The Supreme Court will hear the Muslim Ban case: Daily Bullshit, June 26-30, 2017

Updates

  1. Originally published June 26, 3:42 pm.
  2. June 26, 4:17 pm:
    • Analysis of the Supreme Court decision on Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban has begun to appear.[1]
  3. June 26, 11:13 pm:
    • Mitch McConnell is now looking even less likely to be able to bring the Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill (that apparently doesn’t really do either) to a vote this week.[2]
    • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is resisting releasing even a redacted version of the report that is claimed to show Russian meddling in the 2016 election.[3] (Golden Showers)
  4. June 28, 3:57 am:
    • After getting a prognostication wrong on the Supreme Court with the Muslim Ban,[4] I got one right with the Senate delaying a vote on the Republican bill to (not really) “repeal and replace” Obamacare.[5]
  5. June 28, 2:14 pm:
    • The Federal Reserve is worried that another bubble may be on the horizon.[6] (Bubbles_
  6. June 28, 10:30 pm:
    • Theresa May wasn’t the only loser in the recent British election as Nicola Sturgeon backs down on her push for a second referendum on Scottish independence.[7]
  7. June 30, 2:48 pm:
    • The Guardian’s series on homelessness comes to Silicon Valley, where low income workers have no hope of paying rent.[8]
    • The more optimistic, yes, optimistic experts think we only have three years to control climate change,[9] which of course we won’t do. (Human Extinction)
    • Rather than denying the theft of Waymo’s intellectual property on self-driving cars, Uber now claims it was unaware of it.[10]
  8. June 30, 10:26 pm:
    • I am shocked, I tell you, shocked to learn that depriving people of health insurance can shorten their lives.[11] (Obamacare)

Muslim Ban

When last I visited this issue, I wrote,

My guess isn’t going to be any more reliable than anyone else’s. But I just don’t see the Supreme Court taking this up. To do so, it would 1) be taking up a preliminary injunction—not the actual merits of the case—and 2) contemplate “overruling literally every court that’s considered the ban to date.”[12] And the Supreme Court doesn’t have to say why it declines the administration’s petition. “It has the option of simply declining to hear the government’s appeals.”[13][14]

I’m glad I only called it a guess—and not a particularly authoritative one at that. Because the Supreme Court has issued an ruling that “allows Trump’s order to go into effect, but not for ‘foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,’ such as a spouse, a close relative, an employer or enrollment in a university.” However, “[s]ince many visitors from the six affected countries have such a relationship, the impact of the order may be narrow” and “[w]hile the court agreed to review rulings from the 4th Circuit Court in Virginia and the 9th Circuit Court in California, its opinion acknowledged the case may be moot then because the 90-day ban will have expired.”[15] All of which makes this seem really rather bizarre.

So far, the commentary I’m seeing is principally aimed at lawyers. With the exception of Jane Chong’s piece,[16] I’m not really understanding it, so I’m not archiving it.

Jane Chong, “The Supreme Court’s Cert Grant in the Travel Ban Cases: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Lawfare, June 26, 2017, https://www.lawfareblog.com/supreme-courts-cert-grant-travel-ban-cases-guide-perplexed

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court finds a compromise in reviving Trump’s travel ban,” Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-trump-travel-ban-20170626-story.html


Brexit

After prematurely[17] announcing a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party in the wake of the British election,[18] it appears the deal has now been done. Doubts about Theresa May’s ability to remain in office following the election defeat and the Grenfell Tower fire remain.[19]

Jason Douglas and Stephen Fidler, “Theresa May Clinches Deal With Northern Irish Party to Support Minority Government,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-clinches-deal-withthern-irish-party-to-support-minority-government-1498473399


Obamacare

The obvious solution to Republicans’ problems in passing a bill to (not really) “repeal and replace” Obamacare is to do away with the Congressional Budget Office.

Melissa Healy, “As lawmakers debate GOP healthcare bill, new study finds stripping people of insurance can be deadly,” Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-health-insurance-mortality-20170626-story.html

Peter Sullivan, “CBO: Senate ObamaCare repeal would leave 22M more uninsured,” Hill, June 26, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/339534-cbo-22m-more-uninsured-with-senate-obamacare-bill

Peter Sullivan, “New CBO analysis imperils GOP ObamaCare repeal,” Hill, June 26, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/339573-new-cbo-analysis-imperils-gop-obamacare-repeal

Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, and Ashley Killough, “McConnell delays vote on health care bill until after July 4 recess,” CNN, June 27, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/27/politics/republican-health-care-bill-vote-delayed/index.html

Rachel Roubein, Peter Sullivan, and Jessie Hellmann, “Senate GOP delays ObamaCare repeal vote past recess,” Hill, June 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/339682-senate-gop-punts-obamacare-repeal-past-recess


Golden Showers

There remains[20] no publicly available evidence to support accusations that the Russians meddled in the U.S. election last year, which means that such claims must continue to be viewed skeptically.[21]

Josh Gerstein, “Feds won’t release redacted intelligence report on Russian election meddling,” Politico, June 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/06/27/russia-election-probe-intelligence-239985


Bubbles

The following is excerpted from a Wall Street Journal newsletter:

The Breakfast Briefing

Years of easy-money policies by the Federal Reserve have powered the U.S. stock market. Now, Fed officials say they are watching closely for signs that those policies are prompting risky market wagers.

A series of speeches from Fed officials Tuesday indicated a wariness about asset bubbles and hinted that the Fed may tighten monetary conditions even if key economic signals remain subdued.

The notion that central bankers will be quick to support markets to help achieve stable prices and full employment has been validated many times since the financial crisis, but it may lose sway should Fed officials see rising bubble risks.

In remarks prepared for delivery at an International Monetary Fund conference, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer pointed to rising stock valuations, thin corporate bond spreads and ultra-low readings on the CBOE Volatility Index as signs of increased risk-taking. While such rising prices have yet to inspire extreme leverage, he said, valuations bear monitoring.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a separate speech that asset valuations were “somewhat rich.” San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams told the Australian news media that there are signs of “some, maybe, excess risk-taking in the financial system with very low rates.”

Market behavior has been unusual in 2017 with prices of many assets types moving higher together. The S&P 500 is just below its all-time high hit June 19, while the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes this week plumbed its lowest level since November. Gold is up 8.4% in 2017, slightly more than the S&P 500’s year-to-date return excluding dividends.

Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, said that the speeches together highlight that the Fed, burned by asset bubbles in the past, will likely be comfortable raising rates if asset prices represent a risk to the economy.

“If the Fed thinks that risk appetite is heading toward unsustainable levels that put financial stability at risk, they are more likely to stay the course on removing accommodation even in the face of softer inflation,” Mr. Porcelli [sic][22]


Homelessness

Alastair Gee, “Low-income workers who live in RVs are being ‘chased out’ of Silicon Valley streets,” Guardian, June 29, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/29/low-income-workers-rvs-palo-alto-california-homeless


Human Extinction

Chris Mooney, “These experts say we have three years to get climate change under control. And they’re the optimists,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/06/29/these-experts-say-we-have-until-2020-to-get-climate-change-under-control-and-theyre-the-optimists/


Uber

Previously, I wrote,

So if I understand all this correctly, Uber “fired [Anthony] Levandowski when he missed a deadline Uber set after pressing him to assist its investigation for months.”[23] Asserting his fifth amendment rights,[24] the suspicion would seem to be that Levandowski is sitting on evidence Uber needs for its defense against Waymo’s suit. And the judge in that suit was indeed sufficiently suspicious that he referred the matter for criminal investigation,[25] which would be just the sort of thing that Levandowski might well be asserting his fifth amendment rights over. Which would seem to suggest that Uber does not (and, I’m guessing, did not want to) know whether its self-driving technology is in fact derived from the intellectual property that Levandowski allegedly stole from Google (now Waymo).[26] That bit in parentheses suggesting plausible deniability is central in my thinking now: Uber’s defense may well amount to a claim that the company had absolutely no idea that its technology was in fact based on Waymo’s intellectual property. This would be right in line with the company’s method of operation, that is, asking for forgiveness later. Such a defense ought to work, maybe once or twice. But beyond that, they’re just playing the courts and everybody else for suckers.[27]

Uber subsequently fired Levandowski when he did not meet a deadline the company set for his cooperation.[28] And now we indeed see Uber asserting it knew nothing of his theft of intellectual property.[29]

Levandowski approached Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and several other executives to say he had five discs of Waymo information in his home. Kalanick instructed Levandowski not to bring the discs to Uber, court documents say. But the interaction, according to Waymo, is enough to show Uber’s awareness of Levandowski’s alleged theft.

The judge in the case, William Alsup, has disagreed with that argument, saying there isn’t enough evidence to prove that. Uber’s filing this week appears to uphold that reading: If it’s accurate, it suggests that Kalanick may well have known about the existence of the discs but not how they came into Levandowski’s possession. Uber fired Levandowski in May.[30]

Ain’t plausible deniability wonderful?

Brian Fung, “Google’s parent says Uber is covering up the theft of self-driving car tech. Uber says it knew nothing,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/29/googles-parent-says-uber-is-covering-up-the-theft-of-self-driving-car-tech-uber-says-it-knew-nothing/


  1. [1]Jane Chong, “The Supreme Court’s Cert Grant in the Travel Ban Cases: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Lawfare, June 26, 2017, https://www.lawfareblog.com/supreme-courts-cert-grant-travel-ban-cases-guide-perplexed
  2. [2]Peter Sullivan, “New CBO analysis imperils GOP ObamaCare repeal,” Hill, June 26, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/339573-new-cbo-analysis-imperils-gop-obamacare-repeal
  3. [3]Josh Gerstein, “Feds won’t release redacted intelligence report on Russian election meddling,” Politico, June 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/06/27/russia-election-probe-intelligence-239985
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The courts just aren’t buying Trump’s Muslim ban, redux,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, June 14, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2017/06/14/the-courts-just-arent-buying-donald-trumps-muslim-ban-redux-daily-bullshit-june-12-2017/
  5. [5]Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, and Ashley Killough, “McConnell delays vote on health care bill until after July 4 recess,” CNN, June 27, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/27/politics/republican-health-care-bill-vote-delayed/index.html; Rachel Roubein, Peter Sullivan, and Jessie Hellmann, “Senate GOP delays ObamaCare repeal vote past recess,” Hill, June 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/339682-senate-gop-punts-obamacare-repeal-past-recess
  6. [6]Chris Dieterich to Morning Moneybeat List, “Fed Officials Are Watching for Bubble Trouble,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2017, http://www.wsj.com/
  7. [7]Wiktor Szary, “Scotland Delays Plan for Second Independence Referendum,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/scotland-delays-plan-for-second-independence-referendum-1498580163
  8. [8]Alastair Gee, “Low-income workers who live in RVs are being ‘chased out’ of Silicon Valley streets,” Guardian, June 29, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/29/low-income-workers-rvs-palo-alto-california-homeless
  9. [9]Chris Mooney, “These experts say we have three years to get climate change under control. And they’re the optimists,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/06/29/these-experts-say-we-have-until-2020-to-get-climate-change-under-control-and-theyre-the-optimists/
  10. [10]Brian Fung, “Google’s parent says Uber is covering up the theft of self-driving car tech. Uber says it knew nothing,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/29/googles-parent-says-uber-is-covering-up-the-theft-of-self-driving-car-tech-uber-says-it-knew-nothing/
  11. [11]Melissa Healy, “As lawmakers debate GOP healthcare bill, new study finds stripping people of insurance can be deadly,” Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-health-insurance-mortality-20170626-story.html
  12. [12]Dara Lind, “Trump gets another travel ban defeat — and the clock is ticking,” Vox, June 12, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/6/12/15783448/trump-muslim-ban-ninth-circuit
  13. [13]Dara Lind, “Trump gets another travel ban defeat — and the clock is ticking,” Vox, June 12, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/6/12/15783448/trump-muslim-ban-ninth-circuit
