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The Essence of Restraint

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From National Affairs George Will writes The Limits of Majority Rule. :

an excerpt:

If the sole, or overriding, goal of the Constitution can be reduced to establishing democracy, and if the distilled essence of democracy is that majorities shall rule in whatever sphere of life where majorities wish to rule, then the Court is indeed a “deviant institution.” But such a reductionist understanding of American constitutionalism is passing strange. It is excessive to say, as often has been said, that the Constitution is “undemocratic” or “anti-democratic” or “anti-majoritarian.” It is not, however, too much to say that the Constitution regards majority rule as but one component of a system of liberty.

The principle of judicial restraint, distilled to its essence, frequently is the principle that an act of the government should be presumed constitutional and that the party disputing the act’s constitutionality bears the heavy burden of demonstrating the act’s unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt. The contrary principle of judicial engagement is that the judiciary’s principal duty is the defense of liberty, and that the government, when challenged, bears the burden of demonstrating that its action is in conformity with the Constitution’s architecture, the purpose of which is to protect liberty. The federal government can dispatch this burden by demonstrating that its action is both necessary and proper for the exercise of an enumerated power. A state or local government can dispatch the burden by demonstrating that its act is within the constitutionally proscribed limits of its police power.

HKO

I highly recommend reading Will’s entire essay

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The Hombre Syndrome

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from the Wall Street Journal Look Who’s Getting That Bank Settlement Cash -Tens of millions of dollars disguised as ‘consumer relief’ are going to liberal political groups.  by Andy Koenig

The most recent came in April when the Justice Department announced a $5.1 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. In February Morgan Stanley agreed to a $3.2 billion settlement. Previous targets were Citigroup ($7 billion), J.P. Morgan Chase ($13 billion), and Bank of America, which in 2014 reached the largest civil settlement in American history at $16.65 billion. Smaller deals with other banks have also been announced.

Combined, the banks must divert well over $11 billion into “consumer relief,” which is supposed to benefit homeowners harmed during the Great Recession. Yet it is unknown how much, if any, of the banks’ settlement money will find its way to individual homeowners. Instead, a substantial portion is allocated to private, nonprofit organizations drawn from a federally approved list. Some groups on the list—Catholic Charities, for instance—are relatively nonpolitical. Others—La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and more—are anything but.

This is a handout to the administration’s allies. Many of these groups engage in voter registration, community organizing and lobbying on liberal policy priorities at every level of government. They also provide grants to other liberal groups not eligible for payouts under the settlements. Thanks to the Obama administration, and the fungibility of money, the settlements’ beneficiaries can now devote hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to these activities.

HKO

Big banking forced to support these organizations leaves fascinating conflicts.  Regulations stifle startup competition that would not have to pay such nonsense. There must be a name for the dependence on those you hate. I call it the Hombre Syndrome from the movie starring Paul Newman.

In such a deal both parties sell their soul. And ultimately both parties lose.

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Political Middlemen

From The Atlantic, How American Politics Went Insane by Jonathan Rauch

The informal constitution’s intermediaries have many names and faces: state and national party committees, county party chairs, congressional subcommittees, leadership pacs, convention delegates, bundlers, and countless more. For purposes of this essay, I’ll call them all middlemen, because all of them mediated between disorganized swarms of politicians and disorganized swarms of voters, thereby performing the indispensable task that the great political scientist James Q. Wilson called “assembling power in the formal government.”

The middlemen could be undemocratic, high-handed, devious, secretive. But they had one great virtue: They brought order from chaos. They encouraged coordination, interdependency, and mutual accountability. They discouraged solipsistic and antisocial political behavior. A loyal, time-serving member of Congress could expect easy renomination, financial help, promotion through the ranks of committees and leadership jobs, and a new airport or research center for his district. A turncoat or troublemaker, by contrast, could expect to encounter ostracism, marginalization, and difficulties with fund-raising. The system was hierarchical, but it was not authoritarian. Even the lowliest precinct walker or officeholder had a role and a voice and could expect a reward for loyalty; even the highest party boss had to cater to multiple constituencies and fend off periodic challengers.

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The Spirit of the Law

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Jonah Goldberg writes in National Review, Hillary and Her Wheelbarrows

Using the clever wheelbarrow analogy Goldberg notes:

This whole argument misses the point. What we know from these e-mails, particularly thanks to an analysis by the Associated Press, is that Clinton or other State Department officials agreed to meet or talk on the phone with a large number of Clinton Foundation donors. Some of these meetings probably would have happened if the foundation never existed. But clearly some wouldn’t have.

Team Clinton wants to say that even though these meetings and conversations took place, there’s no evidence that anyone was granted a special favor.

Fine. Maybe. We’ll see. But even if that’s true, is there any evidence that the Clinton Foundation wasn’t eager to leave the impression that a donation couldn’t hurt your chances with the State Department?

This brings me back to the wheelbarrow joke. The meetings (and phone calls) are the wheelbarrows. It really doesn’t matter if there’s nothing “inside” the wheelbarrows; the meetings and conversations alone were valuable.

HKO

Clinton’s refuses to acknowledge her corruption because in her mind there is none.  As a trained lawyer she parses her words so carefully that she rationalizes her integrity while it is nonexistent. As her husband Bill could only answer an incriminating question with the infamous “ that depends on the meaning of ‘is’”, Hillary used similar parsing to answer questions about her e-mails, and even then was proven to be a bold faced liar.

Such answers underlie a betrayal of the spirit of the law as much as the ‘letter’ of the law. A civilized society depends on the citizens following the spirit of the law as well of the letter, less it grind to halt mired in legal technicalities.

Hillary is unfit to lead a civilized society.

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The Unwritten Constitution

From The Atlantic, How American Politics Went Insane by Jonathan Rauch

The Constitution makes no mention of many of the essential political structures that we take for granted, such as political parties and congressional committees. If the Constitution were all we had, politicians would be incapable of getting organized to accomplish even routine tasks. Every day, for every bill or compromise, they would have to start from scratch, rounding up hundreds of individual politicians and answering to thousands of squabbling constituencies and millions of voters. By itself, the Constitution is a recipe for chaos.

So Americans developed a second, unwritten constitution. Beginning in the 1790s, politicians sorted themselves into parties. In the 1830s, under Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, the parties established patronage machines and grass-roots bases. The machines and parties used rewards and the occasional punishment to encourage politicians to work together. Meanwhile, Congress developed its seniority and committee systems, rewarding reliability and establishing cooperative routines. Parties, leaders, machines, and congressional hierarchies built densely woven incentive structures that bound politicians into coherent teams. Personal alliances, financial contributions, promotions and prestige, political perks, pork-barrel spending, endorsements, and sometimes a trip to the woodshed or the wilderness: All of those incentives and others, including some of dubious respectability, came into play. If the Constitution was the system’s DNA, the parties and machines and political brokers were its RNA, translating the Founders’ bare-bones framework into dynamic organizations and thus converting conflict into action.