culture that would make the Neanderthal blush with shame.
Our parents and grandparents saw the swastika and recoiled, understood the threat and destroyed the Nazis. We see the banner of Radical Islam and can do no less.
A rabbi was once asked by his students, “Rebbi. Why are your sermons so stern?” Replied the rabbi, “If a house is on fire and we chose not to wake up our children for fear of disturbing their sleep, would that be love? ”Kinderlach, di hoyz brent.” — Children, our house is on fire and I must arouse you from your slumber.
During WWII and the Holocaust was it business as usual for priests, ministers, rabbis? Did they deliver benign homilies and lovely sermons as Europe fell, as the Pacific fell, as North Africa fell, as the Mideast and South America tottered, as England bled? Did they ignore the demonic juggernaut and the foul breath of evil? They did not. There was clarity, courage, vision, determination, sacrifice, and we were victorious. Today it must be our finest hour as well. We dare not retreat into the banality of our routines, glance at headlines and presume that the good guys will prevail.

Democracies don’t always win.
Tyrannies don’t always lose.
My friends – the world is on fire and we must awake from our slumber. “ER KUMT.”



I am reminded of Napoleon's "flexibility" toward Israel. Or rather, I remember Napoleon bowing, ingratiating himself to so coalled "Palestinians" and the tyranny of the Middle East. To Israel he is inflexible.

I sincerely hope many Jews with a sense of identity come to the same conclusion many of us reached long ago: Israel might not survive a second term of this anti-Semitic regime.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

SOUTHERN WHITE REPUBLICAN GETS "WRIST SLAP" PENALTY FOR ELECTION LAW VIOLATIONS

From the NYP:

"EVIL NEANDERTHAL REPUBLICAN is one lucky congressman: A federal panel is citing him for election-law violations but fining him a mere $23,000 — pocket change that likely won’t even come from his own pocket, BUT PROBABLY FROM HIS SLAVE-OWNING, KLANSMEN REDNECK VOTING CONSTITUENCY....

After all, this wasn’t over some minor technicality. No, the Federal Election Commission found that the SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN for years illegally used a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office.

RACIST-Y WHITE REPUBLICAN can’t claim ignorance, either; turns out he not only signed the original lease (which required him to use the unit “for living purposes only”) but renewal leases “and all other renewal forms.” Which means, said the FEC, that he knowingly accepted what amounted to an illegal in-kind campaign gift from his landlord (who was fined $19,000).

And WOMAN SUPPRESSOR kept the deal even as the landlord vigorously moved to evict other tenants for violating rent-control rules. Given what he got away with, the $23,000 fine isn’t much of a hit. No wonder an aide calls it basically a nuisance fee. “People settle not because they’re guilty but because they don’t want to go through the arduous process and expense to show they’re not guilty,” she said. And though his office won’t say for sure, his campaign will most likely pay the tab. Typical WHITEY JUSTICE: Laws don’t apply to THEM AND THEIR NAZI ILK.

Just as they didn’t apply to any of the 11 counts of ethical violations, many first uncovered by The Post, that led the House to censure him. Even his colleagues, it seems, couldn’t ignore that sleaze: Failing to pay taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic. Failing to report hundreds of thousands in assets on financial-disclosure forms. FAILURE TO BUY A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR HIS HOUSEMAID'S KID. Using official letterhead to solicit donations, including from firms with business before Congress, for a school named after him . . . WHITE SATAN-MALE has now been sanctioned by the House and the FEC.

That leaves one party yet to be heard from: the voters."

ED-this is just yet another example of the partisan racism that is corroding the government. If he runs again, he'll win and we all know it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recap and Predictions

Day 1: Penalty vs Tax
In day 1, we saw almost all justices pessimistic about calling this a tax, in that nobody could find an instance of the word "tax" in the legislation surrounding the mandate. Scalia even went so far to cite the President's opinion. If this were to be ruled a tax, you could pretty much throw the dictionary out the window because any words' meaning would be changeable to the legislator's whim, especially in hindsight.

It's a penalty. Call it 6-3, with Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissenting weakly.

Day 2: The Mandate's Day in Court
Verrilli didn't have that much to work with. Kennedy didn't get the answers he was looking for to uphold the mandate. Nobody did. Put simply, once you enter commerce, you are subject to regulation. The government cannot regulate non-commerce, just commerce. The health insurance industry is unique, just as every other market is unique. No limiting principle was put forth by the government, and Kennedy was more than concerned that granting Congress this power would in effect let them regulate any non-commerce in any industry.

Fingers crossed. Kennedy casts the final vote against the mandate. I wouldn't be surprised if even Justice Ginsberg voted against given her opinions in the transcripts and the government's position. Final tally goes 5-4 or 6-3 in favor of Florida. Obama does a history adjustment to make it seem...Wow, he already beat me to it.

Day 3: Severability
I though severability would be a slam dunk. As in it wouldn't be severable. The Deputy SG, with the aid of Justices Kagan, Ginsberg, and Sotomeyer made a compelling case. Scalia just had some fun, because even he knows its already been decided.

