30 March 2012

Obamacare vs Supreme Court: Day 3, Severability

Day three, the conclusion of the "most significant case in 50 years" to go before the Supreme Court.

This day decides what to do if the Justices find that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The bill itself, and all 2700 pages therein, contains no severability clause. This is very uncommon as just about any contract that you will enter as a business or an individual always contains a statement that says simply because an item is determined to be wrong does not void the rest of the contract. Without this clause, it could technically be argued that no individual mandate = no more ObamaCare. But, it is never that simple.

The court doesn't like to blatantly dictate law from the bench. Since this bill is massive, and contains so much more than what is covered by what we all call ObamaCare, there is an argument to be made that striking down the whole bill is really overextending the power of the court. So, this makes the whole bill an interesting gamble. Why not have the very common severability clause? If the clause was there, the court could easily invalidate that portion without having to address the far reaching effects, but without this clause the court is facing a much more demanding decision. Do they go line by line and determine which aspects are governed by the individual mandate? Do they strike down the whole bill? Or do they leave the bill intact because it is too massive and beyond the courts ability to try to determine what may have happened if the individual mandate was not included?

It is possible that the Obama administration will get their way simply because of the monstrous size of the bill they enacted. Then again, leaving out the severability clause may completely wipe out the only significant piece of legislation the Obama team can claim to have accomplished.

There is a great writeup on the entire case at The New American.

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.

Audio can be found here.

Transcript is here.


JUSTICE ALITO: Well, let me give you a factual context. Let's say Congress says this to the States: We have got great news for you. We know that your expenditures on education are a huge financial burden, so we are going to take that completely off your shoulders. We are going to impose a special Federal education tax which will raise exactly the same amount of money as all of the States now spend on education, and then we are going to give you a grant that is equal to what you spent on education last year.
 Now, this is a great offer and we think you will take it, but, of course, if you take it, it's going to have some conditions because we're going to set rules on teacher tenure, on collective bargaining, on curriculum, on textbooks, class size, school calendar, and many other things. So, take it or leave it.
 If you take it, you have to follow our rules on all of these things. If you leave it, well, then you're going to have to fine -- you are going to have to tax your citizens, they're going to have to pay the Federal education tax; but on top of that, you're going to have to tax them for all of the money that you're now spending on education, plus all of the Federal funds that you were previously given.
 Would that be -- would that reach the point -- would that be the point where financial inducement turns into coercion?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, but that's just saying that when, you know, the analogy that has been used, the gun to your head, "your money or your life," you say, well, there's no evidence that anyone has ever been shot.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You have another 15 minutes.
GENERAL VERRILLI: Lucky me. Lucky me.

Labor Force Decreasing

People often criticise Fox News for manipulating the unemployment facts... well, here is a very straight forward assessment from Fox about why the 8.4% unemployment number isn't so "rosy": The labor force is getting smaller. The number of new hires aren't increasing, instead more people are giving up looking for work. Not good.

While 1.66 million net jobs have been added during the Obama "recovery,” over that same time the number of working age Americans not in the labor force rose by 7.14 million. There is no comparable post-World War II "recovery" where this type of exodus has occurred. 

Full article.

Nuclear Reactor to be Built

This is some positive news! US regulators have FINALLY approved a new reactor - this one to be built in South Carolina.

Federal regulators Friday approved Scana Corp.'s proposal to build two new nuclear reactors in South Carolina, paving the way for the second license issued to a new nuclear power plant in two months after a drought that lasted more than 30 years.

The US could really do with moving away from the non-sense that "renewable" energy is the path to the future. It is not in the short term. Renewable energy is so far off in terms of feasibility and efficiency that we should not be declaring it to be part of the immediate future. It is only competitive in the market place because tax dollars are subsidizing the "companies" offering these products (who then use the subsidies to endorse their political supporter).

Practical solutions that stop us from having to send more and more of our dollars to the Middle East are the most important thing that we can do to protect our future in the near term. Look, even France has nuclear energy as their primary source of power - it is about 76%.

I think that the greatest issue I have with the argument regarding fossil fuels and their usage comes down to a single detail: We use oil and its derivatives for so much more than simply energy. Plastics, toys, rubber, and so many other day to day items that are in our lives come from oil. It is not just gasoline. Even if we were all using battery powered cars, the United States would still consume a massive amount of oil on a daily basis simply for the goods we manufacture.

