Friday, January 6, 2017

Last Call For Flights Of Fancy

Ol' Perfessor Glenn Reynolds is quite perplexed in his USA Today column this week as to why liberals haven't simply all moved to Canada or dashed themselves on the jagged rocks below or something, and he's having a hard time with this notion of "resisting" America's rightful God-Emperor Trump.

When people feel their place in the world is threatened, they tend to lash out. And after all, the gentry liberals were promised by no less a figure than Clinton Labor secretary and former Harvard professor Robert Reich that the symbolic analysts like them would own the future. 
But my favorite example came much more recently, in the form of a New Yorker cartoon showing an airline passenger (seated in Economy, of course) standing up and asking his fellow passengers: “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” 
In this view, ordinary people are just carried along for the ride, while the country is run by experts with vast experience and credentials. Letting ordinary people take charge would surely result in a disastrous crash. If the pilots are “smug” it’s because they have abilities that ordinary people lack. 
This is nice, if you see yourself as one of the pilots, possessed of those special abilities. If you think of yourself as one of the smart people, the ones who should be guiding the airplane of state (we used to talk about the “ship of state,” but hey, this is the 21st century), then the suggestion that the passengers might want to take over the controls is both insulting and frightening. 
But, of course, being a member of the governing class doesn’t involve anything like the specialized skills that flying an airplane does. And just as passengers on an airplane actually do get to choose their destination — they’re paying customers, after all — so the voters get to choose things, too. (And if you look at recent history, the “pilots” tend to crash the plane a lot, but then walk away unscathed, unlike those passengers in the back. Peggy Noonan calls these political elites the “protected class” and she’s not far wrong: “The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it.”) 
And now that Trump has won, people are, in fact, a lot less respectful of the traditional academic and media and political elites. Trump didn’t just beat them, after all. He also humiliated them, as they repeatedly assured everyone (and each other) that he had no chance. It’s a huge blow to the self-importance of a lot of people. No wonder they’re still lashing out.

This would be funny if it wasn't for two things: First, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million or so, and second, Trump and his "pilots" are the least-experienced group in modern times to try to run America's "airplane of state".  It's one thing for the passengers on the plane to try to fly one, it's another for the airline to actually employ people who have not only never flown a plane as pilots but who don't believe planes can fly because the "scientific debate on aeronautics isn't settled" or that their "religious beliefs are being impinged upon by the people who think man should take to the skies" or that they've taken large amounts of money to lobby against airplanes, airports, and the FAA even existing.

Trump airlines hires literally the least capable people to fly an airliner, guys.  But the problem is liberals who maybe don't want to crash into the sea, right?

Climate Of Hostility, Con't

Remember last month when I talked about the Trump transition team being very, very interested in the identities of any Department of Energy employees that helped shape the Obama administration's climate change policies?

When I said that the Trump administration's official position on climate change is that it's a best bad science to be eliminated and at worst a dangerous hoax, either way Trump was going to claim that Obama cost the nation billions and that this "government waste" was always going to be purged.

The problem for Trump and the GOP was that they couldn't just blanket fire people.  Civil service has long-standing legal protections against political pogroms like this.  But it seems Republicans in Congress may have just found the solution they've been waiting for.

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service
The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program. 
A majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment, but opponents and supporters agree that it puts agencies and the public on notice that their work is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials. 
Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove disastrous to the federal workforce, when combined with president-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead. 
“This is part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now,” said Maureen Gilman, legislative director for the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees.

In other words, Republicans can't fire hundreds of thousands of federal government employees, that's illegal.  But what they can do is reduce their yearly salaries to one dollar and wait for them to quit on their own accord.

But why go through all this trouble?  Very simple: To hurt blue states with lots of federal employees and push them towards being red states.  Places like say, Maryland and Virginia.

The rule is particularly troubling to Virginia and Maryland lawmakers and the District’s nonvoting delegate, who represent large numbers of federal workers in the national capital region
The Holman provision was approved Tuesday as part of a larger rules package but received little attention amid the chaos of Republicans’ failed effort to decimate the House ethics office on the first day of the new Congress.

Oh.  Suddenly tens of thousands of Northern Virginia and Maryland federal employees, many unionized, have their salaries arbitrarily cut to $1.  You want to talk about destroying the local economy?  People would flee in droves.  And guess what?  A lot of these workers and their families are 1) people of color and 2) die-hard Democrats.

The Holman rule would obliterate the region, and the GOP knows it.

Would you want to rock the boat when Congress could cut your salary to $1 at any time?  Would you want to stay in your job knowing that?  Would you want to move to the capital region and take a job as a federal employee knowing that?

Oh, and if you think this would only be used against Virginia and Maryland federal employees, remember the state with the most federal employees is of course California.  There's little chance that going after tens of thousands of federal employees in the Golden State would do much to affect voting there, but it certainly would make a difference in Virginia and Maryland.

Trump's GOP will be worse than anyone can imagine, folks.  This will be used to decimate communities and entire government agencies.


Home Rule Is No Longer Cool

I'm old enough to remember when Republicans demanded local control over their city and county governments because those knuckleheads in the state capitol and those nasty evil parasites in Dee Cee had no idea how anything worked in Our Heartland Real American Town.

Of course that was before the Kenyan Mooslim was elected and Republicans became those knuckleheads in the state capitol and those nasty evil parasites in Dee Cee after 2010, and now of course we have to stop those liberal enclaves from passing their own laws because who the hell do those people think they are anyway?  We're going to have to put a stop to home rule immediately.

Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues.

Republican legislators around the country say liberal cities and counties vastly overstepped their bounds by implementing new taxes on sodas and sugary beverages, by raising local minimum wages or through strict new environmental regulations.

“What we see is circumventing the process that’s in place,” said Linda Upmeyer, the Republican speaker of the Iowa state House. “I think we will likely look at language on preemption so that the state is making decisions where it ought to, and cities and counties are making decisions where they should.” 
Democrats and city officials, however, see the preemption laws as a power grab aimed at limiting local governance in their party’s last bastions of political power — which have become ground zero in the fight to resist Trump. 
Preemption laws are nothing new in American history. The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution makes clear that federal law supersedes state law, and similar clauses in state constitutions give state laws precedence over local laws.

In recent decades, tobacco companies have used preemption laws to overcome local smoking bans, and the National Rifle Association turned to preemption to block cities from implementing new gun control measures.

But in the last four years, after Republicans swept to power in legislatures across the country, the number of issues on which states are asserting their rights has skyrocketed, said Mark Pertschuk, director of the Oakland-based Grassroots Change, which keeps close tabs on preemption legislation. 
The tension has grown as cities experiment with measures to raise revenue, keep their citizens healthy or add new protections for workers — and as Republicans have won control of states where Democrats still run large cities. 
“In the past 10 to 15 years, cities have become the laboratories of innovation,” said Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities, which opposes local preemption laws. “The discordant views of those at the local level and those at the state level have led to some real challenges.”

And yes, the Constitution makes it clear that states can pass preemption laws.  But for some odd reason they were never a priority until you had large, diverse, Democratic cities in red states decide that they should start being nice to those people and that Republicans at the state level had managed to gerrymander state legislatures into near permanent control and even majorities large enough to override vetoes by governors.

Now in 2017, suddenly cities deciding local laws for themselves needs to be made illegal as quickly as possible, particularly local minimum wage increases.

As yourselves why that is.


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