PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NYT: GOP IRATE AT BEING CALLED OUR ON ITS BIG TIME TAX LIES! – The “Anti-Robin –Hood” Party Is In Full Attack Mode! – Screw Everyone Else To Hand Out More Bennies To The Super Rich!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/opinion/lies-incoherence-and-rage-on-tax-cuts.html

Krugman writes:

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.

Thus, when George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, he and his party repeatedly insisted that the tax cuts were primarily for the middle class. In fact, while there were some middle-class tax breaks in the package, such as an increase in the child tax credit, these were dwarfed by cuts in tax rates on high incomes, reduced taxes on dividends and repeal of the estate tax. Over all, the richest 1 percent saw a much larger increase in after-tax income than middle-class families did.

At the same time, the Bush administration used a series of gimmicks to hide the true fiscal cost of the plan, such as delaying the implementation of some tax cuts while pretending that others would expire when the actual intention was to make them permanent.

When Obama took office, these tricks were simply flipped on their head. Republicans insisted, falsely, that Obama had imposed a “massive tax increase” on the middle class; in fact, for the most part he actually cut middle-class taxes. Meanwhile, they insisted that the surge in the budget deficit caused by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was permanent, and ridiculed the Obama administration’s claims that deficits would fall sharply once crisis spending ended and tax receipts recovered; in fact, that’s exactly what happened.

So what’s different this time? As in the Bush years, Republicans are claiming to be offering a middle-class tax cut. But where Bush truly was cutting taxes on the middle class, just much less than he was on the wealthy, current Republican plans would raise those taxes on many lower- and middle-income families, even as they go down for the wealthy. (Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, claims that only “million-dollar earners”would see tax increases. This is the opposite of the truth.

Oh, and a memo to journalists: If you play it safe by reporting this as “Democrats say” that middle-class taxes will go up, you’re misleading your readers: Those estimates come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own nonpartisan scorekeeper.

How can Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, pretend to be helping the middle class? It depends crucially on a new kind of budget gimmick: Both the House and Senate tax-cut bills do contain some middle-class tax breaks — but only for the first few years. Then they expire.

Take one of Ryan’s favorite examples, a family with two children and earning $59,000 a year. That family would indeed get a tax break next year. But the break would rapidly dwindle and turn into a tax increase by 2024.

The Republican response is to claim that these tax breaks wouldn’t really expire, that Congress would eventually renew them. That’s quite doubtful — and even if true, it means that the tax plans would add much more to the national debt than the G.O.P. admits. Which brings me to the whole budget deficit issue.

Not long ago, leading Republicans claimed to be deeply concerned about budget deficits. Only fools and centrists took the Republicans seriously. Still, the abrupt shift to nonchalance about adding trillions to the debt in order to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy is causing a bit of whiplash even among cynics. How do they justify the shift?

Well, they don’t seem to have settled on a story. Mnuchin keeps asserting that tax cuts will pay for themselves, going so far as to claim (falsely) that Treasury has released a study showing this. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, cheerfully acknowledges that they’re using gimmicks to pass a bill that permanently cuts taxes on corporations, and not to worry. Whatever works, it seems.

So we’re really looking at an unprecedented level of dishonesty here. But what happens when you try to explain what’s going on? When Senator Sherrod Brown tried to point out, correctly, that the Senate G.O.P.’s tax bill heavily favors the rich, Senator Orrin Hatch exploded, calling it “bull crap” and asserting that he grew up poor (which is relevant why, exactly?).

Sorry, but this isn’t the righteous anger of a man falsely accused of wrongdoing. It’s the rage con men always exhibit when caught out in their con.

But what’s the con about? The very incoherence of the arguments Republicans are making for their plans shows that it’s not about helping the economy, let alone ordinary families. It really is about making the rich richer, at everyone else’s expense. If this be bull crap, make the most of it.”

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

As usual, the GOP counts heavily on voters being too biased or gullible to figure out that they are being fleeced. And, to date, they have been correct. So, why stop a “winning strategy” even if it is based on lies, demonstrably bogus assumptions, and other “cons?”

PWS

11-21-17

TPS: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO END HAITIAN TPS IN JULY 2019!

Miriam Jordan reports for the NYT:

“The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, officials said on Monday.
Haitians with what is known as temporary protected status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
The decision, while not a complete surprise, set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to rebuild from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home.
The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status.”

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

On the bright side, Congress has 18 months to come up with a permanent solution.

PWS

11-20-17

“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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

Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

O CANADA: TRUMP POLICIES AID CANADIAN LOBSTERMEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAINE! — CANADA BRACES FOR INFLUX OF “TPSers” FLEEING US!

Ana Swanson reports in the NY Times:

“When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts.
That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. Tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster will be phased out in the next three to five years as part of the agreement.
The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, which represents companies that buy lobster from Maine fishermen. “This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.
Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.
“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.”

Read the complete article here:

Meanwhile, Alan Freeman reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration might be on the verge of  driving tens of thousands of American residents with useful job skills over our Northern Border:

“OTTAWA — In late October, starkly worded warning signs began appearing on the Canadian border with New York state and Vermont aimed at discouraging would-be asylum seekers fleeing the United States.

“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”

“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”

As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.

Already this week, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that protection may end at that time.

A new sign posted by Canadian authorities at the border between Canada and the United States. (Canada Border Services Agency)
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.

. . . .

Just last week, the government published a three-year plan aimed at accepting almost 1 million immigrants as permanent residents, with a clear bias toward economic migrants, who will make up 58 percent of the total. The balance will be shared between family and refugee classes.

