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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Democrats Can’t Let Trump Beat Them On Immigration

The Daily Escape:

Barcelona balcony – 2016 photo by Wrongo

We should talk about the Democrats’ unwillingness to articulate an immigration policy. Wrongo has shied away from talking much about immigration, because it is a very complicated problem without a school-book answer. It’s an emotional issue, but it is also a complex problem that isn’t easily addressed.

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report says that immigration will be a key issue in 2020, since Trump will surely stoke more immigration fear to hold on to his base while trying to peel away working-class white voters who might otherwise be voting for Democrats.

Despite historical data that show border crossings are relatively low, we’re faced with a genuine border crisis. The number of people attempting to cross the border and seek asylum rose to about 100,000 in March. If sustained, that would be more than a million asylum seekers a year.

There are now 800,000 pending cases in immigration courts, and each case requires about 700 days to process. Most of these families have woefully inadequate resources for housing, food and medical care. And now, Trump plans to ship them from detention to America’s sanctuary cities.

We’re at a critical juncture. Trump’s Immigration policy based on incarceration, deportation, and border militarization has proven to be a disastrous failure. But what should replace it? As the crisis grows, maybe the possibility for political change can improve. The NYT’s David Leonhardt said this about Democrats:

“…not so long ago. The party’s leaders knew what they favored and felt comfortable saying so. Their platform generally included: 1) a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to this country illegally but had since obeyed the law; 2) deportation of undocumented immigrants who had since broken the law in significant ways; 3) fairly robust border security and investigation of companies employing undocumented immigrants, to hold down current and future levels of illegal immigration.”

In the past, Democrats were also willing to talk about limiting immigration. David Frum has a must read article in April’s Atlantic. His biggest point is that “If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will”. He feels that we are at an inflection point, and that Democrats in particular, need to promote policies to prevent Trump from riding the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment into a second term.

Democrats, including some 2020 presidential hopefuls, have expressed ever greater unease about removing unauthorized border-crossers. Julián Castro wants to decriminalize the very act of crossing the border illegally, by repealing 1325, the section of the US Code that makes unauthorized entry into the US a federal crime. No other Democrat is willing to go that far.

Speaker Pelosi spoke this week about immigration overhaul: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Our view of how we go forward is if we can….give [the American] people confidence, end some of their insecurities about their own economic situation, there will be a better atmosphere among some who are opposed to immigration in the country….”

This is why Democrats are more focused on their economic agenda than rewriting immigration laws.

When it comes to immigration, public sentiment is not on the Democrats’ side. A Gallup poll from early March found opinions largely split on how much voters worry about illegal immigration: 36% of those surveyed said they worried a “great deal,” followed by, “only a little” at 24%, “not at all” at 21% and a “fair amount” at 18%.

A different Gallup poll in February found that 47% of respondents felt that large numbers of undocumented immigrants entering the US was a critical threat. Another 30% said it was important, while 22% said it was not important. That 77% who view undocumented immigrants as a threat was up by 8 points from a year earlier.

The pressure on Democrats will be to run as pro-immigrant in 2020 since it contrasts completely with Trump’s position. But with so many people concerned about border security and illegal immigration; that may not be a wise political decision.

Dems can make a case that it would be destabilizing and impractical to remove all who have been living peaceably in this country for many years. But they can’t support a position like Castro’s that says any non-felon who sets foot in the US should be allowed to remain here.

Wrongo favors setting hard overall quotas for all immigration, and a hard sub-quota for asylum requests.

We can’t solve the illegal immigration problem overnight, but we can warn potential migrants that once the yearly quota is reached, all will be denied entrance.

And Wrongo is in favor of letting in fewer low-skills immigrants and more high-skills immigrants. That could help reduce poverty among immigrants while also potentially lifting domestic economic growth.

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Another Lie From Trump

The Daily Escape:

The Cuernos del Paine in Chile – photo via Live Science. The 4,300-mile-long Andes, the longest continuous mountain range in the world, didn’t form slowly by one geologic plate sliding under another. They grew in two growth spurts helped by volcanic action. (Hat tip to Ottho H.)

What Trump said about El Paso in the SOTU:

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and (was) considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities,”

Local politicians weren’t happy with Trump’s false claims that the city was violent and dangerous before a border wall was built. Trump was repeating bogus information from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. And, he had made the same claim at the American Farm Bureau convention in mid-January.

Here is an example of the local outrage. Jon Barela, the chief executive officer of the Borderplex Alliance, which leads economic development efforts in the El Paso region, tweeted:

Texas Monthly reports that El Paso has made lists of the nation’s safest cities for almost two decades. But what are facts when you have a wall to build on the back of a racist narrative?

