“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT THREATENS TO DESTROY KEY INDUSTRY IN “RED STATE” — Spreading Myth That Migrants Are Bad & Steal Jobs From Americans Has Dire “Real Life” Consequences!

 

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/16/trump-immigration-crackdown-idaho-dairy-industry-215608?cid=apnJazmine Ulloa

Susan Ferriss reports in Politico:

“JEROME, IDAHO —In the Magic Valley of southern Idaho, milk is money.

Over 400,000 cows reside in this area, where the miracle of modern irrigation from the Snake River fed pioneer farming. Bovines now outnumber humans by more than two to one. Workers in rubber boots pull long shifts feeding livestock, clearing mountains of manure and extracting millions of pounds of milk all day, every day, all year, on ranches tucked into the rock and sagebrush-studded landscape. Sleek silver tankers filled with milk barrel down Interstate 84 toward dairy processing plants, among them one owned by Chobani, which opened the world’s biggest yogurt factory five years ago just down the road in Twin Falls. Since 2000, milk production has doubled in Idaho, providing the state with $10.4 billion in direct sales, according to University of Idaho economists. Chobani’s gleaming $750 million, cream-colored plant is just one of the many big businesses linked to Idaho’s voluminous milk production, now around third- or fourth-largest among states.

 

In short, the Magic Valley’s dairy boom is a contemporary rural American success story—the kind that President Donald Trump railed as a candidate is too often missing across the country. Unemployment here was less than 3 percent this summer, about as good as it gets, and optimism should be high. Yet on dairy farms, among both owners and workers, a sense of dread hangs in the dry southern Idaho air.

Dairy farmers lean heavily Republican in this deeply red state of only 1.7 million people, where 88 percent of the voting-age population are non-Hispanic whites. But in the age of Donald Trump—who won Idaho handily —even the farmers who supported the new president fear their businesses are about to run headlong into a harsh political reality. They’re frightened that Trump’s aggressive deportation policies will soon start to pick off or push away the mostly Hispanic immigrants who do the gritty work that Americans aren’t interested in doing. Many of these workers are probably undocumented, farmers acknowledge, yet they’re the sturdy backbone of a surging industry. Here in the Magic Valley, the farmers’ perspective is starkly different from the president’s claim that undocumented workers “compete directly against vulnerable American workers.”

An immigrant woman attaches cleans cows’ teats and attaches pumps in a state-of-the art milking parlor. Hundreds of cows file in and instinctively turn around to be milked, three times a day. Sometimes the animals kick and defecate, milkers say.
An immigrant woman attaches cleans cows’ teats and attaches pumps in a state-of-the art milking parlor. Hundreds of cows file in and instinctively turn around to be milked, three times a day. Sometimes the animals kick and defecate, milkers say. | Joy Pruitt for the Center for Public Integrity
And the farmers’ view is pitting them against a vocal contingent of neighbors who’ve responded both to Trump’s rhetoric and far-right media that has targeted immigrants as a threat. Southern Idaho, in fact, became a flashpoint for xenophobia this past year when outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars, seized on false reports about Muslim refugees—accusing them of gang rapes and the spread of fatal diseases like tuberculosis—and turned the remote area into an anti-immigrant cause celebre. But locally, it’s starting to sink in that Trump’s vows to oust undocumented workers—whom he claims are a drain on the economy—could actually kick the legs out from under the “Made in America” model the Magic Valley exemplifies.

Idaho dairy industry representatives estimate that between 85 to 90 percent of on-site dairy workers in the state are foreign-born. The U.S. Department of Labor and other estimates suggest that nearly half to 70 percent of all U.S. farm laborers are undocumented—certainly enough to shut down many of the milk pumps here if workers are ousted as a result of Trump’s policies.

That’s why farmers’ groups have for years pushed Congress, unsuccessfully, to make it possible for them to legally employ immigrants they say are desperately needed. Prospects don’t look any rosier now. In recent months, anti-immigrant rhetoric has only grown more vitriolic, and Trump supporters—including some here—are expecting the president to follow through on campaign promises and deport more people.

