Friday, July 30, 2010

ACLU: If you liked the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive, you'll love the bigger and badder Obama Unitary Executive

This week the ACLU released a disturbing, but depressingly unsurprising report documenting the permanent enshrinement of the Bush/Cheney definition of the Unitary Executive by the Obama administration. With the tacit acceptance of the lapdog Democratic Congress, the balance of power between executive and other branches continues to shift heavily to the executive. The report is unsurprising because it was clear to anyone paying attention in the first few weeks of the Obama administration, that his campaign rhetoric of rolling back the Bush/Cheney power grab was just that - empty campaign rhetoric.

The ACLU report "Establishing a New Normal" is summarized here, and the full report linked here [PDF]. The report assesses the civil rights record of the first 18 months of the Obama administration across several civil rights categories and is well worth the read.

Excerpted here - a few of the report highlights lowlights:
TRANSPARENCY
"...the administration has fought to keep secret hundreds of records relating to the Bush administration’s rendition, detention, and interrogation policies. To take just a few of many possible examples, it has fought to keep secret a directive in which President Bush authorized the CIA to establish secret prisons overseas; the Combatant Status Review Transcripts in which former CIA prisoners describe the abuse they suffered in the CIA’s secret prisons... the administration has also fought to withhold information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Indeed, the Obama administration has released less information about prisoners held at Bagram Air Base than the Bush administration released about prisoners held at Guantánamo."

TORTURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
"The truth is that the Obama administration has gradually become an obstacle to accountability for torture. It is not simply that, as discussed above, the administration has fought to keep secret some of the documents that would allow the public to better understand how the torture program was conceived, developed, and implemented. It has also sought to extinguish lawsuits brought by torture survivors—denying them recognition as victims, compensation for their injuries, and even the opportunity to present their cases."

DETENTION
"Of far greater significance than the administration’s failure to meet its own one-year deadline is its embrace of the theory underlying the Guantánamo detention regime: that the Executive Branch can detain militarily—without charge or trial—terrorism suspects captured far from a conventional battlefield... we fear that if a precedent is established that terrorism suspects can be held without trial within the United States, this administration and future administrations will be tempted to bypass routinely the constitutional restraints of the criminal justice system in favor of indefinite military detention. This is a danger that far exceeds the disappointment of seeing the Guantánamo prison stay open past the one-year deadline. To be sure, Guantánamo should be closed, but not at the cost of enshrining the principle of indefinite detention in a global war without end."

TARGETED KILLING
"President Obama has authorized a program that contemplates the killing of suspected terrorists—including U.S. citizens —located far away from zones of actual armed conflict. If accurately described, this program violates international law and, at least insofar as it affects U.S. citizens, it is also unconstitutional... the government has failed to prove the lawfulness of imprisoning individual Guantánamo detainees in some three quarters of the cases cases that have been reviewed by the federal courts thus far, even though the government had years to gather and analyze evidence for those cases and had itself determined that those prisoners were detainable. This experience should lead the administration—and all Americans—to reject out of hand a program that would invest the CIA or the U.S. military with the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield."

MILITARY COMMISSIONS
"The administration’s embrace of military commission trials at Guantánamo, albeit with procedural improvements, has been a major disappointment. Instead of calling a permanent halt to the failed effort to create an entirely new court system for Guantánamo detainees, President Obama encouraged an effort to redraft the legislation creating the commissions and signed that bill into law... the existence of a second-class system of justice with a poor track record and no international legitimacy undermines the entire enterprise of prosecuting terrorism suspects. So long as the federal government can choose between two systems of justice, one of which (the federal criminal courts) is fair and legitimate, while the other (the military commissions) tips the scales in favor of the prosecution, both systems will be tainted..."

SPEECH AND SURVEILLANCE
"...over the last eighteen months, President Obama’s administration has defended the FISA Amendments Act in the same way that the last administration did so: by insisting that the statute is effectively immune from judicial review. Individuals can challenge the statute’s statute’s constitutionality, the administration has proposed, only if they can prove that their own communications were monitored under the statute; since the administration refuses to disclose whose communications have been monitored, the statute cannot be challenged at all. In some ways, the administration’s defense of the statute is as troubling as the statute itself. The Obama administration has been reluctant to yield any of the expansive surveillance powers claimed by the last administration. It has pushed for the reauthorization of some of the Patriot Act’s most problematic surveillance provisions."

