Josh Patashnik

A New Way Of Thinking About The Gop's Troubles
May 07, 2009

Back when I was a professional journalist, one of my main goals was to combine questionable biological, historical, and sports metaphors in one paragraph.  I never succeeded in this endeavor, though not for lack of effort. But, kudos to Michael Grunwald for pulling off such a feat in his new story on the state of the Republican Party: So are the Republicans going extinct? And can the death march be stopped? The Washington critiques of the Republican Party as powerless, leaderless and rudderless--the new Donner party--are not very illuminating.

The Court, Or The People?
May 01, 2009

Jonathan Adler over at the Volokh Conspiracy makes two great points about Justice Souter's retirement.  First, as he notes, it's simply a mistake to say that Souter's departure won't have much impact on the voting lineup on the Supreme Court.  That may be true on most high-profile political issues the Court addresses, but in cases dealing with more mundane matters--that is, the majority of the Court's docket--the fault lines are more fluid and Souter's departure could make a real difference, notably in the realms of criminal procedure and punitive-damage awards.  This is especially true given

Moral-Hazard Relativism
April 09, 2009

When Congress was constructing its economic stimulus bill in February, Democrats attempted to insert a provision that would have extended unemployment benefits by 13 weeks. Republicans would have none of it: Doing so would create an "incentive for people who could otherwise be employed not to be employed," sniffed South Dakota Senator John Thune.

Where's Henry Clay When You Need Him?
February 26, 2009

Several commentators, in response to the news that the District of Columbia may finally be on the verge of winning full voting representation in the House, are clamoring for more--two votes in the Senate. The idea that the taxpaying citizens of Washington deserve equal representation in both houses of Congress seems reasonable enough, but, of course, any proposal whose net effect would be to hand Democrats two new votes in the Senate is a non-starter.

Don't Forget The Rest Of The Budget
February 23, 2009

  Ezra Klein, in his article on the White House fiscal responsibility summit that Jon linked to earlier, posts the above chart and says: Government spending and Social Security, it says, will hold relatively constant in coming years. It's Medicare and Medicaid that chew up federal spending. Isn't that second sentence sort of an odd interpretation of this chart? Clearly, the projected growth rate of health care costs is unsustainable, and finding ways to change that ought to be, far and away, the country's top fiscal priority.

"without Immediate Intervention Our Loved One Will Die"
February 18, 2009

In the past 24 hours, the California legislature has witnessed a triumphant visit from U.S. Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger, a daring rescue of two people from a burning car in Sacramento by a Republican assemblyman moments before the car exploded, and an apparent palace coup in the Republican leadership of the state Senate. What it still has not produced (though rumors abound), as of 11:30 p.m.

The Problem With Utah's Bcs Antitrust Claim
January 11, 2009

It's probably not an issue front and center on many football fans' minds this NFL-laden weekend, but Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is drawing attention with his threat to challenge the legality of college football's BCS [Bowl Championship Series*] under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Are Moderates Really Pragmatists?
January 09, 2009

Matt Yglesias takes aim at the notion that centrism and pragmatism are one and the same: In the United States, slavish adherence to “moderate” positions is often construed as exhibited “pragmatism” that’s in distinction to the more “ideological” views of people with less centrist views. In fact, moderation can reflect ideology ever bit as much as extremism can. This is certainly right, up to a point.

Intellectual Consistency Is Not An Option
January 05, 2009

Today's New York Times op-ed by John Bolton and John Yoo on the Senate's treaty ratification power ends thusly: By insisting on the proper constitutional process for treaty-making, Republicans can join Mr. Obama in advancing a bipartisan foreign policy. They can also help strike the proper balance between the legislative and executive branches that so many have called for in recent years. And here I was under the impression that the proper balance involved total congressional capitulation to the whims of the executive branch!  You learn something new every day. -- Josh Patashnik

Hillary Clinton's Emoluments Problem
November 24, 2008

It turns out that the biggest obstacle to Hillary Clinton's march to Foggy Bottom might be grammatical in nature. Adam Bonin and Eugene Volokh weigh in on the debate over the application of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Art. I, 6, cl.