Severable, 7-2 with Justices Thomas and Scalia dissenting. Send it back to Conrgess and let them pour through the legislation to figure out what can stay and what can't while they try to pass a wildly unpopular bill without the votes.

Head over to Althouse for this afternoon's festivities.

Other stuff: Temple of the Mutt has a great update on the Tea Party slandering from last week. Worth the read. Do not taunt Temple of the Mutt.

HHS v Florida, Round 3

Clicky for transcripts.

Round 3, the final round of arguments occurred this morning (I didn't review the Medicaid arguments). Let's get into it.

The Players:

PAUL D. CLEMENT, ESQ., Washington, D.C.; on behalf of Petitioners.
EDWIN S. KNEEDLER, ESQ., Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; on behalf of Respondents (ed - BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WE WANT VERILLI BACK)
H. BARTOW FARR, III, ESQ., Washington, D.C.; for Court-appointed amicus curiae.

Summary

Clement handles the initial deluge well enough. Justice Sotomayor takes the vanguard and actually makes some very good points, such as stating if the mandate is unconstitutional, then it's congress job to decide to either rework the bill or scrap it. I agree. This also means I probably could see a way the mandate would be severable.

Clement argues that since the legislation at pg 43a states that the mandate is essential, it is unseverable. Not bad. I just don't think the justices were that convinced. Justice Ginsberg does point out that there are provisions in the legislation (e.g. Black Lung Act) that would remain unaffected if the mandate were to drop out. I agree, but note that such extraneous legislation was put on board as a rider. Which happens all the time, and doesn't change the fact that while in the periphery, it is still part of the legislation. Nice try, Clement.

Justice Kennedy asks for Mr. Clement's opinion on how he would proceed with the decision on severability. Clement starts off with stating to examine the text, and then examine intent. Justices Kagan, Sotomayer, and Breyer turn the arguments inside out. Justice Alito tries to step in, but Clement kind of falters here. However, he did produce one gem-see the first highlight below. Moving on.

Chief Justice Roberts steps in and does mention that many of the votes were in response to these riders, such as the infamous "cornhusker kickback" that was the final vote. Clement argues the potential of leaving the unaffiliated riders as they are and going after the more mandate relevant legislation. Personally, I don't see it happen. Onto the Deputy SG.

Speaking for the government is a guy named "Kneedler". There's a cheap joke there, I just can't find it.

The conservative justices ask basically the same question; is Congress to decide what stays or goes? Or does the Court. Kneedler makes a good case for the former. Starting at page 36, Justice Sotomayer pretty much takes over for Mr. Kneedler.

See second highlight below. Kneedler asks the court to read the document and rely on text as well, albeit for the opposite reasons that Clement wanted.

From this point, the Justices, both right and left, are making Kneedler's case for him. Justice Kennedy might have tipped his hand a bit during the questioning during an important exchange at this point. See the third highlight below.

Sotomayer at this point has to take over again for Kneedler.

Arguments from multiple Justices, including Scalia stating if the mandate is cut out, they have no idea what the implications are on the other portions of the legislation. Again, I agree. This thing is a leviathan.

One of the last questions asked by Chief Justice Roberts has to do with the name of the act itself, vis-a-vis that if there is no mandate, can this legislation really be titled "affordable"? I see his point, but this isn't the first piece of legislation that's had an incredibly misleading title.

Justice Ginsberg at p.54 basically answers another answer for the government. I see a pattern here.

I didn't bother with the Amicus Curiae. Actuarial mixed with the legal tunes me out a bit. Also, for a "friend of the court" he faced an inquisition. It did produce highlight number four, though. See below.

In closing statements reserved for the state of Florida, Sotomeyer reasserts the arguments against. This is annoying. Clement finishes with saying that the mandate isn't just a tool to raise the necessary funds for implementation; it's the main tool. I don't buy it.

And that was it for the morning. Onto the highlights:

p.26
MR. CLEMENT: At a certain point, I just think that, you know, the better answer might be to say, we've struck the heart of this Act, let's just give Congress a clean slate. If it's so easy to have that other big volume get reenacted, they can do it in a couple of days, it won't be a big deal. If it's not, because it's very -
(Laughter.)
MR. CLEMENT: -- well, but -- I mean, you can laugh at me if you want, but the point is, I rather suspect that it won't be easy.