Wrongo lived in El Paso for a time when he was in the military (Vietnam era), back before there was talk of a wall, before the Maquiladora factories became a part of NAFTA, when Ciudad Juarez was probably far more dangerous than it is today. But back then, El Paso couldn’t be considered dangerous for someone who went to college in Washington DC, and lived on the outskirts of NYC.

One state over in New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has ordered the withdrawal of the majority of National Guard troops stationed at the US state’s southern border, denouncing as “a charade” President Donald Trump’s warnings about migrants swarming the border, saying:

“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,”

Are you getting the theme here? Two of the states closest to “the problem” say there isn’t a problem.

Kevin Drum at MoJo gathered the El Paso statistics. He shows that Trump cherry-picked the data, looking at 2005-2009. There was a spike from 400 crimes/100,000 people in 2005 to 450 crimes/100,000 people in 2008. Here is a chart showing the same statistics from 1993 to 2013:

Do you see the big reduction that came with the Wall? The Wall had almost no effect on crime in El Paso. It’s also important to remember that crime rates have come down throughout the US since the 1980’s.

The most damning fact about crime on the southern border is that it is way down. American Progress reports that:

  • Border cities are among the nation’s safest: Phoenix and other large border (and near-border) cities have some of the nation’s lowest crime rates, including San Diego, El Paso, and Austin
  • Border counties have low violent crime rates: Counties along the southwest border have some of the lowest rates of violent crime per capita in the nation. Their rates have dropped by more than 30% since the 1990s.
  • There’s no evidence of “spillover” of violence from Mexico: El Paso, Texas, has three bridges leading directly into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a city which has suffered a significant percentage of the national death toll brought on by the Mexican war on drug cartels, which approaches 23,000 today.
  • El Paso experienced only 12 murders in 2009, which was actually down from 17 in 2008. San Diego, California saw 41 murders in 2009, down from 55 in 2008, and Tucson, Arizona experienced 35 in 2009 a significant decrease from the 65 murders committed in 2008.

We should remember that Trump is from Queens, an outer borough of New York City. He lived there during the 1970s and 1980s, so he knows first-hand what living in a high crime city feels like. He also knows that the high crime he (and Wrongo) experienced, wasn’t caused by immigrants. That was when the Guardian Angels were founded in NYC. Trump lived there the whole time, he probably even took the subway.

His argument is false, and is clearly purely political. He’s playing to the fears of those suburbanites too intimidated to visit NYC, even if they live less than 25 miles away. His audience is suburbanites in the Midwest and Northern states.

These same people believe European cities like London and Paris are full of Muslim “no-go” zones. You can show them evidence that those cities are safer than their own suburbs, but that’s not the point.

Maybe “safe” really means “white”, so any place with too many non-whites is just too dangerous.

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Monday Wake Up Call – January 14, 2019

The Daily Escape:

We’re at such a low point, that quoting a racist White Governor at a KKK convention in 1924, doesn’t seem out of character with today’s politics.

Build a wall of steel, a wall as high as Heaven” might have easily been said by Trump on the 2016 campaign trail.

From the NYT:

At midnight on Saturday, the shutdown entered its 22nd day, which makes it the longest gap in American government funding ever. That beats the previous record, under President Bill Clinton in 1995, of 21 days.

Of the 21 federal government shutdowns since 1976, nine of the ten longest occurred under Democratic presidents, where the obstruction was by Republicans.

But the current shutdown is a self-inflicted wound by Trump, so it’s also caused by a Republican.

Trump has help from Mitch McConnell, who is the most powerful man in DC. He has run our national politics since 2010. He was able to neutralize Obama, and now it’s his call how long this shutdown goes on. From the WaPo:

President Trump is not the only person in Washington who could end this government shutdown now.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could bring a “clean” funding bill to the floor, free up his GOP caucus to support it and could quite possibly secure enough votes to override a presidential veto.

McConnell already did it once, when he believed he had Trump’s blessing. Before the holidays he allowed a vote to keep the government running until Feb. 8, to avoid a shutdown and buy more time to negotiate Trump’s demand for border wall funding. It passed easily.

After the past three weeks, it should be no surprise that, based on what we know, the GOP’s slogan is:

“Party over People, we really don’t care, do you?”

There are a few simple truths about American history. First, that racism is our worst legacy. Second, that we’re a nation of, and built by, immigrants. Except for Native Americans, we all trace our origins to places beyond our borders.

