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Watching aggregate sales and payrolls

by New Deal democrat

Watching aggregate sales and payrolls

Way back in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, I used to hear a lot of comments like, “How can people buy anything, when they don’t have jobs?!?”  But the truth is, as I pointed out at the time, that sales lead jobs.  This was true at the bottom, and it is generally true at the top too.

With this morning’s release of consumer prices, up +0.3% for September, let’s take an updated look at sales and jobs.

Let’s start with real aggregate payrolls for nonsupervisory workers.  This is the grand total, in real terms, of wages being paid to average Americans, which I believe is the best measure of how well the jobs market is or isn’t delivering.  To make it easier to see, I am dividing the data into two 25 year intervals:

Figure 1

Figure 2

Note that in the last 50 years, real aggregate payrolls have always peaked 6 to 12 months before the onset of a recession, usually declining but occasionally just going sideways for an extended period.  These last made a peak 2 months ago.

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The Start-Up They Signed

“The one thing you have over me is experience,” Mr. Trump said at one point.

And yet it seemed clear through this last confrontation that there was a gap in knowledge, or at least in command of the material that candidates seeking to be president are expected to master.

“Take a look at the Start­-Up they signed,” Mr. Trump said at one point, apparently referring to the Start nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Hillary Clinton, Mocking and Taunting in Debate, Turns the Tormentor, Amy Chozick and Michael Barbaro, New York Times, yesterday

When Trump said that Wednesday night—said it really emphatically—Clinton’s facial expression reflected what I’m sure was mine: What the hell is he talking about?

I figured he was referring to some provision in NAFTA or the Paris climate-change accords, having to do with small-business startups.

So now I know I was wrong.  And I even know what Start-Up they signed.

Glad I read the New York Times.

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Donald Trump, A Man After My Own Heart

I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear.

— Donald Trump, last night

Wow.  Out of the mouths of babes.   Or something.  I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear, either.

OMG.  I’ve been supporting the wrong candidate!

Repeal the Supreme Court Case Selections Act of 1988!  Repeal the Supreme Court Case Selections Act of 1988!

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Obama should tell the public specifically—in meticulous detail—what the Syrian refugee vetting process IS. Since Clinton once again failed to do that.

There has been a great deal of concern about the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. Are we letting terrorists into the United States? How much do we know about the Syrians being admitted? Is our vetting process strict enough?

For more than two decades, I’ve devoted my professional life to refugee resettlement, working and collaborating with nongovernmental organizations, the U.N. Refugee Agency and the U.S. government. Now I lead one of the few global agencies involved both with refugee resettlement for displaced communities and in the policy sphere.

Here are the facts:

— America already uses strict refugee vetting. Here are the facts., Sasha Chanoff, op-ed today in the Washington Post

The facts are a multi-step, lengthy process.  Multi-step.  Lengthy.  Why does Clinton repeatedly fail to detail this in response to Trump’s outlandishly false representations?  And since Clinton refuses to do so, why doesn’t Obama take up that slack?

I forgot to include that issue in this post this morning.  And it’s beyond frustrating.

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Really disappointed that Clinton last night didn’t mention Trump’s single-year businesses losses of $916 million and his habitual stiffing of employees and contractors, and didn’t directly protest Wallace’s absurd the-stimulus-led-to-the-slow-growth assertion

After the first debate, there was some criticism of Clinton that she came off as “too prepared”—a semantic contrast to Trump’s lack of preparation—and then criticism of the criticism: How can someone be too prepared for something?

The answer to that question is that what was really meant by “too prepared” was “too programmed.”

That was true again last night to some extent, in my opinion, particularly when she didn’t respond to Trump’s bragging about his business prowess that Trump’s businesses lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors.  Instead she just mentioned that Trump started his business with a yuge loan from his multimillionaire father—an important point, but one that should have been joined to a comment noting that he lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors.

That’s a point Clinton has made many times, including at each of the two earlier debates, when, granted, it mattered more.  But the points are key to so much deconstructing Trump’s claim to business genius and also as critical evidence of his sociopathology.  I hope she places this at the center of ads and rally comments going forward.

Clinton also failed to explicitly correct a glaring and really significant misstatement of fact by Chris Wallace, when he said that the low level of economic growth was caused byled to—the 2009 Obama stimulus program.  That was a preposterous falsehood, and I wondered whether any pundit would actually catch that and make an issue of it.