Those who understand the dairy business here fear that a political solution won’t materialize before it’s too late, if ever. And that means businesses could struggle due to labor shortages and plummeting production.

Shannon Perez, an American who was married to Mexican dairy worker who was deported, believes Americans don’t understand that the current immigration system doesn’t allow immigrant workers to “get legal.”
Shannon Perez, an American who was married to Mexican dairy worker who was deported, believes Americans don’t understand that the current immigration system doesn’t allow immigrant workers to “get legal.” | Susan Ferriss for the Center for Public Integrity
“The dairy industry is a big money maker. But without workers, without somebody that’s going to be there 12 hours a day, milking your cows, getting dirty, there’s no business,” said Shannon Pérez, a non-Hispanic Anglo, as people here say, who’s worked on dairy and calf ranches. She’s already watched helplessly as her own family was split by deportation.”

*************************************

Read the entire article at the above link.

For those of us who have worked in the field of immigration for decades, it is hardly surprising that policies driven by White Nationalism, xenophobia, and just plain old racism and meanness would hurt a wide and diverse swarth of Americans, including many of those same misguided souls who ignored the facts and voted Trump into office.

We need to screen the undocumented folks who are here now, remove those who are criminals or engaging in socially destructive conduct, and give some type of legal status to the rest. Then, we need to significantly expand the number of legal immigrants we accept each year to more closely match market demand, save more lives of those fleeing harm, harness the energy, skills, and talents that will allow us to prosper and lead in the future, and make future immigration enforcement rational, efficient, and effective (by not wasting time arresting, detaining, and deporting those who actually are here to help us).

Folks like Jeff Sessions are pushing an irrational program that if it actually were achievable (which is isn’t) would cripple and perhaps destroy both the economy and the social fabric of our great nation.

It’s time for the majority of “rationalists” (regardless of party affiliation) to band together and defeat the attack of a well-organized minority that is out to harm our country and endanger our future.

PWS

09-16-17

 

CNN: TRUMP GOES “FULL GONZO” IN AZ — REWRITES HISTORY, PRAISES RACIST SHERIFF, TRASHES NAFTA, SLAMS AZ’S GOP SENATORS, THREATENS USG SHUTDOWN IN TANTRUM ABOUT WALL, COZIES UP TO WHITE NATIONALISTS — DIVIDER IN CHIEF’S UNFITNESS FOR OFFICE ON FULL DISPLAY!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/politics/donald-trump-phoenix-rally-analysis/index.html

Stephen Collinson reports for CNN:

“(CNN)Donald Trump just showed why even some Republicans question whether he has the temperament and the capacity to serve as President.

In an incredible performance at a raucous Arizona rally Tuesday, Trump rewrote the history of his response to violence in Charlottesville and reignited the culture wars.
Trump in effect identified himself as the main victim of the furor over the violence in Virginia, berating media coverage for a political crisis that refuses to abate over his rhetoric on race.
“They’re trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history,” Trump said, blaming “weak, weak people” for allowing the removal of statues commemorating the Confederacy.
TRUMP’S PHOENIX SPEECH
Lemon: Speech ‘total eclipse of facts’
Trump’s 77-minute speech
Police spray tear gas at protesters
Trump: We’ll probably kill NAFTA
Clapper: ‘Downright scary and disturbing’
In defending his responses to the Charlottesville violence, Trump selectively omitted his reference to “many sides” or “both sides,” comments he made that drew bipartisan condemnation for equating neo-Nazis with their counterprotesters.
Trump insisted at the start of his speech that all Americans must realize that they are on the same team, must show loyalty to their country, and that he wanted everyone to love one another.
But his performance was a fresh indication that he still feels far more comfortable, and perhaps motivated, to act as a political flamethrower who pulls at national divides than a President who wants to unite the nation.
Throwing gasoline onto political controversies, Trump threatened to shut down the government unless Congress funds his border wall and all but promised a pardon for Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court in a case related to racial profiling.”

