A Declaration Of War

Nov 24 2014 @ 12:14pm

Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Senator Rand Paul has just opened up a new vista in American foreign policy. He is attempting to re-impose constitutional norms on war-making powers – powers so rankly abused by president Obama so many times. His resolution for the declaration of war against ISIS has some classic lines from the past, reminding us how far we have drifted from what the Founders intended:

Whereas Article I, section 8, of the United States Constitution provides, ‘‘The Congress shall have the Power to . . . declare war’’;

Whereas President George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, lectured: ‘‘The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress. Therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure.’’;

Whereas James Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: ‘‘The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.’’;

Whereas James Madison wrote in his Letters of Helvidius: ‘‘In this case, the constitution has decided what shall not be deemed an executive authority; though it may not have clearly decided in every case what shall be so deemed. The declaring of war is expressly made a legislative function.’’

Even better, his resolution carefully delimits what the US can do in Iraq and Syria – defending US property and personnel; sunsetting the war to one year; and keeping ground forces to a few limited functions (and avoiding the fiction that there are not boots on the ground already in Iraq). The benefit of such a debate is precisely to insist that, especially in an age of a volunteer military, we need to be reminded of the moral gravity of war-making, and never rush or drift into war without lengthy, deliberate, advance consideration of unintended consequences.

Read On

The Hagel Presser

Nov 24 2014 @ 12:00pm

It’s live right now.

Marion Barry - Washington, DC

The four-time DC mayor died yesterday at age 78. David Remnick remarks, “When Marion Barry was running the city as mayor, and then in his wilderness years—as prisoner, outcast, and councilman—what you thought of him depended largely on who you were, what ward you lived in, what your advantages and disadvantages were, what you were willing to tolerate and forgive.” David Plotz, who did his college thesis on Barry, remembers the complicated figure:

He looked at the numbers, and devised a new formula, adapting the machine politics practiced a generation earlier by Irish and Italian mayors. What better way to lock in a loyal voting base than with jobs? By Barry’s second term, D.C. had by far the largest city government in the United States per capita. He coupled a permanent bureaucracy with a massive summer jobs program for kids. When I interviewed Washingtonians in the 1990s about why they were still voting for Marion Barry, an astonishing number cited the summer job he gave them back in the 1970s. …

Marion Barry won the prize of city government at the moment that cities began to slide, and before their recent revival. As a result, he left few tangible accomplishments. He inflicted on my city a bureaucracy that was too big, a mediocre police department, and horrid schools. Since the end of Barry’s ridiculous fourth mayoral term in January 1999, D.C.’s politicians have run away from him. Our mayoral candidates are competent, dreary, and technocratic. Unlike Barry, they seem more interested in governing their city than serving themselves. Marion Barry loomed over D.C. politics for 43 years, but there is no Barryism.

Adam Serwer explains why, despite Barry’s huge flaws, many think of him in a positive light:

Read On

That’s how Eric Posner describes Obama’s executive action:

The point is not just that Republican presidents can do what Obama has done. It is that enforcement discretion creates an advantage for Republicansit favors conservative governance and hurts liberal governance. The reason for this asymmetric effect is that the great bulk of federal law is liberal economic regulation, not conservative morals regulation. A conservative president can refuse to enforce laws, but a liberal president can’t enforce laws that don’t exist. While a President Rand could gut the regulatory state, the opportunities for a President Hillary Clinton to advance liberalism through non-enforcement are much less fecund.

Andrew Prokop isn’t so sure:

Read On

A “Sticky” Situation

Nov 24 2014 @ 10:57am


Derek Thompson shares the above chart on gender and generation in the workforce:

Intergenerational economic inequality is declining: The gap between male and female wages among Millennials is lower than it was among boomers or Gen-X. But the pernicious gender gap is reasserting itself as you look higher up in the corporate ladder. Income data shows that middle-aged women fall behind their male peers, particularly when they take time off to be moms. Men with families and children, on the other hand, earn more than their same-aged bachelor colleagues, according to Pew. So as Millennials grow up, today’s entry-level inequality could still yield to middle-age inequality.

If that paragraph doesn’t entirely make sense to you, [the above graph] should make things crystal clear.

Read On

What Alec Baldwin Should Have Done

Nov 24 2014 @ 10:45am

Or – the best way to fight back against a paparazzo:


An Untreated Case Of Market Failure

Nov 24 2014 @ 10:23am

Jeremy A. Greene is alarmed by the cost of certain generic drugs:

Drugs previously available at pennies per pill now cost hundreds of dollars per bottle. And not just esoteric, small-market drugs, either: the antibiotic doxycycline, a workhorse drug for common infections from sinusitis to pneumonia, cost $20 per 500-count bottle last October. Last month, the average price for the same supply was $1,849. For a drug initially approved by the FDA in 1967, the price hike seems mystifying.

How is this possible?

Read On

The Norms Obama Broke

Nov 24 2014 @ 9:43am

Sean Trende is concerned about the unintended consequences of Obama’s executive action:

Contrary to some of the louder reactions, our Republic can withstand this breach. The real problem is that our history suggests that once these norms are violated, Humpty Dumpty can’t be put back together again. We see this with the sorry state of our judicial nomination process. What probably started with an arguably justified filibuster by Republicans and conservative Democrats of Abe Fortas’ nomination as chief justice of the Supreme Court (he really did have some ethical issues), escalated to the defeat of Robert Bork on ideological grounds and a blockade by Democrats of many of George H.W. Bush’s nominees in the final years of his term, to a more extensive blockade of many of Bill Clinton’s nominees for most of his term by Republicans, to the filibuster of many of George W. Bush’s Court of Appeals nominees by Democrats, to Republican threats of dismantling the judicial filibuster in response, to Republican filibusters of Obama’s appellate and District Court nominations, to the actual dismantling of the judicial filibuster by Democrats.

Both parties played a role in these latter developments, and the Bush presidency clearly saw its fair share of broken norms (using the threat of budget reconciliation to pass tax cuts; the midterm firings of U.S. attorneys). But this proves nothing. The point is that once you start down a road, you don’t go back. No one who voted to filibuster Fortas would have agreed that the endgame would be routine filibustering of District Court nominations and the beginning of the end of the filibuster, but that’s exactly what happened. No one really thought that the creation of reconciliation would enable the enactment of $1.3 trillion in tax cuts. And so forth.

Scott Lemieux dismisses such worries:

Read On

Prejudice By Numbers

Nov 24 2014 @ 9:01am

In an excerpt from The Formula, Luke Dormehl raises concerns about law enforcement’s increased use of algorithms:

As slashed budgets lead to increased staff cuts, automated systems have moved from simple administrative tools to become primary decision-makers …

Read On

The View From Your Window

Nov 24 2014 @ 8:15am

Ludlow Vermont 6-55am

Ludlow, Vermont, 6.55 am