Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fascinating Chart: Unemployment Trends, State-by-State

Courtesy of Tyler Durden, this chart from Tableau Software illustrates the history of unemployment by state since 1976...

...and specifically the difference from historical averages. What the chart shows is that as more and more people have migrated to populated coastal areas, or those areas hit hardest from the recent deleveraging mean reversion depression, it is the flyover states, typically considered the least interesting, that are actually performing by far the best, with some places like North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont paradoxically having better relative employment right now than during any time in the past 40 years

Gee. I'm flabbergasted that red states are thriving while Democrat-controlled Utopias are collapsing under the weight of public sector union control, endlessly ratcheted taxes, and ever-increasing regulations.

I'll alert the media.

Oh, wait. They don't give a crap.

Your tax dollars at work: EPA hiring $180,000-a-year director of "environmental justice"

Environmental justice (EJ) refers to an equitable spatial distribution of burdens and benefits to groups such as racial minorities --Wikipedia

I'm delighted that a federal leviathan which borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends is focusing on the nation's highest priorities:

It's November or never to save this Republic.

What can you do? If you have the wherewithal, support the most conservative candidates you can. Like Ted Cruz in Texas or Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. My friends, we have work to do.

Hat tip: R.

3 Possibilities: What convinced John Roberts to change his mind at the last minute and stab the conservative justices in the back?

Last night Mark Levin said that he had finished reading the entire SCOTUS decision on Obamacare three separate times. His conclusion is that "the Supreme Court is not a happy place."

His believable claim is that John Roberts -- at the very last moment -- changed his vote that would have struck down both the Individual Mandate and Obamacare. This claim did not originate with Levin. Various observers noted discrepancies in the opinions (e.g., Justice Ginsburg wrote as part of the "dissent"), including Senator Mike Lee, who clerked for Justice Alito.

[Lee] expressed concern about the “intimidation tactics” being used by Democrats and President Obama in preemptively attacking the Supreme Court, which “seemed to suggest that it’s just the job of the Supreme Court…to grant the imprimatur of constitutional legitimacy to any duly enacted major legislation.”

I asked if he thought these tactics may have influenced Roberts.

“I certainly think that was the intent underlying those statements,” he said. “I try not to engage in too many layers of speculation, so I can’t prove that Chief Justice Roberts switched his vote. There are certainly signals to that effect here. But even if we reach that conclusion, we can’t be certain without Chief Justice Roberts telling us that he was influenced by that or any other single factor. But what we do know is that was the rather clear intent of those that were making those statements and there are certainly signals Chief Justice Roberts changed his mind and changed his vote, just based on the way the opinions are set up.”

What were the intimidation tactics used by the Left?

Democrats far and wide pinpointed Roberts as threatening the legitimacy of the Supreme Court would he have overturned Obamacare.

• Sen. Patrick Leahy, self-admitted socialist from Vermont, was accused of trying to intimidate Roberts: "Leahy took to the Senate floor to warn the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, not to strike down the Affordable Care Act."

• In April, Barack Obama threw in his two cents, asserting that the act of a Supreme Court in throwing out a law as unconstitutional would be "unprecedented" (note: of course it's not, it's occurred over 100 times in American history): "I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

• Former Clinton administration official Robert Reich wrote: "The immediate question is whether the Chief Justice, John Roberts, understands the tenuous position of the Court he now runs."

New Republic legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen stated, "The health care case will undoubtedly define his chief justiceship."

Given this as background, what possible reason would Roberts have for changing his mind at the last moment?

Option 1: Vanity

According to Washington insiders, Roberts enjoys nothing more than reading his press clippings. Howard Kurtz described Roberts:
...a longtime pillar of the Washington legal establishment, a member of the ultra-posh Chevy Chase Club, and someone who acquaintances say cares deeply about how he is portrayed in the press.
In this scenario, the combination of a man concerned with his image plus an unprecedented public intimidation campaign against Roberts, ultimately convinced him to change his vote.

Option 2: More Nefarious Threats

A conspiracy theory to be sure, but -- after all -- it's the Chicago Machine we're talking about. And the Obama administration and its various appendages haven't been shy about breaking new ground when it comes to presidential lawbreaking.

Allowing thousands of military-grade weapons to fall into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, presumably to build up public support for stricter gun control measures, isn't exactly playing patty-cake.

Was a more serious and material threat directed at Roberts and his family?

Option 3: Promises

Another conspiracy theory revolves around a special "gift" to Roberts. Would a man fixated on joining an "ultra-posh" country club like, say, an extra $10 million to make his life easier and less stressful?

Obviously, it's doubtful we would ever know. Using electronic funds transfer and offshore accounts, such a gift could be executed surreptitiously, protecting all parties from unwanted publicity.

So which of the three options is it?

Besides these three options, I see no other logical explanations for Roberts' late switch on the most important Supreme Court decision in a generation. Something was behind his flip. And I'm betting that something would be profoundly disturbing should the American people ever find out.

Sharyl Attkisson double-taps Eric Holder on CBS News: perjury, cover-up and retribution confirmed

One: GOP says wiretaps revealed 'Gunwalking' early on:

...a secret wiretap application and testimony from the former head of ATF contradict key claims by Attorney General Eric Holder on whether Justice Department officials knew guns were being "walked" in ATF's Fast and Furious case. Some details of the wiretap application, which are technically under court seal, are revealed for the first time in today's Congressional Record...