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Read the entire jaw-droppingly disturbing report of our President’s unhinged performance at the link.

PWS

08-23-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA — Proposals To Restrict Student Visas & Reduce Legal Immigration Will Hurt Economy, National Standing

These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.

First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.

Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.

Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.

Read the articles here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-latest-nativist-trump-proposals-would-actually-hurt-american-institutions/2017/07/17/c85765fc-67eb-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?utm_term=.570c8e41fee6

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/cutting-legal-immigration-50-percent-might-be-trumps-worst-economic-policy-yet/?utm_term=.ac7808d8383d

Restrictionist policies driven by xenophobia and racism inevitably lead to disaster.

PWS

07-18-17

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

****************************************

Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

THERE IS A REAL THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY — AND IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH GRANDPARENTS, MEXICAN WORKERS, OR CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-behavior-is-the-biggest-threat-to-us-national-security/2017/07/09/a5d3a842-64a8-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6a555fb6107b

Lawrence H. Summers writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“Confusing civility with comity is a grave mistake in human or international relations. Yes, the Group of 20 summit issued a common communique after the leaders’ meeting. Some see this as an indication that some normality is being restored in international relations between the United States and other countries. The truth is that at no previous G-20 did the possibility occur to anyone that a common statement might not be agreed to by all participants.

Rather than considering agreement on a communique as an achievement, it is more honest and accurate to see its content as a confirmation of the breakdown of international order that many have feared since Donald Trump’s election. And the president’s behavior in and around the summit was unsettling to U.S. allies and confirmed the fears of those who believe that his conduct is currently the greatest threat to American national security.

The existence of the G-20 as an annual forum arose out of a common belief of major nations in a global community with common interests in peace, mutual security, prosperity and economic integration, and the containment of global threats, even as there was competition among nations in the security and economic realms. The idea that the United States should lead in the development of international community has been a central tenet of American foreign policy since the end of World War II. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aspiration to international community has been an aspiration to global community.

All of this is troubling enough. The elephant in the room, however, is the president’s character and likely behavior in the difficult times that come during any presidential term. Biographer Robert Caro has observed that power may or may not corrupt but it always reveals. Trump has yet to experience a period of economic difficulty or international economic crisis. He has not yet had to make a major military decision in a time of crisis. Yet his behavior has been, to put it mildly, erratic.

. . . .

A corporate chief executive whose public behavior was as erratic as Trump’s would already have been replaced. The standard for democratically elected officials is appropriately different. But one cannot look at the past months and rule out the possibility of even more aberrant behavior in the future. The president’s Cabinet and his political allies in Congress should never forget that the oaths they swore were not to the defense of the president but to the defense of the Constitution.”

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The Administration’s fear-mongering, xenophobia, insulting rhetoric, environmental destruction, and sometimes outright racism is a smokescreen to divert attention from the real threat to American’s national security — Donald Trump, some of his right wing extremest supporters, and the “fellow travelers” in Congress otherwise known as the GOP.

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA’S GREATNESS CONTINUES –TILLERSON DECONSTRUCTS CENTURIES OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/29/how-rex-tillerson-destroying-state-department-215319

Max Bergmann writes in Politico:

“The deconstruction of the State Department is well underway.

I recently returned to Foggy Bottom for the first time since January 20 to attend the departure of a former colleague and career midlevel official—something that had sadly become routine. In my six years at State as a political appointee, under the Obama administration, I had gone to countless of these events. They usually followed a similar pattern: slightly awkward, but endearing formalities, a sense of melancholy at the loss of a valued teammate. But, in the end, a rather jovial celebration of a colleague’s work. These events usually petered out quickly, since there is work to do. At the State Department, the unspoken mantra is: The mission goes on, and no one is irreplaceable. But this event did not follow that pattern. It felt more like a funeral, not for the departing colleague, but for the dying organization they were leaving behind.

