Video: Obama Lawyer Laughed at In Supreme Court

Via Fox News,   two justices, Alito and Breyer, needled a top Obama lawyer for simultaneously calling the fine that will be paid under the law for not purchasing insurance a “penalty” and a “tax.”

The confusion arises because of the administration’s argument that the power to enforce the individual mandate is rooted in Congress’ taxing power — but that the mechanism itself is designed to be a penalty, not a revenue-generating policy.

The narrow but important distinction created a communication challenge for the lawyer representing the Obama administration.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli used the phrase “tax penalty” multiple times to describe the individual mandate’s backstop. He portrayed the fee as a penalty by design, but one that functions as a tax because it’s collected through the tax code.

“General Verrilli, today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax,” said Justice Samuel Alito, in one of the few laugh lines throughout the 90 minutes of argument Monday.

The remark underscores the fine line the White House is walking in its argument. On one hand, it says the backstop is not a tax, because that could subject it to the Anti-Injunction Act — the focal point of Monday’s arguments — and delay a ruling to at least 2015. On the other, they claim that the power to impose a penalty derives from Congress’ broad taxing power. That’s in part because calling it a tax makes defending the mandate easier — Congress’ power to levy taxes is less in question than its power to require people to do things.

Justice Elena Kagan asked whether refusing to buy insurance would constitute breaking the law, to which Verrilli responded that if people “pay the tax, then they are in compliance with the law.” That caught the attention of Justice Stephen Breyer.

“Why do you keep saying tax?” Breyer interjected, to more laughs.

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Via The Corner, Charles Krauthammer’s take on the first day of  Supreme Court arguments in the legal challenge to ObamaCare:

The fact that the court has taken this and the fact that it’s allocating three days, which I think is the most for any case in half a century, [shows] they understand it represents a crossroads. And the argument of those against the bill is that if you can compel a citizen — under the individual mandate — to enter into a private contract with a private company, then there are no limits to what government can make a citizen do under the Commerce Clause.

And then there is a fundamental change in the nature of our social contract. It used to be — or at least we imagined ourselves [to be] — under a government of enumerated powers. Congress is allowed to do “x,” “y,” “z.” Everything outside of that is in the free area of the individual and the states. [But] if you allow this unlimited expansion of the Commerce Clause, then Congress and the president, the federal government, is all powerful. And then what is left is for the individual and for elements of civil society to carve out areas of autonomy.

That is a huge change in the nature of the social contract.

On how the Supreme Court will decide:

Like all the other issues in American life, it will depend on what side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy arises on that morning. He is the ultimate in swing votes.

Or, you could say: king.

A Gallup poll published Monday found that Americans overwhelmingly believe the  “individual mandate” is unconstitutional.

They said so by a margin of 72% to 20% in a Gallup poll conducted Feb. 20-21, 2012. Americans on average are not lawyers, of course, but their views give an indication of the public’s general view on the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

TSA Oversight Hearing Today at 130 PM EST: Effective Security or Security Theater? UPDATE: Video Added

Today, The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a joint hearing with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the TSA. Live-stream, here.

The work of our two Committees has documented a recurring pattern of mismanagement and waste at the Transportation Security Administration.  Add to this an unending string of video clips, photographs and news reports about inappropriate, clumsy and even illogical searches and screenings by TSA agents.  Americans are right to demand answers from TSA about the return on investment of their tax dollars.

Monday’s joint Committee hearing represents yet another opportunity for TSA to try to explain why Americans are subjected to procedures that sometimes appear to defy logic and why the agency continues on a security system procurement binge.  The committee will be asking questions about the effectiveness of five major security initiatives that together represent billions dollars of government spending.  Understanding the cost for security programs as well as their benefits will help address the question: is it security theater or effective security.

I’ve been doing a slow burn since the invasive screening policies were enacted. I’m glad Republicans are finally looking at this, and asking Americans to tell their horror stories.

On Facebook, Oversight has been running a social media campaign for taxpayers to submit their “TSA Experiences” for Oversight members to ask the TSA bosses about.

Here are some of the submissions:

Michael Raymond Burns: Could you please explain TSA’s ridiculous policy in regard to this: As the Chalk Leader for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:

When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all of our bags searched, the whole nine yards. Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Indianapolis, Indiana to drop off about 100 folks from the Indiana National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.
First, everyone was forced to get off the plane-even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ING get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.

It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.

The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it re-inspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to re-inspect our Cargo-just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, re-inspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers.

