PowerLine -> Are the Koch Brothers buying Time Magazine? + Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur?

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Are the Koch Brothers buying Time Magazine? + Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur?

Daily Digest

  • Sadly, the Koch Brothers Aren’t Buying Time, Inc.
  • Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur? [UPDATED]
  • The left clings to power at the CFPB
  • Today’s News in the Administrative State
  • A Visual Lesson in Energy Density
Sadly, the Koch Brothers Aren’t Buying Time, Inc.

Posted: 27 Nov 2017 04:42 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)Meredith Corporation, a major magazine publisher headquartered in Iowa, has agreed to buy Time, Inc. for a little under $3 billion. The New York Times sheds tears over the transaction, referring to Time, Inc. as “the publisher of once-prestigious magazine titles including Time, Sports Illustrated and People.” Did they suddenly become non-prestigious now that the company is being bought by Meredith?

Perhaps so. The Times explains that “Time Inc. is New York to its core,” while “Meredith, based in Des Moines, is a Midwestern publisher through and through.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Meredith is thriving while Time, Inc. has floundered. What has driven news coverage, however, is the fact that Koch Equity Development is contributing $650 million toward the $3 billion deal. Do the math: the Koch brothers aren’t going to wind up running Time or (perhaps more important) Sports Illustrated.

Meredith has been careful to spike any such speculation:

[I]n its announcement of the deal, Meredith said that the private equity fund, Koch Equity Development, would not have a seat on Meredith’s board of directors and would “have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”

Steve Lombardo, a spokesman for Koch Industries, also said that the Kochs had no plans to take an active role in the expanded company. “This is a passive financial investment made through our equity development arm,” Mr. Lombardo said. The company’s role in the transaction, he said, was similar to that of a bank.

That seems pretty definitive. But some are not convinced. A former managing editor of Time magazine, Richard Stengel, tweeted his fearthat the supernaturally-talented brothers would somehow wind up in the driver’s seat:

Meredith wanted to buy Time Inc back in 2012, but didn’t want Time magazine. The difference now is the Koch brothers’ money. Even though they won’t have a seat on the board, hard to imagine they won’t influence the editorial side.

The logic is hard to follow. Unfortunately, I am afraid the Kochs will have no such influence. It is too bad: for years, Glenn Reynolds and others have been urging them to buy magazines–women’s magazines, in particular–and flip their editorial direction from hard left to moderate-libertarian-conservative. Unfortunately, the Meredith transaction does not seem to be a step in that direction.

Still, we can hope.


Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur? [UPDATED]

Posted: 27 Nov 2017 03:36 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Today, President Trump honored the “code talkers,” Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units in their native languages — an almost unbreakable code. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited and used for this purpose. The three surviving Navajos came to the White House for the event in their honor.

After one of the code talkers gave a speech, Trump put aside his prepared remarks and spoke off the cuff. Here is the Washington Post’s account of what happened next:

“You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her ‘Pocahontas,’” he said with a chuckle. “But you know what? I like you.” The audience was quiet.

“Pocahontas” was not amused. Elizabeth Warren shot back, “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”

I agree it’s unfortunate (though not “deeply” so) to make it through a ceremony without taking a shot at a political enemy, even one as obnoxious as Elizabeth Warren. But is calling a fake Indian “Pocahontas” a racial slur or just a tired joke?

I say it’s the latter, but what I know? I couldn’t stay out of trouble with certain Indians, real or fake.

UPDATE: Warren also said: “Look, Donald Trump does this over and over, thinking somehow he’s going to shut me up with it. It hasn’t worked in the past. It is not going to work in the future.”

I’m pretty sure Trump doesn’t think he’s going to shut Warren up. He just knows a good punching bag when he sees one.


The left clings to power at the CFPB

Posted: 27 Nov 2017 10:19 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the federal agency that’s supposed to protect consumers in the financial sector. It was created by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The CFPB’s director heads the agency free from presidential supervision. Given the CFPB’s broad authority over the U.S. economy, the director “enjoys significantly more unilateral power than any single member of any other independent agency.” So said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in declaring the leadership structure of the CFPB unconstitutional.