Nuclear power, it may not be the greatest long term solution, but once governments stop over-regulating it, we will have a very stable source of energy until more we can effectively leverage other renewable sources.

IPCC Refutes Extreme Weather

I found this report over at The Register where the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually performed some real research. And correctly assessed where we stand in terms of "extreme weather" (it's not). Interesting read.

Politics as Usual

Hey, so we have got Google News and every other news outlet just talking up a storm about this Zimmerman and Trayvon incident. There is hardly going to be any due process. And the photographs are completely unfair. We see a nice young looking Trayvon (he's 6'3 or so) and an incarcerated Zimmerman...

Here is a real good run down of who the "kid" Trayvon really is.

Pictures are posted by Trayvon himself. Shirtless, throwing all sorts of hand signs (the bird!) and being a punk-ass thug kid who ain't so small. Zimmerman is a respectable, clean cut, community watch activist!

If we're going to pre-judge, I'm on Zimmerman's side.

But really, I am even more concerned that news such as this girl being gang raped by 9 guys isn't even making headlines.

Pro Choice and Anti War

I saw a bumper sticker on my journey the other day:
How can you be Pro-Life and Pro-War?
This was on a car that had lots of Obama/Biden stickers also. So, a lib democrat I guess.

My immediate thought: isn't Pro-Choice (because no one wants to call it Pro-Death) and Anti-War (the obvious opposing option to Pro-War) even worse? On the one hand we have the option to want to save the lives of babies, but kill our enemies. Whereas the other option is to kill babies, but save our enemies. Hmmm. Was that bumper sticker thought out well? I could see being Pro-Life and Pro-Peace... and maybe Pro-Choice and Pro-War. Typically, however, the people on the other side of the wall are Pro-Choice and Anti-War.

At least by being Pro-Life & Pro-War the stance can be intelligently argued. We are protecting innocent lives; giving a voice to unborn and defenseless human beings. The most precious form of human life. To most Americans, Pro-War means we are willing to defend our families, our way of life, defending countries who are our allies (in the way only America can) and defending innocent lives when a dictator is committing massacres.

How can one intelligently defend the Pro-Choice & Anti-War stance? It's okay to let women choose to kill an innocent unborn child. Even if she is doing it simply because the baby isn't wanted*. But, how dare we go to war against another country! We'll risk losing American lives! (they volunteered to be in the military) We'll kill foreigners! (we go to war for a reason, I can't honestly believe that we are arbitrarily using our military to attack other innocent countries) We're disrupting another country's sovereignty! I personally view rouge countries much the same way I do criminals: They had their chance to operate sanely in the world, they have proven incapable of this, it is time for the consequences.

Speaking of criminals, the anti-war crowd is also against capital punishment. So, we will often have to let a known rapist and murderer (Here is a story about 9 boys who gang-raped a 14 year old girl. Should they be let off without a punishment?) live a life of relative safety in prison, but the unborn baby can be killed without any justification. 

This is a sad world we live in. I'm Pro-Choice. You have the choice whether to have sex.* I'm Pro-Life. We have a duty to preserve innocent life. I'm Pro-War. Genocide and war crimes must be stopped.

* Yes, rape is a very special circumstance and I can understand that there is massive amounts of trauma here. And when the case involves incest rape... Well, we know how Planned Parenthood handles that.




29 March 2012

ObamaCare vs Supreme Court: Day 2

This is the crux of the question: Is the government in a position to require everyone to engage in a form of economic activity at a point in time that is not their choosing. This is making the assumption that people will eventually need to purchase the service in question. The arguments for this say it is for everyone's benefit to do this. The arguments against are that if this can be required, what sets the limit for future requirements?

The most interesting quote for me came from Kenedy where he called out Congress for not being honest and that they should have simply enacted a single payer system, supported through taxation, which would have been completely legal because it is within the taxation power.

The audio for Tuesday is here and the transcript here.

Interesting quotes from Tuesday:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: 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?

 JUSTICE SCALIA: Could you define the market -- everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so
you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.