Thankfully, one did.  Thank you, Professor Krugman.  And I bet (and hope) you discuss it fully in your column tomorrow.

Look, I fully recognize that Clinton is at this point emotionally exhausted—really drained—as is Trump.  It was evident on both of their faces almost from beginning to end last night.  And on balance, she did fine, I thought.

But her very best moment last night came in a spontaneous comment, when she retorted, “Well, that’s because he [Putin] wants a puppet.”  Obviously, it’s important to come to a debate armed with specific points to get across.  But that should not preclude responding extemporaneously to statements by your opponent or by the moderator.

Still, ….

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The darkening skies

by New Deal democrat

The darkening skies

In my Weekly Indicators column on Saturday, I noted that the data had gotten a little darker.  Since I have been increasingly concerned about the direction of the economy over the next year or two, I thought I would spell out where my worry is coming from..

Let me start with the long leading data, and go from there.

First of all, while corporate bond yields made a new low after the Brexit vote, (blue in the graph below) mortgage rates did not follow (red):

Meanwhile,while  adjusted corporate profits have rebounded from their Q4 2015 low, they are still stalled below their previous highs:

Figure 2

Turning to the consumer side of the ledger, housing starts (blue in the graph below) did make – just barely – a new high several months ago, but basically have been stalled since the early part of 2015.  Meanwhile, motor vehilcle sales (red) (a shorter leading indicator) appear to have made their peak for the cycle one year ago:

Mortgage applications have not made a new high since June, and may go negative YoY by December:

Which leaves real money supply the only one of Prof. Geoffrrey Moore’s original long leading indicators as unambiguously positive.  Further, according to the paradgm spelled out by Prof. Edward E. Leamer typically housing turns down first among consumer expenditures, followed by cars, followed by nondurable goods, before a recession hits.  Right now neither houses nor cars are really going anywhere — not down, but not up either.

Two other short leading indicators are no longer helping.

First, the price of gas is now only about 1% less than it was a year ago, and has been trending up, not down as per a typical autumn, since August:

Further, as industrial metals have weakened again, the US$ has also turned just a little higher:

Neither one of these are headwinds yet.  But if gas were to go back up to the $3.25 range next year or so, and the US$ strengthens, this would be very bad news.

Finally, when it comes to coincident indicators, industrial production is the first among equals, and while it bottomed in March, it hasn’t made a lot of progress since:

Worse, the progress it has made has chiefly been from natural resource extraction bouncing off the bottom (red in the graph below), while manufacturing, which made slow progress in 2015, has completely stalled this year (blue):

None of this is to say that we are presently in a recession, or even that one is imminent.  For example, the continual new lows in initial jobless claims are potent evidence that the jobs market is still in decent shape, and consumer spending continues to rise in real terms.

But put the above all together, and you have a more fragile expansion, with little in the way of new tailwinds to help it.  The one good thing that has happened in the last six months — the lows in interest rates — really need to start feeding through to a significant improvement in housing starts and permits.  I still think they will, because historically they have done so.  But if for any reason they don’t, then the economy can be tipped into contraction by not much of a negative shock.

If the economy were to tip into recession soon, my concern isn isn’t just academic.  This expansion has witnessed the poorest YoY wage growth of any expansion in over 60 years (red in the graph below), and as the unemployment rate risses during a recession, – and stays elevated for potentially several years afterward — YoY wage growth tends to fall by at least 2%:

Since our best YoY growth in wages to date is only  2.6%, that measns we are very vulenrable to outright wage deflation in the next recession, for the first time since 1938.

So, this month’s housing permits and starts report takes on added importance, as does the long leading indcator of coproate profits in the upcoming Q3 GDP report, as does the tightening (or not) of credit conditions for Q3 that will be reported in early November.

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Paul Krugman Gets Berned. Er, Burned.

In a speech to a Morgan Stanley group on April 18, 2013, WikiHillary praised the Simpson­Bowles deficit reduction plan, which included reforming the tax code to increase investment and entrepreneurship and raising certain taxes and trimming some spending and entitlements to make them more sustainable.

The ultimate shape of that grand bargain could take many forms, she said, but Hillary stressed behind closed doors: “Simpson-­Bowles … put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues and we have to incentivize growth. It’s a three-­part formula.”

She is right. We’ll never get out of this economic rut, and protect future generations, unless the business and social sectors, Democrats and Republicans, all give and get something — and that’s exactly where WikiHillary was coming from.

