Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Last Call For Wheels On Fire

Where I say there's nothing Donald Trump can do that will cause his cult of followers to abandon him, I mean that Trump can casually destroy the livelihoods of his voters and they will gladly hand him the ax to chop their own heads off.

It is time for a smoke break at the Harley-Davidson power-train facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and the talk is all about tariffs. 
The men and women who build these famous American motorcycles are weighing the latest unintended consequence of Donald Trump’s presidency: the possibility they could lose their jobs because of a tit-for-tat trade war that has caught the Harley in its crossfire. 
The century-old Wisconsin company that Mr Trump has called “an American icon” — and which he has praised as a symbol of stubborn survival against the decline of the American Rust Belt — said on Monday that it would have to move some US production overseas to avoid EU tariffs. The motorcycle maker was the first US manufacturer to scale down domestic production in response to the levies, which were imposed as retaliation for US steel and aluminium duties. 
The workers gathered outside the factory gate could end up as collateral damage, but most are sticking by their man regardless. Wearing earphones draped around their necks and safety blinders on their glasses, most happily volunteer that they voted for Mr Trump and would do so again — tariffs or no tariffs.
“He wouldn’t do it unless it needed to be done, he’s a very smart businessman,” said one Harley employee whose name is embroidered on his work shirt — though he asks not to be quoted by name. “I think he’s playing poker: I’ll hit you with this, you’ll hit us with that, I think this will bring them to the table — unless he’s completely crazy,” chimed in another, who also declined to be quoted on the grounds that he could get into trouble with the company for speaking out.

Asked whether they blame the president or the EU for causing Harley’s offshoring decision, most say emphatically that they blame only the Europeans. “The president was just trying to save the US aluminium and steel industry,” said one approvingly. 
Harley-Davidson said on Monday that it maintained a “strong commitment to US-based manufacturing”, but that its facilities in India, Brazil and Thailand would increase production to avoid paying the EU tariffs that would have cost it as much as $100m. 
When asked whether the latest news could make him vote against Mr Trump if he runs for a second term in 2020, one worker, who gave his name only as Tod, replied: “No, I don’t think so. It’s going to take a little bit more than that. He’s doing good things. We’ll just have to see who runs on the other side, that might change my vote.” 
Mark, another Harley worker sitting astride his motorbike during the afternoon shift change at this plant that employs about 1,000 workers, said: “I think Harley is just using it as an excuse” to move more production overseas, after a recent decision to close the company’s Kansas City plant. “They will just blame it on Trump.” 
Mr Trump later appeared to echo that argument, castigating the company for using the tariffs as a pretext. “Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag,” he tweeted, highlighting the irony that such a symbol of made-in-the-USA greatness would be one of the first casualties in his trade battle. 
Several workers said they thought they could find other employment if they lost their Harley jobs — partly because the US economy is booming.

 I can't think of anything that falls so squarely into the category of "economic anxiety" quite like "stupid and unnecessary global trade war that will lead to me being laid off" but they are happy with Trump for doing this, if not thrilled.

The "Kenyan Muslim terrorist and the Clinton bitch were going to destroy our jobs" so they voted for Trump, and when Trump specifically takes action to destroy their jobs, they say they'll vote for him again anyway.

Can we finally bury the "Trump won the Rust Belt because of  economic anxiety" lie now?

A Blockbuster Bronx Bombshell

The Democratic primary in NY-14 turned into a stunning upset for the DSA as 56-year old Joe Crowley, 20-year veteran lawmaker representing the Bronx and the Dems' number 4 in the House leadership and Caucus chair, found himself losing by double digits last night to 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rep. Joe Crowley, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives, lost his New York primary in a shocking upset on Tuesday night to community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Crowley, having fundraised nearly $3 million for the race in New York’s 14th District, fell easily to a first-time candidate with a viral introduction video, a Democratic Socialists of America membership card, and a proudly leftist agenda. She ran on Medicare-for-all, a federal jobs guarantee, and getting tough on Wall Street. The race was called just before 10 pm for Ocasio-Cortez.

For those who closely watch elections, this is the biggest primary upset since then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by David Brat in 2014. Brat ran on a campaign of depicting Cantor as a creature of Washington rather than a true representative of the district.

Likewise, Crowley, who has been in Congress since 1999, is the No. 4 Democrat in the House and was widely viewed as an eventual successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Though he was a stalwart progressive on nearly every issue, he also had close ties to Wall Street. This made him a formidable fundraiser, something that Ocasio-Cortez turned against Crowley in the primary. She eventually fundraised about $600,000 through small-dollar donors.

The district, which spans parts of the Bronx and Queens, is heavily Democratic, so Ocasio-Cortez is all but guaranteed to be a new member of Congress in November. 

That would make Ocasio-Cortez the youngest woman elected to Congress if she wins, and there seems to be no chance that she doesn't.  And as far as her platform, well, you know what?  An 80% Democratic district is exactly the kind of place we need to have a card-carrying Socialist.

I'm alright with that.  More power to her.

As far as Crowley goes, yeah, he was definitely going for Nancy's job, but then again he was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong 20-year career under his belt.  Crowley hadn't faced a primary challenge since 2004 and it showed.  He got sloppy, skipped debates, and took his opponent for granted.

And he lost because of it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think for a second that this is the Rise Of The Berniecrats, and the comparison to Dave Brat beating Eric Cantor is lazy at best.  This was "all politics are local" 101 and Crowley flunked the test, and it cost him any shot he had at Nancy Pelosi's job.

