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Thief! (Part 5)

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Man, he wasn't kidding. 

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14 hours ago
Washington, District of Columbia
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California will require solar panels on all new homes. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

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Solar in the city.

More solar is not always and everywhere better.

Update, December 6: The California Building Standards Commission has signed off on the residential solar mandate, which means it’s now official. Here’s our explainer, first published on May 15.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently voted 5-0 to add some new provisions to the state’s building code. Among them is the requirement that as of 2020, all new house and multi-family residences of three stories or fewer, along with all major renovations, must be built with solar panels.

Where solar is not suitable, homeowners must have access to a community solar project or receive efficiency upgrades that compensate. (There are some exceptions for buildings in highly shaded areas.)

California is currently adding 113,000 housing units a year, and that number is rising. Right now only about 15 percent of them are built with solar, so this is a big boost to the residential solar industry.

The CEC also boosted standards for insulation, air conditioning, water heaters, and much more. It’s all part of California’s mandate for new homes to be “net-zero energy” — to produce as much energy as they consume — by 2020, with all commercial construction to follow by 2030.

Solar on most new houses! This might seem like an obviously good thing. Solar is great; solar panels are cool; California is leading the climate resistance.

But among energy nerds, the mandate has caused much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. They’ve been debating it all week on Twitter — on one hand, on the other; by now there are so many hands that I must confess to paralyzing ambivalence.

So let’s walk through some of the pros and cons and see if we can draw some kind of conclusion.

German political constituents. Shutterstock
Should California be more like Germany?

On one hand: the case against the mandate

Energy wonks and practitioners have offered a range of arguments against the mandate.

1) Rooftop solar is an extremely expensive way to reduce carbon emissions.

That is the subject of the short but pointed letter that UC Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein sent to CEC Commissioner Robert Weisenmiller, arguing that “residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” Rooftop solar generates energy anywhere from two to six times the cost of energy from big renewable energy farms.

2) Cheaper emission reductions are easy to find.

They could be had through regulations mandating more urban density, tougher home and vehicle efficiency standards, an increase in the renewable energy mandate, transmission expansion, or almost anything else, really.

3) The mandate will arguably produce no additional emission reductions at all.

California is operating under statewide mandates to reach 50 percent renewable energy, a doubled rate of energy efficiency, and 40 percent carbon reductions by 2030. Mandating one form of renewables doesn’t increase the total amount that will be deployed; it just shuffles the mix around. In this case, the CEC is mandating a more expensive form of renewables, which, all things being equal, will raise the cost of hitting the targets.

California climate targets EIA
California climate targets.

4) This rule was rushed into effect without comment from outside energy experts or economists.

The CEC ran an analysis of the mandate’s effect on private homebuyers and found that it would cost them anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 more upfront, but they would save twice that much over the lifetime of the house through lower energy bills — a roughly $40 monthly payment and roughly $80 monthly savings.

However, to my knowledge, there was no comprehensive analysis of the total social costs and benefits of the policy. There’s no way to know if the policy is a net benefit to Californians at all, much less whether it is more beneficial than other possible changes to the building code.

5) California already struggles with an enormous surge of solar power during the day.

The state already has enough solar that during midday, it can drive wholesale energy prices to zero or below. Solar often must be exported or curtailed. Solar’s effect on energy demand is known as the “duck curve,” which puts a strain on the grid.

As Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Ethan Zindler put it, the mandate “has the potential to make the duck curve duckier.” What’s more, much of that rooftop solar cannot be tracked or controlled by the utility (particular smart inverters are required to link a system to the larger grid), so the net effect could be a shakier grid, at least in the short term.

california's duck curve. CAISO

6) Solar eats its own lunch.

Since all solar produces electricity at the same time (when, y’know, the sun is out), each new unit of solar is competing with, and reducing the marginal value of, all the other units. (This price suppression effect, covered in detail in Varun Sivaram’s recent book Taming the Sun, is why falling solar costs are always chasing a receding target.) This is true no matter where the solar is coming from.

It’s possible that by mandating all this new rooftop solar — which must be paid retail rates under the state’s net metering policy, no matter the locational or time-specific value of its power — CEC will not increase the net amount of solar in the state much, or at all. It might just substitute rooftop solar for centralized solar.

7) There’s a housing crisis in California.