Tonight, Mr. Clement is going to have that part read back to him and he will laugh.

p.37
MR. KNEEDLER: -- blend into -- blend into discretion and, in turn, blend into the merits of the severability question. And as to that, just to answer a question that several Justices have asked, we think that severability is a matter of statutory interpretation. It should be resolved by looking at the structure and the text of the Act, and the Court may look at legislative history to figure out what the text and structure mean with respect to severability. We don't
JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?
(Laughter.)
JUSTICE SCALIA: And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to give this function to our law clerks?
(Laughter.)
JUSTICE SCALIA: Is this not totally unrealistic? That we're going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?
MR. KNEEDLER: Well -
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: I thought the simple answer was you don't have to because -
MR. KNEEDLER: Well, that is -- that is the -
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: -- what we have to look at is what Congress said was essential, correct?
MR. KNEEDLER: That is correct, and I'd also like to -- going -- I just want to finish the thought I had about this being a matter of statutory interpretation. The Court's task, we submit, is not to look at the legislative process to see whether the bill would have been -- would have passed or not based on the political situation at the time, which would basically convert the Court into a function such as a whip count. That is not the Court's function.
JUSTICE KAGAN: And, Mr. Kneedler, that would be a revolution -
MR. KNEEDLER: Yes.
JUSTICE KAGAN: -- in our severability law, wouldn't it?
MR. KNEEDLER: It would.
JUSTICE KAGAN: I mean, we have never suggested that we're going to say, look, this legislation was a brokered compromise, and we're going to try to figure out exactly what would have happened in the complex parliamentary shenanigans that go on across the street and figure out whether they would have made a difference.
Instead, we look at the text that's actually given us. For some people, we look only at the text. It should be easy for Justice Scalia's clerks.(Laughter.)
MR. KNEEDLER: I think -- I think that -
JUSTICE SCALIA: I don't care whether it's easy for my clerks. I care whether it's easy for me.
(Laughter.)
MR. KNEEDLER: I think that -- I think that's exactly right. As I said, it is a question of statutory interpretation.

Translation: it's 2700 pages long. Either you or Congress tell us what's severable with the mandate. Good stuff here.

p.43
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But I still don't understand where you are with the answer to Justice Alito's question.
Assume that there is a -- a substantial probability that the 350 billion plus 350 billion equals 7 is going to be cut in half if the individual mandate is stricken. Assume there is a significant possibility of that. Is it within the proper exercise of this Court's function to impose that kind of risk? Can we say that the Congress would have intended that there be that kind of risk?

Notice anything? "Significant possibility"? Yeah, I'm reading way to much into the statement but I don't care.

p.67
JUSTICE KENNEDY: So do you want us to write an opinion saying we have concluded that there is an insignificant risk of a substantial adverse effect on the insurance companies, that's our economic conclusion, and therefore not severable? That's what you want me to say?
MR. FARR: It doesn't sound right the way you say it, Justice Kennedy.
(Laughter.)

That was pretty funny. The lesson here is don't bullshit the court or interject your own ideas into the discussion in this position, or you will be called out.

Final Analysis

It was very unsettling to see Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor take over at times for the government. It reeked of desperation; one could only wonder why. Maybe because they didn't want Obama to look bad in his selection in SGs. Maybe they know that their position was shellacked yesterday and their side needs some kind of victory.

The Judges all seemed very apprehensive about striking down the entire legislation if the mandate does not pass muster. And they should be. It's 2700 pages of legalese which almost nobody has read. Severability isn't in the text of the document, and intent is kind of hard to prove. It's not in the Court's power to pick and choose which programs stay. Lastly, and most importantly, if the court were to go back to examine this document it would be a waste of the Court's time.

I think they will find the mandate to be severable (say 7-2, with Justice Thomas and either Justices Alito or Scalia dissenting) or not make a ruling and just kick the filthy Obamacare back to Congress. That in itself would be a winner, because I don't think Congress wants to pass that very unpopular, and unConstitutional piece of legislation again. Especially if they have to add the word "tax".

Final analysis and predictions to follow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

HHS v Florida, Round 2

For transcrips, clicky-clicky.

The Players

SG Donald Verilli. He was a clusterf#$k. At one point he needed Ginsberg and Sotameyer to answer his questions.


For the state of Florida, Paul Clement and Michael Carvin. Carvin was hit and miss, but came through when it matterred. Clement for MVP.

Highlights

To be honest, the only Justice whose vote is in doubt is Justice Kennedy. So let's make the highlights about him.

p.4
GENERAL VERRILLI: Under the Commerce Clause, what Congress has done is to enact reforms of the insurance market, directed at the individual insurance market, that preclude -- that preclude discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, that require guaranteed issue and community rating. And it uses -- and the minimum coverage provision is necessary to carry into execution those insurance reforms -
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?
GENERAL VERRILLI: That's not what's going on here, Justice Kennedy, and we're not seeking to defend the law on that basis.
In this case, the -- what is being regulated is the method of financing health -- the purchase of health care. That itself is economic activity with substantial effects on interstate commerce.

Translation: yes, we are creating commerce, and we are regulating it.

p.11
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Could you help -- help me with this. Assume for the moment -- you may disagree. Assume for the moment that this is unprecedented, this is a step beyond what our cases have allowed, the affirmative duty to act to go into commerce. If that is so, do you not have a heavy burden of justification?
I understand that we must presume laws are constitutional, but, even so, when you are changing the relation of the individual to the government in this, what we can stipulate is, I think, a unique way, do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authorization under the Constitution?

