Sanctuary Cities and Federal Funding

San Francisco asked a federal judge Wednesday to block President Trump’s order threatening to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that bar police from enforcing immigration laws.

This suit has a good chance of succeeding.  In 1987’s South Dakota v Dole, the Supreme Court ruled (in a dispute over the State’s minimum drinking age and Federal highway funds transfers to the State) that the Federal government cannot withhold already agreed Federal funds from a State in order to coerce State acquiescence with Federal wishes.  Funds can be withheld to “persuade,” but the withheld funds must be related to the question at hand rather than a blanket withholding, and the amount withheld cannot be coercive in its size, but only persuasive.  Without naming a threshold for the amount, the Court held that the 5% withholding imposed by the Federal government was not coercive.

Misguided

In light of whose DoJ it’s been doing this most recently, it’s easy to say it was nefarious.  But the whole thing could be eliminated with either of a couple of steps and a change in underlying procedure.

What is “it?”  It’s a secret (or merely secretive) slush fund fed by settlement proceeds from DoJ civil suits against large banks.

When big banks are sued by the government for discrimination or mortgage abuse, they can settle the cases by donating to third-party non-victims. The settlements do not specify how these third-party groups could use the windfall.

Who Should Control American Foreign Policy?

One answer is indicated by the Trump administration’s de-emphasis of the World Trade Organization as the primary arbiter of our international trade policy.  A draft policy document, if the leak of it is a legitimate one, and if it’s being accurately described in the NLMSM might represent a promising start.

The Trump administration is developing a national trade policy that would seek to diminish the influence of the World Trade Organization in the US and champion American law as a way to take on trading partners it blames for unfair practices, according to a draft document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A Bank Gets One Right

The city of Seattle, WA, is upset with Wells Fargo because the bank is a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project.  They’re so upset, in fact, that they’ve advised Wells that Seattle won’t renew its financial services contract with the bank when it expires at the end of next year.

Phillip Smith, Executive Vice President and Head of Government and Institutional Banking at Wells Fargo, isn’t worried, though.  He responded to the city via letter, saying that

if the city really wants out, the bank will sever its contract with the city immediately, with no penalty, and will help the city find a replacement[.]

Hysteria or Hypocrisy?

You pick ’em.  The latest example of irrationality (which is a superset of both hysteria and hypocrisy) comes via V the K at GayPatriot.

Recall that the Progressive-Democratic Party that runs Philadelphia passed a massive sugar tax to be levied against soft drinks sold in the city.  Recall, too, the high school economics teaching that if you raise the price of something, demand for that something falls off.  Finally, recall that applying a tax to that something is the same as raising its price.

The [soda] tax is huge, amounting to a 45% to 100% increase in the final consumer cost of typically affected beverage products.

Call Them on Their Obstructionism

Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, says go big or go home regarding Obamacare.  Republicans in Congress should quit dithering, should not play reconciliation games, and should simply put an Obamacare repeal and replace package up for vote.  This would force the Democrat obstructionists—especially those #NeverTrumpNoHow and #NeverRepublicanNotEver Progressive-Democrats in the Senate on the record as by-name blocking reform of the Obama program that is in its death spiral, the endpoint of which will leave millions of Americans without health coverage and without even coverage providers to which to appeal.  Especially put those 10 Progressive-Democrats pretending to moderacy in order to protect their precarious reelection chances in 2018 on the spot.

Of Course He Does

California has an infrastructure failure problem that involves everything from its roads to its dams and other water control facilities.  Governor Jerry Brown (D) says it will cost $187 billion to fix its infrastructure, and he wants $12 billion per year of Federal funding to help with that.  In actuality, Brown doesn’t want Federal funding, he wants what Federal funding consists of: money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of financial straitened New York to help pay for his needs, he wants money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of nearly bankrupt Illinois to help pay for his needs, he wants money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of fiscally responsible and so flush Texas and Utah to help pay for his needs.

Part of the Problem with Claims of NATO Obsolescence

…is the Left’s and Europe’s lack of understanding of the meaning and the import of obsolescence.  This is illustrated by a piece in World Politics Review.

The failure to understand is illustrated with this claim:

[A]lthough Russia’s resurgence as a revanchist and norms-breaking power has conveniently thrust NATO back into the thick of European and American security concerns, Europe actually faces no threats for which the alliance is the most effective instrument. In fact, Europe faces no military territorial threats at all.

Domestic Protectionism

Illinois State Congressman Michael Zalewski (D), after consulting heavily with General Motors, wants car makers to be able to operate self-driving taxis—which, of course, those same car makers would make.

However.

His bill, introduced February 8, would limit access to the business to companies that make their own vehicles. That means GM would be eligible, but not tech companies like Uber Technologies Inc that are developing their own self-driving cars and don’t make their own vehicles.

Nor would Google be allowed in.  Or Lyft, were they to want to get into the business.  Or an IBM, should it want to build a Watsonmobile.  Or….

A Sense of Self-Importance

That’s the sense of the European Union as it desperately seeks validation from the US for its existence—as if, as The Wall Street Journal put it, an American Administration is responsible for the EU’s fate.  Here’s European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker:

I do think the United States needs a strong, united European Union on all possible issues.

We’d certainly benefit from a united front on the continent on matters relating, for instance, to Russia.  But this doesn’t need an EU; it simply needs a common understanding by the continental nations of the threat posed by Russia.