Kevin Drum Being Very Kevin Drum

Kevin Drum, posting a few days ago on the OBVIOUS illegality of where are all the women bloggers? a trillion dollar coin:

I am, obviously, not a lawyer. So if someone with actual legal training in the appropriate area of the law says I’m wrong, then I guess I’m wrong. But I’m not much afraid of that happening.

Lizardbreath (who is a lawyer) says Kevin Drum is (gasp) wrong:

Courts are expected to do what legislatures say, not what they mean: “legislative intent” can only be considered where there’s an ambiguity in the law. Even if what the legislature said is obviously not what they meant, courts are still expected to follow the letter of the statute. And the platinum coin statute isn’t ambiguous (unless there’s something in the wording I’m missing): the treasury can mint platinum coins, and they’re real money.

See also Paul Krugman (who is not a lawyer, but merely a Nobel Prize-winning economist).

The moral of the story: No, Kevin Drum doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.



Update: I’m so old I remember when paleobloggers used to decry Village Calvinball. (h/t BJ in comments)

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"I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future."

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  • Courts are expected to do what legislatures say, not what they mean

    If we did what legislatures meant we’d all be kissing Bankers and Heath Insurance Executives on all four cheeks.

    Aside: Given that chance I’d leave teeth marks.

  • Here’s a real problem with the coin idea: The legal hack only works if the Fed accepts the coin.

    Let’s suppose that, quite literally, Treasury works up a N-trillon $USD coin and walks it to the treasury. Will the Fed accept the deposit? The question hinges on the authority of the Treasury to issue such an unusual coin.

    Realistically[*], the Fed says “Uh, no, we’re pretty sure that isn’t legal”.

    Now it goes to court. Treasury goes to court for an emergency injunction to force the Fed to take the deposit — or the Fed goes to court for an emergency injunction to refuse the coin. Either way, there’s a delay there and the gov’t shut-down begins.

    Eventually the coin question wends its way up the courts, on an expedited basis — and we have a full blown, major constitutional crisis. SCOTUS won’t have much trouble finding sound reasons to prevent the coin hack[**]. I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if that led to an Obama resignation (if he were foolish enough to go this route).

    The most obvious alternative to the administration — a gov’t shutdown — is politically and legally much more viable. (It also happens to be *just fine* with the GOP but that’s a secondary consideration relative to the problems with the coin.)


    [*] The Fed won’t be inclined to thwart Congress on this one because Congress oversees the Fed. I think the Fed would try to refuse “the coin” because otherwise Congress would, going forward, punish the Fed otherwise. (Also, the Fed board would be skeptical of the idea in the first place.)

    [**] SCOTUS can easily reject the legality of the coin hack if they can find that Congress has passed self-contradictory laws; one which allows this coin and several other laws (like the debt ceiling) that are utterly meaningless in that case. Faced with contradictory laws like that, SCOTUS can easily take the (arguable, conservative, from their perspective) least-harm path by NOT using this as an excuse to upset the understood balance of powers ‘twixt the branches.

  • You know, it’s not Drum’s posting a few days ago on this that gets me. The quoted statement above actually makes sense, just giving an opinion with the caveat that he isn’t an subject matter expert and is willing to be proven wrong by someone who is. It’s the fact that after a bunch of subject matter experts came out and said he was wrong, he is still posting that he believes his position is right one and those someone’s “with actual legal training in the appropriate area of the law” are the ones who are wrong.

    Drum’s well on his way to becoming a mainstream pundit hack. Never let little things like facts or subject matter experts dissuade you from the position that your uninformed opinion is always right.

    • From my observation (been reading Drum on and off since Calpundit), the commenters at WaMo more or less kept his insufferably Serious™ tendencies in check with their infamous trademark invective and utter lack of patience for baby-splitting bullshit — a self-correcting mechanism that is missing at Drum’s MoJo home. A post like this would have been shredded in the Political Animal piranha tank (oh, the merciless things they used to do to Amy Sullivan posts…)

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