Larry Summers Will Not Be Chairman of the Federal Reserve

I am late to this, but as those who have been covering the horserace for the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve already know, Larry Summers has taken himself out of the running. Sarah Binder makes some good points regarding the rise and fall of Summers' prospects as a candidate for the chairmanship. You should read her entire post, but the following especially caught my eye:

  • The White House allowed the Summers nomination to twist in the wind publicly for too long, and by not actually nominating Summers, the White House "left his opponents in control of the confirmation contest." Assuming that the conventional wisdom is true and that the president wanted Summers all along, this is an especially cruel way to treat someone who was a member of the Obama administration, and who was the president's first choice for the position of chairman of the Federal Reserve.
  • Quite obviously, this is a big win for the liberal wing of the Democratic party, which took the lead in sinking the Summers nomination.
  • I agree with Binder that Federal Reserve nominations will become a whole lot less acrimonious when the economy finally starts humming along.

Paradoxically, of course, those who worked to sink the Summers nomination in order to get the president to nominate Janet Yellen instead might have done her candidacy some harm as well. The president may not like being seen as capitulating to the demands of the liberal wing of his party; it would make him look weak, after all. I think that Yellen is the frontrunner now, but it would not surprise me if Barack Obama chose a different candidate in order to signal to liberals that he cannot be pushed around.

Edward Luce argues that Summers and Yellen were not as far apart on the issues as Summers' opponents liked to claim that they were. Of course, policy similarities and differences are in the eye of the beholder to a very large extent, but this is worth noting nonetheless.

Scandal Watch (A Continuing Series)

So, let's review the latest:

  • Concerning the IRS scandal, we learn that Lois Lerner was "directly involved" in the targeting of conservative groups. This included signing letters that contained "a list of detailed questions of the kind that a Treasury inspector general’s audit found to be inappropriate."
  • Organizing for Action is a 501(c)(4), which means that it is supposed to act in a non-partisan capacity when engaging in advocacy. So naturally, the president of the United States--who is anything but non-partisan--has signed a fundraising letter on behalf of Organizing for Action, which includes a request to register at this site, which as you will note, contains the name of the non-non-partisan president of the United States in its URL. As of two weeks ago, Organizing for Action has not yet applied for tax-exempt status from the IRS, but I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that when they do, they will encounter no problems whatsoever with their application. To be sure, the IRS won't want to cause yet another scandal by giving yet another prominent 501(c)(4) applicant a hard time, but the point is that plenty of equivalent conservative groups have had to encounter a hard time at the hands of the IRS, while liberal groups have gotten nothing but the kindest cooperation.
  • I am pleased to note that Jonathan Turley has decided to continue to eat his Wheaties:
Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the administration's sweeping surveillance of journalists with the Associated Press. In the greatest attack on the free press in decades, the Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors in at least three AP offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Holder, however, proceeded to claim absolute and blissful ignorance of the investigation, even failing to recall when or how he recused himself.Yet, this was only the latest attack on the news media under Holder's leadership. Despite his record, he expressed surprise at the hearing that the head of the Republican National Committee had called for his resignation. After all, Holder pointed out, he did nothing. That is, of course, precisely the point. Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired.

Like dumber follows dumb, the scandal of politicized IRS tax enforcement has been followed by calls for a "special prosecutor." Republicans are predictably leading this call against a Democratic Administration, but this is one case in which the GOP should hope it doesn't get its way.

The case for a special counsel is that Attorney General Eric Holder can't be trusted to investigate his Administration, and that the Administration will stonewall Congress. We don't trust Mr. Holder either, but letting him pass the buck to a special prosecutor is doing him a favor. This scandal is best handled in Congressional hearings that educate the public in the next year rather than wait two or three years for potential indictments.

In Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno, the lead character is struck with amnesia, unable to remember critical events even as he’s trying to save the world. Let’s borrow that useful plot device and imagine if American journalists woke up and couldn’t remember who was president. It would be interesting to ask them a few questions:

What would you think of a president under whom the IRS targeted his harshest political opponents, during his reelection campaign?

What would you think of a president whose obsession with leaks and secrecy was so great that he used the Justice Department to obtain phone records of reporters, in violation of Justice’s established procedure?

What would you think of a president whose head of the Department of Justice signed a criminal warrant against a leading journalist working for the news organization most critical of the president—and monitored the movements of the journalist and even went after his mother’s phone records?

What would you think of an administration that directed the president’s press secretary repeatedly to deliver false information concerning the death of an American ambassador?

These are not hypothetical questions—and yet there is an entire class of journalist so invested in a certain moral and ethical image of the president its members are unable to entertain facts that might tarnish that image. They are the pro-Obama equivalent of Birthers, never letting emerging facts cloud the conclusion they’ve already committed to hold.

The same journalists who did not hesitate to assume the worst of previous Republican administrations—
E.J. Dionne, Walter Pincus, Jack Shafer, to name a few—are now tying themselves in knots trying to explain that there is nothing to see when the IRS probes Obama’s enemies or that the Justice Department secretly seizing the phone records of one of their peers and his mother was really a good thing. One has to wonder if it were their mother and her records, how that mother-son conversation would play out.

“Well, Mom, you know, the president has to do these things, and I’ve told you time and again not to email Aunt Sally about my sources. Is that any way to keep hope alive?”

Stevens was Mitt Romney's chief strategist in the 2012 presidential election. If he strategized as tough as he wrote this column, we might now have a new president.

People Who Are Against Genetically Modified Foods Are Ill-Informed, and Willing to Let Millions Starve to Death

Read all about it. And remember the port side's insane, completely unjustified opposition to genetically modified foods the next time that someone tells you that the American left and center-left has some kind of monopoly on respect for science and the scientific method.

Oh, and be sure to watch the video:

Anyone really surprised to find out that members of the anti-GMO crowd are unbelievably uneducated, completely weird, and boast at least one individual who refuses to vaccinate her kids because of the entirely invalid fear that vaccines promote autism? By the way, I am sure that these folks are more than happy to latch onto scientific findings when those findings support their particular political agenda. In such cases, you won't hear any of them complain or allege that scientists are on the take from big corporations or the government, or that scientific findings are any kind of fraud on the public.

Jonathan Turley Sees the Light?

It is nice to see that Jonathan Turley is expressing concerns that our national government may be too big, too unwieldy, and too chaotic. Dare we hope that his commentary seeps into the national consciousness, thus causing us to look to states, localities and the private sector for more solutions to our national problems?

I presume that the above will cause some to tell me that I hate government. Not so. But I am definitely not a fan of big, unwieldy and chaotic government, and as Turley makes clear, that's what we have right now. Liberals believe (in good faith, of course) that government can be--and is--a force for good more often than not. That belief is being seriously undermined by the type of national government we have, and if liberals want to be honest with themselves, they will re-examine their assumptions.