Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Fourteenth Amendment

Wednesday Links!

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(…though Tuesday’s links are still perfectly good…)

* I’m really excited to see that the Jameson talk on the army as a figure for utopia I talked about at the end of my Battle: Los Angeles essay is becoming a book (with some collected responses).

* One of my favorite Ted Chiang stories, “Understand” has been adapted as a radio drama at the BBC. Go listen!

* If you’re local, don’t forget! Mad Max: Fury Road discussion on campus today at 5 PM!

We Don’t Need to Reform America’s Criminal Justice System, We Need to Tear It Down.

Superheroes in a Time of Terror: Rushdie’s 1001 Nights.

Language and the Postapocalyptic World.

Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days.

The FBI’s probe into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mail has expanded to include a second private technology company, which said Tuesday it plans to provide the law enforcement agency with data it preserved from Clinton’s account.

Against Joe Biden.

* Two great tastes: For decades, researchers have debated whether a major asteroid strike or enormous volcanic eruptions led to the demise of dinosaurs almost 66 million years ago. According to a new study, the answer might be somewhere in between: The asteroid impact accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes, and together, these catastrophes led to the mass extinction.

The Vancouver public-speaking and drama instructor sees his reasons for assigning Alcor US$80,000 of life insurance benefits to have his brain cryopreserved as strictly pragmatic.

* Kristof said that more preschoolers are shot dead each year than are on-duty police officers. For children aged 0-4, that is accurate for the past six years. For children aged 3-5, the statement is true in most years, but not in every year. We rate the claim Mostly True.

* Twenty-first century problems: Can Crowdfunding Save This Town from White Supremacy?

Yale Just Released 170,000 Incredible Photos of Depression-Era America.

* Free college, pro and con.

* Stay classy, Milwaukee.

Texas’s war on birthright babies.

A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board that looks at what role credit scores play in committed relationships suggests that daters might want to start using the metric as well. The researchers found that credit scores — or whatever personal qualities credit scores might represent — actually play a pretty big role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships. People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships and marriages and then stay in them. In addition, how well matched the couple’s credit scores are initially is a good predictor of whether they stay together in the long term.

* This might be even worse than the drill bits: Greenfield Police Using Pink Handcuffs, Wearing New Pins For Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

* Get a head start on next week: “It’s time to abolish Columbus Day.”

* And at this point I have no idea what sort of milk I should be drinking. Thanks, Obama.

Wong Kim Ark

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At the heart of the coming battle over the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for everyone born in this country is how the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, is interpreted. And at the heart of that interpretation is a 112-year-old Supreme Court decision, based on a lawsuit filed by a young man from San Francisco named Wong Kim Ark.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Monday Night Links

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* It’s been a few hours, so that must mean it’s time for some debt ceiling revisionism. Hooray! I feel so much better.

* At least the maniacs at Red State hate it.

* Congress to the unemployed: drop dead.

* Congress to grad students: drop dead.

* Every schoolchild knows that big cuts to defense are the trigger that will bring the GOP to its knees when the Super Congress brings its recommendations in a few months, so it’s no surprise that the Pentagon actually gained money in this round of negotiations.

Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, the current debt proposal trims $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade.

Wait, what? Let me start over.

* Today Biden told House Democrats that Obama would eventually have done the thing he obviously should have done from the start if he had literally no other option left. What a comfort.

* The White House: “…members of Congress would likely recoil at the gamesmanship involved in shelving the committee’s recommendations and therefore feel compelled to place well-intentioned lawmakers on the committee.” Reid: “This absurd mess shows the system works.” McConnell: “That was awesome! Let’s do it all again!”

* I’ve been informed it’s forbidden to be cynical about Gabriel Giffords’ return to the House no matter how transparent and manipulative it seems. Please be advised.

* Taibbi: The Democrats Take a Dive.

* And Europe’s still in even worse shape. Ugh.

Depressing Sunday Links

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Establishment Democrats are enthusiastically betraying their constituents, and gloating about it. I’ve already committed to not giving money and not volunteering in 2012, but the sticker’s coming off the car if the deal as described goes through. I’m done.

While the New Deal stoically awaits the guillotine, some links, many shamelessly stolen from zunguzungu’s supersized edition of Sunday Reading:

* Congressional Black Caucus: Use the 14th Amendment.

* Jeffrey Sachs: “Every part of the budget debate in the U.S. is built on a tissue of willful deceit.”

