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Cold Blooded Politics: The Children's Immigration Mess

It seems that our political scene doesn’t have many slow days anymore, and now we have a daily ration of news about children from Mexico and Central America arriving at our border for a new life.  The Occupant doesn’t want to see them for himself, lest the rest of us do the same via his news entourage.  The DHS alternates between brutal sequestration of the immigrants (from the prying eyes of members of Congress, among other people) to abject confusion trying to keep up with the mass of people.

There’s a great deal of speculation about whether the Occupant sent a signal for this rush to start.  That may or may not be true.  Keep in mind, however, that this is the administration that never let a crisis go to waste (although Rahm Emanuel, the author of that observation, is having a hard time keeping up with the crises facing him in Chicago).  So perhaps some perspective is in order.

Immigration reform has two very important political sponsors from both sides of the ideological divide.  The left wants people in the country who will vote the way they like, and employers want people in the country who will work the way they like.  On the face of it, with our money-sotted political system and pliant media, this should be a slam dunk.  It hasn’t because large portions of the population have realised that neither the left nor the employers find them satisfactory these days, but that never stopped a lot of things from happening in this country.

In spite of that, there was a window of opportunity for this to take place.  Unfortunately it was blown principally because the Occupant, rather self-righteous in the view he sees in the mirror in the morning, kept moving the goal posts to the point where even those on the Republican side of the aisle who wanted this to take place–and they are many–got tired and walked on the process.

In labour relations, that’s called bad faith bargaining, and it’s one of the no-no’s you’re taught not to do at the start.  Unfortunately Americans, too trusting for their own good, don’t understand that people in high places are capable of bad faith negotiations, that trust needs to be established before progress can be made, and that sometimes the best thing to do is to walk.

With that avenue closed, the Occupant decided to play the cards he was dealt in the Executive Branch.  In that he has two advantages: a pliant media and an uncritical electorate.  The current crisis would have been a disaster for him without both.  As it stands it has two important results.

The first is that it takes up a lot of airtime that could be spent on other matters such as the IRS scandal, Benghazi, the weak economy, problems with Obamacare, etc.

The second is that it mobilises his base, which is the road to victory he counts on.  It used to be that, to win elections in this country, you had to win the independents.  One of the little-heralded results of the 2012 election was that the Occupant won without swinging the independents.  Although this lesson is lost on much of the punditry, it wasn’t lost on the Occupant.  Some of the “red state Democrats” may get hung out to dry on this, but the Occupant understands what Bill Clinton did: that what’s good for you as a Democrat President and what’s good for Democrats in the House and Senate are two different things.

Given the humanitarian disaster we’re looking at here, this is cold-blooded politics at its worst.  Americans aren’t used to this either.  Now the Occupant wants several billion dollars to “fix” this problem.  Given his penchant for executive action, the only reason he might ask for it is to make his opponents look bad.  Probably the best response to this would be for John Boehner to adjourn the House and spare us from this and any other stupid legislation until things cool off (in every sense of the word).

As for the Christian response, we shouldn’t fault any humanitarian response we can make.  Chances are DHS will try to play favourites with which church gets in and which doesn’t, but if things get bad enough they may have to hold their liberal noses.

We’re also being told that we’re heartless if we don’t support immigration reform.  As a former employer, I’m certainly ready to do it. But I’ve got a question: how about some economic development for places like Mexico and Honduras?  Are we so provincially arrogant we think that economic progress only happens here?  Why is it that people who can come here and work hard and get ahead can’t do it where they started?

If politics like this become the norm in this country, along with all of the other stunts going on these days, it won’t make as much difference which side of the border you’re on.


6 Replies to “Cold Blooded Politics: The Children's Immigration Mess”

  1. Don,

    You run a template, “There’s a great deal of speculation about whether…. That may or may not be true. ”

    The formula for respectable right-wingers to put Tea Party craziness into circulation, I take it?

    There is no “speculation” about President Obama giving a signal and the child herders of Central America reacting to the bell. This is right-wing conspiracist nonsense of the stupidest kind, asserted boldly but taken seriously by nobody, Don, and you demean yourself by falling into step with it.



    1. Wrong, Watson.

      My purpose in that was to assure my conservative readers that such a purposeful setup was unnecessary for the Occupant to use the situation for his own purposes.

      Perhaps I should start by repeating the stuff you see in, say, the Daily Kos, or OWS material, or ideas from the Truthers. I’ve even been known to put stuff from al-Jazeera in my Twitter feed. Perhaps that would increase my credibility with you, since you have such an obsession with the perceived source of my information and opinions.

      I think the problem here as is frequently the case is that your main source is our pliant media.


      1. Don,

        I see almost nothing in your three paragraphs relevant to my note. You simply make vague, and mostly incorrect, imprecations about what you think I read. (In hours per day it’s mostly MIT OCW, followed by Chinese language material.)

        The small point of tangency is your reference to your conservative readers’ apparently needing inoculation against “the Occupant” and his presumed “use of the situation.” You seem to assume a wickedness not in evidence. It seems to me that President Obama is, as all too often, faced with a difficult situation, is handling it as well as possible. The same cannot be said for, e.g. the Governor of Texas, who seemed to me decent but befuddled before he got Presidential ambitions, and is now befuddled but also routinely unpleasant, mendacious and infantile.




      2. Evidently I was a little too subtle, so let me put things more directly.

        You attacked me based on the source (or what you thought was the source) of my opinion. That’s an ad hominem attack, it’s logically fallacious and doesn’t prove anything. It does tell me that your idea is “if it comes from X, it’s wrong, and if it comes from Y, it’s right”. The latter is an appeal to authority, which is also logically fallacious and proves nothing.

