PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Birds of a Feather + Joe Biden: “Let’s talk about the future”

PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Birds of a Feather + Joe Biden: “Let’s talk about the future”

Daily Digest


  • Birds of a Feather
  • Scenes from the Progressive Freakout (1)
  • Joe Biden: “Let’s talk about the future”
  • The defeated Greek government, was it socialist, populist, or both?
  • Mayor Moonbeam?
Birds of a Feather

Posted: 08 Jul 2019 04:29 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has been in England, and on July 2 he tweeted his admiration for notorious anti-Semite, terrorist sympathizer and socialist, Jeremy Corbyn:

Awesome day in London, especially meeting with Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn – a true grassroots organizer. pic.twitter.com/Jl6HhyVNxY

— Keith Ellison (@keithellison) July 2, 2019

A “true grassroots organizer”? That’s one way to look at it, I suppose. But Corbyn’s leadership has Labour at a low ebb, outnumbered in Parliament by the Conservatives, 312-247. Nevertheless, America’s hard leftists seem willing to follow Britain’s hard leftists into the political desert.

British leftists tweeted their admiration for Ellison, too:

Insightful discussion with @keithellison, Attorney General of Minnesota, on fighting inequality & taking on Trump’s politics of scapegoating and prejudice.

Movements backing @BernieSanders in the USA and @jeremycorbyn here are part of the same struggle for the many not the few! pic.twitter.com/hzR3l7tPtD

— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) July 4, 2019

Actually, it is the many who are benefiting from President Trump’s policies, with record employment and rising wages, especially for minorities and lower wage earners. But leftists never let facts get in the way of ideology.

Via the Minnesota Sun.

  

Scenes from the Progressive Freakout (1)

Posted: 08 Jul 2019 04:18 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)It’s a really tough time to be a liberal Progressive. One bit of evidence appears right now in The New Yorker, where Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen worries that the Supreme Court might actually rein in the administrative state. This, she assures us, would produce a “parade of horrors” (actual quote). Let’s start with this passage:

For the better part of a century, the Court has permitted Congress to delegate broad policymaking authority to federal agencies. The Court has not struck down a statute under the non-delegation doctrine since 1935, when a conservative majority was hostile to progressive New Deal measures aimed at protecting workers and consumers.

First, the 1935 case Gersen references here is Schechter Poultry, and I’m guessing she’s never actually read it, or she might know that the case wasn’t decided by a narrow “conservative majority”—Schechter was a 9 – 0 decision, which means even the Court’s liberal members like Brandeis and Cardozo thought Congress had gone too far in delegating power to the Roosevelt Administration. And far from striking down a law that “protected consumers,” the case struck down the National Recovery Act, which totally screwed consumers by establishing industry cartels to keep prices high. How, exactly, did that “protect” consumers? How was the consumer served by sending Jacob Maged to jail for charging a consumer 35 cents to clean and press a suit instead of the 40 cents the government mandated?

But why let facts and nuance get in the way of a good narrative? And for the record, that supposedly “conservative” Court upheld as many key New Deal measures as it struck down. As Arthur Schlesinger (!) once wrote, “Ignorance is never any bar to certitude in the progressive dreamworld.”

This is only the beginning. Let’s keep going:

We are now explicitly on notice that the Court will likely abandon its longstanding tolerance of Congress delegating broadly to agencies. What’s at stake is the potential upending of the constitutional foundations of the so-called “administrative state.” Today’s reality is that agencies, not Congress, make most federal laws. As Justice Kagan put it, if the delegation in Gundy were unconstitutional, “then most of Government is unconstitutional.”*

Sounds good to me! But wait, there’s more!

What will happen then, when the conservative bloc prevails? The alarmist view is that the E.P.A. couldn’t have the power to decide how stringent pollution standards should be. The F.D.A. couldn’t have the authority to approve or deny applications to sell new medical drugs. The Department of Education couldn’t make rules for colleges and universities. The Department of the Interior couldn’t govern snow mobiles in national parks. The S.E.C. couldn’t regulate financial firms or securities. The F.C.C. couldn’t issue rules on net neutrality or Internet service providers. In sum, we would dwell in a world without the federal law that governs our lives.

This is an entirely ridiculous view. Virtually no one thinks that the Court would strike down the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) which governs how agencies produce rules and regulations under Congressional statute, and it is precisely the evasion of the APA’s formal rule-making process that has caused the Court to start rethinking the latitude we give federal agencies to make it up as they wish. A great example is the Obama Administration’s Title IX regulations, imposed entirely outside the APA process because they knew their due process-denying regs would never survive a formal APA review. Someone else who once knew that: Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, who joined with other Harvard Law faculty in 2014 demanding that the Dept. of Education withdraw its infamous “Dear Colleague” command.

What is at issue is chiefly the “Chevron Doctrine,” which allows agencies to run wild when Congress is too general in its statutes. Gersen thinks pulling back on “Chevron Deference” would practically be the end of government itself, when what it would do is require Congress to take more responsibility and do its job.

The main idea of the non-delegation doctrine is that any law that is enforced against citizens must be approved by Congress. [Yes, precisely.] It’s not enough for Congress to say, “We should have a law on this subject and someone else will write and enforce it.” But this formulation is a rhetorical parlor trick. When building a house, one may have a strong idea of the kind of house one wants, but most of us have neither the knowledge nor the desire to make the thousands of key decisions about how to safely construct it. Those decisions are sensibly delegated to a contractor and an architect. A rule forbidding any delegation of that sort makes for very different, more rudimentary, building, and probably many fewer buildings built.

This analogy is so dumb that it hardly needs refuting. How often do you see a builder or architect say, “I think I’ll just add a bathroom here, even though you didn’t ask for it, because I think you should have it”? And as for those “thousands of key decisions” during the building—if they’re all delegated, why do we have building codes and inspectors?

Finally:

The more robust non-delegation doctrine that the conservative Justices desire would mean a change in the nature and scope of the federal government’s role in our lives. Conservatives favor making it difficult for the federal government to regulate, because, when it does, it risks impinging on our liberties. And, if the federal government does less, states may do more.

If I only read this paragraph of Gersen’s article, I’d think she was for the revival of the non-delegation doctrine. This all sounds pretty good to me.

* As for Justice Kagan’s worry that striking down excessive delegation would mean “that most of Government is unconstitutional,” I recall the first line of Gary Lawson’s famous 1994 article on the Administrative State published in the Harvard Law Review that begins: “The post-New Deal administrative state is unconstitutional, and its validation by the legal system amounts to nothing less than a bloodless constitutional revolution.” Boom! I say let’s see if Kagan is right!

  

Joe Biden: “Let’s talk about the future”

Posted: 08 Jul 2019 01:02 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)Joe Biden, having finally apologized, ridiculously, for his remarks about working with segregationists in the 1970s, is imploring his Democratic rivals to “talk about the future instead of the past.” But talk about the past is usually more probative than talk about the future when it comes to selecting a president.

Candidates who talk about the future can promise the moon. Talking about the past provides a good indication of what a candidate can and will actually deliver. It’s called a track record.

One might also ask why, if talk about the future is the name of the game, Biden talks so much about the past. No one forced him to talk about James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. No one even asked him about them.

Still, Biden is well advised not to dwell on the past. Any candidate who has been as consistently wrong as Biden about foreign policy/national security issues would do well to keep the past at arm’s length. So would any candidate seeking the Democratic nomination who has been as frequently moderate as Biden.

Unfortunately for Talkin’ Joe, he will be forced to keep discussing the past — i.e., to defend his record. The issue of busing probably hurt Biden only in the sense that it gave a rival the opportunity to elevate herself and make him look bad in a debate.