This decision is under review by the full D.C. Circuit, a body dominated by liberal Democrats. The matter may be headed to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, we are in the midst of a struggle over who will be the CFPB director. Richard Cordray, a left-wing Ohio politician, has been the director. He was appointed when it became clear that Elizabeth Warren, whose brainchild the CFPB is, could not be confirmed to lead it.

On Friday, Cordray announced his resignation effective immediately, and appointed Leandra English, his chief of staff, to be the deputy director of the CFPB. He did so in order to prevent President Trump from reining in the agency.

Shannen Coffin explains the move:

Trump has express constitutional authority to appoint Cordray’s replacement and, in time, will do so. But like much that happens in Washington, installing a new director of the CFPB will take time. The appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, and Senate Democrats will throw as much sand in the gears of the confirmation process as a minority party can muster. The directorship could remain vacant for months, or longer.

By slow-walking the confirmation process and, at the same time, blocking the president’s appointment of an interim director, Democrats could for, the foreseeable future, extend Cordray’s regulatory mischief and forestall efforts to roll back the CFPB’s regulatory programs.

Mick Mulvaney, who currently heads the Office of Management and Budget, is Trump’s choice to direct the the CFPB. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sick, sad joke,” and a “wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anyone.” As acting director, Mulvaney could begin the process of unwinding the CFPB’s regulatory overreach.

Recently, that overreach has been particularly pronounced. According to Coffin:

In the months leading up to his resignation, Cordray accelerated the CFPB’s work and its regulatory overreach. He rolled out new regulations prohibiting mandatory arbitration in financial services agreements—they were subsequently overturned by Congress under the Congressional Review Act. Cordray finalized a far-reaching rule—the breadth of which is evidenced by more than 1,700 pages of official commentary—that seeks to police out of existence much of the payday and title-loan industry without providing alternative credit avenues to the millions of cash-strapped consumers who use these lenders of last resort.

The CFPB also stepped up its enforcement efforts against financial-services businesses aimed at the individual consumer, invoking a muscular and seemingly boundless statutory view of its authority to curb “unfair, deceptive and abusive” practices. This trend would likely continue under Cordray’s hand-picked successor.

President Trump responded to Cordray’s power play, or resistance as Sen. Tom Cotton describes it, by designating Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB. Trump invoked his power under the Vacancies Reform Act of 1988. It permits the president to designate any Senate-confirmed federal official (and certain other federal officers and employees) to perform the functions and duties of a vacant federal office (with some limited exceptions) in an acting capacity for a statutorily-limited time period.

The General Counsel of the CFPB issued a memorandum concurring in the President’s action. However, English filed a lawsuit to force Mulvaney out and keep control over the agency.

The basis of English’s suit is that the Dodd-Frank Act provides that the director has the authority to appoint a deputy director who “shall . . . serve as acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director.” English argues that this provision controls because the Vacancies Reform Act provides that its methods of temporarily filling a vacant office are meant to be exclusive, unless some other statutory provision explicitly permits another mode of designation or “designates an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of a specified office temporarily in an acting capacity.” She contends that the Dodd-Frank Act is such a separate statute, and it designates the deputy director to perform the functions and duties of the vacant director position in an acting capacity to the exclusion of the president’s authority.

Coffin rejects English’s argument. He points out that the Vacancies Reform Act does not say the president’s authority is overridden where a separate statute, such as Dodd-Frank, provides for other modes of designating an acting official. It merely says that the president’s power is not exclusive in those circumstances — in other words, the president can decide to appoint someone or to allow go along with the designee selected pursuant to another statute.

That’s been the position of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. In addition, the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case involving the National Labor Relations Board Office of General Counsel, concluded that the president may elect which avenue to choose where another statute also authorizes a method of temporarily filling a vacancy.

In addition, Coffin argues that the Dodd-Frank Act doesn’t really address vacancies in the office of CFPB director at all. It speaks of situations in which the director is absent or unavailable, not cases in which there is no director.