So why do White nationalists and White Evangelicals insist on saying that we have the right to shut out all immigrants except those from Norway? From NPR:

From 1870 to 1910 a quarter of Norway’s working-age population immigrated, mostly to the United States. You read that right — one-fourth of its workers left the country.

Why? They were economic migrants. Their average wages were less than a third of what they could earn in the US. It also turns out that the immigrants that Norway sent to the US during the 1870s were its poorest and least educated citizens.

According to Leah Boustan, an economist at Princeton University, compared to immigrants from the 15 other European nations that were part of the same wave of arrivals:

…the Norwegians held the lowest paid occupations in the US. They tended to be farm laborers. They were also fishermen. If they were in cities they were just sort of in the manual labor category — what today you would think of as a day laborer.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Twenty years after their arrival in the US, the Norwegian immigrants were still making 14% less than native-born workers. In other words, they have a lot in common with many of today’s immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Time to wake up, America! Trump doesn’t want to develop an immigration policy. We know that, because he only creates phony crises, while he wishes away real ones.

Trump has declared conflicts with Mexico, NATO, Australia, and Canada where none exist. He has tried to frighten Americans by fabricating emergencies that do not exist on the Mexican border.

He declares victories where there are none: saying he’s solved North Korea’s nuclear threat, and that he has beaten ISIS in Syria.

This isn’t just Nancy Pelosi’s problem to solve. Republicans in the Senate need to show moral courage, force Mitch McConnell’s hand, and pass a veto-proof funding bill.

The number to call is the Senate’s switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

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What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

The Daily Escape:

Happy New Year from the Wrong family

At the Mansion of Wrong, it is our annual party for our oldest friends. We’ll start with a wonderful vintage champagne. Then, move on to caviar sandwiches, and lobster rolls. All of that will be followed by perfectly cooked medium-rare beef tenderloin and a great Cabernet.

For this one day, we’ll act as if the problems of the world are at bay, so that we can concentrate on what is right with our world, despite how much awfulness there is everywhere we look.

One ray of hope as 2019 commences concerns a mother’s reaction to a tragedy. Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa went missing while out for a jog this July. Her body was recovered a month later, and an immigrant who was living and working in Iowa was charged with her murder.

Her killing became fodder for the Right’s efforts to stir up the nation’s anti-immigrant feelings. Some people were animated by deep and ugly racism. But Mollie’s family have chosen a path of solidarity in the time since their daughter’s alleged murderer was arrested. The WaPo has an update about the Tibbets’s actions.

It seems that Tibbetts’s mother, Laura Calderwood, has taken in a local Latino teenager whose parents initially fled Iowa amidst the local anti-immigrant blowback her murder provoked. More interesting, the kid Calderwood is effectively fostering actually knows Tibbetts’s alleged killer quite well. These two stories, on different arcs, are now taking shape under the same roof.

Calderwood says that hosting the boy who wants to finish high school before moving on, accords with her own belief about doing the right thing. She also thinks it is what her daughter would have wanted.

On New Year’s Eve, we are all searching for some reason for hope, for optimism in the face of so much that’s wrong. As we close out a truly awful 2018, it’s important to reflect not just upon the global cruelty, and the intense xenophobia at home. We should also acknowledge that mercifully, there are Laura Calderwoods who demonstrate an entirely different path.

Here is a song for New Year’s played two ways. There are many versions of “What Are You Doing New Years?” and these are two of Wrongo’s favorites. First, the saxophonist King Curtis in an instrumental version from 1968:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Next the great Ella Fitzgerald with the best vocal version, from 1960:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 26, 2018

The majority of Americans under 18 live in households that receive “means-tested assistance” from the US government. In 2016, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, there were approximately 73,586,000 people under 18 in the United States, and 38,365,000 of them, 52.1%, resided in households in which one or more persons received benefits from a means-tested government program.

Those programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicaid, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the National School Lunch Program.

And when the Census Bureau excluded school lunch programs from its calculations, the percentage of those under 18 who lived in a household receiving means-tested assistance (44.8%), still exceeded the percentage in any other age bracket.

We have now had four straight years: 2013 – 2016, during which a majority of those under 18 lived in a household taking means-tested benefits.

The primary reason for this is that most in this category are single parent households headed by a woman. Many can’t find employment paying a decent wage with some benefits. Many have to choose between full-time work and childcare. Some are working 2-3 part time jobs but still can’t cover their expenses.

But, the economy is good, the stock market is great, so why worry about these banana republic statistics, America? On to cartoons.

Trump sings the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, “What’s That Smell?”