Translation: Kennedy is setting the bar very high since, theorhetically, this kind of power has never been granted to Congress.

p.16
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, then your question is whether or not there are any limits on the Commerce Clause. Can you identify for us some limits on the Commerce Clause?
GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes. The -- the rationale purely under the Commerce Clause that we're advocating here would not justify forced purchases of commodities for the purpose of stimulating demand. We -- the -- it would not justify purchases of insurance for the purposes -- in situations in which insurance doesn't serve as the method of payment for service -
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But why not? If Congress -- if Congress says that the interstate commerce is affected, isn't, according to your view, that the end of the analysis.
GENERAL VERRILLI: No. The -- we think that in a -- when -- the difference between those situations and this situation is that in those situations, Your Honor, Congress would be moving to create commerce. Here Congress is regulating existing commerce, economic activity that is already going on, people's participation in the health care market, and is regulating to deal with existing effects of existing commerce.

Translation: Justice Kennedy wants to know specifically what limit to Congressional power will be. If, in fact the government believes they can just influence interstate commerce, or is there some broader scope of government influence the government is willing to define. One could almost see the SG flopsweat this one.

I don't think Kennedy was happy with the vague answer.

BTW, Chief Justice Roberts jumps in at this point with the broccoli analogy. Justice Scalia seen visibly drooling*.
*we would think

p. 25
JUSTICE KENNEDY: I'm not sure which way it cuts, if the Congress has alternate means. Let's assume that it could use the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single payer. How does that factor into our analysis? In one sense, it can be argued that this is what the government is doing; it ought to be honest about the power that it's using and use the correct power. On the other hand, it means that since the Court can do it anyway -- Congress can do it anyway, we give a certain amount of latitude. I'm not sure which the way the argument goes.
GENERAL VERRILLI: Let me try to answer that question, Justice Kennedy, and get back to the question you asked me earlier. The -- the -- I do think one striking feature of the argument here that this is a novel exercise of power is that what Congress chose to do was to rely on market mechanisms and efficiency and a method that has more choice than would the traditional Medicare/Medicaid type model. And so, it seems a little ironic to suggest that that counts against it. But beyond that, in the sense that it's novel, this provision is novel in the same way, or unprecedented in the same way, that the Sherman Act was unprecedented when the Court upheld it in the Northern Securities case; or the Packers and Stockyards Act was unprecedented when the Court upheld it, or the National Labor Relations Act was unprecedented when the Court upheld it in Jones & Laughlin; or the dairy price supports in Wrightwood Dairy and Rock Royal. And -
JUSTICE SCALIA: Oh, no, it's not. They all involved commerce. There was no doubt that what was being regulated was commerce. And here you're regulating somebody who isn't covered.
By the way, I don't agree with you that the relevant market here is health care. You're not regulating health care. You're regulating insurance. It's the insurance market that you're addressing and you're saying that some people who are not in it must be in it, and that's -- that's different from regulating in any manner commerce that already exists out there.

Translation: Kennedy, reasserting his earlier point thinks this might be unprecedented and is looking for other implementation standards. Verrelli cites case law stating that this isn't really unprecedented. Judge Scalia...took exception to that characterization.

BONUS MATERIAL

p. 27
GENERAL VERRILLI:And I do think, Justice Kennedy, getting back to the question you asked before, what -- what matters here is whether Congress is choosing a tool that's reasonably adapted to the problem that Congress is confronting. And that may mean that the tool is different from a tool that Congress has chosen to use in the past. That's not something that counts against the provision in a Commerce Clause analysis.

/STEAM EXPLODES OUT OF JUSTICE SCALIA'S EARS. KETTLE WHISLE.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Wait. That's -- it's both "Necessary and Proper." What you just said addresses what's necessary. Yes, has to be reasonably adapted. Necessary does not mean essential, just reasonably adapted. But in addition to being necessary, it has to be proper. And we've held in two cases that something that was reasonably adapted was not proper, because it violated the sovereignty of the States, which was implicit in the constitutional structure.
The argument here is that this also is -- may be necessary, but it's not proper, because it violates an equally evident principle in the Constitution, which is that the Federal Government is not supposed to be a government that has all powers; that it's supposed to be a government of limited powers. And that's what all this questioning has been about. What -- what is left? If the government can do this, what -- what else can it not do?
GENERAL VERRILLI: This does not violate the norm of proper as this Court articulated it in Printz or in New York because it does not interfere with the States as sovereigns. This is a regulation that -- this is a regulation -
JUSTICE SCALIA: No, that wasn't my point. That is not the only constitutional principle that exists.

I don't think Justice Scalia should have left him off the hook on this one. Justice Kennedy politely asked that SG Verrilli define the limits of Congressional power. Scalia pressed him again and didn't get an answer. And really, at this point, I don't think we need one given the nature of the authoring regime. MOVING ON.

p. 30
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But the reason, the reason this is concerning is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts, our tradition, our law has been that you don't have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him, absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that's generally the rule.
And here the government is saying that the Federal Government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in a very fundamental way.
GENERAL VERRILLI: I don't think so, Justice Kennedy, because it is predicated on the participation of these individuals in the market for health care services. Now, it happens to be that this is a market in which, aside from the groups that the statute excludes, virtually everybody participates. But it is a regulation of their participation in that market.