As I made the rounds and spoke with usually buttoned-up career officials, some who I knew well, some who I didn’t, from a cross section of offices covering various regions and functions, no one held back. To a person, I heard that the State Department was in “chaos,” “a disaster,” “terrible,” the leadership “totally incompetent.” This reflected what I had been hearing the past few months from friends still inside the department, but hearing it in rapid fire made my stomach churn. As I walked through the halls once stalked by diplomatic giants like Dean Acheson and James Baker, the deconstruction was literally visible. Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights.

This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.

When Rex Tillerson was announced as secretary of state, there was a general feeling of excitement and relief in the department. After eight years of high-profile, jet-setting secretaries, the building was genuinely looking forward to having someone experienced in corporate management. Like all large, sprawling organizations, the State Department’s structure is in perpetual need of an organizational rethink. That was what was hoped for, but that is not what is happening. Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

While the lack of senior political appointees has gotten a lot of attention, less attention has been paid to the hollowing out of the career workforce, who actually run the department day to day. Tillerson has canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers. This as if the Navy told all of its incoming Naval Academy officers they weren’t needed. Senior officers have been unceremoniously pushed out. Many saw the writing on the wall and just retired, and many others are now awaiting buyout offers. He has dismissed State’s equivalent of an officer reserve—retired FSOs, who are often called upon to fill State’s many short-term staffing gaps, have been sent home despite no one to replace them. Office managers are now told three people must depart before they can make one hire. And now Bloomberg reports that Tillerson is blocking all lateral transfers within the department, preventing staffers from moving to another office even if it has an opening. Managers can’t fill openings; employees feel trapped.

Despite all this, career foreign and civil service officers are all still working incredibly hard representing the United States internationally. They’re still doing us proud. But how do you manage multimillion-dollar programs with no people? Who do you send to international meetings and summits? Maybe, my former colleagues are discovering, you just can’t implement that program or show up to that meeting. Tillerson’s actions amount to a geostrategic own-goal, weakening America by preventing America from showing up.

State’s growing policy irrelevance and Tillerson’s total aversion to the experts in his midst is prompting the department’s rising stars to search for the exits. The private sector and the Pentagon are vacuuming them up. This is inflicting long-term damage to the viability of the American diplomacy—and things were already tough. State has been operating under an austerity budget for the past six years since the 2011 Budget Control Act. Therefore, when Tillerson cuts, he is largely cutting into bone, not fat. The next administration won’t simply be able to flip a switch and reverse the damage. It takes years to recruit and develop diplomatic talent. What Vietnam did to hollow out our military, Tillerson is doing to State.”

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While Trump and his cronies fabricate security threats from refugees, Muslims, and immigrants (and, I guess we can now add “grandparents” to that list), the greatest threat to our national security is the Trump Administration itself and its toxic mix of arrogance, incompetence, ignorance, and disdain for America and all it has stood for.

PWS

06-25-17

Make China Great — For Years, China’s Leaders Have Been Trying To Get The Upper Hand On The US — Now, Trump Is Doing The Job For Them, According to Thomas L. Friedman In The NY Times!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/opinion/trump-is-a-chinese-agent.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

Friedman writes:

“Now more Asian nations are falling in line with China’s regional trading association — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — which has no serious environmental, intellectual property, human trafficking or labor standards like TPP. A Peterson Institute study said TPP would “increase annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion” by 2030, without changing total U.S. employment levels. Goodbye to that.
But Trump took his Make China Great campaign to a new level on Tuesday by rejecting the science on climate change and tossing out all Obama-era plans to shrink our dependence on coal-fired power. Trump also wants to weaken existing mileage requirements for U.S.-made vehicles. Stupid.

O.K., Mr. President, let’s assume for a second that climate change is a hoax. Do you believe in math? There are now 7.5 billion people on the planet, and there will be 8.5 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations population bureau — and most will want to drive like us, eat protein like us and live in houses like us. And if they do, we’ll eat up, burn up, smoke up and choke up the planet — and devour our fisheries, coral reefs, rivers and forests — at a pace we’ve never seen before. Major cities in India and China already can’t breathe; wait for when there are another billion people.