WikiHillary for President, Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, today

Eeewwwwwe.  I mean, um … yikes.

Friedman, of course, has spent the last decade or more obsessively pushing a “Grand Bargain.”  He says in today’s column that he wishes Clinton had campaigned on this.  In order to build an electoral mandate for it, see.

Seriously; he says this.

Paul Krugman, by contrast, has spent the eight years or so trashing deficit mania, and the last five years mocking Simpson-Bowles.  And Simpson and Bowles.  And their ilk.  Including Thomas Friedman.

Also in Friedman’s column today:

In an October 2013 speech for Goldman Sachs, Clinton seemed to suggest the need to review the regulations imposed on banks by the Dodd­Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2010. Her idea was not to get rid of all of the rules but rather to make sure they were not imposing needless burdens that limited lending to small businesses and start­ups.

As Clinton put it, “More thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don’t kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.” Again, exactly right.

Friedman thinks this, too, would have been a hit with the public if only Clinton had had the guts to campaign on it.

Krugman in his Twitter feed has been pushing the proposition that Clinton really, honestly, dammit, was the strongest possible Democratic nominee to beat Trump, cuz she so deftly baited him during the first debate into his weeklong meltdown about that former Miss Universe, and no other candidate would have thought to do that.  Then again, there are a few possible candidates whose victory would have been assured without that.  But, whatever. Candidates who speak like this, for example.*

And he responded to some pundits’ dismay at the tail-wagging-the-dog role that Clinton’s campaign consultants and friends—as Frank Bruni put it recently, the extensive array of Clinton whisperers—who crafted everything from minutia to the very raison d’être for her candidacy, by insisting that that’s what consultants do.  Making me wonder why we don’t just cut to the chase and cut out the puppet, and nominate a consultant instead.

None of this matters now, of course.  I’ll reiterate, yet again, that I believe that Clinton is a genuinely different candidate, politician, and in important respects, person now than she was until recently.  And I support her wholeheartedly now.  But even if she were who she was in 2013 I’d be supporting her, if grudgingly.

But the instant I read that Friedman column—particularly the part about Clinton telling Morgan Stanley she supports Simpson-Bowles—I thought of Krugman.  And wondered whether upon reading that, if he did, he was moving close enough to the bonfire to feel a tad Berned.

____

*The link, inadvertently omitted originally, is to an op-ed by Elizabeth Warren in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “Elizabeth Warren: Trump didn’t invent the ‘rigged election’ myth. Republicans did.” The second Friedman excerpt also was not indented here originally.  All is now corrected.  10/20 at 2:12 p.m.

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No, Mr. Trump, THIS is what a movement looks like

There it was.  That familiar logo, the one I’d seen on so many lawn signs and bumper stickers in my (very) liberal small-city college town, and at the top of so many emails I’d received since early summer 2015.  The logo with “Bernie” in sky blue, with a little star over the “I” instead of a dot, and the narrow wave of a sky blue line underlining it, with the similar line except in red under the blue one.

I’d checked my emails late last night and had seen the one from him.  With a subject line reading: Yuuuge.

Below the familiar logo at the center top was this message:

Beverly: Since earlier today, 10,000 people have donated more than $400,000 to Catherine Cortez Masto, Deborah Ross, Maggie Hassan, and Katie McGinty.

That’s how much people want Paul Ryan’s warning about Bernie Sanders becoming chair of the budget committee to become true.

What you’re doing for these candidates is yuuuge. It’s game-changing for their campaigns. But there’s still more to do, because we can do more than just take back the Senate. We have a chance to take back the House. It starts with helping candidates for Congress who are inspired by the political revolution.

So we’re going to set an audacious goal that we don’t know is possible to hit by tomorrow night’s final FEC fundraising deadline – but it’s one that is very important to try to reach.

Let’s raise $1 million for candidates for the House and Senate by tomorrow’s final FEC fundraising deadline of the campaign. Split a contribution between Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Nanette Barragan, Tom Nelson, Pramila Jayapal, Rick Nolan, and Morgan Carroll.

Adding a contribution to these candidates – even if you’ve already supported them – is so important right now. Every poll shows these races within a handful of percentage points. And every contribution you make to these candidates will go to the critical work of communicating with voters and organizing for Election Day.

We don’t know if we can reach $1 million for House and Senate candidates tomorrow. But it’s very important that we try.

