Saturday, October 31, 2009
From the White House to Capitol Hill, Democrats are wagering that they can sell Americans on a sweeping and in some ways unprecedented expansion of government's reach to confront both the immediate economic downturn and such long-term challenges as health care and climate change. Reid raised the ante when he pledged to incorporate into the Senate health bill an aggressive version of the public competitor to private insurance companies that liberals prize and conservatives loathe. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prefers an even more ambitious approach.
We live in interesting times, unfortunately.
In sad news, the United States's pressure on Honduras appears to have finally resulted in the reinstatement of former President Zelaya to office. In my view, and I have never seen anything that argues persuasively to the contrary, Zelaya was legally removed from office by the Supreme Court of Honduras (although he appears to have been illegally, while sensibly, removed from the country). I can only hope that he does not somehow manage to keep power or that his example is not used by other would be dictators to seize power. Unfortunately, it appears that President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has recently used illegitimate means to displace term limits.
According to the New York Times, Latin American experts portray the development as a breakthrough by President Obama. Yes, this is exactly the kind of breakthrough we can expect from our President.
Update: Various people have said that the arrangement is no big deal and that it is face saving for Obama/Hillary. I certainly consider this to be a significant possibility, but it is by no means certain. Political dynamics and violence are unpredictable. But, more importantly, that Honduras had to agree to this, given the situation, is nonetheless outrageous. When a largely innocent man is treated like a criminal, even if he is ultimately released from jail before trial, it is something to bemoan. The same is true of an innocent country -- especially in a region where the real criminals, like Ortega and Chavez, are getting away with murder.
I had wondered about the constitutionality of the pay czar last week. Mike McConnell argues it is unconstitutional:
There is no doubt that Mr. Feinberg is an "officer" of the United States. The Supreme Court has defined this term (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976) as "any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States." Mr. Feinberg signed last week's orders setting pay levels for executives at Bank of America, AIG, Chrysler Financial, Citigroup, GMAC, General Motors and Chrysler. They have the force of law and are surely an exercise of "significant authority" pursuant to an Act of Congress. He is not a mere "employee," acting at the direction of a superior. That means his office is subject to the requirements of the Appointments Clause.
While somewhat more disputable, Mr. Feinberg's is probably an "inferior" officer, defined as one subject to supervision and removal by a member of the cabinet. Although he has substantial discretion and independence, Mr. Feinberg reports to the secretary of the Treasury, who can fire him any time for any reason. This means that Congress could, if it wished, vest the appointment of the pay czar in the secretary, without any need for Senate confirmation.
But Congress has not done so. On the contrary, it vested the authority to implement TARP's compensation provision in the secretary of the Treasury. The secretary may sub-delegate that power to someone else—but that someone must be an "officer" properly appointed "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate."
Friday, October 30, 2009
Here. Based on a quick read, I'd say Adam Kirsch is pretty clueless about capitalism and thus I doubt his insight into anything Randian. The conceit of the review is -- Rand agreed to take a 7 cent per copy cut in her royalties in order to keep John Galt's oration from being cut out of Atlas Shrugged, and this is something no true capitalist would ever have done, proving that Rand was an intellectual, not a capitalist. I'm afraid I doubt my own ability to capture the silliness of this, Kirsch's pseudo-insight. How many times do we have to tell these people -- it's not about the money! Of course Rand was willing to take a cut in royalties to get her message out. She should think it odd or wrong that a publisher should want to sell her the right to speak her mind in a way that might cost the publisher some money? Why, because she thought there was something wrong about selling books? Promoting ideas in them? Publishing being a business that had to worry about production costs? What? If all John Galt cared about was making money, and not freedom, you tool (sorry, lost my temper there for a moment), he would never have gone Galt in the first place. Any slave can get rich if he's smart enough and a good slave. The idea is not be a slave. Freedom! Randian heroes are frequently paying prices to do what they believe as individuals is the right thing to do, aren't they? I am no expert on Rand, but God, it's not like she's exactly opaque. Though maybe the biography is pretty good; I don't know. The reviewer I would guess is pretty hopeless. Chief Editor of the New Republic, big surprise.
Iran rejects the uranium enrichment deal, somehow not all over the news. Hate to say I told you so, but, oh hell. Dig the response of our NSC official "we await clarification." How unbelievably pathetic. "Excuse me, but I am under the impression that you have just hocked a giant loogey in my face. Is this correct? May I ask you to clarify your position? Where is my hankie. Oh dear oh dear."
If we are going to let our enemies defy us, could we at least do it somewhat more discretely? And of course, total and complete lack of outrage in the MSM.
I was just walking down the hall and realized once again that our law school needs a new building. As long as you were building a new building, you might as well set up an institute that would study the legal, economical and cultural foundations of a free society, from its common law beginnings, to constitutional principles, to the intellectual property rules that make progress possible. It should have state of the art facilities and the best people. I think you could get all this for about $100 million. But we could make $50 million go a long way.
So if you have $100 million or even less that you would like to change the world with by fighting the battle of ideas, you might want to drop me a line. (tacsmith at gmail dot com.)
As this very good lawyer I knew used to say, it never hurts to ask.
I concede I have not always been kind to her in the past, but I think she is on to something here. Maybe not that original, but I think it's significant that even she is talking this way now. I think she's right. For instance, I'm worried about the coming inflation. The only to avoid it that I can see is to begin some serious fiscal discipline right now. But we are so not going to do that. In fact, we are poised on the biggest explosion of debt in US probably world history. Yet our young President and his minions are just carrying right on, as if everything will be OK or it's not their problem whether it is or not. Noonan's characterization of them as "callous children" is extremely, insightfully apt. I guess if you try to be dazzlingly apt as often as she does, ever so often you are.
ALSO read this -- a cynical and probably accurate view of what Senator Reid of the Silver State is up to. In a way, the insurance companies deserve to rolled by the Democrats for being stupid enough not to realize they would be rolled by the Democrats. But the rest of us will have to pay for it.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Gunman Wounds Two in Los Angeles Synagogue - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News
Los Angeles police say two Jewish men in their 30s were shot in the legs as they were about to enter a synagogue in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles Thursday morning. A man described as an African-American with a handgun entered the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at about 6:20 a.m. Thursday and opened fire. The victims were taken to a hospital in stable condition.