Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Orrin Hatch's Health Care Clause Ruled Unconstitutional, Mr Salehi's Wild Ride

Dana Milbank
Michael Moore
Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius
"Sarah Palin is going to Haiti this weekend to deliver humanitarian aid. If there's one thing that's reassuring, it's seeing Sarah Palin above you in a helicopter." – Jimmy Fallon
"WikiLeaks supporters have hacked into Sarah Palin's credit card information after she criticized Julian Assange. Sarah said she's very upset, and hopes all suspicious charges to her account can be refundiated." – Jimmy Fallon

"After hacking into Visa and MasterCard yesterday, WikiLeaks supporters now want to take down Amazon.com. After they do it, Amazon will suggest a list of similar sites they might also enjoy hacking." – Jimmy Fallon

"Because it's the holiday travel season and everyone is on edge, when the TSA agents have their hands in your pants, don't be surprised if they leave a candy cane." – David Letterman

Interesting and eclectic mixture of opinion pieces linked to above. Probably the most interesting is Michael Moore's in the Daily Beast, where he tells why he is posting Julian Assange's bail. I wish I had the bucks to do something like that, but I am very poor this month. My cat might die because I can't afford to take him back to the vet and get the fang bites in his chest sewn up...

The two big news items are about the diplomat Richard Holbrook dying,  and that a conservative Federal judge ruled that the part of the health care law that mandates people should all have insurance is unconstitutional. The irony here is that part of the health care law was suggested by Senator Orrin Hatch. It was thought at the time that the reason he wanted it in there was because he had received lots of money from the insurance lobby. In retrospect, he could have demanded it be part of the law, knowing that it had the most chance of being over-ruled in the courts... We then had a conservative plaintiff bringing a complaint about a clause written by a conservative member of Congress, to be decided by a conservative judge. Orrin Hatch then applauded the ruling against his clause, which makes me think even more it was put in as a Trojan Horse. The judge would not rule that the entire health care law then had to be stopped, so it actually can continue to be implemented, just not with the clause forcing people to buy some kind of insurance. This actually makes it a better law, even though the Republicans are high-fiving each other and celebrating their victory. Two other lawsuits brought to the courts over the health care law went in the administration's favor, and there about twelve more lawsuits waiting for a court date. Eventually, the whole mess will go before the Supreme Court, and we will have more debates whether they are a conservative activist court, or that we are leaning more towards the right as a country...

A few years ago books were celebrating Ireland for saving civilization as we know it; now Ireland may lead the way, pulling the rest of Europe into bankruptcy like falling dominos: Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are the next likely to fall. Britain, France, and Germany are also enduring protests for their implementing austerity programs. At least we know the countries that did business with AIG and Goldman Sachs... If all of Europe falls, what new warlords will swoop in to pick up the pieces, and what new names will we be booking our Spring and Summer flights to?

At first, I didn't think it was a very big deal that Ahmadinejad fired his Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki and replaced him with Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also head of Iran's Atomic Organization. This was done for two reasons: one, Ahmadinejad now has someone who owes his job to him as the public face of Iran, giving Ahmadinejad and his cronies more input into what is said about Iran's nuclear program.

Two, this is a chess move to counter the US's hard-lined attitude, influenced by Hillary's hawks and the Israeli lobby. Salehi went to college at MIT, speaks English fluently, and is quite an influential speaker, especially on nuclear matters. He may be just the person to reassure Iran's neighbors about their intentions, and above all, may be just the person to start a new dialogue with the US, who is all hopped up to bringing more sanctions against Iran. The next nuclear talks will be in Turkey in February, it will be interesting to see if the US snubs Salehi like they did Iran's representative at the last talks, or if the two sides will sit down and break the ice. The results might be less belligerent talk from Iran, and a cancellation of a military solution on the part of Israel and the US. If we can take the danger of Iran off the table, then we can focus more accurately on North Korea. The irony of this scenario would be we would have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to thank; maybe we will allow him to visit Disneyworld next time he travels to New York to attend a UN meeting... The real question is if the Obama administration can jump on it and take advantage of the erudite Mr Salehi before the next internal struggle happens and he, too, gets replaced by someone more hardcore...

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