What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.

Source and Author: Sam Harris

Emphasis Mine

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

All of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, must oppose the specific ideas within the Islamic tradition that inspire groups like ISIS and the so-called “lone-wolf” attacks we’ve now seen in dozens of countries, as well as the social attitudes that are at odds with our fundamental values—values like human rights, and women’s rights, and gay rights, and freedom of speech. These values are non-negotiable.

But I want to be very clear about something: Bigotry against Muslims, or any other group of people, is unacceptable. It is contrary to the values that have made our society a beacon of freedom and tolerance for the rest of the world. It is also totally counterproductive from a security point of view. However, talking about the consequences of ideas is not bigotry. Muslims are people—and most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims simply want to live in peace like the rest of us. Islam, however, is a set of ideas. And all ideas are fit to be discussed and criticized in the 21st century.

Every religious community must interpret its scripture and adjust its traditions to conform to the modern world. Western Christians used to murder people they believed were witches. They did this for centuries. It’s hard to exaggerate the depths of moral and intellectual confusion this history represents. But it is also true that we have largely outgrown such confusion in the West. The texts themselves haven’t changed. The Bible still suggests that witchcraft is real. It isn’t. And we now know that a belief in witches was the product of ancient ignorance and fear. Criticizing a belief in witchcraft, and noticing its connection to specific atrocities—atrocities that are still committed by certain groups of Christians in Africa—isn’t a form of bigotry against Christians. It’s the only basis for moral and political progress.

One thing is undeniable: Islam today is in desperate need of reform. We live in a world where little girls are shot in the head or have acid thrown in their faces for the crime of learning to read. We live in a world where a mere rumor that a book has been defaced can start riots in a dozen countries. We live in a world in which people reliably get murdered over cartoons, and blog posts, and beauty pageants—even the mere naming of a teddy bear. I’m now convinced that we have to talk about this with less hesitancy and more candor than we’ve shown in the past. Muslims everywhere who love freedom must honestly grapple with the challenges that a politicized strand of their religion poses to free societies. And we must support them in doing so. Otherwise, our silence will only further empower bigots and xenophobes. That is dangerous. We are already seeing the rise of the far right in Europe. And we are witnessing the coalescence of everything that’s still wrong with America in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, it is true that this politicized strain of Islam is a source of much of the world’s chaos and intolerance at this moment. But it is also true that no one suffers more from this chaos and intolerance than Muslims themselves. Most victims of terrorism are Muslim; the women who are forced to wear burkhas or are murdered in so-called “honor killings” are Muslim; the men who are thrown from rooftops for being born gay are Muslim. Most of the people the world over who can’t even dream of speaking or writing freely are Muslim. And modern, reform-minded Muslims, most of all, want to uproot the causes of this needless misery and conflict.

In response to terrorist atrocities of the sort that we witnessed in Paris, Nice, and Orlando, we need to honestly acknowledge that we are fighting not generic terrorism but a global jihadist insurgency. The first line of defense against this evil is and always will be members of the Muslim community who refuse to put up with it. We need to empower them in every way we can. Only cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims can solve these problems. If you are concerned about terrorism, if you are concerned about homeland security, if you are concerned about not fighting unnecessary wars and winning necessary ones, if you are concerned about human rights globally, in November you must elect a president who can get people in a hundred countries to cooperate to solve an extraordinarily difficult and polarizing problem—the spread of Islamic extremism. This is not a job that a president can do on Twitter.

I want to say a few words on the topics of immigration and the resettlement of refugees: The idea of keeping all Muslims out of the United States, which my opponent has been proposing for months, is both impractical and unwise. It’s one of those simple ideas—like building a wall and deporting 11 million undocumented workers—that doesn’t survive even a moment’s scrutiny. More important, if you think about this purely from the point of view of American security, you realize that we want Muslims in our society who are committed to our values. Muslims like Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his fellow American soldiers from a suicide bomber in Iraq. Or his father, Khizr Khan, who spoke so eloquently in defense of American values at the Democratic National Convention. Muslims who share our values are, and always will be, the best defense against Islamists and jihadists who do not.

That’s one reason why the United States is faring so much better than Europe is. We have done a much better job of integrating our Muslim community and honoring its religious life. Muslims in America are disproportionately productive and prosperous members of our society. They love this country—with good reason. Very few of them have any sympathy for the ideology of our enemies. We want secular, enlightened, liberal Muslims in America. They are as much a part of the fabric of this society as anyone else. And given the challenges we now face, they are an indispensable part.

Despite the counsel of fear you hear from my opponent, security isn’t our only concern. We also have an obligation to maintain our way of life and our core values, even in the face of threats. One of our values is to help people in need. And few people on earth are in greater need at this moment than those who are fleeing the cauldron of violence in Iraq and Syria—where, through no fault of their own, they have had to watch their societies be destroyed by sectarian hatred. Women and girls by the tens of thousands have been raped, in a systematic campaign of sexual violence and slavery. Parents have seen their children crucified. The suffering of these people is unimaginable, and we should help them—whether they are Yazidi, or Christian, or Muslim. But here is my pledge to you: No one will be brought into this country without proper screening. No one will be brought in who seems unlikely to embrace the values of freedom and tolerance that we hold dear.  Is any screening process perfect? Of course not. But I can tell you that the only way to actually win the war on terror will be to empower the people who most need our help in the Muslim world.

The irony is that my opponent in this race, who imagines that he is talking tough about terrorism and ISIS and Islam, has done nothing but voice inflammatory and incoherent ideas that, if uttered by a U.S. president, would immediately make the world a more dangerous place. Being “politically incorrect” isn’t the same as being right, or informed, or even sane. It isn’t a substitute for actually caring about other people or about the consequences of one’s actions in the world. It isn’t a policy. And it isn’t a strategy for winning the war against jihadism, or a war of ideas against radical Islam…


The Media Myth of the Working-Class Reagan Democrats

The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Neal Gabler/Moyers and CO

Emphasis Mine

The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, we are likely to get all sorts of mainstream media analysis about how his narrow pathway to Election Day victory runs through white working-class America, the way Ronald Reagan’s did, while the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, must corral young people, minorities and the well-educated.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an unmistakable media bias in this – one that was framed perfectly in a Newsweekcover story by Evan Thomas eight years ago. It was about Barack Obama’s alleged “Bubba Gap,” and illustrated with a picture of arugula — and beer. Democrats, naturally, were the arugula eaters.

This idea that Republicans are “real” Americans and Democrats aren’t is now a generation-long meme in the media, and it has had tremendous repercussions for our politics. It used to be that Republicans were the effete ones and Democrats the salt-of-the-earth. Then Ronald Reagan came along and pried working-class voters away from the Democrats – the so-called “Reagan Democrats” – and suddenly the media reversed party roles, deciding that America tilted right, and that Democrats were elitists.

