URLs du Jour

2022-04-01

[More money, more money]

  • You may ask yourself, "Why did a federal judge say Trump probably committed felonies when he tried to overturn Biden's election?" Fortunately, Jacob Sullum provides: Here Is Why a Federal Judge Says Trump Probably Committed Felonies When He Tried to Overturn Biden's Election

    A federal judge in California yesterday ruled that Donald Trump and one of his legal advisers, former Chapman University law professor John Eastman, probably committed federal felonies when they conspired to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by pressuring then–Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay congressional ratification of Joe Biden's victory. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter concluded it was "more likely than not" that the scheme violated 18 USC 1512, which prohibits obstruction of "any official proceeding," and 18 USC 371, which criminalizes conspiracies to "defraud the United States."

    Carter made that determination while adjudicating a dispute over emails sought by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who accepted his stolen-election fantasy and were angry at Pence for refusing to go along with Eastman's plan. While the practical impact of Carter's conclusion is limited to just one disputed document, his analysis amounts to an indictment of conduct that was not just dishonest and reckless but arguably criminal.

    Criminal prosecution of political enemies of the current regime is kind of a banana-republic thing to do. Despite all those 2016 chants of "Lock her up" at Trump rallies, it's an action the Trump Administration declined to take.

    I'm of two minds. Trump's scheme, abetted by Eastman, was pretty egregious. Nothing much came of it, though.


  • Come and see the violence inherent in the system. And it's in a place you might not have expected, according to Randal O'Toole: Free Transit Is Just More Oppression

    “The fight for free transit is about connecting people to opportunity,” proclaims Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. More realistically, the fight for free transit is about keeping poor people oppressed.

    At one time, blacks in the South were expected to ride in the back of transit buses and to yield their seats to whites on demand. Whites at the time probably thought themselves generous that they allowed blacks to ride the buses at all. Today, well-off people such as Wu think they are generous in wishing to use other people’s money to give blacks and other poor people free transit rides.

    Wu may not know it, but only 4 percent of workers in 2019 lived in a household that didn’t have a car, and most of them didn’t take transit to work. Only 5 percent of workers who earned under $25,000 a year (and an even smaller share of workers who earned between $25,000 and $35,000) did take transit to work. That number has almost certainly shrunk since the pandemic.

    O'Toole points out the transit is "free" only in the usual sense: taxpayers pay. Worse: "More than 75 percent of the taxes used to subsidize transit are regressive, so the people who will be paying are disproportionately low in income, 95 percent of whom don’t ride transit. That’s just one more form of oppression."


  • Partisans gotta partisan. Andrew McCarthy is justifiably upset at The Smearing of Clarence Thomas.

    Democrats should not get away with their shameless political gambit to force Justice Clarence Thomas’s recusal from Supreme Court cases based on the political activism of his wife, Ginni Thomas.

    Supreme Court justices are not even subject to disqualification over their own activities that bear directly on cases. This never upsets Democrats when the justices have been appointed by Democratic presidents. Consequently, Justice Elena Kagan did not recuse herself from the Obamacare case, providing the critical vote to uphold it despite having served as President Obama’s solicitor general when the administration was formulating the legal strategy to defend the Affordable Care Act. (See Ed Whelan’s analysis, here.)

    Justice Stephen Breyer has been aptly described as the primary architect of the federal sentencing guidelines. He steered them through Congress in 1984 as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chief counsel before serving, as a federal appeals court judge, on the Sentencing Commission that created the guidelines. Yet, after being appointed to the high court by President Clinton, Breyer declined to recuse himself when the Supreme Court weighed the constitutionality of the guidelines. Indeed, he wrote a 5–4 majority opinion in 2005 that sustained the guidelines scheme, though declaring it advisory rather than mandatory.

    I won't hold my breath waiting for partisan hypocrisy to disappear, but it's good to have someone like McCarthy call it out.


  • Ex-Im delenda est. George F. Will describes a noble effort from Senator Pat: Toomey rightly wants to rein in mission gallop at ‘Boeing’s Bank’

    The Export-Import Bank’s armor of audacity, although of rhinoceros-skin thickness, will not protect it from Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, ranking Republican on the Banking Committee. He knows that what the bank’s board of directors will consider on April 14 is not mission creep but mission gallop.

    The Ex-Im Bank was created in 1934 in the New Deal’s attempt to banish the Depression by enlarging government’s allocation of the nation’s resources by making guaranteed loans to exporters. The Depression ended 83 years ago, not because of the New Deal’s fidgets, which almost certainly prolonged it, but because war preparations did what the New Deal failed to do: put Americans back to work. (The 1939 unemployment rate of 17.2 percent was higher than 1931’s 15.9 percent.)

    Ex-Im has been reauthorized 17 times, despite evidence that it is unnecessary: Between 2015 and 2019, when its board was three members short of a quorum, it was unable to approve guarantees of loans larger than $10 million. From 2014 to 2018, the portion of U.S. exports the bank subsidized fell from not much (less than 2 percent) to minuscule (0.3 percent) — yet U.S. exports increased.

    Ex-Im is known as “Boeing’s Bank.” From 2007 through 2017, Boeing received 34 percent of the bank’s assistance. During those 10 years, all small-business loan guarantees amounted to 22 percent of the bank’s assistance.

    The "mission gallop" is (I assume) all about Ex-Im's effort to preserve itself; the more cronies it can dispense favors, the more lobbyists in the future to argue for its continuance.


  • Pilot error. Cato's Nicholas Anthony provides the chuckle du jour: Only Six People Used the Postal Banking Pilot Program. Despite (for example) candidates saying it was a necessary vital service:

    Lately it has seemed like the bad news has just been piling up. From the bank account freezes in Canada to sweeping legislation on cryptocurrency here in the United States and then the war in Ukraine, 2022 has been off to a rocky start. However, one spot of good news came when the final version of the omnibus spending bill that President Biden signed into law revealed that the funding planned for another postal banking pilot program had been removed.

    Originally, $6,000,000 was allocated for a new postal banking pilot program despite last year’s test of the program only reaching 6 people. The spending was spelled out in an appropriations bill that called for a new pilot program that would feature surcharge‐free ATMs, wire transfers, check cashing, and bill payment services at five rural and five non‐rural United States Postal Service (USPS) locations. In other words, it would have doubled the footprint of last year’s failed attempt to introduce postal banking.

    This attempted expansion was all despite the fact that it had already been revealed that people are not interested in banking with the post office. In November of last year, employees at the postal banking pilot location in the Bronx, New York said they had not seen any customers since the September 13th start of the program.

    There are a variety of reasons that people are "unbanked". If you ask them what those reasons are, though, (see the article) it turns out that postal banking mostly wouldn't address them.