Daily Archives: November 22, 2019

The crisis of liberalism: why centrist politics can no longer explain the world – The Guardian

Posted: November 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

We know were living through a period of crisis, but its sometimes hard to know of what kind. The financial crash of 2007-8 seemed to mark the beginning of the most recent crisis of capitalism; 2016 brought news of a crisis of democracy, and the political and constitutional crisis created by Brexit marks its second act. Every day the climate crisis heats up. Crisis has become the new normal.

Its often said that we are also witnessing a crisis of liberalism: liberal norms are being eroded, institutions are under threat, and across Europe, parties of the centre are haemorrhaging votes. Meanwhile, the critics of centrism are louder than they have been for years. Even many in the mainstream of British politics have begun to acknowledge that in the past decade centrists have been neoliberalisms willing bedfellows, supporting policies to shrink the welfare state and crush unions. Liberal centrism has left people behind, and in its support for free markets and globalisation, created new forms of exclusion. More damning critiques are also gaining currency: that the liberal way of running politics was always bound up with imperialism and colonialism, sceptical of democracy and workers and a cover for capitalist exploitation. Even the Financial Times the pinnacle of economic liberalism recently argued that the capitalist model needs to be reset .

So liberal centrists arent wrong that their institutions, parties and ideas are being challenged. But the problem may be a deeper one: that the categories of mainstream politics as we know it can no longer explain the world.

As an ideology, liberalism can be hard to pin down. Its capacious and it has adapted throughout history. From John Locke to John Maynard Keynes, liberals have prioritised the values of liberty and equality (though theyve disagreed about how much the latter matters to the former and what those values mean in everyday politics). They have supported the rule of law, rights and representation, as well as private property, markets and, for the most part, capitalism against socialism. During the cold war, liberals often defended the status quo, seeing a slide into totalitarianism behind every scheme for political change. There is a long liberal tradition of attacking the left to defend the centre. In the 1980s, a faction of Labour MPs left the party to found the SDP. In the 90s, as New Labour disciplined the partys left wing, liberalism took the form of the Third Way. Today, many liberal centrists paint Jeremy Corbyn as an extremist on a par with Boris Johnson, and draw false equivalence between left and right.

At the end of the 1990s, there was one thing that many liberals shared: an optimism about the direction of history

Yet in many countries, Britain included, liberals also helped to build the welfare state and have used the machinery of central government to enact progressive reforms and benefit the poor defending the NHS, civil and human rights, social equality, migration. Often, they aimed not to liberate workers but compromise with them, in order to minimise the risks individuals face. Social liberals have sometimes opposed economic liberals: the concern to limit inequality has trumped the defence of laissez-faire and capital markets. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown enshrined minimum wage laws but encouraged the privatisation of public services; they founded Sure Start but helped sell off the NHS.

At the end of the 1990s, there was one thing that many liberals shared: an optimism about the direction of history and about the fate of liberalism. Famously many agreed that history had ended, following the end of the cold war. All that was needed was steady incremental reform of the status quo. These 90s assumptions survived well into the new century. We now know that such declarations were hugely complacent. The biggest mistake of liberalism was thinking it was all over.

Today, few have properly come to terms with that mistake. Many are on the back foot, insisting that any move away from their ideas marks a step backwards into a far nastier history. Such defensiveness is not novel: liberalism has often been a negative sort of politics a politics of second best that protects against worse scenarios. Liberals have been the first to prophesy new end times the demise of democracy and the Pax Americana and see in Brexit and Trump a slippery slope to war and fascism. Where conservatives look to restore a lost past, liberals defend the gradual reform of an established order and respond aggressively to any threat to it, whether real or imagined.

All this worry about values and norms makes it possible to miss the fact that liberalism as an ideology still dominates how we see the world. It does not just occupy a place between left and right; it cuts across both.

The liberal worldview frames politics as something that happens mostly in Westminster, and about which most voters care little, so it downplays the politics of everyday life in the home and workplace. On this view, the political realm is inhabited by powerful individuals whose decisions make a difference, and who operate in institutions that are neutral. Values conflict, but compromise is the aim except where liberal values are deemed to be threatened; it can sometimes seem that liberals believe in the possibility of consensus, but only if the other side accept the basic facts that liberals hold as true. This can mean touting virtues in principle but refusing them in practice: the Liberal Democrats demanding compromise and cooperation while they reject a Corbyn-led coalition is a case in point.

For liberal remainers, Brexit is either a giant misunderstanding or a mistake: it has been brought about by voters lack of knowledge, or by party misjudgments and the rightwing media; it has been prolonged by Rasputin-like advisers (whether Dominic Cummings or Seumas Milne). Undoubtedly, centrist thinkers, with their focus on institutions and those who control them, can provide answers to important questions: how the common law relates to the constitution; how EU regulations and the referendum dilute parliamentary sovereignty. At a time when we are meant to have had enough of experts, it is ironic that expert knowledge is in extremely high demand in public institutions in the civil service, parliament, the courts, and the press. But its easy to mistake symptoms for causes. Though Brexit will surely have disastrous consequences hurtling us towards a neoliberal, deregulated and depressed Britain with an empowered right on the rise that doesnt mean the liberal diagnosis tells the full story.

Hampered by the need to defend the EU as a site of cosmopolitanism in the name of stopping Brexit, many remainers have framed any opposition as a threat to a political order that has no need for change. The rightward drift of the Lib Dems as they look to rebuild their vote by becoming the party of remain illustrates this bias to the status quo. For all its references to history (particularly to the totalitarian threats of the 1930s), the current liberal vision is often quite ahistorical: we dont hear much about Britain before the referendum. Even the most radical version of liberal centrism has only a partial diagnosis: it points to rising inequality and a growing generational and educational gap. Liberals may focus on defending norms, but norms themselves are only how particular political settlements are made legitimate. They dont tell us much about the limits of the settlement itself.

