Tag Archives: Obama Administration

In which I am distracted, and libertarians infiltrate polite society

I’m a bit preoccupied. My Better Half reached her due date yesterday, and we are anxiously awaiting whatever comes next.

So, in the meantime, while I’m trying to get my “head in the game,” here’s some stuff to expand your knowledge and entertain your senses. Or maybe vice-versa. Also, libertarian views on the rise:

  • Said Judge Posner, of an alleged serial spammer’s courtroom presentation. “It’s not only incompetent, it’s grotesque. You’ve got damages jumping around from $11 million to $130 million to $122 million to $33 million. In fact, the damages are probably zero.” Timothy B. Lee at Ars Technica.
  • “Montgomery County officials have allowed the children to reopen their lemonade stand, by relocating it about 100-feet away from the intersection where it was set up Thursday.” This after they fine the tots $500 for their enterprising ways. WUSA9.com
  • Wanna go to Harvard? Apparently the White House is a good stepping stone. “About a half-dozen staffers will begin at the premier law school this fall, bringing a rare skill set, a golden Rolodex and tales of the corridors of power to Harvard Yard. The exodus of the younger White House staffers marks the first major departure of junior aides in the Obama administration.” Politico.
  • This is for you Alex (as you consider forcibly moving your fellow Americans to Somalia): Ilya Somin wonders if the public is becoming more libertarian. “Obviously, the vast majority of the public is not nearly as libertarian as most libertarian activists and intellectuals are. But it does seem to be more libertarian than the median voter of the recent past.” The Volokh Conspiracy.
  • If Ilya ain’t enough for you, the NYT column FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) is getting in on the action, too, citing a CNN poll that seems to show a shift.

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalizationon the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

And, just for kicks, here’s a graph:

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Thoughts on “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward

Cover of "Obama's Wars"

Cover of Obama's Wars

I just finished “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward. I don’t know that I feel ready to review a book by Woodward, but I do have some thoughts after reading it. Continue reading

Recoveries Comparison: Reagan and Obama

If what you are doing isn't working, perhaps it's time to try something else?

The next US attorney for Utah: a Republican?

With David Schwendiman no longer a nominee for US attorney from Utah, the Obama Administration has had to look elsewhere for the lead federal prosecutor in Utah.  And their gaze seems tohave fallen on Scott Burns, Iron County attorney and former candidate for Utah attorney general.  His post recent position is as executive director of the National District Attorneys Association in Alexandria, Va.  He’s also a Republican, a fact that has some Democrats in Congress, as well as Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Todd Taylor, less than happy.  Although he did confirm that Burns is being vetted and that the Department of Justice was speaking to several people in the state, Taylor did not confirm that anyone had called him.

However, we don’t have to guess what Taylor would say if the Obama Administration did ask his opinion.  He told the Salt Lake Tribune quite clearly:

Taylor was not pleased that the administration’s focus apparently has shifted to Burns, a Republican who twice ran for Utah attorney general and lost both times to Democrat Jan Graham.

“If they were just going to pick another [Republican],” Taylor said, “I don’t know why they didn’t stick with Brett Tolman [U.S. Attorney under the Bush Administration],” the past U.S. attorney who stepped down in December.

“Scott Burns is a lousy, horrible choice. This is a guy who went through two very divisive statewide races and lost both of them,” he said. “He does not enjoy the confidence of the people of Utah. When a Republican can lose a statewide race twice, this is someone who is clearly not acceptable.”

The opinion was not necessarily shared by Utah Republican Party Chair Dave Hansen, who said that Burns is a “very capable, very competent person. … He has that valuable experience working in Washington[.]”  But Hansen was as in the dark as Taylor about why the Obama Administration would nominate Burns, or any Republican, for that matter.

Neither Hansen nor Taylor were alone in their ignorance.  When contacted by the Salt Lake Tribune, Congressman Matheson’s office, which had helped nominate Schwendiman, was out of the loop, too.

“After the White House declined to move Schwendiman’s nomination forward, Matheson said, ‘Well, we’ll put forward another name,’ ” [Matheson spokesman] Heyrend said. “But before he put forward another name he wanted to check with the White House and find out what their process was and that conversation hasn’t taken place.”

The US attorney’s office in Utah has been temporarily run by Carlie Christensen, a career Department of Justice attorney.  He’s been covering the job since Tolman stepped down last year.

So the big question is: why Scott Burns?  Typically, U.S. attorneys are nominated by the current administration in consultation with the elected representatives of the state, especially those from the President’s party.  In a red state such as is Utah, that leaves only Congressman Jim Matheson.  If he’s not consulted, and Todd Taylor–the state party’s executive director–has not been consulted, who have the President’s people been speaking with?

Another way of looking at this might be: who owes Scott Burns a favor sufficient that he can obtain the nomination for the US attorney spot in Utah?  How does a Republican get nominated by a Democrat?  Is Obama really more bi-partisan than his critiques claim?

But most of all–where’s the consultation with locals?

(Thanks to Main Justice, the Salt Lake Tribune, and ABC4)

See also:

President Obama responds to HCR challenges

I’ve written before about the constitutional challenges to the Obama healthcare reforms.  As reported over at Paper Chase

The Obama administration is also facing health care lawsuits in Virginia and Florida, filed by numerous state attorneys general. Last month, Georgia joined 18 other states [JURIST report] in a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] filed [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website]. The 18 other states involved in the suit are Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, and Arizona. Seven more states are set to join the lawsuit [WP report] Friday. Meanwhile, Virginia has filed a separate lawsuit after that state’s legislature passed a bill barring mandatory individual health coverage [JURIST report].

Well, the first response to any of the lawsuits has finally been filed.  In response to a suit iby the Thomas More Law Center, the Obama Administration filed a brief in the Eastern District of Michigan asserting that the law was well within the powers of Congress to regulate interstate commerce, an unsurprising argument.  Among other things:

Congress determined that the health care system in the United States is in crisis, spawning public expense and private tragedy. After decades of failed attempts, Congress enacted comprehensive health care reform to deal with this overwhelming national problem. The minimum coverage provision is vital to that comprehensive scheme. Enjoining it would thwart this reform and reignite the crisis that the elected branches of government acted to forestall.

This sounds like the argument to uphold the government’s argument is that regardless of constitutionality, upholding the law is crucial to holding off the crisis that the law is intended to solve.  OR, the ends justify the means, so don’t mess with the ends.

Do they?  Your take?

(via Paper Chase)