...The wiretap application disclosed that Fast and Furious suspects had already purchased nearly 1,000 firearms in Fast and Furious, that they had not been arrested, and that many of the weapons had already been recovered in criminal hands in Mexico. Nine months later, two weapons in the case were used in a shoot-out with illegal immigrants and the Border Patrol that ended in the death of Special Agent Brian Terry.

Two: Fast and Furious whistleblowers now supervised by ATF manager who allegedly threatened retaliation:

Two Fast and Furious whistleblowers have reportedly been placed under the supervision of an ATF official who allegedly threatened to "take them down."

...When the ATF whistleblowers, Special Agents John Dodson and Pete Forcelli, went public last year, Scot Thomasson headed up ATF Public Affairs. According to an eyewitness, Thomasson stated "We need to get whatever dirt we can on these guys (whistleblowers) and take them down." Now, Grassley and Issa say the agents have been put under the charge of ATF's Scot Thomasson who is Division Chief of the Firearms Operations Unit.

Thomasson was also allegedly heard to have said "ATF needs to f__k these guys." And when asked if the whistleblower allegations were true, Thomasson purportedly said he didn't know and didn't care...

Thanks to heroes like Dodson and Forcelli, as well as true journalists like Sipsey Street Irregulars, Gun Rights Examiner and Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, it will become increasingly difficult for vintage media to ignore the utter lawlessness of Eric Holder and his out-of-control DOJ.

Oh, and as for the results of Holder's "internal investigation" by the DOJ "inspector general", which has been supposedly been underway since February 2011 -- 18 months, or 50 percent longer than the Warren Commission investigation into JFK's assassination -- not a single word has been forthcoming.

Rep. Issa: it's time to subpoena Holder's "inspector general" Cynthia A. Schnedar. It's time to find out what she knows and when she knew it. Or she can take the Fifth, which would tell us everything we need to know.

Larwyn's Linx: Commerce Clause status quo

Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn's Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.

Obamacare Decision

Commerce Clause status quo: ProWis
James Madison Would Applaud Clarence Thomas: RS
Individual Mandate for Dummies: Q&O

Roberts Too Clever By Half: AmSpec
White House Disagrees With Supreme Court Decision: Dossier
The New and Even Worse Obamacare : NRO

Glint of Bedrock: NY Sun
Legal Gimmickry Rescues Obama: Schiff
Roberts unleashes vast federal power: Times


It's stuff like this that gives me hope for America: DC
Allen West: CBC Judges Holder By His Skin Color: DC
On the President's Lack of Decorum: Ricochet

Poseur In Chief Says Does His Best Superman: RWN
American Initiative Retires, Will Move into Assisted Living: Doswell
Romney raises $4.6M after health ruling: Hill


Obamacare raises taxes on 3 million middle-class families: Foundry
ObamaCare Lost on Medicaid Mandate. It May Yet Lose on the Tax Power.: Cato
A new nightmare on Wall Street?: Daily Mail

IRS Looking for 4,000 Agents to Enforce ObamaCare: LoneCon
Education Silver Lining in ObamaCare Decision?: Cato
Obama Held Nearly Three Dozen Fundraisers in June: Dossier

Scandal Central

Issa, Grassley release details about Fast and Furious whistleblower retaliation, cover-up: DC
Colo. Solar Panel Maker That Got $400M Federal Loan Guarantee Goes Bankrupt: CNS
Obama Contributor, Who Helped Enact Assault-Weapons Ban, Ran ‘Fast and Furious’: CNS

Climate & Energy

Capping off his despotic week, Obama reimposed that 27-year offshore drilling ban: WyBlog
Farm workers threatened at gunpoint for ‘causing global warming’ by harvesting crops.: Watts
2 dead, 2 million without power in East Coast storms: ABC-6


Romney On a Roll w New Ad–Obama Also Attacked Hillary With Vicious Lies: Bruce
You Shouldn't Have Mocked Him: iOTW
“White House Statement on Obamacare Mandate Tax Contradicts Supreme Court Ruling”: ProWis

The 20 Hottest Conservative Men in The New Media For 2012: RWN
Media Welcome OTaxaCare With Open Arms: NB
Ouch!… Sarah Palin Slaps Down Bob Beckel on Death Panels : GWP

Rush on Obamacare ruling: A giant total fraud was perpetrated on this country yesterday: Scoop
New RNC ad hits on that taxing aspect: LI
Ann Romney Endorses Mia Love for Congress: WZ

Palin: “Nancy Pelosi is a dingbat and the perfect spokesman for this whole agenda of the far left.”: GWP
White House tweets about woman with ‘congenial disease’: Twitchy
Video: Alec Baldwin Plays Himself in Real Life: WZ


Obama to Soldiers: Pay Up: Beacon
It could happen anywhere, but it happened there again: LI
Greek Bank Deposits Have Biggest One Month Outflow Ever In May: ZH

Border Patrol union blasts Homeland Security instructions to 'run away' and 'hide' from gunmen: Jawa
White House Wants Tricare Fee Hikes: BlackFive
U.S. Gives Socialist Latin American Group $13 Mil: JW


iPhone 5th anniversary: How I accidentally became an iPhone user: Tuaw
World's smallest 4K USB 3.0 camera delivers 21 frames per second, fits in pockets: Engadget
Have you got October 21, 2015 marked on your calendar?: Troglopundit


Romney Has a New Name as Far as We’re Concerned: iOTW
Every Man's Secret Wish: Stupid is a five-letter word
Obamacare fundraising gets even more desperate: MB

Image: Q&O - Individual Mandate for Dummies
Today's Larwyn's Linx sponsored by: Repeal Obamacare: Support Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate

QOTD: "The fundamental problem with the court’s approach to this case is this: It saves a statute Congress did not write... The court regards its strained statutory interpretation as judicial modesty. It is not. It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching." --Justice Anthony Kennedy

Bonus QOTD: "“Mitt Romney will appeal this decision to the American people on November 6th. Oral arguments are already taking place.” --Ari Fleischer

Friday, June 29, 2012

Incredible high-res photos of Mars from latest lander fly-by

Papa B:

The pictures are great and the fact is that Mars has a canyon five times deeper than the Grand Canyon and a dormant volcano three times higher than Everest!