I have no idea who will win the election this November, but I can pretty much assure you of this: we will be hearing an awful lot about Trump Democrats who, like those Reagan Democrats, may abandon the Democratic Party because they allegedly find it too high-blown.

But this is what you probably won’t hear: those Reagan Democrats, at least not as we usually think of them — urban, Rust Belt laborers — didn’t last much beyond Reagan. They were a temporary blip who didn’t realign American politics the way the media tell us they did. Trump Democrats might be something of a myth, too – a collaboration of the MSM and the candidate to portray him and his party as the agents of blue-collar, middle America because it fits the media’s stereotype of angry workers blowing gaskets.

Let’s get a few things out of the way when we talk about Republican hegemony and the party’s appeal to disaffected Democrats. Yes, Republicans control both houses of Congress, and, yes, they are dominant at the governor and state legislature levels. This, however, is largely the product of certain peculiarities in the American political system rather than any great Democratic defection or love of Republicanism: things like low turnout in local and midterm elections among minorities and the poor, who are likely to vote Democratic; subsequent gerrymandering of districts to benefit Republicans; absurd disproportions in which Wyoming, with its population of 584,000, gets the same number of senators as California with its 39 million; and the role of money in elections, as money generally flows more freely to Republicans than to Democrats for the obvious reason that the GOP’s benefactors have more to gain from the system.

If you just read newspapers and watch TV news, you would probably never guess that actually there are fewer self-identified conservatives in America than there are self-identified liberals, or that Democrats outnumber Republicans 29 percent to 26 percent in the latest Gallup Poll.

These are, says Gallup, historically low figures for both parties, but they may heavily discount Democratic identification. According to a survey by Republic 3.0, if you add in self-declared Independents who nevertheless lean toward one party or the other, Democrats actually constitute 45 percent of Americans, while Republicans constitute just 33 percent. So if you have been thinking that this is a conservative GOP country, think again.

Which brings us to those Reagan Democrats. As Thomas Frank wrote in his 2004 best-seller, What’s the Matter With Kansas?,the “dominant political coalition” in America is the union of business voters and blue-collar voters, many of the latter one-time Democrats diverted from their economic interests by the bloody shirt of social wedge issues from abortion to gun rights to immigration. That was the great Republican prestidigitation. Now you see economic distress, now you don’t. And the great political realignment that followed was laid at the foot of Ronald Reagan.

But was it true? In 2006, in theQuarterly Journal of Political Science, the brilliant political scientist Larry Bartels, then of Princeton and now at Vanderbilt University, took on this story in a searching analysis of Frank’s thesis. Looking at voting trendlines over a 50-year period, from the 1952 presidential election of Eisenhower to the 2004 reelection of George W. Bush, Bartels found that there was, as Frank and pundits said, a decline in Democratic support — roughly six percentage points; not huge over five decades, but still significant.

But wait! That decline was among white voters without college degrees, which was the demographic Frank chose to use. If you include non-white voters without college degrees, Democrats actually enjoyed a two-point increase.

You may notice that when the MSM talks about the whole Reagan/Trump Democratic conversion, they are focusing on whites, too, even though the share of white voters in the electorate is falling while that of minorities is rising. Basically, it’s the media equivalent of the three-fifths compromise of the Constitution in which slaves, for the purpose of calculating representation, counted for less than whites.

Further, Bartels found that if you look at income rather than education, the results are even more pronounced in favor of Democrats. The percentage of low income voters going Democratic has actually risen since the 1980s. In 2012, Barack Obama received 60 percent of the votes of those with household incomes under $50,000, roughly the American median, and only 44 percent of those over $100,000. And here is something else Bartels discovered. Nearly all the Democratic decline among low-income white voters without college degrees came in the South: 10.3 percent. Outside the South, the Democratic percentages actually increased (11.2 percent) for an overall national increase of 4.5 percent. Again, that is just among whites. The inescapable conclusion: All those blue collar workers who are supposed to have left the Democratic Party for Reagan and then stayed in the GOP, or who might soon be leaving for Trump, didn’t in the first case, and aren’t likely to do so in the second.

I suppose there is a reason why the MSM doesn’t feel comfortable broadcasting those numbers. Doing so would force them to label Republicans for what they are: the party of white, rich, disproportionately Southern folks, as opposed to the Democrats, who are a diverse party racially and economically. When put that way, it inevitably sounds like the media are taking sides, even though it would only be fact-providing.

This isn’t to say that in 1980, when it came to union households, Reagan didn’t cut seriously into the lead Carter had over Ford in 1976. And he made some inroads into the working class as defined by income as well. But the real story of the so-called post-Reagan Republican tilt is that white Southerners, who had long been departing the Democratic Party, until one of their own, Carter, stanched the flow in 1976, were the primary defectors. And presumably they were leaving not over economics but over race.

That’s another story neither the MSM nor the Republicans are eager to tell because it makes the GOP out to be overly dependent on racist troglodytes. For the MSM to tell the truth this way would, again, seem to be picking on Republican salt-of-the-earth rank and file, and the MSM won’t risk doing that. Picking on allegedly Democratic elitists? That’s OK.

None of this is to say that Trump won’t attract lots of angry, white working-class voters. It is to say that it’s highly unlikely he will draw many working-class voters away from the Democrats, in large part because there probably aren’t a whole lot of white Democratic votes left in the South to take away, and because most blue-collar workers still identify with the Democratic Party. So get ready to hear about all those angry, blue-collar white guys who love Trump and might hand him the election. But when you do, remember this: Democrats drink beer too, even though the MSM has you thinking they’re all sipping chablis as they munch their arugula.

Neal Gabler is an author of five books and the recipient of two LA TImes Book Prizes, Time magazine’s non-fiction book of the year, USA Today’s biography of the year and other awards. He is also a senior fellow at the Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment and Society and is currently writing a biography of Sen. Edward Kennedy.



Donald Trump’s Idiot Guide to Foreign Policy: The GOP Frontrunner Has No Idea How the World Actually Works

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Trump isn’t just inexperienced — he’s actually living in a fantasy world.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Daniel Denvir/Salon

Emphasis Mine

Over the past several months, Donald Trump has famously said a lot of nasty things about Mexican immigrants. What’s less often noted is that he thinks the Mexican government is run by the world’s most hyper-competent  supervillains. The upshot is that only Trump has the wherewithal to beat them.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said as he announced his candidacy last June. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“The Mexican government,” he later added, “forces many bad people into our country because they’re smart…. They’re smarter than our leaders, and their negotiators are far better than what we have, to a degree that you wouldn’t believe.”