WATCH LISTS
"...rather than reform the watch lists the Obama administration has expanded their use and resisted the introduction of minimal due process safeguards to prevent abuse and protect civil liberties. The Obama administration has added thousands of names to the No Fly List, sweeping up many innocent individuals. As a result, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have been stranded abroad, unable to return to the United States. Others are unable to visit family on the opposite end of the country or abroad. Individuals on the list are not told why they are on the list and thus have no meaningful opportunity to object or to rebut the government’s allegations. The result is an unconstitutional scheme under which an individual’s right to travel and, in some cases, a citizen’s ability to return to the United States, is under the complete control of entirely unaccountable bureaucrats relying on secret evidence and using secret standards."

CONCLUSION
"...if the Obama administration does not effect a fundamental break with the Bush administration’s policies on detention, accountability, and other issues, but instead creates a lasting legal architecture in support of those policies, then it will have ratified, rather than rejected, the dangerous notion that America is in a permanent state of emergency and that core liberties must be surrendered forever."
It is easy to point to the mind-numbing hypocrisy of the liberals and Democrats who railed with righteous indignation about the Bush/Cheney expansion of executive power, only to be complicit in our loss of liberty now. Their deafening silence, mild criticism, or rationalizations of the Obama administration's continued expansion of executive power and consequent institutionalization of the Bush/Cheney Unitary Executive speaks volumes. To be sure there are principled voices on the left that have consistently and clearly pointed to this Obama administration failure - notably Glenn Greenwald, and Jane Hamsher, among others:

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These voices are too few on the left.The first two years of the Obama administration represent a badly squandered opportunity to undo the damage done by the previous.

Much worse than the routine partisan hypocrisy, is the the complete abrogation of constitutional, checks, balances, and oversight responsibilities by our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

What happened to the soaring rhetoric of Senator Patrick Leahy - who campaigned passionately and relentlessy for the restoration of constitutional Habeas Corpus protections in 2006?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: "It grieves me to think that three decades in this body that I stand here in the Senate, knowing that we’re thinking of doing this. It is so wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American. It is designed to ensure the Bush-Cheney administration will never again be embarrassed by a United States Supreme Court decision reviewing its unlawful abuses of power. The Supreme Court said, 'You abused your power.' He said, 'Ha, we'll fix that. We have a rubber stamp, a rubber stamp, Congress, that will just set that aside and give us power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having."
In 2007 this blog again supported the Leahy follow-on effort to restore Habeas Corpus:
"The gutting of the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus is the most notable outstanding assault on civil liberties. Senators Leahy and Spector have just introduced legislation to restore the right without ambiguity and DWSUWF recommends signing the petition to support their efforts. "
If you click on the petition linked in this quote you'll note the referenced campaign on the Leahy website no longer exits, replaced with a milquetoast request to send a letter to your senator requesting support. I guess it is just not as high a priority for Leahy if a Democrat has "power that nobody, no king or anybody else set foot in this land, ever thought of having." I expect Democrats will not be as sanguine about the expanded and institutionalized power of the Obama Unitary Executive when and if a Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin steps behind the wheel of this supercharged presidential machine.

The ACLU report focuses on civil liberties, but the accelerating accretion of executive power over our economic liberties has been equally egregious. I won't belabor the point in this post, but will simply point out the obvious. Regardless of what one thinks of the merits or politics of the legislation, it is beyond argument that Obamacare and Financial Regulation as passed, dramatically increase the power held by the executive branch. Congress granted a charter and vast power to faceless bureaucrats in the executive branch with the unfettered latitude to create and enforce broad new regulations over the healthcare and financial industry. Beyond these laws, even when operating without a firm legal foundation, this administration has also repeatedly demonstrated an eager willingness to push the the boundaries of presidential power.

You'd think, even allowing for partisanship, there would be enough institutional loyalty among our legislators to try to maintain some semblance of balance between the supposedly co-equal legislative and executive branches of government. It is simply not happening. In times of Single Party Rule (as we've had for eight of the last ten years) it is Party Über Alles, and the constitutional checks and balances envisioned by the founders between the executive and legislative branch just fade away. This was true with Republicans in 2000-2006, and it is true with Democrats now.