Dude. It's Papa B. You shoulda known.

Super: Chief Justice Roberts mocks conservative critics, jokes that he's leaving U.S. for "island fortress"

Yesterday Constitutional attorney Mark R. Levin rightfully excoriated John Roberts' ludicrous decision that saved Obamacare, which essentially rewrote the monstrous law in order to save it. For one, Roberts magically ruled the Individual Mandate a tax, "a position that no lower court accepted".

Facing a barrage of criticism from Constitutional experts, Roberts was on the defensive today, keeping himself in the spotlight and in good graces on the Beltway cocktail circuit.

Chief Justice John Roberts joked today that he’ll escape to an 'impregnable island fortress' after opponents slammed him as a traitor for casting the decisive vote to uphold Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

Responding to a question about his summer break, Roberts said he planned to teach a class for two weeks in Malta, the Mediterranean island nation.

'Malta, as you know, is an impregnable island fortress. It seemed like a good idea,' Roberts said, drawing laughter from about 300 judges, attorneys and others attending a four-day conference Friday at a posh southwestern Pennsylvania resort.

Roberts appeared today at a conference hosted by the Judicial Conference of the District of Columbia Circuit, one day after the Supreme Court said the federal government can require citizens to buy health insurance.

...The only direct question Roberts got about the landmark opinion upholding most key provisions of President Barack Obama's health care package came when those at the conference were invited to ask questions... That's when Roberts was asked what he thought his court's legacy would be in 50 years and 'how one recent opinion might fit into that' - an obvious reference to the health care decision.

'Well, I won't answer anything that has to do with the second part of that,' Roberts said. But he said he hopes that the court under him is remembered as one that 'did our job according to the Constitution, of protecting equal justice under the law.'
Lamberth hinted at the controversial decision when he asked Roberts if it bothered him that he can't respond to his critics.

'No,' Roberts said, his brief answer hanging in the air to more laughter.
Opponents of Obamacare immediately lashed out at Roberts after the Chief Justice provided the crucial vote which led to the Supreme Court upholding the controversial law yesterday.

...Mr Roberts has been seen as a driving force behind a number of high-profile cases which have infuriated conservatives... The National Review Online published an editorial denouncing 'Roberts's Folly', arguing that the five judges who voted to uphold Obamacare had 'done violence' to the Constitution.

...Radio host Bryan Fischer said of the Chief Justice: 'He is going to go down in history as the justice that shredded the Constitution and turned it into a worthless piece of parchment.' ... Republican senator David Vitter of Louisiana accused Mr Roberts of 'amazingly rewriting the law in order to uphold it ... Georgian congressman Jack Kingston went further with his tweet: 'With #Obamacare ruling, I feel like I just lost two great friends: America and Justice Roberts.'

...Many liberals, by contrast, went out of their way to praise a man whose reputation with the left has never been very high. Democratic congressman Brad Sherman of California chimed in: 'Today I am proud to be a member of the Harvard Law School class of 1979, the class that included Chief Justice Roberts.' New York senator Charles Schumer said Mr Roberts had 'acted as the umpire he promised to be.' And left-leaning journalist Jonathan Chait wrote an article in New York magazine entitled 'John Roberts Saves Us All', praising the Chief Justice for avoiding a 'crisis of legitimacy' for the Supreme Court.

Unless we expand the conservative beachhead in 2010, crushing the Marxist Left in November, John Roberts could very well go down in history as the man who killed the Constitution.

Here are the Bombshell Transcripts: Secret Wiretap Applications Prove Eric Holder Lied to Congress

Gee, I wonder if the Democrats and vintage media can keep their fingers in the information dike now:

In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.

The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.

The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.

...the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used...

Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy... The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials...

After some searching, I was able to locate the actual details in the Congressional Record, which appear on pages H4409 through H4411 of Thursday’s official register.

...The use of federal wire intercepts requires a significant amount of case-related information to be sent to senior Department officials for review and approval. All applications for federal wiretaps are authorized under the authority of the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division

...A central aim of our investigation has been to find out why and how such a dangerous plan could have been conceived, approved, and implemented. Who in ATF and the Justice Department knew about the volume of guns being purchased? Who approved of the case at various stages as it unfolded? Under whose authority did this occur? Who could have—and should have—stopped it? By closely examining this disastrous program, our Committee hopes to prevent similar reckless operations...

...The Committee has obtained a copy of a Fast and Furious wiretap application, dated
March 15, 2010. The application includes a memorandum dated March 10, 2010, from Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer to Paul M. O’Brien, Director, Office of Enforcement Operations, authorizing the wiretap application on behalf of the Attorney General...

...Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 8, 2011, the Attorney General testified:

...I don’t think the wiretap applications—I’ve not seen—I’ve not seen them. But I don’t know—I don’t have any information that indicates that those wiretap applications had anything in them that talked about the tactics that have made this such a bone of contention and have legitimately raised the concern of members of Congress, as well as those of us in the Justice Department. I—I’d be surprised if the tactics themselves about gun walking were actually contained in those—in those applications. I have not seen them, but I would be surprise[d] [if that] were the case...

