Alright Already, So Call a Policeman

by Dave Schuler on July 31, 2014

The editors of the Wall Street Journal have come out in favor of the House’s suit against President Obama:

Liberals claim that Mr. Obama’s pose as law giver is necessary because Republicans are obstructionist, and, anyhow, the Constitution’s limits are the dusty artifacts of the 18th century unsuited to modern times. One irony is that they dismiss the House suit even as they claim to be troubled by national security surveillance that has always been grounded in both statute and the Constitution, with no evidence of abuse.

Yet Mr. Obama’s claim that he can pick and choose which laws to enforce is far more offensive to the American tradition than anything the government has done in the name of antiterrorism. The House challenge is an opportunity to vindicate the genius of the Framers to prevent the exercise of arbitrary and centralized power.

while David Rivkin and Elizabeth Price Foley, the architects of the argument in favor of the validity of such suits, explains their rationale:

A president who unilaterally rewrites a bad or unworkable law, however, prevents the American people from knowing whether Congress should be praised or condemned for passing it. Such unconstitutional actions can be used to avert electoral pain for the president and his allies.

If Mr. Obama can get away with this, his successors will be tempted to follow suit. A Republican president, for example, might unilaterally get the Internal Revenue Service to waive collection of the capital-gains tax. Congress will be bypassed, rendering it increasingly irrelevant, and disfranchising the American people.

Over time, the Supreme Court has come to recognize that preserving the constitutional separation of powers between the branches of government at the federal level, and between the states and the federal government, is among the judiciary’s highest duties.

My guess is that the suit will not prevail. The Court will seize the nearest figleaf and, since the suit is only being brought by one house of Congress, dismiss it for lack of standing.

The reality, I think, is that not taking sides is taking sides and such a decision will reasonably be seen as the Court siding with the president and the Senate. If the Republicans take the Senate in November, stay tuned for the next chapter in January.

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Madness, Madness

by Dave Schuler on July 31, 2014

I don’t dwell on it but my fundamental beef with the Republican Party is with its acceptance of mostly Southern social conservative Democrats, the Wallace Democrats, Dixiecrats literal and figurative, in the late 1960s and early 70s. For me it’s a sort of Original Sin whose taint can fade but can never be washed away. However tentative my relationship to the Democratic Party might be I could never consider myself a Republican for that reason. Consequently, I can be a Democrat or an independent which for someone who lives in Chicago means a Democrat.

That is not to say that I have the dewy-eyed naïveté about the party that so many Democrats seem to have or, at least, express these days. Chided as I might be for suggesting from time to time that “they all do it”, the reality is that they all do it.

In the midst of the furor over some Republicans (and Democrats!) suggesting that the president is courting impeachment, Katherine Miller of Buzzfeed has picked up a fine example illustrating that both parties are in fact chockful of crazies. Rail as they might against prospective impeachment of President Obama by a Republican House, a bill to impeach President Bush was apparently introduced in the Democratically-controlled House of 2008. Its sponsor was Dennis Kucinich and its eleven co-sponsors included Sheila Jackson-Lee, Keith Ellison, and Jim McDermott.

When you condemn government by impeachment, you might at least be even-handed about it.

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Sleepless

by Dave Schuler on July 31, 2014

The physical and emotional turmoil of the last several weeks are taking a toll on me. Having long had a problem sleeping, last night I woke at 1:00am, worked for an hour or so, watched a little television, and finally drifted back to sleep to rise at 6:00am, slightly behind my normal schedule but not disastrously so. Five or six hours of sleep all told.

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Peril for Pension Funds

by Dave Schuler on July 31, 2014

I hope the managers of public pension funds and, even more importantly, the politicians who construct the plans they administer, take Bill Gross of bond giant PIMCO’s advice:

The U.S. for sure is near the top of the “more certain” list, but 2% real growth since the Great Recession is nothing to brag about. It would have been a bare minimum expectation back in 2010. Elsewhere, an investor not only has to wonder, but perhaps retreat from the lack of growth sunshine. South America is in virtual recession with its big three – Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela – approaching lockjaw conditions of one sort or another. Euroland is above water, but floating on water wings with peripheral country unemployment (Spain, Portugal, Italy) averaging close to 20% – unprecedented except for the 1930s. Russia is retreating for geopolitical reasons. And Japan/China are supported only by credit creation of a magnitude that reminds one of Minsky, or Ponzi, or Potemkin with his mythical villages of growth due to paper, not productivity. Where is the growth? The world as McCulley correctly analyzes it, is demand deficient and supply rich.

Asset price growth therefore – capital gains in market speak – will be harder to come by. Without the tailwind of declining interest rates which have increased profit margins as well as decreased cap rates, they will instead face structural headwinds. Let me be clearer though – clearer than I was to my Vietnamese friend. PIMCO is not saying that asset prices will go down – they just won’t go up as much as many expect. And income – not capital gains – will be the dominant driver of future returns. “Good evening,” capital gains. “Good morning,” more dependable income – even in this age of artificially low interest rates.