And finally, some would argue that it’s ill-advised to raise the upfront cost of housing in a state gripped by a housing crisis. Upfront costs are a particular challenge for middle- and low-income homebuyers, which are being brutalized in the state already.

In short, California’s new rooftop solar mandate might make it more expensive for the state to hit its renewable energy and carbon targets without yielding any net new solar build or emission reductions.

On the other hand: the case for the mandate

Energy wonks and practitioners have also offered a variety of arguments in support of the mandate.

1) Political will is not fungible.

It is an eternal verity of politics that any new policy is met by wonks explaining why other policies would have been better. But California advocates and policymakers do not get to pick and choose policies like they’re shopping at a supermarket. There was a coalition for this.

As the Washington Examiner writes, “the change had broad support from home builders, state political leaders, and solar advocates.” Also, the CEC was able to make the change without legislative approval. And the costs are concentrated on builders and homeowners rather than the broad public.

All of that is true of an extremely limited set of policies. The right question isn’t whether this change is better than some fantasy wonk bill, but whether it’s better than other policies that actually could have passed or, more likely, the status quo.

2) The CEC probably overestimated costs.

The CEC drew its cost estimates from a comprehensive, top-down report on global clean energy trends from BNEF. But there are many reasons to believe that it is substantially overstating what rooftop solar will cost Californians. BNEF’s report includes the solar rooftop retrofit market, but costs are much lower for new construction, especially as it scales up.

When building solar into new construction, there are no customer acquisition costs and no sales commissions, permitting costs are much lower, financing costs are much lower, there’s already an electrician on site, there are no interconnection applications, etc. Plus, solar panels are cheaper when bought in bulk, and California builders frequently build subdivisions all at once.

“With all these categories added up,” Arizona State University researcher Wesley Herche and John Weaver write in a close analysis in PV Magazine, “this eliminates more than half the cost of a residential system, bringing down the total to $1.12 per watt. From there, the elusive $1/watt is only a few years away in terms of system cost declines.”

3) Scale will bring innovation.

Tesla’s solar roof tiles look expensive now, but when the choice is between building a roof with a rooftop solar system on top of it or building a roof with a solar system built in, the cost calculus will look different. Increasing demand for building-integrated solar products will allow that industry to scale up and bring costs down as well.

4) Cost reductions bleed over.

All of these cost and operational improvements in the solar rooftop industry will bleed over into areas outside the mandate — into the retrofit market, and into other states — making rooftop solar more attractive even in places it isn’t required.

5) Time-of-use rates mean new rooftop solar could drive new storage and demand shifting.

California’s three big utilities are shifting to time-of-use rates for residential customers — meaning ratepayers will be charged more for electricity when it is more valuable. This will also affect net metering; if retail rates are lower during the midday solar surge, net metering compensation will be lower too.

That will give homeowners incentive to shift some of their solar energy around, which they can do with home energy storage — and helpfully, under the new building code, storage counts as compliance with efficiency mandates. That should get a lot of storage, and with it a lot of responsive demand, into California homes, which should help stabilize the grid.

6) Jamming new distributed solar onto the grid forces utilities to make needed changes.

This effect is difficult to quantify or fully predict, but by forcing so much rooftop solar into the market, the mandate could have the effect of forcing changes that need to be made anyway, like standardizing the use of smart inverters that give utilities visibility into home solar systems and properly incentivizing demand response.

Utilities are often loath to make life easier for distributed energy (they don’t like what they don’t own), but this mandate could force the issue, taking power out of utilities’ hands and putting it into consumers’.

7) Solar will become more visible, familiar, and contagious.

Also difficult to quantify: By making rooftop solar so much more common and familiar, like just another home appliance, the mandate will help answer consumer questions and ease consumer fears. As Abigail Ross Hopper, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association, told GTM, “I can’t overstate how strongly I feel about normalizing the solar experience so it feels less risky to the consumer.”

Researchers have already shown that solar panels are contagious — when people see them, they want them. And that effect could redound beyond solar, helping normalize renewable energy (and carbon policy) more generally. (Though, if we’re being honest, it’s already pretty normal in California.)

8) Rooftop solar and efficiency could help displace natural gas.

California now burns as much natural gas in buildings as it does in power plants. Reducing that means increasing efficiency and electrifying heating and cooling. (The state has a natural gas utility that is opposing electrification efforts; it remains very difficult for the average California homeowner to fully electrify.) Solar on every new home, plus mandates for highly efficient appliances, could drive electrification and displace natural gas.