Trump honestly seems to believe that Mexican migration to the United States is controlled by the Mexican government, rather than, say, complex economic changes and cross-border social ties. Now, it turns out, he thinks that the Mexican government controls the Pope as well, and tricked the head of the Catholic Church into disliking Trump.

“The Pope was in Mexico,” Trump said, responding to Francis’s comment yesterday that his border-wall lust disqualified him from Christianity. “Do you know that? Does everyone know that? He said negative things about me because the Mexican government convinced him that Trump is not a good guy because I want to have a strong border, I want to stop illegal immigration, I want to stop people from being killed.”

People, for very good reason, pay a lot of attention to Trump’s racism. But his comments about immigration point to something else critical to his worldview: Trump thinks that world events can be reduced to the raw genius or stupidity of a given country’s leaders. Trump takes a MENSA member approach to the world, fetishizing intelligence without demonstrating actual intellectual competence. Just as Trump represents a poor man’s idea of what a rich man must be like, his theory of governance is statecraft as a marketing executive might see it.

For what it’s worth, Mexicans don’t think much of a government that fails to address widespread poverty, corruption and impunity. A recent Grupo Reforma poll found that after El Chapo’s recapture, more Mexicans’ opinions of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government actually fell rather than rose, and a strong majority credited cartel leaders’ carelessness for his capture rather than the government’s competence.

When Peña Nieto is feeling down, which I imagine is quite frequently, he should pick up the phone and give Trump a call. Trump, at least, thinks the Mexican government doing a helluva good job.

Daniel Denvir is a writer at Salon covering criminal justice, policing, education, inequality and politics. You can follow him at Twitter @DanielDenvir.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/donald-trumps-remedial-guide-foreign-policy-gop-frontrunner-has-no-idea-how-world?akid=13997.123424.TOXRxD&rd=1&src=newsletter1051079&t=8

Cruz, Trump Could Crater the GOP: A History Lesson for a Party on the Brink of Disaster

From the beginning of the campaign, far-right nativism has defined the agenda. Here’s why it could backfire—badly.

11896117_10206397582751186_7636156920747422504_nSource: AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

It’s been a while since anyone said “As California goes, so goes the nation” and that’s probably since that moldy old saw was never very accurate to begin with. Sure, newspaperman Horace Greely’s “go west young man” was once a common exhortation and from the time of the gold rush through the “Mad Men” era, California was seen as a place for cutting edge social change. Its politics were often in the vanguard too from leftwing Upton Sinclair’s run for governor in the 1930s to the right wing Ronald Reagan’s run 30 years later. Howard Jarvis passed Proposition 13 in California in 1978 setting off a national crusade to cut taxes and drown the government in the bathtub which continues to this day.

But in a country that is dramatically polarized between blue and red, the only thing deep blue California leads these days is fellow travelers. Still, there are some lessons to be learned by Republicans from California’s recent experiences in one specific area: immigration. If there’s one thing the golden state knows about it’s Republican politicians scapegoating undocumented workers for political gain — and what happens when Latino voters decide to fight back.

You may recall that 1994 was a big Republican year nationally. For the first time in decades, the GOP gained a majority of seats in Congress, largely running on a doctrinaire conservative message as illustrated by Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. When the cycle started, California Republican Governor Pete Wilson was far down in the polls with little chance of recovery. But California Republicans in 1994 were a lot like Trump voters all over the country are today. That is: They were utterly convinced that a vast wave of immigrants from Mexico were pouring over the border to obtain free medical care, welfare benefits and schooling, even as they stole all the good paying jobs from real Americans. They allegedly did all this while stubbornly refusing to learn English.

 The Republicans were so worked up, they put an initiative on the ballot now known as the notorious Proposition 187. The initiative was officially called SOS for “save our state,” and the opening words of it read:

The People of California find and declare as follows: That they have suffered and are suffering economic hardship caused by the presence of illegal immigrants in this state. That they have suffered and are suffering personal injury and damage caused by the criminal conduct of illegal immigrants in this state. That they have a right to the protection of their government from any person or persons entering this country unlawfully.

The initiative was draconian, even requiring police to verify citizenship of anyone they detain and forcing school districts to verify citizenship of all students and their families. Pete Wilson ran an ad supporting it that has become one of the most famous political ads in history, in which an ominous voiceover intoned: “They keep coming: 2 million illegal immigrants in California,” over grainy black and white footage of figures scurrying across the screen like insects exposed to the light.

Prop 187 won overwhelmingly with 59 percent of the vote. And Pete Wilson won re-election handily, as did Senator Dianne Feinstein who had run on a promise to crack down on immigration when she got back to Washington. It seemed to be a rousing success.

But while Republicans were high-fiving each other over their great victory, the court issued an immediate stay of the proposition and the Latino community in California began to protest and organize. And they also began, in great numbers, to vote Democratic. The fallout from Prop 187 and a few subsequent anti-immigrant proposals decimated the Republican Party in California. In 1994 the GOP held 26 of 52 (50 percent) U.S. House seats in the California delegation. Today they hold just 15 of 53 (28 percent). The Republican nominee has not won California in the last 6 presidential elections.

According to research by Latino Decisions this is why:

Prop 187 and the Pete Wilson years had two effects that

shifted the state dramatically to the Democrats. First, the number of Latino voters grew quickly in response to perceived attacks on the Latino community. In comparison to other states that did not experience the same anti-immigrant environment such as Texas or New York, the research clearly demonstrates that Latino voter registration in California increased must faster than anticipated by population growth alone. Second, during the mid-1990s extensive research documents a increase in Latino votes for the Democratic party in California that was sustained throughout the 2000s. Not only did more Latinos start voting, they started voting heavily against the Republican Party.


Political observers tend to characterize the term “backlash” as applying to white voters upset by equal rights being extended to women and minorities. But California’s experience shows that backlash can also come from minorities in reaction to bigotry. California’s Latinos knew where the hostility was coming from and fully understood the political cynicism which led Republican politicians to exploit the prejudices of their voters and the result is that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only Republican to win a California gubernatorial, senatorial, or presidential election since 1994.

This lesson has not been lost on the national GOP. Having no chance to win the nation’s largest bundle of electoral votes in California is an ongoing frustration. But the danger posed by a base that is hostile to the growing national Latino constituency is a problem of epic proportions — the political equivalent of climate change. It’s not that Latinos have the kind of electoral clout across the nation that they have in California as yet. But there are some very important states in which they are pivotal, like Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida and Colorado. Indeed, won’t be long before even Texas could become a challenge.