 

Public reaction to the plan, which will see intake grow steadily from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, has been generally positive with many of the critics, including the government’s own council of economic advisers, saying Canada should be accepting even more immigrants.

Canada has an increasingly diverse population, with visible minorities making up 22.3 percent of the population in 2016, according to recently released census figures, compared with just 4.7 percent in 1981. By 2036, visible minorities are expected to make up 33 percent of the population.

“Canada is probably the best country in the world to be an immigrant because we give immigrants a chance to climb the ladder to success,” said Kareem El-Assal, senior research manager at the Conference Board of Canada, a think tank, where he specializes in immigration.

Assal said Canada’s immigration system works in part because the Canadian government helps newcomers integrate through language, skills and job training at a cost of almost a billion dollars a year. Furthermore, immigrants benefit from Canada’s universal health-care system and its good public education and reasonably priced universities.

Public opinion surveys continue to show that Canadians are pro-migration. A survey by the Environics Institute last spring showed that 72 percent of respondents agreed that “overall, migration has a positive impact on the economy.” Yet in the same survey, 54 percent said that “too many immigrants do not accept Canadian values.”

As for those border warning signs, Fortin, the union leader, says that asylum seekers are reading them and then crossing the border anyway.

“It doesn’t seem to have a very big dissuasive effect,” he said.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/canada-fears-a-huge-rush-of-asylum-seekers-if-their-us-protected-status-is-lifted/2017/11/12/9464645c-c4b1-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html

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

Maine needs all the economic help it can get. And, I had lots of successful “TPSers” pass through my courtroom in Arlington. Good folks, industrious with useful job skills in the types of positions that we need but most Americans don’t want to do: child care, home health care, roofing, drywalling, cleaning, washing, making beds, waiting on tables, brewing coffee, making sandwiches, landscaping, pouring concrete, building things, meat processing, running convenience stores, etc. And, the vast majority had kids who were US citizens or in the DACA program. Our loss is likely to be Canada’s gain. The concept that there are lots of Native-born Americans out there (at a time of effectively full employment) waiting to take these jobs is a restrictionist fairy tale. But, if and when these folks leave, Americans who depend on them for essential services (like child care and Home improve,wants, for example, or restaurant and hotel owners) are going to find themselves out of luck.

So far, overall incompetence has saved us from the full adverse effects of Trump’s “Make America (Not So) Great” policies. But, if they ever do go into full effect, it will be bad for most Americans, including those gullible enough to have voted for Trump.

PWS

11-13-17

THE SHRINKING GENERAL: KELLY’S IGNORANT WHITE NATIONALISM SHOWS HIM TO BE “TRUMP’S MAN” WHILE FURTHER DIMINISHING HIS IMAGE AND LEGACY!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/opinion/kelly-racist-history-slavery-compromise.html

From the NY Times Editorial Board:

“When asked in an interview broadcast on Monday about plans by a Virginia church to remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee, he said it showed “a lack of appreciation of history.”

“Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” he added. He said that in the Civil War “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

With those remarks, Mr. Kelly revealed that it’s he, like the president, who lacks an appreciation of history — that he has chosen instead to embrace the mythology that white racists methodically created to hide the truth about the causes and course of the Civil War. The truth is, white Southerners went to war to destroy the United States in order to continue enslaving nearly 40 percent of the people in the region.

As for Lee’s honor, while some historians argue that he held a distaste for human bondage, he nevertheless fought ferociously to preserve slavery, which he viewed as the best arrangement that could possibly exist between whites and African-Americans. During the war, his army kidnapped free blacks, returning them to chains. After the war ended, he advised acquaintances to avoid hiring free blacks — arguing that it was against white interests to do so — and suggested that free black people be forced out of his native state, Virginia.

Mr. Kelly really gave the game away when he went on to argue that it was wrong for us to look back at the past through the lens of “what is today accepted as right and wrong.” As the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted, you can only contend that most people believed that slavery was right at the time of the Civil War if you exclude black people from your analysis, not to mention from your moral imagination.

If Mr. Kelly is supposed to be the administration’s disciplinarian, keeping it on message, then echoing his boss’s kind words for slaveholders and those who slaughtered American soldiers to defend them shows that a central message is, “Racists, we’re your guys.”

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

Read the entire editorial at the link.

The Civil War was about preservation of slavery — the ownership of and stripping of rights and dignity from other human beings who had contributed more to the United States than all of their owners combined. There is no moral or historical ambiguity here.

Robert E. Lee was a flawed individual — neither “honorable” nor “dishonorable.” He unquestionably had talents as a leader and a military strategist. Those were offset, however, by his having betrayed his country and spent years engineering the killing of U.S. soldiers in support of a rebellion fueled by what undoubtedly is the worst cause in American history. I’d argue that even the “Tories” during the American Revolution, who were simply remaining loyal to their sovereign king and country, were more “honorable.” Even more despicably, as far as I am aware, Lee neither apologized for his actions nor did he later condemn slavery and work for the advancement and equality of African Americans during his post-war life. His legacy can be viewed as “tragic,” but certainly not “honorable.”

Moreover, Kelly’s mis-statement of history dishonors the memories of individuals like Major General George H. Thomas, Admiral David Farragut, Commanding General Winfield S. Scott, and dozens of other “southerners” who chose to honor their oaths to defend and fight for the United States of America! They are truly the “honorable ones.” It also dishonors the many African Americans and other Americans of color who currently are serving in the U.S. Marines and other branches of our military.

