Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Remember the jobs at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis that Trump said he would save?  Those jobs are going to Mexico now and the people who voted for Trump are just another batch in a long line of people The Donald has stiffed over the years.

Last night, at Sully’s Bar & Grill, which sits across the street from the Carrier Corporation’s furnace plant, on the west side of Indianapolis, and serves as the de-facto company bar, two of Carrier’s soon-to-be-laid-off longtime employees had a drink and talked about how they got there. Today, the profitable H.V.A.C. company, owned by United Technologies Corporation—a federal contractor whose climate, controls, and security division, of which Carrier is a part, reported three billion dollars in operating profit in 2016—is letting go of more than two hundred employees in its second and final wave of Indiana-based layoffs, which began last July. In total, the company will be laying off more than five hundred employees as it moves manufacturing jobs to Monterrey, Mexico. Many of those employees voted for Donald Trump, who made saving Carrier’s “big, beautiful plant” one of his most repeated campaign promises. It was part of his broader preĆ«lection claim that “A Trump Administration will stop the jobs from leaving America.” 
That promise is the main reason that the soon-to-be ex-Carrier employees Renee Elliott and Duane Oreskovic voted for Trump, they told me yesterday. Elliott, a divorced mother of two who will turn forty-five next week, and Oreskovic, who is thirty-eight and single, both earned nearly eighteen dollars an hour making A90 furnaces at Carrier, where they worked their way up from entry-level jobs over the past five years. Neither possesses a college degree, and their jobs afforded them middle-class lives: Elliott is paying a mortgage on a house in Indianapolis, and Oreskovic said that he “could go out and enjoy myself when I wanted, play some pool.” When Carrier announced the planned layoffs, in February of 2016, on what many employees soon began calling “D Day,” their financial futures suddenly came into question. Then, in the run-up to the election, Trump seemed to offer a solution, with his tough talk about stopping the flow of American jobs to other countries, including Mexico. 
We took him serious,” Elliott said, tearing up as she sat in a booth at Sully’s, “because he did seem to be an entrepreneur. He knew this offshoring shit was gonna go down, and ‘I’m not gonna stand for it’ is the way he made it sound. Hillary never said a word to us or about us. Obama never flew Air Force One to our facility, like he did to one in Elkhart, Indiana, when he was campaigning. I thought, This man is not gonna be anybody’s puppet.” Elliott went on, “It was an easy vote for me. Not just because of ‘The Apprentice.’ We believed in him here at Carrier. The vast majority of us. It was Trump deluxe in there. I told people, ‘He’s gonna find a cause somewhere. He’s gonna be a savior.’ Little did I know the cause was gonna be us.” 
Hundreds of Carrier jobs will remain in Indianapolis, but Elliott and others argue that those jobs—many of them office-based, not on the manufacturing line—were never in jeopardy. “Trump saved some jobs,” Elliott insisted. “He didn’t save mine, but he did save some.” She sighed. “Just don’t bullshit us. We never thought the office personnel was going anywhere, anyway. They’re not making units. We are. We’re the ones that made the $9.7 billion that they collected.” She went on, “We can understand companies having to go overseas if they’re losing money. We get it. But Carrier is the top A.C.- and furnace-making company in the nation, getting money hand over fist.” 
Elliott, who plans to file for unemployment insurance, doesn’t think that anything can save her job now, at what she called “the eleventh hour.” Still, she said that she wouldn’t be silent about “the two hundred and sixty-one families affected this week.” And the area businesses, too. “The Chinese restaurant on the corner,” she said. “The Quick Stop. This place, Sully’s. After a shift, especially on the nights, it looks like a ‘Gin and Juice’ video, a Snoop Dogg video here: we’re all outside shooting dice, playing cards, drinking, visiting, commiserating. We were really a family. It’s not just that I’m a lost paycheck away from homeless now. I will never find a job like this one again.”

Let's be honest here, after 25 years of FOX and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and Alex Jones telling these folks that Hillary Clinton was the root of all their problems, they never were going to vote for her.  At most, they were going to sit out 2016, and there's a pretty good chance they'll sit out 2018 and 2020 as well.

The Dems have to make the case that they have something to offer folks like Renee Elliott.  These are the kind of people I work with every day at my job, but it's nearly impossible to get that message through the noise right now.  It's terrible of me to say that it's better for them to sit out then vote GOP, but that's not going to fix the problem.

Like I keep saying, maybe they're not all deplorables, but Trump's racism sure wasn't a dealbreaker, and for the life of me I don't know how to reach them.

The truly awful part is I'm not sure if I do want to reach them.  That makes me a Machiavellian monster, I know, but these folks showing up and our side not showing up has really, really destroyed this country.  We see the evidence of it.

All I can do is vote and encourage you to get others to vote as well I guess.

I don't know.  I really don't.

In The Nixonian Moment

Stop waiting for the constitutional crisis that President Trump is sure to provoke. It’s here.