The GOP “autopsy” after the 2012 campaign was explicit on this point. As Florida GOP strategist Sally Bradshaw, one of the authors of the report said:

“The GOP is continually marginalizing itself and unless changes are made it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future…Many minorities think Republicans don’t like them or don’t want them in our country.”

Another said:

“If Hispanic Americans hear the GOP doesn’t want them in the U.S.A.,they won’t pay attention to our next sentence. It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy. If Hispanics think we don’t want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

But the party’s grassroots didn’t care about any stinkin’ autopsy report. They obstructed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and scare the hell out of any GOP office holder who seemed to even consider a path to citizenship. Just to make sure they were understood, they even took out the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, in 2014, for the crime of whispering one time that he thought some undocumented workers might someday be worthy of citizenship.

And then came Donald Trump with his wall and his deportation raids and his approval of “Operation Wetback” and his assertion that Mexico is “sending us their worst” and insisting that the undocumented workers are rapists and murderers. The rest of the field has followed with increasingly harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. What was supposed to be a race between two youthful Hispanic Senators and a seasoned Spanish speaking ex-Governor who is married to a Mexican immigrant has turned into an ugly panderfest for the votes of bigots and xenophobes.

This week Trump outdid himself by releasing to great fanfare his first ad — an homage to Pete Wilson’s greatest hit: A grainy, black and white television spot showing people scurrying across the screen like insects. (The footage was of Morocco rather than the Mexican border, but nobody cares.) Ted Cruz followed with a more stylized,  pretentious version of the same, pretending the issue is all about jobs and not about bigotry.

Nobody knows how this will play out in the election. It’s always possible that the Democrats will fail to turn out the Latino vote in those places where it can make the difference. But you can also be pretty sure the Republicans won’t be able to do it, and according to the autopsy report, they need to attract over 40 percent of the Latino vote nationally to win.

Meanwhile in California, Cruz and Trump are neck and neck in the polls. It’s been 20 years and California Republicans still haven’t learned their lesson. If the old saying, “How California goes, so goes the nation,” has any truth in it today,  that means the national Republican Party may spend years in the wilderness before its voters realize this toxic anti-immigrant sentiment is killing them.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.



Trump and the joys of hatred

Source: Tablet.com

Author: Paul Berman

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump’s supporters turn out to be (as discovered by the statisticians, as reported by the political analysts) 55 percent white working-class, many of them males from age 50 to 64, without college degrees. And, in the analysts’ view, a political logic accounts for these people’s sympathies. The white workers are submerged in economic insecurity, and they blame their circumstances on illegal immigrants from Mexico, and they appreciate their candidate’s forceful anti-immigrant hostility. Nor do they want the United States to accept refugees from Syria. Their feelings on this matter draw them to Trump yet again. Such is the explanation. It makes sense. But I worry about explanations that make too much sense.

The whole phenomenon of people being upset over the Mexican immigration, to begin with—isn’t there something odd in this? We are right now experiencing an unemployment rate nationally of 5.5 percent, which really isn’t bad. Naturally people feel insecure economically, but the grounds for this are multiple: the competition from other countries (e.g., from Mexicans who do not immigrate); the fact that technological advances are always rendering one craft or another obsolete; the likelihood that one of these days the entirely American banks or the stock market will bring about still another financial crisis. And so forth. Why the emphasis on Mexican immigrants, then?

The first of the primaries will take place in a few weeks in New Hampshire, where Trump is said to be doing well. Is there something special to be learned from New Hampshire? Googling about, I discover that, at the University of New Hampshire this past July, the Carsey School of Public Policy issued a report saying that—I quote—“migration from Mexico to the U.S. dropped more than 50 percent in the last five years.” Other reports go further: More Mexicans are returning to Mexico than are coming to the United States. Immigration has mutated into emigration. However terrible the competition from Mexican immigrants may have been in the past (but how terrible was it?), the terribleness appears to be diminishing. You will recall Trump’s much-discussed outburst about Mexico: “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people!” To judge from the University of New Hampshire report, though, rather a lot of the immigrants are “good people”: “Those migrating tend to have higher socioeconomic status, are older, and are more likely to be women.” The crisis of immigration appears to be, in short, substantially a non-crisis.

The late-middle-aged white workers, then—what do they see in Trump? And what do they make of his proposal for dealing with the not-really-a-crisis? His proposed deportation of 11 million people would amount to the largest mass deportation in world history. You have only to picture for a moment the massed police and immigration agents and National Guard mobilizations to recognize that it is not going to happen. Suppose that a President Trump managed to do it, anyway. It would out-Stalin Stalin. The economic consequences alone would be catastrophic, given the unemployment rate. Entire industries would sink into the underpopulated sands. In my own town, which is New York, the restaurant industry would fall apart in 30 seconds if someone were to issue arrest warrants for the undocumented laborers from the city of Puebla, Mexico, who are toiling in the hellish kitchens. But then, Trump’s idea about deporting the millions is no more preposterous than his other proposal in regard to the Mexican immigration, which is to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and get the Mexican government pay for it. Not a soul on earth believes in the possibility of such a thing.

For that matter, does anyone honestly believe that Trump is going to be elected president? Pollsters tell us that people do believe it. But Trump has never actually tried to present himself as a presidential personality. When he stands in the row along with the all the other Republican debaters, he makes no effort to appear like any of the others. His look is a combination of dapper and bedraggled. The weight of his hair appears to have crushed his face like a pumpkin. He speaks with the peremptory tone of a New York gangster, sometimes with a trace of humor, which is charming, but always with an overtone of threat. Never does he sound like a man trying to assemble a coalition of supporters. Nor does he appear to aspire to be anyone’s second choice, though in a race with 16 candidates, a second-choice candidate has a shot at winning.

His supporters, then, the ones who have been around the block, who know how presidential elections go—what are they dreaming of? I think they support the Donald precisely because he is ridiculous. His impudence is his appeal. They cannot have given any serious thought to the economy or immigration or any of the major issues. They like how he insults his interviewers. Has he mocked a woman journalist’s period? Hah hah!—what other politician would dare do such a thing? Has he insulted John McCain? Here is bravery, given that everyone knows that McCain is a war hero. Has he ordered Jorge Ramos, the Univision news anchorman, to be escorted from the room? All the better! They like the fact that Trump doesn’t give a damn about being respectable or likable or courteous. He burps in your face. They will vote for such a man.

