The Senate spent last night—all night—focusing attention on climate change and the need for new legislation. As The Hill reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used the opportunity to attack the Koch brothers:
“It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis — the oil baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress — have a valid point of view,” Reid said Monday evening. “But despite overwhelming scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion, climate change deniers still exist. They exist in this country and in this Congress.”
The implication, of course, is that the “un-American” Koch brothers (and those who Senator Reid has described as “addicted to Koch”) are responsible for the failure to move forward on climate change (and all other things pure and good).
Of course, the House did pass a climate change bill (Waxman-Markey) in 2010, only to have the bill declared DOA by…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As the New York Times reported (July 22, 2010):
Bowing to political reality, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate would not take up legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions blamed as a cause of climate change, but would instead pursue a more limited measure focused on responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and tightening energy efficiency standards.
“We know where we are,” Mr. Reid told reporters after reviewing the state of energy legislation with Senate Democrats and administration officials. “We know that we don’t have the votes.”
Continue Reading »
Posted in Congress, Energy Policy | 3 Comments »
Russia’s annexation of Crimea, de facto or de jure, is likely to spur violence in the peninsula. “Crimean Tatar representative” in Lviv, Ukraine Alim Aliyev is quoted as saying, “Tatars will launch a guerrilla war against the Russian forces if they do not pack up and leave the region.” While he could be communicating a mere bluff, I wouldn’t count on it, and I doubt Putin will either. Crimean Tatars currently have a low risk of secessionist insurgency, because they are just 12% of the region’s population, but they also see themselves as the indigenous population of the region and deny any other ethnic group’s claims to a homeland in the region. For those reasons, and because of a history of repression at the hands of Stalin, Crimean Tatars support Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea and reject the small ethnic Russian majority’s claims. If Russia effectively annexes Crimea, Tatar violence is likely to flare up. While the massive Russian military will be able to crush organized resistance, I doubt Putin wants to create another Chechnya, with the attendant risks of future terrorist attacks on Russian civilians.
Steve Saideman and Bill Ayres’ research suggests that irredentism is rarely consummated because it requires an infrequent coincidence of interests: a minority that wants to be rescued and a powerful state willing to pay costs to rescue it. Rescuing Crimea is likely to have significant long-term costs for Russia, and if Putin acts rationally, he will prefer a negotiated settlement permitting a military withdrawal from the peninsula over any kind of annexation.
In other news: the Crimean referendum will have two options: annexation by Russia and independence. Rejecting both and remaining within Ukraine is not an option for voters.
Posted in international relations, interstate conflict, Post-Soviet politics, secession | Tagged crimea, irredentism, putin, Russia, ukraine | 1 Comment »
With midterm elections approaching, the White House has again delayed some of the more unpopular portions of the Affordable Care Act. As the NYT reports, the announced delays go much further than the earlier reprieves,
“essentially stalling for two more years one of the central tenets of the much-debated law, which was supposed to eliminate what White House officials called substandard insurance and junk policies.
The extension could help Democrats in tight midterm election races because it may avoid the cancellation of policies that would otherwise have occurred at the height of the political campaign season this fall.”
As Megan McArdle (who predicted this outcome months ago) concludes:
This is President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the program for which he will be remembered. And he doesn’t have the courage to defend it, even when he is no longer facing re-election. If he won’t stand up for the hard choices his law requires, he can’t think that anyone else will either.
A few quick questions:
- Why should the Republican Congress waste anymore time voting to repeal Obamacare (number 50 occurred this week) when the President seems quite capable of repealing it on his own through executive action?
- How much of a law can a president delay and rewrite before someone begins to suspect that he has no intention to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”?
- What will keep a future administration from adopting the same tactics to delay implementation (forever)? One assumes there will always be another election on the horizon.
Posted in health care | 1 Comment »
My favorite quote from this weekend came from Secretary of State John Kerry (Meet the Press, March 2). The subject: Russia and the Ukraine.
This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century… you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests.
