May 4, 2015

Florida Federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional

Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Florida has just ruled Obamacare unconstitutional. Per Beltway Confidential:

The judge ruled the individual mandate that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance invalid and, according to the decision, “because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.”

And from the New York Times:

Like a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., said he would allow the law to remain in effect while the Obama administration appeals his ruling, a process that could take two years. But unlike his Virginia counterpart, Judge Vinson ruled that the entire health care act should fall if the appellate courts join him in invalidating the insurance requirement.

“The act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote.

The full 78 page text of the judge’s decision is below:

Florida Judge Opinion on Obamacare

See page 42 for the crux of the decision:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended. See id. at 592 (quoting Hamilton at the New York Convention that there would be just cause to reject the Constitution if it would allow the federal government to “penetrate the recesses of domestic life, and control, in all respects, the private conduct of individuals”) (Thomas, J., concurring).

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Ecuadoran plaintiffs in suit against Chevron have new high-powered attorney

Update 2/1/11 Chevron Levels RICO Charges Over $113B Trial in Ecuador. Please read details here.

Please see my previous post, which will link you to all the rest, in this $27.4 billion lawsuit brought against Chevron by Ecuadoran Indians.

This 18 year old lawsuit took a new twist when the plaintiffs hired high-powered attorney James Tyrell, Jr. Tyrell defended Monsanto in agent orange claims by Vietnam vets and is also representing New York City and contractors in litigation from the 9/11 attacks.

Does this indicate nervousness on the part of the plaintiffs? Tyrell says “no.” Tyrell will take the lead in the case after Steven Donziger, another NY attorney was caught on tape in outtakes of the documentary “Crude.” According to Reuters:

Donziger, who has advised the Ecuadoreans since 1993, was quoted discussing paying protesters to surround the courthouse in the Amazon town of Lago Agrio, as a way of bringing pressure on the court for a favorable judgment.

Last year Judge Lewis Kaplan of the 2nd District US Court of Appeals found collusion with an Ecuadoran court-appointed damage expert, Richard Cabrera, who was supposed to be neutral. This lawsuit has been full of corruption, collusion, bribery, scheming and ethics problems on the plaintiff side right from the beginning.

Ecuador is expected to make a ruling in the coming months, however if a judgment is made against Chevron it could be extremely difficult to collect since Chevron has no assets in Ecuador unless a US judge is convinced to order Chevron to pay. If the plaintiffs prevail, their attorneys stand to make millions of dollars on contingency.

In an interesting development, which may or may not have any relationship to this case, Chevron has announced it will be exiting the coal business by the end of the year. Their stated reason is that new coal technology is developing too slowly for them to stay.

Stay tuned, more to come…

Chevron

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Dem alleged crooks in Troy NY indicted for felony voter fraud

H/t to Rusty Weiss who lives in Troy for alerting me the Troy NY Grand Jury had finished their duties.

After almost two months of testimony a Rensselaer County, New York Grand Jury handed down indictments for Troy, NY city councilman Michael LoPorto and Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward G. McDonough. According to the Times Union McDonough faces 38 counts of forgery and 36 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. LoPorto faces 13 counts of forgery and 29 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. Mugs of the alleged crooks below, courtesy of NY State Police. McDonough is the clean shaven one, LoPorto the mustachioed SEIU-looking one.

Edward McDonough Troy NY voter fraud

Edward McDonough

Michael LoPorto Troy NY voter fraud

Michael LoPorto

The Dems being investigated in Bucks County PA#8 are amateurs compared to these two. A DA in Bucks County is looking into the Dems use of a phony letter from a phony organization telling voters to send their requests for absentee ballot applications to the Dem’s P.O. box instead of to the county Board of Elections.

The two above were being investigated, along with seven others in Troy City Council and other positions for actually forging absentee ballots, not applications, and then casting those ballots. Many didn’t even know they had “voted.” This was all an elaborate scheme in collusion with the ACORN-spawned Working Families Party in New York in the 2009 primary. Indictments weren’t handed down for the other seven but the investigation is continuing.