It has to be conceded that Trump is good at being bad. It comes to him naturally, even biologically. According to his biographer Gwenda Blair, Trump’s grandfather was an immigrant from Germany who made a fortune running brothel-restaurants in Seattle and the Canadian Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890s (where the brothels contained, in each room, a scale for weighing gold dust in payment). And the grandfather knew how, in a feat of reverse alchemy, to turn gold into real estate. Trump’s father expanded the holdings into a real-estate empire in the New York outer boroughs. The Donald himself succeeded in expanding the empire into Manhattan and then into businesses of all sorts: the Miss USA beauty pageant, hotels, golf courses, a gambling casino (which failed), an airline (which he was obliged to sell), men’s clothes, chocolate, restaurants, and more, some of them his own properties, others merely arrangements to license his name. And, with each new acquisition or product, he inscribed that name in ever gaudier letters into the American landscape. “Trump: the Fragrance” was always a joke, along with “Trump,” the vodka (which failed, though my own liquor store stocks it). But the jokes and non-jokes cleverly established a brand, which stands for a combination of good workmanship (Trump has constructed many buildings, none of which have fallen down) and execrable taste. He has also made a point of inhabiting the gossip pages, married to one fashion model or another, or dating this lady or that in a spirit of conquest—Carla Bruni, though he claims to regret having failed to date Princess Diana—which, after a while, led to a television career, where he turns out to be exceptionally talented.

It is because he is a fanatic of his own cause. He is at ease with himself, which makes him easy to watch. He looks absurd spreading his arms to show how absurd is the world, which allows him to make his points and amuse his audiences at the same time. And it was no small thing to come up with The Apprentice, his reality TV show, featuring the cult of his own personality. At its height this show attracted 28 million viewers, which is more than have watched any of the political debates of the campaign season, so far. On The Apprentice, Trump plays Donald J. Trump, who is the tycoon of a business empire. He summons his underlings to a meeting. They grovel. They discuss each other’s faults and failures. He listens. His demeanor appears to be almost kindly. And yet, he makes clear that, unlike all of his employees, he commands insights into the ingredients of business success. He sees what ordinary mortals cannot see. Therefore he sees how lamentable are his employees’ flaws and errors. And he fires someone. Or he fires them all. He does this because he understands how the world works. It is a matter of tragic wisdom. He understands that the world is cruel, even if he himself is not cruel, and he has no choice but to do as the world commands, which is to liquidate those who must be liquidated.

You’re fired”—his most famous phrase—has got to be the ghastliest slogan ever heard from a presidential candidate. The fired employee receives the news in shock. The victim’s face freezes, then quivers. The employee knows there is no appeal. Mr. Trump has spoken. He is a Hollywood Mafia don—the crime chieftain who does not enjoy ordering the murder of his best friend, but who understands that, in the world of crime, there is no forgiveness. Afterward, Mr. Trump, like the Mafia don, is serene, perhaps even slightly pleased at the spectacle of his own competence.

And people like this man! They want to vote for him, yes, they do. It is because Trump is the nihilist candidate. There are people who would like to see Trump become president because, for the next four years, television news would be better even than The Apprentice. Trump’s supporters are losers, and they know they are losers. Trump knows how to be the loser’s idea of a winner. He wallows in the material extravagance of his triumphs, the fame, the leggy women, the television cameras, the gold, the platinum, the lush carpets, the airplanes, the servile workers, the orgy of arrogance that appears to be his life, the bad taste as a display of macho.

And the deeper he wallows, the greater is the freedom that he grants to his followers to wallow in their own fantasies of grandeur. Their own fantasies cannot of course be material. Such is the fate of the working class. But grandeur can be emotional. And so, the followers indulge their urge to hate. The Donald tells them that hatred is OK, and they yield to it. The wonderful thing about hatred is that it does not require a particular object. Any object will do. Sartre made this point in his book Reflections on the Jewish Question. The Mexican immigrants will do perfectly, even if in reality Mexicans are crucial to the American economy and are diminishing in numbers. The Donald tells his followers not to accept the poor refugees from Syria, and the followers feel entitled to shiver in horror and fear. The Donald is right now whipping up a hatred for Muslims in New Jersey. I would imagine that, all over the country, his followers are pounding the table in contemptuous disdain for New Jersey Muslims. Who will it be next week? Probably more Muslims. Trump has discovered that, for him, there is no downside in conjuring hatreds of this sort. The respectable journalists indignantly reveal that his claims vary from the reality, but this merely allows him to display still more disdain for the respectable journalists, who surely figure in his own mind as the true enemy. And so he will continue, and his followers will feel that, during the course of his campaign, they have been able to live life more intensely even than in the glorious times gone by when they used to watch Trump dismiss his flunkies on The Apprentice.

The Trump candidacy ought to remind us of the ancient reality that politics is not necessarily the home of the rational—a truth to be found in the pages of Suetonius. I point to Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, from 1852. It is a study of the aftermath of the revolution of 1848 in France. Louis Bonaparte was a laughable character, but in the aftermath of the revolution public life was unsettled, and it was not clear what sort of government France was going to have. The laughable character happened to be the great Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, and this sufficed to bring him to power. The stupid peasants voted for him. He established a dictatorship. It was absurd, but it happened. The story of Louis Bonaparte was the occasion for Marx’s remark about history taking place twice, the first time as tragedy (Napoleon), the second time as farce (the nephew). Marx wanted to draw from these events a lesson about the class struggle, but I think that he stumbled on a different and eternal truth, which has to do with the place of theater—of tragedy and farce, theatrical genres—in political life. Reality TV, in Trump’s version of it, is our modern farce. There are people who demand their daily farce: This was Marx’s unwitting discovery. They insist on being entertained. About the realities of their own political situation, those people may understand nothing. They understand a personal reality, though. They want to sit in the audience and laugh and cry. Especially they want to shake their fists at villains. They want to boo and hiss. They want to tremble in loathing. If someone comes out on stage who is capable of making them do so, they will clap. It is pathetic.

See: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/195446/trump-and-the-joys-of-hatred?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=21d88b6163-Sunday_December_13_201512_11_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-21d88b6163-206691737

The 10 Most Important Lines From Pope Francis’ Historic Speech to Congress

Taking several progressive stances, the pope did not shy away from the politically divisive issues of the day.

Source: Mother Jones

Author:Pema Levy

Emphasis Mine

In a powerful speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis pushed the United States to confront several political issues that tend to divide Republicans and Democrats, including immigration, climate change, the Iran deal, Cuba, poverty, and the death penalty. His speech noted that politics “cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.” He didn’t chastise any political party, and he, not surprisingly, had a clear but brief reference to opposing abortion. But overall, his address had a progressive cast.

Here are the most powerful quotes, according to the prepared text:

On climate change: “I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States—and this Congress—have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (Democrats stood to applaud the pope’s remarks on climate change, while many Republicans remained seated. The pope’s message was more muted than his remarks on the issue Wednesday when he spoke at the White House.”

On abolishing the death penalty: “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

On abortion: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” (This was his only direct reference to abortion in the speech.)