Translation: Justice Kennedy is still looking for a reason the government can compel people to enter commerce in a market. SG Verrilli states it's not forcing individuals to participate, but is a regulation of participation. This is why people don't like lawyers.

And that's it for Justice Kennedy on the record when Verrilli is questioned; 23 more pages of back and forth blah blah blah.

Next up, State of Florida. Clement bats leadoff.

p. 56 
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Is the government's argument this -- and maybe I won't state it accurately. It is true that the noninsured young adult is, in fact, an actuarial reality insofar as our allocation of health services, insofar as the way health insurance companies figure risks. That person who is sitting at home in his or her living room doing nothing is an actuarial reality that can and must be measured for health service purposes; is that their argument?
MR. CLEMENT: Well, I don't know, Justice Kennedy, but, if it is, I think there's at least two problems with it. One is, as Justice Alito's question suggested earlier -- I mean, somebody who is not in the insurance market is sort of irrelevant as an actuarial risk. I mean, we could look at the people not in the insurance market, and what we'd find is that they're relatively young, relatively healthy, and they would have a certain pool of actuarial risks that would actually lead to lower premiums. The people that would be captured by guaranteed rating and community issue -- guaranteed issue and community rating would presumably have a higher risk profile, and there would be higher premiums. And one of the things, one of the things, Congress sought to accomplish here was to force individuals into the insurance market to subsidize those that are already in it to lower the rates. And that's just not my speculation, that's Finding (I) at 43a of the Government's brief that -- it has the statute. And that's one of the clear findings.
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Mr. Clement, doesn't that work -- that work the way Social Security does? Let me put it this way: Congress, in the '30s, saw a real problem of people needing to have old age and survivor's insurance. And, yes, they did it through a tax, but they said everybody has got to be in it because if we don't have the healthy in it, there's not going to be the money to pay for the ones who become old or disabled or widowed. So, they required everyone to contribute. There was a big fuss about that in the beginning because a lot of people said -- maybe some people still do today -- I could do much better if the government left me alone. I'd go into the private market, I'd buy an annuity, I'd make a great investment, and they're forcing me to paying for this Social Security that I don't want. But that's constitutional. So, if Congress could see this as a problem when we need to have a group that will subsidize the ones who are going to get the benefits, it seems to me you're saying the only way that could be done is if the government does it itself; it can't involve the private market, it can't involve the private insurers. If it wants to do this, Social Security is its model. The government has to do -there has to be government takeover. We can't have the insurance industry in it. Is that your position?

Translation: Justice Kennedy asks why...ah, shit I am really not sure what's going on here. Just think that somehow Justice Ginsberg stated social security did was enacted and compels people to enter without people wanting to enter. Personally, I think the analogy is flawed in that people can choose to work. Also, social security sounded like a good idea; in truth it's a Ponzi scheme. Just sayin'...

p. 70
MR. CLEMENT: And with respect to the health insurance market that's designed to have payment in the health care market, everybody is not in the market. And that's the premise of the statute, and that's the problem Congress is trying to solve. And if it tried to solve it through incentives, we wouldn't be here; but, it's trying to solve it in a way that nobody has ever tried to solve an economic problem before, which is saying, you know, it would be so much more efficient if you were just in this market -
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But they are in the market in the sense that they are creating a risk that the market must account for.
MR. CLEMENT: Well, Justice Kennedy, I don't think that's right, certainly in any way that distinguishes this from any other context. When I'm sitting in my house deciding I'm not going to buy a car, I am causing the labor market in Detroit to go south. am causing maybe somebody to lose their job, and for everybody to have to pay for it under welfare. So, the cost shifting that the government tries to uniquely associate with this market -- it's everywhere. And even more to the point, the rationale that they think ultimately supports this legislation, that, look, it's an economic decision; once you make the economic decision, we aggregate the decision; there's your substantial effect on commerce. That argument works here. It works in every single industry.

Translation: Kennedy is taking the opposite side of the mandate argument to contend that people not in the health care market ultimately do effect commerce. Clement answers that any inaction in a given market effects commerce. Good job.

BTW, Justice Breyer is not having fun at this point. He's eminating stinklines.

Next to bat for the state of Florida is Michael Carvin.