The conversation went something like this:
TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.
Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.
TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.
Soldier: Why?
TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.
Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.
TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.
Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?
TSA Guy: [awkward silence]
Me: Dude, just give him your F**K**G nail clippers so we can get the F**K out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.
Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

To top it off, the TSA demanded we all be swabbed for “explosive residue” detection. Everyone failed, [go figure, we just came home from a war zone], because we tested positive for “Gun Powder Residue”. Who the Hell is hiring these people?

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Can someone please tell me What the hell happened to OUR country while we were gone?
Sgt. Mad Dog Tracy

Maggi Cook ‎:‎#TSA – traveling from Dayton OH to Seattle TSA tried to direct my 3&5 yr old children to separate line, as I was selected for a more thorough screening; traveling from Seattle back to Dayton Sea-Tac TSA demanded that my son, active duty Sgt 3-days from depolyment, under go full screening – including confiscating a small piece of required equipment in his pocket – in order for him to accompany his children to gate. My son was in uniform at that time – I mean SERIOUSLY.

Lisa Carley Dale Nashville Airport BNA, a few months ago…I agreed to go thru the “nudey scan” as I like to call it, and they still groped my breasts and back area. I’m a size 4, so I cannot begin to fathom what they THOUGHT I was trying to conceal. Since I’m going to be groped either way, I’m no longer going through the “nudey scan” anymore.

Edward Gibson I no longer travel because of TSA intrusions.

Roland Murphy ‎2 years ago I had a 0530 flight out of Detroit coming back to Phoenix. I was detained for “enhanced screening”. My laptop, all my papers and every item on my person were reviewed by the two dimwits handling my “interrogation,” as they referred to it. They questioned the fact that I had my water bill in my bag and that the account was in my wife’s name, rather than mine, why I was carrying a passport if I wasn’t traveling out of the country, why I used a car service rather than renting a car, etc. etc. I have to say the review of everything in my laptop bag and question after question after question felt even more invasive than the overly enthusiastic pat down that preceded the grilling.

Bill C. Tudor I refuse to fly AT ALL as long as the corrupt TSA is in airports harrassing American citizens and wasting my hard earned tax dollars.

UPDATE:

During Oversight’s joint TSA hearing with the Transportation Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa highlighted four stories submitted to the committee on its Facebook page.

 There were close to 350 individual submissions and all will be placed into the record.

 

Posted in Repubs. 5 Comments »

Hot Mic Picks Up Obama Telling Russian President Medvedev, “After My Election I Have More Flexibility” (to Sell Out America)

Reason number 68,986,756 to boot  this quisling out of office in November.

Via Weasel Zippers,

SEOUL – President Barack Obama offered a private request Monday to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for some “space” on missile defense ahead of November’s elections.

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

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

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

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

Medvedev told Obama he understood and “will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Just last week, Dick Morris was alerting people to the Obama administration’s scheme to  strip America of vital defense capabilities through a web of international treaties and agreements.

Already, Clinton is negotiating a code of conduct in outer space that would effectively ban our capacity to destroy satellites and put interceptor missiles in space.

Last week, the president announced that he was going to provide the Russians with detailed technical information about the anti-missile systems he plans to base in Eastern Europe, in the hopes of lessening Russian opposition to their deployment. He is exacting no reciprocal sharing of intelligence, nor can he be sure that Vladimir Putin will not just turn around and forward the gift package to North Korea or Iran.

Reuters noted that “the Obama administration is leaving open the possibility of giving Moscow certain secret data on U.S. interceptor missiles due to help protect Europe from any Iranian missile strike. A deal is being sought by Washington that could include classified data exchange because it is in the U.S. interest to enlist Russia and its radar stations in the missile-defense effort, a Pentagon spokeswoman said Tuesday.”

Defense advocates are especially fearful that these negotiations could lead to a side agreement to limit the velocity of our missile interceptors or place other limits on our anti-missile capability. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration agreed to limit velocity to 3 kilometers per second.

Hank Cooper, who was President Reagan’s ambassador in charge of defending the Strategic Defense Initiative in the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and later served as director of the SDI program, said he is worried that “these negotiations might turn into some ‘executive’ agreement that limits the velocity of future improvements to the SM-3 — or other missile defense interceptors.”

He said this would be a “very bad idea — as was demonstrated by the Clinton administration’s side agreement on the margins of the U.N. that limited the velocity of our theater missile defense interceptors. … We got rid of this [agreement] as a byproduct of withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in 2002 — it would be a very bad idea to bring it back in any form.”