By contrast, the OMB statute applies “when the office of Director is vacant.” Other statutes similarly speak of vacancies in office. Thus, Congress knows how to authorize an official to act in the event of a vacancy. It did not do so in Dodd-Frank.

In any event, courts now have two issues to sort out: (1) is the structure of the CFPB constitutional and (2) who is the agency’s acting director.

What should happen in the meantime? I call on Sen. Tom Cotton:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a rogue, unconstitutional agency. Leandra English’s lawsuit to install herself as acting director against the president’s explicit direction is just the latest lawless action by the CFPB. She doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, as her own general counsel has conceded and the Department of Justice has concluded.

The president should fire her immediately and anyone who disobeys Director Mulvaney’s orders should also be fired summarily. The Constitution and the law must prevail against the supposed resistance.


Today’s News in the Administrative State

Posted: 27 Nov 2017 09:49 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)Today may go down in history as one of the crucial turning points in the reversal of the Administrative State. The Supreme Court is hearing Oil States Energy v. Greene’s Energy, where the issue of whether administrative law judges beholden to executive agencies, rather than bona fide Article III judges and juries at trial, can decide whether or not patent property rights deserve protection. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a nice review and summary of the case if you are a subscriber. If not, take our word for it. I have a busy day so I doubt I’ll be able to listen in to the oral argument, but I’ll be checking the news reports to see what sense people have of how it goes.

Meanwhile, across town in DC there is a showdown over who actually runs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which the Democrats set up to be so autonomous that it doesn’t even have to get an appropriation from Congress to operate: it sets its own budget and requisitions operating funds from the Federal Reserve—a constitutional violation so easy and clear to make out that even a first grader could spot it. Trump has appointed Nick Mulvaney to be the acting director, as the CFPB statute indicates is his right to do, but outgoing CFPB chair Richard Cordray attempted to appoint his own successor.

And so today at CFPB we have two acting directors vying for control of the agency, in circumstances that sound similar (though not identical) to the case of Luther v. Borden, the 1849 controversy that involved competing claims in Rhode Island as to which governor and legislature had been properly elected. In 1849 the Supreme Court decided not to intervene, leaving it up to Rhode Island to sort out its mess (which, by the looks of things there, they never did). The courts can’t punt the CFPB matter—either the president wins, or the permanent bureaucracy wins.

In any case, the scene today at CFPB may look something like this:


A Visual Lesson in Energy Density

Posted: 27 Nov 2017 08:53 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)I normally try to stay away from posting complicated charts and graphs, for the simple reason that they are hard to decode. But the chart below, from Max Roser, the project director of the terrific “Our World in Data” site housed at Oxford University, is just too brilliant not to pass along. It shows in two panels how pathetic is the energy contribution of wind and solar power, and why more dense forms of electricity prevail in the real world. The neat thing about the chart is that it matches up electricity production with demand—specifically how many people the specific source can supply. If you take this in for a while, it is absolutely devastating to the green energy misfits.

You will probably want to click to enlarge this chart, but notice the salient fact that the right-hand side of the chart is blown up from the tiny lower-right hand corner of the left side of the chart—I’ve added a circle to highlight this:

Roser and co-author Hannah Ritchie offer a complete explanation here, but these two sections stand out:

The labeled horizontal lines on these charts aim to give a sense of perspective on electricity consumption levels across the world. For example, in the chart below a very large hydro or nuclear plant could produce enough electricity to meet the demands of 100 million people in Ghana; a large hydro, nuclear, or coal plant could provide for 10 million average global citizens, and average-sized plant would meet demands of ten million in Brazil.

The left-hand chart is dominated by hydropower, nuclear, coal and geothermal production. The output of onshore and offshore wind, and solar photovoltaic (PV) farms currently lie below 10,000 MWh per day, which you see at the bottom of the left-hand chart. The right-hand chart provides a magnification of the bottom section of this chart, extending only from zero to 10,000 MWh. Just as in the left-hand chart, the range of daily electricity outputs from wind and solar PV farms are shown by the arrows, with specific farms represented by stars. Again, we have provided a sense of perspective on how this relates to electricity consumption needs across a range of countries using the labeled horizontal lines.


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