Obviously those of us who saw “redeeming features” in General Kelly at the time of his original appointment as DHS Secretary (where he basically parroted the inhumane, divisive, and wasteful White Nationalist “Gonzo” immigration enforcement agenda of Jeff Sessions) misjudged him. By the time his tenure in the White House ends, he will have reduced himself in stature to the point where he can depart in Trump’s hip pocket and nobody will even notice he’s gone.

PWS

11-02-17

 

DAVID LEONHARDT IN THE NY TIMES: THE PARTY OF BIGOTRY, INTOLERANCE, ANTI-AMERICANISM, & “AYATOLLAH ROY” FINDS ITS GROOVE!

Here’s a link to the “Complete Leonhardt” for today, from which the following is excerpted:
https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/10/25/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

 

“This morning’s headlines are about Jeff Flake, but I find myself thinking about Roy Moore. Right now, it seems that the Republican Party has room for Moore but not Flake.

Flake, of course, is the Republican senator and Trump critic who announced yesterday that he wouldn’t run for re-election, because he thought that winning would require giving in to Trumpism. “It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end,” he said on the Senate floor.

Moore is the former judge who recently won the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Alabama. He is also a demagogue who has called homosexuality “evil” and “so heinous” and who engaged in a discussion, on video, about whether it should be “punished by death.”

After Flake’s speech, his Senate colleagues applauded and honored him. But applause is easy. The more important question is: What are those same senators doing about Moore — a man who, unlike President Trump, can still be prevented from taking high office?

They are endorsing him, that’s what.

Mike Lee of Utah has praised Moore’s “tested reputation of integrity.” Rand Paul of Kentucky has lauded Moore for “defending and standing up for the Constitution.” Ted Cruz, just a couple of hours before Flake’s speech, released a full-throated endorsement of Moore that celebrated his “lifelong passion for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Yes, you heard that correctly: They are praising the integrity and Constitutional commitment of a man who refused to take a stand against whether gay and lesbian Americans should be executed.

Moore was also removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics. He has said that Muslims should not be allowed in Congress and suggested that 9/11 was the result of this country’s godlessness. (If you want to read the full comments yourself, you can do so via CNNTime and The Hill.)

So far, only one Republican senator has spoken out against Moore, according to Politico. His name is Jeff Flake. “When we disagree with something so fundamental,” he said last month, “we ought to stand up and say, ‘That’s not right, that’s not our party, that is not us.’”

I leave you with a longer excerpt from Flake’s prepared remarks yesterday than you’re likely to find in most news stories:

“Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in that regard. I am holier-than-none.

“But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing — until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.

“In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice almost any principle. I’m afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.”

EDUARDO PORTER IN THE NYT: THE TRUMP-SESSIONS “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” POLICY OF BOOTING OUT UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS IS JUST PLAIN STUPID — In Addition To Being a Waste Of Money & Inhumane

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/business/economy/immigration-jobs.html

Porter writes:

“Few American industries are as invested in the decades-long political battle over immigration as agriculture. Paying low wages for backbreaking work, growers large and small have historically relied on immigrants from south of the Rio Grande. These days, over one-quarter of the farmhands in the United States are immigrants working here illegally.

This is how the growers will respond to President Trump’s threatened crackdown on immigration: They will lobby, asking Congress to provide some legal option to hang on to their foreign work force. They will switch to crops like tree nuts, which are less labor-intensive to produce than perishable fruits and vegetables. They will look for technology to mechanize the harvest of strawberries and other crops. And they will rent land in Mexico.

There is one thing they won’t do. Even if the Trump administration were to deploy the 10,000 immigration agents it plans to hire across the nation’s fields to detain and deport farmhands working illegally, farmers are very unlikely to raise wages and improve working conditions to attract American workers instead.

“Foreign workers will always be harvesting our crops,” Tom Nassif, who heads the Western Growers Association, told me. The only question for policymakers in Washington is whether “they want them to be harvesting in our economy or in another country.” If they choose the latter, he warned, they might consider that each farmworker sustains two to three jobs outside the fields.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

When policy is driven by ignorance, bias, and political pandering, rather than by facts, common sense, and economic reality, the results are always going to be ugly. So far, our country and our economy have been saved primarily by the overall incompetence of guys like Trump, Sessions, and their minions. But, it’s an expensive and divisive way to (not) “run the railroad.” We’re actually paying scarce taxpayer dollars for misguided policies that if actually successful would threaten our economic well-being and make our country a worse place to live.

PWS

10-24-17

THOMAS B. EDSALL IN THE NYT: DEMOCRACY SOWING THE SEEDS FOR ITS OWN (AND OUR) DESTRUCTION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/democracy-populism-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20171023&nl=upshot&nl_art=5&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Edsall writes:

“Will President Trump’s assault on the norms underpinning constitutional democracy permanently alter American political life?

On a daily basis, Trump tests the willingness of the public to accept a president who lies as a matter of routine. So far, Trump has persuaded a large swath of America to swallow what he feeds them.

. . . .

As Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the author of “Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy,” warns in The New York Review of Books:

Liberal democracies are better equipped than authoritarian states to grapple with the inevitable conflicts that arise in diverse societies, including the threat of terrorist violence. But they also contain the seeds of their own destruction: if they fail to deal with these challenges and allow xenophobic populists to hijack the public debate, then the votes of frustrated and disaffected citizens will increasingly go to the anti-immigrant right, societies will become less open, nativist parties will grow more powerful, and racist rhetoric that promotes a narrow and exclusionary sense of national identity will be legitimized.

The threat to democracy posed by the current outbreak of populist nationalism has become a matter of concern for both scholars and ordinary citizens. The central topic at a conference at Yale earlier this month was “How Do Democracies Fall Apart,” and the subject will be taken up again in November at a Stanford conference called “Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?