At the rate that the Senate and House have ceded power to the executive branch over the last decade, combined with the boot-licking deference most legislators offer to an executive of the same party, the legislature might as well vote itself out of existence. Perhaps they could be functionally replaced by a LegOlist e-mail listserv.

The only restraint on executive power today is the judiciary. This is why I have supported and will continue to support Obama nominations to the Supreme Court. My fervent hope is that the new justices will help form a SCOTUS majority that will pull hard on the reigns of the executive branch, declare many of the Bush/Obama administration actions (civil and economic) unconstitutional, and restore some semblance of the rule of law.

Regardless of what you may think of the political leanings of ACLU, they are fighting the good fight for our constitutional protections in the courts and they are doing it regardless of the party in power. They deserve our support. Beyond the courts, the only other way to restrain the extraordinary economic overreach and fiscal irresponsibility of this executive branch is to vote Republican in 2010 and divide this government.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Support Prop 19 - Marijuana prohibition hypocrisy is an expensive indulgence Californians can no longer afford.

Ripped from Tom Meyer

Joseph McNamara, former San Jose Police Chief, makes the case the for Prop 19 in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle:

"I've seen the prohibition's terrible impact at close range. Like an increasing number of law enforcers, I have learned that most bad things about marijuana - especially the violence made inevitable by an obscenely profitable black market - are caused by the prohibition, not by the plant...

Experience and research show that the United States has among the world's harshest marijuana laws, yet our consumption rate leads the world and is twice that of the Netherlands, where cannabis sales to adults have been allowed for decades. Prohibition doesn't keep marijuana away from young people...

No one can dispute that marijuana already is widely available. At least 1 in 10 Californians consumed it in the past year, despite expensive government efforts. The November ballot's Proposition 19: The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 acknowledges this reality and enables us to manage the cannabis market. Furthermore, taxing legal cannabis sales will provide steady funding for local governments that may help avoid layoffs of police and teachers...

When we stop wasting resources on processing hundreds of thousands of low-level possession cases, we'll be able to focus on keeping impaired drivers off the road, to concentrate on violent crime and on making people feel they and their children are safe from random gang and drug-related shootings. At work, employers will retain their rights to fire employees whose drug or alcohol use affects their productivity...

That perhaps brings up the most significant and least considered cost of criminalizing marijuana - turning people into criminals for behavior of which we disapprove, even though it doesn't take others' property or endanger their safety. It is worth remembering that our last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, would have been stigmatized for life and never would have become presidents if they had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and been busted for pot during their reckless youthful days. Countless other Americans weren't so lucky. California voters have an opportunity in November to return reason to our state by decriminalizing adult use of marijuana."
For all practical purposes (except taxation and regulation) marijuana is already a de factco legal intoxicant in this state. It is also the biggest cash crop in the state. Decades and billions wasted on criminal enforcement has done exactly nothing to reduce or restrict it's use. More decades and billions spent on criminal enforcement will do exactly nothing except to waste more resources that are better spent elsewhere.

Yes, legalization will bring some problems. They are social and health problems, not criminal problems. They are manageable. Tax the weed and put programs in place to deal with social and health issues. Save our enforcement, judicial, and penal resources for dealing with real criminals.

Let's try something new in California.

Let's treat this issue honestly and like adults.

Let's treat one another like adults who can be trusted to be responsible for our own lives, as long as we do not harm one another.

Let's pass Prop 19.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Do you ever wonder how the rest of the world views our 2012 presidential selection process?


As I've noted before - the future of mainstream news is Taiwanese animation. This piece from NMA News in Taiwan explains our 2012 Presidential election pregame warm-ups to a Chinese audience.