9) The housing market will be fine.

The additional upfront costs to homeowners from the mandate are relatively small (again, probably much smaller than CEC estimated), especially compared to the thicket of other charges and barriers facing them in California — and the general effect of skyrocketing prices.

And remember, only the initial homebuyer pays the upfront costs, while every subsequent owner benefits from the energy savings. And, who knows, if the mandate does affect home prices on the margin, it might shift incentives toward building taller residences, which god knows California could use.

In short, California’s rooftop solar mandate will radically expand the rooftop solar market, drive down residential solar costs in other markets and states, shift more power into consumer hands, stimulate demand response and storage that will help grid flexibility, push technological innovation, and create jobs. It’s not a first-best policy, but given the urgency of the problem, it’s a good enough one.

On the third hand: how does it all balance out?


There are lots of ins and outs here. I didn’t even list all of them. Distributed generation like rooftop solar can also reduce the need for grid upgrades, saving utilities money. But then they only do that in areas of grid congestion, which this policy does not specifically target. There’s also the chance they could increase distribution costs on some parts of the grid.

I certainly agree with the common wonk sentiment that there are lots of other, better policies out there. This mandate wouldn’t have been my first choice, even in terms of changes to the housing code. If the state wants homes to be net-zero energy, it should first ramp up efficiency standards to make sure every building envelope is fully sealed; efficiency is almost always cheaper than rooftop solar.

California’s greatest needs — its housing crisis, its transportation emissions, the carbon intensity of its economy — would all be well-served by greater urban density. That means infill and building up; the requirement for solar panels should never stand in the way of densifying. I wish SB 827, which was density on steroids, hadn’t died in committee.

Still, as my granddad Hugh used to say, try wishing in one hand and pissing in the other; see which one fills up first. The politics and circumstances were right for this to happen, not some other thing.

As a general matter, when it comes to action on climate and clean energy, I’m inclined to think just about anything is better than nothing. But climate hawks should remain sensitive to the possibility that more solar is not always and everywhere better — that in some circumstances, more mandated solar could be worse than nothing, insofar as it crowds out cheaper low-carbon alternatives and raises costs without improving outcomes.

On that score, a little intellectual humility is called for. We simply don’t know yet what the full effects of the mandate will be. Not all of them are predictable; not all will be quantifiable.

Either way, it’s best not to get too hung up on any particular technology or technique for reducing carbon. There’s no substitute for taking a holistic view of the energy system, balancing its various needs against the various technologies capable of meeting them. Always, it is outcomes that matter.

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22 hours ago
I am also a firm, fascinated ambivalent on this policy. The one thing I'm sure of is that this is yet another nail in the coffin for residential natural gas in California. There is simply no business case for a home with rooftop solar to also have a natural gas line.
Washington, District of Columbia
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Nancy Pelosi’s opponents want term limits for House committee chairs. She might be open to it.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyser pose with members of the new House Democratic leadership team for a formal portrait at the US Capitol.

Why term limits could become the next big fight within the House Democratic caucus.

Nancy Pelosi is signaling she is open to letting less senior Congress members take charge of House committees — a key ask from some of her detractors.

Pelosi said she’s open to a conversation about term limits for committee chairs, a rule House Republicans have but Democrats do not. The Democratic leader added she’s “sympathetic” to the concerns of incoming freshmen and younger members during a Tuesday press conference. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) — the incoming chair of the Rules Committee — has also heard from new and current members who want term limits put in place.

But Pelosi was clear in her press conference: The will of the Democratic caucus will decide the issue.

“That’s a matter before for the caucus,” she said on Thursday. “I’ve always been sympathetic to the concerns that have been expressed by the members of our caucus on that subject. Actually, I tried to do that when I became speaker in ’07, but the caucus did not support that.”

House Democrats have long used a system that rewards seniority in the caucus — placing some members who have served the longest on plum committees. Imposing term limits on chairs could draw a backlash from some of Pelosi’s most reliable bases of support, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The lack of term limits means many committee members in safely Democratic districts get rewarded because they have more chance of getting reelected and staying for years.

Some of her top lieutenants have voiced opposition to the idea.

