The Morning Jolt

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Orange County Pushes Back against California’s Sanctuary-State Laws

DACA supporters at a demonstration in San Diego, Calif., September 5, 2017. (Reuters photo: John Gastaldo)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Orange County rebels from California’s sanctuary-state laws, Bernie Sanders grapples with what it means to be “progressive,” and equity markets post losses . . . then gains . . . then losses.

A Sanctuary from a Sanctuary State?

The debate over California’s state immigration laws, which undermine federal immigration enforcement, is beset by ludicrous exaggeration. Some conservatives have compared California to the Confederacy, while some liberals say that the president and the Department of Justice are simply trying to scare Hispanics into leaving the state.

A Wall Street Journal article by law professors Josh Blackman and Ilya Shapiro is a good antidote to all of this. Blackman and Shapiro take a nuanced perspective on the state’s recently passed laws. They argue that the California Values Act, which “limits how state and local officials may cooperate with federal immigration officials,” is constitutional: “It is not a proper exercise of federal power to dictate how state law-enforcement agencies manage their resources and prioritize their missions.” But two laws, one that instructs California’s attorney general to inspect federal detention facilities, and another that punishes businessmen for cooperating with federal officials, are not. “Under a federal structure that contemplates dual sovereignty,” they write, “the national government should respect the spheres of state control, while states likewise should respect Washington’s constitutionally granted prerogatives.” Sounds good to me.

The legal merits of California’s policies aside, I find the politics fascinating. This is a state, recall, that passed a series of ballot initiatives in the 1990s taking an especially hard line on immigration. The first, Proposition 187, banned illegal immigrants from using many public services (it was quickly struck down by the courts). Another, passed four years later, replaced the bilingual education system — which was remarkably unsuccessful at teaching Spanish-speaking students English — with English-only education (this policy has since been reversed). Now, the state is bluer than blue, the paragon of progressivism. Except, that is, in Orange County. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Just more than a week after tiny Los Alamitos voted to defy California’s law protecting immigrants in the country illegally, Orange County is poised to become a counterpoint against the state’s resistance to the Trump administration’s policies.

On Tuesday, Orange County supervisors may consider whether to take up a resolution to condemn and possibly take legal action against the state’s “sanctuary” laws.

“These state laws are preempted by federal law,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said. “Our officers actually face penalties under state law if they so much as talk to federal agents for the wrong thing. That’s just unacceptable and it’s contrary to federal law.”

Nelson said he’ll broach in closed session whether to join a federal lawsuit against the state or launch its own litigation.

The association of immigration restrictionism with Donald Trump, coupled with Trump’s unpopularity in the state, likely means any local backlash to the “sanctuary state” policy regime will be limited. It appears some folks in California still want to enforce federal immigration laws, but their state may have passed them by. California saw a surge of immigration restrictionism in the 1990s, and it was about 20 years ahead of the curve. Is the state’s current maximalism another indication of the shape of things to come?

What Does ‘Progressive’ Mean to Bernie Sanders?

Yesterday was a slow news day, and so far nothing today screams “blockbuster.” (Famous last words.) So I’m taking the opportunity to return to last week’s Illinois primaries, specifically to the contest for the Democratic nomination in the state’s third congressional district.

In that race, incumbent Dan Lipinski — a Blue-Dog, pro-life Democrat — defeated Marie Newman, who naturally ran to Lipinski’s left. Lipinski is an incumbent, and won by the narrow margin of 2,000 votes. But Newman boasted millions of dollars in outside funding, the support of abortion-rights groups, and the endorsements of popular senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). The group dedicated to Sanders’s political movement, Our Revolution, also threw its support behind Newman.

It’s Sanders’s involvement with the Newman campaign that catches my eye. Lipinski is no social democrat, and he rejected the idea of a $15 minimum wage. But he was the preferred candidate of organized labor, and has generally been friendly to unions since taking office. He also has a penchant to defend the manufacturing industry and has been known to flirt ever so suggestively with protectionism. His reputation as a “conservative Democrat” therefore owes more to his stances on social issues than it does to his stance on economic issues. Since there isn’t much room to attack Lipinski on economics, Newman’s campaign tack was simple: She  “received virtually no attention until she was endorsed by” abortion-rights groups and, once the spotlight was on, focused on abortion, immigration, and other social issues. Yet she still captured the support of both Sanders and his movement.

We’ve always known that Sanders wants to use Our Revolution to make the Democratic party more progressive. What exactly “make the party more progressive” entails was left as an open question. Would Sanders change the party’s priorities to focus more on economic issues, using Our Revolution to put pressure on candidates who were insufficiently populist on economics? Or would he simply become another progressive ideologue, using the group to support candidates who simply checked the right boxes on non-negotiable issues? The endorsement of Newman suggests that the latter best describes Sanders’s project: Instead of changing the party’s priorities, he’s trying to drag it to the left on all fronts.

That might be a mistake. Last week on the Corner, Reihan Salam and Ramesh Ponnuru discussed research conducted by political scientist Larry Bartels that evaluates the state of the U.S. party system. As Ramesh writes, the research suggests “that conservatives would dominate a politics that turns on cultural issues while liberals would fare better in an economics-focused politics.” A Democratic party that offered free community college, vigorously defended the entitlement state, and promised to fund such endeavors with higher taxes on well-to-do Americans might do well at the polls. Such a party would be one that took its cues from Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign — but the Vermont politician hasn’t done much to push the party in that direction since.

Market Jitters Continue

Yesterday, the S&P 500 fell 1.7 percent . . . one day after rising 2.7 percent . . . one week after suffering its worst week in two years. Equity markets are volatile again, as they have been since their steep dive in early February. Nothing seems wrong with the underlying economy: Businesses are chugging along, the labor market is tight, and inflation remains low. The markets are just jittery.

It is natural for financial markets to have a certain level of volatility, and it is foolish to pretend to understand exactly what is driving them. But the conventional wisdom that Trump’s saber-rattling on trade is responsible for a large part of the recent volatility seems reasonable to me. Equity markets are pricing in some probability of a trade war, and reacting as that probability moves up or down. Hence stocks fell last week on the news of tariffs against China, and bounced back on the news that China’s retaliatory measures were relatively weak. There’s nothing to be worried about here; a trade war would change that.

ADDENDA: I finished The Primacy of Politics, Sheri Berman’s history of social democracy in Europe, last night. It’s a good book, though readers should know that Berman is herself a social democrat and the account is a bit sympathetic. There are some interesting parallels to, and disagreements with, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism; fans of that book looking for a left-of-center take on the same history might enjoy this one. Her treatment of the revisionist intellectuals of the pre- and inter-war periods is the most interesting part of the book.

I think McKay Coppins is right: Mitt Romney is not joining the resistance. That doesn’t mean he won’t be an effective adversary to Trump when Trump does things that require opposition. Rather, it means he won’t go the Jennifer Rubin route of changing his beliefs to be the opposite of whatever the president says. One thing Coppins nails: Romney has been consistently tough on immigration, a large reason he won the Republican nomination in 2012.

Finally, here’s a neat collection of essays by moral philosophers discussing last week’s deadly self-driving car crash. I’d be interested to hear people’s reactions to the arguments they present.

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