The view of Brexit and Trump as a crisis of institutions, norms or civility, and the focus on the narcissism or hubris of political personalities, is too limited. The alternative is not merely to accept the narratives of the right that Brexit is about a defence of sovereignty or kicking it to liberal elites. Both of these inhabit the conventional terms of debate. By slipping into a kneejerk defence of the status quo, we risk not understanding where the threats come from and how they can be fought. By focusing on individuals, we ignore how classes are changing. By looking to reason and forgetting ideology, we miss the pleasures of resentment and commitment, and how new political forces have developed to capitalise on those pleasures in particular how the Conservative party has reinvigorated itself by building new class alliances and using a heady mix of Thatcherite, nationalist and colonial tropes (a strategy that is haphazard but may well prove successful).

If we define politics too narrowly and dwell on historical parallels, we miss our own history and the social and economic changes that have paved the way to where we are now a situation where the institutions and infrastructure of British public life are dysfunctional, where productivity, investment and wages are low, where the public sector has been hollowed out and the steady job all but disappeared. If we worry only about the breakdown of parliamentary checks-and-balances, we miss that this gives the lie to the liberal dream that certain institutions are neutral and beyond politics. When we see the rise of the right in terms of a crisis of civility, we fail to ask what resentments the veneer of civility masks, as well as who it benefits and harms. When we focus on constitutional crisis, we risk forgetting how Brexit manifests deeper disruptions and social instability and that the coming election is also about our prospects for fixing these.

We risk forgetting how Brexit manifests deeper disruptions and social instability

These alternative diagnoses have major implications. The end of the liberal dream of neutrality opens up a view of the world where politics is found in new places the courts, the market, the workplace, the home and where political analysts take seriously arguments that have long been made by those outside mainstream politics, who have been marginalised by class, race, gender, geography, immigration status and age. This may be unsettling, but it can point us away from the old divisions of parliament versus the people, so easily deployed by the right and point to new battle lines: not between norms and their violation, or Brexit and its reversal, but to what we want for the future of the UK.

Crucially, these diagnoses can also show us where the deeper political crisis lies. The lasting damage to Britain may not be caused only by the constitutional chaos, but by the long-term collapse, defunding and decay of our public institutions the NHS, legal aid, our underfunded schools. Paradoxically, it was the stability of such institutions that made liberal centrism make sense as a way of thinking about politics. With public institutions dysfunctional and liberal democracy hollowed out, liberalism no longer looks like an ideology that can explain the world: its basis falls away. Liberal political thinking is stuck. It can no longer give a convincing account of politics, except to describe whats happening as an assault on itself. What would help liberalism make sense again is the rebuilding of those public institutions. It is an irony for liberals that this is precisely what the Labour party today is proposing.

What is needed is a longer and wider view than the liberal vision of politics allows one that enables us to see how social, economic and ideological changes intersect with and shape personality and procedure. This is why elements in the press have started to listen to the left once again, discussing resetting capitalism in the context of inequality and climate crisis, and engaging with talk of interests, class and ideology that has for so long been labelled as irrelevant. Now liberals also have to choose: to stay where they are and try to squeeze new developments into old paradigms, or to recognise these limits. Instead of a revival of liberalism, we might need a reckoning with it.

Katrina Forresters In the Shadow of Justice: Postwar Liberalism and the Remaking of Political Philosophy is published by Princeton.

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The crisis of liberalism: why centrist politics can no longer explain the world - The Guardian

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The Lucrative Liberal Business of Killing Health Care Reform – The New Republic

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The Partnerships first tax filing, obtained this week by Andrew Perez of Maplight, details how the organization has embedded itself within a network of Democratic shit-hawking shops to conduct its work against health care reform. Its biggest vendor was consultancy Forbes Tate, whose relationship with the organization is well known: The Partnerships operations are run out of the firms office, according to Politico. Shaver is a partner at Forbes Tate; before that, she worked for Hillary Clintons 2016 campaign and Obamas Department of Health and Human Services. Forbes Tate received $1.7 million for this work last year, a third of the Partnerships total income. (We are not informed who donated to the Partnership, because it is a 501(c)(4).)

The second-biggest winner from the Partnerships activities: Bully Pulpit Interactive.* It has, according to its website, worked with clients ranging from the Democratic Party and Tammy Duckworths campaign to such society-ruining, law-flouting tech giants as Airbnb and Uber. In 2016, the firm was a major vendor for Hillary Clintons campaign, collecting more than $10 million for its work handling digital advertising and digital media buying for both the Hillary Clinton campaign and its joint fundraising organization with the Democratic National Committee. Bully Pulpit Interactives clients include some of the biggest center-left advocacy joints in town, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, Emilys List, and Everytown for Gun Safetythough these are just the clients it makes public. For some reason, its site doesnt list its work for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a cartel dedicated to exploiting the labor of student-athletes, which was worth $12 million in 2017. Who knows what other clients the firm services but doesnt publicizeas it chose not to do for the Partnership? Thanks to our feeble transparency laws, it doesnt have to tell us. Public relations work doesnt count as lobbying for the purposes of lobbying disclosure rules.