The debate about term limits typically resurfaces at the start of every Congress, but it’s taking on a prescient tone as a number of young freshmen members calling for leadership change have arrived on Capitol Hill, and Pelosi is trying to shore up support for her bid for speaker.

Though the caucus overwhelmingly nominated her, she still needs a few more votes to secure the speakership on January 3. The Huffington Post first reported that Pelosi was considering the change during a meeting with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in exchange for his vote. Perlmutter has previously said he will not support her for speaker.

But Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill strongly pushed back on that characterization.

“No such offer was made,” Hammill said. “This debate has been occurring in the caucus for years and has nothing to do with her nomination for speaker. Reports to the contrary are false.”

No matter what, Democrats will have to address the issue at the start of the next Congress; it is in the current rules package left by Republicans, and it will be up to Democrats to decide whether to keep term limits in or strip them out.

Why Democrats don’t have term limits

Term limits are one of the more noticeable differences between House Democrat and House Republicans. Republicans have imposed three-term limits for their committee chairs since 1992. And Republicans added the measure to full House rules in 1995, according to the Brookings Institution.

That means that rather than voting to add term limits, Democrats will actually be voting on whether to take them out of the rules package. They did this when they were in the majority in 2009, axing six-year term limits on chairs that Republican lawmakers had proposed. But some Democrats thought Republicans had come up with a better system to get new blood and new ideas cycling throughout the hierarchy of the House.

“A number of people would say Republicans have struck a better formula for advancement,” former Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson told Politico back in 2015. “And I don’t think it’s a bad thing for leadership at all. I mean, it’s verboten to say it, but it’s true and I think even our current leaders would recognize it, all of whom I support.”

The voices in favor of not having term limits are powerful ones in the Democratic caucus; the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have long been supportive of the seniority-based system, which they argue helps elevate minority representatives to positions of power.

These are two important bases of support for Pelosi, and if the Democratic leader took a position in favor of term limits, it could spark a backlash among more senior members. At the same time, Pelosi coming out in favor of term limits could give her a huge boost among the many young members who are currently on the record opposing her.

The debate over term limits goes to the heart of the main debate among House Democrats right now: what to do about the deep generational divide at the top of Democratic leadership and the new voices in the caucus hungry for change.

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22 hours ago
Term limits give the speaker more power
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1 day ago
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People Are Refusing to Use Self-Checkout Because It’ll “Kill Jobs”

These shoppers are refusing to use self-checkout lines because they're worried they'll lead to job loss — and because machines don't pay taxes.

Fighting The Tide

A new story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation looks at a group of people who are fighting the future: shoppers who refuse to use self-checkout lines because they’re worried they’ll lead to job loss.

“They’re trying to basically herd everyone in, get everyone used to the self-checkouts to continuously cut down on staff,” said Dan Morris, one of the people the public broadcaster interviewed. “Machines don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay into the pension plan.”

Doing Lines

CBC‘s reporting comes during a precipitous era for retail automation. Online sellers like Amazon have come to dominate consumer commerce over the past two decades, and some companies that have attained mastery in that space — including Amazon and Walmart — are now turning their attention back to the real world, where they’re working to use sensors and artificial intelligence to open stores that have no cashiers at all.

Whether that’s a future consumers want is a more complex question. CBC‘s story about self-checkout abstainers was inspired by a study from last week that found that only 11 percent of Canadian shoppers use self-checkout regularly. And that’s without getting into theft from self-checkout systems, a topic the Atlantic explored in depth earlier this year.

Meme Left

The CBC pointed to a Facebook meme that’s racked up hundreds of thousands of shares with the admonition to “never use a self checkout” because they “kill jobs” — and, as Morris pointed out, they don’t contribute to payroll taxes.

It’s tough to argue with that logic, but history has shown that many consumer boycott campaigns sputter. Perhaps the buyers avoiding self-checkout, more than seeking systemic change, are just trying to navigate an increasingly complex world of interconnected personal choices.

“Maybe the little bit we do makes no difference at all,” said Peggy Eburne, another shopper the CBC talked to. “But we like to stand by what we believe in.”

READ MORE: ‘They kill jobs’: Meet Canadians who refuse to use self-checkout [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation]

More on jobs of the future: Here Are the Jobs of the Future That Robots Won’t Be Able to Fill

The post People Are Refusing to Use Self-Checkout Because It’ll “Kill Jobs” appeared first on Futurism.