That means that clean power, clean water, clean air, clean transportation and energy-efficient buildings will have to be the next great global industry, whether or not there is climate change. The demand will be huge.

So what is China doing? Its new five-year plan is a rush to electric cars, batteries, nuclear, wind, solar and energy efficiency — and a cap-and-trade system for carbon. Trump’s plan? More coal and oil. Hello? How can America be great if we don’t dominate the next great global industry — clean power?

The U.S. state leading in clean energy innovations is California, which also has the highest vehicle emissions standards and the strictest building efficiency codes. Result: California alone has far more advanced energy jobs than there are coal miners in America, and the pay is better and the work is healthier. In January 2016, CNNMoney reported that nationally the U.S. “solar industry work force is bigger than that of oil and gas construction, and nearly three times the size of the entire coal mining work force.”

“More than half the electric vehicles sold in the U.S. are sold in California,” said Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation. “If there are two jurisdictions hellbent on transformation, it is China and California. There have been 200 million E.V.s sold in China already. They’re called electric bicycles, which cost about $400 — quiet, not contributing to congestion or pollution, and affordable.”

China is loving this: It’s doubling down on clean energy — because it has to and it wants to leapfrog us on technology — and we’re doubling down on coal, squandering our lead in technology.

It was bitterly ironic that on the same day that President Trump took America on a great leap backward to coal, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Tencent Holdings Ltd. bought a 5% stake in Tesla Inc., giving the backing of China’s most valuable company to the Silicon Valley electric-vehicle maker as it prepares to launch its first car aimed at the mass market. … Having a powerful friend in China could help Tesla as it eyes further global expansion. Big Chinese tech companies have backed a wave of green-car start-ups in the country recently.”

. . . .

So you tell me that Trump is not a Chinese agent. The only other explanation is that he’s ignorant and unread — that he’s never studied the issues or connected the dots between them — so Big Coal and Big Oil easily manipulated him into being their chump, who just tweeted out their talking points to win votes here and there — without any thought to grand strategy. Surely that couldn’t be true?”

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Friedman didn’t even get to my recurring thought. As we push Mexico, our second leading trading partner away, China will be waiting with open arms. What better than to fuel up some technology and capital-driven economic competition for the U.S. right here in North America, right across our Southern Border. And, once Mexico sees that the Chinese aren’t going to lean all over them on immigration and Central American migration, and that Beijing has no particular interest in trying to publicly humiliate Mexico’s leaders, the incentive for Mexico to cooperate with us on reducing migration and border issues drops to somewhere below zero.

I’m certainly no economist or foreign trade expert. But, I’m getting the feeling that neither are our President and his team. They just go around stirring things up, making gaffes, insulting friendly foreign leaders and organizations, and then, apparently, relying on their secret weapon, “Czar of Everything Trumpian” Jared Kushner to work behind the scenes to assure folks that nobody meant anything they said or did. Wow! What a way to make policy.

PWS

03/29/17

POLITICO: One Nation Likely To Be Hurt By Trump’s Trade Policies: The U.S.

http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/03/world-prepares-to-move-on-without-us-on-trade-000361

Adam Behsudi writes:

“Here’s what happens when the U.S. pulls out of a major trade deal: New Zealand seizes the opportunity to send more of its milk and cheese to China. Japanese consumers pay less for Australian beef than for American meat. Canadians talk about sending everything from farm products to banking services to Japan and India.

President Donald Trump dumped the 12-nation TPP right after he took office, saying it was a “horrible” deal and blaming it for sucking American jobs abroad. But now other countries are ready to rush into the vacuum the U.S. is leaving behind, negotiating tariff-cutting deals that could eliminate any competitive advantage for U.S. goods.

That phenomenon is on stark display this week in Chile, where more than a dozen Pacific Rim countries are meeting in a beachside hotel to talk about moving on in the post-TPP era. China, not one of the original signers of the TPP, is here looking to cut deals. So are Canada and Mexico. And while the U.S. would normally send a high-ranking trade official to this kind of gathering, the Trump administration, is just sending an envoy from the embassy in Santiago.