The firm Seven Letter, formerly Blue Engine, made $140,000 off the Partnership last year. The Intercept reported that Seven Letter handled the Partnerships interactions with the media. Its staff includes prominent spin doctors such as Brendan Buck, who has previously worked for Paul Ryan and Americas Health Insurance Plans, and Adam Abrams, who used to work for the Obama White House. (If you long for a lost era of bipartisan comity, youll find it thriving on K Street.) According to a tax filing viewed at ProPublica, in 2014 Blue Engine worked for a group called Reforming Americas Taxes Equitably, a coalition of some of Americas biggest corporations that exists to push for lower corporate tax rates; it would go on to celebrate the 2017 Trump tax bill.

The New Republic asked Karthik Ganapathy, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer who recently founded MVMT Communications, which bills itself as primarying the consultant class: What is the deal with these firms? A lot of people come into politics to make peoples lives better, he said. Somewhere along the way, though, those folks get ground down by its institutions and start to understand that politics is a business just like any other, run by really rich folks who call the shots, and begin to see a lot of potential money on the table. So they start to work for and with people that the 25-year-old version of themselves would have thrown tomatoes atand thats just really sad to me. It is worthy of lament: Youll meet very few young people who moved to Washington for the purpose of feathering the nests of petrochemical corporations.

The pressure on all sides in this towninstitutional, ideological, financialto accept the broad status quo is immense; candidates who make a habit of challenging the established order are rare. Many of the firms that work for the Partnership were started by or staffed with former members of Obamas Yes, We Can brigade, with others going on to work for Amazon or Uber (or Theresa May). The ability of people who come to public service as righteous, justice-and-fairness-seeking liberals to transform themselves into dedicated laborers against the goals they once espoused is astounding, but every road in Washington is laid to funnel people toward that stupid, cynical end.

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The Lucrative Liberal Business of Killing Health Care Reform - The New Republic

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What everyone has missed about the position of the Liberal Democrats – Prospect

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Back Johnson or Corbyn? Thats not necessarily the right question. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

Every general election presents the Liberal Democrats with a challenge. How should they position themselves against Labour and the Conservatives? Over the years they have tried a variety of tactics. A glance back at them helps to understand the way Jo Swinson is wrestling with that question today.

In February 1974, the Liberals argued that they were Britains only radical party. They asked of their two rivals: Which twin is the Tory? Their vote more than doubled to 19 per cent, but they won only 14 seats.

In 1983, the Liberal/Social Democratic Party Alliance sought to break the mould of British politics by replacing Labour as Britains main progressive party. They came close in votes (Labour 28 per cent, Alliance 26 per cent), but Labour still won almost ten times as many seats (209 versus 23).

In terms of seats gained, the Lib Dems most successful election by far was 1997. They jumped from 20 MPs to 46the largest third-party number since 1929. Actually, the partys vote share slipped slightly, from 18 to 17 per cent; but tactical voting by Labour supporters helped Lib Dem candidates defeat more than two dozen incumbent Tories. It helped that Paddy Ashdown, the Lib Dem leader, abandoned the partys policy of equidistance between Labour and the Conservatives, and moved closer to Tony Blair and New Labour.

There is one obvious example of the Lib Dems co-operating with the Toriesafter the 2010 election. Nick Cleggs party paid the price: it lost 49 of its 57 seats.

Today, Swinson finds it far easier to say what she doesnt want than what she does. She hates Boris Johnsons Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyns far left prospectus. She says she wants to be prime minister; but she knows that this is nonsense. Corbyn is more likely to become Chief Rabbi.

More relevantly, she says that if we end up with another hung parliament, she wont prop up either Johnson or Corbyn. This leads to the obvious follow-up point: since one of them is almost certain to be prime minister after the election, she really should tell her voters what she would do.

Here is my suggestion. It is not to change her stance but to make it more credible.

Swinsons starting point should be to acknowledge that, in a hung parliament, the initiative will not lie with her. Either Johnson will try to soldier on without a majority or he will step down. If he tries to stay in Downing Street, Ed Davey, Swinsons deputy, has told Andrew Neil on his BBC show that the Lib Dems might be up for discussions with Johnson on a new Brexit referendum. I doubt Johnson would agreetoo many of his MPs hate the ideabut it would not be crazy for the Lib Dems to make the offer.

What, though, if Johnson decides that there are too few Tory MPs for him to carry on? He will then resign, and the Queen will invite Corbyn to try to form a government. The assumption that pretty well everyone makes in discussing what happens next is that the Tories, who will almost certainly still be by far the largest party in the new House of Commons, will oppose Corbyns Queens Speech. The decision of the Lib Dems to vote for Corbyn, or against him, or abstain, could be vital to what kind of government, if any, Britain has at the start of 2020.

Is that assumption correct? Twice in the past century, a Conservative prime minister has resigned following an inconclusive election. In January 1924 Stanley Baldwin made way for Ramsay MacDonald, even though the Tories had 67 more MPs than Labour. In March 1974, Edward Heath resigned after failing to do a deal with the Liberals, and Harold Wilson returned to office.

The key point is this. On both occasions, the Conservatives did not try to stop Labour governing. They voted against specific measures, but not to bring the new government down. Their reason was that, having acknowledged that they could not carry on, they would risk a huge public backlash should they seek to prolong political deadlock and intensify a great national crisis.

The same logic would apply this time. Indeed, one could go further. Neither Baldwin nor Heath faced an immediate challenge to their party leadership. In contrast, Johnson, having lost his election, would face a Conservative Party in turmoil. It is likely to retreat in order to sort outfight overits own future.