Speak to a Trumpist, and you’ll find a reasonable, fact-driven human being:

Trump tweets about “widespread” killings of white farmers in South Africa. Here’s the truth:

Immigration unmasks the hate:

DeVos shows that she’s a helper:

Mitch reserves his looks of disgust only for Democrats:

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Trump’s “Willie Horton” Moment

The Daily Escape:

The Bulgle Bungles, Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

Lost in the news this week was the discovery of the body of missing Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts. An undocumented immigrant, Cristhian Rivera guided police to her body, and he is now being held for her murder.

And the much-publicized search for yet another white co-ed comes to a tragic end.

But for Donald Trump, it was a beginning. Trump and other conservatives quickly cited Rivera, who worked on a farm owned by a prominent Republican family, as proof of the flawed immigration system and lax border security the president has long warned about. Here’s Trump on CNN:

You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico. And you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman. Should have never happened. Illegally in our country…We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting it changed but we have to get more Republicans.

Iowa’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, released a statement saying she was:

Angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community.

Fox News led with the story. After all, why would they voluntarily be talking about Manafort and Cohen?

A side note, Rivera’s employer, Yarrabee Farms, a company that operates dairy farms in Iowa, said that Rivera had been an employee in good standing for four years. They said initially that they had checked his immigrant status with the Fed’s eVerify system. Use of the eVerify system is not mandatory. In fact, the White House dropped its call for mandatory E-Verify in February when trying to reach a DACA deal.

Later, Yarrabee admitted that they hadn’t used eVerify, but had used another verification system. The company is owned by the family of Craig Lang, a prominent Republican who previously served as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau.

We should note that many undocumented workers are hired – often knowingly – by employers, particularly in agriculture. And typically the employers suffer few consequences when ICE raids, and takes their illegal employees away.

Trump and the GOP will try to turn this into a “Willie Horton” moment in the mid-term elections. Willie Horton was serving a life sentence for murder, but was released by Massachusetts for weekend furlough. He never returned, and committed rape, assault and armed robbery before being recaptured. This happened on the watch of Democratic governor, Michael Dukakis. The GOP then used the Horton case very successfully against Dukakis, who lost the presidential election in 1988.

And the Mollie Tibbetts murder is another example of Republicans using fear to scare the electorate. Facts never seem to matter, here are a few: (emphasis by Wrongo)

The CDC analyzed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55% were intimate partner violence-related, meaning they occurred at the hands of a former or current partner or the partner’s family or friends. In 93% of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner. The report also bucks the strangers-in-dark-alleys narrative common to televised crime dramas: Strangers perpetrated just 16% of all female homicides, fewer than acquaintances and just slightly more than parents.

If you say none of that matters to Mollie Tibbetts, or her family, you would be wrong. Sam Lucas, a cousin of Mollie’s, tweeted a response to Candace Owens, a representative of a right-wing student organization:

Hey I’m a member of Mollie’s family and we are not so fucking small-minded that we generalize a whole population based on some bad individuals….stop using my cousin’s death as political propaganda…. https://t.co/xxZNBF0Uv9

— sam (@samlucasss) August 22, 2018

Our hearts should break for Mollie and her family. But why then, is the GOP dragging out the old Horton playbook to whip up racism? Trump wouldn’t have made any mention about her murder if it had involved one of the many white men who rape and murder women (of any race) in our country, every day.

This is an entire political party dedicated to promulgating fear of the “other”, and a huge swath of the media are dedicated to blasting it out to their audience of (apparently) timid white people.

Where the killer comes from shouldn’t have anything to do with the publicity any crime receives. Except in Trumpworld, where it has everything to do with why they pay attention.

Their strategy is: Find one bad apple and then say no one should eat applesauce.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 17, 2018

Jeff Sessions isn’t the only Republican who is anti-immigrant. Arizona Republican State Representative David Stringer addressed the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum this week. He called immigration an “existential threat” to America: (emphasis by Wrongo)

60% of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around.

Stringer helpfully explained what happens when there aren’t enough white kids:

And when you look at that 60% number for public school students, just carry that forward 10 or 15 years. It’s going to change the demographic voting base of this state…..Immigration is politically destabilizing.

He says 60% of the kids are “minorities”, but the math says they are the majority. Maybe he’s using the “nonwhites are 3/5ths of a person” rule.

On to cartoons. It was difficult to know if Singapore was real, or a reality show:

Kim and Trump agreed on one thing:

Kim debriefed the team back home:

The big thing we have to fear:

Sessions fails bible study. The Boss wasn’t amused:

Sessions asks excellent question in bible study. Gets correct answer:

California’s referendum on whether to break into three states isn’t necessary:

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