Competitors say they have no choice but to take the money U.S. businesses would have earned otherwise.

“We are not trying to take market share from the U.S. It’s more like you are putting money on the table and pushing it towards us,” said Carlo Dade, director of trade and investment policy for the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think tank.”

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PWS

03/15/17

ECONOMICS: Mary Anastasia O’Grady In The WSJ Says Mexico Can Fight Back Against US Threats!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexicos-trade-reply-to-trump-1488144051

“Many conservatives who opposed Hillary Clinton are still skeptical of the Trump presidency as well. It may have something to do with recurring whoppers from the administration like White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim last week that “the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now.”

Bilateral relations with Mexico are on the rocks “big league,” and if Mr. Spicer doesn’t know that, he should get out more. Declaring otherwise undermines presidential credibility and leaves Trump fence-sitters to wonder what else the press secretary is making up.

Millions of American workers, investors and entrepreneurs who depend on trade with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement are right to be worried. Unless President Trump finds a way to climb down from his position that Mexico cheats the U.S. under Nafta, their livelihoods are at risk.

Courteousness and formality are signs of good breeding in Mexican society and this often produces, in foreigners, illusions of approval. But when the extranjeros are out of earshot, locals can be colorful. It is now fashionable to hold protest marches, beat Trump piñatas, burn effigies with orange hair and even post vulgarities about the U.S. president on public buses. Angry does not begin to describe the popular mood.”

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Read the entire article at the link. My main question is why would the Trump Administration pick this unnecessary fight with a neighbor whose goodwill, economic partnership, and cooperation we depend on?

PWS

02/27/17

“Duh” Articles Of The Week: Rural Trump Supporters Discover They Are Likely To Feel The Brunt Of His Trade & Immigration Policies!

From the WSJ:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-punishment-for-trump-voters-1486686758

“Global competition has forced U.S. farmers to become efficient and productive, but the reality is that other countries have arable land and willing labor. They can replace U.S. agriculture in a tariff war. Australia has a trade deal with Japan, and exports Down Under will have an advantage over American beef and wheat. U.S. beef imports to Japan will face high tariffs that the Trans-Pacific deal would have phased out or reduced. Mexico has bilateral trade deals with Chile, the European Union and others, and may buy more from Canada.

The bigger political picture for the Trump White House is that U.S. agriculture is already struggling amid a strong dollar and declining export volumes. Net farm income dropped 15% to about $68 billion last year, the lowest since 2009, according to the Agriculture Department. Unless Mr. Trump wants to compensate with more taxpayer subsidies, the best way to boost incomes is to let farmers sell in more markets, not fewer.

One reason the U.S. benefits from free-trade deals is that America has among the lowest import barriers on earth (5% average for agriculture), so new agreements tear down levies abroad and open new markets. President Trump should consider that reality before escalating on trade—and betraying the Farm Belt voters who are relying on him to bring growth and opportunity.”

WSJ Subscribers can read the full opinion piece at the link.

From the NYT:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/us/california-farmers-backed-trump-but-now-fear-losing-field-workers.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

“They are hopeful Mr. Trump will not make good on most of his threats. “Quien más habla, menos hace,” they tell each other — the more you talk, the less you do. There are too many of them, they reason, to throw them all out.

“We’re just waiting and praying, hoping that somebody can convince them that we are not hurting anyone by being here,” said Isabel Rios, 49, who has been picking grapes for the last two decades. Like most women in the fields, she covers her face with a bandanna to protect against the blaring sun, dust and pesticides. Her two children, 9 and 18, are American-born citizens and she worries what will happen to them if she is sent back to Mexico. “Who will benefit if we are not here?”

Mr. Marchini, the radicchio farmer, said he felt similarly after seeing generations of workers on his family farm send their children to college and join the middle class. Mr. Marchini’s family has farmed in the valley for four generations and he grew up working side by side with Mexican immigrants.

He said that no feasible increase in wages or change in conditions would be enough to draw native-born Americans back into the fields.