What is truly frightening... Without understanding one word of Chinese, I completely understand every single frame in this story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gridlock Is Good

UPDATED: 15-July-10

Doyle McManus at the LA Times considers the challenges the GOP must face to press their advantage in November, and the challenges facing the country should they prevail and restore divided government:

A post-November congressional outlook: partisan gridlock
"But there's at least one potential problem for the Republicans: They haven't settled on a unified national message yet — and a quiet civil war is brewing over what, if anything, it should say. In one camp are House conservatives, led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House minority whip, who argue that Republicans won in 1994 because the Contract with America laid out by then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) articulated a coherent message around which candidates and voters could rally... Republicans, reportedly including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), worry about finding a tent large enough to include all GOP viewpoints. Trying to come up with a single platform, they believe, could be divisive, and the party should simply embrace a few broad issues such as cutting taxes and spending. We're already winning, they argue; why get too specific and give Democrats a clearer target to shoot at?"
While messaging is important, McManus overstates the significance of the problem. There is simply not a tent big enough to encompass the full spectrum of policy positions held by those opposed to our One Party Democratic Rule, including: fiscal conservatives; social conservatives; Republican partisans; libertarians; independents; and the tea party movement. But there does not need to be a unanimity of policy preferences for the GOP to prevail. All they need in November is a common objective and general agreement that a key issue takes precedence over all others. My take -
  • The objective is restoring balance and restraint in our federal government.
  • The key issue is restraining the insane growth of spending and curtailing the fiscal irresponsibility exhibited by the Democrats and this administration.
The Tea Party movement is a microcosm of the opposition coalition, willfully misunderstood and mis-characterized by Democratic Party partisans. So far, the Tea Party has shown considerable political acumen and understand that social issues must take a back seat to economic issues in this election. In a nutshell - "It's the spending, stupid" - (Thank you again James Carville).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Investors Love Divided Government -
Perception is Reality

The correlation (or not) of divided government, market performance, election expectations and investor psychology has been a recurring theme on DWSUWF since the beginning of this blog (see 2006, 2007, 2008 , 2009).

In yesterday's post, I quoted a couple of articles speculating on how markets might react should the Republicans retake either the House or Senate majority in the 2010 midterms. This was my comment on the articles:
"I am reluctant to link longer term market behavior to any policy or partisan mix in Washington. I've not seen any studies that show a believable, statistically significant correlation between long term market direction and Republican, Democratic, or divided governments. That said - in the short term it is less important whether there really is a correlation so much as whether investors believe there is a correlation. My sense is that most investors believe the stock market will benefit from Republicans taking control of either the House or Senate in the fall. With that expectation, a rising market could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Today, the Dow Jones rebounded 274 points, leaving many analysts scratching their heads after the unrelenting doom and gloom of the past few weeks. CNBC preempted Jim Cramer's show to broadcast a one hour special analyzing the day's market action. In this excerpt Ron Insana echoes that sentiment:


Money quote:
"All of a sudden there are some reports coming out saying the politicians are underestimating the possibility the Republicans take either one or both house of Congress. If that political uncertainty disappears and you get a Democratic President and a Republican Congress - that is the best combination for stock prices. It might also clear up the uncertainty that will allow corporations to hire people." - Ron Insana

Indeed it might. And like in the 2006 mid-terms - perhaps happy days will be here again (at least as far as the market is concerned).

The full unedited clip from CNBC is linked here.

Postscript:
Yes - Amanda Drury did, in fact, turn to the panel and ask "Double-D or not Double-D? What do you think?" I thought Insana was going to lose it.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Carnival of Divided Government
Triginta Duodêvîgintî (XXXVIII)
Special Post Holiday Edition

Image ripped from Mike Sinclair

Welcome to the 38th edition of the Carnival of Divided Government - The Special Post-Independence Day Holiday Resolution To Really Get My Act Together With This Blog Edition.

Whatever

Yeah, I've done nothing on this blog for months and, yeah - I completely blew off the last edition of the Carnival. Moreover, I've run out of excuses. In the past I've blamed procrastination, too much fun, travel, even invoking the Hot Tub Libertarian Syndrome for my slovenly blogging habits. My only new excuse is a recent obsession with a local San Francisco political issue that has consumed a lot of blogging cycles on my other blog. What is it we so often hear the politicians say? - "Let us not be mired in the past. It is time to look forward."

Indeed. An important election is fast approaching. The 2010 election is easily as important as the 2006 mid-terms, and like the 2006 mid-terms, restoring divided government will be an important electoral consideration. It is time to step up my game with this blog. No. Really. I mean it this time.

Carnival of Divided Government

As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this the Carnival of Divided Government Triginta Duodêvîgintî (XXXVIII), as in all of the CODGOV editions, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media writing on the single topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to explicitly use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions.

