Due to a very busy Friday, I did not get a Final Five put together last night, so here is a special Saturday edition.
Tonight's Crazy Story:
Handcuffed Man Steals Police Car, Radios About Car's Cigarette Lighter
A man under arrest in Kouts, Indiana, was able to escape from the police cruiser, stole the cruiser, and then called police on the radio to ask where the cigarette lighter and the key to the handcuffs were at.
Topic One: ObamaCare
A HuffPo Op-Ed by Mark Hall contends that ruling ObamaCare unconstitutional would create a public health catastrophe. The main point of his argument is that by ruling this law unconstitutional, the federal government would be forbidden to be involved in health issues at all, thus rendering it unable to respond to emergencies related to health. This is a ridiculous argument. Declaring this law unconstitutional would return America back to where it was before this law was passed. The government would still have the powers (within limits, of course) to manage a response to disease outbreaks.
Another (much better) article Mona Charen argues that there's more bad policy in ObamaCare than the mandate. "PPAC does contain a cost-controlling measure -- and this where the legislation careens not just into unconstitutionality but lawlessness. All decisions about controlling Medicare costs will be decided by the Independent Payment Advisory Board. ... Also, unlike other boards, commissions and federal agencies, the IPABs decisions are virtually unreviewable. IPAB doesn't have to adhere to the notice and comment rules of federal agencies, which permit citizens to respond to proposed rule-makings. IPAB dictates automatically become law unless Congress itself intervenes. Ah, but they've thought of that and made it virtually impossible. The law prescribes that Congress has a limited period of time in which it can modify IPAB rulings, and then it must do so by a three-fifths majority! Even ratifying treaties and amending the Constitution requires only two-thirds majorities. As for the courts, forget it. The judiciary is forbidden to review IPAB decisions."
Many pundits have discussed the idea of Congress making itself irrelevant. Most of the analysis of this comes not from actions of Congress, but inaction. However, this is a clear case of Congress voting to remove itself from the process of budgeting for healthcare. Now, unless Congress can muster 60 Senators and 261 Representatives within the time for Congress to act on an IPAB ruling, the IPAB--not Congress--has the final say on spending.
There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"The article says yoga-related injuries are on the rise. People sit in chairs all day at work, then they twist into pretzels and expect it to be easy."
Topic Two: Iran
Iran is looking for revenge following the murder of its nuclear scientist last Thursday. An Iranian paper called for retaliation against Israel. Meanwhile, Iran is claiming that the CIA was behind the assassination. Typical reaction from Iran to blame the two Satans: Israel and the United States. Iranians also chanted anti-US slogans at the funeral.
In the situation in the ocean, Iranian ships taunted the USS New Orleans and a coast guard ship in the Persian Gulf. This comes as Iran agreed to allow inspections of its nuclear program. As in other cases of such inspections, this will not likely accomplish much. Inspectors will be shown the "peaceful" side of their research, and Iran will gain more time to accomplish its goal of building a weapon.
On Thursday, the government added an additional $25,158,216.77 to the debt, bringing the total debt to:
Topic Three: Recess Appointments
The Justice Department released a memo Thursday defending Obama's recess appointments to the CFPB and NLRB. Consider it another perversion of the law and the Constitution by the Holder JD. Meanwhile, a lawmaker has introduced a bill that would stop the agencies from conducting work until the appointments are confirmed by the Senate. Unfortunately, this is unconstitutional, and it would likely be declared as such by the courts. I believe the recess appointments--while constitutional--go against the spirit of the constitution as written. However, it is not right to engage in an unconstitutional action in order to combat these actions of the President.
Daniel Horowitz at RedState connects two issues in a very good way, asking if a Congress in recess can authorize the debt limit increase. Obama is trying to have it both ways: Congress is in recess for the purpose of making these appointments, but it is in session for the purpose of requesting the debt limit increase.
Tweets of the Day:
Doug Ross (@directorblue): Just so I get this straight: defecating on police car is patriotic; peeing on terrorist murderers un-American http://bit.ly/zCpOj2 #tcot
Topic Four: Consolidating Power
The President has submitted a request to Congress that would allow him to consolidate government agencies to shrink the size of the government. This power would allow him to propose ways to consolidate or eliminate agencies. The proposals would then be submitted to Congress for a vote without any amendments. Similar powers were given to Ronald Reagan.
However, this is most likely an election year ploy that will work to Obama's advantage if approved. He may submit some proposals that will be overwhelmingly approved, but the lack of ability to propose amendments will most likely cause problems for the Republicans. All the President will have to do is create a single proposal that combines a good idea with an outrageous one. (As a recent example: extending the payroll tax cut combined with an extra tax on millionaires.) Without the ability to amend the proposals, Republicans will be forced to vote down the good proposals in order to avoid supporting the ridiculous. Obama already has the power to make proposals to Congress; all this does is hurt the ability of Congress to debate the proposals and make improvements.
Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Human Felicity is produced not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day."
Topic Five: SOPA
In a victory for opponents of SOPA, Rep. Lamar Smith removed the DNS blocking provision from the law so that further study could be conducted on its effects. While it is good that this provision has been removed, it is still important that the bill as a whole be defeated. The law still forces search engines like Google to remove "offending" sites from their search results and allows the government to block payments to these sites. However, determining what sites are "offending" is subjective and could be abused to force removal of sites that disagree with the current administration.
Forbes's Ed Black wrote a great article on the online piracy issue. "If these laws were in place, the climate for legitimate start-ups would be chilled. Former startups like Facebook and Youtube could have easily been sued out of existence through the private rights of action granted in the fine print. Existing companies will have to develop monitoring and censorship regimes to avoid liability. A recent Harvard Business school study, commissioned by my tech trade association reconfirmed that venture capitalist investment in cloud computing flourishes when there is legal certainty about the scope of liability faced by tech companies for what users do on their sites."
Tomorrow in History
January 15, 1870 - A Thomas Nast political cartoon portrays the Democratic Party with a donkey for the first time.
Grab Bag - Interesting Stories to Conclude Your Evening
Buffett challenges Republicans to help pay down debt
Perry's part-time Congress proposal introduced in Congress
Virginia's AG worried that rats at Occupy DC might be relocated to Virginia
Sen. Rand Paul returns $500K of unused office expense money to Treasury
Che Guevara, car salesman
Al Sharpton guest says holding GOP debate on MLK day is 'racially insensitive.'
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