It was the other conservatives, Mr. Marchini said, who were out of touch about how to deal with foreign workers. “If you find a way to get in here,” he said, “there’s a need for what you do.”

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PWS

02/10/17

 

 

World Trade: As the U.S. Disengages, Africa Turns To China!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/africa/africa-china-train.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Andrew Jacobs writes in the NYT:

“DJIBOUTI — The 10:24 a.m. train out of Djibouti’s capital drew some of the biggest names in the Horn of Africa last month. Serenaded by a chorus of tribal singers, the crush of African leaders, European diplomats and pop icons climbed the stairs of the newly built train station and merrily jostled their way into the pristine, air-conditioned carriages making their inaugural run.

“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, shortly before the train — the first electric, transnational railway in Africa — headed toward Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.”

But perhaps the biggest star of the day was China, which designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build the 466-mile line. And the $4 billion cost? Chinese banks provided nearly all the financing.

. . . .

Mr. Hadi praised the Chinese for going all in after Western banks declined to help finance the nation’s glaring infrastructure needs.

“We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision,” he said. “They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision of Africa from the past, as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”

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PWS

02/07/17

 

Newsweek: Bannon Wants “American Gulag” — Will Anyone Have The Guts To Stop Him?

http://www.newsweek.com/steve-bannon-fever-dream-american-gulag-551472

Jeff Stein writes in this week’s Newsweek:

“Imagine: Miles upon miles of new concrete jails stretching across the scrub-brush horizons of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, with millions of people incarcerated in orange jumpsuits and awaiting deportation.

Such is the fevered vision of a little-noticed segment of President Donald Trump’s sulfurous executive order on border security and immigration enforcement security. Section 5 of the January 25 order calls for the “immediate” construction of detention facilities and allocation of personnel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico” and process them for deportation. But another, much overlooked, order signed the same day spells out, in ominous terms, who will go.

Trump promised a week after the November elections that he would expel or imprison some 2 million or 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions—a number that exists mainly in his imagination. (Only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Many of those have traffic infractions and other misdemeanors.)

Still, the spectre of new, pop-up jails housing hundreds of thousands of people is as powerful a fright-dream for liberals as it is a triumph for the president’s “America first” Svengali, Steve Bannon. But, like the fuzzy Trump order dropping the gate on travelers from seven Muslim-majority states, the deportation measure presents so many fiscal and legal restraints that is also looks suspiciously like just another act of ideological showboating from the rumpled White House strategy chief.

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed to the writer Ronald Radosh at a party at his Capitol Hill townhouse in November 2013. “Lenin,” he said of the Russian revolutionary, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

The executive orders were “not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House,” Department of Homeland Security officials conceded in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a statement from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. They were all Bannon-style revolutionary theater.

. . . .

Expect DHS to start advertising for bids from private prison operators, a much-maligned industry that was collapsing in the latter years of the Obama administration. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., are already seeing windfalls from their second chance at life: Their stock prices have nearly doubled since the election.

All of which recalls another Leninist idea that Bannon may have forgotten: Prisons are universities for revolution.”

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Stein’s article confirms what many of us had suspected all along — these draconian and unnecessary measures were were “’not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House.’” No, they were part of a pre-hatched anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim program cooked up by Bannon and others in the White House to “make good” on Trump’s campaign promises (regardless of whether the measures were necessary of sensible).

But they will be a boon for two important U.S. industries: the private prison industry and the legal industry, as both sides “lawyer up” for a long-term, avoidable, and wasteful fight. Who needs foreign enemies when the Administration is so determined to wage warfare against a large number of our own citizens and residents who disagree with his ill-considered and ill-timed policies?

Stein’s full article (well worth the read) is at the link.