It appears that David Gregory failed to see the irony in this statement.
Posted in foreign policy | Leave a Comment »
Are libertarians and classical liberals who move to New Hampshire radical extremist anarchist colonizing subversive treasonous subhuman alien life forms?
There’s been some nasty politics in Bedford, New Hampshire, where a member of the local political establishment has been hurling epithets on his cable access show at two locals of libertarian views who moved to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project and are trying to get active in local government. There’s also been some sort of mailer or flyer going around attacking these candidates for their civic engagement.
Of course, there are anarchists in the FSP, but as far as I know these two are not anarchists at all. Even if they are, if I were a town resident, I’d like to have one or two hardcore, hard-working anarchists on the council and the school board just to keep the rest of the establishment honest. We live in a world where political leaders can smear you as an anarchist just for trying to find efficiencies in government. Don’t we want someone to turn a hard, skeptical eye toward government programs to make sure they are as lean and efficient as possible?
In other news, the FSP is also being covered again in the New Hampshire Union-Leader. A quote from UNH political scientist Dante Scala:
“I do think they have been part of the debate about the direction of the Republican Party,” Scala said.
Scala said Warden’s estimates about the number of Free Staters elected to the Legislature “sounds reasonable.”
“It’s possible even a small group could have an influence that’s out of proportion to its size if we’re talking about people who are kind of elites; by that I mean people who really want to get involved in political activism in New Hampshire,” Scala said.
Posted in state politics | Tagged anarchists, Free State Project, libertarians, new hampshire | 4 Comments »
Gazeta.pl reports that the majority of the Crimean parliament did not vote in favor of a referendum on independence, but that armed men prevented a quorum from attending, allowing a pro-Russian rump to pass the measure. (For my translation, I am relying on Jacek Rostowski on Twitter.) In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian crowds face determined Ukrainian nationalist, pro-Maidan forces.
Russia’s military occupation of Crimea should not be taken as evidence of autochthonous secessionism. Instead, Russia seems to be using a minority of secessionist diehards to serve as an excuse for, possibly, annexing Crimea de facto to Russia, in more or less the same way as it did with Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. The main differences between that episode and this one are that Abkhazia and South Ossetia had already established de facto independence, and Georgia initiated the conflict with Russia. Thus, Russia’s intervention in Crimea is a riskier gamble. It may indicate, however, just how threatened Russia feels by a future in which Ukraine joins the EU and perhaps even NATO.
Update: TAC’s Dan McCarthy plausibly argues that Russia would prefer to use its military control over Crimea as a bargaining chip to ensure a subservient Ukraine.
Posted in interstate conflict, secession | Tagged irredentism, Russia, ukraine, war | 1 Comment »
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week, addressing the nonenforcement of the laws. In Turley’s words: “We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There has been a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system.” This testimony (available here) addressed potential corrective measures. His testimony of December 3, 2013 (available here) lays out the core argument (all subsequent quotes are from the December transcript). Nonenforcement, Turley argues, “effectively reduce[s] the legislative process to a series of options for presidential selection ranging from negation to full enforcement.” The broader ramifications:
The current claims of executive power will outlast this president and members must consider the implications of the precedent that they are now creating through inaction and silence…. Despite the fact that I once voted for President Obama, personal admiration is no substitute for the constitutional principles at stake in this controversy. When a president claims the inherent power of both legislation and enforcement, he becomes a virtual government unto himself. He is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he becomes the very danger that the Constitution was designed to avoid.
As Turley concludes (after quoting from Madison’s Federalist 51): “For decades…Congress has allowed its core authority to drain into a fourth branch of federal agencies with increasing insularity and independence. It has left Congress intact but inconsequential in some disputes. If this trend continues unabated, Congress will be left like some Maginot Line on the constitutional landscape – a sad relic of a once tripartite system of equal branches.”
Both of these transcripts are worth reading, particularly if one is concerned about the expansion of presidential powers that we have witnessed in the past few administrations.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged separation of powers | 2 Comments »