In practice, then, Swinson would not have to decide what to do. Corbyn would survive as prime minister thanks not to the Lib Dems or SNP but to the Conservatives. However, he would be a prime minister without the power to do anything much, apart from sort out Brexit and legislate for a new referendum. Parliament wouldnt turf him outbut nor would it vote for any of his more radical policies. He would probably get through a modestly expansionary budget, with more for health, schools, welfare, police etcbut not much more than the Tories have promised. But rail nationalisation? Free monopoly state broadband? Workers on boards? Big jump in corporation and income taxes? Forget them.

So Swinson should not tie herself in knots fretting over the Johnson-or-Corbyn question, for she will have no real power to answer it. Instead, should simply say: a) my MPs will oppose both a hard Brexit and a vast increase in the power of the state; and b) in a hung parliament, the more Lib Dem MPs there are, the more certain it is that we can, with other MPs, block either form of madness.

Sorted. Pleased to help.

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Trudeau to meet Doug Ford Friday, just weeks after Liberal campaign that pummelled Ontario premier – National Post

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OTTAWA Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday, their first face-to-face meeting following a Liberal election campaign that relentlessly maligned the provincial leader over his painful spending cuts.

Ford will meet Trudeau in Ottawa, in part to discuss a package of public transit projects for which the province is seeking to secure federal funding of around 40 per cent, according to a memo seen by the National Post. The province has also announced that Ford will chair a new provincial council in Ontario aimed at negotiating with Ottawa on issues like infrastructure.

During his election campaign, Trudeau relentlessly hammered Ford as part of an attack that sought to tie the premier to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Liberal ministers constantly used Ford as a sort of proxy for Conservative spending cuts, which they warned would critically stifle public services.

The federal Liberals ran sizeable deficits every year of their majority government despite promises to return to balance by 2019, then categorized any plans by Conservative politicians to trim spending as austerity that would hurt middle class Canadians.

Scheer wants you to double down on Conservative politicians twice the tax breaks for big polluters and the wealthy, and twice the cuts for you and your family, Trudeau said during an Ontario stop early in his campaign.

Thats what happens when governments focus on buck-a-beer, Trudeau added later.

Ford refrained from attacking Trudeau in response, instead making light of Trudeaus relentless attacks during the campaign.

I think the guy loves me or something, cause he constantly mentions my name, Ford said at an infrastructure announcement on Oct. 16.

One senior official inside the Ford government said the premier honestly doesnt care about the attacks, and said he would be focused on issues like public transit funding and Canada health transfers. The person said Ford is a big relationships guy and has gotten on well with the federal government on infrastructure and the renegotiated NAFTA.

We disagree about the environment but there are lots of areas where we agree, the person said. I wouldnt expect it to be a hostile meeting and there will be no attempts to stick it to the prime minister.

Ontario, like other provinces, has sparred with Ottawa over funding for some infrastructure projects under Trudeaus massive $187-billion spending plan. Officials in the federal infrastructure office claim Ontario has called for funding on a host of projects that dont fit into its specific funding streams, causing some frustration over how much funding the developments would receive.

Trudeau and Ford had a phone conversation shortly after the election, after which Ford said that attacks by the federal Liberals would not inhibit his relationship with Ottawa.

This is the the pairs first post-election meeting. The last official meeting was last December at a first ministers meeting, though they had an informal exchange at the Toronto Raptors parade.

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Trump Dined With Zuckerberg: Liberals React – The National Interest Online

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other liberal pundits on Twitter railed against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for reportedly dining with President Donald Trump recently amid political ad controversy.

Trump hosted the billionaire tech tycoon at the White House in October alongside Facebook board member Peter Thiel, NBC reported Wednesday. Thiel is a major Trump backer and conservative inside the traditionally liberal confines of Silicon Valley.

Journalist Ben Collins teased the report with a tweet Wednesday promising an enormous scoop. The dinner was previously undisclosed.

As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House, a Facebook representative said in in a press statement, according to NBCs report. It is not clear what the two sides discussed, NBC noted. Facebook has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundations request for for comment.

The White House declined to comment for this article.

Collinss report was published the night of the fifth Democratic primary debate in Atlanta, Georgia, and shortly after House lawmakers concluded another day of questioning witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry. Warren commented on the story hours after walking off the debate stage.

Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive with Republican lawmakers, Warren, who announced her presidential bid in February, wrote Thursday. And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebooks board members a major Trump donor had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple.

The senator went on to suggest she has a plan to root out corruption in Washington. Warren spent the past few months railing against what she said is a conspiracybetween the president and Zuckerberg to rig the 2020 election.

MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle asked in a Twitter post Wednesday night why the Zuckerberg dinner WOULD NEED TO BE SECRET?

Zuckerberg is attacking Warren and dining with Trump, Judd Legum, a journalist who worked for former Secretary of State Hillary Clintons 2008 presidential campaign, said in a tweet Thursday morning. Rule, Legum, and Warrens criticisms came as media and Democratic politicians railed against Facebooks decision to not make Trumps posts subject to fact-checks.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [emailprotected]

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Why Are Liberal Democrats Leading the Constitutional Campaign Against the Wealth Tax? – The American Prospect

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For constitutional originalists, its crucial to get your history right. This is especially important when little-known provisions of the Constitution are invoked to resolve hot-button issues of contemporary importance.

The perils of bad history are on vivid display in recent high-visibility critiques of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for their proposed wealth taxes on the super-rich. In a recent New York Times op-ed, Professors Daniel Hemel and Rebecca Kysar assert that these wealth tax initiatives violate a constitutional provision that was part the founders notorious compromise on slavery.

To seduce the South into the Union, the Philadelphia Convention authorized the Southerners to add three-fifths of their slaves when reapportioning their representation in the House and Electoral College after each census. That concession meant that the North would have the House and presidency stacked against it, making it very tough to restrict slavery for many generations to come.