Note: Justice Breyer goes on for 5 pages reflecting on a mystery epidemic that wipes people out and the government's response. Going out on a limb here, but I just don't think Justice Breyer likes Florida's position. He then has this interesting exchange with Carvin:

p.88
JUSTICE BREYER: -- and say that in fact it turns out that 90 percent of all automobiles driving interstate without certain equipment put up pollution, which travels interstate -- not 100 percent, maybe only 60 percent. Does the EPA have the power then to say you've got to have an antipollution device? It's statistical.
MR. CARVIN: What they can't do -- yes, if you have a car, they can require you to have an anti-pollution -
JUSTICE BREYER: Then you're not going on statistics; you're going on something else, which is what I'd like to know what it is.
MR. CARVIN: It's this. They can't require you to buy a car with an anti-pollution device. Once you've entered the market and made a decision, they can regulate the terms and conditions of the car that you do, and they can do it for all sorts of reasons. What they can't do it compel you to enter the market.
JUSTICE BREYER: Now we -- now you've changed the ground of argument, which I accept as -- as totally legitimate. And then the question is when you are born and you don't have insurance and you will in fact get sick and you will in fact impose costs, have you perhaps involuntarily -- perhaps simply because you are a human being -- entered this particular market, which is a market for health care?
MR. CARVIN: If being born is entering the market, then I can't think of a more plenary power Congress can have, because that literally means they can regulate every human activity from cradle to grave. thought that's what distinguished the plenary police power from the very limited commerce power. I don't disagree that giving the Congress plenary power to mandate property transfers from A to B would be a very efficient way of helping B and of accomplishing Congress's objectives. But the framers-
JUSTICE BREYER: I see the point. You can go back to, go back to Justice Kagan. Don't forget her question.

/lights cigarette. inhales deeply.
That was awesome. Carvin drinks for free. He finally found his voice. Moving on

MR. CARVIN: It is clear that the failure to buy health insurance doesn't affect anyone. Defaulting on your payments to your health care provider does. Congress chose, for whatever reason, not to regulate the harmful activity of defaulting on your health care provider. They used the 20 percent or whoever among the uninsured as a leverage to regulate the 100 percent of the uninsured.
JUSTICE KENNEDY: I agree -- I agree that that's what's happening here (ed - BOOM).
MR. CARVIN: Okay.
JUSTICE KENNEDY: And the government tells us that's because the insurance market is unique. And in the next case, it'll say the next market is unique. But I think it is true that if most questions in life are matters of degree, in the insurance and health care world, both markets -- stipulate two markets -- the young person who is uninsured is uniquely proximately very close to affecting the rates of insurance and the costs of providing medical care in a way that is not true in other industries. That's my concern in the case.
MR. CARVIN: And, Your -- I may be misunderstanding you, Justice Kennedy. I hope I'm not. Sure, it would be perfectly fine if they allowed -- you do actuarial risk for young people on the basis of their risk for disease, just like you judge flood insurance on the homeowner's risk of flood. One of the issues here is not only that they're compelling us to enter into the marketplace, they're not -- they're prohibiting us from buying the only economically sensible product that we would want, catastrophic insurance. Everyone agrees the only potential problem that a 30-year-old, as he goes from the healthy 70 percent of the population to the unhealthy 5 percent -and yet Congress prohibits anyone over 30 from buying any kind of catastrophic health insurance. And the reason they do that is because they needed this massive subsidy. Justice Alito, it's not our numbers. CBO said that injecting my clients into the risk pool lowers premiums by 15 to 20 percent. So, Justice Kennedy, even if we were going to create exceptions for people that are outside of commerce and inside of commerce, surely we'd make Congress do a closer nexus and say, look, we're really addressing this problem; We want these 30-year-olds to get catastrophic health insurance. And not only did they -- they deprived them of that option. And I think that illustrates the dangers of giving Congress these plenary powers, because they can always leverage them. They can always come up with some public policy rationale that converts the power to regulate commerce into the power to promote commerce, which, as I was saying before, is the one that I think is plenary.

Translation: Justice Kennedy didn't buy the "health insurance market is unique" argument. Carvin agrees and expands the point.

And that's it.

Final Analysis

The Justices have their votes set. Kennedy is in the middle. Kennedy just wants to know what the implications of the mandate are, the government's rationale for forcing people into commerce, and what the precedent is. I think the government fell very short of the Kennedy bar.

Still, Kennedy can find a reason to uphold, he will.

It was encouraging that when it mattered most, the government could not articulate there position in such a way to sway the undecided, i.e. Justice Kennedy had to keep asking the same question which remained unanswered. That will have to do for now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Department of Health and Human Services v Florida

Today, the Supreme Court started its first day of arguments surrounding the individual mandate in the wildly unpopular Obamacare (ACA will not be used, as the name, like most other legislation by this regime, is wildly misleading). Full audio and transcripts can be found here.

My impression? I didn't think that many of the Justices bought that the mandate was a tax. Or a "tax penalty", as the Solicitor General "Milli" Verrilli put it. Even Kagan and Breyer were confused with the government's definition. Said Justices noted that the definition provided seemed to keep changing, and they repeatedly remind council that they were interchanging the words. See the wonderful Althouse for details. Comment of the millennium goes to TosaGuy, who in response to the government slight-of-hand stated:

"This isn't law, it's Calvinball."

Damn right. And the score is oogey to boogey.

My personal opinions of the mandate align with the earlier decision by Judge Vinson; especially when it comes to the broccoli example (see Vinson decision at p. 46) and the limits of Federal Government. Follow the link and read some really awesome judge-snark. For example, the footnote on page 76 of the decision is a pretty good reminder on where candidate Napoleon stood on the issue.

If nothing, take away from today the great words of Justice Alito: "Today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax."