I contacted several of the participants at the Yale gathering and was struck by their anxiety over the future prospects of democratic governance.

One of the most insightful was Adam Przeworski, a political scientist at N.Y.U., who has written, but not yet published, his own analysis of current events under the title “What’s Happening.”

First and foremost, Przeworski stresses,

there is nothing “undemocratic” about the electoral victory of Donald Trump or the rise of anti-establishment parties in Europe.

These parties and candidates, he points out:

Do not advocate replacing elections by some other way of selecting rulers. They are ugly — most people view racism and xenophobia as ugly — but these parties do campaign under the slogan of returning to ‘the people’ the power usurped by elites, which they see as strengthening democracy. In the words of a Trump advertisement, “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.”

In support of Przeworski’s argument, it is clear that the success of the Trump campaign in winning the Republican nomination was the result of a classic democratic insurgency: the Republican electorate’s rejection of its party’s establishment.

The danger in the United States, in Przeworski’s view, is the possibility that the Trump administration will use the power of the presidency to undermine the procedures and institutions essential to the operation of democracy:

That the incumbent administration would intimidate hostile media and create a propaganda machine of its own, that it would politicize the security agencies, that it would harass political opponents, that it would use state power to reward sympathetic private firms, that it would selectively enforce laws, that it would provoke foreign conflicts to monger fear, that it would rig elections.

Przeworski believes that

such a scenario would not be unprecedented. The United States has a long history of waves of political repression: the “Red Scare” of 1917-20, the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, the McCarthy period, the Nixon presidency.

Along similar lines, Anna Grzymala-Busse, a political scientist at Stanford, replied by email to my inquiry:

My big worry is not simply that formal institutions have been eroded, but that the informal norms that underpin them are even more important and even more fragile. Norms of transparency, conflict of interest, civil discourse, respect for the opposition and freedom of the press, and equal treatment of citizens are all consistently undermined, and without these the formal institutions become brittle.

Trump, in Grzymala-Busse’s assessment, “articulates a classic populist message that we see in Europe: the elite establishment is a collusive cartel uninterested in the problems of ‘the people,’” and, she continued, he has begun to follow the path of European populist leaders:

Much of Trump’s language and actions are also familiar: there is a standard authoritarian populist template, developed in Hungary and faithfully followed in Poland and in Turkey: first, go after the courts, then the media, then the civil society, churches, universities.

The attacks on the courts, media and universities

are not simply the ravings of a lunatic, but an established strategy for undermining democratic oversight and discrediting the opposition.

. . . .

Paul Waldman, writing in The Washington Post on Oct, 17, summed up Trump’s approach to veracity and to reality itself:

Trump takes his own particular combination of ignorance, bluster and malice, and sets it off like a nuclear bomb of misinformation. The fallout spreads throughout the country, and no volume of corrections and fact checks can stop it. It wasn’t even part of a thought-out strategy, just a loathsome impulse that found its way out of the president’s mouth to spread far and wide.

Trump’s recklessness is disturbing enough on its own. But what makes it especially threatening is that much of the public — well beyond the 40 percent of the electorate that has shown itself to be unshakable in its devotion to the president — seems to be slowly accommodating itself to its daily dose of the Trump reality show, accepting the rhetorical violence that Trump inflicts on basic standards of truth as the new normal.”

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

Read Edsall’s full, much longer, article at the link.

An immigration policy based on xenophobia, racism, and White Nationalism, rather than on any rational, generally accepted socio-economic analysis, is at the heart of the Trump–Bannon-Sessions-Miller attack on America’s democratic institutions.  As I said earlier today, “The Trump Administration, and its ‘fellow travelers’ among GOP politicos and voters, is the biggest threat to our national security and the future of American Democracy.”

PWS

10-22-17

 

 

MIMI SWARTZ IN THE NY TIMES: Anti-Latino Racism Drives Texas To Pull Up The Welcome Mat For Some Of Its Most Productive Residents!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/opinion/texas-immigration-policy.html

Swartz writes:

“A decline in emergency room visits and calls to the police isn’t good news; people are just afraid to ask for help. A domestic abuser will threaten to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement if his spouse threatens to call the cops. A social worker at Las Americas, a public high school for immigrants in Houston, told me despair has set in. Instead of helping families cope with living in the nation’s fourth-largest city, she helps them plan for “when you are deported how can you stay alive the longest.” The students tell her: “Nobody wants me. I have no home.”

They are not wrong; the point of the federal and state legislation is to make Texas so uncomfortable for the undocumented that they move on. I suppose this makes sense if, say, you are constantly faced with competition from the far right, which every Republican, including Gov. Greg Abbott, is. Or if you have seen the growing Latino majority in Texas and know that it isn’t securely nestled in the Republican fold.

But it doesn’t make sense if you are looking at a state whose work force was shrinking even before the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The people who came to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina aren’t feeling the love here. Why should they?

“There are 47 other states that would love to see Texans fall on their butts,” Stan Marek, who has been in construction for years here, told me. Unless we have fair and sane immigration reform, like the “ID and Tax” plan many business leaders here support because it offers fair wages and work-visa status, our immigrants will vote with their feet, and businesses will follow.

That’s the price for trading a welcome mat for an ankle bracelet.

Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is a contributing opinion writer.”

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

Get the full story at the link.