On same-sex marriage: The closest he came to addressing same-sex marriage was in a passage about the importance of family. “I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.” (This did not appear to be an explicit denouncement of marriage equality.)

On Iran and Cuba: “When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue—a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons—new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces.”

On the refugee crisis: “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”

On immigration: “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants…Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal solidarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.”

On poverty: “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.”

On the arms trade: “Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

On religious fundamentalism: “We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.” 




See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/pope-francis-congress-best-lines-climate-abortion

Trump Is Gifting Dems The Latino & Asian Vote, Costing Republicans The White House

Source: Occupydemocrats.com

Author: Sarah

emphasis mine

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. It’s how the nation came to existence. No one person, outside that of the indigenous people who lived her prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims and the rest of our forefathers can say that this area of North America is exclusive to them and them alone. There’s a reason the Statue of Liberty has etched on it:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Because we are the nation that was a “new world” to immigrants worldwide, and we still are. That will become very clear in the upcoming election. To win the national general election in November of 2016, the winning candidate will need to have the Latino vote and Asian American votes. In 2012, President Obama took 71% of the Latino vote and 73% of the Asian-American vote. The results are now obvious. Given the current opinions of the Republican Party candidates on the immigration issue, it appears that the Democratic Party is in a very good spot for a repeat performance.

The xenophobic reaction to Trump’s anti-immigrant spiel can be seen in nearly every Republican candidate, and their individual approaches to immigration reform are all uniquely comical. It’s almost as if they’re in a contest to out-crazy each other.

Let’s take a look at where some of the candidates fall on the issue of immigration.

Donald Trump: Besides calling Mexicans rapists, murderers, drug dealers, etc. He also wants to build a big “beautiful” wall that will keep all immigrants from coming across the border. He also wants to make sure we make it easier for European immigrants to come. But don’t you dare call him “racist,” because you will run the chance of being called an “idiot” or a “moron” for suggesting such a thing. Even though he IS a raging racist. And his nationalistic white pride is literally written across his forehead.

Scott Walker: Here’s one of those guys who will literally say anything to be popular. He was likely the kid on the school yard who hung around next to the popular kids and laughed at all of their jokes. So when Walker suggested he would build a wall along Canada’s border to try to out-Trump Trump, when it wasn’t well received and laughed off as a joke, he said it was a joke. Basically because everyone else did too.

Chris Christie: Not to be out-crazied, Christie thought it wise to compare immigrants to FedEx packages and offered up the idea that we should track immigrants in the same way we would our shipments. He probably should’ve thought that idea through a little better, because the last time a leader put tracking codes on people it was to keep order on them inside concentration camps. So now, backtracking ever so slightly, Christie has resigned to just “finger-printing” immigrants. Although, at least he admitted that using the term “anchor babies” makes the Republicans sound anti-immigrant.

Jeb Bush: With an unfortunate last name weighing him down, Bush really doesn’t know where to stand on much of anything. Does he pander to bigots? Does he stay moderate? But it seems that he’s decided to be all over the map. As far as immigration, he can’t decide if using “anchor babies” is racist or not so he tries to undo the racist remark by making it more racist and adding Asians to mix. Once considered a moderate on this issue, he sees Trump pulling ahead, and doesn’t seem quite sure how racist he should go to up his poll numbers with the Republican base.

Both Ted Cruz, an immigrant himself from Canada, and Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, a son to immigrants, also seem to be steadfast in their disdain of anyone else entering the country after their family did. Jindal labeling “immigration without assimilation” an “invasion,” and Cruz calls any form of immigration reform that doesn’t line up with what he wants, “illegal amnesty.”

When did we decide to get away from that? When did the United States put a sign on the door that said “Sorry, we’re full!” We haven’t, and we never should. Immigrants are what makes this nation what it is — so diverse, so eclectic, so rich with cultural differences that enrich our every day lives. However, to this latest batch of Republican presidential candidates, you’d think the sign on America’s door read “Whites only,” or “Mexicans need not apply” reminiscent of the treatment of immigrants back in the early 20th century.

No matter how you slice it, Republicans are NOT embracing this topic with a level head that may actually produce a positive change and proper immigration reform. Immigration as it is, is not good enough. It’s nearly impossible for many to come here legally. Something MUST be done. And just building a wall or shooing immigrants away like they are pests is not the proper action to take. They need to either embrace immigration reform with logical thinking, or they will, without a doubt, lose in 2016.


See: http://wp.me/p3h8WX-51q

7 ‘Inconvenient Truths’ for Trump About Immigration

For starters, the number of undocumented immigrants, especially Mexicans, has fallen. Trump and his followers don’t want their rage disrupted or redirected to the real causes of economic insecurity: how America’s capitalist system, exemplified by selfish strivers like Trump, has made a growing schism of have-nots and haves.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Stephen Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

 Trump and his followers don’t want their rage disrupted or redirected to the real causes of economic insecurity: how America’s capitalist system, exemplified by selfish strivers like Trump, has made a growing schism of have-nots and haves.

What will it take to get a majority of Republicans and an even bigger slice of Donald Trump supporters to reconsider their mistaken beliefs about Mexican immigrants and border enforcement? Though it’s unlikely, one might begin with the facts.

This week, a nationwide survey by Public Policy Polling reported that 51 percent of Republicans—and 63 percent of Trump supporters—would support a constitutional amendment to take U.S. citizenship away from children born in this country to the parents of undocumented immigrants. Their support for this exceptionally punitive measure, which, practically speaking is going nowhere, follows Trump’s ongoing and unapologetic comments that illegal Mexicans are a source of American woes.

Yet, according to academics and other demography experts, what’s been happening in the real world of U.S.-Mexico immigration trends and border enforcement is exactly the opposite from what Trump is bellowing and his flock is nodding their heads to.

The facts are that undocumented Mexican immigration has been going down during all of President Obama’s tenure; it peaked in 2007. Moreover, Trump’s remedy—a new wall—has largely been in place (fences, sensors, drones, patrols). But because his white and aging following grew up in a less diverse America following World War II, it will be hard to dislodge their racist perceptions and xenophobic views.

Here are seven facts that Trump and his flock are ignoring:

1. Undocumented Immigrant Numbers Have Fallen. According to a July report by the Pew Research Center, the total U.S. population of undocumented immigrants in has fallen in recent years and was 11.3 million people in 2014. “The population has remained essentially stable for five years, and currently makes up 3.5 percent of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4 percent of the U.S. population.” In other words, this cannot be called a beckoning and burgeoning crisis.

2. Undocumented Mexicans Have Declined As Well. Pew noted that while Mexicans comprise a little more than half of all undocumented U.S. immigrants (52 percent), their numbers have been declining. “There were 5.9 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2012, down from 6.4 million in 2009,” according to Pew estimates.