JUSTICE GINSBURG:  I thought what was unique about this is it's not my choice whether I want to buy a product to keep me healthy, but the cost that I am forcing on other people if I don't buy the product sooner rather than later.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: -- you're answering affirmatively to my colleagues that have asked you the
question, can the government force you into commerce? And there's no limit to that power.

 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.

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.

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?

JUSTICE SCALIA: An equally evident constitutional principle is the principle that the Federal Government is a government of enumerated powers and that the vast majority of powers remain in the States and do not belong to the Federal Government. Do you acknowledge that that's a principle?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The key in Lochner is that we were talking about regulation of the States, right, and the States are not limited to enumerated powers. The Federal Government is. And it seems to me it's an entirely different question when you ask yourself whether or not there are going to be limits on the Federal power, as opposed to limits on the States, which was the issue in Lochner.

 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.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But your theory is that there is a market in which everyone participates because everybody might need a certain range of health care services, and yet you're requiring people who are not -- never going to need pediatric or maternity services to participate in that market.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: That's the area that Congress has chosen to regulate. There's this health care market. Everybody's in it. So, we can regulate it, and we're going to look at a particular serious problem, which is how people pay for it. But next year, they can decide everybody's in this market; we're going to look at a different problem now, and this is how we're going to regulate it. And we can compel people to do things -- purchase insurance, in this case; something else in the next case -- because you've -- we've accepted the argument that this is a market in which everybody participates.

 JUSTICE ALITO: Before you move on, could you express your limiting principle as succinctly as you possibly can? Congress can force people to purchase a product where the failure to purchase the product has a substantial effect on interstate commerce, if what? If this is part of a larger regulatory scheme?

JUSTICE KAGAN: I suppose, though, General, one question is whether the determined efforts of Congress not to refer to this as a tax make a difference. I mean, you're suggesting we should just look to the practical operation. We shouldn't look at labels. And that seems right, except that here we have a case in which Congress determinedly said, this is not a tax, and the question is why should that be irrelevant.

 JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, Mr. Clement, now it seems as though you're just talking about a matter of timing, that Congress can regulate the transaction. And the question is when does it make best sense to regulate that transaction?
 And Congress surely has it within its authority to decide, rather than at the point of sale, given an insurance-based mechanism, it makes sense to regulate it earlier. It's just a matter of timing.

 JUSTICE BREYER: I think if we look back into history, we see sometimes Congress can create commerce out of nothing. That's the national bank, which was created out of nothing to create other commerce out of nothing.

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.

MR CLEMENT:  ...the Framers would have had no doubt that a tax on not having something is not an excise tax but a forbidden direct tax.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Is there any other area of commerce, business, where we have held that there isn't concurrent power between the State and the Federal Government to protect the welfare of commerce?

 CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No, no, that's not -- I don't think that's fair, because not everybody is going to enter the mortgage market. The government's position is that almost everybody is going to enter the health care market.

26 March 2012

ObamaCare vs Supreme Court: Day 1

I do find it ironic that one of the best sources in the general media (i.e. supposedly un-biased, not the obviously conservative or liberal outlets) comes from the UK.

Here is the Guardian's reporting on day 1.

So, what was day 1 about? Real simple: can the court make a decision on ObamaCare before any of the penalties are collected? This comes out of the much older Anti-Injunction Act which says that for a tax to be challenged in court, it has to have started being collected first.

Which means that the government has to argue for purposes of today only that the penalty for not having health insurance is not a tax. But, come tomorrow when they look for justification for how they can require all persons to have health insurance, they will likely make the argument that this is indeed a tax. Double talk basically.

"Today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax," said Alito. "Tomorrow you will be back and arguing that the penalty is a tax." 

The result after today is the court has decided to accept the position that this is indeed a penalty. Which means the fight goes on! Tomorrow will be about whether the US Government even has the right to impose this mandate on all of the populace. If it does, there is a very dangerous precedent as we have no idea to what extents this will eventually be taken. The Constitution was written specifically to severely limit the power of the federal government which, if you have taken a few moments to consider what this means for individual freedoms, is something ALL people should want regardless of creed. Or race. Or sex.

Wednesday will decide the implications of removing the individual mandate and whether ObamaCare can stand without this. As expected, there is much double talk regarding this little piece also.