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2 days ago
I also refuse to eat food that was farmed using tractors, wear clothes that were made in factories, and read mail that traveled by car. Job killers, all of 'em.
Washington, District of Columbia
2 days ago
Don’t kill the jobs of people making the self-checkout equipment.

I guess a lot of people want to be minimum-wage cashiers.
2 days ago
until people don't need jobs, where else can they go?
2 days ago
Jeremy Rifkin wrote a great book called “The End of Work” about exactly that. It’s a big problem ... rising productivity and automation tech means we’re increasingly unneeded as labor. China solves it by making busy work to avoid revolution. But everybody has to buy in. For me, it’s about _better_ jobs. We could be building renewable energy and researching clean power, but we’re so focused on disappearing cashiers and factory workers that we won’t study and learn and vote to own what we make and not let the powerful reap all the benefits. This is why Macron is getting the backlash (ironic that it’s the only guy in the world in the middle ...).
2 days ago
Totally agree! But where are they?
2 days ago
We’re at near record low unemployment ... and from what I hear, there are huge shortages of skilled labor. (Doesn’t help that the US has cut off skilled immigrants.)
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2 days ago
I don't use self-checkout. I don't want to kill jobs.
Does the store pay me in some way for dealing with the annoying machines or bagging my own stuff? No.

Robert Mueller should charge Trump with committing a crime only a president can commit

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The number of times Trump has used Twitter to corruptly influence the administration of justice is so large, it’s hardly even worth recounting this week’s Trump tweet storm. It seems that every time his little fingers fly across the keys of his iPhone, he commits another felony. This week, it was obstruction of justice and witness tampering when Trump simultaneously tweeted out an attack on his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and praised his former campaign adviser, Roger Stone for saying that he would “never testify against Trump.” Trump’s tweets may have crossed a legal line, according to many legal commentators, including Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was quoted in the Washington Post.

“It comes very close to the statutory definition of witness tampering,” Eisen told the Post. “It’s a mirror image of the first tweet, only he’s praising a witness for not cooperating with the implication of reward. We’re so used to President Trump transgressing norms in his public declarations, but he may have crossed the legal line.”

The commentariat has been obsessed for the last two days with whether or not Trump broke the law with his tweets on Monday. Op-Ed pages and cable news desks have echoed Trump’s comments on whether Mohammad bin Salman ordered the assassination of Jamal Kashoggi: Maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t!

Obstruction of justice, it turns out, is difficult to prove. Is one tweet enough? Two? Six? See what I mean? Put so much as a single toe into that rabbit hole, and you’re quickly sucked in. What about repeatedly calling the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt?” Did it count when Trump called for the end of the Russia investigation? How about the way Trump treated Sessions, criticizing him again and again for recusing himself, then firing him? Was it obstruction when Trump asked Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn? Remember when he asked Comey for “loyalty” over steaks one night in the White House? Just the two of them sitting there in a little private dining room in the West Wing . . . Comey demurred, and Trump fired in a few days later.

Former prosecutors and Justice Department officials like former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal pointed to Trump’s tweets as part of “a pattern by Trump to interfere with law enforcement to serve his personal end,” according to the Post. And there’s the problem. The “pattern” has been going on for almost two years now. The question is, when is enough enough?

For Republicans in congress, the answer is never. It’s been one outrage after another, and they’ve sat up there on Capitol Hill twiddling and diddling the whole time. Now that Democrats will take over the House of Representatives in January, and the votes are assumed to be there to impeach Trump, the question has shifted to the Senate, where he would be tried.

So far, no one has suggested that Republicans in the Senate have the political will or inclination to find Trump guilty, even if they are faced with the mountain of evidence that has piled up around the White House. Trump’s popularity in the Republican party remains somewhere north of 90 percent. The twiddling and diddling on Capitol Hill, it seems, will go on.

With Special Counsel Mueller, the question has become, what will happen to any report he puts out after he’s finished indicting people in Trump’s orbit? Will acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, or William Barr, or whoever he decides to nominate move to quash it? If Mueller manages to get his report to Capitol Hill, it will face the same fate all of the evidence of Trump’s misdeeds have faced so far: even if the House impeaches Trump, Senate Republicans will never have the guts to find him guilty.

But Mueller has another option. He can bring an indictment against Trump.