The fight isn't over, but if the mandate is ruled a penalty and not a tax (or a "tax penalty", whatever that means), that's one battle lost for the regime.

Also head over to the Volokh link. Awesome interpretation of today's events. For the newest information on the case, check out ScotusBlog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Your Daily Lesson in Doublethink

Start here (h/t RCP).

"Not our program, per se"

Then peep this.

The "readjustment" pertaining to the effects of the stimulus come to mind for some reason. As does the following excerpt:

"Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is a need for an unwearying, moment to moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The key word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
......
But by far the more important reason for the readjustment if the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party. It is not merely that speeches, statistics, and records if every kind must be constantly brought up to date in order to show that the predictions of the Party were in all cases right.
.....
Thus history is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love."
George Orwell, 1984

If there is a better description of the behavior of this regime...



ed - couldn't embed for original video at the first link for some reason. Apologies.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The New Standard of Media Integrity

Sometimes, I think that the reason the Tea Party gets no respect from the media is due to their absolute refusal to rape, kill, destroy private property, or peddle drugs and offspring in the quantites necessary for media protection. Makes total sense. Sarah over at Lipstick Underground has the details.

Also, remind me to never anger Mutodjmet. Click nyaw for the details. Follow directions and voice your displeasure, please.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Summary

Left for Philly to watch NCAAs with friends Thursday evening. Somehow time traveled to Sunday. This is how I feel:



But the Flyers beat the Pens in overtime. It helps.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Analysis

The past few weeks have been tough on Napoleon. To recap:

  • The argument was successfully framed in Rush v Fluke. Napoleon actually went so far to insert himself into the matter, a calculated move to shore up his support among women. It didn't work. In fact it kinda backfired. Rush is still standing. Carbonite and HBO are seeing losses. The fight's not over, but I just don't see Napoleon as being ahead.
  • Napoleon released an anti-Palin video. One could only guess the timing of HBO's drive-by had something to do with it, a sort of one-two punch. It's not working, and people are getting very tired with Palin Derangement Syndrome.
  • The pigs at the DOJ are at it again, this time blocking a voter ID law in Texas (who you shouldn't mess with). It is not resonating with voters (e.g., read the comments here at the left leaning Philly Inquirer). I personally hate their line of reasoning ("it's too hard") because it portrays the people they think they are helping as incompetent, lazy slugs.

    The President and his acolytes thought they had an easy victory against Rush. When that seemed to falter, plan B was PDS. Not working. When all else is failing, the ultimate cheap fallback was LOOKIE-LOOKIE RACISM. It really isn't working.

    What we have seen in the past weeks are descending levels of cheap misdirection. Why? Lessee...5 dollar/gallon gas...the deficit...Afghanistan gone wild...inflation near record highs...rampant unemployment...a battered economy...foreign policy in shambles...

    There is a strong aroma of desperation emanating from Pennsylvania Ave. One could only guess that every social hot-button will be pressed before November, if not sooner. It reminds me of a great line from Episode IV:





    That's all for now. Keep fighting. Be Breitbart.
  • Monday, March 12, 2012

    My Weekend

    The highlight?



    Jim Jackson nailed it. Absolute sick move by Claude Giroux, followed up by a Tim Kerr Celebration. The bench's reaction was just as priceless.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Rush Part II

    Alas, I thought I would be one and done with this issue. Just when I was moving on, noted seahag Gloria Allred has now inserted herself into the fray.

    Double Standard Industries(TM) has been lucky enough to find* a preliminary copy of Rush's response:


    From the Desk of Rush Limbaugh

    09 March 2012

    ATTN: Gloria Allred


    Ms. Allred:

    I am very sorry that you slut were offended slut. It was never my intention slutty slut to cause any emotional slut damage. Please accept my sluttiest heartfelt apology slut. Slut I hope we can meet sometime in slutland where you occupy sluts. Slut Slut slit-slat-slut slut the slut in the slut, and we can slutter to slut our sluts with sluts, together as sluts. Slut? You slut it!


    Very Respectfully,

    Rush

    *Make up.

    ed-i was going to just do the 'ol McAuliffe "NUTS" routine, but this just popped out. Time to double down, Rush.

    It's Friday

    Unfortunately, I will be working all weekend (again). You could bet that if I wasn't I would be dancing as such.



    RIP Don Cornelius.

    And that's it. Enjoy your weekends.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    My Dad's Advice

    Was talking with my dad last night. I was asking his opinion on the GOP landscape right now; while we differed on who should get the nomination (me:Gingrich, dad:Santorum), he stated something that really sunk in.

    To sum up, the GOP is killing itself. The GOP positions are not the cause. It's the players involved. They have been nothing but cheapshotting, angry backstabbers willing to do anything to attain power. And therein lies the problem. Why vote for these horrific folk?

