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The “Imperative Mandate” — Recall: An Annotated Bibliography

Recall of elected officials is both the essence of Populism, the “imperative mandate” and consistent with good business principles.

You’re fired!, the voters’ version of “The Apprentice”: An analysis of local recall elections in California.” Rachel Weinstein, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Vol , 15. 2005-2006.

The title of this 2005 article contains the delicious irony of referencing Resident Dump’s reality T.V. show, “The Apprentice.” As the title indicates, the article analyzes the characteristics of local recall elections in California, looking specifically at such elements as community size, property values, signature requirements, campaign spending, motivations of elected officials, interest groups and the ability of citizens to monitor government activity. There is a brief comment in passing on the notion of national recall elections:

At a national conference on direct legislation organized by the Populist Party in 1896, delegates affirmed their commitment to direct legislation at the municipal, state, and national levels of government, but after a prolonged debate they withdrew a motion to include the recall, which they termed the “imperative mandate” as part of direct legislation.

Functions of the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall,” Jonathan Bourne, Jr. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social  Sciences (September, 1912).

Jonathan Bourne, Jr. was the Republican U.S. Senator from Oregon when he wrote this article. The Republican Party did not nominate him to run for re-election in 1912 and ran instead under the Popular Government banner, coming in third. The preamble of this article, dealing with the initiative and referendum is a rousing denunciation of the extent to which popular sovereignty has been usurped by political manipulation and the commercialization of politics. Bourne argued that recall was a precautionary measure and that its existence “will prevent the necessity for its use.” “Adoption of the recall,” he wrote, “is nothing more than the application of good business principles to government affairs.”

Every wise employer reserves the right to discharge an employee whenever the service rendered is unsatisfactory. The right of the employer to discharge his employee rests upon exactly the same basis as the right of the employee to quit. The principle is recognized throughout the business world, and it is put in practice by every large and successful corporation. Consider the absurdity of the recognition of the right of a public officer to quit his position at any time and the denial of the right of his employers to discharge him. To assert the right in one instance and deny it in the other is to maintain a one-sided contract, the discrimination being against the whole people and in favor of the individual. If we can trust an individual to deal justly with the people when he considers tendering his resignation, we can also trust the people to deal justly with a public servant when they consider discharging him.

Bourne stopped short of prescribing the recall for national office, stating somewhat ambiguously, “I think no one proposes, at present, to extend the recall to any federal official except those elected by the people of the several states,” even though he had preceded that demurral with an explicit reference to the election of the President:

It is generally conceded that the American people have intelligence and honesty enough to be trusted with the power to select their public servants, even to choose a President of the United States. If it be granted that the people have intelligence enough to choose a President of the United States, no man can consistently contend that they have not the intelligence to act wisely upon the question of discharging a state, county, or municipal officer.

“Presidents, Impeachment, and Political Accountability.” MC Havens, DM McNeil – Presidential Studies Quarterly, 1978.

This article contains a brief historical note on recall and discussion of the implications of recall for the U.S. Presidency:

The idea of the recall election found its greatest popularity in the period between 1910 and 1920 when progressive politicians were interested in “cleaning up government.”24 At that time, the recall election was viewed as the most effective means available for insuring the accountability of public officials and particularly executives. The first proponents of the argument concentrated their efforts on local and state officials, but by extending the scope of the concept national recall elections might be used to remove a malfeasant or incapacitated President. The thrust of this argument is that this means of removal leaves the ultimate responsibility for the unseating of a President in the hands of his national constituency. This would, of course, mean that many of the people who voted to put the President into office would be required to reverse their position and vote to oust him. Theoretically, this would insure that the President’s crime, malfeasance, or incompentency would be of sufficient degree to erode not only his professional political support but his popular and party support as well. Such action could not be taken lightly. Second, it could be argued that the recall would decrease the trauma involved in the impeachment/removal process. Presumably by exercising their own political power through the vote, people would feel an increase in their sense of efficacy rather than a decreasing of their faith in government as the result of the ouster of a President.

The article follows the above by noting the principle defects of recall, which would include the prolonged time that would be required to effect a recall petition and election and the ability of the incumbent to manipulate national crisis in order to defeat the recall.

“The 2003 California gubernatorial recall.” Floyd Feeney, Creighton Law Review,Vol. 41, 2007.