A microcosm of the bias-driven stupidity of the whole Trump-GOP Restrictionist “gonzo” immigration enforcement program. What would really be fitting is if the loss of immigrant population and the businesses that depend on them eventually cost Texas some of those extra Congressional seats that they swiped from the Northeast as a result of undocumented residents and then proceeded to gerrymander to “lock out” Latinos from getting their “fair share of the pie.” Not to mention that the anti-Latino bias in the Texas GOP is in derogation of Supreme Court precedent, which holds that even those state residents without legal status or otherwise ineligible to vote, are entitled to have their interests represented by their legislators (hence the rationale for allowing extra representatives for undocumented population). “Fat chance” in Texas!  The Texas GOP routinely ignores the interests its Latino U.S. citizens as well as its Latino non-citizen residents.

PWS

10-22-17

WHITE NATIONALISM (NOT ISLAMIC TERRORISM) IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/opinion/sunday/white-nationalism-threat-islam-america.html

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY writes in the NY Times:

“When rapid immigration and terrorist attacks occur simultaneously — and the terrorists belong to the same ethnic or religious group as the new immigrants — the combination of fear and xenophobia can be dangerous and destructive. In much of Europe, fear of jihadists (who pose a genuine security threat) and animosity toward refugees (who generally do not) have been conflated in a way that allows far-right populists to seize on Islamic State attacks as a pretext to shut the doors to desperate refugees, many of whom are themselves fleeing the Islamic State, and to engage in blatant discrimination against Muslim fellow citizens.

But this isn’t happening only in European countries. In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.

Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.

The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States.

Far-right leaders are correct that immigration creates problems; what they miss is that they are the primary problem. The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who are exploiting fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

Anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements did not disappear from Europe after the liberation of Auschwitz, just as white supremacist groups have lurked beneath the surface of American politics ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. What has changed is that these groups have now been stirred from their slumber by savvy politicians seeking to stoke anger toward immigrants, refugees and racial minorities for their own benefit. Leaders from Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen have validated the worldview of these groups, implicitly or explicitly encouraging them to promote their hateful opinions openly. As a result, ideas that were once marginal have now gone mainstream.”

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

Read the entire article at the link.

I’ve said it before: Donald Trump and his “fellow travelers” are the biggest threat to our democracy, safety, and security.

PWS

10-15-17

NYT: DAVID LEONHARDT CALLS OUT “BOBBY THE CORK!” — “Put Up Or Shut Up!” — And, While You’re At It, Bobby, How About Accepting Some Responsibility For The Trump Debacle?

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/10/10/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

Leonhardt writes:

“All talk. A United States senator went on CNBC to explain that while Donald Trump may be an unorthodox politician, “there’s a lot of evolution that is taking place, and I think you’re already seeing that.”
To everyone who argued that Trump was unfit for the presidency, the senator had a ready answer: “My advice would be to chill for a while,” he said. “My sense is that a lot of people who have been resisting will become more comfortable.”
The senator was Bob Corker of Tennessee, and he was speaking on the show “Squawk Box” in May 2016. Today, of course, Corker has become Trump’s newest enemy, saying that the president is “on the path to World War III” and that the White House has become “an adult day care center.”
So what is Senator Corker’s responsibility now, given the crucial role that he and other eminent Republicans played in making Trump seem normal enough to win the presidency? James Fallows answers that question in The Atlantic. “Talk is better than nothing,” Fallows writes, “but action is what counts.”
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker has the ability to hold hearings about the threat Trump poses to the country and the world, Fallows notes. Michelle Goldberg of The Times writes that Congress can also bar “the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war.”
I’ll add to that list: Corker and other senators can bring Trump’s legislative agenda to a complete halt until he begins acting more responsibly. No talk of a tax cut until he stops talking of nuclear war. Even the most ardent tax cutter should be willing to make that trade.
The reality that Corker has described — with an out-of-control president — is chilling. Trump, as Fallows puts it, is “irrational, ill-informed, impulsive, unfit for command, and increasingly a danger to the country and the world.”
It’s not enough to merely withhold support from Trump or to criticize him. Members of Congress have an unmatched ability to prevent damage by this president. Those members, like Corker, who ushered Trump into power by describing a man who doesn’t exist, bear a particular burden.”

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

Neither acting on their criticisms of Trump nor accepting responsibility are in the GOP’s tool box. Nor has the GOP shown the slightest interest or ability to govern in a bipartisan manner for the national interest.

The modern GOP is a toxic and motley collection of rich guys, xenophobes, war-mongers, theologues, racists, White Nationalists, science deniers, anti-intellectuals, and anarchists each apparently vying to be more selfish and irresponsible than the next. Where was “Bobby the Cork” when Trump and the GOP were planning to destroy Americans’ health care and tank insurance markets to reward fat cats with undeserved and unneeded tax breaks? He was right there on the Trump-GOP-Turtle “Destroy America Because We Promised To Do It Bandwagon.” Talk is cheap — responsible action is something else.  I’ll believe it when I see it coming from “Bobby the Cork” and his GOP fellow travelers!