The question is who will succeed Pelosi.  Crowley was a smart pick, but the reality is if the Dems do take back the House, Pelosi may not have 218 votes.

We'll see.

Breaking: Justice Kennedy Retires

Donald Trump will get a second SCOTUS pick, GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has dropped all pretense of "the people must get a voice in this nomination" and assures the vote will come in the fall before midterm elections.

Democrats of course cannot filibuster, as McConnell ended that months ago.  There's nothing they can do.  Any Republican senator who defies Trump on this will have Trump calling for their blood.  Literally.

By the way, kiss abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and a whole lot else goodbye.

What will change are rulings on issues where Kennedy has helped maintain a shaky 5-4 center-left consensus. Because of the court’s longstanding principle of stare decisis, or obeying past precedent barring a compelling reason not to do so, some liberal Court achievements are likely to stay. But a Court without Kennedy is substantially more likely to:
  • Overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states (and maybe the federal government too) to ban most or all abortions.
  • Reject challenges to capital punishment and solitary confinement.
  • Rule in favor of religious challenges to anti-discrimination law, and perhaps, in an extreme case, reverse some past Supreme Court rulings on gay rights.
  • Bar government actors from engaging in explicit race-based affirmative action.
And there are likely to be more aftershocks that are hard to anticipate this far in advance.

At this point, we tried to warn you.

A Supreme Disappointment

Yesterday's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling upholding Trump's Muslim travel ban is yet another historical cow flop in the punchbowl of American jurisprudence, one that Bloomberg's Noah Feldman says will take generations to fix.

In what may be the worst decision since the infamous Korematsu case, when the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the court today by a 5-4 vote upheld President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

Like the Korematsu decision, Trump v. Hawaii elevates legal formalities as a way to avoid addressing what everyone understood is really at issue here — namely, prejudice. Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion downplays Trump’s anti-Muslim bias, focusing instead on the president’s legal power to block immigration in the name of national security.

The decision will be a stain not only on the legacy of the Roberts court, but on that of the Supreme Court itself. The court tried to compensate by saying how bad the Korematsu decision was. And Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a separate concurrence in which he hints that perhaps the lower courts could reconsider the question of anti-religious animus. But these efforts are far too little to save the court, or Kennedy, from the judgment of history, which will be harsh.

Roberts’s opinion focuses mostly on the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the president the authority to exclude foreigners if he finds that their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Yet to focus on Roberts's analysis would be to make the same crucial error as Roberts himself — that is, treating one of the most outrageous acts of presidential bias in modern U.S. history as though it were an ordinary exercise of presidential power, taken by an ordinary president acting in good conscience.

When Roberts comes to the topic of bias, he recounts Trump’s anti-Muslim statements and the history of the travel ban (this is the administration’s third version). Then he balks. “The issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements,” Roberts writes. Rather, Roberts insists, the court’s focus must be on “the significance of those statements in reviewing a presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing the matter within the core of executive responsibility.” 
That is lawyer-speak for saying that, despite its obviousness, the court would ignore Trump’s anti-Muslim bias. Roberts is trying to argue that, when a president is acting within his executive authority, the court should defer to what the president says his intention is, no matter the underlying reality. 
That’s more or less what the Supreme Court did in the Korematsu case. There, Justice Hugo Black, a Franklin D. Roosevelt loyalist, denied that the orders requiring the internment of Japanese-Americans were based on racial prejudice. The dissenters, especially Justice Frank Murphy, pointed out that this was preposterous. 
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s most liberal member, played the truth-telling role today. Her dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, states bluntly that a reasonable observer looking at the record would conclude that the ban was “motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

She properly invokes the Korematsu case — in which, she points out, the government also claimed a national security rationale when it was really relying on stereotypes. And she concludes that “our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments.”

Indeed, Sotomayor makes it painfully clear that the man in the Oval Office making these "national security decisions" is a screaming, inchoate bigot in her dissent.

As the majority correctly notes, “the issue before us is not whether to denounce” these offensive statements. Ante, at 29. Rather, the dispositive and narrow questionhere is whether a reasonable observer, presented with all “openly available data,” the text and “historical context” of the Proclamation, and the “specific sequence of events” leading to it, would conclude that the primary purpose ofthe Proclamation is to disfavor Islam and its adherents by excluding them from the country. See McCreary, 545
U. S., at 862–863. The answer is unquestionably yes
Taking all the relevant evidence together, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus, rather than by the
Government’s asserted national-security justifications. Even before being sworn into office, then-candidate Trump stated that “Islam hates us,” App. 399, warned that “[w]e’re having problems with the Muslims, and we’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country,” id., at 121, promised to enact a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” id., at 119, and instructed one of his advisers to find a “lega[l]” way to enact a Muslim ban, id., at 125.3 The President continued to make similar statements well after his inauguration, as detailed above, see supra, at 6–10. 
Moreover, despite several opportunities to do so, President Trump has never disavowed any of his prior statements about Islam.4 Instead, he has continued to make remarks that a reasonable observer would view as an unrelenting attack on the Muslim religion and its followers. Given President Trump’s failure to correct the reasonable perception of his apparent hostility toward the Islamic faith, it is unsurprising that the President’s lawyers have, at every step in the lower courts, failed in their attempts to launder the Proclamation of its discriminatory taint.

I mean when's the last time you can recall a Supreme Court Justice saying, like this, that the current leader of the the US was a bigoted asshole like this?

But that's where we are.  And you'd better believe that Trump will use this green light to determine that other groups of people present "national security threats" and must be dealt with.


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