Again, Trump is portraying a false boogeyman. Other academic experts who have studied the issue for years, such as academics at Princeton University’s Mexican Migration Project, describe the trend even more starkly. “Net unauthorized migration from Mexico to the U.S. has been zero or negative since 2008,” its research team wrote in the winter 2014 edition of International Migration Review.

“We find that undocumented migration from Mexico reflects U.S. labor demand and access to migrant networks and is little affected by border enforcement,” they explained, citing the underlying economics. “Mass undocumented migration from Mexico appears to have ended because of demographic changes there.”

3. As Mexico Ages, Would-Be Immigrants Shrink. Those demographic changes are a shrinking number of 15 to 24-year-olds in Mexico—the age cohort of the largest cohort of immigrants, the Princeton researchers found. This age group was only 18 percent of the population in 2015, The New York Times reported. That’s down from 22 percent in 2009 and is expected to fall to 16 percent in 2015, it reported. So, here too, is another factor that lessening unauthorized immigration from Mexico—not increasing it.

4. Last Summer’s Border Crisis Doesn’t Change These Trends. In 2014, an estimated 60,000 unaccompanied children from Central American massed at the border, seeking to get into the U.S. and prompting the federal government to set up processing centers—as Republicans criticized Obama for not taking a tougher approach. (They ignored that his administration had deported more migrants than any prior White House.) That refugee crisis was reflected in recent Census data, which has lead some republicans to suggest that a new historic tide of immigrants was beginning.

The Center for Migration Studies asked in a mid-August analysis if there was a surge. It concluded, “it is highly improbable based on: (1) the essentially unchanging patterns of apprehension data in the past few years; (2) the fact that the higher numbers in 2014 and 2015 are within the range of previous random fluctuations in the CPS data; and (3) the likelihood that the numbers for recent years partially reflect the return migration of previous legal residents; and (4) the fact that at least one of the conditions that brought about the significant reductions in unauthorized immigration over the past 15 years – enhanced immigration enforcement – is still in place and in fact has been augmented in recent years.”

5. More States Are Seeing The Undocumented Leave Than Stay. Before following up on the Center for Migration Studies’ last point—that until Obama issued his executive orders suspending some enforcement, his administration was deporting migrants—it’s worth noting that more states have seen undocumented populations fall than rise.

As Pew reported, “From 2009 to 2012, several East Coast states were among those with population increases, whereas several Western states were among those with population decreases. There were seven states overall in which the unauthorized immigrant population increased: Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Meanwhile, there were 14 states in which the population decreased over the same time period: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Oregon. Despite a decline, Nevada has the nation’s largest share (8 percent) of unauthorized immigrants in its state population.”

6. Not A Major Slice Of Job Market. Trump has also blamed unauthorized migrants for taking American jobs. But Pew also reported that “unauthorized immigrants make up 5.1 percent of the U.S. labor force,” saying that in 2012 there were 8.1 million people “either working or looking for work.” These are some of the lowest-paying jobs in America, not wanted by many people. Pew also said 7 percent of K-12 students have an undocumented parent, athough 80 percent of those youths were born here—the cohort that Trump and a majority of Republicans would penalize by revoking their U.S. citizenship.

7. Building A Bigger Wall Is A Big Myth. Trump’s solution to the non-existent migrant crisis is its jingoistic counterpart, building a bigger border wall. But as The Times noted, border enforcement under Obama has expanded—and the U.S. undocumented population has fallen and leveled off. Border personnel doubled since 2004, more than 650 miles of fencing and sensors built, and drone monitoring has been instituted. That’s both reduced illegal immigration, the Times said, while boosting smuggler profits and making the crossing far more dangerous. Moreover, “the rising cost of entry… ensured that those who made it stayed,” it said, citing experts at Princeton’s Mexican Migration Project.

In other words, building a bigger and better wall, as Trump bombastically suggests, would fuel the smuggling economy and ensure that most unauthorized migrants would not periodically return to their native countries, but remain here. It is a stark solution for an imagined problem that recent experience has shown would backfire.

“Mr. trump could blame the browning of America at least in part on the wall,” the Times reported. “In a cheeky bit of counterfactal analysis, the three [Princeton] researchers estimated that the tightening of border enforcement since 1986 actually added 4 million people to the population of immigrants living illegally in the United States in 2010.”

Mistaken Beliefs Versus Stubborn Facts

As that Times report concluded, “Analytical quibbles are unlikely to sway Mr. Trump or his followers.” And a separate Times analysis, by Thomas B. Edsall,explained why.

It’s not just that “a half-century of Republican policies on race and immigration have made the party the home of an often angry and resentful white constituency,” he wrote. It’s also because that Republican constituency “is now politically mobilized in the face of demographic upheaval.” What Edsall is referring to, and traces, is the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population—citizens and non-citizens—over the lifetime of Republicans in Trump’s generation. In short, many aging white Republicans feel threatened by an racially diverse America.

“From 1970 to 2010, the Hispanic population of the United States grew fivefold, from 9.6 million to 50.5 million,” Edsall wrote. “From 2000 to 2010, the number of white children under 18 declined by 4.3 million while the number of Hispanic children grew by 4.8 million. In 2013, white children became a minority, 47.6 percent of students ages 3 to 6.”

This past June, 63 percent of Republicans told Pew’s pollsters that immigrants were a burden. And last October, 52 percent told the Public Religion Research Institute that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”  These findings confirm that in politics and life, fears and beliefs—however misdirected and mistakenoften reverberate at deeper levels than facts and sensible thinking. Trump and his followers don’t want their rage disrupted or redirected to the real causes of economic insecurity: how America’s capitalist system, exemplified by selfish strivers like Trump, has made a growing schism of have-nots and haves. Instead, it’s easier to falsely blame some of the most powerless people in America—undocumented immigrants—by fingering a fake threat, undocumented Mexicans, and a fake remedy, a bigger wall.


Paul Krugman Destroys All Arguments Against Obama’s Immigration Action

“It’s a simple matter of human decency.”

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine

 Now, that Obama has taken his much-needed and way overdue executive action to shield millions of undocumented families from heart-rending deportation, the fact that it was simply the right thing to do is abundantly clear. It also gives columnist Paul Krugman an opportunity to wax lyrical about his own family’s immigrant roots, and one of his favorite tourist attractions in New York City, the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. “When you tour the museum, you come away with a powerful sense of immigration as a human experience, which — despite plenty of bad times, despite a cultural climate in which Jews, Italians, and others were often portrayed as racially inferior — was overwhelmingly positive,” he writes in his Friday column. “I get especially choked up about the Baldizzi apartment from 1934. When I described its layout to my parents, both declared, “I grew up in that apartment!” And today’s immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behavior, as my grandparents were — people seeking a better life, and by and large finding it.”