* The basic error was that Buchanan approached American politics in procedural or legal terms at a moment when the reigning political conflicts in American life were no longer in any sense shaped or resolved by procedural or legal processes. Obama as James Buchanan. More here from John Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

* In a nutshell, what’s going on is something that hasn’t happened in American politics for 50 years: an ideologically coherent social movement with clear political aspirations has taken shape out of murkier antecedents and disparate tributaries and at least for the moment, it has a very tight hold on the political officials that it has elected. The movement is not interested in the spoils system, its representatives can’t be quickly seduced into playing the usual games. And the movement’s primary objective is to demolish existing governmental and civic institutions. They’ve grown tired of waiting for government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, so they’re setting out with battleaxes and dynamite instead.

Social movements that aren’t just setting out to secure legal protection and resources for their constituency, but are instead driven to pursue profound sociopolitical transformations are unfamiliar enough. What makes this moment even more difficult to grasp in terms of the conventional wisdom of pundits is that this isn’t a movement that speaks a language of inclusion, hope, reform, innovation or progress. It speaks instead about restoration of power to those who once held it, the tearing down of existing structures, about undoing what’s been done. This movement is at war with its social and institutional enemies: it has nothing to offer them except to inflict upon them the marginalization that the members of the movement imagine they themselves have suffered.

* Ezra Klein dangles the carrot: maybe Obama won’t capitulate on the Bush tax cuts again. Sure, maybe.

* Surely there must be a name, in advertising parlance, for the figure of the anthropomorphized food item that happily consumes a non-anthropomorphized version of itself?

* The great teddy bear shipwreck mystery.

* On misremembering the victims of injustice as small children.

* Julian Sanchez: “The very existence of such massive trade in “defensive patents” is, in itself, pretty strong evidence that there’s something systematically quite wrong with the American patent system—because a patent that’s useful for “defensive” purposes is very likely to be a bad patent. I love that Planet Money and This American Life got non-IP people talking about this.

* And I may have done this one before, but what the hell: Inside an abandoned East Berlin amusement park.

73 Hours

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The latest incarnation of the terrible debt deal—which follows the absurd spectacle of McConnell filibustering a more right-wing version of his own proposal—is only one more reason for Obama to finally invoke the Fourteenth Amendment and end this insanity once and for all. (For what it’s worth, Jack Belkin says he’s actually already begun the process.)

What worries me is that many progressives seem to have mistaken Boehner’s bad press in recent days for a reversal of results. Make no mistake: Republicans are still running the table, having somehow managed to transform what was once a purely pro forma vote into massive unilateral concessions. The final deal is much closer to Boehner’s than Reid’s, where Reid’s plan was a more right-wing version of McConnell’s, which itself was far to the right of where negotiations began, which itself is far to the right of just raising the debt ceiling without conditions, which is what was done the last hundred times this came up. As I said on Twitter earlier this evening, it’s a testament to just how badly Democrats have been outplayed on the debt ceiling that some progressives seem to think our side is winning. In fact the Republicans won this game by a mile: they got the drastic, draconian spending cuts they wanted and total control over an automatic trigger for even worse cuts—all without any new revenue whatsoever. Democrats got the good sportsmanship award.

The only hope left now is that the crazies are so crazy they can’t take even a lopsided deal for an answer, forcing Obama to take the constitutional option despite his congenital inability to take a stand.

We are now 73 hours from default.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 31, 2011 at 12:20 am

Friday Afternoon Apocalypse

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* Obama self-parody watch: hashtag #compromise.

* Also from Chait: Obama’s Incentive To Punt On the 14th Amendment.

The problem is that, even if we get through this crisis with little damage, the debt ceiling is still sitting there, a weapon that will one day explode. Indeed, if there’s one good reason to downgrade U.S. debt, it’s that House Republicans have discovered a kind of doomsday device that, if not used this time, will probably be used eventually. Any use of the debt ceiling to extort policy concessions will encourage subsequent uses.

The only way to actually defuse the long-term threat is to eliminate the debt ceiling vote, which is a completely unnecessary relic. Doing so would provide long-term benefits, while the political costs would be born entirely by Obama. That may explain his reticence. Or possibly his advisors’ legal judgment simply differs from Jeff’s. There is legitimate disagreement here. In any case, it’s worth keeping in mind that fact that Obama’s political incentive structure on this issue doesn’t fully line up with the national good.

* Mystery of the jobless recovery solved: there wasn’t a recovery. More here. Nearly everything that has gone wrong during the Obama administration stems from this single original sin:

The second perhaps more important point is that by the fall of 2009, the Obama Administration had already decided the recession was so yesterday that it was time to shift into deficit-reduction mode. Stimulus was out, austerity was in.

…Why is that important now? You can draw a straight line from the President’s decision in the fall of 2009 to the current default crisis. I don’t want to downplay the impact of the Republican Party taking over control of the House in the 2010 elections — obviously that was a pivotal moment — but the 2010 elections were contested on a battlefield of the GOP’s choosing: that spending was wildly out of control, deficits were threatening the stability of the economy, and long-term debt would strangle the country. The President basically agreed, ceding vast acreage of political, rhetorical and policy ground to the Republicans.