PWS

02/03/17

WSJ: Two Articles Show How “Trump Country” Depends On Foreign Trade And Immigration!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-country-might-suffer-more-in-a-trade-war-study-says-1485752403

Bob Davis writes in the WSJ on Jan. 30:

“WASHINGTON—Should the U.S. get embroiled in a trade war, communities that voted for Donald Trump are likely to take a bigger hit than those that voted for Hillary Clinton, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

Brookings measured what it called the export intensity of urban areas around the country—meaning local goods and service exports as a percentage of local GDP in 2015—to get a picture of those places most dependent on access to the global economy. The most export-intensive places tended to be smaller cities in the Midwest and Southeast—solid Trump country—rather than the big metropolitan areas that went heavily for Mrs. Clinton.
“Trump communities are relatively more reliant on trade,” said Mark Muro, head of Brookings’s metropolitan policy program. “They are smaller communities with less flexibility” to adapt to a cutoff in trade.

“Disruption could be especially troubling for those places,” he said. Brookings said it traces exports back to the point where value is added via production, rather than where goods and services are shipped. The latter gives too much weight to big ports.

Columbus, Ind., a center of machine-making, is the most export-reliant city in the country, Brookings found. The GDP of the city of 46,000, which voted 2 to 1 for Mr. Trump, is 50.6% dependent on exports. Three other Indiana cities—Elkhart, Kokomo and Lafayette—are among the top 10 cities dependent on exports.

The work by Brookings researchers is in some ways the complement to the better-known work of economists David Autor,Gordon Hanson and David Dorn, who identified the localities most vulnerable to Chinese import competition.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/cities-in-midwest-rust-belt-say-they-need-immigrants-1485890637?emailToken=JRrzcf15YH6Qit0wZsw31UEpY7JNCunMQ1LbM33RJg3WqWfJ5Oisw7lwnNKm5H+vSFc/4d0J4ys+QDjQj3BjWtOK3ucjwQr0KiED9c4=

Will Connors writes in the Jan. 31 WSJ:

“An array of Republican and Democratic officials from across the Rust Belt and Midwest are united in concern about President Donald Trump’s clampdown on refugees and certain immigrants for one overriding reason: Their communities need more people.

Large Democratically-controlled “sanctuary cities” including Chicago, San Francisco and New York have been outspoken in resisting the administration’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, citing political and moral reasons.

But officials from a second tier of smaller cities, from Columbus, Ohio, to Troy, Mich., to Garden City, Kan., are highlighting the economic importance of welcoming refugees and immigrants to bolster declining populations and add manpower, skills and entrepreneurial know-how.

“I understand that the president is trying to protect the U.S. However, there are many good people that have located here that are escaping wars and political actions, and they’re just looking for a chance to raise their families in a safe environment,” said Janet Doll, a Republican city commissioner in Garden City, Kan. “The immigrants we have here are productive members of society. They have nice jobs and want to contribute to the quality of life in our community.”

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We haven’t even gotten around to the Trump Administration’s next initiative: an attack on legal immigration to the U.S., family members, workers, both temporary and permanent, and refugees, which was covered in one of my earlier blogs.

Perhaps, instead of stirring the pot for a fruitless “can’t win war” on a well-qualified conservative Supreme Court nominee (actually, along with taking Ivanka to be with the family of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens at Dover AFB, one of the most reasonable things Trump has done since Jan 20) the Democrats should take the “high road.”  Democrats might also want to do some thinking about how to “build bridges” with with some of these folks in “Trump Country” who are more likely to find economic disappointment, than economic success, in the Trump Administration’s blunderbuss assault on loyal allies, trading partners, and immigrants of all types who fuel the success of the real America (not just Washington, D.C. or “big cities”).

President Trump proved that he could win a comfortable (even if not the “landslide” he likes to claim) electoral victory with only 46.1% of the popular vote.  That’s about 40% “Trump base” and a critical 6.1% who might have voted for Obama or Bernie Sanders in earlier elections, but pulled the lever for Trump this time around.  If the Democrats don’t come up with a workable strategy to connect with and “peel off” at least some of those voters, Trump will likely be headed  for a second term even if he never gets support from a majority of American voters. In that case, Democrats will long for the days when screwing around with an otherwise well-qualified conservative Supreme Court nominee was their biggest problem.