PWS

10-10-17

 

 

 

 

TRUMP’S COWARDLY DECISION TO CUT REFUGEE ADMISSIONS DURING REFUGEE CRISIS DEMEANS AMERICA AND DAMAGES OUR FUTURE — Refugees Contribute More To American Success Than Trump and His Grifter Colleagues Ever Will!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/refugee-resettlement-trump.html

Admiral Michael G. Mullen writes in the NYT:

“Amid the world’s worst migrant crisis on record, the Trump administration is cutting back on refugee resettlement. As part of his travel ban, President Trump capped the number of refugees to be admitted in 2017 at 50,000, the lowest number in decades. Now the administration has proposed lowering the goal even further, to 45,000, next year.
Over the years, the United States has lived up to its ideals and brought millions of refugees to safety and freedom. It didn’t become a resettlement leader out of pure altruism. By welcoming refugees, the United States revitalizes its democracy and its economy, helps preserve or restore stability in volatile regions of the world, and builds respect.
In slashing resettlement, the president is taking a recklessly narrow view of how best to put America first. Shutting out refugees would not only increase human suffering; it would also weaken the country and undermine its foreign policy.
There are more than 22 million refugees in the world, the highest number since World War II. Even before the Trump presidency, the United States response to this crisis was relatively modest. In fiscal year 2016, the United States resettled about 84,000 refugees, the most of any year under President Barack Obama. For comparison’s sake, the country took in roughly 200,000 refugees a year in the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.
Nonetheless, the resettlement effort under President Obama served American interests. For one thing, it helped the states that host the vast majority of Syrian refugees: Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. (In fiscal year 2016, 12,500 of the refugees resettled by the United States came from Jordan, a key American ally in a strategically crucial region.) The huge influx of refugees into these nations has strained their resources and infrastructure, becoming a potential source of instability and even conflict. By resettling refugees, the United States helps preserve stability and sends a message of support to countries whose cooperation it needs on a range of issues.
The Trump administration’s cuts to resettlement send the exact opposite message. It is a message heard across the region, by enemies as well as friends of the United States. Restricting resettlement, especially in the context of the travel ban, appears to validate the propaganda of the Islamic State and other extremist groups, which claims that the United States is hostile to Muslims. The battle against violent extremism must be fought with guns, but also with ideas. Slamming the door on refugees is a significant strategic blunder.
Opponents of refugee resettlement would have you believe that the country’s enemies are exploiting the program. There is no factual basis for this claim. In fact, of all the people who enter the United States, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted. The screening process is exhaustive and lengthy, and involves numerous agencies. Our intelligence and national security professionals can both vet refugees and protect Americans. Indeed, they’ve done just that for years.
Refugees are victims of extremist groups and brutal governments. They become patriotic, hard-working Americans. Refugees are us. They are teachers, police officers, doctors, factory workers and soldiers. There are thousands of former refugees and children of refugees in the United States military. I served alongside many who were eager and proud to give back to the country that helped them in their time of need.
It’s no wonder that numerous studies have found that refugees are a net benefit to the American economy. The administration’s own study — which the president solicited from the Department of Health and Human Resources — concluded that refugees added $63 billion to the economy between 2005 and 2014.
Support for refugees creates another form of currency for the United States. Call it respect or admiration or credibility, this currency accrues when the United States leads by example and champions human rights on the world stage. It’s an invaluable and fungible resource, amassed over many decades. It enables the United States to forge ties with democratic movements. It also helps Washington persuade allies to do difficult things and pressure foes to stop their bad behavior. It is crucial to forging trade pacts, military coalitions and peace deals.
More than any other resource — including military and economic might — this accounts for American greatness. We sacrifice it at our peril.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
Michael G. Mullen, a retired United States Navy admiral, was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and serves on the board of Human Rights First.”

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

The greatest threat to America’s national security is Donald Trump and his enablers. And, it doesn’t take any type of “extreme vetting” to figure this out. Just common sense and human decency. Thanks, Admiral Mullen for “telling it like it is,” and continuing to support real American values and national interests in this time of darkness brought upon us by the Trump Administration.

 

PWS

09-26

 

INSTEAD OF DOUBLING DOWN ON FAILED POLICIES, SESSIONS SHOULD TRY ANTI-GANG STRATEGIES THAT ACTUALLY WORK!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/sunday/trump-gangs-soccer-education.html

Lauren Markham writes in the NY Times:

“SundayReview | OPINION

The Wrong Way to Fight Gangs
By LAUREN MARKHAMSEPT. 28, 2017

Lester, who is among the recent Central American students at Oakland International High School who crossed into the US, during soccer practice for the Soccer Without Borders program. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Oakland, Calif. — Young migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador come to this country fleeing violence and lives that are often dictated by savage gangs. It’s expensive to get here. They often arrive with thousands of dollars of high-interest debt and little or no English skills. And they face an administration that insists that they are gangsters bringing bloodshed and gang warfare to American cities.

In fact, these young people are often fleeing gangs. And the challenges they face in the United States make them particularly vulnerable for recruitment into the same violent gangs they left home to escape.

“They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields,” President Trump said of the members of MS-13, a transnational gang composed largely of Central American youth; its activity has been growing in recent years, both in the United States and in Central America. A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officers that these young, undocumented immigrants were “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

I work at Oakland International High School in Oakland, Calif. It is a public school with a population made up entirely of recently arrived immigrant students. Today, over 25 percent are unaccompanied minors — young people who crossed into the United States without papers or parents — who have been released from immigration custody and placed in deportation proceedings to await their day in court. Since we opened 10 years ago, our students’ gang involvement has markedly decreased. This is because we have gotten better at what we were meant to do, namely: provide programs that teach skills, offer support services that reduce barriers to coming to school, and foster a sense of community.

We offer what the gangs offer, but better.

I had one student who came to the United States as an unaccompanied minor from Honduras. His mother left him when he was little, and he never knew his father. He lived with his grandmother until she died. He was just 13. For two years he lived alone in her house, selling water bottles on the street on behalf of a neighboring family. Sometimes they invited him over for dinner; other times they didn’t.

