Patterico's Pontifications


Farmers, Bankers and Tariffs

Filed under: Economics,Government — DRJ @ 1:00 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

U.S. farmers are exasperated by latest trade war moves: ‘Another nail in the coffin’:

In response to President Trump recently announcing 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods, China allowed the yuan to weaken and suspended purchases U.S. agricultural products.

“The Chinese market has a large capacity and the prospect of importing high-quality U.S. agricultural products is bright,” state-owned media Xinhua said on Monday. “However, we hope the U.S. will conscientiously implement the consensus reached at the [G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan] between the heads of the two countries, and implement the commitments to create the necessary conditions for cooperation in the agricultural fields between the two countries.”

America farmers were dismayed by the developments. “This is just another nail in the coffin,” Tyler Stafslien, a North Dakota-based soybean farmer, told Yahoo Finance. “To see this thing only seems to be getting worse rather than better is very concerning, and the American taxpayers may have to foot another round of funding if this keeps up — or we could see a ton of farmers’ loss throughout this nation.”

Wall Street banks bailing on troubled U.S. farm sector:

The retreat from agricultural lending by the nation’s biggest banks, which has not been previously reported, comes as shrinking cash flow is pushing some farmers to retire early and others to declare bankruptcy, according to farm economists, legal experts, and a review of hundreds of lawsuits filed in federal and state courts.

Sales of many U.S. farm products – including soybeans, the nation’s most valuable agricultural export – have fallen sharply since China and Mexico last year imposed tariffs in retaliation for U.S. duties on their goods. The trade-war losses further strained an agricultural economy already reeling from years over global oversupply and low commodity prices.

What’s next? Trump will call for more farm aid.



California Law requires Presidential Primary Candidates to release Tax Returns

Filed under: Government,Law,Politics — DRJ @ 7:19 am

[Headline from DRJ]

California Requires Trump to Release Tax Returns for Spot on Primary Ballot

President’s lawyer threatens court challenge, calling new law unconstitutional

California will require presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary-election ballot, setting up a likely legal conflict with President Trump over his continued refusal to disclose any tax documents.

Under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, candidates must turn over five years of tax returns at least 98 days before the March 3 primary. The state would then release a redacted version of the documents.

The Constitution sets forth the requirements to be President that are based on age, citizenship and residency but laws do allow states to establish rules to limit ballot access, such as requiring filing fees and gathering signatures. In addition, this law only applies to the primary election, not the general election.



Preclearance under the Voting Rights Act

Filed under: Government,Law — DRJ @ 7:00 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Ten years ago, I wrote about preclearance under the Voting Rights Act:

The Obama Justice Department has rejected Georgia’s voter ID system that requires voters provide Social Security numbers and driver’s license data in order to vote. The rejection letter cites the law’s disproportionate impact on “African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters” that burdens their right to vote.

The rejection resulted from a requirement that Georgia obtain “preclearance” of voting changes under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Georgia and 16 predominantly Southern states, including Texas, are required to get “federal approval before changing election rules because of a history of discriminatory Jim Crow-era voting practices.” Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires that the local government prove to federal authorities that the voting change is not discriminatory and will not adversely affect minorities.

Then, in 2013:

On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013). The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.

Since then, the only way for a state to be put under federal preclearance was through litigation, i.e., a “separate court order.” Texas had already been sued for discrimination in redistricting, and the litigation continued after the Shelby County decision. In early May 2019, a Texas federal court heard arguments regarding whether Texas would still be subject to preclearance because of past attempted discriminatory redistricting:

A federal judge in San Antonio will hear arguments Thursday over whether Texas should have to clear its political maps with the federal government in 2021.

Any ruling on this question would be a test of a little-known part of the Voting Rights Act, sweeping legislation passed during the civil rights movement.

“This is pretty uncharted territory,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “Texas will be the first big test of this, and so it’s something that certainly people around the country are watching closely.”


“The Texas case will be a big test of whether the Voting Rights Act has any teeth after the gutting of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” Li said.

Now a federal court panel has decided Texas is no longer subject to preclearance, at least not because of this pending litigation:

After a yearslong fight over Texas’ political maps, a panel of federal judges on Wednesday denied the requests of voters of color, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers to put Texas back under federal supervision of its redistricting.

Although they noted “grave concerns” about Texas’ past conduct, the judges who have overseen the long-winding case against the state ruled that the drastic intervention was not warranted despite previously ruling that state lawmakers discriminated against voters of color when they first drew up new maps in 2011.


Although findings of intentional discrimination against the 2011 maps, which were never used, remained intact, the panel of federal judges said they were bound by the Supreme Court’s opinion that “nothing further remains to be remedied.”

The outcome is a massive loss for those who had hoped that Texas — a repeat offender when it comes to undermining the voting rights of people of color — would be back under federal oversight of its map-drawing ahead of 2021, when lawmakers will have to redraw maps to account for population growth.