..At a hearing before our Committee on February 2, 2012, the Attorney General also denied that any information relating to tactics appeared in the wiretap affidavits... He testified:

...I think, first off, there is no indication that Mr. Breuer or my former deputy were aware of the tactics that were employed in this matter until everybody I think became aware of them...

...Contrary to the Attorney General’s statements, the enclosed wiretap affidavit contains clear information that agents were willfully allowing known straw buyers to acquire firearms for drug cartels and failing to interdict them—in some cases even allowing them to walk to Mexico. In particular, the affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict firearms...


...The affidavit acknowledges that while monitoring the DEA target telephone numbers, law enforcement officers intercepted calls that demonstrated that Target 1 was conspiring to purchase and transport firearms for the purpose of trafficking the firearms from the United States to Mexico...


...The Probable Cause section of the affidavit shows that ATF was aware that from September 2009 to March 15, 2010, Target I acquired at least 852 firearms valued at approximately $500,000 through straw purchasers...


...According to the affidavit: The potential interceptees conspire with each other and others known to illegally traffic firearms to Mexico...

...The fact that ATF knew that Target 1 had acquired 852 firearms and had the present intent to move them to Mexico should have prompted Department officials to act...


...On December 24, 2009, Straw Purchaser Z bought even more firearms, purchasing 40
AK–47 type rifles from an FFL. All of these rifles were recovered on January 13, 2010, in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S./Mexico border. Although the individual found in possession of all these guns provided the first name of the purchaser, agents did not arrest the individual or the purchaser. Though the wiretap application states that agents were conducting surveillance of known straw purchasers, none of these weapons were interdicted. No arrests were made...


...The wiretap affidavit also details the very sort ‘‘time-to-crime’’ for many of the firearms purchased during Fast nd Furious. For example, on November 6, 2009, November 12, 2009, and November 14, 2009, Straw Purchaser Y purchased a total of 25 AK–47 type firearms from an FFL in Arizona. On November 20, 2009—just eight days later—Mexican officials recovered 17 of these firearms in Naco, Sonora, Mexico. Another straw purchaser, Straw Purchaser Q, purchased a total of 17 AK–47 type firearms from an FFL on November 3, 2009, November 10, 2009, and November 12, 2009. Then, on December 9, 2009, Mexican officials recovered 11 of these firearms in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, along with approximately 421 kilograms of cocaine, 60 kilograms of methamphetamine, 48 additional firearms, 392 ammunition cartridges, $2 million in U.S. currency, and $800,000 in Mexican currency. Once again, although ATF was aware of these facts, no one was arrested, and ATF failed to even approach the straw purchasers...

...The wiretap affidavit reveals a remarkable amount of specific information about Operation Operation Fast and Furious. The affidavit reveals that the Justice Department has been misrepresenting important facts to Congress and withholding critical details about Fast and Furious from the Committee for months on end.

Buh-bye, Eric.

Related: Top 10 Takeways from the Obama-Holder Coverup

Larwyn's Linx: Chief Justice Roberts’s Folly

Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn's Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.


Chief Justice Roberts’s Folly: NRO
Here’s the clue that was missed in predicting Roberts’ ruling: OakPrs
Rubio,West,Mack and Others Smack Down SCOTUS Decision: Shark

"This decision I would go as far to say is lawless": Mark Levin
Obamacare: 'Things are now up for Grabs': Feldman
Roberts: It's Not A Tax, It Is A Tax: CNS

I’m Not Down on John Roberts: RS
Was Scalia’s Dissent Originally a Majority Opinion?: Volokh
Kennedy: Court 'imposes tax when Congress rejected tax': Hill


Obamacare: A System Designed to Fail: Q&O
Most Tasteless Administration in History: Sarah
Obama campaign selling another classy T-shirt: Sooper


SCOTUS rules Obamacare is the largest tax increase in history: EIB
$1.7 trillion Obamacare tax now violates Obama’s 2008 tax pledge: DC
ObamaCare is upheld, now what?: Stacy

Only the Voters Can Save America Now: Wolf
Full List of Obamacare Tax Hikes: 20 taxes on American families and small businesses: ATR
Pelosi So Happy About ObamaCare She Nabbed 20% Of New Waivers For Her District: AllAm

Scandal Central

Holder Held In Contempt, 255-67, 100 Dems Flee: Pelosi’s Insane Rant, Holder’s Bitter Speech: Nice Deb
Emails: White House worked with health industry to send business to Axelrod’s firm: DC
Abound Solar latest clean energy loan guarantee recipient to announce bankruptcy: Malkin

Climate & Energy

Why EPA Regulating Greenhouse Gases Is Absurd…And Why It Doesn’t Matter: Chron
Thanks, EPA: Texas Approves Big Boost in Wholesale Electricity Rate: NBC DFW
Energy Milestone: Natural Gas and Coal Had the Same Share of Electricity Generation in April: Carpe Diem


Rush Limbaugh: Boiling tea only makes it stronger: Scoop
CNBC Ratings Crash, Fox Business Network Surge: Publius
Top DNC staffers gloat over Obamacare, taunt GOP ‘bitches,’ ‘mother******s’: Twitchy

Ann Coulter 2005: John Roberts is just like David Souter: FAM
National Organization For Women Applauds New Law On Their Bodies: Glob
Nancy Pelosi Latest Democrat Who Can’t Remember Brian Terry’s Name: Glob


5 Giant Companies Who Use Slave Labor: BizPundit
Hollande Wrests Merkel Concessions In Euro Crisis Plan: Bloomberg
Spoiler or Voice of Reason? Russian Role In Syria: ABC