This article deals primarily with the mechanics of the recall of California governor Gray Davis, including the more than twenty lawsuits that were initiated during the recall effort. The article also contains a brief historical note on the recall idea

In the America of the late 1800s, hard pressed farmers and workers, particularly in the Western states, viewed their legislatures as being under the thumb of special interests, especially the railroads. To cure this problem, Populists in the late 1890s and Progressives in the early 1900s advocated more direct control by the people themselves— through the initiative, the citizen-initiated referendum, and the recall. Although there were antecedents going back as far as ancient Rome, this agenda was clearly borrowed in major part from Switzerland, particularly Zurich where the Socialist Karl Buerkli was using the initiative and the citizen-initiated referendum to push reforms aimed at helping workers. Although the recall had existed in canton Schaffhausen, perhaps since the 1820s, even in Switzerland the recall was more novel and less developed than the citizen-initiated referendum and the initiative. The recall idea, however, had early American roots that helped to create a fertile climate. In 1776, Pennsylvania recalled its delegates to the Continental Congress when they refused to sign the Declaration of Independence.  And in 1778, even before they had completed winning their independence, the thirteen American colonies included in the Articles of Confederation a provision specifically authorizing the recall of delegates. Because these home grown procedures relied primarily on local legislative bodies to trigger the recall, however, the Swiss idea of using citizen signatures was an important innovation.

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PPACA Repeal and How to Make Reconciliation Work for You.

In this post, I am going to expand upon the impact of the new House Rules H. RES. 5 upon the Repeal of the PPACA. As I explained here Paul Ryan deliberately changed the House Rules and the Republicans following party line approved them with the exception of 3 who voted with the Democrats. The House Rules went from just this:

“The Director of the Congressional Budget Office shall, to the extent practicable, prepare an estimate of whether a bill or joint resolution reported by a committee (other than the Committee on Appropriations), or amendment thereto or conference report thereon, would cause, relative to current law, a net increase in direct spending in excess of $5,000,000,000 in any of the 4 consecutive 10 fiscal year periods beginning with the first fiscal year that is 10 fiscal years after the current fiscal year.”

plus this additional statement:

“This subsection shall not apply to any bill or joint resolution, or amendment thereto or conference report thereon—

(A) repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010;

(B) reforming the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010.”

neatly hidden away on pages 25 and 26 of 115th Congress House H. RES. 5.

Ok, so the Republicans are up to their old craftiness of slipping it to the Democrats when they want to block something the Democrats have done in the past. There is reason to why Congressman wants to block the CBO from reporting on this. It deals with making it more difficult 10 years down the road to change the repeal.

If you remember, Bush’s tax cuts were passed using Reconciliation and the CBO did a cost analysis showing it would create a deficit. Using Reconciliation to pass a bill, the legislation passed and creating a deficit must expire in 10 years. Bush’s tax cuts did create a deficit and a big one much of which was reversed by Obama.

For sure, Congressman Paul Ryan knows the repeal of the PPACA will create a deficit and Republicans know the repeal will create a large deficit. To make sure no one else knows, Mr. Ryan has blocked the CBO from analyzing it before repeal. Also unbeknownst to many, if the CBO does not do its typical independent analysis of the costs (if any) created by the PPACA repeal and how much it increases the deficit, there is no requirement for the legislation to expire after 10 years. Republicans would have repealed the PPACA as they have wanted to do since 2010, and would have blocked it from ever coming back after 10 years.

Crafty little weasel that Mr. Paul Ryan!. Then too Mr. Rand Paul is ready to sell you his healthcare policy (Obamacare Replacement Act) which does cover pre-existing conditions up to a guaranteed two years. After two years, and miss a payment or your healthcare insurance lapses and the healthcare insurance company can charge you the going rate just like the good-old-days. Also keep in mind, “Americans will never learn how devastating the PPACA repeal will be to Medicare’s long term solvency that was extended a couple of decades because of the Affordable Care Act’s execution.”

Where are the Democrats in all of this?

GOP Prohibits CBO From Reporting How Much ACA Repeal Blows Up the Deficit RMuse, Politicus usa January 11, 2017

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Constitutional Crisis ?

To Recap what everyone knows now (in case anyone reads this months from now)

On January 27th Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the refugee admission program for 120 days and blocking US entry for citizens of 7 countries for 30 days.
The order was written without input from the Justice, Homeland Security, State and Defence departments. As written it banned entry for legal permanent residents (with green cards) who were travelling abroad when it was issued. It also banned entry for people who were on airplanes flying to the USA when it was signed.

On January 28th dozens (to hundreds ?) of people were detained in Airports. Tens of thousands of ordinary Americans went to the airports to protest the new policy (there is hope). Also hundreds of lawyers spontaneously went to airports to attempt to represent (pro bono) the people who were detained and at risk of being put on planes returning to the foreign point of departure.

Early January 29, some aspects of the execution of the executive order was temporarily stayed by a judge

Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the deportations after determining that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision.

3:00 AM January 29th, the Associated Press reported — something. It is not clear to me if the recent event is a constitutional crisis or just an absurd lie alternative fact.

The Ap reported

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the White House, said that nothing in the judge’s order “in anyway impedes or prevents the implementation of the president’s executive order which remains in full, complete and total effect.”

If Miller meant what he said, he has declared that the Trump administration will order the executive branch to ignore the stay (that is the only way the order could remain in “total effect”. If so, there would no longer be rule of law in the USA. There would only be Trump’s orders and the decision by people in uniforms whether to obey them.