Today's transcript from the Supreme Court website


Today's audio from the Supreme Court website

22 March 2012

3rd world capitalism

Liberals and anti-Americans (and anti-colonialists such as Barack Obama!) like to claim that capitalism destroys those who are at the bottom of the food chain. That it only helps the rich. Here is a perfect example of how capitalism, and the striving to find solutions to problems through innovation, leads to an improvement in the quality of everyone's life.

Capitalism, not crony capitalism like what Obama has given us with Solyndra or with killing the Keystone pipeline, is the act of people addressing a real need and when that need is addressed appropriately, the person or company will experience success. Cheating people (phone scams), tax payers (Solyndra), investors (Bernie Madoff), etc is not capitalism, but theft should be treated as such. Instead, liberals and communists attack those who would actually try to help our society and claim that this is the fault of capitalism. Pathetic.

As typical... great iPad review at Anandtech

Updated: Here is the full Anandtech review of the new iPad

What's the point of doing a review when you know that there is someone out there who will do a completely thorough and well executed review of a product you are interested in?

Anandtech has their in-depth review of the Apple TV (3) posted and it's tempting. The addition of 1080p and the very smooth Airplay mirroring make it appealing. However, I still lean towards the Roku solution if only for the more diverse support of streaming sources (such as Hulu).

We also have the "new iPad's" display detailed and quite a significant breakdown of the changes vs the iPad 2. I'm enjoying my iPad, but its my first, thus making the desire to compare against the older releases not so crucial as this isn't an upgrade. Basically, the battery life and the display are what won me over.

16 March 2012

Iron Dome

I've  been traveling this past week and happened to listen to several different reports about activities going on around the world. Talking about it is a bit challenging, but there is one that definitely comes to mind as being very interesting:

Israel's Iron Dome. (Fox News)

This happened to be the best example I could find of their missile defense system in action. It is amazing. Now, I personally have absolutely no desire in any shape, way or form to live in an area that is under continual threat of being attacked by crazy neighbors who happen to think launching rockets at a city populated by over 1,000,000 residents as being "Okay." In fact, I have no sympathy for the Palestinians living in Gaza. (If they want to live in peace, then they need to start putting social pressure on those who are launching rockets at a general populace).

Israel gets load of criticism from the public by being this massive oppressor. But, the majority of their attacks on the Gaza strip are in direct retaliation to rocket attacks on their citizens (which the Palestinians are well aware of how Israel will respond; it is no secret). These attacks are targeted as best as possible on militants who are trying to use/hide/transport these rockets which will be launched into densely populated civilian areas in Israel.

Honestly, if Palestinians want peace, then they need to get their radicals under control. They have no right being outraged at being attacked by a military force when they decide to send a barrage of rockets over the fence at Israel. It's not as if these rockets happen to be filled with nice presents for the small kids. They are meant to kill. What else is Israel supposed to do, happily say "thanks for killing our populace, you've proven how wrong we are by killing us, we'll leave now"? I think not.

In all of this, I believe that Israel has show great restraint in not just bulldozing Gaza. They have the means. Just look at how they decimated Egypt/Iraq in the 6-day war. (wikipedia) They know how to take out an opponent. The people living in Gaza should be thankful that Israel has not gone to more permanent measures to protect their citizens.

The video above shows the extreme measures that Israel has to resort to in order to protect life. They could easily wipe out all of their opponents in Gaza; instead they are protecting life. I doubt many dissidents out there realize how grateful they should be to Israel for the grace they have been shown... especially at the great expense of Israeli security.

12 March 2012

The Future of Apple

There have been a number of pundits around claiming that since Steve Jobs is no longer running Apple, that it will simply be a matter of time until they completely lose their direction.  The company is fated wander back to some evidently natural way of operating which is defined by the previous SJ absence in the late 80's and early 90's.

Here is Venture Beat's evidence.
ABC's noncommittal opinion.
Cult of Mac: Over time, however, Apple will and must gravitate toward normalcy, toward average, toward mediocrity.


I won't even try to make the case that Apple won't change. That's neurotic. Of course it will change. But, I think the key indicator of how good Apple will be since the passing of the iconic Steve Jobs can be seen in the companies that are ran by former Apple employees.

Nest is doing great. Their product definitely shows their Apple roots. The thoroughness. The attention to detail. The packaging. Spot on.

Both Twitter and Flipboard have strong Apple influence. PayPal and LinkedIn had founders who came from Apple.

