Monday, January 31, 2011

Individual Mandate is Unconstitutional

We were assured that objections to the constitutionality of the individual mandate were frivolous. Judge Vinson found them quite convincing, especially the objection that if the individual mandate is not limited by the Constitution, then damn near nothing is. He found the individual mandate unconstitutional.

With prejudice.

In subsequently dealing with the issue of severability, Vinson wholly accepted the government's oft-repeated assertion that the individual mandate was inextricably integral to the entire bill, and accordingly struck down ObamaCare in its entirety, saying it was not the function of the judiciary to re-write legislation when it failed to pass judicial review. That, he said, remains the job of Congress.

Hoist with their own petard.

Vinson's Summary Judgement decision can be read HERE.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rahm Emanuel is Twammed*

The Dividist is still in Chicago, but will be winging back to the Left Coast on Monday. With The Real Superbowl now a distant and painful memory, the Dividist turn his eyes back to the world of politics. Here in Chicago - the story is Rahm Emanuel and whether or not he is qualified as a resident of the City of Chicago to run for Mayor. For an in-depth background briefing - we go to the Definitive Reference Media of Choice - Taiwanese animation from NMA.TV:

"US President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s bid to become Chicago mayor is in trouble after an Illinois court threw him off the ballot. The court ruled that he did not satisfy residency rules. Emanuel has appealed the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. His name is currently still on the ballots, but we here in Taiwan say it doesn't matter because Emanuel probably won't be able to run for mayor anyways. "
The Reader may be wondering (as was The Dividist), why our intrepid Taiwanese reporters chose to render Rahm in the buff. It took a little research - but the comment thread on YouTube reminds us of this story from last March:
"Let me tell you a story about Rahm Emanuel," Massa started. "I was a congressman in my first eight weeks, and I was in the congressional gym, and I went down and I worked out and I went into the showers...I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird and here comes Rahm Emanuel not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't going to vote for the president's budget. Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?"
The Dividist hopes to never learn how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man. The Dividist had completely forgotten about Rahm's naked verbal assault in the Congressional shower. Apparently this story had a bigger and longer lasting impact in Taiwan. Or they have better memories. Or naked political arguments strikes a cultural chord in Taiwan. Or something. We really need to be more careful about which stories we promote to mainstream media meme status here. These things create a distorted view of our politics in other countries.

Regardless, the Illinois Supreme Court had the final word yesterday, and Rahm will indeed be on the ballot. It was a unanimous decision with a little salt added to the overruled appellate court wound:
"This court’s decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Board’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Board’s decision was not clearly erroneous."
Which means the residency distraction is over. Which means he will likely be the next mayor of Chicago. It does not mean he should be the next mayor of Chicago.

The Dividist is not a resident and won't be voting in this election. But he knows plenty of residents, and one issue that he hears about frequently is a crappy Chicago school system rife with waste and corruption. At least one of the problems with the Chicago school system has been removed. Arne Duncan was the head of the Chicago school system before being tapped by Barack Obama to implement his failed education policies and leadership in Chicago on a national basis as Secretary of Education. The fact that he is no longer in Chicago should make Emanuel's job easier. But before turning this job over to Emanuel, Chicago voters may want to consider who among the candidates truly showed their commitment to improving public schools by having their own children attend those public schools.

Long-time Chicago resident Rahm Emanuel's kids are getting a good education...

... in private school.

*Twammed - To be made the subject of a Taiwanese Animation news story.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A fan's gotta do what a fan's gotta do.

2002 - Last game at the old Soldier Field

Yeah I know. Things have been a little slow around here lately. Truth be told - the Arizona attack and subsequent reaction was such a vicious bummer it put me off politics for a while.

But... my home town boys are making one heck of a run, and I welcome the distraction. Tomorrow I will be flying to Chicago. I just don't see how I have any choice.

More from 2002

Lets face it. The Real Superbowl™, will take place Sunday 2:00 CST at Soldier Field. The Bears v. Packers for the George Halas Trophy in Soldier Field - Is there anything else to say? Well - yeah - a few things. They each held serve at home court in their two meetings this season, with only one score separating the winner and loser in each game. This is the longest rivalry in the NFL. Yet the last and only time these two teams met in the post season was in Soldier Field the week after Pearl Harbor. Bears won 33-14. Did I mention this game is in Soldier Field? I expect recent and ancient (1941) history to repeat. Bears 28-17.

