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Category: General

Public Disagreement Is Not Intimidation

[ 79 ] July 28, 2014 |

godfather-horse-scene-40308“This blog post made me look ridiculous!  And a Chief Justice of the United States cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous!”

Not that I can blame Halbig defenders from wanting to create diversions from the argument on the merits, but really:

Little did I know that within hours of the D.C. Circuit’s decision, Ezra Klein voxsplained how the Chief Justice would not rule in Halbig’s favor because horrible things would happen. Or did Ezra voxtimidate the Chief Justice Justice not to rule in Halbig’s favor because horrible things would happen…

There is a blurred line between voxsplaining and voxtimidating, that pundits walked delicately in the runup to NFIB v. Sebelius. Now, it is a well-worn path. And there is one key difference. We know the Chief blinked in 2012. Why should we think he will act any differently in 2015. Whether the full court press on the Chief  worked in 2012, it is certainly worth a shot again.

McArdle has tried a similar technique of preemption (“This is the Washington equivalent of the old lady in the movies who puffs out her bosom, settles her pince-nez higher up on her nose, and huffs, ‘You wouldn’t DARE!’”)   And we saw similar arguments in the run up to Sebelius.

But this is all silly, and is also irritating because it implies bad faith on the part of people making both predictive and normative arguments that do not conform to the preferences of the 25% of federal judges who have so far bought the most recent ad hoc challenge to the ACA.  As it happens, I disagree with Ezra about the likelihood that the Supreme Court will uphold Halbig (or, more likely, reverses the D.C. Circuit once it hears the case en banc and laughs the argument out of court.)  I think Trende and Yglesias have a much more accurate read on the chances that the Court would destroy the private exchanges in a majority of states.  Nonetheless, I see no reason to believe that Ezra isn’t arguing what he really thinks, and his expressing his views on the matter does not constitute “intimidation” or “Voxtimidation” or even “Kleintimidation.”   Fatally absent from such arguments are identifications of what precise form of leverage pundits have over Supreme Court decision-making.  (There’s the additional problem that the theory fails to explain the vast majority of Roberts’s jurisprudence.)

I suppose another implication here is that some critics of Hilbig have been a bit shrill.  (I certainly plead guilty.)  But this isn’t “intimidation”; it’s “people who strongly disagree for obvious reasons.”  The consequences of Halbig, as the majority conceded, would be serious and dire if it is upheld.  The IRS, which is by law owed deference over reasonable judgments, has interpreted the law as making the subsidies available on federally-established state exchanges.  The majority had a high burden of proof to overcome, and yet Halbig‘s reading of the statute is nonsensical on its face.

And, again, there’s the striking absence of people involved in the legislation who agree with the court’s ruling.  The fact that no supporters of the law were persuaded by the commerce clause arguments against the ACA doesn’t mean much in itself; supporters of the ACA didn’t write or ratify the relevant constitutional provision, and it was theoretically possible that they were construing it too broadly.  But Halbig is a statutory interpretation case — the text in question was written and enacted exclusively by supporters of the law. It was by people who wanted it to work, not by the people inventing one legal argument after another to try to make it fail.  If the statute unambiguously denied subsidies to people obtaining insurance on the federally-established exchanges — and this is the standard Chevron requires — don’t you think this reading would have, at a minimum, a substantial constituency among those involved in drafting and ratifying the ACA?  But, once, again, here is an exhaustive list of this highly relevant group who have ever expressed anything that could be construed as agreeing with the Halbig reading:

  • Jonathan Gruber in two YouTube clips from 2010 2012.

Here is everyone in that category who disagrees:

  • Jonathan Gruber in his contemporaneous data calculations
  • Jonathan Gruber in 2014
  • Everyone else

Given this context, it is not exactly surprising that the assertion that the ACA unambiguously established a federal fallback that was designed to fail has met with strong resistance.  This intense disagreement is not strategic; it’s genuine, and it’s not some kind of bad form to express it.  If supporters of this lawsuit think that they can attempt to deny health insurance to millions of people with a remarkably feeble argument and have it treated as a clever legal puzzle, they’re going to be very disappointed.

The New Gilded Age

[ 16 ] July 28, 2014 |

For the plutocrats, the real outrage is that income inequality hasn’t grown by more. Give it another 5 years:

Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.

The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.

The Seafarers

[ 11 ] July 27, 2014 |

I was unaware that Stanley Kubrick had made a documentary about the Seafarers International Union in 1953. I have not seen it, but it is now available here, although I will have to wait until I am back in the U.S. to watch it.


[ 31 ] July 27, 2014 |

Sarah Palin should win the Nobel Prize for Grifting.

Among the Dead-Enders

[ 170 ] July 27, 2014 |

Shorter Ann Althouse: We must maintain a horribly costly, arbitrary, racially discriminatory drug prohibition regime…for the children!!!!!!  And…science!!!  If the case of tobacco has proven anything, there is no way of regulating second-hand smoke and access to minors without throwing lots of people in prison.  Hopefully you will all be able to think rationally rather than being consumed by random emotional impulses like me.  And if you don’t like these non-sequiturs, I have more!

What Is a “Policy Imagination”?