Automated robbery: how card skimmers (still) steal millions from banks: Ars Technica
Sex Tech: Facebook’s “not so fresh” feeling, Google Glass porn: ZDNet
Birth of a baby captured on MRI video: Global Post


Forward: Laughing Con
WZ Family Member Passes On: Requests Donations In Lieu Of Flowers...: WZ
"if, .... ," by contemporary kipling .... (a distant cousin) ....: Winter Soldier

Image: A.C.N. Photography
Today's Larwyn's Linx sponsored by: Join the fight: Repeal Obamacare

QOTD: "Arizona bears the brunt of the country's illegal immigration problem. Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so. Thousands of Arizona's estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants -- including not just children but men and women under 30 -- are now assured immunity from enforcement, and will be able to compete openly with Arizona citizens for employment.

Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty -- not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State." --Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ban the word trillion

Andrew Tisch, co-founder of Loews, has an interesting idea to help restore fiscal sanity to federal budgeting decisions:

[There's] a tidy unit of measurement called a "trillion." We can get our heads around the word "trillion," and so we think we understand what we're looking at. In this case, it is the size of our national debt.

The thing is, it should be really hard to ever get our heads around a "trillion." Very few of us have ever seen a trillion of anything with our own eyes. Maybe a trillion grains of sand, but not a trillion trees or a trillion stars.

...As a nation, we spent $3.6 trillion last year on federal government services, and about one out of every three of those dollars was borrowed. That's a lot of money.

Just how much is a trillion dollars? Consider this: If you have a briefcase full of $100 bills, you'd have roughly $1 million. Few of us have ever seen that much money in one place, but we can at least imagine what it looks like. But a trillion dollars in $100 bills would weigh 22 million pounds!

Things get more interesting if you stack the $100 bills on top of each other, rather than pack them tight in a briefcase. You'd have only $10 billion by the time you got as high as a commercial jetliner cruises. Think about that next time you're up in the air.

If you want to see a trillion dollars of those Benjamin Franklins, you need to penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and keep on going—678 miles high. Our national debt, at 15.8 times that amount, would form a stack of $100 bills 10,712 miles high.

That's why this enormous number is trivialized by shortening it to a word that has only one more letter than its much more benign cousins, "million" or "billion."

So let's ban the word "trillion." It's a unit of measurement neither understood nor appreciated. If we must use the number, we should give it its proper due. Write it out with all its zeros—all 12 of them. So $15.8 trillion would be $15,800,000,000,000.

Or, from now on, if you want to say "trillion," say "one thousand billion" or "one million million," or "one thousand thousand thousand thousand." Our national debt, then, would go from $15.8 trillion to $15,800 billion. Doing this would show, among other things, that even cutting $100 billion from our debt would bring us down only to $15,700 billion.

Still, "billions" doesn't quite cut it. One billion dollars used to be a lot of money. Today no self-respecting dictator siphons less than that amount into his or her Swiss bank account. It simply wouldn't look good among peer dictators.

So what about expressing a trillion as "a million million"? By that standard, our deficit is now $15.8 million millions.

We can't keep piling more debt onto our children or our children's children or our children's children's children. Otherwise, the million million millions in debt will make their future worthless, worthless, worthless.


CFTC hacked: But don't worry, I'm sure they'll never get to your super-secret health records

Not to worry: it's only the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission that got hacked, which regulates the nation's derivatives market.

Breach At U.S. Regulatory Agency Puts Employee Data At Risk

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which governs the nation's derivatives markets, has disclosed that it suffered a data breach in May, exposing the Social Security numbers and personal information of its employees.

According to a news report about the CFTC breach, an employee ath the commission received a phishing email on May 21 and input information into a fraudulent website. A third party was then able to illegally enter the employee’s account, which had access to personnel information, according to a copy of an email sent to agency employees that described the incident.

"The email account contained emails and attachments with the names, Social Security numbers, and possibly other sensitive personally identifiable information of certain individuals," according to the email description.

But I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats involved in health care will never click on a phishing email and expose Americans' most sensitive medical records.

Obamacare: The Dissent

I found these brief statements (PDF), part of the dissent in today's ACA decision, to be far more terse, logical and compelling than all of the dozens of preceding pages.

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito wrote:

The Court today decides to save a statute Congress did not write. It rules that what the statute declares to be a requirement with a penalty is instead an option subject to a tax. And it changes the intentionally coercive sanction of a total cut-off of Medicaid funds to a supposedly non coercive cut-off of only the incremental funds that the Act makes available.

The Court regards its strained statutory interpretationas judicial modesty. It is not. It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching. It creates a debilitated, inoperable version of health-care regulation that Congress did not enact and the public does not expect. It makes enactment of sensible health-care regulation more difficult, since Congress cannot start afresh but must take as its point of departure a jumble of now senseless provisions, provisions that certain interests favored under the Court’s new design will struggle to retain. And it leaves the public and the States to expend vast sums of money on requirements that may or may not survive the necessary congressional revision.

The Court’s disposition, invented and atextual as it is,does not even have the merit of avoiding constitutional difficulties. It creates them. The holding that the Individual Mandate is a tax raises a difficult constitutional question (what is a direct tax?) that the Court resolves with inadequate deliberation. And the judgment on the Medicaid Expansion issue ushers in new federalism concerns and places an unaccustomed strain upon the Union. Those States that decline the Medicaid Expansion must subsidize, by the federal tax dollars taken from their citizens, vast grants to the States that accept the Medicaid Expansion. If that destabilizing political dynamic, so antagonistic to a harmonious Union, is to be introduced at all, it should be by Congress, not by the Judiciary.