Adding a contribution to these candidates – even if you’ve already supported them – is so important right now. Every poll shows these races within a handful of percentage points. And every contribution you make to these candidates will go to the critical work of communicating with voters and organizing for Election Day.

We don’t know if we can reach $1 million for House and Senate candidates tomorrow. But it’s very important that we try.

If you can, add a contribution to reach our goal.

Thank you,

Jeff Weaver
Team Bernie

By this morning I’d forgotten about it.   And anyway, I’d sworn that that donation I made last week to the DSCC during one of their triple-match drives was my absolute last campaign donation.  Ever.  Okay, I’d meant, in this election cycle.  Which feels like ever.  (I haven’t donated to Clinton.)

But then.  There it was again.  The logo.  Bernie had emailed me again, this time with the subject: I hear you want me to have a gavel.

I do, so I’d clicked the message, which read:

Beverly,

I heard what Paul Ryan said about me: that if the Republicans lose the Senate, I will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

That sounds like a very good idea to me. It means that we can establish priorities for working people, and not just the billionaire class.

What would be equally exciting is if the Democrats took back the House, and Congressman Ryan was no longer Speaker. That would mean the clearest possible path to enact our agenda – the most progressive agenda of any party in American history.

In the last day, you have responded tremendously to our call to support four leaders who will help shift the balance of the Senate. More than 20,000 people have contributed more than $900,000 to ten candidates who are inspired by the political revolution.

During our campaign we pushed ourselves to reach goals that many thought impossible. That is why we set a very big, very audacious goal that we didn’t know if we could reach, but that we thought it was very important to try. But you’re about to smash that $1 million goal.

So, we’re going to need a bigger goal.

Let’s raise $2 million before tonight’s final FEC deadline of the campaign for candidates for the House and Senate. Can you start with a contribution between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan?

Consider for a moment the power that exists in the U.S. Senate. Right now, the Republican majority is using their power to block any meaningful action on addressing income inequality or climate change. In addition, without a Democratic majority the Senate is refusing to confirm federal judges and, incredibly, has left open a critical seat on the Supreme Court.

With a Democratic majority, we can change all of that. What Paul Ryan is specifically afraid of is the power of the budget committee. That committee defines the spending priorities of the entire government. The work of that committee says how much revenue the government should have, and where its money should go.

I have some thoughts on how the government should allocate its spending. I’m sure you do, too.

The first step to being able to enact our progressive agenda is taking back the Senate. And if we take back the House… well, the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.

Help us reach for our new, audacious goal of raising $2 million for candidates for the House and Senate by midnight tonight. Add a contribution now split between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan.

Thank you for all you do.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Sigh.  I’ll hate myself in the morning.

Here’s the link, folks.  And, btw, a graphic inserted into the second email, sent at 2:10 this afternoon, shows that they’d raised $1,137,888. Since yesterday morning.

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Yellen wants to understand effective demand

Janet Yellen gave a speech where she posed 4 questions to economists in general seeking answers… The first question she asked was this…

“The Influence of Demand on Aggregate Supply
The first question I would like to pose concerns the distinction between aggregate supply and aggregate demand: Are there circumstances in which changes in aggregate demand can have an appreciable, persistent effect on aggregate supply?

“Prior to the Great Recession, most economists would probably have answered this question with a qualified “no.” They would have broadly agreed with Robert Solow that economic output over the longer term is primarily driven by supply–the amount of output of goods and services the economy is capable of producing, given its labor and capital resources and existing technologies. Aggregate demand, in contrast, was seen as explaining shorter-term fluctuations around the mostly exogenous supply-determined longer-run trend.”

Janet Yellen is really asking for research into effective demand. She sees a weakness in aggregate demand affecting aggregate supply… or potential output. That is effective demand, but she cannot even use the term effective demand because economists do not understand it.

I have been researching effective demand for 4 years. I have seen really a complete lack of understanding of what effective demand is among economists. It surprises me that Janet Yellen would be calling for research on its dynamics.

She does not really understand effective demand yet though. She goes on in her speech about hysteresis which is a short-term shock which produces a long-run affect. Effective demand is not a short-run shock. It is based on the relative strength of labor share to profit share. A lower labor share sets a lower limit upon potential output. And the drop in labor share is not short-term. It has been constant for years since the crisis.

I have models that can be built on by other researchers. It truly is important for economics to finally understand and define effective demand.