First up, Morton Kondracke of CQ Politics takes a look at a number of recent polls and finds a conundrum - "Voters Are Unhappy but Optimistic - Why?":
"Congress’ approval rating is 22 percent, almost as low as the 20 percent that preceded the Democrats’ takeover in 2006 and the 33 percent that presaged the GOP takeover of 1994. Indeed, voters now marginally prefer that Republicans run the next Congress, by 45 percent to 43 percent. But asked about the parties, voters give a 9-point net negative rating to the Democrats, 35 percent to 44 percent, and a 12-point net negative to the GOP, 30 percent to 42 percent.The bottom line seems to be that an unhappy public is hoping that divided government will put the country back on the right track. But given the inability of Republicans and Democrats to agree on almost anything, there’s more reason to be pessimistic about the long term as well as the short."
Morton misses an important point. The inability of Republicans to agree with the Democratic agenda of the last two years, coupled with the prospect of divided government, is a reason for real optimism. As acrimonious as the debate may be, we get better legislation when everyone has a seat at the table. Sometimes it is best to trust the common sense instincts of the voters. Pundits don't get it, but voters do - divided government will put us back on the right track.

Amy Walter is also looking at polls and focus groups for the National Journal Hotline On Call and wondering about the impact of "Independents Souring On Obama":
"The Resurgent memo notes that these indies have "an equal dislike for both political parties," and some believe that "divided government would only lead to more bickering." But, notes van Lohuizen, while these voters may be persuaded to come back to Obama in '12, they are "pretty well lost" to the Democrats for this fall."
Of course divided government will lead to more bickering. That's a good thing. The advantage of divided government is that all voices are heard and have an impact on the legislation. When everyone has real power, the bickering leads to better and more fiscally responsible legislation - unlike the impotent bickering of the minority party during the Stimulus and Healthcare debates, resulting in fiscally irresponsible legislative hairballs. And if the GOP does manage to take one legislative house or the other in 2010 - this is one independent blogger who will indeed be coming back to Barack Obama in 2012. This blogger is no more interested in returning to One Party Republican Rule than he he is of continuing the current disastrous One Party Democratic Rule.

Digby at Hullabaloo is quoting Michael Tomsky and engages in some world class hand-wringing over the prospect of divided government in "It Will Never End":
"The real import of this story is this: If the Reps capture the House of Representatives this fall, they will have basically limitless power to keep these things churning forever, turning political horse-trading into potential crimes. They'll hold hearings, issue subpoenas, you name it." - Thomas

"Those who extol the virtues of divided government take heed. There won't just be legislative gridlock. There will be chaos. " - Digby
"Chaos" apparently now being defined by Digby as a state when the legislative branch does their job. Oversight of the executive branch is the job of the legislative branch in our system of constitutional checks and balances. It is a job that has been completely abrogated by this lap-dog Democratic Congress, just as it was abrogated by the lap-dog Republican Congress during the first six years of the Bush administration. As I recall, Digby was much less concerned about the "chaos" that might result from Congress doing their job in the run-up to the 2006 mid-terms. Funny that.

Metavirus blogging at Library Grape has a question: "Would Someone Who Loves Divided Government Vote for a Monkey?":
"I was pondering today the phenomenon of people who fetishize "divided government" ... I was pondering this because some of the otherwise smart people I know who are like this (you know who you are), are seriously saying that they will vote for a generic Republican this fall, simply in order to try to get us into "divided government". This is even the case where the person believes the GOP is generally bankrupt in terms of ethics, ideas, policy prescriptions, etc. At the end of all this pondering, I was left with a question. If the merits of the people you are voting for in order to make obeisance to the Gods of Divided Government are so unimportant, would you consider voting for party of trained monkeys?"
Whenever a partisan brings out a double barreled blast of full-on snark, sarcasm and derision when describing the divided government voting heuristic ("people who fetishize divided government..." "obeisance to the Gods of Divided Government...") it fills me with hope. It means the meme is getting traction and they feel compelled to (paraphrasing a recent unfortunate soundbite) launch nukes to kill ants. Pretty early for this kind of rhetoric. At the end of the post Metavirus asks for "enlightenment" about the divided government voting rationale. I'd oblige with my "Voting By Objective" post, except the tone of the post indicates a decided lack of sincerity. I think Metavirus' question is best answered with another question of equivalent intellectual heft - Would a partisan who believes the "GOP is generally bankrupt in terms of ethics, ideas, policy prescriptions, etc" vote for a Democratic Party Monkey?