* Boehner’s next plan is even less viable. America!

* And today’s blogpost of the day: Reality as Failed State.

The point, for the climate denier, is not that the truth should be sought with open-minded sincerity – it is that he has declared the independence of his corner of reality from control by the overarching, techno-scientific consensus reality. He has withdrawn from the reality forced upon him and has retreated to a more comfortable, human-sized bubble.

In these terms, the denier’s retreat from consensus reality approximates the role of the cellular insurgents in Afghanistan vis-a-vis the American occupying force: this overarching behemoth I rebel against may well represent something larger, more free, more wealthy, more democratic, or more in touch with objective reality, but it has been imposed upon me (or I feel it has), so I am going to withdraw from it into illogic, emotion and superstition and from there I am going to declare war upon it…

Via that state of states, MeFi.

Boehnerdämmerung

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With Boehner unable to pass even his own debt-ceiling bill, much less a reasonable one, Jack Belkin is talking Plan Bs. In addition to the Fourteenth Amendment option I’ve been hammering for months, there’s also something else a lot of people have suddenly started talking up, platinum-coin seigniorage:

Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there’s a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.

Ironically, there’s no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.

In the meantime: NRO’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin loses it. So does Joe Klein. Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame. The end of John Boehner. Boehner’s Three-Legged Stool of Doom. And from the Dep’t of Very, Very, Obvious Observations:

If in fact the debt limit is not raised well beyond the August 2 target date, and the economy suffers the severe blow that experts, Democratic politicians, and most Republican politicians believe is likely to happen — the dissenting Republican politicians such as Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Louie Gohmert (and other insiders) will not, in fact, admit that they were wrong about it. Instead, they will blame Barack Obama for implementing the debt limit badly. And they will do so no matter how he implemented it (I’d say that would include if he did it precisely how they had advised, which would be true, except that I believe their position is mathematically impossible, so it won’t be happening).

What’s more, and this is only slightly less obvious and slightly less certain, they will almost certainly not be penalized within the GOP for being wrong. Indeed, what’s far more likely is that if, as virtually all economists and budget experts currently insist, failure to raise the debt limit causes economic disaster, the likely effect within the GOP will be to enhance the prospects of those who claim that the experts don’t know what they’re talking about — and any post-limit disaster will be considered yet another sign that the experts don’t know what they’re talking about.

Thursday Links

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* BREAKING: John Boehner doesn’t have the votes for even a purely symbolic raising of the debt ceiling. I’m predicting Obama’s lawyers rediscover the Fourteenth Amendment by late Monday afternoon.

* Our bosses are starting to notice: Roach Says Chinese Officials ‘Appalled’ by U.S. Debt Impasse.

Roach cited an unnamed Chinese policy maker as saying in mid-July that “we understand politics, but your government’s continued recklessness is astonishing.”

* The U.S. now has less cash on hand than Apple.

* Limbaugh and Fox bang the table in response to record-breaking temperatures this month.

* Decadence watch: Danny DeVito Open To The Idea of Twins 2.

* This American Life‘s episode on patent law this week was excellent; here’s a response from the company at the heart of its critique.

* Your tweet of the day from Christopher Newfield: “The 13 worst-paying college majors — all are about helping other people or studying deep human needs.”

* Theory fight! Eagleton v. Spivak.

* And Will Arnett says the Arrested Development movie is still happening. Don’t break my heart, Mitch…

Back Home Just in Time for the Economic Collapse Links

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* Fantasy Premier League is starting up again! Email me for our league code or leave a request in the comments.

* My old friend Julie takes the critical thinking skills she honed on the Randolph High School debate team and takes them to the Center for American Progress with a piece on the war on diversity education.

* Jaimee reviews #13 and #14 in the Carolina Wren Press poetry series.

The final section of Pratt’s collection calls on us to transcend our economic predicaments. “Street of Broken Dreams” delves into the mortgage crisis: “No way to tell who owns my neighborhood homes/ until the for-sale-by-bank signs grow overnight.” It is a poem that celebrates the people who resisted their neighborhood home foreclosures, ending with their imagined chants: “We demand. Not rabble and rabid, not shadow, not terror,/ the neighbors stand and say: The world is ours, ours, ours.”

* Also in breaking Jaimee news: her pop culture icons will be hanging in Bean Trader’s on 9th Street starting August 1.

* America eats its future: Debt Ceiling Plans Take Aim At Graduate Student Loans.

* Not-so-post-racial America: As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.

