Congress

Maybe he’s onto something here…

Republican self-destruction is fun to watch, but bad for us all

January 29 at 1:44 PM Washington Post

…An intellectually vibrant conservatism is essential to a healthy democracy.  The United States needs conservatives willing to criticize the grand plans we liberals sometimes offer, to remind us that traditional institutions should not be overturned lightly and to challenge those who believe that politics can remold human nature.

Wait, is he suggesting we are slow to change? No, say it’s not so!

At its best, as Philip Wallach and Justus Myers argued in National Affairs , conservatism is a “disposition” that “has the most to offer societies that have much worth conserving.” Even those of us who are critical of our nation’s injustices and inequalities can agree that the United States is such a society. The task of conservatives, Wallach and Myers write, is to offer “incremental adaptation” as an alternative to radical change.

So, in plain speak, progress at a thoughtful pace.  How reasonable.

Conservatives in power could never materially reduce the size of government, because so much of what it does and spends money on — from supporting the elderly to protecting consumers to providing for the common defense — is so popular. Conservatives haven’t been able to roll back cultural changes, because most Americans don’t want to return where we were before the rights revolutions on behalf of African Americans, women and gays. And politicians can’t reverse the fact that white Americans gradually are losing their majority status in an increasingly diverse nation.

It’s a good read.  Just sayin….

 

 

Ever wonder why so many Americans are disgusted with Washington? Look no further than the demoralizing display of Kabuki democracy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why the showdown over the Keystone XL pipeline is totally pointless

Damon Linker The Week January 14, 2015

After more than six long years of argument, debate, protest, lobbying, and court rulings, a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is wending its way through the Senate. Once the bill has passed, it will be sent to the president’s desk, where Barack Obama has pledged to veto it, marking only the third time he has chosen to use that constitutional power, and the first time he has done so since 2010.

It’s exciting.

And also utterly pointless.

The strongest argument against the pipeline is that it will contribute in a significant way to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The only problem is that everyone knows that the contribution will be negligible — with estimates ranging from 27 million to 110 million additional tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year out of a global total of roughly 40 billion tons. That’s an annual increase of somewhere between .0675 and .275 percent.

That’s right: the high-end estimate predicts that the pipeline will increase global greenhouse emissions by slightly more than one quarter of 1 percent.

But of course, stopping the pipeline would do no such thing. As everyone on both sides of the debate concedes, the Canadians will get their tar sands oil to market one way or the other, whether or not the pipeline is approved and built as proposed. (Rail transport is the most likely alternative.) And that means that rejecting the project will have essentially no impact on global carbon emissions.

And trains don’t contribute to Global Emissions, right? Or risk huge natural disasters and deaths as they pass through our cities and towns, right?

Yet the number of jobs at stake is as negligible as the projected increase in pollutants. Estimates place the number at around 2,000 annual temporary jobs over two years of pipeline construction, followed by 35 permanent positions once it’s up and running.

You heard that right: 35. Two digits; no zeros.

All of this is common knowledge. Pretty much no one on either side of the argument attempts to deny or refute any of it.

And yet here we are at the O.K. Corral, the Senate and president poised for a showdown.

Are you getting excited yet?  Feel the drama building and your blood boiling with passion?

Of course, for everyone in the country who isn’t an environmental activist, the hoopla defies comprehension. But hey, that’s the way our politics work now: enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources — and the president’s limited political capital — expended on a ploy to get a special-interest group trained and tested for…some as-yet-undetermined future fight.

Pssssssss – that’s the air going out of the drama balloon.  A whole bunch of time, money and energy wasted.  Oh wait, we are talking about politicians aren’t we.  Just sayin’…

“Why sleep at home when you can sleep in Congress?” – Will Rogers

Government by CRomnibus – blind, deaf and dumb: Column

The criminalization of American business (Yes, you should care and be very worried!)

Aug 30th 2014 | From the print edition The Economist

The formula is simple: find a large company that may (or may not) have done something wrong; threaten its managers with commercial ruin, preferably with criminal charges; force them to use their shareholders’ money to pay an enormous fine to drop the charges in a secret settlement (so nobody can check the details). Then repeat with another large company.

In many cases, the companies deserved some form of punishment: BNP Paribas disgustingly abetted genocide, American banks fleeced customers with toxic investments and BP despoiled the Gulf of Mexico. But justice should not be based on extortion behind closed doors. The increasing criminalisation of corporate behaviour in America is bad for the rule of law and for capitalism (see article).

Since the cases never go to court, precedent is not established, so it is unclear what exactly is illegal. That enables future shakedowns, but hurts the rule of law and imposes enormous costs. Nor is it clear how the regulatory booty is being carved up. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who is up for re-election, reportedly intervened to increase the state coffers’ share of BNP’s settlement by $1 billion, threatening to wield his powers to withdraw the French bank’s licence to operate on Wall Street. Why a state government should get any share at all of a French firm’s fine for defying the federal government’s foreign policy is not clear.

Prosecutors and regulators should also be required to publish the reasons why, given the gravity of their initial accusations, they did not take the matter all the way to court.

Or how about they at least admit there were no facts to support the original charges?  Oh, and if they lose in court they have some sort of personal loss like those they are over-charging?

The Leader article here.

And the follow up here:

A mammoth guilt trip

Corporate America is finding it ever harder to stay on the right side of the law

“Contrary to the conventional wisdom,” write Margaret Lemos and Max Minzner in an article in January’s Harvard Law Review, “public enforcers often seek large monetary awards for self-interested reasons divorced from the public interest in deterrence. The incentives are strongest when enforcement agencies are permitted to retain all or some of the proceeds of enforcement—an institutional arrangement that is common at the state level and beginning to crop up in federal law.”

So Prosecutors have no down side to over-charging and threatening decades in prison. And then get to decide how to spend the money.  Sure, that seems like a fair and equitable system to me, not.

Let’s find more obscure laws and let the Prosecutors run the country. Who needs an inept Congress (and apparently supportive President?) who aren’t paying attention anyway?

Just saying, if it can happen to JP Morgan Chase what chance do you have if they come after you?  And you don’t have Jamie Dimon’s money to buy your way out, do you?

One final quote for you to think about:

When America was founded, there were only three specified federal crimes—treason, counterfeiting and piracy. Now there are too many to count. In the most recent estimate, in the early 1990s, a law professor reckoned there were perhaps 300,000 regulatory statutes carrying criminal penalties—a number that can only have grown since then.

Hard to believe the constitution omitted so many important things…

Rant over.

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