And let me me perfectly clear, these nine are all Democrats.

Just like in a CSI episode, saliva samples were taken upon orders of Special Prosecutor Trey Smith from all nine to try and match up the saliva with licked absentee ballot envelopes. The brazenness and boldness of the Dems never ceases to amaze me. Somehow I have the foreshadowing we have much more to look forward to before Election 2012.

Both these dudes pled “not guilty” natch, and were released without bail. Why no bail folks? Both were led into the courtroom in handcuffs to face voter fraud charges.

McDonough in handcuffs

Photos courtesy of the Times Union.

Loporto in handcuffs

Oh, LoPorto. Don’t we look a little cocky here? Just like a Mafia boss. Fifty absentee ballots were at question, mostly from those who are “less fortunate” and presumed not to have questioned any possible shenanigans. Sixteen of those voters testified before the Grand Jury. Interestingly enough, McDonough’s father went to federal prison in 1994 on charges of abuse of power of his position of Democratic Chair. Dad taught you well, right Ed?

And Weiss begs the question in his article, why did the Working Families Party exit unscathed from this? Well, ain’t this special. Patrick Gaspard, who will now head the DNC’s Organizing for America (OFA) was well schooled in corrupt Alinsky-style organizing tactics and was one of those who helped establish Working Families Party with the assistance of ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis.

ACORN would like us to think they ain’t around anymore. But turn over a rock, and there they be. Different name but same corrupt organization.

Crossposted at Red State

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Natural gas shocker: Appalachian basin could hold 750 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves

Natural gas is the cleanest-burning and most efficient of all the fossil fuels. Because of the age of the Appalachian Mountains, 480-600 million years old, a wealth of fossil fuels, i.e. coal, oil and natural gas was created by Mother Nature ripe for the picking by this country and probably enough to keep the US fuel-independent for a very long time.

Natural gas drilling has been going on for a very long time in West Virginia.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Corky DeMarco, the Executive Director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) and he has provided me with a wealth of information. The first commercial well started producing in 1859 and here’s a bit of trivia for everyone: George Washington even surveyed a natural gas well there in 1750. There are currently 60,000 active NG wells in West Virginia, with 300 of them being in the Marcellus Shale.  Because of the unique properties of shale, special and different drilling techniques must be used.  The problem with shale is it has insufficient permeability to allow enough fluid flow to a well bore. Because of the unique properties of shale, the extraction of natural gas in these areas requires a different method called “hydraulic fracking.” This “fracking” or “fracturing” of the rock can be either natural or man-made and is extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to grow into the rock. Man-made fractures are created by pumping a cocktail of various chemicals through a bore hole. The fracture must then be kept open, usually by sand. This process can be controversial and environmentalists and citizens have chimed in. Please see my previous post on hydro-fracking for more in depth info and a power-point presentation of the process.

Below is a map of the Marcellus Shale, courtesy of the USGS, which covers most of West Virginia, a good part of Pennsylvania, southern New York and eastern Ohio:

marcellus-shale-map

Because shale NG extraction is relatively new to West Virginia, WVONGA commissioned an independent economic impact study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research College of Business and Economics West Virginia University. This 57-page study was released on January 25, 2011 at a press conference in Charleston and can be seen here. Below is a one-page summary: WVONGA_SummaryPts As one can see, many jobs will be created. Of key note is the point:

Future development of Marcellus Shale in West Virginia is dependent on changes to federal and state policies [emphasis mine] as well as changes to tax and environmental policies in other Marcellus Shale states.

Please see my post on the EPA recently revoking an already-in-use coal mine permit in West Virginia, so naturally one of Mr. DeMarco’s key statements to me was:

When the EPA comes in and withdraws permits it is certainly disconcerting and what it really amounts to is a “taking” of the company and assets which have already invested. We can’t expect to compete in a global economy if we have uncertainty in the industry.