In exchange for these devastating concessions, the convention offered the North a consolation prize. They could use their limited political leverage to get Congress to pass a tax package that would require the South to pay a bigger share of the total bill. While other taxes had to be uniform throughout the United States, the founders added a special provision authorizing the government to impose a head tax that would hit each slave at the same rate as each free citizen. Since slaves represented 30 to 40 percent of the population in the South but only a small share in the North, these head taxes would have a disproportionate impact on Southern whites.

This part of the deal only took final form at the conventions mop-up session of September 14, as the delegates were heading toward the exit. While the terms of the capitation tax on slaves had been up for grabs during the preceding weeks, it was only then thatGeorge Read of Delaware moved to add the three words Capitation and other direct, taxes to the final draft, explaining that [h]e was afraid that some liberty might otherwise be taken to manipulate the terms of the deal. Since the convention had lots of other compromises to make as they rushed out the door, Reads last-minute addition was accepted without further debate. Yet it is precisely these three wordsother direct taxeswhich Hemel and Kysar propose to weaponize in their constitutional campaign against the wealth tax.

Yet the original understanding of this provision refutes their interpretation of this formula. The meaning of other direct taxes was the very first high-visibility question presented to the Supreme Court in 1796. Newspaper coverage was intense, as the country considered how the Court would handle its constitutional responsibilities. (This was seven years before John Marshall handed down his famous opinion in Marbury v. Madison, the first case in which the Court asserted the power of judicial review.)

The justices responded in Hylton v. United States by unanimously rejecting an expansionary reading of the other-clause, with the principal opinion by Justice Chase insisting that the rule of apportionment [by population] is only to be adopted in such cases where it can reasonably apply.

Although Hemel and Kysar reluctantly recognize this point, they try to trivialize its significance by recruiting Alexander Hamilton to their side. To assess their maneuver, here are a few facts. Hylton involved a direct tax that Congress had imposed on luxury carriages. Since these expensive vehicles were concentrated in a few commercial centers, treating this tax as if it were a direct tax would not have imposed a disproportionate burden on the slave states, as originally intended. Instead, turning it into a direct tax would have hit the relatively poor states, both North and South, where luxury vehicles were rarely to be found.

In response to this obvious injustice, Congress followed the rule of reason and invoked its broad constitutional power to impose all indirect taxes on a national basis, requiring carriage-owners to pay the same amount without regard to their particular state of residence.

Alexander Hamilton served as the principal lawyer defending this congressional decision when it was challenged before the Court. In making his case, however, he engaged in a characteristic lawyerly maneuver. Rather than inviting the justices to announce broad principles in their maiden constitutional voyage, he urged them to stick to the particular problem at hand. He emphasized that the carriage tax did not involve general assessments on the whole property of individuals, but only targeted a single asset. As a consequence, the Court could uphold Congresss decision in this particular case without definitively resolving the larger question whether a more comprehensive impost might qualify as a direct tax.

Hemel and Kysar seize upon Hamiltons lawyerly maneuver and use it as decisive evidence that the founders believed that a general assessment on overall wealth required state-by-state apportionment. They fail to mention, however, that none of the justices unequivocally endorsed Hamiltons position in their opinions. Moreover, the Court included two leading members of the Constitutional Convention and one signer of the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, their self-conscious refusal to sign on to Hamiltons position argues against, not for,the Hemel-Kysar effort to make Hamiltons extreme view central to the original understanding. Perhaps Lin-Manuel Miranda should consider making the justices dramatic rejection of Hamilton into a sequel to his Broadway success.

Nevertheless, the critics might be able to salvage their position if Hyltons rule of reason had provoked intense opposition throughout the country. Instead, the decision generated a wave of popular support. Only one year passed before Congress enacted the nation's first wealth tax, imposing progressive rates on recipients of legacies and owners of shares in insurance companies and banks.

Given the Courts recent decision in Hylton, these taxes did not provoke litigation, since they were sure losers. But over the course of the 19th century, nationwide taxes on both income and wealth repeatedly drove taxpayers to the courts, only to find the justices consistently upholding their constitutionality. As a consequence, the drafters of the 14th and 15th Amendments saw no need to repeal the apportionment requirement for other direct taxes when they swept away every other textual expression of the founding compromise with slavery during Reconstruction.

In 1881, the justices upheld the decision by Congress to continue imposing income taxes even after the Civil War emergency had passed. It unanimously rejected the inevitable complaint that they involved direct taxation. Relying explicitly on Hylton,the Court could not have been more explicit: Our conclusions are, that direct taxes, within the meaning of the Constitution, are only capitation taxes, as expressed in that instrument, and taxes on real estateand nothing else.

Yet 14 years later, five of the justices defied a century of precedent in their 1895 decision in Pollack v. Farmers Loan and Trust, striking down a new congressionally enacted income tax. By the narrowest majority, they dramatically expanded the scope of the direct tax provision. As in the contemporaneous case of Plessy v. Ferguson, Justice John Marshall Harlan issued an emphatic dissent denouncing the majority for reinvigorating the nations constitutional legacy of slavery. But while his great dissent in Plessy was ignored, his eloquent opinion in Pollock helped provoke a broad-based movement demanding a return to Hyltons rule of reason.

Within three years, Congress responded to this popular groundswell by defying the Court and enacting another wealth tax on inheritance. This forced the justices to confront a moment of truth. If the conservatives continued to insist on their precedent-shattering expansion of the direct tax provision, they would trigger an escalating confrontation with the political branches that threatened to destroy the legitimacy of the entire enterprise of judicial review.