Continue reading the main story
ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

He told me that he saw this life in Honduras as a dead end. He crossed into Guatemala, rode on top of trains through Mexico, hiding what little money he had pressed against the inside of his cheek, and swam across the Rio Grande. He was apprehended at the border, placed into a youth detention center, and sent to live with his aunt in Oakland, pending his deportation hearing. He enrolled at Oakland International but, after a couple of weeks, his attendance waned. Soon he stopped coming altogether.

“I didn’t know anything,” he told me. Being in school felt impossible to him because he felt unable to succeed at it. He had an upcoming court case and no lawyer; that, he knew, would cost money he didn’t have.

One Saturday, I took the train into San Francisco to meet a friend. As I waited at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station outside the Civic Center, I watched as, in broad daylight, Latino teenagers sold drugs to the area’s vagrants. I knew this drug ring was connected to MS-13. There, on the other side of the plaza, was my student.

“These are animals,” President Trump said of MS-13 members. Most often, rather, they are like my student: young people, not unlike child soldiers, who enter a violent life by either force or force of circumstance. They do not come to the United States to participate in gang life; it winds up as the only option.

Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main story
Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter
Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Sign Up

You agree to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times’s products and services.

SEE SAMPLE MANAGE EMAIL PREFERENCES PRIVACY POLICY OPT OUT OR CONTACT US ANYTIME
Our school kept trying with this particular student. We conducted home visits in East Oakland, where he lived with his aunt, found him a therapist he could see at school, and encouraged him to join our school soccer team. He got a free lawyer. He quit selling at the Civic Center. He came back to school.

Newly arrived immigrants are a fast-growing demographic in American schools, and they will continue to be, regardless of the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Yet the Trump administration is pushing for cuts that will affect their ability to succeed in school, or even attend school at all.

The proposed 2018 education budget includes approximately $9 billion in cuts — 13.5 percent of the total. The cuts include an evisceration of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a $1 billion earmark which provides funding for enrichment opportunities for students in high-poverty schools.

Nearly all of the support our school was able to offer my student, and so many like him, was a result of 21st Century funding. It pays for Soccer Without Borders, which serves more than half of our student population, and for an organization called Refugee Transitions, which offers tutoring and homework help. It pays for mental health interns to provide therapy to youth in six languages.

Quality public education is a fundamental, if aspirational, American value. But altruism aside, investing in newcomer education makes practical sense. It costs far more to lock someone up for a year than it does to educate him.

“We’re going to destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13,” President Trump announced to a group of law enforcement officers on Long Island, N.Y., in July. To focus on police intervention rather than education isn’t only shortsighted, it’s also been proven not to work. All we have to do is look at El Salvador, where a series of failed iron fist campaigns that combined police crackdowns with a lack of social alternatives served to increase violence.

We could also look at history. MS- 13 was born in the United States among disenfranchised, traumatized immigrant youth in the 1980s and, through deportation, was exported to El Salvador (then spread to Honduras and Guatemala) — where it now relies on vulnerable young recruits, teenage and even younger, to grow its ranks.

Central America’s endemic violence is not going away anytime soon, so, like it or not, these young people will keep coming, regardless of the walls we build or the immigration policies we enact. Excluded and disenfranchised young people seek inclusion elsewhere: on the margins, in the shadows, in society’s dark underbelly. Gangs provide that sense of belonging, along with a feeling of success and upward mobility, for those who are not offered the same in mainstream society.

Last Tuesday afternoon, on a warm fall day in Oakland, more than 60 young men from more than a dozen countries played soccer together out on our misshapen soccer pitch. An additional 50 or so students sat in the cafeteria, working with teachers and volunteers to practice their English and finish their homework. A group of parents met in a classroom to help plan the year’s activities. It was just a typical day at the school — a day full of activities that depend on money that could disappear. If 21st Century funds go away, these programs vanish. Which means the students will find somewhere else to take them in.

MS-13, as it happens, welcomes young people with open arms.”

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

Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. There ways of getting the job done. We really need to use them!

PWS

09-28-17

NYT: ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO FILL PRISONS WITH PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN ARE SMUGGLED INTO THE UNITED STATES!