Without an appeal to the Supreme Court, the 2021 redistricting cycle could mark the first time in nearly half a century that Texas will be able to implement new legislative and congressional districts without first proving they don’t undercut the electoral power of voters of color.

This may be appealed but it seems the preclearance requirement may be gone unless a court finds a state has engaged in current discriminatory intent or actions.



Coats Out as DNI

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 8:37 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Coats out as national intel director, clashed with Trump:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, will leave his job next month, President Trump announced Sunday, after a turbulent two years in which Coats and the president were often at odds over Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump announced Coats’ departure as Aug. 15 in a tweet that thanked Coats for his service. He said he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, to the post and that he will name an acting official in the coming days. Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller last week during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Coats often appeared out of step with Trump and disclosed to prosecutors how he was urged by the president to publicly deny any link between Russia and the Trump campaign. The frayed relationship reflected broader divisions between the president and the government’s intelligence agencies.

Dan Coats is out; Congressman and attorney John Ratcliffe is in following “his sharp questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller during his congressional testimony last week.”



American Citizen detained by ICE for 23 Days

Filed under: Government,Immigration — DRJ @ 2:45 am

[Headlines by DRJ]

I want to share this comment by Paul Montagu:

[T]he story of Francisco Erwin Galicia–the American citizen who was held by CBP/ICE for 26 days and was not released until after the media got wind–just gets worse.

First, border chief Brian Hastings lied to Congress when he said that Galicia never claimed to be a US citizen. There is literally a DHS document where some minion wrote down that “you falsely represented yourself to be a citizen of the United States.”

Second, I’m pretty sure that CBP/ICE violated the 8th Amendment (the one about “…nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted”) when, during his confinement without a shred of due process, Mr. Galicia lost 26 pounds, was denied a shower during his confinement, and “had to sleep under a foil blanket in a packed holding area.”

Even if not a citizen, our federal government shall not inflict cruel and unusual punishment on human beings, but this is all the worse because he is a citizen and he literally had a wallet-sized birth certificate, Social Security card and Texas ID card on his person. US citizenship should be the gold standard, the golden ticket, meaning that citizenship should mean something. We are supposed to be treated humanely, it’s our birthright, no matter the alleged transgression, but not so this administration.

Galicia discussed his treatment on MSNBC — US citizen released by ICE: ‘We went through something inhumane’:

“From my experience, we went through something inhumane, all of us who were in that detention center,” Francisco Erwin Galicia said in an interview with MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday.

“There, we couldn’t bathe or brush our teeth. Nothing. You didn’t have anything. The only thing that they would give us from time to time, to clean ourselves were wipes,” he added.

Paul’s links include a Dallas Morning News’ article where this story was first reported. The Hill has also reported on it:

Galicia was detained while traveling to a soccer scouting event with his younger brother, Marlon, who is not a citizen and the “illegal alien” Hastings referred to.

When the two brothers reached a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, Marlon only had a school ID card, while Francisco Galicia had his Texas ID, which can only be obtained with a Social Security number.

Francisco Galicia was later transferred to an ICE facility on the belief that his documents were fraudulent, while his brother signed a voluntary deportation form and has been staying in Reynosa, Mexico.

This story is concerning. I don’t know if it is relevant but it is common for people in Texas with ties to Mexico to cross the border, especially in the Summer and on holidays. I can’t tell if Galicia was confused at being detained, or this was about protecting his brother, or if someone is lying.



Puerto Rico Governor resigns

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 7:22 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Governor resignation sparks power struggle in Puerto Rico:

The resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor after mass protests has sparked a succession battle, and the winner could be a Washington corporate lawyer not directly linked to his administration, which has been dogged by corruption scandals.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló said on Wednesday he would step down on Aug. 2 in the face of public anger over the release of profane chat messages and embezzlement charges against two former administration officials.

In line with the U.S. territory’s constitution, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez is next in line to succeed Rosselló, based on current Cabinet vacancies.

But Vasquez faces opposition because of her political ties to the Governor. A DC lawyer who is the former Puerto Rico representative in the U.S. Congress may be the Party’s choice for Rosselló’s successor.

H/T: narciso and other commenters on the Breaking News & Off Topic Links post.

ALSO — AOC supports the ‘decolonization process’ of Puerto Rico following governor’s resignation:

In an Instagram livestream on Thursday night, Ocasio-Cortez took questions from her followers. The first asked how she felt about what’s happening in Puerto Rico. “First of all, I am so incredibly proud of everyone in Puerto Rico right now demanding accountability from their government,” Ocasio-Cortez began. “They were so relentlessly creative in their protest that they were able to get the governor to finally resign as well as some of his cabinet members.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, then suggested the island’s independence from the United States. “I’m really proud of everyone that’s out there, but of course there’s a lot of work to be done,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “This is just the beginning of a decolonization process, a process of self-determination where the people of Puerto Rico begin to start taking their own self-governance into their own hands.”