These funds frequently assume returns of 7% or even 8% annually. That’s significantly above inflation and significantly above the real rate of growth. Where is such growth to come from?

The only possibility open to them is investing in increasingly risky assets which inevitably means that some of them will lose which in turn means either that legislators will need to make up the difference or promises to public employees cannot be honored. State and local budgets are already seriously pressed by healthcare costs and increases in tax rates are not yielding proportional increases in revenues.

We need to start questioning the assumptions.

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But Is He Competent?

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

Speaking of competence, if his ad campaigns against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn are any gauge, Republican (or, perhaps, “Republican”) challenger Bruce Rauner may be running on his own:

The Illinois governor’s race pits incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat, against upstart non-politician Bruce Rauner. Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America. It’s a blue state that has been run for many years by corrupt and bungling politicians, including Rod Blagojevich, who went to jail for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and Mr. Quinn, who has run the state’s finances into the gutter.

This year shows no improvement. Even as the national employment picture has improved, Illinois actually managed to lose more than 15,000 jobs throughout the first half of 2014. In June of 1998, Illinois had 5.07 million private-sector jobs. In June of 2014, Illinois had just 4.98 million. Somehow, Illinois managed to lose jobs during this 16-year time frame.

Being competent as a manager, financier, or in business may not be the same as being a competent elected official. There’s a similarity among them but, given the increasing institutionalization of just about everything in our society, the skills may not be entirely the same. That may be particularly true of a candidate who has largely financed his campaign himself to date. It may well be the ase that no one is competent to be governor of Illinois (or president of the United States) any more.

Don’t get me wrong. Unless he does something catastrophic and unforgivable I plan to vote for Rauner in November. The sad reality is that if Quinn is re-elected there is simply no hope for change and Illinois is in desperate need of a change.

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The Unfairness of It All

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

This morning I’m reading a lot about President Obama’s “incompetency”. The gist of it is that a majority of the American people do not believe that the president “can manage the government effectively” which strikes me as terribly unfair. He was not elected to be a manager.

I disagree vehemently with Erick Erickson of RedState’s contention that the president is not incompetent but malicious. My own view is that he’s just not interested.

Chris Cilizza muses on the issue:

Obama was elected in 2008 on a stated promise that he would restore competence to government. He pitched himself as the antidote to “Heck of a job, Brownie” and the Bush years, the person who would always put the most qualified candidate in every job in his Administration. That the basic functioning of government would never be in question.

Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall. A series of events — from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program — have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.

That illustrates the complete unfairness of our electoral system. When you run as a reformer, people have the outlandish view that you intend to reform. When you run as a technocrat, people expect you to devote attention to the mechanics of policy and of the government. When you run as a post-partisan, people expect you to be, well, post-partisan.

President Obama has done many of the things on which he ran in 2008. He has gotten us out of Iraq; he has left us in Afghanistan; he has transformed America or, at least, a sixth of it.

Most of all he is not Bush. In that he has been tremendously successful. Not that it will be of much solace to Democrats come November.

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Disappointment

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

You know, I’m really disappointed. Here I am gone a whole three days and the problems are all the same.

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The Three-State Solution

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

I am not a great supporter of the state of Israel. Israel is without doubt the most liberal and democratic state in a very tough neighborhood. However, the Israelis are pickle and it’s their pickle. The only solution to their problems with their neighbors is finding some sort of modus vivendi with them. The more we make it our pickle, the worse the problem becomes.

However, that having been said, I agree with David Ignatius. What in the world was John Kerry thinking?

Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he’s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it’s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.

Kerry’s error has been to put so much emphasis on achieving a quick halt to the bloodshed that he has solidified the role of Hamas, the intractable, unpopular Islamist group that leads Gaza, along with the two hard-line Islamist nations that are its key supporters, Qatar and Turkey. In the process, he has undercut not simply the Israelis but also the Egyptians and the Fatah movement that runs the Palestinian Authority, all of which want to see an end to Hamas rule in Gaza.

What is the end state of his approach? A three-state solution—Israel, a Hamas-dominated Gaza, and a Fatah-lead West Bank? Hamas taking control of both segments of the Palestinian territories? Diplomacy is not Slap-Jack. You’ve got to think at least one step ahead if not several.

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Life Goes On

July 29, 2014

Over the weekend I attended the wedding of one of my nephews. He’s an intern. She’s studying to be a veterinarian. I wish them life, love, and happiness. The wedding was held at the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York, an incredibly scenic setting. How scenic? That scenic. Each state […]

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Ch. Kendara’s Notorious, 1998-2014

July 25, 2014

Her complete formal name was Ch. Kendara’s Notorious RA, OA, AXJ, NJP, WSX. We called her “Tally”. More affectionately, “Roo”, after her characteristic call. If you pay close attention, dogs will tell you their real names and that was hers. When she came to us she was a tiny puppy with an enormous spirit, a […]

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