The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism, and the understanding thatthe Federal Government is one of limited powers. But the Court’s ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches. In the name of constitutional avoidance, it creates new constitutional questions. In the name of cooperative federalism, it undermines state sovereignty.

The Constitution, though it dates from the founding ofthe Republic, has powerful meaning and vital relevanceto our own times. The constitutional protections that this case involves are protections of structure. Structural protections—notably, the restraints imposed by federalism and separation of powers—are less romantic and have less obvious a connection to personal freedom than the provisions of the Bill of Rights or the Civil War Amendments. Hence they tend to be undervalued or even forgotten by our citizens. It should be the responsibility of the Court to teach otherwise, to remind our people that the Framers considered structural protections of freedom the most important ones, for which reason they alone were embodied in the original Constitution and not left to later amendment. The fragmentation of power produced by thestructure of our Government is central to liberty, and when we destroy it, we place liberty at peril. Today’s decision should have vindicated, should have taught, this truth; instead, our judgment today has disregarded it.

For the reasons here stated, we would find the Act invalid in its entirety. We respectfully dissent.

Justice Thomas:

I dissent for the reasons stated in our joint opinion, but I write separately to say a word about the Commerce Clause. The joint dissent and THE CHIEF JUSTICE correctly apply our precedents to conclude that the Individual Mandate is beyond the power granted to Congress un-der the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Under those precedents, Congress may regulate“economic activity [that] substantially affects interstatecommerce.” United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 560 (1995).

I adhere to my view that “the very notion of a ‘substantial effects’ test under the Commerce Clause is inconsistent with the original understanding of Congress’ powers and with this Court’s early Commerce Clause cases.” United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598, 627 (2000) (THOMAS, J., concurring); see also Lopez, supra, at 584–602 (THOMAS, J., concurring); Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U. S. 1, 67–69 (2005) (THOMAS, J., dissenting).

As I have explained, the Court’s continued use of that test “has encouraged the Federal Government to persist in its view that the Commerce Clause has virtually no limits.” Morrison, supra, at 627. The Government’s unprecedented claim in this suit that it may regulate not only economic activity but also inactivity that substantially affects interstate commerce is a case in point.

Would that people who take an oath to uphold the Constitution actually read our nation's highest law, as well as the laws they vote to enact. Dare to dream, I suppose.

Study in Obamacare Contrasts

The ex-SEIU chief and current DNC executive director Patrick Gasbag (my spelling could be off) is nothing if not magnanimous and gracious:

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to express themselves in more creative and compelling ways:

Today's decision by the Supreme Court is a disgrace. This kind of madness is so far removed from America's founding that the Framers would be flabbergasted. They wrote the Constitution to prevent the rise of an autocratic, centralized federal government. Their aim was to protect the rights of the individual, above all. They carefully enumerated certain powers to the central government, leaving the remainder to the states and the people.

But a series of petty, temporary politicians -- more invested in their own feudal power grabs and self-aggrandizement -- violated their oaths of office, decade after decade.

We have no choice but to politically crush these miscreants and replace them with true Constitutional conservatives.

November is coming.

Our Irregular Body Language Segment: Putin and Obama

Spotted the following letter to the editor in today's Wall Street Journal.

I have always known that a picture is worth a thousand words. It has never been more true than in observing the picture that accompanies Hillary Clinton's "Trade With Russia Is a Win-Win" (op-ed, June 20). Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama are shown shaking hands, and Mr. Putin has clearly taken the power position.

The Russian president has his hand on top, pointing down, while Mr. Obama's is on the bottom, pointing up. There is a nonverbal message being conveyed here, and I for one don't like the implication.

Vince Pasquale

Stuart, Fla.

Vince, this is easily explainable. The president can't bow while he's sitting down, for heaven's sake!

A Bad Week for Liberty


Supreme Court Upholds Obama Care

EPA's CO2 Regulation Upheld as “Unambiguously Correct”

Supreme Court ruling on immigration is a clear rebuke to Arizona

We gained a beachhead in 2010. It's time to take the cliffs.

If you love the this country, if you love the Constitution, it’s November or never to save both.

Larwyn's Linx: The Biggest Scandal in U.S. History

Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn's Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.


The Biggest Scandal in U.S. History: Coulter
The ‘Bam Who Fell to Earth: Driscoll
Democrats in Full Spin Mode: Ace

King Barack III: Teresa
The Tragic Illusion Of Obama's Fine Mind: IBD
DCCC chair: Ditch the convention: Politico


Surprise! Tax Cheats Received $1.4B In Stimulus Tax Credits: Cove
No, Romney is not outsourcing jobs but Obama Motors is: Aces
Is High Frequency Trading Good? Or Bad?: P&F

Obama's Perverse Plan for Permanent Recession: AmSpec
Dodd-Frank: The Economic Case for Repeal: American
California is still dead: Reason

How Unions Just Shot Workers in the Foot: Foundry
ADA Used to Impose All Manner of Lunacy: MB
Obama administration wants you to throw food stamp parties: WZ

Scandal Central

Holder: The case for contempt: Times
Federal judge rejects Justice Department challenge to Florida voter purge: Hayward
A kinder, gentler but still paranoid view of Fast & Furious: Instapundit

Double Capitulation Alert: Say No to Highway and Student Loan Bills: RS
Tax Cheats Received $1.4 Billion in Stimulus Loans: Times
Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown calls on Eric Holder to resign: FAM