        As far as how well the Occupant is handling the situation, he has neither the aptitude nor the inclination for administration, which is what’s needed here to earn proper credit if it’s due. That was very much in evidence during the disastrous Obamacare rollout.

        Since you’re getting into Chinese language material, CCTV’s take on this would be interesting.


  2. Don,

    You are imagining something complex when I thought I was being quite simple.

    My intended meaning was, and is, it is not true that “there is a great deal of speculation…” Rather than speculation, there is bald, and incorrect, assertion by some people of the Tea Party type. I did not attribute this opinion to you. Rather I accused you of reporting this as a speculation, simply for the sake of saying something nasty about the President.

    I went on to add my opinion, that this casts you in a bad light. You come off looking incorrect, perhaps even petty, but less devious when you simply say your nasty things about the President.

    Rather than natter on, trying to substitute the attack I intended for the one you have conjured up out of your imagination, let us onward to Obamneycare…

    My view is that it’s lousy legislation, but better than nothing, or than the status quo ante, both for the great majority of American people, and for America as a whole.

    The shortcomings I attribute to two things, President Obama’s ill-fated attempt at bipartisanship, and his somewhat nervous fear of screwing things up. More boldness and less give to what he imagined was Republican reason would have served better from the very start, imho.

    The roll-out was I agree a disaster, and I have watched with trepidation for any follow-up on the early reports that a Canadian contractor was responsible.

    To back up a few days, we agreed on many of the things wrong with America at the moment, the police state and so forth, and you ended up saying something like it’s all going down the tube if it isn’t fixed soon.

    This seems to me right in spirit, but incorrect in fact: the major failings of the Patriot Act, the spy/warfare/police state are not new. They’ve been on the books for the most part since the McCarren Act, back in Truman and McCarthy days, and America survived that.

    What you say about development in your original post is of course utterly correct. The triumph of the last generation has been pulling a third of China and India out of poverty and the creation of middle classes in both countries and much of Africa. (Well done on your part in all of that!)

    I think this is entirely the result of the politics of the 1945-55 generation in both the US and Europe, though it took until maybe 1990 to get rolling. Marshall, Mollet, Adenauer… and the private initiative they let loose. What it will take to break down the feudal Latin states I don’t know, but curbing the off-the-books marijuana market will no doubt help.

    The broader drug problems — amphetamines in rural North America, crack cocaine everywhere — scare the hell out of me. Mayor Ford apparently parked his Escalade twenty feet from the back of my building when he bought his crack behind the Hilton.




    1. You’ve brought up a number of interesting issues:

      Obamacare: That wasn’t a bipartisan bill by any stretch of the imagination, Romneycare notwithstanding. The basic problem on this and many other issues is simple: the American people want to be taken care of. So I think some kind of broad health care initiative was inevitable.

      The chief object of nationalised, universal health care is provide crappy, mediocre health care at about 10% GDP. Obamacare will provide the crappy, mediocre result but is too complex and expensive to do it in 10% GDP.

      The left’s dream is single payer (and really single provider). That would have been an uphill battle, but not because of the Republicans. The buzz saw would have been provided by the health care industry, as was the case with Hillarycare. But there were other ways to skin the cat.

      The simplest would have been to nationalise medicaid, then raise the eligibility level and squeeze the other players into the margin. That would have been a long process, but it would have provided health care to the poorest and sickest, which is where it’s needed. And I think it would have been easier politically; even Southern Republicans know better than to cut back on Medicaid.

      Nationalising Medicaid would have put the Feds in the driver’s seat re its future, which would have cut out the disputes we’re seeing in Obamacare. The way Obamacare is structured, it’s guaranteed to produce conflict, which it has in abundance. The issue before SCOTUS re state exchanges may be the system’s undoing, but we’ll see.

      Police State: It’s certainly true that we had heavy-handed stuff in the 1950’s. In fact, the 1960’s can be seen as a reaction to all of that, and it continued in the 1970’s with Watergate, Nixon’s resignation and the Church commission.

      Today we have an elite that has a “circle the wagons” guild mentality, and one which likes to demonise its opponents. That puts a damper on reining in the police state, and it also puts a damper on restoring the rule of law the way we used to have it here. It took both Democrats and Republicans to oust Richard Nixon; putting together such a coalition today would be impossible.

      Going down the tube: My main reason for thinking that way is economic. To try to cut to the chase, we have a double whammy going on. The first is an economy that has, for a variety of reasons, had had much of its dynamism drained out of it. Big piece of the puzzle here is small business, which finds obtaining credit more and more difficult (a trend aggravated by Dodd-Frank’s tendency to end community banks) and is under a regulatory burden designed for much larger organisations.

      The second is a ballooning public debt, which needs dynamic economy to service. Up until now the Fed has managed to keep interest rates near zero, which has made servicing that debt manageable. That has distorted capital markets immensely. Every time Janet Yellen has suggested that rates be raised, the Occupant’s people get out the brown pants and the discussion is quashed. But sooner or later (perhaps starting next year) these will start going up, and then things will get interesting.

      Drugs: That’s where being a South Floridian separates me from many of my contemporaries from more conservative regions. I’ve never known a time in the last fifty years of not living in a drug-sotted society, and the problems have only gotten worse as the drugs have gotten stronger. Even though I’ve lived with this as a given, I’ve never understood my fellow Americans’ evident need to take these substances.

      I’ve thought about you when reading about Mayor Ford, and have considered saying something. But I figured he was embarrassment enough without me saying anything.


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