Caitlin Dickerson and Ron Nixon report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is stepping up its pursuit of parents who paid to have their children illegally brought into the United States, according to people familiar with the matter. The effort, part of a widening crackdown on illegal immigration, is aimed at discouraging families from paying human smuggling organizations.
As part of a new round of immigration sweeps, officials are targeting parents or other relatives who were deported, re-entered the United States and then had their children smuggled across the border. Legal experts say cases of illegal re-entry are faster and easier to prove than a smuggling charge.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said it was common for parents or family members in the United States to make illegal payments to smugglers to arrange for children to be brought to the border, where they turn themselves in and are often eventually handed over to their relatives. Tens of thousands of women and children have arrived at the border in the last three years, beginning with a surge of arrivals in the summer of 2014, many seeking refuge from gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America.
It was not clear how many people would be affected by the effort to arrest and prosecute family members for illegal re-entry, but officials familiar with the plan said it would serve as a deterrent to stop other parents and relatives from paying to have children brought to the United States as unaccompanied minors. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss enforcement policies publicly.
ICE officials said they had arrested hundreds of people for smuggling children and referred dozens of cases to the Justice Department for prosecution, including many for illegally re-entering the country and then paying to have children smuggled across the border.
“The risks associated with smuggling children into the U.S. present a constant humanitarian threat,” ICE officials said in a statement. “The sponsors who have placed children directly into harm’s way by entrusting them to violent criminal organizations will be held accountable for their role in these conspiracies.”
Some children reported being raped or held hostage by smugglers for more money. Others have been abandoned by smugglers as they try to cross the border.
Immigration advocates called the new enforcement policy a heartless way to try to reduce smuggling.
“It’s extremely cruel when you started shutting down refugee applicants and rescinding protections for children brought to the country at a young age, to send this kind of message to parents trying to get their kids to safety,” said Chris Rickerd, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.
Smuggling cases are among the most challenging to prove, and the biggest hurdle is identifying witnesses, who are likely to be undocumented and unwilling to help, according to Michael J. Wynne, who spent 12 years as an assistant United States attorney in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Targeting parents for re-entering the country illegally, rather than trying to go after them for smuggling, presents prosecutors with a higher likelihood of success.
“It’s a throwdown case,” he said. “You’re going to prosecute the crime where you get the biggest bang for your buck.”
Officials in ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division have been told to look for cases that can be brought to United States attorneys for possible prosecution, according to people familiar with the enforcement effort. Because prosecutions for illegal re-entry carry a five-year statute of limitations, ICE special agents are also looking to see if they can prosecute relatives of unaccompanied children for other immigration-related crimes, such as giving false statements, according to people familiar with the effort.
Convictions for illegal re-entry are politically popular among immigration restrictionists.
According to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group at Syracuse University, illegal re-entry made up the bulk of prosecutions for illegal immigration for the last five years.
The Trump administration has made no secret of its plans to go after parents living in the country illegally who bring in their children.
Earlier this year, administration officials said that the thousands of children who arrived each year as unaccompanied minors would no longer be protected against deportation, reversing an Obama administration policy. John F. Kelly, then the Homeland Security secretary and now the White House chief of staff, wrote a memo in February saying parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring children across the border.
The children, who turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The office will either place the children in a shelter or release them to a family member. Immigration officials said most of the unaccompanied children apprehended at the border were eventually turned over to a family member, most often a parent, already living in the United States.
Homeland Security officials acknowledge that many of the children are fleeing violence in their home country, but they say that paying smugglers to transport them to the border endangers the children.”

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

Read the full article at the link.

Seems like a pretty typical Trump Administration approach: please the White Nationalist/restrictionist base, fill the prisons with nonviolent “criminals,” rack up some nice stats, and make sure not to deal with the root causes of undocumented migration.

PWS

09-26-17

THE LIARS ON THE HILL: Spurred By Trump’s Example, GOP Legislators and Politicos In Washington Have Taken Outright Lying And Knowingly Spreading False Narratives To A New Level

Dave Leonhardt writes in “Opinion Today” at the NYT:

“First, health care: Here’s a giveway about how bad the new Senate health care bill is: Bill Cassidy, one of its authors, keeps trying to sell it by telling untruths.
“The relatively new phenomenon of just ‘up is down’ lying about your bill’s impacts is jarring,” says Loren Adler of the USC-Brookings-Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy.
Most egregiously, Cassidy is claiming that the bill would not ultimately deprive sick people of health insurance. That’s false, as NPR calmly explained when Cassidy said otherwise.
In fact, the bill — known as Graham-Cassidy — would free states to remove insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Without those protections, insurers could price such people out of the market.

If you get cancer (or even have a family history of it) or your child is born with a birth defect — among many, many other health issues — you could find yourself unable to buy insurance. Without insurance, you could be denied crucial treatments. In a tangible way, Graham-Cassidy would harm millions of Americans.
Aviva Aron-Dine and Sarah Kliff have both written good explainers on this issue. As Kliff notes, “There is literally no analysis” to support Cassidy’s claim that the bill would expand the number of insured.
Jimmy Kimmel, the country’s most unexpected health wonk, has urged Cassidy to stop “jamming this horrible bill down our throats.”

Insurers came out against the bill yesterday, joining doctors, hospitals, AARP, patient advocates, multiple governors and others.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are trying to win the vote of Lisa Murkowski — one of three Republican senators who voted against a previous Obamacare repeal bill, in July — by funneling money to Alaska.
In the least surprising development of all, President Trump is now repeating Cassidy’s falsehoods.
The last word on health care this morning goes to Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan. “Graham-Cassidy is a brazen effort to block any level of government, state or federal, from achieving near-universal coverage,” he writes. “That’s what the debate is about. Everything else is just noise.”

Read Leonhardt’s entire piece with working links to his sources and citations at this link:

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/09/21/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

 

And Leonhardt is by no means the only one blowing the whistle on the GOP’s latest War on America. Among many others, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Senator Cassidy “Three Pinocchios” for his false claims about coverage:

“Regular readers of The Fact Checker know that the burden of proof falls on the person making the claim. Cassidy has provided little evidence to support his claim of more coverage, except that innovation would flourish and help bring down costs and expand coverage. That’s certainly possible, but it would be more plausible if his proposal did not slash funding to such an extent.

Kimmel’s claim that 30 million fewer Americans will have insurance may be a high-end estimate. But already, in 2019, CBO calculations suggest at least 15 million fewer Americans would have insurance once the individual and employer mandates are repealed. Much of that decline might be by choice, but Cassidy insists the gap will be filled and then exceeded in 10 years. Unlike Cassidy, no prominent health-care analyst is willing to venture a guess on coverage levels — but the consensus is that his funding formula makes his claim all but impossible to achieve.

Given the lack of coverage estimates by the CBO or other health-care experts, Cassidy’s claim does not quite rise to Four Pinocchios. But it certainly merits a Three.

Three Pinocchios”

Here’s a link to the complete analysis by the Post’s Glenn Kessler:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/21/sen-cassidys-rebuttal-to-jimmy-kimmel-more-people-will-have-coverage/

Wow! Three Pinocchios is getting into Trump, Sessions, Miller territory!

PWS

09-21-17

🤥 🤥🤥