Mr. DeMarco explained to me originally in the Marcellus, drilling took place where oil pooled, not in the source rock. As a result 60-80% of the NG in those wells was left, however those wells can be revisited with the new technology used to drill in shale. And here is the shocker. According to Mr. DeMarco the US as a whole uses less than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually. At a meeting 2 years ago in Pennsylvania, estimates were the Appalachian basin collectively with the Utica shale in Ohio held 180 trillion cf of natural gas. Later estimates rose to 500T cf, and now current estimates are a whopping 750 trillion cubic feet of reserves, enough to keep this country energy independent for a very long time, of course if there is no interference from the Feds and companies are willing to invest the huge amount of dollars it would take. These reserves if correct even far outweigh those in the Middle East. And yes, I am positive I heard him correctly. I even asked him to repeat because I was so stunned. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), co-chairs of the Natural Gas Caucus sent this letter off to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on January 5 of this year because of concerns

the Department of the Interior may seek to impose new regulations on the natural gas extraction process on federal lands and urge you to not institute any new regulatory burdens before the completion of the 2010-2012 Environmental Protection Agency study on hydraulic fracturing.

Check out the other signatories. And of course, not to be outdone progressives in Congress led by Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) fired their own letter off to Salazar on the 12th to

express our strong support of your recent announcement of plans to develop a new policy for the public disclosure of chemical compounds used in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking on public lands. This is a critical step forward in encouraging the oil and gas industry to be more transparent and responsibly address the potential implications of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies and public health.

I can’t make out all the signatories, but we have many of the “usual suspects” such as Frank, Kucinich, Moran, Woolsey, et al. And on the heels of Obama’s State of the Union address, even before he finished speaking, I had this statement from Doc Hastings, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee in my email box:

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2011 – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement regarding the President’s State of the Union address: “The President spoke at length tonight on the need to increase our economic competiveness and create new jobs. However, it’s the spending and job-destroying policies of his Administration that are jeopardizing our economic future. “Today, American families are facing the harsh realities of rising gas prices, higher electricity costs and near double-digit unemployment. Instead of addressing these issues head-on, the Administration has spent the past two years blocking access to America’s resources that create jobs and produce more energy. These policies have only succeeded in driving American jobs overseas, threatening our economic recovery and making us more dependent on hostile foreign nations for our energy needs. “A strong economy needs access to an abundant and affordable energy supply – we have both here in America. The President needs to embrace a robust plan to produce all types of American energy – from renewable to American-made oil and natural gas – and it has to be done without harmful government subsidies or unrealistic mandates. America cannot regulate its way back to prosperity. Certainty in the free market, not fear of red tape, is what will ultimately create jobs and grow the economy.

While it certainly appears that West Virginia is well on its way, at least at this point, with proceeding with drilling more wells in the Marcellus, the same cannot be said for New York.  Ex-governor Paterson recently Executive Ordered a ban on horizontal fracking in NY after ACORN-spawned Working Families Party convinced the State Assembly to pass a bill placing a moratorium on all hydrofracking for fears residents might be able to set their tap water on fire. Here is Mark Ruffalo, spokesman for WFP or this subject:

Guess what Ruffalo: you may be a looker but no way will I be going to one of your movies, ever again. And yes, I know WFP was leading the charge because I signed up for their emails long ago and have been following the progress of this. Mr. DeMarco assured me if the process is done correctly, with cement and steel casings on the drill pipes at least 100 feet down, hydrofracking is extremely safe.

I just checked our natural gas bill. We used 189 cubic feet in December. In northern Ohio. $148 at the rate of  $0.59360 per CCF for a 3,000 sq ft house kept at 70 degrees. Imagine what 750 trillion cf can do. Fuel for thought. Please visit the WVONGA website for a wealth of info on natural gas, including this interactive map of wells there.