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Anthropomorphic Mexico

WASHINGTON — In June of 2010, four boys were playing in the dry bed of the Rio Grande that separates El Paso from Juárez, Mexico. The international borderline, unmarked, runs through the middle of the culvert.

The boys dared one another to run up a concrete incline and touch the barbed wire of the American border fence. An American border guard, Jesus Mesa Jr., grabbed one of them.

Another boy, Sergio Hernández Guereca, fled, and he made it back to Mexico before Mr. Mesa shot him in the head from about 60 feet away, killing him. Sergio was 15.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Sergio’s parents may sue Mr. Mesa for violating the Constitution by using excessive force. If not, lawyers for the parents argue, then Sergio died in “a unique no­-man’s land — a law­-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.”

Had Sergio been killed in the United States, he would have been protected by the Constitution. Had he been an American citizen, he would have been protected whether he was killed in the United States or in Mexico.

An Agent Shot a Boy Across the U.S. Border. Can His Parents Sue?, Adam Liptak, New York Times, yesterday

Dan emailed me the link to the article yesterday, with a subject line, “This might be of interest.  To which I responded:

This is very much of interest, Dan.  It’s not simply the narrow legal question about whether the family of this teen can sue for a violation of a U.S. constitutional right.  It’s also what I consider an absolutely critical issue: the Conservative Legal Movement’s aggressive privileging of the rights of “sovereigns” over the rights of individuals–usually they mean U.S. states–as though the “sovereign” is a person.  They call it the “dignity” of the states, and I guess in this case they’re calling it the “dignity” of Mexico.

Of course, the difference here is that, unlike in the states’-rights-to-violate-individuals’-rights–which almost always means state-courts‘-rights-to-violate-individuals’-rights (this dignity concern does not extent to the other two branches of state government)–the government whose dignity the Conservative Legal Movement judges are so concerned with is–what?–waiving its right to have the Conservative Legal Movement protect it from this affront to its dignity.

And, btw, the Fifth Circuit is the only circuit among the 12 federal appellate circuits that remains so thoroughly within the chokehold of the Conservative Legal Movement.  But if Trump wins, they’ll all quickly begin reverting back to it.

I’ll write something on this, but it’s a complex subject and I might not be able to finish it today.  But if not, then tomorrow.  I want it posted before Wednesday night’s debate.

What I was referring to when I said it is very much of interest (to the general public) is not fully apparent in the above excerpt; after all, most Americans will never be in a situation in which they are physically in a legal no-man’s-land.  But the operative word there is “physically,” by which I mean, in a physical rather than a metaphorical place whose very legal status, its reach by this country’s basic precepts of law, are deemed by this country’s federal courts to be nonexistent.

In legal jargon, what I’m talking about is the issue of “subject-matter jurisdiction”—the threshold authority—of federal courts to hear, to address, to consider, to not dismiss for lack of threshold legal authority to hear it, the lawsuit (whether civil in nature or quasi-criminal in nature, which is what most habeas corpus cases really are) whose purpose is to make a claim of one sort or another under the laws of this country.

But due entirely to a set of Supreme Court-concocted legal “doctrines” in civil cases and the lower federal courts’ all-encompassing interpretations of it, and a rewriting by the Supreme Court’s Conservative Legal Movement crowd of an already-awful 1996 jurisdictional statute to effectively repeal the Constitution’s habeas corpus provision’s applicability (via the Fourteenth Amendment) to state-court criminal convictions and sentences, anything that occurred in state court or is related in some way to what occurred in state court that arguably or inarguably violates a constitutional right of the individual who challenges it federal court is ruled beyond the jurisdictional reach of the federal courts.

And while the habeas corpus jurisdictional statutory interpretation at least purports to be, well, statutory interpretation, no such claim was ever made about one of the two doctrines barring access to federal court in non-habeas cases concerning something that occurred in or relating to state court.  It was always unabashedly simply a policy preference by the Court.  And as such, it violates the Constitution’s Article III, which accords Congress the sole authority to determine federal-court jurisdiction (subject to the Supreme Court’s determination that jurisdictional statute, or the absence of one, itself violates the Constitution).

The other of the two Court-fabricated jurisdictional doctrines is unique in its weirdness and, for the last 28 years, in its audacity.  The 5-4 opinion that created it in 1983 was a standard statutory-interpretation opinion, but the statute it interpreted was repealed five years later at the behest of William Rehnquist, then newly elevated as chief justice.  But instead of just dying with the repeal of the statute, it remained, but, like the other one, just a Court-created “doctrine”.