On Sunday, via Twitter, Trump demanded that the Justice Department concoct a transparently political investigation, with the aim of smearing veteran professionals at Justice and the FBI and also throwing mud at the previous administration. Trump’s only rational goal is casting doubt on the probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which appears to be closing in. 
Trump’s power play is a gross misuse of his presidential authority and a dangerous departure from long-standing norms. Strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin use their justice systems to punish enemies and deflect attention from their own crimes. Presidents of the United States do not — or did not, until Sunday’s tweet
“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Rather than push back and defend the rule of law, Justice tried to mollify the president by at least appearing to give him what he wants. The Republican leadership in Congress has been silent as a mouse. This is how uncrossable lines are crossed.

And it gets worse, not only did Trump meet with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray to directly order something be done about the investigation into his own campaign, he basically ordered that the FBI and DoJ turn over information on the investigation to Republicans in Congress.

The White House brokered an agreement on Monday with intelligence and law enforcement officials that will allow Republican congressional leaders to view some of the most highly classified information related to the Russia investigation, administration officials said. 
For months, a small group of lawmakers close to Mr. Trump have been in a pitched fight with the Justice Department over access to some of its most delicate case files, including documents detailing the scope of the Russia investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. 
They have trained their focus most recently on access to documents and information related to a secret informant used by F.B.I. agents to gather information from Trump associates who were overseas during the 2016 presidential campaign. Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has threatened to hold Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the Russia inquiry, in contempt of Congress or to try to impeach him if he does not hand over the material. 
Until Monday, intelligence and law enforcement officials had strenuously resisted both demands, saying that the information was highly sensitive and that it was not appropriate to turn over the unredacted material to Congress, where they fear it could potentially become public or be used to undermine Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. They raised some of their concerns in a letter and then in a face-to-face meeting two weeks ago with Mr. Nunes.

It was not clear after Monday’s meeting how much of that information will now be shared with lawmakers and in what form, or who it will be shared with and in what venue. Democrats have typically been given the same access as their Republican counterparts to delicate files related to the case, but officials on Capitol Hill said they had been given few firm details on the apparent agreement.
White House officials said they expect the disclosure to happen quickly, most likely before the end of the week.

This is flat-out banana republic time, guys.  All I can say is I hope that Rosenstein playing along is a sign of his confidence in how ironclad the Mueller probe is, because we already know Rep. Devin Nunes will leak anything and everything he's shown.

The real problem is WH Chief of Staff John Kelly getting to see all this information.  That's basically letting the mafia don's consigliere sit in on the case meeting between the RICO unit and the DA.  It's full-on nuts, and Republicans are going along with it.

These are dark times this week.  I expect they will only get far worse.

Never Saw Gorsuch A Mess

And we have our first major Supreme Court decision authored by Justice Merrick Garland Neil Gorsuch and it's a doozy, one that essentially ends employee class-action suits and as Think Progress's Ian Millhiser explains, basically legalizes employer wage theft.

The Supreme Court held on Monday that employers can force their employees to sign away many of their rights to sue their employers. As a practical matter, Monday’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis will enable employers to engage in small-scale wage theft with impunity, so long as they spread the impact of this theft among many employees. 
Neil Gorsuch, who occupies the seat that Senate Republicans held open for a year until Donald Trump could fill it, wrote the Court’s 5-4 decision. The Court split along party lines. 
Epic Systems involves three consolidated cases, each involving employment contracts cutting off employees’ rights to sue their employer in a court of law. In at least one of these cases, the employees were required to sign away these rights as a condition of starting their job. In another, existing workers were told to sign away their rights if they wanted to keep working. 
Each contract contained two provisions, a “forced arbitration” provision, which requires legal disputes between the employer and the employee to be resolved by a private arbitrator and not by a real court; and a provision prohibiting employees from bringing class actions against the employer. 
Writing with his trademarked smugness, Gorsuch presents Epic Systems as a simple application of a legal text. “The parties before us contracted for arbitration,” he writes. “They proceeded to specify the rules that would govern their arbitrations, indicating their intention to use individualized rather than class or collective action procedures. And this much the Arbitration Act seems to protect pretty absolutely.”

And of course, the real losers here are women and workers of color suffering from corporate wage theft.

Epic Systems means that employers who cheat a single employee out of a great deal of money will probably be held accountable for their actions — though it is worth noting that arbitrators are more likely to favor employers than courts of law, and that they typically award less money to employees when those employees do prevail. The biggest losers under Epic Systems, however, will be the victims of widespread, but small-scale, wage theft. 
The lesson for employers, in other words, is to go ahead and cheat your workers. Just make sure you spread the theft widely among as many employees as possible, and that you don’t take too much from any one person.

Your employer is now free to force you to sign away your rights to class-action lawsuits -- and a host of other protections -- as a direct result of this decision.  You'd better believe your boss is coming up with a way to do just that, if they haven't already.

But her emails, they told us.


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