I know, I know. There are two opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice that a president cannot be indicted, and it’s said that Robert Muller has always been one to “follow the rules.” But that’s just it. The “rule” against indicting a sitting president is a rule, not a law. If Mueller were to bring an indictment against Trump, it would certainly be tested in the courts by Trump’s lawyers. Opinions are mixed about what would happen if and when the case reached the Supreme Court.

I think the case would depend on what crime Mueller seeks an indictment for. There is plenty of evidence that Trump has obstructed justice. And more evidence recently emerged that the Trump campaign conspired with Russians in the manipulation of Democratic Party emails to win the election of 2016.

Emails released last week suggested that Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi were involved as cut-outs between Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in the release of Democratic National Committee and John Podesta emails in the final days of the election campaign of 2016. But so far, no evidence has been found that Trump himself was involved in conspiring with Russians to steal the election. Not even the infamous meeting with Russians in Trump Tower has been tied irrevocably to Trump.

Two sentencing memos released Friday evening tied Trump to even more crimes.  The sentencing memo on Paul Manafort asserts that he lied repeatedly when he told prosecutors that he had not been in contact with senior officials of the Trump administration. Prosecutors cited texts, electronic documents and testimony of a Manafort colleague and other intercepts proving that Manafort had contacts with the Trump administration.

The only possible reason for such contacts would have been to coordinate their stories about what happened during the Trump campaign, which would amount to obstruction of justice. In the case of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, the sentencing memo stated that “Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”  

“Individual-1 is of course Donald J. Trump, and the payments in question were made by Cohen to keep Trump’s affairs with two women secret. In effect, the Cohen sentencing memo is calling Trump a felon, in that he conspired with his lawyer to break the campaign financing laws to which Cohen plead guilty.

But I don’t think Mueller should bother with these crimes he committed in conspiracies with others. Rather, he should indict Trump for committing a crime only Trump, as President of the United States, can commit. He should indict Trump for violating the “Faithful Execution Clause” of the United States Constitution, which states in Article II, Section Three, that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Printz v. United States, decided in 1997 in a challenge to the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, left little doubt as to who has the authority and responsibility to execute the laws of the United States: “The Constitution does not leave to speculation who is to administer the laws enacted by Congress; the President, it says, "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," Art. II, §3, personally and through officers whom he appoints (save for such inferior officers as Congress may authorize to be appointed by the "Courts of Law" or by "the Heads of Departments" who with other presidential appointees), Art. II, §2.”

In Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, the Supreme Court went all the way back to Marbury v. Madison in finding that the “Take Care Clause” requires that the president obey the law. In that case, the court found that President Franklin D. Roosevelt could not arbitrarily remove a member of the Federal Trade Commission without the consent of congress and for purely political reasons.

Suffice to say, there is ample law to back up the notion that the Constitution requires the president to not only “execute” the laws, but to follow them as well. In taking numerous acts to break the law, whether by tampering with witnesses, or overtly obstructing justice, or conspiring with a foreign power to steal the election of 2016, Trump has demonstrably not “taken care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

It’s a crime only Trump, as president of the United States, can commit, because it involves a legal requirement on the president set forth not in U.S. Codes, but in the Constitution itself.

If Mueller were to indict Trump for violating this clause of the Constitution, he would not only be forcing the issue of whether a president is above the law as written for everyone else in the U.S. Code, but whether the president is subject to the law of the land as set forth in the Constitution itself. It would be an indictment for violating a law specifically written to apply to the president and no one else.

Such an indictment by Mueller would be throwing the entire matter into the lap of the Supreme Court without delay. It would be an unavoidable constitutional question, because it is a uniquely constitutional crime. It forces the issue of whether or not the laws apply to the president by making the law in question the constitution itself.

Some have said that the Founders always knew that this country would one day face the threat of a demagogue set on subverting the country by subverting its democracy. Well, they provided not one, but two ways of dealing with the situation. Not only can such a demagogue be impeached, he can be prosecuted for failing to “faithfully execute” the laws.

It’s almost as if the founders had in mind an out of control lying authoritarian monster like Donald Trump himself, isn’t it?

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3 days ago
Robert Mueller should charge Trump with committing a crime only a president can commit <— pretty good idea.
2 days ago
Washington, District of Columbia
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3 days ago
hmm this seems like a good idea
Brooklyn, New York
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