    In order to start winning, the GOP needs a single candidate, right now. Paul needs to drop out, as does Gingrich and Santorum. It pains me to say it, but Romney has to be the guy. The next step is to focus on the past three years of this petty, arrogant, and amateur regime. Make Napoleon run for re-election based on his presidency, and the GOP can win.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    My .25 on the Whole Limbaugh Thing

    A brief history:
  • Girl wants a private religious institution to break their belief system to accommodate hers.
  • Girl believes in getting 3k worth of birth control means for free. She is entitled to it, because gold diaphragms ain't cheap, I guess.
  • Girl is called a derogatory name. By a conservative. Cue ensuing uproar and pearl clutching from the left accompanied by shrill screams of intolerance (against the religious, the religion, and the institution; not against the girl. Important distinction).

    What irks me:
  • It's a Catholic institution. The term "when hell freezes over" seems apt.
  • Subsidizing her sex life. Awesome.
  • There are a multitude of options she can choose from to get around this issue. Some involve some kind of discipline or restraint. Why is the left so against choice?
  • Rush apologized. Why? I don't know. Breitbart would have not backed down.

    WHAT REALLY IRKS ME:
  • Our hypocrite apologize in chief calling said offended female to console and express his support against said name calling. Why does this bother me? This broad is 30 years old. She willingly went before congress to give slanted testimony about her sex life. Did she really expect everyone to applaud and give her a medal? Life sucks, toots. People will call you bad names every once in a while.
  • Obama is supported by Bill Maher et al. They consider it a sin against society for woman to chose to be conservative. They are very vocal about their opposition. See Palin Derangement Syndrome. What this girl was called pales in comparison to the outright harrassment and baseless insult Palin has received. And Palin doesn't need a call from Obama. She keeps fighting.

    The Bottom Line:
    You can remove the divide of church and state by eliminating the church. No church, and the people just have the state. This is why the first thing fascists go after is organized religion. Christianity is an easy target, so break a window and continue the intimidation tactics. Frame the argument as being about women's' rights, and not, you know, the first amendment.
  • Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Sunday Hangover Music

    "On Melancholy Hill" by the Gorillaz. Vid is a little off (as to be expected), but since you are hungover just close your eyes and enjoy.


    ed-I blatantly stole this idea from the SLOBS.

    Obama Hearts Israel

    *Whew*. I knew he wouldn't keep his back to Israel and let his history speak for itself...

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    VIOLENT, RACIST, TEA PARTY PROTESTERS ASSUAULT WOMAN

    From Reuters:

    "Three ANGRY WHITE RACIST RIGHT WING TEA PARTIERS were accused of surrounding and taunting a woman before stealing her wallet were charged on Friday with robbery and hate crimes, authorities said....

    Each was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office with felony counts of robbery and hate crimes, Watson said.

    A TEA PARTY GRAND DRAGON could not be reached for comment on Friday evening.
    A rallying cry of the movement has been that OBAMA IS BAD BECAUSE HE IS BLACK, FOX NEWS 4-LIFE.

    It has lost momentum in recent months due to THE MORLOCKS CRAWLING BACK TO THE FLYOVER STATES."

    Ed-these Tea Partiers must be told to sit down and shut up. They are far to stupid to understand that Obama is smart, and they are not, so they need to let him do whatever he wants. The above behavior is just typical when one looks at the entire violent history of the movement.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    For Andrew

    In memoriam: Andrew Breitbart 1969-2012

    Today I received the horrible news that we lost Andrew Breitbart. Shocking, to say the least; the man was 43 and seemed to really be hitting his stride.

    We live in a weird time in the US. Pop culture tells us many values that we are to conform to. For example, we are constantly told that it's perfectly fine to break the law, lie, and trample other people's rights if you know deep down your cause is righteous. Dan Rather, OWS, the anti-Walker protests, and Mr. Gleick are just a few good examples.

    We are told that hard work, success, and accomplishment are to be deemed evil. Examples include our Dear President, who hates the rich so much that he decided to become one of them. Also see Pelosi, Boxer, Hollywood, etc.

    We are told we are entitled. Free condoms, free health care, free education, etc. Most importantly, we are entitled to freedom from failure.

    We are told it's always someone else's fault. It's not your fault you purchased a 500k McMansion that you can't pay for. It's not your fault you signed a college loan you can't pay for. It's not your fault the team didn't win. The non-personalized failure is to be attributed to a Golem of society.

    We are told to not judge people based on skin color. Unless your skin is black, white, yellow, or any other.

    We are told to be religiously open minded. Christianity excepted, 'cause fuck them. It's not like if you insult them they will do anything.

    We are told all of these things on a daily basis from the elite. We were told to accept these cultural norms and all those who do not are racist, fascist, bigoted, bitter clingers, flat-earthers, etc. We are told these things by the supposed rebels on MTV,the educators, the edgy artists and liberal thinkers of today.

    Real rebels go against the grain. They do not conform to popular society. While the standards of society may change, this base definition is unalterable.

    In this respect, Andrew was a true rebel in the purest form. He was a nobody who stood up, extended both middle fingers to popular society, and in no uncertain terms said "FUCK YOU, BRING IT".

    We lost a general and a patriot. I won't forget him. This blog is dedicated to his memory.