Climate & Energy

Moonbat Court Helps EPA Tighten Its Death Grip in Name of Global Warming Hoax: MB
New Regs Limit Slope of Putt-Putt Golf Holes, Require Use of Mini-Horses as Guide Animals: CNS
I’ve been Mannhandled: Watts


CNN op-ed: We might not be able to handle the truth on Fast & Furious, so let’s not be “nosy”: Hot Air
Romney Camp Proves WaPo's Bain Story is Bogus, But WaPo Refuses to Retract It!: RomneyCentral
The Truth About the Gay Left (from a gay conservative): RWN

‘In Crisis, CNN Aims to Rethink the Brand’: Driscoll
Romney Strikes Back at Washington Post's Outsourcing Article: NB
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging: American Elephant

Mark Levin’s EPIC rant: I don’t need some no-name a-hole telling me what to do with my doctor!: Scoop
Tragic: Left wing rag Washington Post reports quarterly loss of $22.6 million: FAM
E.J. Dionne, Jr. Must Resign: Riehl


DEA Head: A Thousand Dead Mexican Kids "A Sign Of Success In The Fight Against Drugs": AllAm
Obama Diverts River of US Taxpayer Money Into Kenyan Pockets: MB
Iranian VP Blames Jews for World Drug Trade: IPT

Good thing we dismissed that wacky snowbilly and her middlebrow cult of personality!: ProWis
Iran Declares War against the Jewish People: Gatestone
Glorious democratic Arab Spring Egypt bars Jews from holy site: JihadWatch


iPhone Turning Five Years Old with 250 Million Units Sold, $150 Billion in Revenue: MacRumors
The galaxy that shouldn’t be there: Discover
Truly embarrassing Facebook status updates exposed by website: Sophos

Low-Carb Diet Burns The Most Calories In Small Study: Instapundit
Google provides peek at Internet-connected glasses, begins selling them to US programmers: WaPo
Google Nexus 7 Review: CNet


Are You Ready For The SUPREME COURT SMACKDOWWWWNN??!: SooperMexican
Change: DNC 2008 vs. DNC 2012: Glob
Twas the Night Before SCOTUS: ushanka

We break away from Constitutional hijinks for this fashion update: MOTUS
The Obamacare Decision Pool: Ricochet
VA Democrats Accuse Americans For Prosperity Of Voter Fraud, Yet Say Voter Fraud Acceptable: AllPatriots

Image: Lars Larson
Today's Larwyn's Linx sponsored by: Support Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate

QOTD: "As though we needed any more evidence, President Obama has demonstrated anew his utter disregard for the safety and security of the Arizona people. Within the last two hours, I have been notified the Obama administration has revoked the 287(g) agreement under the authority of which Arizona law enforcement officers have partnered with the federal government in the enforcement of immigration law.

Of course, it is no coincidence that this announcement comes immediately on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the heart of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law: SB 1070. It’s worth noting that 68 law enforcement entities in 24 states have functioning 287(g) agreements with the federal government. But it appears the only agreements eliminated today were those in Arizona, the state that happens to be on the front lines of America’s fight against illegal immigration. We are on our own, apparently.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The Obama administration has fought the people of Arizona at every turn – downplaying the threat that a porous border poses to our citizens, filing suit in order to block our State from protecting itself, unilaterally granting immunity to tens of thousands of illegal aliens living in our midst, and now this. Still, the disarmament of Arizona’s 287(g) agreements is a new low, even for this administration." --Gov. Jan Brewer

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Today's Lesson

R. F. writes:

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever.

In fact, it's now running ads across the U.S. (PDF) to encourage more use of food stamps.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals."

The stated reason for the policy is because the animals soon grow dependent on handouts, forget how to fend for themselves, and starve to death if nobody is there to feed them.

Thus endeth today's lesson.

3 Graphs: How Obama's "Financial Reform" Crushed the Economy

These results are certainly apropos of any "financial reform" bearing the names of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

It is rare that a single law can have a significant adverse effect on the enormous U.S. economy. But there has never been anything like the Dodd-Frank Act. Signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010, its extraordinary effect in slowing the economy is coming into focus as its second anniversary approaches.

As shown in the chart below, the U.S. economy had a few reasonably good quarters of recovery after the crisis, particularly the third and fourth quarters of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. These were not of Reagan quality, of course, but they suggested that the economy was beginning to heal.

On June 30, 2010, however, the Democrat-controlled House voted along party lines to adopt the House version of Dodd-Frank. That was expected, of course, but two weeks later two Republican Senators—Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine—announced they would vote for cloture in the Senate. These two votes virtually assured that the bill would pass the Senate and eventually become law. Almost immediately, GDP growth in the third quarter of 2010 began to slow. It has never recovered.

...Although event studies like this are always subject to question, the fact that the same patterns are seen in overall GDP and in two major sectors of the economy lends support to the idea that they had the same cause. Moreover, no other event at the outset of the third quarter of 2010 can explain the two-year persistence of the decline that followed...

The act also had very substantial unintended consequences. In part, this was the result of the short shrift that the relevant congressional committees gave to specific provisions before adopting the law [which] was rushed through Congress only 18 months after the Obama administration took office and 13 months after the first draft of the law was available to Congress and the public. This would have been warp speed for any one of the major provisions in the act. For a law with dozens of complex, radical, and occasionally contradictory provisions, adopting it so quickly and with so little real understanding of its effects verged on dereliction of duty...

