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Today is a big day

There are two major events today.

First, the Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA (Obamacare).    This is a big deal for me, of course, since I have a pre-existing condition which I know from experience bars me from the market for (individual) health insurance.   PPACA would change that if it were to go into effect.

Still, I don’t really have much to say that I haven’t already.   I’m actually somewhat more optimistic than I was a week ago–from their opinions (on the immigration ruling and a death penalty case) there has been some suggestion that Roberts and possibly Alito may side with the government out of deference to the elected legislature or federal powers.

My personal (relative) optimism comes directly from my inherited pessimism following the oral arguments.   The fact is that, for me, the immigration ruling came as a surprise since it’s not what one would expect if the conservatives were ruling in favor of their preferred politics while the disappointing ruling of the week–expanding the scope of citizen’s united–came as a surprise.   So my increased optimism is just a straightforward application of Bayes’ Law–the former ruling being more informative for being a surprise and the later less informative since it was not.

For now, I just have to wait.

The second “major event” is the contempt of congress vote against Eric Holder regarding the “Fast and Furious” scandal.   I’m not sure this is a big deal or not–but certainly it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in real time.

If you’re unfamiliar, Fast and Furious was a government sting operation intended to stop/slow gun trafficking to Mexico (guns to be used in the drug war ).     The “scandal”, though, isn’t precisely that the government was trying to do this, rather there is a theory out there–one might call it a “conspiracy theory”–that Obama/Holder allowed/encouraged this (failed) sting operation in an effort to push–politically–gun control laws forward in the US.   That’s right, the NRA believes that Holder sold guns to Mexicans so that he could take guns from Americans.   Really.

I had barely even heard this theory myself until a few days ago (when today’s vote was scheduled) and until yesterday, I can honestly say that I had no idea what the actual scandal was–in a sense, I still don’t understand.   The proximate reason for the contempt vote is the refusal of the Justice department to hand over some relevant documents (Obama claimed executive privilege).

Fortunately, yesterday Katherine Eban did an expose at Fortune mag.   I think now I understand.  Mostly.   I can’t understand why Republicans think this is a good idea–Darrel Issa, the Republican in charge of the investigation, certainly has to know the rough outline of facts from Eban’s piece, certainly he would have shared any more damning information with the public by now–but that’s another issue entirely.   It turns out that the government (somewhat ironically) botched the operation by failing to appreciate just how lax Arizona’s gun laws were.   It turns out that it is legal to buy 100 AK-47s in AZ–signing a paper that those guns are for your own personal use–then turn around and sell them.   So it’s illegal to be a “straw purchaser”, but if you sign a paper saying that you are not one but then do it anyway that IS legal.   Prosecutors, of course, pointed this out and halted the planned arrests.

So the ATF FUBARed the operation.   They should have known better.   Still, unless you believe that Obama/Holder wanted to embroil themselves in a “major controversy”–for the sake of exposing weak national/state gun regulations and doing that by way of… messing up in an embarrassing fashion–there’s just no there there.

So why the big deal?   I suspect that this will go down in much the manner of Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal.   At the end of the day, it was Republicans who were embarrassed, having wasted so much of the public’s time and attention on something so minor.    This time, though, there’s no reason to think that either Obama or Holder did any thing at all wrong (on the other hand, Clinton really did lie under oath).   So it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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