I do understand that there is another game called the "superbowl" scheduled a couple of weeks down the road. I'm sure they are going to have a lot of entertaining commercials and I understand the Black Eyed Peas will be playing at half-time to drum up some interest and viewership. As far as the game itself, I expect it to be only moderately more interesting the than the intervening Pro-Bowl. The NFC North dominated this year. They'll do it again in the Superbowl. With Brady and Payton out of the mix, whoever the AFC puts up will get rolled by the winner of The Real Superbowl™ this Sunday.

Flying on Saturday, hope to scalp a reasonable ticket on Sunday. There is nothing quite like the City of Chicago in championship heat. I'll probably do a little live blogging on my other blog.

Net net - this blog will be on hiatus for a bit, unless Tully wants to pick up the slack.

UPDATE 1-24-11:

It appears that the Green Bay Packers can indeed beat the Bears by a touchdown, as long as: The Bears play their 3rd string quarterback, Bear quarterbacks score more touchdowns for Green Bay than the much touted Packer quarterback, the refs make three critical wrong calls against the Bears, and the Bear head coach sabotages his own team's final tying drive in the last seconds with a brain dead time-out to devise a play with the slowest end in football running an end-around. Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for winning the Superbowl.

This blog will resume it's regular programming in a week or so.

Go Bears!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

San Francisco Values - Hamburger Edition

Our hometown supervisors have yet again set up The City for national ridicule and general hilarity, this time with the ban on Macdonald's Happy Meal toys. I guess it is a good thing that in these trying times we can offer ourselves up to the rest of the nation as civic clowns to help lighten the national mood.

I do understand that - in the most liberal major city with the most liberal governing body in the country - it is impossible to resist the temptation to succumb to their core belief that no one is capable of making any decisions for themselves or their family without their benevolent dictates gently guiding forcing us in the right direction. But... when even the Daily Show is pointing and laughing at us - you'd think our Supes might get a clue.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
San Francisco's Happy Meal Ban
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

That is SF Supervisor Eric Mar being made to look particularly stupid by Daily Show comedian Asaif Mandvi. It's not like that is particularly difficult thing to do with our Board of Supes, but Asaif did it with an extra helping of much deserved derision.

The local fishwrap transcribes the funniest bit:

"But the most brutal part comes when Mar explains that his 10-year-old daughter, Jade, doesn't like fast food anymore after watching the documentary "Super Size Me" with him. Those opposed to the to ban maintain it's up to parents, not McDonalds, to ensure their kids learn healthy habits.

Mandvi: "So she learned from her parents?"

Mar: "That's a large part of it."

Mandvi: (staring in wide-eyed disbelief) "Would it be hard to pass a law to force Netflix to send 'Super Size Me' to every parent in San Francisco?"

Mar: "We can't force Netflix, a private company, to do something like that."

Mandvi: "Are you serious right now?"

Mar: "We have no power to force Netflix or a private company like that to change a business practice."

Mandvi: "So on one hand, you're like, 'We can't do that' but on the other hand, you are doing that."

Mar, looking very tired, shakes his head, stumbles over one of the progressive supervisor's favorite words, equitability, and mercifully the interview ends. Oy."

The good news is that four of our Supes have termed out and will be leaving office this week. The bad news is that Eric Mar is not among them.

Reason TV also took note:

The Taiwanese news animators have apparently fallen behind the cultural curve on this story. I am looking at you NextMedia.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

1-1-11 - It's all aces this year and other reasons for optimism.

I had this weird feeling all New Year's Day that I just couldn't shake. It was kind of deja-vu-ish, in the sense that - I was sure I felt this way before - but I just couldn't quite remember why or when. Then it finally hit me - I was experiencing "optimism." I was actually feeling good about our future prospects and looking forward to the new year. This was a sensation I'd almost forgotten, as I've not felt this way on a New Year's Day in at least a decade. I was much more accustomed to the overwhelming sense of relief at leaving the prior year behind, while looking forward with a nameless dread at the year to come. Well - this was such a unique sensation, that I thought it worthwhile to try and put my finger on the source of this irrational exuberance cautious optimism.

Lets start with the easy ones - the date itself. Just look at it: "1-1-11". Now that is a date to start a year with - Four Aces. It just doesn't matter how the deck was cut, or how much bad luck you've been dealt up to now. When you flip those cards and see four aces staring back, you are feeling good about life. I felt so good about it that I am going to deal myself four more aces by posting this at exactly 11:11 PM.

In a few weeks the Chinese New Year kicks off and in the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Bunny ( ). Need I say more? What's not to like about the Year of the Bunny? This year, the Year of the Bunny is also the 3rd year of a presidential term and if you believe in bunnies or investing based on presidential cycles, then this should be a good year for the stock market.

