All posts by Scott Miller

For 14 August: North Korea

Given the developments of the last few days, it looks like we presciently (fortuitously?) chose “North Korea” as our topic for next Monday. We can discuss questions such as:

  • What should the US policy be towards North Korea?
  • How do we best leverage the Chinese relationships with NoKo and the US to achieve our goals?
  • What are realistic goals for US policy?
  • How do the new South Korean president’s views on engagement with NoKo factor in?
  • Should US policy adopt Susan Rice’s “red line”–which I take to mean “annihilation of North Korea” upon “proof that North Korea has transferred nuclear weapons to another state or nonstate actor”? Or are these just empty words?

This is obviously a very difficult puzzle–one that has eluded the UN Security Council’s attempts to solve. While we’ve focused on NoKo in past Beyond Labels discussions, it seems particularly timely to revisit now that the degree of bellicosity has ramped up on both sides.

Remember: We start at 10:00am (instead of 10:30am) for the month of August.

For July 24: Legislative Abdication

To what extent has the US House of Representatives and Senate abdicated its constitutional responsibilities in the last 50 years? Some obvious examples are declaration of war powers and budget but there are more subtle legislative abdications.

What are possible explanations of this phenomenon and what are some possible mechanisms for “reconstitution” of these responsibilities?

To what extent has the executive and judicial branch assumed the void?  For instance, recent administrations  have expanded executive orders and made questionable recess appointments.  In some cases the court has redefined what might have been a legislative prerogative as in the health care “tax.”  In other cases, like recess appointments, the court has ruled against the executive over-reach while leaving the definition of “recess” ambiguous.

Yet the legislative branch continuously declines to assert its prerogative to legislate in a way which would reclaim it’s authority. (In this case the Congress might have itself defined “recess” legislatively.)  There are other examples where Congress has neglected opportunities to reassert  its power in relation to the other two branches.