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The courts just aren’t buying Trump’s Muslim ban, redux,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, June 14, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2017/06/14/the-courts-just-arent-buying-donald-trumps-muslim-ban-redux-daily-bullshit-june-12-2017/
  15. [15]David G. Savage, “Supreme Court finds a compromise in reviving Trump’s travel ban,” Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-supreme-court-trump-travel-ban-20170626-story.html
  16. [16]Jane Chong, “The Supreme Court’s Cert Grant in the Travel Ban Cases: A Guide for the Perplexed,” Lawfare, June 26, 2017, https://www.lawfareblog.com/supreme-courts-cert-grant-travel-ban-cases-guide-perplexed
  17. [17]Jason Douglas and Michael Wright, “U.K. Prime Minister’s Office Says DUP Deal Not Yet Done,” Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-leader-loses-key-aides-after-poll-setback-1497100701; Michael Savage and Henry McDonald, “Theresa May’s plan to govern with DUP support thrown into confusion,” Guardian, June 11, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/10/theresa-may-dup-deal-snag-tory-rebellion
  18. [18]British Broadcasting Corporation, “May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing,” June 9, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40219030
  19. [19]Jason Douglas and Stephen Fidler, “Theresa May Clinches Deal With Northern Irish Party to Support Minority Government,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-clinches-deal-withthern-irish-party-to-support-minority-government-1498473399
  20. [20]Josh Gerstein, “Feds won’t release redacted intelligence report on Russian election meddling,” Politico, June 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/06/27/russia-election-probe-intelligence-239985
  21. [21]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s motives,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9162; David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9151
  22. [22]Chris Dieterich to Morning Moneybeat List, “Fed Officials Are Watching for Bubble Trouble,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2017, http://www.wsj.com/
  23. [23]Jack Nicas, “Uber Fires Driverless-Car Executive at the Center of Google Legal Battle,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-fires-driverless-car-executive-at-the-center-of-google-legal-battle-1496172294
  24. [24]Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn’t testify,” Reuters, March 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN17206X
  25. [25]Aarian Marshall, “Google’s Fight Against Uber Takes a Turn for the Criminal,” Wired, May 12, 2017, https://www.wired.com/2017/05/googles-fight-uber-takes-turn-criminal/; Jack Nicas, “Judge Asks Federal Prosecutors to Investigate Uber’s Driverless Car Program,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-asks-federal-prosecutors-to-investigate-ubers-driverless-car-program-1494559677
  26. [26]Adrienne LaFrance, “Can Uber Survive Without Self-Driving Cars?” CityLab, March 27, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/tech/2017/03/can-uber-survive-without-self-driving-cars/520911/
  27. [27]David Benfell, “Russians claimed to have possible leverage over Donald Trump,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, May 30, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2017/05/30/russians-claimed-to-have-possible-leverage-over-donald-trump-daily-bullshit-may-29-30-2017/
  28. [28]Jack Nicas, “Uber Fires Driverless-Car Executive at the Center of Google Legal Battle,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-fires-driverless-car-executive-at-the-center-of-google-legal-battle-1496172294
  29. [29]Brian Fung, “Google’s parent says Uber is covering up the theft of self-driving car tech. Uber says it knew nothing,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/29/googles-parent-says-uber-is-covering-up-the-theft-of-self-driving-car-tech-uber-says-it-knew-nothing/
  30. [30]Brian Fung, “Google’s parent says Uber is covering up the theft of self-driving car tech. Uber says it knew nothing,” Washington Post, June 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/29/googles-parent-says-uber-is-covering-up-the-theft-of-self-driving-car-tech-uber-says-it-knew-nothing/

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