This itself has operated to permit the lower federal courts to treat the continued viability of the doctrine, post-1988-statutory-repeal, as it treats the other doctrine: as unchallengeable via litigation, by dint of its provenance as a Court-created jurisdictional pseudo-statute.  Or something.  And therefore beyond the reach of a court challenge to its continued viability, and its very constitutionality.  It’s not a statute, see.  And it’s not an Executive Branch regulation or policy, see.  It, like the state-court events that these doctrines, together, serve to bar from constitutional challenge in federal court, exist in a legal no-man’s land.  The actions, the operations, the consequences—they sure may be unconstitutional, but they’re also un-remedial.

Like the Mexican teen’s family’s case, according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  And according to the Obama administration.  Liptak explains:

The Obama administration, in a brief urging the justices to deny review, said allowing civil suits in American courts was not the right way to address cross-­border shootings by American agents. The Mexican courts have jurisdiction over events that happen in Mexico, the brief said.

True enough, and the Mexican authorities did charge Mr. Mesa with murder. But the United States has refused to extradite him.

The government of Mexico filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to hear the parents’ case. “Applying U.S. constitutional law in such a case does not disrespect Mexico’s sovereignty,” the brief said. “Any invasion of Mexico’s sovereignty occurred when Agent Mesa shot his gun across the border at Sergio Hernández — not when the boy’s parents sought to hold Agent Mesa responsible for his actions.”

A trial judge dismissed the case, but a three-­judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, let part of it move forward.

“If ever a case could be said to present an official abuse of power so arbitrary as to shock the conscience,” Judge Edward C. Prado wrote, what Sergio’s parents described was that case.

The full Fifth Circuit reheard the case. While it agreed that “the death of a teenaged Mexican national from a gunshot fired by a Border Patrol agent standing on U.S. soil” was a “tragic incident,” it said Sergio’s parents could not pursue a claim under the Constitution.

A 1990 Supreme Court decision, United States v. Verdugo­-Urquidez, supports that view. It said some constitutional rights applied only within the nation’s borders unless the plaintiff had a “significant voluntary connection” to the United States.

But a more recent decision, Boumediene v. Bush in 2008, concerning people detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, took a more flexible approach. It allowed detainees there to invoke the Constitution. The Fifth Circuit relied on the narrower view. By contrast, the Ninth Circuit, with jurisdiction over the border states of Arizona and California, has said that “the border of the United States is not a clear line that separates aliens who may bring constitutional challenges from those who may not.”

Under that broader standard, a trial judge in Arizona last year refused to dismiss a civil case against Lonnie Swartz, a Border Patrol agent who is accused of killing José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, 16, in another cross­-border shooting. Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Swartz with murder, and he has pleaded not guilty.

Mexico’s Supreme Court brief described several other cross­-border shootings. More generally, it said, “shootings at the border — whether or not justified in any particular case — are, unfortunately, far from a rare occurrence.”

A 2013 report commissioned by United States Customs and Border Protection studied 67 shootings from 2010 to 2012. “Too many cases,” the report said, “do not appear to meet the test of objective reasonableness with regard to the use of deadly force.”

It’s all about preserving the dignity of the sovereign (or the “sovereign,” depending upon your viewpoint).  “Dignity”and “sovereign” being the Supreme Court’s terms, repeated time and again in cases justifying the incessant rulings by that court privileging the rights of state courts, but not the rights of state legislatures, and not the rights of state executive branches, at the cost of the constitutional rights of individuals that state courts, or someone or some entity related to something that happened in or in connection to one, has trampled.

At the Supreme Court in recent decades, states’ rights usually means state courts’ rights to violate individuals’ constitutional rights.  In the name of preserving the anthropomorphic right of the state to dignity.  Or, to be precise, their sovereign dignity.  Sovereign here apparently meaning the monarch, since monarchs, after all, are human.

But now the Mexican government, unlike the state governments whose dignity the Supreme Court’s Conservative Legal Movement knights in shining robes defend so gallantly, begs to differ on the meaning of sovereign dignity and on the underlying purpose of it.  That government, although it surely appreciates the thoughtfulness of the sentiment, apparently considers its citizens the ones entitled to dignity under civil rights and civil liberties and human rights law.  And in fact it may not even consider itself human.

How refreshing.

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