When faced with this prospect, the conservatives retreated in disarray. In its 1900 decision of Knowlton v. Moore, the Court unanimously upheld the new wealth tax. While different justices explained their dramatic U-turn in different ways, there was no mistaking the Courts return to the narrow reading of direct taxation that had prevailed since Hylton was decided in 1796.

Yet the Courts humiliating turnaround wasnt enough to satisfy the Progressive political movement once it gained a decisive victory in the elections of 1908. The new congressional leadership immediately moved to pass another income tax statute and force the conservatives on the Court publicly to declare that Pollock was wrong from the moment it was decided.

Their initiative, however, met with resistance from the newly elected William Howard Taft, who would later become the only president to ascend to the chief justiceship. When campaigning for the White House, Taft had explicitly supported the Progressives plan: [I]t is not free from debate how the Supreme Court, with changed membership, would view a new income tax law.But once installed in the White House, he refused to take the risk that the reactionary Court of the Lochner era would hold its ground and strike down the income tax yet againdramatically damaging its legitimacy before the public. Instead, he wanted Congress to do it, by proposing a constitutional amendment repudiating, once and for all, Pollocks precedent-shattering reading. But this required the Progressives in Congress to win two-thirds majorities in both House and Senate before their initiative could be sent to the states for ratification.

Building these supermajorities would be a tough for the congressional leadership. Nevertheless, they went along with Tafts request and made a good-faith try. Since Knowlton had already upheld wealth taxes, the leaders on Capitol Hill made coalition-building easier for themselves. They framed the 16th Amendment to make it a symbol of the widespread popular demand to repudiate Pollock once and for all. Their text focused on the imperative need to grant the national government the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.

Their strategy was remarkably successful. Within a year, supermajorities in both houses backed their initiative. Once Congress sent its proposal to the states in 1909, it took only four years for 42 out of 48 of them to say yesmaking the 16th Amendments enactment one of the most remarkable achievements of popular sovereignty in the 20th century.

Yet Professors Hemel and Kysar entirely fail to confront the original understanding of the voters and their representatives in speaking in the name of We the People of the United States. Rather than recognizing the 16th Amendment as a self-conscious decision by Americans to return to the founders rule of reason, they are urging us to rehabilitate Pollocks discredited effort to breathe new life into the Philadelphia Conventions compromise with slavery.

Senators Sanders and Warren should not let such a maneuver deflect them from their efforts to confront the escalating inequalities of the Second Gilded Age.

The Roberts Court should also reject their invitation to strike down a wealth tax if Democrats manage to win the coming election and enact it into law. If the current conservative majority is to remain true to its professed commitment to originalism, it has no choice but to recognize that the American people have addressed the precise issue in the 18th and the 20th centuriesand resolved it both timesin a fashion that clears the way for a wealth tax.

Their fidelity to originalism would also permit the justices to avoid a constitutional crisis of the first magnitude. Given the political furor surrounding the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, it is imperative for the reconstituted Court to demonstrate that its originalism is not merely a pretext for exercising a right-wing veto on the voters decision to elect Democrats to govern the House, Senate, and presidency. If a majority strikes down the wealth tax, it would provoke a legitimacy crisis on a scale not seen since Roosevelt tried to pack the Court in 1937.

Nobody can say how such a confrontation will turn out this time around. There can be doubt, however, that Chief Justice John Roberts is well aware of the dangers involved. Recall the way he was the swing vote in upholding Obamacare in June 2012, despite his own very grave reservations as to its constitutionality. Nevertheless, he recognized that a 5-to-4 veto of the presidents signature initiative would have provoked a Democratic counterattack on the conservative justices during Obamas re-election campaignand that such an onslaught would grievously damage the Courts legitimacy for a long time to come.

I have no doubt that Roberts would once again try his hand at judicial statesmanship if the Democrats emerge victorious in 2020. Only this time around, he is no longer the swing vote who can mediate the divide between conservative and liberal judicial factions. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to convince Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to recognize that prudence, as well as principle, requires them to uphold the wealth tax, and avoid a shattering crisis to the Courts legitimacy.

Sorry, but my crystal ball clouds over at this point. But if the new appointees resist, we will be witnessing a tragedy in the classic Greek sense.

Professor Ackerman has provided advice to Elizabeth Warren about the constitutionality of the wealth tax.

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Why Are Liberal Democrats Leading the Constitutional Campaign Against the Wealth Tax? - The American Prospect

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Kelly McParland: Can Chrystia Freeland save the Liberals? (And Canada, while she’s at it) – National Post

Posted: at 8:46 am

Chrystia Freeland deserves a lot of credit for saving Canada from Donald Trump. Can she save the Liberals from Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and Franois Legault?

That may sound facetious, but it is, in essence, the task shes been given in her position as minister of intergovernmental affairs. If Octobers election proved anything, its that Canada is a country in which the bonds of unity can never be taken for granted. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau let them fray badly in his first mandate. In the opinion of many, he contributed substantially to the fraying. Its never clear how deeply this prime minister absorbs any of the lessons hes been offered since first taking office, but the voting results, and the growing cacophony of provincial acrimony, have evidently made him aware at some level that something serious needs to be done to bring calm to the provinces. So hes turned to Freeland.

Perhaps thats a sign that he understands Freeland has skills he lacks. It is no small achievement to have gone head-to-head with the White House over Canadas most vital trade relationship and emerge with a deal that protects Canadas interests while allowing the vainest and most self-centred of presidents to claim victory. The new NAFTA is a true rarity of the Trump administration, a complex accord that satisfies all three signatories, and has the backing both of the Oval Office and a divided Congress that has been at war with itself since the day Trump took office. Even as one wing of Congress is trying to oust Trump on impeachment charges, legislators on all sides are working hard to find a way to approve the pact so they can prove theyre capable of something besides partisan bloodshed.