Joseph Lazzaro is speculating at the Daily Finance about the impact of a potential divided government on investors in "Job Creation: Democrats Have Run Out of Time WithVoters.":
" ...independent voters represent the "swing" vote, depending on whether the party in power is doing a good job and is solving problems. And, as noted, due to the lack of progress at creating jobs, most independents will be voting for a Republican/Tea Party candidate in November. Other issues will play a role, but the lack of jobs and concern about their own job security will be foremost on Independents' minds.... Further, if enough Independents vote for Republicans, the GOP will regain control of Congress, creating a divided government. Some investors argue that divided government is good for the markets and the economy, as it can 'prevent Washington from doing anything' -- which some Americans view as a good thing. The reality, however, is that given the ideological canyon between today's polarized political parties, it's a prescription for gridlock."
Of course we'll get gridlock. But gridlock on needed legislation eventually ends, as it always does. And out of that gridlock we will get better, more fiscally responsible legislation than we are seeing now under One Party Democratic rule. And that is a good thing.

To Joseph's larger point, I am reluctant to link longer term market behavior to any policy or partisan mix in Washington. I've not seen any studies that show a believable, statistically significant correlation between long term market direction and Republican, Democratic, or divided governments. That said - in the short term it is less important whether there really is a correlation so much as whether investors believe there is a correlation. My sense is that most investors believe the stock market will benefit from Republicans taking control of either the House or Senate in the fall. With that expectation, rising market could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Richard Lehman, writing at Forbes, makes exactly this point suggesting we "Sell Into Rallies And Thank Politicians":,
"Markets will also benefit from any perception that the Democrats will lose control of at least the House of Representatives. Markets like divided government because it means fewer surprises and fewer policy changes. Use any stock rallies in the next five months to raise some cash since opportunities always come along when market conditions are uncertain."
Probably good advice. But if the GOP begins to look like it has a realistic chance of taking control of one house, those opportunities may come along sooner rather than later.

Ron Replogle is a self-described "perplexed liberal" blogging at One Foot Outside of the Tent, writing a book, quoting Peggy Noonan, and speculating on whether Barack Obama would benefit from a GOP Congress while ruminating on "Liberalism and Limits":
"Even when it enjoys the support of an ideologically congenial congressional majority, a liberal administration lacks the institutional capacity to impose intelligent limits on its own redistributive aspirations. Having to reach an accommodation with an ideologically hostile opponent, as Clinton did with the Gingrich-led House, not only obliged, but enabled, him visibly to define his priorities. That doesn’t mean that what emerges from a divided government will necessarily be sensible public policy. But it will give a liberal administration the “full shape and meaning” that Noonan's looking for."
True - policy emerging from divided government will not necessarily be sensible public policy. It will also not necessarily be bad public policy. However, I do believe it will necessarily be better public policy than what we get out of either One Party Democratic Rule or One Party Republican Rule. In general I like what Ron is saying here and will be looking forward to his book when he gets it out. In the meantime, I will be supporting Republican candidates in the hope that a divided government will limit Barack Obama's liberalism. And if the GOP takes either legislative house, I will support Obama's re-election in 2012 to limit GOP social conservative ideology.

Matt Mazewski, blogging at the Conscience of a Centrist, worries that Obama is driving the opposition to an ideological extreme in "Moderate Conservatism Goes Mainstream":
"During the 1990's, the nation experienced a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity, largely as a result of divided government. Bill Clinton was forced to abandon some of his more ambitious liberal goals with the election of a Republican Congress in 1994, but so too were the Republicans compelled to lay aside their more ideologically-driven aspirations. Clinton vetoed welfare reform several times before signing a version he approved of, and deals were struck that, while far from perfect, represented true sacrifice in the name of bipartisanship. "
I think Matt is missing a key point in his thoughtful post. One does not need to put all the weight in the center to wind up with a balanced center. Consider the dumbbell - heavily weighted on the right and left, with almost no weight in the center, it nevertheless is balanced in the center. Think Clinton/Gingrich. Think Obama/McConnell instead of Obama/Reid -or- Obama/Boehner instead of Obama/Pelosi.