Criminal justice reform is another matter. Biden supported the tough sentencing regime that Congress had the good sense to impose in the 1990s. It was a rare instance of him being right about something.

But the left came bitterly to oppose tough sentencing (as did many conservatives). Thus, unlike with school busing, Biden is vulnerable to a relevant and potentially compelling attack on the issue of criminal justice — a matter of great concern to African-American voters, few of whom likely know of Biden’s position in the 1990s.

I can’t wait for the next debates.

  

The defeated Greek government, was it socialist, populist, or both?

Posted: 08 Jul 2019 10:45 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)Greece will have a new Prime Minister and a new government. Its conservative party has defeated the leftist party headed by current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

I doubt that anyone is surprised by this result. When we visited Greece last Fall, we scarcely met a Greek (outside of Crete) who didn’t complain bitterly about the economy. From the ancient taxi driver who had to fight his way through brutal Athens traffic at an age when he should be enjoying retirement, to the taxi driver in Thessaloniki whose perfect French surprised us until he said he’s a laid-off French professor, no one had anything good to say about the economic condition of Greece.

Last week, anticipating the defeat of the leftist government, the Washington Post tried to spin the impending result as a rejection of “populism.” Here is the headline:

Greek elections are expected to bring a populist experiment to an end.

The Post’s Michael Birnbaum explained:

Elections on Sunday are expected to award a decisive victory to the same center-right party that held power before the populists. Greece’s probable future prime minister is a former banker who drinks his coffee out of a Harvard University alumni mug — hardly anyone’s idea of a rabble-rouser.

“Greece was the first country that experienced the peak of populism. And then it was deflated,” said George Pagoulatos, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business.

“Populism” is an elastic concept. It’s often used, but seldom defined. Thus, one can fairly characterize Tspiras and his government as “populist.”

However, their most salient characteristic isn’t populist, but rather hard leftist (or socialist). Birnbaum acknowledged this feature at the beginning of his article when he described Tspiras and his crew as “a band of radical leftists.” However, as the headline suggests, he then went on to treat the election as a referendum on populism, not radical leftism.

What does Greece’s successful conservative opposition stand for? According to an AP article in today’s Post, it stands for “cutting taxes, attracting investment, and improving the job market.” Who else stands for this? Donald Trump, widely considered an American populist.

The Greek election is an unambiguous rejection of ruinous left-wing policies that exacerbated Greece’s economic woes. It has to do with “populism” only in the limited sense that a hard-right populist party fared poorly. You can create an economic crisis through anti-capitalist, redistributionist policies. You can’t dig your way out of one in that fashion.

As always in a democracy, this weekend’s Greek election isn’t the final word. It’s not clear that Greece’s new conservative government will be able to dig the country out of the current mess. If it can’t, voters will probably look for another way out.

Any party — whether conservative or socialist, left-wing populist or right-wing populist — is likely to lose power, not just in parlous economic times, but whenever the economy disappoints. Socialist/left-wing parties are more likely to deliver disappointing economic times, which is one reason why they are more likely to jettison democracy. However, short-term domestic policies are only one determinant, and usually not the most important, of a country’s economic condition at a given moment.

In an age when economic disappointment seems to be the default attitude, all governments of whatever party are unusually vulnerable to electoral defeat, I believe. But that’s no excuse for misdiagnosing the defeat of a particular party, which is what the Post has done with Greece, in service of its “anti-populist” line.

  

Mayor Moonbeam?

Posted: 08 Jul 2019 06:58 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)I am certain that underneath South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s very smooth and polished presentation is a deep leftist of some kind. And now he has provided us with an important clue of just what kind of president he might be—a portrait that he apparently approves:

Let’s see, let’s see—who does this remind me of? Oh that’s right.  This guy:

Official portrait in the CA state capitol.

I’ve always wanted to stick a piece of bubble gum on Brown’s official portrait to see how long it would take someone to notice.

  

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