Crossposted at Red State

Crossposted at Procinct.net

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China: the enemy well past the gate

This is not going to be a post full of links and facts. I became agitated by a tweet on twitter asserting that Donald Trump  was pretty much “full of it” when he declared China could produce a competitive fleet of aircraft to rival Boeing.

I’ve been there. China, that is. North, south east and west. From Beijing to Xian to Chongqing to Shanghai to Hong Kong. This is going to be a post of observations. First hand. And it ain’t pretty. And this was 2 years ago. Imagine what they’ve accomplished since.

I was there, in the plush hotel in Beijing when the “big one” hit. That devastating earthquake in 2008. It rocked the hotel 1200 miles from the epicenter. I turned on the news. All in Chinese. No good. Finally found CNN, 4 people died they reported. Our tour guide the next day told us FoxNews is not allowed in China, only CNN and then only in the tourist hotels. It was not until I came home 3 weeks later to find that 85 thousand people died. Yes, they tried their best to save people in the shanty towns and cardboard boxes, but then contrast that to below.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing are the power houses of the country. Beijing and Hong Kong financially, but Shanghai in industry and technology. The Communist hold over the citizens and the little pay they receive are readily apparent.  Families vie for their 9 year old boys to be taken into the service of Communism. They rely mostly on coal for energy and don’t care about raping the environment. I’m all in favor of using coal for energy but after seeing the Three Gorges Dam and how they killed millions of flora and fauna, displacing millions with no regard to the environment it’s a different matter there. China, you could have done much better.

Shanghai in appearance looks just like NYC with small homes interspersed within the skyscrapers. China has a work ethic which in unknown in the US because they are under the hold of Communism and have no entitlements like here in the US. I used to teach “English as a second language.”  Many of my students were Chinese, industry and technology. I asked them what would happen if the government-mandated “only one child per family” was not adhered to. Oh, one is shunned by the government. No pension, no retirement, you are a pariah.

In my visit to Beijing I needed some sunscreen because TSA in Chicago thought it was a weapon and took it from me. The manager of the Westin in Beijing personally escorted me to a pharmacy which was the only place he told me I could purchase sunscreen. It was $25 for a tiny, small tube. Can one imagine what birth control protection must cost in that country and how many babies are aborted by the coat-hangar/mail opener system??? Just to adhere to government mandates??

I visited the silk factories. Girls at the age of 6, 7 or 8 are put into service to make silk rugs for the tourists, at little or no pay. It takes them a year and a half to make these exquisite rugs which the government in turn sells to the tourists for $4-5 thousand dollars. I’ve seen the factories where they can churn out transistors, batteries, radios faster than Ford in Detroit can make a carburetor.

Right before Christmas a diarist here advocated “buy American” which I am all in favor of, however:

I got curious. I have a Blackberry and pulled the back. Made in Canada by RIM. OK, good deal. But the battery, the DC charger and the car charger are made in China. Not much good without the accessories. We had a devastating tornado here in June 2 miles from my house. We barely escaped. Five people died. I bought a weather alert radio for myself, my parents and my kids which would wake us up if there was a tornado. Works great. We’ve been to the basement several times. But made, you guessed it. China.

I took 8 Chinese domestic flights. Yes, at least at the time they did use Boeings. And the service was like it was here in the 70’s. Flight attendants dressed to the 9’s and food and liquor included at no extra charge.

I’ve heard jokes all week a la “Horton hears a Hu.” Except Hu is no dummy. And neither should we be. I believe China is absolutely capable of making an aircraft to rival Boeing.

Don’t underestimate China. They have 1.6 billion people ready, willing and able to take on the US. And they put people into service at 5, 6, or 7 years of age. Five times as many workers as here. And with them being our largest creditor stakes are extremely high.

My friends, the “enemy” is NOT at the gate. It is already well past the gate, it’s over the threshold and inside the front door.

What remains to be seen is how we fight it. Freshmen Congress, are you ready?

Crossposted at Red State

Crossposted at Procinct.net

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