Rosselló was the Puerto Rican co-director of Hillary’s 2008 campaign.



Therapy, Service and Support Animals

Filed under: Air Security,Government — DRJ @ 4:15 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Therapy animals, often trained dogs, are used to help people in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, schools, and in the special needs community. In the US, service dogs are trained to help the disabled and police dogs or K9s help law enforcement. But there is another growing use for animals as emotional support animals:

Every dog owner knows there are benefits to having a dog, from getting out for exercise to loyal companionship. However, for some people with disabilities, the presence of a dog is critical to their daily functioning. The emotional support and comfort provided by their pet allows them to deal with challenges that might otherwise compromise their quality of life. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs).

Although all dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner, to legally be considered an emotional support dog, the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, for example, must decide that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient. For example, owning a pet might ease a person’s anxiety or give him a focus in life.

People are taking emotional support animals everywhere, and some states are cracking down:

More Americans are saying they need a variety of animals — dogs, ducks, even insects — for their mental health. But critics say many are really just pets that do not merit special status.

Examples of support animals that people are using include pigs, snakes, monkeys, iguanas, kangaroos, and an alligator. Now a flight attendants’ union is calling for national regulation:

A flight attendant received five stitches after he was bitten by an emotional support dog on a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Greensboro, N.C.

The bite happened on a flight Monday on Envoy Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group
A flight attendants union issued a statement Tuesday calling the incident “completely unacceptable and inexcusable.”

“For years, AFA has supported the role trained animals can provide to passengers in the cabin, but we have also called for action in regards to setting standards for emotional support animals,” read the statement from The Association of Flight Attendants. “We need the Department of Transportation to take action now, so events like the one that happened yesterday do not continue to occur on our planes.”

Earlier this year, American Airlines revised its service and emotional support and animal policy, limiting animals to dogs and cats only. Trained miniature horses are also permitted as service animals.



Government Spending Choices

Filed under: Environment,Government — DRJ @ 5:20 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Alaska village will install new river power generator:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A tiny Native village in southwest Alaska has turned to an emerging technology to transform the power of a local river into a sustainable energy source that’s expected to free residents from dependency on costly diesel fuel.

The village council in Igiugig is the first tribal entity in the nation licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to harness river water that’s not connected to a dam. That means the community of 70 is authorized to proceed with the complex project and that the system went through rigorous reviews by state and federal agencies, according to a U.S. Department of Energy official working with the village.

“It’s a huge milestone,” said DOE engineer Steve DeWitt, who manages the agency’s water power projects. He said a similar non-tribal system will be installed next year in New York City’s East River. But that river is tidal, not continuously flowing like the Kvichak River in Igiugig, he said.

The $4.4 million project is being paid for by state and federal funds, matching funds from the village and a development investment from Ocean Renewable, according to participants. Participants say U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, strongly supported the project and helped secure funding for it. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Committee spokeswoman Tonya Parish said Wednesday that Murkowski, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last year to urge the Energy Department to fund the project.

Read the whole thing.

I don’t have the expertise to tell if this is a PC government boondoggle or a worthwhile and creative attempt to provide reliable energy to appropriate areas. I hope it is the latter but the Bridge to Nowhere (which may have been overblown) has made me think twice about government spending, so I want to know more.

By the way, I am not trying to pick on Alaska. This is an interesting project and, to me, it makes an interesting post.



WH Projects $1 Trillion Deficit This Year

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 3:46 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

WH projects $1 trillion deficit for 2019:

The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation’s history the deficit has exceeded that level excluding the 4-year period following the Great Recession.

“The 2019 deficit has been revised to a projected $1.0 trillion,” the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote in its mid-year review.

As a candidate, President Trump had promised to not only wipe out the deficit, but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.

The government fiscal year is over September 30, 2019. Still time for spending more money.


Administration proposes new Asylum Rules

Filed under: Government,Immigration,Law — DRJ @ 6:29 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Trump to end asylum protections for Central American migrants at US-Mexico border:

The Trump administration is moving to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

According to a new rule published in the Federal Register, asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum when they reach the southern border.
Under the rule, those who have been the victims of trafficking are granted exceptions. The rule also allows exceptions for migrants passing through countries that have not signed major international refugee treaties and for migrants who have been denied asylum in the countries they traveled through.

ADDED: More at Sara Carter’s blog on today’s Stricter Asylum Rules: Immigrants Must Apply In First Safe Country They Enter, including:

“The rule’s bar on asylum eligibility for aliens who fail to apply for protection in at least one third country through which they transit en route to the United States also aims to further the humanitarian purposes of asylum,” Barr stated in Monday’s decision. “It prioritizes individuals who are unable to obtain protection from persecution elsewhere and individuals who are victims of a “severe form of trafficking in persons” as defined by 8 CFR 214.11, many of whom do not volitionally transit through a third country to reach the United States.”

This makes sense and can be defended in court.


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