...For example, in the Title IX provisions on housing finance reform, two completely new and important concepts were introduced that had no clear meaning—the “Qualified Residential Mortgage” (QRM) and the “Qualified Mortgage” (QM)... now—almost two years after the act was signed into law—there is still no regulation that defines this key term... Similarly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), another creation of the act, recently put off promulgating its definition of the QM until the end of 2012, conveniently after the election...

In short, like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Social Security, Medicare, "Great Society" and every other enormous, failed government program, Dodd-Frank is guaranteed -- that's right, I said it: guaranteed -- to fail.

One day, hundreds of years from now, historians will look upon this era's Democrat Party with amazement. How could any political party, they will ask, continue to pile program upon program without seriously evaluating the results of their prior failures?

The answer is simple. In their craven, white-knuckled death grip on power, Democrats are willing to promise anything, no matter how destructive it will be to society as a whole.

Don't click on this!

After all, it could be a social-engineering attack.

McAfee and Guardian Analytics have revealed the results of a months-long study that uncovered a global financial services cyber-crime operation. "Operation High Roller" targeted the online banking accounts used by high-net worth individuals and companies.

The attacks ranged from the EU, to Latin America, and most recently to the U.S. All sizes of banks were targeted, from global institutions to local credit unions. As for the size of the thefts: "the total attempted fraud could be as high as €2 billion."

Initially, the infection pattern seen in Europe was similar to other SpyEye and Zeus fraud activities, but performed hands-free, automated transactions. This is the standard flow:

• A Phishing email is sent to individuals or businesses that bank with a specific financial institution
• The email contains a disguised link. When the victim clicks the link, they visit a web page that starts a malicious sequence:
  – The page contains a blackhole exploit kit or other similar framework. The kit will look for an appropriate vulnerability in the victim’s browser, and upon finding one, will load exploit scripts that compromise the victim’s computer.
  – The exploit script installs a Downloader Trojan.
  – The Downloader Trojan then will install SpyEye or Zeus on the victim’s device.
  – The next time the victim logs into online banking, the malware will check certain parameters, such as the type of accounts and account balances. If the client parameters are what the malware is seeking, the SpyEye/Zeus Trojan contacts the command and control server and pulls down the appropriate web inject for the victim’s financial institution. The web inject carries a JavaScript payload.
• The fraud process starts when the account holder subsequently attempts to log into his account from the infected computer
• The victim sees his standard, genuine bank portal, but it displays the fraudsters’ custom JavaScript web injection to capture the information needed for the victim’s bank
• The injected script takes control of the session and contacts the fraudsters’ server for specific instructions. It may insert content within the session, such as a transaction field or error message. For example, as the victim logs in, he may be asked to answer a security question and get an error. The error message creates the delay that allows the fraudster’s software to perform the transaction.
• At this point the victim has not actually authenticated and typically is stalled with a “please wait” message for about 60 seconds (see Figure 4).

• If during the automated attack, the financial institution requests a transaction authorization number (TAN), the fraudsters’ client-side web injection displays a fake TAN page to the victim and the malware proceeds as follows:
  – The malware collects the TAN from the victim’s screen and presents the authentic TAN to the financial institution to enable the fraudulent transaction, while delaying the victim from accessing their account.
  – The malware uses the intercepted credentials to initiate a silent, separate transaction to a mule account (either individual or business) or in one case, a prepaid debit card.
  – The malware looks up a valid mule account from a separate database, automating a traditionally manual step in the process. The transaction is performed in a hidden iFrame, a parallel instance of the online banking session on the client that operates in the background. The code navigates to the transaction page and initiates an automated form submission that adds the mule information.
• The user is allowed to proceed with the session
• The mule withdraws the money and converts it to a Western Union or Liberty Reserve payment that he remits to the fraudster. The mule retains a small percentage of the take, and the money is untraceable within a few days.
To conceal the theft, the malware will stay resident in memory on the victim’s computer. It will alter the victim’s bank statement to show a false balance, remove line items associated with the transaction, and block printing of statements that would show the true account balance and transaction sequences.

Put simply, don't click on any email you don't have 100 percent confidence in. Even one from me.

9 steps cities must take to save themselves from fiscal collapse

After negotiations with public sector unions and bondholders collapsed, the city of Stockton, California announced that it will file for bankruptcy.

Mike Shedlock says that the real reason for cities' burgeoning financial troubles revolve around unattainable pension promises, which he calls "a death trap for cities."

What's the Solution?

1. The immediate solution is bankruptcy. Expect to see more cities file. However, longer-term structural problems must also be addressed.
2. Untenable pension contracts need to be tossed out by the courts and benefits reduced. Every taxpayer not on the public dole should cheer bankruptcy, not resist it.
3. End defined benefit pension plans for public union workers.
4. End collective bargaining for public union workers. Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin has proven that can be done.
5. Scrap Davis-Bacon and all state prevailing wage laws.
6. Institute national right-to-work laws.
7. Merit pay for teachers
8. More competition from accredited online schools to drive education costs way down
9. Scrap student loan programs that only benefit administrators and educators, not the kids.

It's time to stop overpaying for all government-sponsored services including but not limited to police, fire, prison-workers, and education. The vicious, self-serving grip that unions and their political supporters have on this nation has to end. Governor Walker partially paved the way in Wisconsin. Other states must follow through. At the national level, we desperately need right-to-work laws while ending prevailing wages.

More and more municipalities -- unable to print money like their federal cousins -- will have to declare bankruptcy and wipe the slate clean.

Because sooner or later, the laws of mathematics will win out.

Related: A Brief, Illustrated History of the Public Sector Unions That, Together With The Democrat Party, Are Waging War on the Taxpayer.