Perhaps thats a sign that Trudeau understands Freeland has skills he lacks

Outside the U.S., Freeland helped nail down a trade deal with the European Union that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cites as his goal if and when Brexit is achieved. Shes also handled the task of dealing with Chinas leadership at a time when its abandoned diplomacy for a nationalistic megaphone.

Given her record, it might seem that finding harmony with a handful of provincial premiers would be an easier task. Obviously it wont have the international implications, but thats no reason to underestimate the ability of Canadas political class to pick fights with one another. Kenney might not be in office now if Rachel Notley hadnt underestimated the pig-headedness of her fellow premiers, not to mention members of her own party. And Kenney has plainly decided that doing battle with Ottawa is to be a core part of his governments identity. The combative address he delivered a week ago in Red Deer was nothing if not fair warning to the new minority government that he sees it as a major impediment to the pursuit of Albertas best interests, and hes far from alone in that view: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe left his post-election confab with Trudeau looking downcast and predicting more of the same tone deafness from an Eastern-oriented administration fixated on its same old obsessions.

Freeland will also have to find a way to make nice with Ontarios Doug Ford, who spent much of the federal election in hiding but was nonetheless treated to a startlingly aggressive series of insults and attacks. Fords first year in office was filled with stumbles, and it may be that Trudeaus people assume the remainder of his term will prove as self-destructive, but there are signs that Ford isnt planning to go along with that scenario: his walking time-bomb of a chief of staff has been dumped, rhetoric has been toned down, contentious policies have been softened or re-thought and Ford made a point of congratulating Trudeau on his re-election while stressing the strains on national unity, which he likely doesnt believe are the fault of the provinces. Hes offered to host a gathering of the premiers to discuss the unity problem, an offer that won the praise of Toronto Mayor John Tory, who hasnt always been a fan of the Ford family.

There is one near-certain means to put smiles on faces at Queens Park, and thats to trundle Ottawas cash-dispensing machine into the province and set it on high. The Trudeauites have never demonstrated a reluctance to spend money in bulk, and would have been lucky to place a distant second in October if not for the voters in and around the Toronto megalopolis. The region desperately needs money for a vast expansion of public transit, and transit fits nicely into the Liberal climate change agenda, so if Freeland finds herself spending a lot of time championing the delivery of large cheques to grinning Tories, it wouldnt be a total surprise. It cant hurt that shes also now the deputy prime minister, and represents a downtown Toronto riding, quite near that of Finance Minister Bill Morneau. So while the Liberals may not fathom Western alienation, they should certainly grasp what makes Toronto happy.

It cant hurt that shes also now the deputy prime minister

That leaves Quebec, where Legault has spent much of the past year inviting Ottawa to keep its nose out of local affairs. Should the courts fail to derail Bill 21, the contentious provincial secularism law, Trudeau could find himself forced to keep his heavily-hinted-at plan to intervene, an act that would impact unity like an improvised explosive device. Add to that the fact that some concessions likely to make Jason Kenney happy like a radical change in equalization are just as likely to inspire outbursts of political outrage from Quebec, and the traditional demands for redress. It wont help to have newly-empowered Bloc Qubcois leader Yves-Franois Blanchet tossing out separatist complaints about any federal action that isnt wholly and completely designed for the sole benefit of Quebec, as he has shown great skill in doing.

Freelands political skills are such that she managed to emerge from the SNC-Lavalin affair unscorched, despite her bosss ugly display towards two serious-minded and intelligent women. Shell need that and more if she hopes to keep four grumpy premiers happy, at which point shell probably face a chorus of complaints from the other six that they werent getting equal attention. Its the nature of Canadian federalism, a perpetual effort to test the strength of the bonds that hold us together.


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The UK had finally moved on from the hawkish "liberalism" of New Labour. Enter Jo Swinson – Prospect

Posted: at 8:46 am

The eagerness of Swinson (pictured) to respond that she would take part in a strike points to a hawkish, if vague, foreign policy outlook. Photo: PA

I still cant quite work out what was the worst part of Jo Swinsons answer about whether she would authorise a nuclear attack with the potential to kill millions of innocent civilians. Was it the simple, instant yes? Was it the smile just after she said it? Was it the astonishing response of the interviewer, Nina Hossain, who thought the answer was brilliant, because Swinson had used just a single word? Was it the complete lack of follow-up? Or was it the fact that you just know she thinks she smashed it?

There was a time when even those in favour of the UK having its own nuclear deterrent understood that if the country ever actually deployed any of its weapons it would be the worlds greatest ever man-made catastrophe. The most likely scenario of a British prime minister deploying nuclear weapons would be in response to a nuclear strike already underway, therefore guaranteeing mutually assured destruction. If the UK was striking firstand unlike Russia and China, the UK has always refused to rule this outany nuclear-armed foe would respond in kind.

Which means, to go back to that mythical scenario when Prime Minister Swinson proudly pushed the button, a nuclear warhead would also be on its way to the UK, probably to London, and millions of us, probably including Swinson, would be just minutes away from death. But yes, okay, brilliant answer.

Until the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the Liberal Democrats policy on nuclear weapons was the most sceptical of the three major parties. In 2007, its conference almost voted to scrap Trident immediately,eventually narrowly agreeingto back its leader, Menzies Campbell, who planned to scrap it in 2014. Jo Swinson, then a backbench MP, backed the policy and voted against Tridents replacement when it came before parliament.