* And House Democrats are finally starting to say what I’ve been saying all along. Even if the Republicans are capable of delivering any deal at all—which is by no means clear—there’s no deal they can offer that’s better than eliminating the debt ceiling altogether in one fell swoop. And as I’ve been saying eliminating the debt ceiling completely is now the only way left to calm the markets and prevent a potentially catastrophic downgrade:

Asian stock markets fell Thursday as uncertainty over the U.S. debt ceiling debate continued to weigh market sentiment, while concerns over a stronger yen dragged exporters in Tokyo.

“The scary part of the story is the fact that markets have not priced-in the U.S. defaulting on its debt. Should the unthinkable happen in the next week then a throw back to the chaos of 2008 would again become a reality,” said CMC Markets analyst Ben Le Brun. “Should the majority of opinion be correct and the U.S. does avoid a default, global markets do appear as if they are positioned for a relief rally of sorts. Until then investors should brace themselves for more pain.”

Correct Answer

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Former President Bill Clinton says that he would invoke the so-called constitutional option to raise the nation’s debt ceiling “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me” in order to prevent a default, should Congress and the President fail to achieve agreement before the August 2 deadline.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

Debt Ceiling Alignment Chart

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Earlier today @rortybomb asked for a D&D alignment chart on the debt ceiling fight. I thought this was a pretty great idea, and had some free time. Here goes:

Thursday Night Links

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Destroying the Republic in Order to Save It

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Very bad news from the White House today as the Obama administration is now floating an even more ambitious austerity package than Republicans have even been asking for. There’s a lot of debate about whether this is an earnest attempt to compromise with nihilists, a poison pill, what Obama genuinely wants, or (in the words of one intrepid Talking Points Memo reader) “mutual positioning to try to win what is seen as an inevitable post-apocalypse blame game.” Regardless of the intent, it’s truly obscene; the right answer to this mess is staring them in the face but they simply refuse to take it.

And Brutus Is an Honorable Man

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If I didn’t know better, I’d almost have to think Republicans aren’t negotiating in good faith:

So when the GOP’s economic policy team sat down to make the strongest case they could for growth-inducing deficit reduction, they recommended a mix an 85:15 mix, not a 100:0 mix. And then, when the Obama administration agreed to an 83:17 mix, the Republican leadership walked out of the room and demanded that taxes be excluded from the deal altogether. How do you negotiate with that?

Mr. President, it’s time for Plan B.

UPDATE: Jonathan Chait takes aim at the only person I’ve seen arguing against the wisdom of this plan, who is weirdly also Ezra Klein:

Indeed, it’s not even clear that the Republican leadership actually wants the enormous and destructive power it now demands. Its base may be demanding a debt ceiling showdown, out of specific opposition to Obama and general ignorance of how the debt ceiling works. But John Boehner knows full well that we can’t just ignore the debt ceiling. If Obama successfully asserts the power to ignore the debt ceiling vote, then he’ll allow the debt negotiations to proceed in a less fraught environment, and have defused a massive source of ongoing political instability. Cutting a deal to lift the debt ceiling may soothe the markets more in the short term, but it merely pushes the political risk further back.

More than that, Ezra’s argument (he has a second attempt here) is incoherent at a fundamental level. Whatever the markets might infer about the dysfunction of the American political system from Obama’s declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional, there’s no way it could ever be worse than default, which would catapult us long past inference, and simply remove all doubt.

Cutting the Gordian Knot, Debt Ceiling Edition

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In the event that congressional irresponsibility makes default impossible to avoid, he should order the secretary of the Treasury to simply disregard the debt limit and sell whatever securities are necessary to raise cash to pay the nation’s debts. They are protected by the full faith and credit of the United States and preventing default is no less justified than using American military power to protect against an armed invasion without a congressional declaration of war.

Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that the debt limit is statutory law, which is trumped by the Constitution which has a little known provision that relates to this issue. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment says, “The validity of the public debt of the United States…shall not be questioned.” This could easily justify the sort of extraordinary presidential action to avoid default that I am suggesting.

Garrett Epps, Bruce Bartlett, Jonathan Zasloff, and Matt Yglesias all argue that the administration can just call the GOP’s bluff on the debt ceiling, with Zasloff going so far as to argue no one would have legal standing to challenge Treasury if it did so:

But if the administration takes the position that it must continue to borrow to comply with the Fourteenth Amendment, who would stop it? Put another way, who would have standing to sue? Taxpayers clearly would not. Individual members of Congress? No: the Supreme Court’s 1997 decision in Raines v. Byrd would seem to foreclose that. Congress as a whole? Perhaps; but what would it require for Congress as a whole to bring the lawsuit? A joint resolution would be blocked by Senate Democrats. That leaves the House to bring the lawsuit, and one could easily argue that one house would not have standing any more than individual members of Congress would.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm