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07/18/2010

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This is an important and timely post. I'm very dismayed by the tendency of the current administration to exercise unofficial executive power to "bully" others into conforming to its desires. This is inappropriate use of the executive branch, it is undemocratic and it is extra-legal. Fundamentally, it demonstrates the arrogance of power. This post lists a few of the instances in which executive power has been inappropriately used, but the list is by no means complete. The authors could have mentioned the administration running roughshod over bankruptcy rules in the auto industry takeover. It could also have mentioned the heavy handed treatment of Goldman Sachs that recently forced them to pay $550 million fine--they had no reasonable legal recourse. Winning a drawn out legal challenge would have been more expensive than settling. It could have mentioned the fact that the administration claimed the sanction for failing to purchase healthcare insurance is a "fine" during the debate over the health care bill (itself inappropriate coercion not only in substance but the manner used to enact that bill). They now argue that is is a "tax" when the matter is before the courts. Of course, there is the shameful shakedown of BP that circumvented the established legal process. The list goes on.

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preach! a great warning to watch against presidential usurping.

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He did not pretend to have any legal authority to order this, but BP quickly complied—as it did with the President’s insistence that it cut its dividend in order to be sure of having enough money to pay all the claims that might be made against it and the fines that might be imposed on it. And the President’s criticisms of Wall Street bonuses may have been decisive in the decision of Goldman Sachs to scale down the bonuses it was intending to award for the firm’s highly profitable 2009.

M Hoffman

This post leaves two conclusions: there is evidence of dementia at the U of C and this federal Judge has too little work in his supposedly full time position of employment for which he is lavishly paid by the taxpayers. Seems to have plenty of time to write ridiculous policital books, teach, post online, etc., etc. His facts are WRONG. First, BP was not ordered to contribute anything to any fund. It was accomplished voluntarily and with the motivation to avoid endless litigation. It was for the mutual benefit of BP and those harmed who could arguably obtain more expedient payment for their injuries and damage. Kudos to the President for this achievement apparently costing the government nothing. Second, Rick Waggoner was not removed by President Obama but by those who were responsible for directing the company after he indicated he wanted to continue the same reckless course for the company which he had established before its bankruptcy. In the exercise of responsibility, the stewards of the company removed him and the results have thus far been positive. Third, compared to the criminal conduct of George W Bush and his lies about WMD, torture, murder of civilians, and the continued support of our government for the criminal murderous religious enclave of Israel, the conduct about which Mr. Posner (a supposed neutral Judge committed to objectivity)complains pales in comparison. How could anyone trust this Judge when he continuously spouts off about his skewed views which appear to be unsupported by evidence or facts? Frankly, I am concerned that if these posts are typical of the level of intellect of the University of Chicago these days, we are headed for dark days. Mr. Posner must be listening to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Where was he when George W and his Jewish buddies in the White House were lying to the public about WMD in Iraq? Where was his moral outrage? How about the billions we are forced to contribute to Israel which defines itself by a religion? Is it not a violation of our Constitution Judge to force citizens to contribute to such a religious entity which openly discriminates against non-Jews? Don't give me that holocaust excuse for Israel's misconduct? That was before I was born and I am 62 years of age. Being a victim does not give a person a pass to steal and occupy the land of others, commit murder and destroy homes. What about it? Where is his moral outrage? Seems to be currently focused only on one person? Gee, I wonder why. Does he not fit within the parameters of Mr. Posner's prejudiced and skewed political views? Now, if he was Jewish......

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We can construct a similar story with respect to the government and BP, whose liabilities to the government grow with each gallon of oil spewed.

Is it really bullying to demand a change in corporate behavior if you're a de facto creditor?

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Given the scale of legal claims against BP, for example, it hardly seems excessive to demand that they create an escrow account of $20 billion and cut their dividend as a sign of good faith. The ultimate cost to them will almost certainly be higher.

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Many of the President’s legislative initiatives, in particular the health reform law, the just-enacted financial regulatory reform law, and the credit card law of last year, have increased the uncertainty of the economic environment for business. These laws really haven’t settled anything; it will take years of regulatory implementation before their full impact can be determined. But in addition business has to deal with the unpredictable exercise by the President of an uncanalized extra-legal authority to bend business to his wishes.

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We all need to have some humility about what we can reasonably control or we drive ourselves nuts. But this isn't easy when there's a lot at stake.

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