I am fairly confident that the US is still a nation of laws. I think that Miller’s statement is a simple blatant lie not the declaration of a coup. I think he is sayign that the Judges order would have no effect even if it were obeyed. I am pretty sure Miller is insisting that Donnelly didn’t order what Donnelly ordered.

In contrast the more official response by the DHS noted that the stay applies only to people in the USA or in the air at the time it was granted.

Also the DHS didn’t mention legal permanent residents. It is very clear that the DHS can’t block their entry to the USA. In fact, it is known that the DHS argued this immediately and was over-ruled by White House staff. The application of the order to legal permanent residents is very clearly blatantly illegal. Arguably, the executive order is completely illegal, but to ignore green cards is very clearly illegal.

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Trade agreements have harmed manufacturing employment

 by New Deal democrat

Dear Prof. DeLong: wherein I say you are wrong, trade agreements have harmed manufacturing employment. I: Germany actually undercuts your case

Prof. Brad DeLong in an article earlier this week made a bold claim:  that “US trade agreements have not substantially harmed manufacturing employment. Period.”    I am making the equally bold claim that he is wrong.  There are at least two major points in his article that I believe are plainly incorrect.

First, in making his case that US manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of efficiency and the strg dollar, Prof. Brad DeLong invokes comparisons to Germany.  Let me quote him at length:

Germany is widely believed to have a first-rate manufacturing sector, yet it has seen the same pattern as the US

Consider a country that has, everyone agrees, done everything right as far as nurturing its manufacturing sector is concerned: Germany

….  One possible baseline, given how many people hold up Germany as a model for the way it has protected its manufacturing, is to assume that under the best policies, the US would have matched Germany. It would have shed about 50 percent of its manufacturing job share since 1971, rather than the 62 percent that we did shed. That would have given the US today manufacturing employment equal to 12.2 percent rather than 8.6 percent of nonfarm employment. That represents a gap between reality and one theoretical alternative world of 5.4 million manufacturing jobs. Call that the excess shrinkage of US manufacturing.

Respectfully, Professor, your comparison with Germany is a misleading one. Let’s start with a comparison of the number of manufacturing jobs in Germany vs. the United States since 1975:
The only reason that both are conquerable starting in the 1970s is because Germany’s %age collapsed in tne early 1990s, as part of the

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Emails from the “Voter Fraud” Crypt

Why, oh why is there not an effective opposition party in the U.S. Congress?

The last time “voter fraud” was as high on the GOP’s agenda as it now is on Trump’s, it led to the politically-motivated firing of nine U.S. Attorneys, which caused a scandal that resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

During the Congressional investigation into the firings, it was revealed that millions of emails were missing, some of which were germane to the issue at hand. They had been stored on a private RNC email server.

Here is some relevant detail from a Newsweek story published September 12, 2016:

The supposedly lost emails also prevented Congress from fully investigating, in 2007, the politically motivated firing of nine U.S. attorneys. When the Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed related emails, Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, said many were inaccessible or lost on a nongovernmental private server run by the RNC and called The White House, meanwhile, officially refused to comply with the congressional subpoena.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the president’s actions “Nixonian stonewalling” and at one point took to the floor in exasperation and shouted, “They say they have not been preserved. I don’t believe that!” His House counterpart, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), said Bush’s assertion of executive privilege was unprecedented and displayed “an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government.”

In court in May 2008, administration lawyers contended that the White House had lost three months’ worth of email backups from the initial days of the Iraq War. Bush aides thus evaded a court-ordered deadline to describe the contents of digital backup believed to contain emails deleted in 2003 between March—when the U.S. invaded Iraq—and September. They also refused to give the NSA nonprofit any emails relating to the Iraq War, despite the PRA, blaming a system upgrade that had deleted up to 5 million emails. The plaintiffs eventually contended that the Bush administration knew about the problem in 2005 but did nothing to fix it.

Eventually, the Bush White House admitted it had lost 22 million emails, not 5 million. Then, in December 2009—well into Barack Obama’s administration—the White House said it found 22 million emails, dated between 2003 and 2005, that it claimed had been mislabeled. That cache was given to the National Archives, and it and other plaintiffs agreed, on December 14, 2009, to settle their lawsuit. But the emails have not yet been made available to the public.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was operating on a different track but having no more luck. In a bipartisan vote in 2008, the committee found White House aides Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas in the investigation of the fired U.S. attorneys. The penalties for contempt are fines and possible jail time, but no punishment was ever handed down because a D.C. federal appeals court stayed the Senate’s ruling in October 2008, while the White House appealed. Rove’s lawyer claimed Rove did not “intentionally delete” any emails but was only conducting “the type of routine deletions people make to keep their inboxes orderly,” according to the Associated Press.

By then, Obama was weeks away from winning the election, so the Bush administration basically ran out the clock. And neither the Obama administration nor the Senate committee pursued the matter.

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