It is not often that one comes across an optimistic libertarian blog post. The tsunami of statism that engulfs us tends to drown out the most hopeful limited government advocates. Bonzai finds the silver lining in "Libertarian Evolution":
"There's a slowly evolving public recognition that government has to be limited, and that individual rights have to be protected -- thus the growth of true independents, people who are distrustful of, and unrepresented by, both parties... If my guess is right, voter turnout will be historically high this year and in 2012. We'll probably have a divided government going into 2011, and if I'm correct, there'll be pressure for government to govern in a more limited fashion because of the unconsciously-libertarian influence coming from the independents. I predict this will be the beginning of a change in direction and the beginning of the end for statism. America became lazy, too trusting of government, and too apathetic because of a sense of powerlessness, but the internet and protest movements have given the public confidence in its ability to create change."
That is a real double dose of optimism, prediciting a divided government in 2011 and the beginning of the end of corporate statism in America. Perhaps the key phrase here is the notion of the "unconsciously-libertarian independents". Predictable voting blocks are the difference in impotent ideas and political power. As I've outlined before, if the unconscious libertarian independent vote becomes self-aware and embraces an organizing principle that manifests some real political clout, perhap Bonzai's optimism is justified. As long as the bulk of the electorate remain polarized and balanced, even a small percentage of libertarian swing vote organized around a divided government voting heuristic will be enough for libertarians to display the biggest swinging political "hammer" in town.

Rojas at The Crossed Pond is feeling nostalgic for the Clinton/Gingrich divided government era in "Your Democratic Congress in Action":
"From a civil liberties perspective, unified government under the Democrats is every bit as bad as unified government under the Republicans. The difference now lies exclusively in the arena of federal involvement in the marketplace. I am becoming increasingly interested in replicating the late Clinton-era split: maybe we can have the Obama administration’s adult approach to foreign policy and willingness to check demented right-wing “compassionate conservatism” in combination with a Republican Congress that will laugh every time the administration pushes for a massive new entitlement."
Rojos is a friend of the blog and a member in good standing of of the 2008 Coalition of the Divided. With this post he has punched his ticket to the 2010 COD Club, which I will be posting Real Soon Now. It is astounding (and depressing) that after the hue and cry from the left about the power grab of the Bush/Cheney administration redefining the Unitary Executive, we have nothing but a deafening silence as the Obama administration continues to defend in the courts, push the boundaries, and increase the reach of executive branch power. I cannot think of a single example where this Democratic congress or administration has rolled back any of the executive branch overreach of the Bush /Cheney era since Obama came into office. The only hope for a more constitutionally circumscribed executive may be that Obama will nominate judges who will declare his actions unconstitutional.

Miscellany

Traditionally, we conclude this Carnival by including one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgment and proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. Off-topic in this context meaning - no mentions of "divided government" or gridlock.

For this edition we offer Madeleine Begun Kane (who practically owns this spot) as she presents Oily Obstruction posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness:

Oily Obstruction (Limerick)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Liability caps for a spill
Would be raised by the Democrats’ bill.
But Sen. Lisa says “No!”
She’s protecting each co
That drills oil, despite all that they kill.

They’d be hurt by such law, she maintains.
Such indifference to other folks’ pains!
Who will cover the bills
For the victims of spills?
It seems oil cos have Lisa in chains.

Although always amusing I don't often agree with Madeleine's liberal poetic stylings, but this gem is an exception. There is a difference between fiscal conservatism and corporate statism. The absurdly low liability cap provided by our government to this corporate giant is exactly what enabled BP's criminal negligence in the gulf oil disaster.

With that, we''ll wrap up this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not).

We intend (road to hell notwithstanding) to pick up the Carnival pace in this election year as divided government content is on the increase. However, I am beginning to think that the Carnival form has seen its day as I am relying more on draftees than volunteers in these compilations. I suspect the blog will better serve the cause by posting these divided government links and comments individually as they occur on a more timely basis. For the time being, we'll try both, so look for the next edition of The Carnival of Divided Government Triginta Undêvîgintî (XXXIX)- Special Dog Days of Summer on or about 8-15-2010. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.



Carnival of Divided Government