President Obama’s new immigration initiative, Krugman says, is “a simple matter of human decency.”

Krugman goes on to parse the issue, and to point out that supporting the humane treatment of children born in this country to undocumented immigrant parents is not the same as supporting completely open borders. Under F.D.R., he points out, “Once immigration restrictions were in place, and immigrants already here gained citizenship, this disenfranchised class at the bottom shrank rapidly, helping to create the political conditions for a stronger social safety net. And, yes, low-skill immigration probably has some depressing effect on wages, although the available evidence suggests that the effect is quite small.”

Yes, it is normal to be conflicted about immigration issues, Krugman allows. What is not normal is the desire to punish innocent children, who are already here, for their parents’ decision to bend the rules to give them a better life. Predictably, as we all know, there are far too many right-wing zealots and haters in politics and the media who are quite happy to exact this punishment. Krugman:

Who are we talking about? First, there are more than a million young people in this country who came — yes, illegally — as children and have lived here ever since. Second, there are large numbers of children who were born here — which makes them U.S. citizens, with all the same rights you and I have — but whose parents came illegally, and are legally subject to being deported.

What should we do about these people and their families? There are some forces in our political life who want us to bring out the iron fist — to seek out and deport young residents who weren’t born here but have never known another home, to seek out and deport the undocumented parents of American children and force those children either to go into exile or to fend for themselves.

Krugman gets downright sentimental about the issue, stating his belief that Americans are simply not “that cruel.” And anyway a crackdown on these families would cost money, which Republicans don’t want to spend.  (One hopes.) The real question is how they should be treated, he asks. his answer is not only humane but economical.

Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.

But more importantly, it’s the humane thing to do.

See: http://www.alternet.org/economy/paul-krugman-destroys-all-arguments-against-obamas-immigration-action?akid=12495.123424.dfemsb&rd=1&src=newsletter1027471&t=9&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

Republicans deliver another self-inflicted wound

Source: Washington Post

Author: Dan Balz

Republicans may yet win the elections in November. They may end up in control of both houses of Congress come January. But in the final week before a lengthy August recess, they have shown a remarkable capacity to complicate their path to victory.

The latest blow came Thursday in what has become predictable fashion: chaos in the House. Amid fractious infighting, House leaders abruptly pulled their alternative to President Obama’s bill to deal with the influx of Central American children crossing the border. What was said to be a national crisis turned into one more problem facing deferral.

But there was more over the week that could contribute to the deteriorated brand called the Republican Party. On Wednesday, the House voted to sue Obama, an action that may cheer the party’s conservative wing but that also may appear to other voters to be a distraction at a time of major domestic and international problems.

In the background this week was talk of impeachment. Republicans rightly suggest that the White House and Democrats are doing all they can to stoke discussion of the topic as a way to raise money and motivate their base. But it is a subject that has bubbled up from the conservative grass roots of the GOP and that now bedevils Republican leaders.

Fundamentals in this election year continue to favor the Republicans. Obama’s approval rating is low and stagnant. Not much on the immediate horizon is likely to change that, given the state of the world. The economy is getting better, but many voters aren’t convinced of that. The Senate map favors Republicans, who need a net of six seats to gain control of the chamber.

This isn’t 2010 all over again by any means: The unrest is more muted. But looking toward November, it’s better to be in the Republicans’ position now than the Democrats’. Standing in the GOP’s path to victory, however, are perceptions of the party itself, nationally and in some of the states. How much self-inflicted damage is too much?

The tea party movement gives the Republicans energy, but it continues to push the party further to the right than some strategists believe is safe ground. In a number of states, strategists for the GOP say tea party positions are outside the mainstream, even the conservative mainstream.

Republicans are asking for the right to govern, to control the legislative machinery starting in 2015. But they continue to struggle with that very responsibility in the one chamber they control. How many times have Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his top lieutenants suffered similar embarrassments as support for leadership measures suddenly eroded in the face of a conservative revolt?

Republicans have been repeatedly criticized for not offering a governing agenda if they take power. What happened Thursday underscores why that has been so difficult. Getting the party’s factions on the same page has proved more than difficult. In some states where Republicans control the governorship and the legislature, there has been a backlash to their governing agenda. Kansas and North Carolina are two prime examples.

In Congress, Republicans have spent four years attacking the Affordable Care Act with a series of votes to repeal or defund it. But is there a Republican alternative they are collectively promoting this fall? No. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) told reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday that he is working on one — but that it is just one of several GOP ideas on health care.

House Republican leaders say Democrats are hypocritical to blame them for the gridlock and chaos. They point to a series of bills approved with Democratic support that are parked in the Senate with no action. They say Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) should let senators vote on them. But by their own high-voltage missteps, they draw attention away from that and to themselves. They reinforce a narrative that remains not in their favor.

The immigration issue offered a fresh example of the conundrum for Republicans. The border crisis presented Obama with a serious problem — substantively and politically. He offered his own plan for $3.7 billion in spending, which was too high-priced for the GOP. Their alternative called for $659 million in spending.

 But at the center was an issue of power. Republicans view Obama as an out-of-control executive who has exceeded his constitutional authority and they want to take him to court (although ironically for doing something with the Affordable Care Act, delaying the employer mandate, a move they favor).

The issue of executive power extends to immigration. With comprehensive immigration reform locked down in the House and heading nowhere this year, Obama’s administration is exploring what he can do through his executive powers to accomplish some of what immigration reform legislation would do, including possibly allowing some of the adults here illegally not to face deportation.

Many House Republicans want to stop him. Some also wanted to force him to roll back what he did in 2012, when he allowed children who came into the United States illegally with their parents to stay without an immediate threat of deportation. All of that contributed to the collapse of the border bill.

It also prompted a call from at least one powerful Republican for Obama to act on his own.

“I think this will put a lot more pressure on the president to act,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters on Capitol Hill. “In many ways, it was his actions and inactions that caused the crisis on the border, and we attempted in this bill to help remedy this crisis. He has the authority and power to solve the problem forthwith.”

Obama ridiculed the House for wanting to sue him. “They’re mad because I’m doing my job,” he told an audience in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday.

That’s a large overstatement by the president, but Republicans have handed him the argument to make through their actions and inactions.

Republicans will have five weeks outside of Washington to let things settle after Thursday’s breakdown. They will have time  to regroup and try to put this moment behind them. Obama and the Democrats are still on the defensive in the battle for control in these midterm elections. But Republicans would do better if they found a way to stop hurting themselves.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-deliver-another-self-inflicted-wound/2014/07/31/d78f131a-18e5-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1