Finally, just look at who is still at Apple. Tim Cook is largely responsible for the backend of the entire company. He has re-defined product line efficiency and has found ways to lock-up key components preventing competitors for being able to match the prices Apple can get.

Jony Ive. I don't think much needs to be said here.

Scott Forstall is leading iOS development and some of the new applications, such as iPhoto on the iPad, are brilliant.

The DNA is now in Apple to continue doing what they do best: making great products with attention to detail that no other company can match.

Voting ID

There is always so much controversy over states requiring that people have photo identification as a requirement to vote. Why? In the case in Texas, we have the Justice Department trying to stop the law because it some how is bias against Hispanics. This actually seems to make some sense if take 15 seconds to think about it.

Texas has a problem with illegal immigrants. If you want to stop illegals from voting, it seems a very simple barrier is to require all people to have identification of some sort. And it's not exactly onerous. Here are some daily events that require showing ID that are often performed by all people regardless of income:

- Buying cigarettes
- Buying alcohol
- Using a credit card
- Going through TSA "security"
- Driving a car

The only real inconvenience is the TSA, but that has nothing to do with the ID requirement.

So, yet again we are wasting precious dollars by fighting the legality of a perfectly legitimate requirement. And, be honest, the reason both sides are fighting this has nothing to do with an individual's rights. The Dems want all the freeloaders they can get because they know where they will vote. The right wants limit the number of lazy, uneducated, and coerced people from voting (i.e. the groups who are promised a free ride and a meal to go vote).

Personally, I think the voting should be limited to people who had to pay taxes during the previous work year. Show up with your tax return. If you paid, you vote; if you didn't, tough. Seriously, you have to have skin in the game for your opinion to count. That's the real reason why only land owners could vote in the days of our founding father's - and it is likely the only reason why we were able to get such a wonderful foundation for a government. As the voting requirements have loosen over the decades, we have made it easier and easier for the masses to be manipulated. When you don't have anything to lose; when you are trying to get handouts; when you want someone to tell you how "the man" owes you...

09 March 2012

Hope and Change.

That is what the Obama administration said we could expect from this "new level of transparency" that we were now going to benefit from by electing such an upright and honest individual.

Well, when it comes to being a campaign fund raiser, the more money you raise for Obama (hotair.com), the greater chance you have of landing one of those lucrative white house positions (latimes.com)! This has been noted by several news outlets, but isn't really talked about much. Strange. 454 aides reported in 2011. Does this include Michelle's 24 aides (factcheck.org)? I wish more people in the media would publicize the continual hypocrisy of the Obama administration.

As far as transparency, all Obama seems to do is find more and more people to help hide the full extent of the government expansion he is trying to accomplish. He has his czars actually doing the dirty work. Obama, much like his Chief's of Staff, can completely deny knowledge of the underlings' actions (think of "Fast and Furious" (CBSNews.com). How about all the money that is getting funneled to Brazil (thenewamerican.com) to explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Or the strange close ties to Warren Buffet and the refusal to allow the Keystone Oil pipeline (zerohedge.com)?

I think the only change that we can hope for under this man is his determination to undermine the foundation of what makes the United States of America great.

It's shameful.

07 March 2012

"I'm me!"

Judge Judy is a fantastic example of hard work leading to success. Further, she is someone who has not forgotten the values used to take her to where she is currently. However, this post isn't about Judge Judy. It is really about the sad state of American welfare and how we have been continuously lied to by the left and members of the media that we are being cruel to people by not "giving them the opportunity to succeed in life." 

This has been pushed through a variety of avenues such as race-based quota system, the fair housing act and it's evolution, the lack of "winners" and "losers" in school activities, even the obfuscation of how food stamps and other Government handouts work (i.e. people on food stamps now have a "debit" card that is automatically replenished therefore minimizing any humiliation of being on food stamps and also reducing the person's knowledge that they are getting someone else's money), etc. 

The kid in this video below is the end result of a society that has decided to say that there is no accountability. He feels the money he is given (and has in no way earned) is his to do with as he pleases and that he can be "just me!"

Here is a quote pulled from one of the comments:

Benjamin Franklin: 
I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

It's nothing new that giving people an easy life reduces their capacity to work for themselves. The proverb about teaching a man to fish is all too true.