Cooper and others argue that Russia already knows our missile velocity from having observed our tests, and that Moscow is seeking these negotiations to tie our hands by prohibiting improvements in our anti-missile technology.

WHD’s Keith Koffler reports that Russia is claiming to be “exasperated” over the  plan for an anti-missile shield in Europe, which is meant to to defend against Iran.

But Eastern Europe views the plan as a way to help ensure its defense against Russia. Obama presumably would not want to anger sizable Eastern European voting blocs in key presidential battleground states in the Midwest by making drastic changes to the program before the election. Nor would he want to open himself to the charge from his Republican adversary that he’s weak on defense.

A White House official sought to explain the remarks by saying “there is a lot of rhetoric around this issue.”

It would appear that there are a lot of cynical political calculations  surrounding the issue, too, which we can add to the  short list of Obama policies influenced by Obama’s election calendar, as tabulated by Charles Krauthammer, last Fall:

the Canadian oil pipeline that would have produced thousands of truly shovel-ready jobs. Sure, delay could forfeit to China a supremely important strategic asset — a nearby, highly reliable source of energy. But approval was calculated to be a political loss for the president. Easy choice.

Obama’s decision to wind down the Afghan surge in September 2012 is militarily inexplicable. It comes during the fighting season. It was recommended by none of his own military commanders. It is explicable only as a talking point for the final days of his reelection campaign.

At the height of the debt-ceiling debate last July, Obama pledged to veto any agreement that was not long term. Definition of long term? By another amazing coincidence, any deal large enough to get him past Election Day (and thus avoid another such crisis next year).

  It was revealed that last year the administration pressured Solyndra, as it was failing, to delay its planned October 28 announcement of layoffs until November 3 — the day after the midterm election.

Has there ever been a more cynical or corrupt administration in American history?

SEE ALSO:

Ace: Obama Caught On Open Mike: Hey, Comrade, If You Just Give Me More “Space” Right Now, I’ll Have More “Flexibility” After The Election To Cut ABM Defense

Who’s this son-of-a-bitch working for?

Sister Toldjah: And just what does President Obama need “space” for?

Let this serve as a reminder that, no matter how unsatisfying the Republican candidates may be, the overriding goal is to defeat Obama in November.

And God bless open mics.

RELATED READING: If you want to understand the “strategic vision” of the liberal internationalists now running our foreign affairs, start with Krauthammer’s “Decline is a Choice.”

LINKS: Ed at Hot Air thinks Obama has promised a total cave-in on missile defense. Pirate’s Cove is “grateful.” Joel Pollak calls it a promise of surrender.

UPDATE: The head of the House Armed Services Committee wants answers.

HotAir: Congressman to Obama: You’d better not be trading away our missile defense, champ;Update: A hint on Obama’s “flexibility” from Putin? Update: McCain calls Obama “a real Etch-a-Sketch leader”:

That’s not fooling Rep. Michael Turner, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which has direct oversight on missile-defense issues.  Turner sent a letter to the White House this morning, demanding answers from Obama on whether he’s planning on defying Congress and trading away missile defense.

Sarah Palin on her Facebook page: The Audacity of Obama’s Intentions Revealed:

Let’s consider what this “flexibility” might mean. We know that he has repeatedly conceded to foreign demands and backed down on missile defense. I pointed this out as Governor of Alaska when he proposed reducing Alaska’s missile defense system capabilities. I explained then that the President’s proposed military cuts would diminish Alaska’s opportunity to defend the union with our strategic location’s defense infrastructure. We also know that in 2009, as part of his “reset” with Russia, President Obama turned his back on our Eastern European allies by abandoning past promises for a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

We can’t know for certain what this newly revealed “flexibility” means, but considering President Obama’s past actions, be sure it won’t involve a position of strength for America and our allies. Russia has been thwarting us on one issue after another, including the rushed-through New START Treaty that many of us questioned after Obama insisted America ratify it first, then allow Russia to sit on it – unratified on their end – until it suited that foreign power’s needs.

Meanwhile, North Korea is planning another long-range missile launch, and the United States and our allies are still vulnerable to the threat of ballistic missiles. Our president has done nothing to alleviate this vulnerability; in fact, he’s done just the opposite. He has consistently taken a position of weakness and naïve trust in Putin’s Russia. Consider that one-sided New START Treaty as an example of this. Or consider those cuts to Alaska’s missile defense system, which leaves us much more vulnerable in the face of a nuclear North Korea. Now consider the state of our national defense under a President who whispers to a foreign power that he needs even “more flexibility” to weaken us further.

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