[ 51 ] July 27, 2014 |

There were many annoying things about the news media’s recent re-discovery of the new conservative intellectuals – among them, the argument from Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry and his ilk that the reformicons are too the vanguard of the new party of ideas because “the current Democratic agenda…[is] so tired. Raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on high earners, tightening environmental regulation — these are all ideas from the ’60s.”

To begin with, there’s Krugman’s rejoinder that all of the reformicon’s ideas are basically warmed-over Reagan era policies, with perhaps a soupçon of maybe going forward, we ought to give a smidge more tax cuts to the middle class rather than to the 1%. (An accurate assessment, I would add.)  There’s also the fact that, well, the conditions that justified those policies then have come around again: the minimum wage was allowed to stagnate for over a decade under Republican rule, so we need to raise it so it can actually reduce working poverty; inequality has reached heights not seen since the Great Depression, so we may need the kinds of tax rates that brought it back down between the 30s and the 70s.  Environmental regulation is needed, not for retro cool, but because we’re facing a climate change crisis that requires it.

On the other hand, I do think there is something to a different argument, sometimes made from the left of the Democratic Party (and from within the Democratic Party’s left), that the Democratic agenda falls a bit short of a full-fledged weltanschauung. In general, the Democratic Party offers worthy solutions – the minimum wage , for example – to an important problem (working poverty), but without thinking in a detailed fashion about what we want the world to look like, how we get from here to there, and how wage policy fits into the larger objective of an egalitarian economy.

And it’s in these kind of gaps that the policy imagination matters.

Read more…

A global law library of Alexandrian proportions

[ 109 ] July 27, 2014 |

So many questions.

I recommend clicking around the linked web site on your own, but here are a few representative excerpts:

The reindeer (carribou) is the mascot of the Alaska Law School. Never before has the reindeer been chosen as a mascot by any educational institution of higher learning that we know of, and we at the Alaska Law School felt it was high time that this majestic creature receive proper credit! The reindeer is not a predator, but does do a lot of practicing and playing, much like aspiring attorneys. Consequently, REINDEER GAMES is the official title of our Moot Court competition.

This is a photo of Alaska from space. It looks like a polar bear having a drink lying back, smiling and relaxing on the top of a Palm tree!

Connie Hunter, Director of Admissions, is a woman of ecclectic accomplishment. In addition to her legal experience, she is in Who’s Who of Inventors, studied Psychology with B.F.Skinner while a student at Harvard, knows how to fly planes and even judges the academy awards.


Spring, 2013, the Chair of the American Bar Association Law School Accreditation Committee, Randy Courrier invited ALS Founder, Daun DeVore to the committee’s annual meeting, August 9, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Provisional accreditation is expected to begin Michelmas term, 2015 with the arrival of the first student. Also, ALS plans to create The Alaska Law School World Law Library, a global law library of Alexandrian proportions, comprised of hard copy law books, many in their original languages world wide.

While ALS works to obtain a land grant in the Fairbanks area large enough to contain these operations, two ships, a gift to the Alaska Law School by an anonymous donor will assist in the acquistion of this epic endeavor! It will also have enough space to give law school classes and seminars.

Photo of ships here.

h/t Law School Tuition Bubble

It’s A Fine Line Between Lazy Hackery And Outright Plagiarism

[ 18 ] July 26, 2014 |

On Benny Johnson, I will turn things over to the prescient Alex Pareene:

Is it still plagiarism when no one at either end of the act is using their grown-up words anymore?


Companies that Have Their Clothing Made in Factories Where Workers Die

[ 14 ] July 26, 2014 |

REI (PDF) which works through North Face, another company who has their clothing made in factories where workers die.

A bspencer Post that DOES NOT Reference Something 30-Years-Old

[ 26 ] July 26, 2014 |

Some of you may know that there is a new hashtag/tumblr site featuring women who are “against feminism.” But most of you probably didn’t know about Confused Cats Against Feminism. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Sadly, my cat is against feminism too. “Feminism” means my arm, right?

The True Meaning of Tragedy

[ 340 ] July 26, 2014 |

The real tragedy going on in Israel-Palestine is not the hundreds of dead or the kids the Israelis are killing by bombing Gaza’s schools, or the fact that Israel is the moral equivalent of apartheid-era South Africa (increasingly so too given the attack on public debate and the left within Israel). Although all of those things are true, the real tragedy is how the events are affecting rich expats partying in Tel Aviv:

For the 20,000 or so young internationals who call Tel Aviv home, the city’s world-renowned nightlife is a key draw. But many, like Fruchter, are simply not in the mood to party with the sounds of sirens wailing in the background and the death toll rising by the hour in Israel’s latest war in Gaza.

Athena Karp, a 28-year-old former Philadelphian who runs her own startup in the city, says her usually very active social life has slowed down in recent weeks, but especially since the Israeli ground incursion, when it began affecting her friends, colleagues and employees more directly. “We were supposed to have a going away party for a friend who was leaving the country, and we decided to cancel it,” reports Karp, who moved to Tel Aviv two years ago. “A few of my friends also had birthdays, but we didn’t throw any parties for them. We just felt this wasn’t a time for celebrations.”

So. Very. Sad.

A Thing Somebody Actually Wrote

[ 75 ] July 26, 2014 |

Hey dude, if you’re going to go all leftier-than-though with me on the subject of sex work, you might wanna ease up on the word “whore.” 

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