But Corbyns election in 2015, and Labours steady shift on foreign policy after the sacking of Hillary Benn towards a more Corbynite view of the world, has clearly had an impact on the UKs third party. It sees an opening as the sensible party that is prepared to deploy nuclear weapons in the name of security. The party that opposed the Iraq War now has a foreign policy of which Tony Blair would be proud.

The partys manifesto, launched yesterday somewhat incongruously in a London nightclub, is full of boilerplate international liberalism. They would champion the liberal, rules-based order, and work through the UN. There is little detail about how those aspirations will be turned into reality. On Syria, the manifesto states that a Lib Dem government would cooperate internationally to stabilise the region and provide humanitarian assistance, while on Ukraine it would promote democracy and stability.

This is bland idealism that only has a chance of success if no one opposes itwhich, of course, someone will.

There are some interesting details. The party would recognise Palestine, suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and back a Europe-wide Magnitsky Act that would enable sanctions against corrupt individuals and perpetrators of human rights abuses.

On international development, they would focus more spending on tackling both the causes and the impact of climate change, while the promise to develop a global education strategy to address the urgent crisis of 263 million children missing out on schooling will look very familiar to Gordon Brown.

But on the whole, it feels like a set of answers from the early 2000s to a series of problems from a very differentand more volatileworld. Few concrete ideas about how to deal with the rise of authoritarianism, no thoughts about how to respond to a rogue US president, and very little to say about the liberal, rules-based order other than it would be nice if it still existed. The world has moved on and the Lib Dems have moved back. All that were left with is platitudes and glib promises to be prepared to kill millions of people.


The UK had finally moved on from the hawkish "liberalism" of New Labour. Enter Jo Swinson - Prospect

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Trump administration delivers warning to liberal states moving to bar ICE from courthouses – Fox News

Posted: at 8:46 am

EXCLUSIVE: Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf are warning state supreme courts in Washington and Oregon that moves to stop federal immigration enforcement from making arrests in and around courthouses willcreate an unacceptable risk by letting illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes loose in communities.

Regardless of how one views our immigration laws, we should all agree that public safety should be of paramount concern, says the letter from Barr and Wolf to chief justices in those states, obtained by Fox News. Court rules that would purport to further restrict the lawful operations of federal law enforcement officials only serve to exacerbate sanctuary laws and policies that continue to place ourcommunities at unacceptable risk.


The letter comes after Oregons Supreme Court restrictedImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from making arrests of illegal immigrants in and around courthouses without a judicial warrant. Washington is reportedly considering adopting similar rules.

The Trump administration as a whole has been aggressively pushing back against sanctuary city policies that bar state and local cooperation with detainers issued by federal immigration authorities. Those detainers are requests that ICE be notified when an illegal immigrant is due to be released from custody so they can be deported.

While advocates of those sanctuary policies say that they encourage cooperation of immigrant communities with law enforcement, opponents note the countless number of criminals who have been released onto the streets, with many going on to re-offend.

These states laws and policies force state and local officers to release criminal aliens into communities in your States, endangering the public and forcing it to bear the cost of any additional criminal acts they may proceed to commit, Barr and Wolf said. These policies have resulted in the release of criminal aliens with convictions for serious and violent offenses, such as domestic violence assaults, firearms offenses, drug trafficking offenses, and violation of protection orders.

With the letter, the administration includes examples in Oregon and Washington of convicted criminals who have been released, with some going on to re-offend. One of those cited is the case ofan illegal immigrant from Honduras with prior criminal convictions, for whom ICE lodged a detainer in 2017 but he was released from a Washington state jail. In January 2018, the man was arrested again and booked for the second-degree murder and the dismemberment of his cousin.


Put simply, the policies you are considering endanger the public and hamper law enforcement by interfering with that lawful process, the letter says.

The letter, coming from two top department chiefs, is the latest sign of the administration ramping up its efforts against sanctuary cities. Acting ICE Director Matt Albence has held a series of press conferences highlighting the dangers of sanctuary policies, while the department is releasing lists of those with serious arrests who could one day be released into communities.

That push has seen signs of success already.


Montgomery County, Md, recently rolled back some of its policies amid intense criticism from administration officials, after a series of released illegal immigrants were later arrested on suspicion of sex offenses.

Meanwhile, voters in Tucson, Arizona this month voted against a measure tomake the city an official sanctuary city and impose even more measures on officers trying to enforce federal immigration law.

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14 and 15 Year Old Arrested in School Threat at Liberal High School – KSCB News.net

Posted: at 8:46 am

On Wednesday November 20th, the Liberal Police Department concluded an investigation in regard to threats received at the Liberal High School. The threats were found written in one of the stalls in a restroom. They indicated that a school shooting was to take place on Wednesday the 20th.

As a result of these threats, extra police personnel were assigned to the school to prevent possible violence and to determine who made these threats. Numerous interviews were conducted in an attempt to locate the suspects.

A second threat referencing the shooting was received later that day. Investigating officers were able to quickly determine the source of that threat and take him into custody. The 15 year old male was charged with criminal threat.

Further information obtained led to the arrest of a 14 year old male in relation to the original threats made. He will be charged with aggravated criminal threat.

At this time, there is no indication that either suspect had the capability or intent to actually commit a school shooting. No additional people are believed to be involved. Affidavits were forwarded to the Seward County Attorneys Office for the determination of formal charges.

Although it appears that no shooting was going to take place, all threats of this nature are taken seriously and will result in prosecution.

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14 and 15 Year Old Arrested in School Threat at Liberal High School - KSCB News.net

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