Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stealth Immigration Bill; Poverty Increases Under Obama; Severence Clause Not in Healthcare Bill; Black Panther Investigation; Mother Earth; Oil-and-gas Drilling Bans

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he will add the DREAM Act, a controversial immigration measure, to a defense policy bill the Senate will take up next week.
The decision means the defense bill, which often passes with bipartisan support, will be home to two major, thorny political issues – the other being the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Reid called the DREAM Act "really important" and said it should be passed because it provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military. DREAM is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act.
Yahoo News reports:  The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.
American Thinker writes: Virginia is asserting that certain portions (that is, personal mandate) of ObamaCare are unconstitutional. If Virginia prevails, it leaves the question of what happens to the rest of the ObamaCare statute? This is where the concept of severance comes in. Normally all comprehensive laws contain a boilerplate severance clause; it says that if any portion of the law is found to be unconstitutional that portion is severed from the rest of the law, that is, the rest of the law stands.

But ObamaCare contains no severance clause. Virginia is asserting that if it prevails on its substantive claims, the whole law is unconstitutional. (If Virginia does not prevail, any one of the 20 plus legal challenges have the same severance argument available.)

If a severance clause is normal boilerplate, why does not ObamaCare contain one? This is where Scott Brown's election enters.  Recall the House passed its version of ObamaCare. On Christmas Eve, after much horsetrading and bribing, the Senate passed its version.  The Senate version was not drafted to be in its final form; it was drafted to get 60 votes.  Normally, these bills would be reconciled in a conference committee and the final version would have to be voted on again with 60 votes in the Senate.  However, before it could be sent to conference and reconciled, Scott Brown won in Massachusetts -- a reconciled bill could no longer get 60 votes!  That is why the House had to vote up or down on the Senate bill which was basically a draft without the normal boilerplate inserted.

As Virginia argued in its Memorandum (Pages 24 to 28), the presence of a severance clause raises a presumption that Congress did not intend the whole statute to depend on the constitutionality of any particular clause.  But with no severance clause, they are not entitled to that presumption. A court cannot sever the offending clause on its own if the statute would not function as Congress intended.
From the Washington Times: The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division — in the wake of the New Black Panther Party case — is being investigated by the department's office of inspector general to determine whether voting section employees have been harassed for participating in specific investigations or prosecutions.
In an end run around policy barring IG investigations of Justice Department litigators, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said his office will review what types of cases are being investigated, whether there have been changes in enforcement policies and procedures, and whether the civil rights laws are being enforced in a non-discriminatory manner.
CNN reports: Paris, France - The French senate approved Tuesday a law banning any veils that cover the face -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women -- making France the first European country to plan such a measure. The law passed by a vote of 246 to 1, with about 100 abstentions coming essentially from left-leaning politicians. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament in July and will go into effect next spring.
From Newsweek: The cover of The American Scholar quarterly carries an impertinent assertion: “The Earth Doesn’t Care if You Drive a Hybrid.” The essay inside is titled “What the Earth Knows.” What it knows, according to Robert B. Laughlin, co-winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics, is this: What humans do to, and ostensibly for, the earth does not matter in the long run, and the long run is what matters to the earth. We must, Laughlin says, think about the earth’s past in terms of geologic time.
amaging this old earth is, Laughlin says, “easier to imagine than it is to accomplish.” There have been mass volcanic explosions, meteor impacts, “and all manner of other abuses greater than anything people could inflict, and it’s still here. It’s a survivor.”
Climate change over geologic time is, Laughlin says, something the earth has done “on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself.” People can cause climate change, but major glacial episodes have occurred “at regular intervals of 100,000 years,” always “a slow, steady cooling followed by abrupt warming back to conditions similar to today’s.”
Six million years ago the Mediterranean dried up. Ninety million years ago there were alligators in the Arctic. Three hundred million years ago Northern Europe was a desert and coal formed in Antarctica. “One thing we know for sure,” Laughlin says about these convulsions, “is that people weren’t involved.”
The Hill writes: The Interior Department spending bill slated for markup Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee will re-impose oil-and-gas drilling bans off the Pacific Coast that lapsed after decades in 2008, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. Obama administration offshore leasing plans do not contemplate oil-and-gas development off the coasts of California, Oregon or Washington. But Feinstein — who chairs the subcommittee that crafts Interior spending bills — said in the Capitol Tuesday that the measure would re-instate the bans to provide extra protection.
[In the I'm not kidding you category]:  ( – The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.
The genitalia-washing program is part of a larger $12-million UCLA study examining how to better encourage Africans to undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling – however, only the penis-washing study received money from the 2009 economic stimulus law. The washing portion of the study is set to end in 2011.
Breitbart reveals: Bank of America will charge clients new monthly fees if their accounts do not meet a minimum balance, the bank's CEO Brian Moynihan said on Tuesday. "We will increase the account balance minimums or charge monthly fees in lieu thereof, which is the choice of the customer," Moynihan said at a Barclays Capital conference in New York.
These and other measures will allow the bank to compensate for revenue lost due to new regulations put in place following the 2008 financial crisis that led the US government to salvage many banks with massive bailouts, he said.



  1. WOW ! That's lots of stuff! Harry Reid is a slick,sick dog for trying to sneak the "Dream Act" thru; and, great for Virginia to get after Obamacare as unconstitutional!! Never thought I would say it, but good going, France!
    And, you must be joking about the $$ being spent for studies of how to wash your penis in Africa!? By OUR government?!!?

  2. You HAVE to be joking!!! I can't imagine ANY organization spending that kind of money on a personal hygiene program...never mind the NATIONAL (i.e., of the United States) Institutes of Health. I would LOVE to meet the crazies that approved this funding. Lucy, youe got some 'splainin' to do!!

  3. Hello, I am a student at The Ohio State University. I wanted to comment on your blog earlier but didn't get the chance since I was out of town the whole weekend.

    When you told me on the phone about the NIMH program I thought that was absolutely ridiculous - it was frankly very difficult for me to believe. But considering the ridiculously colossal wastes of taxpayers' money under every administration, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Under every president, there have been wasteful expenditures at extreme proportions. This is why Americans complain so much about paying taxes. We will never get anything remotely close to a full picture of where our tax money is going.

    There are plenty of examples of government expenditures that would enrage us taxpayers. Between 1997 and 2003, the Defense Department purchased and then left unused approximately 270,000 commercial airline tickets at a total cost of $100 million. These were fully refundable tickets. Taxpayer money.

    Of course Medicare - overspends more than any other federal program. They rip off not just taxpayers who are not using Medicare, but its own beneficiaries, by paying as much as 8 times what other federal agencies spend on drugs and medical supplies.

    The Department of Defense had a credit card scandal where government-funded credit cards for things like gambling and prostitutes.

    So really, it's a shame that we can never keep a track of how much money is really being wasted.

    In Scandinavian countries (I used to live in one earlier in my life), we never heard nearly as many complaints about taxes, because all the money would go towards the quality of life of the society as a whole - things like education and good public schools, good medical facilities, public transportation, good sanitation systems - instead of benefiting one particular group.