Pick One

Tony James, Blackstone Executive Vice Chairman, thinks his Progressive-Democratic Party needs to become a party of growth and inclusive prosperity.

The problem is that the Party is a Progressive one and becoming a socialist one.  This is not contradictory; the two ideologies are political allies if not siblings, too, and they’re not far apart economically.  The Party’s embrace of the former is demonstrated by Barack Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D, CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D, NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D, MA), Senator Kamala Harris (D, CA), newly ascendant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ (D, NY), and a host of others’ loud and enthusiastic embrace of progressivism.  The Party’s embrace of the latter is demonstrated by the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I, VT) and Ocasio-Cortez’ socialism within Party circles.

A Related Note

I wrote recently about the Court’s ruling on Janus v AFCME Council 31, which eliminated public service unions’ ability to collect “agency fees” from non union members.

The dissent by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by her three cohorts in the Court’s liberal wing is instructive, and it foreshadows the kind of government we can expect from today’s “liberals,” should they succeed in gaining control of one or both Houses of Congress and then of the White House.

The Supremes Get One Right

Resoundingly so.  Janus v AFCME Council 31 is a case originating in Illinois concerning a public service union’s ability to collect a per centage of ordinary union dues—agency fees—from non-union members who work alongside the union’s bargaining unit in for a government agency.  A 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent, Abood v Detroit Board of Education, upheld this ability.

The Court’s opinion (a 5-4 majority) is summarized in the syllabus:

The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment. Abood erred in concluding otherwise, and stare decisis cannot support it. Abood is therefore overruled.

The Supremes Get Another One Right

Sort of.  Mostly.

A deeply divided Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s latest ban on travel to the US by people from several Muslim-majority countries, in a ruling Tuesday that hands the White House a victory on one of its most central—and controversial—initiatives.

Small point, and it’s on The Wall Street Journal, not the Supreme Court: it’s not a ban on travel, it’s a moratorium.  The moratorium will be lifted on each of those countries when it becomes possible to accurately vet travelers from those countries.  A ban is broad and permanent.

Protecting US Technology

The Trump administration is moving toward a set of rules that would heavily restrict the People’s Republic of China’s ability to acquire American technology-developing companies and American technology.

Of course, there are objections to protecting our stuff.

Industry groups…are mainly concerned that the export controls could negatively affect their businesses by preventing them from using their technological edge.

If such groups were truly serious about this, they’d be truly serious about hardening their member companies’ facilities against hacking.

And

While many object to the investment restrictions, they are seen as having less practical impact because Chinese investment has fallen off so drastically.

Another Obamacare Episode

The Justice Department has declined to defend Obamacare in the suit against it brought by a large number of States in the aftermath of Congress’ repeal of the Individual Mandate penalty tax.  Recall that Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in 2012 to recreate the penalty as a tax in order to preserve the IM as constitutional, and thereby to preserve all of Obamacare as constitutional because of the inseverability of all parts of the law.

With the repeal of the IM’s…tax…that inseverability should doom the rest of Obamacare.

As a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision not to defend the law,

Italy and the Eurozone

Since the last Italian election all those interminable months ago, which yielded no party with even a serious plurality, the several (and I do mean several) political parties have been trying to form a coalition of some sort so they could form an actual government with which to operate the country.  The coalition most likely to succeed in forming a government, if not in actual governing, consists of the far-left 5Star Movement and the equally far-right League (Lega Nord, Northern League).  What’s of interest to me is less the irony of these two parties trying to govern together and more the impact on the eurozone and the EU if these two parties actually succeed in allying and governing Italy.  They want

US Corn Exports

The Trump administration is working on a deal with the People’s Republic of China to reduce the trade imbalance we have with them (whether the trade imbalance really is a bad thing and whether the PRC is working the deal as hard as the Trump administration are questions outside this post).  American farmers would have trouble producing enough to meet their part of the goal, were the deal to go through.

US corn exports could jump from $150 million to about $10 billion annually within a few years if China vastly expanded its quotas and reduced its duties that are as high as 65%, according to one estimate.

Encryption/Decryption Race

The political one I mean, not the technological one.  Recall, for instance the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI’s capture of one of the terrorists’ encrypted iPhones, Apple’s refusal to decrypt it (they couldn’t, by their design of the iPhone’s OS), then-FBI Director James Comey’s (yes, that Comey) cynically tear-jerking demand for future such personal device encryption back doors to decrypt at Government convenience, and Apple’s refusal to support development of that.

An expert on the subject—a technological expert I mean, not a political one—thinks he’s solved the problem.  His solution is described in a Wired article.  This expert thinks he has a way of providing Government “exceptional access” to a private person’s (or private enterprise’s) encrypted cell phone (for instance).  His solution, Clear, works this way:

False Choice

Consider the kerfuffle involving corm farmer subsidies in the form of ethanol mandates and the required use of ethanol by oil refiners as they produce vehicle fuels.  The argument is being presented as a choice forced on President Donald Trump in that he “must choose” between the corn farmers and the oil companies as the kerfuffle is solved.

Oil refineries want out of a costly requirement to blend ethanol into the gasoline they produce. Corn growers say the requirement diversifies the US fuel supply, and insist Mr Trump fulfill promises to at least hold the ethanol mandate.