At almost every level - nationally, locally, in sports, politics, even looking globally - there was good news to be found and something to look forward too. Let's tick them off..

Reason for National Politics Optimism
On Wednesday the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will gavel in a restoration of divided government after a disastrous two years under One Party Democratic rule. The 111th Congress, including the lame duck session just completed was a perfect example of the kind of fiscal irresponsibility and insane spending that seems to accompany One Party Rule by either party. Wednesday, January 5th has been declared an official National Dividist® Day of Celebration by... um... The Dividist. Everyone should take the day off and spend the day watching c-span with a fifth of Kentucky bourbon.

In general, our expectations and hopes for divided government can be found on the post linked here. Historical evidence shows that divided government restrains the growth of spending and is more fiscally responsible than one party rule. Our specific expectation for the new Congress is that this historical precedent will hold when comparing the divided 112th to the united 111th. How could it not?

The 111th has made this comparison easy and inevitable. The 111th Congress and Democratic One Party Rule will go down in history as the single most fiscally irresponsible episode in our nations history, funding a trillion+ of new spending in bailouts and Stimulus I without being paid for, another trillion+ in new spending with Obamacare – passed on the pretense of being paid for by shifting costs to the bankrupt states and by pretending the “Doc Fix” does not exist and capped off with yet another trillion+ dollar hole in the deficit from the stimulus II/tax bill just passed in the lame duck session over the objections of the still ineffectual fiscal hawks.

The divided 112th Congress will undoubtedly improve on that record. It just can’t get any worse. Of course, I used to say that about One Party Republican rule. We'll see.

Reason for Sports Optimism
My Chicago Bears have locked down the number 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. It does not even matter (to the Bears) what happens in Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. I actually hope the Bears rest their starters. If Green Bay moves on as a wild card, they may meet again in Chicago for the NFC Championship a few weeks hence. I may have to go to that game, and I may have to rewrite and update the "Bears Song in Prose." Hopefully with a better ending this time.

Reason for San Francisco Values Optimism
My New Year's Day hangover was not as bad as I deserved, and I was greeted the first day of the new year by a great headline in the Chron to enjoy with my ibuprofin and coffee:
San Francisco chosen to host America's Cup
"It's a new year and a new dawn for the sport of sailing in San Francisco. The city was chosen Friday to host the next America's Cup in 2013, heralding a potential renaissance in competitive sailing and a boon of more than $1 billion to the local economy. This "marks the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter for our city and for the sport of sailing," said Lt. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who sought to secure the Cup as a capstone to his seven years as mayor. "We don't think there is any better showcase in the world for sailing than San Francisco Bay." [...]"
This is going to be great. It'll be one heck of an economic boon to The City and enable us to upgrade rotting piers and waterfront infrastructure that we otherwise could never afford to fix. This was such an obvious good thing that even our dysfunctional Board of Supervisors had to get behind it, despite the usual carping from the batshit left in the City who can't stand the idea that Larry Ellison might make some money on the deal.

Reason for International Optimism
Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy has been all over a troubling European legal investigation that makes the Wikileaks legal travails pale into insignificance. Last August, he linked to a breaking story on Italian police opening an investigation into a topless sunbather for inappropriate application of sun screen:

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
"A TOPLESS sunbather is being investigated by police after being accused of sensuously rubbing sun cream on herself on a public beach. Police were called to a beach at Anzio south of Rome by a furious mother who said the way the “attractive” sunbather was rubbing lotion on her body had “troubled her sons aged 14 and 12.” “She is amazed that she is being condemned for simply sunbathing topless,” [the woman’s] lawyer Gianluca Arrighi said.“Let’s be clear my client is tall, brunette and has an ample breast and is therefore going to naturally be sensuous when she applies cream to her chest....”
Well I hope I don't have to paint a picture here to show what a troubling precedent this investigation represents. This is Freedom. But - good news! In a New Year post, Volokh follows up on the story:
“the claimant mother has been condemned for ‘calumnie’ ... (a false accusation leading to the beginning of a criminal trial) and ordered to pay 25k to the young woman.” He points to an Italian video on the story, but since I can’t speak Italian I can’t understand it, except to note that the word for “topless” in Italian is apparently “topless.”
The most revealing in-depth analysis is to found in the linked Italian channel TG5 video news report. These screen shots are from that video. And yes, Italian TV News is much better than US TV News.

The Italian story has "legs" and noted by the likes of McCain and Instapundit.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.